A lot of web sites are featuring a story about the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association (CMSA) on Capitol Hill and whether there is a connection to radical Islamic ideology. Much of it centers around the fact that fugitive Anwar Al Awlaki gave a sermon to this group in 2002. One central question is whether Awlaki was already radicalized at the time he appeared on Capitol Hill. Here is the story by Patrick Poole on Pajamas Media. It contains a video clip of Awlaki speaking to the CMSA with an accompaning article (courtesy of the Investigative Project on Terrorism):
The video tape shows nothing objectionable said by Awlaki in the clip. It is noted that also present in the audience was Randall ("Ismail") Royer, a former communications official with CAIR and member of other Muslim organizations in America, as well as Nihad Awad, the head of CAIR. What does that prove? Well, at the least, it seems to demonstrate that our government is reaching out to the wrong Muslims when they go to the heads of these groups like CAIR, which was listed as an "unindicted co-conspirator" in the Holy Land Foundation trial a few years ago in Dallas. Royer is now serving a long prison sentence for terror-related activities.
The article by the IPT counters the arguments that Awlaki was once a moderate who turned radical only recently. IPT presents CDs from the late 1990s that show Awlaki had radical views (see link).
Also mentioned in the IPT article from July 2010 (linked from the Pajamas Media article) is Abdulrahman Alamoudi, who was head of the American Muslim Council and founder of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center recently visited by Wellesley Middle School children (which has raised a recent furor). Alamoudi is now serving time for terror-related activities connected to a plot to kill the King of Saudi Arabia. Yet, he was a most influential man in Washington, who had access to the highest levels of power in both Republican and Democrat administrations. How is that?
I realize that this story has gone viral over the Internet and may be interpreted different ways as as to questions about who was in attendance when someone spoke. I do trust the words of the IPT as well as terror-expert Frank Gaffney, who is also linked.
At the very least, it indicates that our government leaders are reaching out to the wrong Muslim groups and individuals. There are several large Muslim organizations which are considered "moderate" or mainstream". Yet, time and time again, we find them linked to known radicals and Islamists-and in the case of Abdulrahman Alamoudi and Randall Royer, they themselves are convicted terrorists. One wonders why our leaders in Washington cannot spend more time consulting with true moderates, like Zuhdi Jasser and Steven Schwartz.
I am not prepared to indict the CMSA for their choice of a speaker in 2002, who may or may not have been known then as a radical, nor do I object to them having their own group. However, it is amazing to see who is freely walking around the halls of Capitol Hill. Is anybody up there paying attention?