"This Administration’s war on terrorism is actually a war on the Muslim community and the civil liberties of all Americans. Our leadership, organizations, charities, and places of worship are being targeted by the Department of Justice which scapegoats Muslims by exploiting our political vulnerability."
Mahdi Bray, MAS Freedom Foundation, Sept. 30, 2003
On September 29, 2003, Abdurahman Alamoudi, Executive Director of the
American Muslim Foundation (AMF), was arrested at Dulles Airport in Sterling,
Virginia (just outside the Metropolitan Washington, D.C., area), after having
returned from a tour of Arab countries where he participated in a variety of
Islamic programs. He had combined this schedule with the leisure of having his
family with him.
Charges filed against Mr. Alamoudi by the Federal government allege that he
illegally visited Libya and received financial assistance from [the Libyan]
World Islamic Call Society and also from the Libyan Mission to the United
Nations and, further, that he planned to distribute these funds to "terrorist"
organizations in Syria. Alamoudi denies all these allegations as well as statements that were allegedly said by him to British authorities.
As it is with NGO’s, such as charities, think tanks, and political organizations, they obviously operate based on financial contributions. Monies Alamoudi receives are for the AMF which he heads, a well-known social service establishment that provides assistance and relief to those who are in need within the Islamic immigrant community in the United States. The foundation runs a medical clinic as well as an outreach library to explain Islam to the public.
His arrest continues the ominous actions against American Muslims by the US
government which first intensified in 1996 with the passage of The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act which approved the use of secret evidence. This law was used to institute "star chamber" proceedings against Muslims and Arabs who were incarcerated for as long as four or five years, not knowing the charges against them, the witnesses, the "evidence," the testimony, or even the judge’s decision in its entirety.
Because those so incarcerated were ultimately all released without convictions or left the country and legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives with 229 co-sponsors to repeal the use of secret evidence, conditions for US Muslims seemed to be improving. Hearings were held on the legislation and the only persons other than a Department of Justice official to testify against repeal were Jews, among whom were representatives of the American Jewish Congress and the Jewish Anti-Defamation League.
Immediately following 9/11, the bill to repeal the use of secret evidence was dropped and hundreds of Arabs and Muslims were taken secretly into custody without knowledge of family or legal counsel and held in isolation for months and even years. Thousands were arrested and deported for reasons historically considered inconsequential and insignificant. A 20-year old conviction of possession of marijuana is grounds for deportation although not an impediment to becoming US President.
From 9/11 through the present, Muslim homes and businesses have been and are raided without justification, property removed or damaged, and Muslims threatened. Not only have agents of the Federal government beaten and permanently and otherwise harmed Muslims and done so with impunity, but private individuals, even young people, have beaten and killed Muslims and those mistaken for Muslim, for no reason other than that they are Muslim or believed to be so. Government agents have gone to the homes of witnesses scheduled to testify on behalf of Muslims and have interrogated them for as much as nine hours, threatening and frightening them and their families in the process.
Islamic decision-makers and influential members of the Islamic community in the United States are perplexed about how to stop this governmental and private abuse. Even though the Arab and Muslim organizations immediately condemned and repudiated the events of 9/11 and all acts of random and abhorrent violence, the American authorities and security agencies have persisted in treating Muslims and Arabs as if they are all guilty until proven innocent. Despite lengthy incarceration without charges, these same Muslims are punished through loss of income, governmental refusal to provide transportation to their US homes, or other hardships, all as if they had committed some wrong. This is a tragic development, a turn to a form of tyranny in a country that Muslims had sought for a better future because of the liberties and protected rights enshrined in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.
The arrest of Abdurahman Alamoudi confirms Muslim suspicions about the
motives for such actions and allegations. The message from official America to
the Islamic and Arab community is unmistakable: Muslims are not welcome to live in or visit the United States! To add to this pain, many writers not
affiliated with the government urge restricting the American population to
Protestants, Catholics, or Jews.
Why do so many Americans hate Muslims? Is it because of 9/11?
For more than 50 years, Americans have been taught to hate through Hollywood, television, the radio, and print media. Throughout these years, more than 800
movies have depicted Arabs and Muslims unfavorably, with no positive
attributes. Many television programs, such as Law and Order and The West Wing, also present negative portrayals of Arabs and Muslims. It has been an unrelenting campaign of defamation and instigation prompted and inflamed by right-wing Zionists and extremist Christian coalitions which are unconditionally allied with Israel – no matter what crimes she commits, no matter how many UN resolutions she violates, no matter her illegal occupation of other countries, no matter her possession and use of weapons of mass destruction. The objective of both the Christian and Jewish Zionists is not only to remove all Arabs, Christian as well as Muslim, from Palestine, but also to allow Israel to control the neighboring countries. To accomplish this, these political Zionists are determined to remove the voice of Muslims in the United States and with it any support for Palestinians and neighboring Arabs. Political Zionist organizations, such as
the Project for a New American Century, create unjustified fear of countries,
such as Iraq, which are predominantly Muslim and push for pre-emptive attacks,
assassinations, war, and domination.
The Administration, the media, and Zionist individuals and organizations
continue to lie about the motives for 9/11, stating that Arabs and Muslims hate freedom and the American lifestyle, while ignoring the many tapes and speeches of Osama bin Laden which discuss the death-causing sanctions against Iraq, the unconditional support of Israel and its daily atrocities committed against Palestinians with the aid of the US through cash, weaponry, and vetoes of UN resolutions condemning Israeli human rights violations and illegal occupation of Arab lands, as well as US bases in Saudi Arabia. It was also bin Laden’s objective to oust the Arab monarchies and to dispose of Saddam Hussein whom he hated.
The United States has supported Israel in its illegal occupation of Lebanon, of the Golan Heights, and of the Occupied Territories of Palestine. It not only pays huge amounts of cash as well as interest on the undistributed foreign aid allotment, but also provides the weaponry which has been and is used to kill Palestinians, Lebanese, and Syrians. Organizations, such as the Lebanese Hezbollah, which was formed after the Israeli invasion and occupation for the purpose of freeing Lebanon, have been deemed terrorist organizations although the Hezbollah has never threatened the United States and although the Hezbollah, unlike Israel, honored the Grapes of Wrath Agreement in which both the Hezbollah and Israel agreed not to target civilians.
For 12 years, the US and Britain have imposed crippling economic sanctions
against the people of Iraq resulting in the deaths of more than 1.5 million
Iraqis who were unable to get adequate health care or food or to repair their
infrastructure, destroyed by the US in 1991, because those items necessary for medical care or repair of the infrastructure could allegedly be used to make weapons of mass destruction. This is why Arabs ask: why do Americans hate us? What followed all the preceding was 9/11.
Who Is Abdurahman Alamoudi?
Mr. Alamoudi was born in the Eritrean part of Ethiopia and is a naturalized
US citizen. His mother is Eritrean and a homemaker; his Yemeni father worked
as a businessman. Alamoudi studied at the university level in Egypt and came
to the United States to complete his graduate work where he was awarded an
Alamoudi went to work for the SAAR Foundation, an investment and charitable
organization for Muslims. But, he recognized opportunities of a civic,
social, and political nature that could ground Muslims within American society. Hewanted to encourage Muslims to work with one another and to participate and be involved in all aspects of American life. Because of this, Alamoudi left SAAR and founded, in 1990, the American Muslim Council (AMC), which may be considered as the first Islamic political institution in the US. The purpose was to channel the resources and potential of the Muslim community in America in a way that would involve them in local, state, and federal civic responsibilities and into the American political process as well. He often said each of us has a duty to share civic responsibilities, that Muslims should work jointly with Americans of other faiths for the betterment of all.
Not only did AMC bring Muslims together, but it integrated several civic and
social activities and concerns into coordinated programs. . Among these
programs was Muslim Military Members (MMM). AMC first met with Col. Meredith R. Stanley, Executive Director of the US Armed Forces Board of Chaplains, to
determine the status of Muslim GIs in the Persian Gulf area. Among other things, they discussed the need for Muslim chaplains. As AMC’s Executive Director,
Alamoudi joined MMM in an extensive tour of military bases on the East Coast,
September 1993, meeting with Muslim servicemen and women and members of the military chaplains corps.
In 1993, AMC supported the launching of another Muslim community-supported
program called The National Islamic Prison Foundation (NIPF). The central objective was to meet the pressing needs of the estimated 100,000 inmates who have converted to Islam both while they are still serving sentences and when they are re-entering society.
In graduate school, Alamoudi had been an active member of the Muslim
Students Association (MSA) through which he met many who would graduate from American universities and assume very important positions back home in their own countries, both in the Arab and Islamic nations. With these relationships and as the Executive Director of AMC, he mobilized international concerns of US Muslims:
1. AMC created the American Task Force for Bosnia (ATFB). From the beginning
of the crisis in Bosnia, AMC had addressed Muslim concerns over the Balkan War with the Administration, the Congress, and the media. In addition, AMC coordinated efforts with other organizations seeking an end to the slaughter of Bosnian Muslims who were left defenseless by a US-UN embargo originally intended against a united Yugoslavia under Tito, while Serbia and Croatia around them were well-armed and using those arms against Bosnia which was seeking its independence.
2. AMC headed a Somalia Relief Effort
3. AMC provided support to the Kashmir American Council
4. AMC joined with other religious/ethnic groups in planning for the 80th
anniversary of the African National Congress (ANC).
5. AMC joined the efforts of Churches for Middle East Peace, a broad ecumenical coalition; and the Jerusalem Coalition, a multi-ethnic grouping, focusing on the issues of occupation, dislocation, and economic strangulation which adversely affect the possibility of a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land. In an effort to empower women, Alamoudi involved AMC in the following
1. AMC and the North American Council for Women (NACMVV) joined to organize a unique retreat of Muslim women scholars, lawyers, and activists to evaluate the UN sponsored International Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
2. The Director of AMC’s legal office attended portions of the UN preparatory
meetings for the 4th World Conference on the Status of Women held in New York (1995).
3. AMC lent support to the Muslim Women"s Georgetown Study Project that
worked to develop an alternative to the UN Platform for Women and sent
representatives to present a perspective based on Islamic jurisprudence to participants at the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing, China (1995)
AMC, under Alamoudi, sought a domestic social issue coalition. While working
to establish positions and priorities on domestic social issues, AMC sent staff
representatives to participate in numerous, non-Muslim coalition efforts:
1. AMC helped mobilize support behind the Enough Is Enough campaign, the
purpose of which was to reduce sexual violence and eliminate illegal pornography
2. AMC supported the work of the Coalition for the Prevention of Alcohol
Problems in its campaign to build public opinion behind the Sensible Advertising
and Family Education (SAFE) act that imposed restrictions on alcohol
3. AMC worked consistently with the Coalition for the Free Exercise of
Religion, a uniquely diverse and inclusive coalition of American faith communities
which resulted in the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)
4. AMC maintained contact with the Immigration Coalition that followed the
developments in immigration reform legislation (1995-96).
5. AMC has endorsed, on an annual basis, the activities of: World Food Day
(food bank), Neighbours Who Care (victim"s rights), Southern Poverty Law Center (minority rights), Committee for Constitutional Rights (civil rights),
Children"s Defence Fund (children"s rights), Emergency Medical Care for Children (children"s health), and Green Door (vocational support for the mentally ill), and other such organizations.
Alamoudi brought together people of different religions and creeds. Inasmuch
as the Muslim population’s greatest increase has occurred within the last two
and half decades, Muslims lag behind institutionally. The Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish communities have been integrated into the American scene for hundreds of years. Muslims not only stand to learn from the experience of those who have been active in the US for a longer period of time, but they can also
contribute by being partners and supporting inter-faith projects and efforts. Because of this, AMC, under Alamoudi’s supervision accomplished the following:
1. A historic two-day dialogue between Muslim and Catholic leaders (1991) at
the Washington Retreat House. The first ever national consultation between
the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) and Muslim leaders was
co-sponsored by AMC and the Muslim World League.
2. AMC became an active member of Interfaith Impact for Peace and Justice, a
coalition of mainline Protestant groups and a number of non-Christian organizations.
3. AMC held an interfaith round table on Muslims in America which encouraged
interfaith collaboration to resist Muslim-bashing and called for a common
strategy among different religious groups to combat cultural prejudice.
4. In 1993, AMC issued a joint statement with the National Conference of
Catholic Bishops (NCCB) rejecting all efforts to claim religious sanction for
acts of aggression and terrorism.
5. AMC hosted an interfaith lunchtime seminar titled, The Religious Freedom
Restoration Act (RFRA) and Religious Accommodation in America: A Discussion
Amongst Religious Groups (1994), featuring speakers from the Muslim,
Christian, and Jewish perspectives.
6. As AMC’s Executive Director, Alamoudi joined Muslim, Christian, Jewish,
Hindu, and Buddhist leaders in opposition to the patenting of genetic engineering. A coalition representing more than eighty faiths and denominations called for a moratorium on genetic engineering to allow for further debate on the life altering potentials involved.
In the political forum, the Council was successful in fostering strong
relationships with members of the United States Congress. After years of hard work, Members of Congress began to realize that American Muslims had come of age.
Again, with respect to international opinions and politics, AMC was the first
Islamic forum in the United States which was interested in giving a positive
image about America in the Arab and Islamic worlds. Official and popular Arab
and Islamic delegations began to converge from all over the world into
Washington, DC, and to visit the AMC to discuss Islamic affairs with American
Muslims. Mr. Alamoudi was recognized as the most qualified Muslim leader in
Washington who could explain Islamic life in America and the ups-and-downs of Muslims inside the US. He reflected a positive image of the US to Arab and Islamic delegations. Because of this, he met twice with former President Clinton, and he also met with candidate George Bush.
With his commitment and the joint activities of other Muslim and Arab
organizations, the White House under both Presidents Clinton and Bush has
acknowledged Ramadan and certain Islamic holidays. A postage stamp commemorating EID, an important Islamic festivity, was issued in 2001.
This presidential and congressional recognition of Muslims and Islam, the attendance of President Clinton at the annual conference of the Arab American
Institute, the success of AMC and other Muslim and Arab organizations created
concern for the Zionists who wanted to assure their dominance in the government and in foreign policy. As a result, their attacks became more vociferous. Political Jewish Zionists such as Stephen Emerson who blames every tragic event, such as the Oklahoma bombing, (add in others, TWA 800) on "Middle East terrorists" and Daniel Pipes, President Bush’s appointee to the US Institute for Peace, who has written many articles vilifying Muslims and Islam, attack nearly all Muslim and Arab individuals and organizations as terrorists or terrorist sympathizers.
Alamoudi is naturally their prime target. For years, the Zionists in and out
of government have written about him. He has been successful in achieving
what they and many Christians fear most: strong, viable, Muslim organizations
with the ability to criticize Israel and just as fearfully the ability to influence the outcome of Presidential and other elections. Without Muslim support in Florida and elsewhere, it is not likely that George Bush would be President.
No, the real concern of the critics of Alamoudi is not terrorism. If they
were against terrorism in every country, the Israeli settlements, the home
demolitions, the 23-hour a day closures, the destruction of 10s of thousands of
olive trees, the checkpoints, the wall – the Israeli occupation itself – would be
long removed. More than 1,148 members of the Israeli Defense Force and
recently 28 of its air force pilots have said no more to Israeli brutality against
Palestinians. These Israeli military have said they will – and they do – go to
prison before continuing to commit atrocities, humiliations, and intentional
starvation of the entire Palestinian population.
Alamoudi, a man beloved by many Muslims and non-Muslims is no terrorist or
supporter of violence. His approach is one of diplomacy and gentle humor. If he is a target, then we are all targets.
He has very much been a "good will" ambassador on behalf of the United
States, traveling to Muslim countries and telling them of the benefits of democracy and of the protected rights, such as freedom of religion, speech, and
assembly, which its inhabitants enjoy.
And yet, for years, articles have been written and speeches made attempting
to erode Alamoudi’s credibility, coupled with attacks on his integrity as he
sought to bridge a widening gap between the Arab and Islamic worlds on one side and the United States on the other side. A series of provocative articles in many newspapers and journals were written by political and right-wing fundamentalist Christian and Jewish Zionist stalwarts against Alamoudi. These writers and their outlets are known for their hatred of Muslims the world over and especially against Arabs. Notorious Jewish Zionists writers and television personalities, such as Steven Emerson and Daniel Pipes, took to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, the Washington Times, the Jewish Forward, and the National Review to fan their accusations. They went on the air using Fox News, as well as MSNBC and other channels, to broadcast their anti-Islamic hype.
Eventually, this campaign by pro-Israeli hawks succeeded in pressuring the
Administration to divest Alamoudi from continuing his building a bridge of
understanding and mutual exchange of interests between the Arab and Islamic shore on one side and the American shore on the other side.
They also succeeded in forcing Alamoudi to give up his peaceful and
humanitarian work as the executive director of the AMC, and his work to preserve the image of a kind and open-minded America in which Muslims may grow into their civil duties and responsibilities in theory and in practice.
But this was not enough. The objective was to put Alamoudi in a permanent
political freeze. If he spoke at public rallies or other occasions in protest of
certain American foreign policies, his words were reported and the meaning
distorted. They caused his businesses to be raided more than once, and items
permanently removed, but they found no wrongdoing.
Alamoudi’s remarkable achievements through AMC obviously caused concern for his adversaries, but it was his support of Palestinian needs and demands which
they wrote most about. To a group of pro-Palestinian and other organizations protesting in front of the White House, Alamoudi expressed support for the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas organizations, both of which have been designated, in response to Zionist demands, as terrorists. Alamoudi did not go off course by expressing the heart-felt pulse of all the Muslims around the world who are angry with the American government’s unconditional financial and material support for savage Israeli policies against the unarmed Palestinians. He expressed his indignation and displeasure towards America"s subordination to the Israeli interest as well as his unflinching support to the oppressed Palestinian population in defending itself and its future generations which is threatened by what the Israelis call transfer but what amounts to genocide. Alamoudi spoke in the context of a world that is watching and is opposed to Israeli destruction of Palestinian homes, schools, universities, employment, farms and to, among other things, Israeli checkpoints, assassinations, torture, and detention without charges. It was an Israeli finger pulling an American trigger that was spilling Palestinian blood. F-16’s and Apache helicopters and the latest in American military technology were and are raining terror and death on an exposed and unprotected Palestinian people. It was within this highly charged context that Alamoudi uttered some emotional statements which he later retracted and apologized for because he got caught up in the heat of the moment. Alamoudi is a powerhouse in trying to muster the Islamic vote within the American political system in the coming elections so that they are no longer trampled by the incoming American administration whomever that turns out to be.
He has said that Muslims are disquieted and disturbed by the way Bush and his
administration have been dealing with the American Muslim community after 9/11. Muslims in America have become open season for all sorts of security
agencies who pry and prey on them removing all inherent rights of a democracy and in violation of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, to which the US was the first signatory, and about which the US condemns other nations which allegedly do not comply.
What is frightening to Muslims and should be to all Americans is the
enactment and application of certain legislation, especially the USA Patriot Act, which allows the admission of newspaper clippings, regardless of who wrote them or the motives behind them, as evidence of wrongdoing. Instilling fear into Americans and ignoring the underlying reasons for 9/11 or suicide bombers has created a malleable public which quickly feels hatred for individuals or organizations the Administration chooses to call "terrorist" or "fundraisers for terrorists" or countries which the US chooses to designate as evil. It is a
dangerous time for Americans more because they have allowed the removal of what has been or should be most precious to them – the protection of their inherent rights. That they are silent when others, not like them, are harmed or lose these protections can only serve to harm themselves by causing this country to lose what was once, and is no longer, a good reputation in the world.
The arrest of Mr. Alamoudi comes within a sequence of arrests pertaining to
Muslims in the US military. The average Muslim in American society sees this
as type of political lynching targeting all American Muslims.
This denial of civil liberty and human rights is what is really anti-American. You may find it somewhere in third world dictatorships where suspicion is enough to have a person executed, where the rule of law is absent, and there is a void of justice. But here? In the United States?
Once-prevalent Muslim belief, shared by Alamoudi, that tolerance and freedom
exists in American society, that it is supported by legal guarantees and
protected rights for minorities, as well as the general population, and that it is
this which makes this country so desirable a place in which to live meant to them that they could overcome the bias against them and could prove their
value as residents and citizens. Muslims had come to believe that, in the United States, Islam would be considered on its religious merits and not be regarded
as a political target. That the foreign policy of the US has made enemies with
Muslims in other parts of the world should not be cause for attack against
Muslims at home but a reassessment of that policy or, at a minimum, an
understanding of the basis for the anger abroad.