Saturday, January 5, 2008

Top Ten Central Ohio Terrorism-Related Stories of 2007

Now safely into the new year, we here at Central Ohioans Against Terrorism would like to take a few minutes to reflect on the major terrorism-related Central Ohio news stories here in 2007. Needless to say, it was an eventful year. Let’s hope that 2008 is equally as interesting.

  1. Nuradin Abdi guilty plea in shopping mall terror plot

    After years of heated denials and conspiracy theories, the extremists in the Muslim community were shocked in late July when Nuradin Abdi, arrested as part of the Columbus Al-Qaeda cell run out of Masjid Omar Ibn El-Khattab just north of campus, agreed to a plea deal rather than go to trial on multiple charges of terrorism support, including a plot to shoot up a Columbus-area shopping mall. Local CAIR officials, including national vice chair Ahmad Al-Akhras and Ohio chapter president Asma Mobin-Uddin, had made a series of bizarre claims, including that Abdi had been tortured and was being drugged by federal authorities. A federal appeals court quickly rejected their conspiracy theories, concluding that Abdi was putting on an act (in accordance with stated Al-Qaeda incarceration guidelines). Abdi was sentenced to 10 years in prison on a charge of material support for terrorism in November. And as Dirk Thompson of 610 WTVN reported, Abdi’s attorney went on an anti-American rant in front of the local media following the announcement of the plea deal.

    Related Nuradin Abdi COAT posts.

  2. Christopher Paul arrested as part of Columbus Al-Qaeda cell

    In April, Worthington-raised Christopher Paul (nee-Paul Kenyatta Laws, aka Abdulmalek Kenyatta) was arrested after a federal indictment was unsealed charging Paul with plotting to attack American tourists overseas. Paul is a 1983 graduate of Worthington High School. Following his arrest, CAIR officials became confused, as Adnan Mirza tried to distance the Muslim community from Paul, while Ahmad Al-Akhras came out in his defense, claiming that Paul was a “loving husband” and led a “good family”. (see, “Columbus Al-Qaeda Man Charged, CAIR Not Pleased”)

  3. Hilliard HAMAS cleric Salah Sultan appears at Middle East terror confab

    Salah Sultan (right) sitting on the speaker dais with Specially Designated Global Terrorists Khaled Mishal (left) and Yousef Al-Qaradawi (middle)

    Salah Sultan speaking at the terror confab in Qatar

    Notwithstanding having been defended by the Columbus Dispatch and a number of area Islamic leaders as a “moderate”, Salah Sultan showed his true colors this past summer when he appeared at a conference honoring HAMAS spiritual leader Yousef Al-Qaradawi in Doha, Qatar. Sultan delivered a tearful speech praising his mentor and also produced a paper on Qaradawi’s “scientific thought” (both being published on Qaradawi’s personal website). Sultan was even photographed with Qaradawi, and he could be seen in the Al-Jazeera live coverage of the event during the speech by HAMAS head Khaled Mishal. Both Qaradawi and Mishal have been listed by the US government as Specially Designated Global Terrorists. Also in July, Sultan was identified by name in a LA Times article as one of two clerics preaching holy war and “sharing the outlook of Al-Qaeda” in Bahrain.

    Related Salah Sultan COAT posts.

    Related FrontPage Magazine articles:

    Hometown Jihad (04/03/2006)
    Hometown Jihad: Blowback (05/24/06)
    Hometown Jihad: Our Newest Citizen? (09/08/06)
    Hometown Jihad: The Return of Salah Sultan (03/29/07)
    Hometown Jihad: The HAMAS Connection (05/11/2007)

  4. October-terror-fest at the Ohio Statehouse

    The Interfaith Association of Central Ohio sponsored an event, “The Many Voices of Islam”, in the Ohio Statehouse atrium in October featuring two known HAMAS operatives, Anisa Abd El Fattah and Robert “Farooq” Crane, and one official for the now-closed Toledo Kindhearts terror fundraising “charity”, Zulfiqar Shah, who as Southeast Asia director for the group partnered with the Al-Khidmat Foundation in Pakistan, founded by Osama bin Laden mentor and Al-Qaeda founder Abdullah Azzam. The event was organized by local extremist Abukar Arman, and was also sponsored with a $1,000 grant from the Ohio Humanities Council, a taxpayer-funded organization.

  5. Cleveland imam quits before he starts

    Instead of just reporting the news, COAT became part of the news when blogger Tom Blumer of Bizzyblog reported back in September that the newly-hired imam for the Islamic Center of Cleveland, Ahmed Alzaree, had preached some virulently anti-Jewish sermons in his previous post in Omaha, Nebraska. We then followed up with additional information noting other troubling aspects to Alzaree’s preaching and breaking news of his terrorist ties (and the establishment media’s ignoring of such). Even after multiple articles by the Cleveland Plain Dealer came out defending the imam, who was scheduled to begin his new job in early November, two days before he was scheduled to start, he announced that he was quiting. According to the Plain Dealer, one of the reasons cited by Alzaree for throwing in the towel was our COAT post, “Cleveland’s new imam: interfaith “moderate” or two-faced jihadist?”. Alzaree was brought in to replace deported former imam Fawaz Damra (see below in “Honorable Mention”).

  6. Abukar Arman tossed from Franklin County Homeland Security oversight committee

    A front-page article in the Columbus Dispatch and a coordinated political cover-up by City Hall and the Franklin County Commission (more on the cover-up) weren’t enough to save Abukar Arman’s position with the county Criminal Justice Planning Board, which oversees Franklin County Homeland Security. After my FrontPage expose discussing Arman’s vocal support for terrorism in a series of published articles, Arman was forced to resign from the board, in addition to losing his full-time job with the Columbus Public Schools. County Commission officials withheld information related to the Arman investigation from Dirk Thompson of 610 WTVN and myself, while simultaneously providing the exact same information to Dispatch reporter Barbara Carmen. Only after the Dispatch article appeared did the Commission release the requested information.

    Related Abukar Arman COAT posts.

  7. Hilliard HAMAS cleric Salah Sultan denied US citizenship, flees the US for Bahrain

    As noted above (item #3), Hilliard-based HAMAS cleric Salah Sultan appeared at a terrorist confab in Qatar in July. But perhaps the most important reason for Sultan’s unashamed open association with designated terrorists in July is that earlier in the year he had been denied US citizenship based on his previous known terrorist associations and had fled the country. Once informed about the rejection, Sultan picked up most of his family and moved to Bahrain. But even his arrival there was met with controversy, as Bahraini politicians complained in May that Sultan and his buddy Wagdi Ghoneim had received almost instantaneous citizenship there (as reported by Al-Wasat). The Bahraini press noted Sultan’s hasty departure and the denial of his US citizenship. Even Bahraini bloggers have been critical of Sultan and his jihadist crew.

  8. HAMAS operative Anisa Abd El Fattah/Caroline Keeble interviewed for open Columbus Public School Board spot

    Anisa Abd El Fattah on the left; Caroline Keeble on the right.
    Two different versions of the same person.

    During the investigation into Fattah’s appearance at the October-terror-fest at the Ohio Statehouse, I noticed that Fattah’s non-jihad persona, Caroline Keeble, had been interviewed by the Columbus Public School Board last January for an open position on school board. The results of my investigation were published in a PJM article, “HAMAS: Coming to a School Board near you”. The resume she had submitted as part of her application (obtained with great difficulty from the school district despite an Open Records Act request) made no mention of the HAMAS front organizations she had worked for during the 1990s and earlier this decade, nor her longtime consulting position with now convicted terrorist leader Abdurahman Alamoudi or her founding board member position with the national Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Though one of the few candidates to receive an interview by the school board, she did not get appointed to either of the two open seats she applied for.

  9. Muslim Brotherhood leader identified in Central Ohio

    I haven’t done much follow-up reporting on this issue since my original post, but one bombshell piece of evidence that came out of the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial in Dallas this past summer was a phonebook of Muslim Brotherhood leaders in North America. One entry in this Muslim Brotherhood leadership directory was an individual, Hany Saker, located in Columbus and identified as such by the readily identifiable 614 area code. As I reported back then, the office phone number listed for Saker was an Ohio State University number. Elsewhere in the phone directory Saker is listed as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood Board of Directors, and also the Eastern regional leader in North America. We hope to have more reporting on this story in 2008.

  10. Hate Sheikh Siraj Wahhaj appears at Columbus fundraiser for Islamic group headed by mayoral advisor

    Hate sheikh Siraj Wahhaj (left) and his longtime buddy and Mayor Coleman advisor Ahmad Al-Akhras (right)

    When the Islamic Foundation of Central Ohio needed a keynote speaker for their annual fundraiser, its president Ahmad Al-Akhras turned to his old friend and prominent hate sheikh Siraj Wahhaj for help. Wahhaj was named by US Attorney Mary Jo White as an un-indicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Wahhaj had appeared at a March 2006 fundraiser for Sunrise Academy in Hilliard to raise money for their new gym, in June 2006 for the CAIR-Ohio annual banquet, and again in February 2007 at Sunrise Academy for yet another fundraiser for Masjid Abubakar Al Siddique. Among many other things, Wahhaj says that he isn’t sure that Osama bin Laden is responsible for 9/11; he calls for the return of the global Islamic caliphate and the imposition of Islamic shari’a law, including punishment by amputations and stoning; and he calls for the violent overthrow of American government.

Honorable Mention:

Censorship State at Columbus State for Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week

(graphic courtesy of DarthDilbert)

When the Terrorism Awareness Project student group at Columbus State Community College wanted to promote their events for the national Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week in October, CSCC administrator Timeka Rashid prohibited the group from posting promotional fliers around campus and warning the student leaders not to discuss her prohibition. After I exposed Rashid’s censorship of the student events in a FrontPage Magazine article, “Censorship State”, CSCC relented and did not interfere any further in the group’s scheduled activities. As reported by Jacob Laskin in 2006, Rashid had previously prevented the same student group from hosting a screening of the documentary, Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.

I later reported that Columbus State’s earlier censorship efforts were in response to a letter from former Congresswoman Mary Rose Oakar sent to CSCC president Valeriana Moeller asking for the school’s cooperation in obstructing events related to Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.

Akron-born jihadist pleads guilty to terror charges, sentenced to 15 years

In April, Akron native Mahmud Faruq Brent pled guilty to supporting a terrorist organization and in late July was sentenced to 15 years in prison for attending a Lakshar-e-Taiba terrorist training camp in Pakistan. A convert to Islam, Brent had been living in Maryland driving a taxi at the time of his arrest. The case was part of the Virginia Jihad Network series of prosecutions.

Cleveland Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Fawaz Damra deported

The two faces of Fawaz Damra

The year 2007 started off right as federal officials deported Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Fawaz Damra in early January. Damra had been the longtime imam of the Islamic Center of Cleveland. He was deported for lying to authorities about his ties to the terrrorist organization, failing to disclose them on his citizenship application, and for recruiting suicide bombers to attack Israel. Damra had been hailed as an "interfaith moderate" in Cleveland, that is, until videos surfaced of him calling Jews "the sons of apes and pigs" and fundraising for jihad along with PIJ leader Sami Al-Arian. Then there was his prior tenure with a NY-based front for Al-Qaeda.

Go to the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Fawaz Damra archive.

Jihad Julio Pino at Kent State

One of the most underreported stories of the year (one we didn’t even have a chance to get to) involves Kent State Latin American History professor Julio “Jihad” Pino, who was found earlier this year operating a now-closed jihadist forum, the “Global War” blog, which proclaimed: “Are You Prepared for Jihad? IN THE NAME OF OBL. 2007: THE YEAR OF ISLAMIC VICTORY!” University of North Carolina-Wilmington Criminology professor Mike Adams exposed Pino’s jihadist rants in an article at Townhall back in February. A series of articles by Adams ran throughout the year expanding on the story. Things at Kent State came to a head in November when the History department chairman, John Jameson, was fired by the university after he approved a paid leave for Pino to travel to the Middle East without university approval. No action has been taken by the university against Pino.