by Steven Emerson
January 25, 2000
United States House of Representatives
Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims
House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims
Hearing on International Terrorism and Immigration Policy
January 25, 2000
Testimony of Steven Emerson,
Terrorist Expert and Investigator
Executive Director, Terrorism Newswire, Inc.
[USA House of Representatives]
Good morning. Before I begin my prepared comments, I would like to take a moment to express my deepest appreciation to you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing, and, equally important, for standing up to the orchestrated campaign to stop me from appearing. Because of the investigative work I have carried out as a journalist and investigator in exposing the presence of militant Islamic fundamentalists and Middle Eastern terrorists in the United States (see attached bio), I have been the subject of a sustained campaign of vilification, defamation and even a threat to my life during the past five years by militant Islamic organizations operating as self-anointed representatives of the larger Muslim population, whom they decidedly do not represent. But without access to accurate information about my real background to correct the false claims being fabricated about me, some of those who receive this information are unfortunately subject to manipulation. In the end, the aim of this campaign is to prevent me, as well as others, from speaking and writing about the threat of militant Islamic fundamentalism on American soil, and thus prevent the public from being properly informed. The very success of these organizations and their supporters, fronting under the false veneer of being “moderate” and “mainstream,” in creating a chilling climate where free speech on this issue has been suppressed, has become a factor in allowing foreign terrorists to operate in the United States below the radar screen and thus avoid the scrutiny from either the media, public officials or law enforcement. Just as significantly, the tactics of various Islamic organizations do a tremendous disservice to the vast overwhelming majority of Muslim Americans who do not support violence or terrorism. Mr. Chairman, your refusal to allow these militants to suppress free speech is to be applauded and lauded.
Overview of international terrorist problem:
Thanks to the quick response of US Customs Agents to behavior deemed suspicious at the Canadian border in Port Angeles on December 14, 1999, Ahmed Ressam was caught trying to smuggle RDX explosives. A wide-ranging investigation, unprecedented in its sweep and scope, succeeded in identifying and arresting other members of the hitherto unknown terrorist cell to which Ressam belonged. A plot to bomb and destroy targets in the United States, although still not publicly identified, had been narrowly averted.
Today the United States and Canada serve as the home for a wide spectrum of international terrorist groups as well as indigenous “home-grown” groups. Certainly, today’s hearing focuses our attention on the threat of international terrorism on American soil and the porous nature of US borders. While virtually all foreign terrorist organizations from throughout the world, including Latin America and Asia, have set up infrastructures in the United States, the primary threat of international terrorism on American soil stems from Middle Eastern terrorist organizations, a fact that FBI and CIA officials have repeatedly testified to. These organizations have set up fundraising operations, political headquarters, military recruitment and sometimes even command and control centers. The entire spectrum of Middle Eastern and Islamic terrorist groups now operates on American soil, including Hamas, Hezbollah, the Algerian Armed Islamic Group, the Egyptian Al Gamat Al Islamiya, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Islamic Liberation Party, the PKK and Al-Qaeda, the organization of Osama bin Laden.
There are various reasons for the emergence of these groups in the United States, which include:
· Ability to operate under our political radar screen
· Ability to hide under mainstream religious identification
· Loopholes in immigration procedures
· Ease of penetration of borders
· Limitations on FBI and other agencies performing law enforcement functions, including INS and Customs
· More sophisticated compartmentalization of terrorist cells around loosely structured terrorist movements
· Exploitation of freedoms of religion and speech
· Absence of a vigilant media
· Exploitation of non-profit fundraising prerogatives and lack of government scrutiny
· Increasing cross fertilization and mutual support provided by members of different Islamic terrorist groups
· Ease of availability of student visas from countries harboring or supporting terrorism
· Failures by universities to keep track of foreign students and their spouses
· Protection afforded by specially-created educational programs
· Ease of visa fraud and the invention of false credentials, from passports, drivers licenses, credit cards and social security numbers
· Blowback from the anti-Soviet mujihadeen that the US supported in Afghanistan.
Despite passage of the anti-terrorism bill and a realization by law enforcement since the World Trade Center bombing that the threat of Middle Eastern terrorism had become part of the US and Canadian landscapes, militants and terrorists continue to use both countries as a base of operations. As water seeking its own level, terrorists will gravitate to those areas that give them the greatest freedom to maneuver. Unless choked off and stopped along the different points of entry–ranging from the visa granting process overseas to the hundreds of unmanned border crossing points between Canada and the United States–terrorists will continue to come to the United States. The list of major international terrorists and militants allowed to enter the United States in recent years or actually granted green cards and citizenship is nothing less than staggering.
· Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, head of the Egyptian Al Gamat Al Islamiya, and convicted leader of an interdicted plot to bomb US landmarks, bridges and tunnels in New York
· Musa Abu Marzook, one of the top three officials of Hamas (who founded and operated a “think tank” in Chicago and Virginia
· Ali Mohammed, a top lieutenant to Osama bin Laden (and not insignificantly, enrolled as a Special Forces sergeant at Fort Bragg)
· Wadih el Hage, secretary to Osama bin Laden
· Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (who served as a professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa)
· Sheikh Abdel Aziz Odeh, spiritual leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and unindicted co-conspirator in the World Trade Center bombing (who visited the United States multiple times for fundraising and political recruitment without any knowledge of the INS)
· Ayman Zawahiri, leader of the Egyptian Al-Gihad organization, lieutenant to Osama bin Laden and conspirator in the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat
· Rashhid Ghannoushi, head of the Tunisian Al-Nahdah
· Anwar Haddam, a leader of the Algerian Islamic Salvation Front (FIS)
· Leith Shbeilat, a militant Islamic leader implicated in an assassination plot against Jordan’s King Hussein
· Khalid Mishal, a top leader of Hamas, who, in his speeches in the United States, has called for stabbings
· Kamal Hilbawi, a spokesperson for the Muslim Brotherhood, who has called for attacks on American targets and who has encouraged carrying out of suicide bombings
· Yusef Al Qaradawi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and active supporter of Hamas and other violent groups, who has called for suicide bombings and taking over the United States
· Qazi Hussein Ahmed, leader of Pakistani Jamaat-e-Islami, a militant group that supports violent “jihad” or holy war
· Ramzi Yousef, the top organizer of the World Trade Center bombing
· Sheikh Abdulmunem Abu Zant, a militant Jordanian Islamic cleric, who has routinely called for violence
· Ishaq Al-Farhan, a leader of the militant Islamic Jordan Action Front who has issued numerous exhortations to carry out violence
· Wagdi Ghuniem, a militant Islamic cleric from Egypt, who has called for jihad against Jews and other “enemies of Islam.” (Curiously, on one of his recent visits to the United States, Ghuniem was barred from entering Canada because of his terrorist affiliations and sent back to the United States, where he continued his tour exhorting Islamic groups to carry out violence.)
Loopholes and weaknesses of immigration controls:
Foreign nationals who are terrorist operatives routinely utilize false identity documents to illegally enter the US and/or remain here once they have entered. There are no shortages of examples in this regard – the recent Washington State and Vermont arrests clearly show this. The ability of Islamic Jihad leader Abdel Aziz Odeh to have entered the US numerous times, without leaving a record under his real name, is yet another example. Ghazi Ibrahim Abu Mezer and Lafi Khalil were arrested on July 31, 1997 in a Brooklyn apartment by police officers from the New York City Police Department, based on a tip that people in the apartment were intending to bomb the New York subway system. The arrests narrowly averted a series of bombings that could have killed hundreds of commuters. After the arrests, police determined that Mezer and Khalil were in the United States illegally. Mezer was apprehended three times by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in the thirteen months prior to the arrest in New York for attempting to illegally enter the United States from Canada. At the time of arrest, the INS had begun formal deportation proceedings against him, but he was free on bail and had filed a request for political asylum based on his fear that the Israeli government would arrest him for membership in Hamas. False documents are as important to terrorists and their organizations as their guns and bombs — they are tools that help them ply their international trade of death and destruction.
In addition to false documents, alien terrorists and their support operatives frequently engage in immigration benefit fraud. One of the most glaring examples would be asylum fraud. All one has to do is show up at a US port of entry, even without documents, utter the two magic words “political asylum,” have any moderately truthful sounding story and one is likely to be processed in – at least temporarily. The tightening of the asylum process over the past couple of years has helped – but, be a fraudulent asylum claimant showing up at a very busy Point of Entry such as JFK Airport or Miami International Airport – and you are likely to remain in detention for only a short time before you are paroled out to (hopefully) appear at a later hearing! If a name (real or false) does not appear in any of the lookout systems and the applicant merely has an alleged “friend” to stay with in the US, then parole from detention is most likely. Of course, it goes without saying, terrorist aliens so released seldom show up again – and the INS, because of serious manpower shortages and conflicting priorities, rarely pursues such absconders. Of course, any number of other immigration fraud schemes abound – marriage fraud, other familial relation fraud, naturalization fraud, work visa fraud (H-1 and L-1 and “E” status – as used by Islamic Jihad officials Ramadan Abdullah Shallah and Bashir Nafi), investor fraud and religious worker fraud.
Smuggling of alien terrorist operatives – apart from the noted utilization of false documents: alien terrorists use established alien smuggling pipelines across both the US-Mexico and US-Canada border. Maritime smuggling along the coasts, particularly via the Caribbean as well as East and West Coast seaports, occurs. How easy can it be for a terrorist operative to bribe his/her way onto a freighter destined to a busy US seaport, and simply be hidden aboard the vessel until Customs and INS have done their routine inspections, then to simply disembark the vessel?
The issue of classified evidence in immigration proceedings is now under assault by editorialists in the media and from some members of Congress. What they forget is that these proceedings are administrative in nature – not criminal – and such evidence, in spite of all the recent hoopla, is only rarely and very selectively utilized. Deportation proceedings ultimately result in a person being removed from the US – not sentenced to prison (as in criminal proceedings) – even though aliens may be detained while those proceedings go forward. As such, it should be remembered that aliens detained hold their own cell keys -all they have to is simply agree to be deported and they can be free – just not in the US. Moreover, Congress itself approved of the Classified Information Procedures Act, in which classified information can be introduced in criminal trials without releasing this information to the defendant.
Unfortunately, too many senior INS managers do not recognize the critically important role INS enforcement branches, particularly the Investigations Division, can and should play in the counter-terrorism and national security arena. These are officials at both the HQ and field levels. INS has but a small contingent of agents dedicated to this work – and, often those do not receive the recognition and support from higher management they should. INS should have at least a hundred field agents assigned to these missions – at least the same it has assigned to Organized Crime Drug Task Force efforts – but in fact INS has less than half that assigned to counter-terrorist efforts in the field. I have been told that it is not unusual for very senior INS officials – especially at headquarters (who should know otherwise), when the topic of counter-terrorism arises in senior staff meetings, to state, “that’s the FBI’s responsibility” and “what does INS have to do with that”! Certain key, senior INS managers fail to even understand and recognize the very statutes within the Immigration and Nationality Act they are charged with enforcing!
New information on the Algerian and Jordanian terrorist plots:
Last fall, a stateless Mauritanian flew from Germany to Montreal. Within days before and after his visit to a group of Algerian nationals living in Montreal, several members of that group flew to Chechnya; another group traveled to Vancouver and another headed for the Vermont border.
According to a superceding federal indictment released last week, Ressam and a still fugitive accomplice Abdelmajid Dahoumane plotted ” to destroy or damage structures, conveyances or other real or personal property within the United States.” The plot, which stretches back to at least 1998, according to federal authorities, called for compartmentalized cells to be activated in the United States. No one cell would know about the others, in the event that any of the participants got arrested. Members of another cell belonging to the same group and entering the United States through Vermont border crossings were to rendezvous in a still undisclosed location in the northeast. Ressam was to be met in Seattle by a Brooklyn based Algerian Abdel Ghani Meskini. While Ressam had planned to fly to London after leaving the explosives laden car for someone else to pick up, Meskini was to fly from Seattle to Chicago to help secure additional funding for the Islamic terrorist group. Telephone toll records, released by prosecutors, show that the Seattle cell was in contact with the Vermont-based cell through third party numbers.
The Mauritanian, whose arrival in Montreal from Germany last fall appeared to trigger some of the movements of the cell, is still believed to be in Montreal. Germany had notified Canada of this man’s departure from Germany and pending arrival in Montreal. US authorities believe the Mauritanian was connected to the Al Qaeda organization, the terrorist group headed by Osama bin Laden and had been to Pakistan and Afghanistan where he trained in camps operated by bin Laden.
At about the same time that the Mauritanian left Germany for Montreal to rendezvous with the Algerian terrorist cells, several other Islamic militants connected to bin Laden began activating another terrorist plot. Khalil Deek, a Palestinian who became a US citizen in 1991, traveled from Peshawar, Pakistan to Amman, Jordan, where he helped organize a terrorist plot to bomb tourist sites, including the Radisson hotel. In charges made public last week, Jordanian prosecutors alleged that Deek conspired to carry out terrorist attacks in Jordan and had acquired explosives in furtherance of that conspiracy. A dozen Jordanians and an Iraqi and Algerian were arrested by Jordanian authorities in the first week of December as being members of that same conspiracy. Deek had been extradited from Pakistan to Jordan on December 17, 1999. Deek served as facilitator in the underground railroad operated by bin Laden, arranging the transport of terrorists and explosives.
According to intelligence sources, Deek trained in a bin Laden camp near Khost, Afghanistan. An accomplice of Deek in the same bin Laden camp, a person by the name of Idris, was arrested by Pakistani authorities at the same time that Deek had been picked up. Another terrorist colleague of Deek, a Palestinian who goes by the name Abu Zubeida, escaped arrest as did another suspected conspirator in the Jordanian plot, a man named Hejazzi. Hejazzi traveled on an American passport and had previously driven a taxi in the Boston metropolitan area. He had rented a house in Amman where he stored a vast amount of explosives. Hejazzi’s whereabouts are unknown today. US authorities believe that he was connected to other members of terrorist cells still active in the United States. That he was able to acquire a US passport and use of the US as a base of operations only further illustrates the problem we face.
Hejazzi’s accomplice, Deek, who had lived in Anaheim, California, is the focus of a still unraveling US investigation. US authorities acquired his computer disks and are now studying them. Although Deek’s brother told a reporter last week that he (Khalil Deek) had left the United States in March 1997, federal authorities believe that he may have been in the United States as recently as September 1999–although they are not certain at this moment as they try to reconstruct his movements. But authorities have determined that while he lived in the United States, he was involved in wiring transactions of sums totaling tens of thousands of dollars to overseas destinations. Interestingly, Deek made the transactions not from Anaheim, where he lived and worked, but rather from Chicago, where he flew multiple times en route to Pakistan. Deek was also associated with a Californian registered Islamic non-profit charity called Charity Without Borders, whose existence was disclosed last week. As also disclosed, Deek’s brother, Tawfeeq, has been involved with the Islamic Association for Palestine, described by former FBI official Oliver Revell as a “front group” for Hamas, and has allowed his mosque to host fundraisers for the Holy Land Fund for Relief and Development, a non-profit fundraising organization that has been linked to Hamas, with offices in Texas, Illinois and New Jersey.
Although the President’s Executive Order of January 1995–and renewed again several days ago–orders the seizure of assets belonging to terrorist groups, and the 1996 anti-terrorist legislation similarly ordered the freezing of terrorist assets of some 30 groups, very little money has actually been seized. With the primary exception of funds belonging to Musa Marzook, the head of the Hamas politburo who was deported in 1997, the US Government has not designated terrorist affiliates in the United States.
The problem, of course, is that terrorists don’t openly raise funds for explosives or guns but rather for “humanitarian” purposes, such as education or for orphans.
The use of Canada by terrorists: Details of Hezbollah’s modus operandi:
Long before the arrests in Montreal of Algerian terrorists last December, Canada had witnessed its soil being used by foreign based terrorists. As stated by Ward Elock, Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, on January 24, 1998, in testimony delivered to the Special Committee of the Senate on Security and Intelligence, “With perhaps the singular exception of the United States, there are more international terrorist groups active here in than in any country in the world. The Counter-Terrorism Branch is currently investigating over 50 organizational targets and 350 individual terrorist targets…By way of example, the following terrorist groups acting on behalf have been and are active in Canada: Hezbollah and other Shiite Islamic terrorist organizations; several Sunni Islamic Extremist groups, including Hamas, with ties to Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Lebanon and Iran; the Provisional IRA; the Tamil Tigers; the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK); and all of the world’s major Sikh terrorist groups.”
Hezbollah in Canada:
Hezbollah has been particularly active in both Canada and the United States. One of those arrested in Canada was Mohammed Hussein al-Husseini, arrested in March 1997. In seeking to deport al-Husseini, who arrived in Canada in 1991 without travel documents and who was immediately granted refugee status based on his fear of prosecution in Lebanon, Canadian authorities filed an extensive memo in 1993 detailing his involvement with Hezbollah. In interviews conducted by Canadian authorities, al-Husseini admitted that he was a member of Hezbollah and “provided information, which revealed a great deal of knowledge of the inner workings of Hezbollah, including names and positions of Hezbollah officials.” And when asked about the existence of Hezbollah in Montreal, he stated flatly, “Yes Hezbollah has members in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto–in all of Canada.” Al-Husseini provided extensive material on the modus operandi of Hezbollah, from the tasking of its missions in Iran to the support it has enlisted in specific Canadian Islamic centers. One of the most interesting pieces of information he provided was that video of potential Canadian targets was taken by Hezbollah members in Canada and sent back to Hezbollah headquarters in Lebanon for contingency planning in the event that Hezbollah would want to target Canada.
After being granted refugee status, al-Husseini flew back to Lebanon in August 1993–and returned to Canada in early September 1993, this time with a new Lebanese passport, which revealed a US visa issued to him in Montreal on May 20, 1993. An entry stamp to the United States was dated September 1, 1993.
In 1997, Canada charged two Saudi-born men who had entered Canada the previous year with being members of Islamic terrorist organizations. One of them was Hani Al-Sayegh, accused of being a member of the Saudi branch of Hezbollah and being an active participant in the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia on June 25, 1996 that killed 19 Americans. Al-Sayegh arrived in Canada on August 16, 1996 from Kuwait. But he first traveled to Italy and then to Boston, where according to US intelligence officials, he made contact with members of an Islamic terrorist group. From Boston, he went to Canada. According to documents filed by Canadian authorities, “conducted surveillance at the site of the [Khobar] bombing. On the day of the bombing, he was the driver of the car which signaled the explosives-laden truck to enter the parking lot.” After entering into a plea agreement with the US Department of Justice, Al-Sayegh agreed to be extradited to the United States, where he was to plead guilty to a charge of conspiring to kill US nationals in exchange for a ten-year sentence. But after arriving in the United States, Aal-Sayegh withdrew his plea agreement and in the absence of admissible corroborative evidence, the Department of Justice was forced to withdraw its charges. Al-Sayegh was subsequently deported to Saudi Arabia.
Canadian authorities have been courageously open about the degree to which their country has become a base of operations for terrorists. I think this openness should be lauded for it helps provide the public with the necessary information to evaluate policy decisions. While certain components of Canadian policies, such as the ease in which terrorists have entered Canada in recent years, are glaring in their absence of proper oversight, the willingness of Canadian intelligence and law enforcement to publicly acknowledge the problem on Canadian soil should be applauded.
The most recent report, Terrorism 2000/2001, by the Canadian Intelligence Security Service on December 18, 1999, and which can be read on the Internet makes for very instructive and important reading. I have cited three sections in particular:
34. For a number of reasons, Canada is an attractive venue for terrorists. Long borders and coastlines offer many points of entry, which can facilitate movement to and from various sites around the world, particularly the United States. As a wealthy industrial society, Canada is an excellent location in which to raise money in the name of causes abroad. The nation accepts large numbers of immigrants and refugees, and consequently has significant Ã©migrÃ© communities, which can be a source of haven and support.
35. Many of the world’s terrorist groups have a presence in Canada, where they engage in a variety of activities in support of terrorism, including:
· logistical support for offshore terrorism through efforts to obtain weapons and equipment to be shipped abroad, such as electrical detonators for explosives, or remote-control devices that can be adapted for use in the remote detonation of bombs. In one case, a Canadian was involved in an attempt to purchase a Stinger missile for PIRA;
· attempts to establish an operational support base in Canada, to enable groups to send in hit teams for attacks on targets of opportunity;
· fundraising, advocacy, propaganda. For example, not long ago members of the Kurdish PKK tried to enter Canada illegally to carry out a leadership, propaganda and fundraising role;
· intimidation and manipulation of Canadian citizens in Ã©migrÃ© communities to support activities for homeland issues;
· a safe haven for terrorists. The recent case of the Saudi Arabian, Hani al-Sayegh, implicated in the Al Khobar bombing, provides one example of this trend;
· use of Canada as a base to arrange and direct terrorist activities in other countries. This is a particular problem with some members of Sikh terrorist groups whose leaders continue to endeavor to use Canada as their headquarters; and
· raising money through illegal activities. Tamil Tiger supporters have been accused of raising money through intimidation and the manufacture and sale of false passports and documentation.
36. Authorities have been reasonably successful in thwarting the growth of right-wing extremism across the North American continent, but the activities of some groups continue to pose a substantial threat. The Militia Movement, for example, while not established in Canada, has endeavored to expand northward–a cache of weapons and equipment belonging to an American group was discovered in British Columbia.
Think tanks as a conduit for visa issuance: A case study of the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE) and the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR):
The United States is full of educational institutes and think tanks that issue visas to foreign individuals in order to have them work for these institutes. This process has not evaded the sphere of those groups which pursue radical and extremist agendas and that serve as apparatuses for foreign terrorist organizations abroad. The utilization of these institutes allows radicals, terrorists and militant activists from abroad to enter the United States with little or no monitoring by the federal government. Two prime examples of this method are the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE), a now-defunct Islamic think tank based in Tampa, Florida with alleged ties to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization; and the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR), a fully operational Islamic think tank based in Springfield, Virginia, against which have been levied claims of providing a headquarters for Hamas operatives in the United States.
WISE and ICP:
“Yes for Jihad in the name of Allah, yes for Islam, yes for the Intifadah. We’re going toward the future that Allah promised us. Allah is one. Mohammad is the leader. The Koran is our constitution. Jihad is our path. Victory to Islam. Death to Israel.” (Translated from Arabic)
It would be understandable if one assumed that the statements above were taken from a rally or speech in the Middle East; however, this was the conclusion to a speech that took place in the heartland of America: Chicago, Illinois on September 29, 1991. The speaker was Dr. Sami al-Arian, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of South Florida in Tampa. In addition to his professorial role, al-Arian was the president of a Palestinian charity organization known as the Islamic Committee for Palestine (ICP), the organization that sponsored the Chicago rally, and the incorporating “chairman of the board” of an Islamic research organization known as the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE). Both of these organizations ceased to exist after 1995 due to the ascension of one of their leadership alumni, Dr. Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, to the role of Secretary General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad based in Damascus, Syria.
The Islamic Committee for Palestine (ICP) and the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE) were two organizations defined by Special INS Agent William West as “fronts for the purpose of fund-raising activities for the Islamic Jihad and the Hamas terrorist organizations and…also engage in other support-type activities, primarily to allow for the perceptually legitimate entry of foreign nationals, aliens into the United States who are leaders and/or operatives of the Islamic Jihad, Hamas and other terrorist organizations.” WISE was incorporated in Tampa, Florida in 1991. At that time, the institute’s executive director was Dr. Khalil Shikaki, the brother of then-Secretary General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Dr. Fathi Shikaki. ICP was incorporated in 1988 and was headed by Dr. al-Arian personally.
Under the auspices of WISE, al-Arian arranged for entry visas into the United States for the primary leaders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization hierarchy. Among these were Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, the current head of the Islamic Jihad in Damascus; and Dr. Bashir Nafi. In late October 1995, Shallah was appointed the new Secretary General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to succeed Dr. Fathi Shikaki, who had been assassinated days earlier in Malta. Nafi, whose visa applications stated that he was Director of Research for WISE, appeared at a conference in Lebanon, in October 1994, of Islamic and opposition leaders opposed to the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, alongside Dr. Fathi Shikaki. Nafi was deported from the United States in 1996, following Shallah’s ascension to the leadership of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and based on his violation of the stipulations of his visa which dictated that he would be working at WISE in Tampa. In 1996, Nafi was working at the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) in Herndon, Virginia. As a side note, a letter written by Ramadan Abdullah Shallah to the University of South Florida indicated that this institute, IIIT, was the primary funder of WISE.
In addition to these individuals, al-Arian’s ICP played host to other radicals from around the world, gathered at conferences sponsored by the ICP in St. Louis, Missouri in 1988 and in Chicago, Illinois from 1989 until 1992. The other radicals appearing at these conferences included Sheikh Abdel Aziz Odeh, the spiritual leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad; Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for his spiritual role in a plot to blow up various landmarks and bridges in the New York City area in 1993; Sheikh Rashhid Ghannoushi, the leader of the Tunisian Al-Nahdah Movement, who was exiled from Tunisia in 1989 after being found guilty of conspiring to carry out violence against the Tunisian regime; Leith Shbeilat, a militant Islamic opposition figure in Jordan, who has been in and out of prison in Jordan for his role in incitement of riots against the Jordanian government and whose name now appears on the website for the Jordanian Association Against Zionism and Racism; Anwar Haddam, spokesperson for the Algerian Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), who is currently appealing a deportation order in the United States for his ties to terrorist activities; and Sheikh Saeed Sha’aban, the leader of Lebanese Tawheed Movement, who passed away in 1999.
In 1992, in a further attempt to legitimize its activities, WISE (represented by Ramadan Abdullah Shallah) signed a cooperative agreement with the Committee for Middle East Studies at the University of South Florida in Tampa. As a joint event with the university, WISE invited Rashhid Ghannoushi, whose radical ties have been discussed earlier, to speak at a roundtable symposium at the university. When the Department of State refused to grant a visa to Ghannoushi, WISE (primarily Sami al-Arian) petitioned the State Department for Ghannoushi’s admission, but was denied. It is clear through these efforts that WISE, through its legitimizing agreement with USF, attempted to, as Special Agent William West stated, “allow for the perceptually legitimate entry of foreign nationals, aliens into the United States who are leaders and/or operatives of the Islamic Jihad, the Hamas and other terrorist organizations.”
Since 1995, WISE and Dr. al-Arian have been the subjects of a federal investigation in Tampa to determine their role as a front for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization. As stated in West’s November 1995 Affidavit:
Based upon the facts and information that I have set forth in the instant affidavit, I have probable cause to believe that ICP and WISE were utilized by Sami Al-Arian and Ramadan Abdullah Shallah as “fronts” in order to enable individuals to enter the United States, in an apparent lawful fashion, despite the fact that these individuals were international terrorists. Among the unlawful methods employed by these terrorist organizations are the apparent lawful procurement and use of visas and other documents relating to immigration which enables terrorists and other excludable aliens to gain entry into the United States through false statements, misrepresentations, and other forms of fraud.
This statement encapsulates the problems associated with current visa issuance guidelines. By providing an organizational structure to host undesirable individuals, Dr. al-Arian and others at WISE and other similar organizations are able to exploit the law to their advantage to further their illegal goals.
Musa Abu Marzook and UASR:
The United Association for Studies and Research (UASR), an Islamic think tank now based in Springfield, Virginia, was founded in 1989 in Chicago, Illinois by a number of prominent Islamic radials living in the US, primary among whom was Musa Abu Marzook.
Musa Abu Marzook, a.k.a. Abu Omar, was the head of the Hamas Political Bureau since 1988, while he was resident in the United States. Hamas (Harakat Al-Muqawama Al-Islamia fi Filastin – The Islamic Resistance Movement in Palestine) is one of the most militant Islamic groups in the world and is included in the United States Department of State’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations that are outlawed pursuant to the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. Hamas has claimed responsibility for numerous suicide bombing attacks within Israel resulting in the deaths of scores of innocent Israelis.
On July 27, 1995, Marzook was arrested at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport because “he played an important role in supervising the activities of the military wing to Hamas [the wing responsible for the terrorist attacks] and in appointing individuals to important leadership roles in the military wing.” In the United States, Abu Marzook was “responsible for the Muslim Brothers organization in the U.S. and resigned from this job in order to devote his time to activities dedicated to Palestine” following the foundation of the Hamas. Marzook, who was born in the Gaza Strip, was a close associate of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the Islamic cleric who founded Hamas as an organization distinct from its parent group Muslim Brotherhood.
Marzook first came to the United States in the late 1970s, although immigration records show that he formally began residing in the United States starting in 1981. Marzook and his family lived in a number of locations during their 14 years in the United States, including Colorado, Louisiana and Virginia. He and his family moved to Falls Church, Virginia in 1991.
Between 1993 and 1995, Marzook resided principally in Jordan, which deported him in June 1995 for his involvement and senior position in Hamas. In July 1995, after making trips to Iran and Syria, Abu Marzook attempted to reenter the United States at which time he was arrested by customs and INS officials at the request of the Israeli government which sought to prosecute Abu Marzook for numerous crimes in connection with his leadership role in Hamas. In October 1995, acting at the request of the Israeli government, the United States initiated extradition proceedings against Abu Marzook based on pending Israeli criminal charges that included murder, attempted murder and conspiracy stemming from Hamas-sponsored terrorist acts.
At the time of his arrest, Abu Marzook was a permanent resident alien of the United States. In 1990, he and his family received their Green Cards in an INS lottery that offered “permanent legal residency” to potential immigrants. In affidavits filed by Deputy United States Attorney Shirah Neiman, the role of Abu Marzook in Hamas activities was discussed as follows:
In his role as head of political bureau, Abu Marzook financed certain activities of Hamas, including terrorist activities against soldiers and civilians in the Territories and Israel. In addition, he played an important role in supervising the activities of the military wing to Hamas (the wing responsible for the terrorist attacks) and in appointing individuals to important leadership roles in the military wing. Throughout most of the relevant period, he resided in the United States.
The arrest of Mohamad Salah, Mohamad Jarad and Nasser Hidmi by the Israeli authorities marked an important turning point into the investigation of Hamas. What was revealed as a result of interrogations and confessions of these individuals (Salah and Jarad were both residents of Chicago, Illinois, and Hidmi was a student at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas) was the importance of the United States as an operational base for Hamas. Under the leadership of Musa Abu Marzook, the Hamas headquarters in the United States was able to operate virtually unimpeded from the intense scrutiny of authorities.
On January 25, 1993, Salah and Jarad, two high ranking Hamas operatives with United States citizenship, were arrested by the Israeli General Security Services (GSS) with aid of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The Israeli authorities obtained the most significant information against Musa Abu Marzook from Salah, a.k.a “Abu Ahmad.” In these statements, Salah exposed the pivotal role of Musa Abu Marzook in the Hamas organization. Musa Abu Marzook directed the Hamas organization’s activities, the allocation of its resources and the transfer of funds: “Abu Marzook specifically directed funds towards Hamas’ ‘military’ (i.e. terror) activities, encouraged acts of terror, and played an important role in overseeing certain ‘military’ aspects of Hamas’ operations and in making ‘military.'”
On October 10, 1994, Abu Marzook appeared in a television interview broadcast from the “Al Manar” television station in Lebanon. This was only one day after the October 9, 1994 shootings in which two Hamas terrorists killed two and wounded eighteen persons in a suicide attack on pedestrian mall in downtown Jerusalem. In interview Marzook stated as follows:
“Death is the goal to every Muslim and every fighter wants to die on Palestinian land. This is not the first time that the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassem heroes carry out suicide and terrorism actions. “
“The peace process, as described by Arafat more than once, is a failure. By these actions, we do not strive to foil the talks and the negotiations. We are doing them for a much higher aim and they are steps on the way for a full restitution of the rights of the Palestinian people.”
The succeeding passages of the interview put to rest any doubt and made clear that Marzook was providing endorsement for the violent attacks carried out by Hamas:
Q: what about the assessments that one of those killed is a Palestinian policeman?
A: We believe that one day the entire Palestinian police will join the ranks of its people and join the fight against the enemy..
Q: Christopher denounced the action and called to Arafat to denounce it and prevent similar actions in the future. We also saw that Faisal Al-Huseini also denounced the action. What are your expectations as regards Arafat’s reaction to Christopher’s instructions?
A: Arafat promised to stop the attacks since the signing of the Cairo Agreement and he said that they were obliged to do their best to do so.
Arafat has no connection with this kind of activity and he cannot prevent it. the Hamas movement has been expressing its opposition and rejection of the agreement for a long time, and explained that it will continue according to the principle of the Jihad and God’s instructions and will stick to its stand.
On October 18, 1994, Abu Marzook was interviewed by the Lebanese Ad-Dyiar newspaper. At the beginning of the interview, the writer states that “Ad-Dyiar interviewed Dr. Musa Abu Marzook, head of the Political Bureau of the Movement, who arrived in Lebanon in order to take part in the Islamic National Congress and in order to meet with Lebanese leaders.” In the course of this interview, Abu Marzook was asked if he could speak about the operations of the Movement. This was Marzook’s answer:
The operations reflect the Jihad (Holy War) policy of the Movement in confronting the Zionist enemy… We fulfill our hope by way of Shahadah (martyrdom)… We will continue this line of Jihad until we realize this right.
Marzook also stated:
The jihad brings honor to all Muslims. Until Jerusalem is freed and Palestine is returned to its owners. This is the basis for the participation of the young Egyptian in the recent East Jerusalem action.
In an interview dated October 14, 1994, in Al-Ahed, Abu Marzook referred to himself as the “head of the Political Bureau of the Hamas Movement” and stated in response to the question “is it possible the Hamas Movement has decided to take steps in martyrdom missions in order to fight the occupation”:
Martyrdom is the goal of every Muslim and death is the highest hope of that holy fighter on the land of Palestine. This was not the first martyrdom mission which the heroes of Al-Qassam have undertaken, it is rather continuing missions.
With this description of the founder of the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR), it is also instructive to describe the activities of that organization prior to exploring its usage in the visa issuance sphere. Another member of the “inner circle” of UASR alongside Abu Marzook, and who has served as the Executive Director of the institute since it moved to Virginia in 1991, is Ahmed Bin Yousef, aka Yousef Salah.
A popular UASR volume by Ahmed Bin Yousef is a tribute to Hamas founder and leader Ahmed Yassin entitled Ahmed Yassin: The Phenomenon, the Miracle, and the Legend of the Challenge [UASR, 1990]. It contains odes of praise and letters extolling the imminent victory of Hamas over the Jews, such as this letter from a Hamas activist in Chicago to the Hamas fighters in Palestine: “Greetings to you from here in America, from over the seas, that you may know that we are your sons of the era, the era of Allah, the era of Islam, the era of Palestine, the era of Jihad, the era of Hamas, until complete liberation of all Palestine from the river to the sea!”
According to a February 17, 1993 New York Times article written by journalist Judith Miller, who had observed Israeli interrogation sessions, Mohammed Abdel Hamid Salah, a Hamas terrorist convicted by an Israeli court, confessed that “the political command of Hamas in the United States is at the United Association for Studies and Research in Springfield, Virginia. He [Salah] identified the Hamas leader in the United States as the head of the institute, Ahmad Yousef [sic], a writer whose code name he said was Abu Ahmed. He [Salah] also said that Musa Abu Marzouk [sic], known as Abu Omar, 51, of Arlington, Virginia, was the political chief….”
According to Ronni Shaked, an Israeli journalist and former member of the Israeli security establishment, in his book entitled Hamas: From Belief in Allah to the Road of Terror, Ahmed Bin Yousef is named as the person “in charge of all Hamas activities.”
In a pamphlet called Hamas: Background of Its Inception and Horizons of Its March , Ahmed Bin Yousef wrote that Hamas represents a “conflict between Islamic thought and Western thought and…a conflict of existence and destiny between the Jewish capitalist alliance and the Muslim people in Palestine.”
Under the auspices of this organization with clear ties to the Hamas movement in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, work visas have been issued for foreign individuals with determinable links to the Hamas movement.
According to an Affidavit by Ephraim Rabin of Israel’s General Security Service, Nasser Al-Khatib returned to the United States in 1994 to work for UASR. In an Affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Robert Wright on June 8, 1998 (pursuant to a civil forfeiture case presented in Chicago, Illinois, against the property of individuals suspected of providing financial support for the terrorist activities of Hamas within the State of Israel), Mr. Wright characterized Al-Khatib as follows:
53. FBI review of bank records also show that during the same period, Nasser Al-Khatib (“Al-Khatib”), a United States-based supporter and financial backer of HAMAS and close associate of Abu Marzook, wire transferred additional funds into Salah controlled accounts in Chicago. In an interview with the FBI in March of 1994, Al-Khatib acknowledged being a supporter of HAMAS and that he donated money to HAMAS causes. Al-Khatib further related that prior to leaving the United States in June of 1993, he was an employee of Abu Marzook, serving essentially as Abu Marzook’s personal secretary. In that capacity, Al-Khatib explained, he had access to and was a signatory to some of Abu Marzook’s financial accounts, and that he had made financial transactions on Abu Marzook’s behalf. (The footnote to this reads: Al-Khatib had previously written a check to Salah on August 21, 1992, immediately prior to Salah’s trip to Israel during which he gave money to Salah Al-Arouri for the purchase of arms for HAMAS military operations See Para. 15-20….)
According to published reports, there has been an ongoing grand jury investigation in New York to explore the activities of Hamas within the United States. This grand jury investigation was apparently precipitated by the extradition trial of Musa Abu Marzook and the arrest and conviction in Israel of Mohammed Abdel Hamid Salah (who was released by Israel in 1997 after being imprisoned since 1993). Pursuant to this grand jury investigation, Mr. Abdelhalim Al-Ashkar was called before the grand jury in the spring of 1998. Al-Ashkar was held in contempt after refusing to answer the questions posed by the grand jury and was afterwards incarcerated. He was subsequently let out of prison after it became clear that he would not change his mind about testifying.
According to the April 2, 1998 edition of the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Risala (which is controlled by the Hamas movement in Gaza), Al-Ashkar was a Research Associate at UASR at the time that he was called before the grand jury to testify.
Prior to moving to the United States, Al-Ashkar had served as head of Public Relations at the Islamic University in Gaza for a period of about eight years. According to documents submitted in the Abu Marzook extradition proceedings, this University was founded by, among others, Abu Marzook and Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin (about whom UASR has written extensively).
Al-Ashkar came to the United States pursuing post-graduate studies at the University of Mississippi where he founded the Al-Aqsa Educational Fund in the United States. According the April 2, 1998 Al-Risala article, this fund “chooses, indiscriminately, several needy students from the families of martyrs or detainees and provides them with financial support in the form of tuition, registration and admission to the university.” Intelligence sources have verified that the Al-Aqsa Educational Fund is tied to the Al-Aqsa Foundation in Germany which was deemed illegal in Israel for its connections with Hamas.
Islamic militants on the lecture circuit in the United States:
“The Jews distort words from their meanings…they killed the prophets and worshipped idols…Allah says he who equips a warrior of Jihad is like the one who makes Jihad himself.” In Arabic, Wagdi Ghuniem, a militant Islamic cleric from Egypt, mesmerized his audience, with his relentless tirade against the Jews, reminding them of the Jews’ “infidelity,” “stealth” and “deceit.” Known for his folksy deliveries and exhortations to commit violence against the Jews, Ghuniem did not disappoint his crowd, several of whom had come just to hear him. The conflict with the Jews, he said, was not over land but one of religion. “The problem of Palestine is not a problem of belief… suppose the Jews said ‘Palestine–you [Muslims] can take it.’ Would it then be ok? What would we tell them? No! The problem is belief, it is not a problem of land.“
Ghuniem then led his rapt audience, which numbered as many as 500, in a special song, the audience responsively repeating each refrain:
No to the Jews
Descendants of the Apes
We Vow to Return
Despite the Obstacles
The administrators of Brooklyn College would probably have been surprised to learn that their campus was the site of an incendiary rally more similar to those held in Gaza than those held in the United States. On May 24, 1998, a special all-day program was held in the Walt Whitman Auditorium of Brooklyn College in Brooklyn, New York. Organized by the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), an American-headquartered front group for Hamas, the program was entitled “Palestine: 50 Years of Occupation.” Eleven Islamic organizations co-sponsored the event, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and the Islamic Circle of North America. To the outside world, this conference probably seemed like one of the many seminars held on campus. Conducted almost entirely in Arabic, the conference featured Islamic speakers from the United States and abroad.
Ghuniem has traveled to the US on a regular basis, giving lectures in large and small venues. In 1997 and 1998, Ghuniem appeared at the Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA) (an Islamic group that supports the positions of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas in the United States) and IAP conferences, as well as at smaller events in local mosques and Islamic centers across the United States and Canada. Part of his popularity may stem from the fact that he speaks in a local rural Egyptian dialect and peppers his talks with humorous anecdotes. His rhetoric espouses a deep hatred for Jews. He often praises terrorists and terrorist attacks.
Interestingly, Sheik Ghuniem was denied entry to Canada in early January 1998 and detained as he tried to enter Windsor from Detroit. Ghuniem was on a whirlwind US-Canada lecture circuit, with scheduled stops in Los Angeles, New York, New Jersey, Detroit, San Diego, D.C., Toronto and Montreal. But the trip was rudely interrupted, if only temporarily, at the Canadian border. The reason he was barred? “Our (computerized information) system indicated he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas,” said Gerald Belanger, a Canadian immigration official as he was quoted in the Ottawa Citizen. Leaders of the Muslim communities in Detroit, Toronto and Windsor bitterly protested Ghuniem’s detention, as evidence of an anti-Muslim bias, claiming that Ghuniem was a “man of peace.” “He’s a very reasonable man” declared Hussein El-Hennawy, a MAYA official quoted in the Ottawa Citizen, “He teaches people to be peaceful.” MAYA has established the “Scholars Defense Fund,” to pursue legal action against the Canadian Government for its perceived “humiliation” of Ghuniem.
Canadian authorities released Ghuniem back to the United States and he returned to his lecture tour on behalf of militant Islamic groups in helping them recruit new members, raise funds and coordinate strategies with other militant Islamic leaders crisscrossing the United States. US officials say they are virtually powerless to stop the influx of known militants into the United States for reasons ranging from lack of adequate intelligence to easy circumvention of the watch list to legal restrictions in stopping self-described religious clerics from entering the United States.
Still, the question raised by Ghuniem’s numerous appearances in the United States is how do terrorists manage to enter the country?
One method has been those who deliberately overstay their student visas, some op who are dispatched from terrorist-supporting regimes. Some of these “students” have acquired visas for the purpose of attaining cover for their illicit activities as activists for terrorist organizations. Others receive advanced degrees in the US and return to their countries where some might work in nuclear, chemical or biological weapons programs. Although there is no official compilation of the number of student visas granted to would-be terrorists and agents of terrorist supporting regimes, one study currently in preparation shows that there are at least 200 terrorists or agents of terrorist regimes and organizations who have received student visas in the past decade to pursue undergraduate or graduate training.
To deal with this issue, the INS established a pilot program called “The Coordinated Inter-Agency Partnership Regulating International Students” or CIPRIS. It received congressional authorization in 1997. The CIPRIS program is comprised of a consortium including the INS, Department of State, USIA, Department of Education, 22 American schools and institutions, and a broad range of private sector consultants with expertise in data systems technology, telecommunications, academic advising, administration and records keeping. The goal of the pilot program is to examine the feasibility of monitoring foreign students in the United States–especially those from countries designated as State sponsors of terrorism. According to the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 1997, the Attorney General, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Education will issue a joint report on CIPRIS, no later than four years after the commencement of the pilot program.
Beyond the issue of how terrorists have been able to exploit student visas to stay in the United States for long periods of time, another major, even more frustrating, counter-terrorist problem is the ease in which terrorists and militants freely enter the US for shorter periods of time. The official purpose of such short visits is generally linked to invitations to appear at religious-based conferences and meetings at Islamic organizations in the United States attended primarily by American Muslims. The real purposes of these visits are to recruit new members of militant organizations; facilitate fundraising for militant activities, both in the U.S. and abroad; coordinate political and even military strategies with other militants leaders; indoctrinate new “foot soldiers;” and even participate in terrorist training sessions.
Every year, according to law enforcement officials and information obtained at Islamic conferences, dozens of militant Islamic clerics, officials, representatives and leaders of various terrorist organizations and movements come to the United States. These include Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al Gamat Al Islamiya, Sudanese National Islamic Front, Jordan’s Islamic Action Front, and Hezbollah. Visits by Islamic militants to the US are not a new phenomenon.
Some get into the United States using false identification, while others simply get in because they are not on any watch list. During these conferences, it is not uncommon to hear Islamic militants praise terrorists and terrorist attacks, attack the United States and the West, or call for the death of Jews and the destruction of the United States. For the most part, these incendiary lectures, almost invariably in Arabic, are not illegal insofar as the content, unless a specific act of violence is advocated, and fall under protected speech. Federal law enforcement is largely prohibited from attending the conferences at which these militants appear, because of the restrictions imposed by the Attorney General Guidelines against any surveillance of religious groups, unless there is ironclad evidence ahead of time that a crime or a conspiracy to commit a crime will take place. Of course, absent direct surveillance, it is almost impossible to obtain such evidence–which creates a Catch-22 conundrum. On the other hand, it must be remembered that the Attorney General Guidelines were issued in response to abuses by intelligence and law enforcement officials.
Even if the FBI were involved in greater surveillance, chances are that it would not witness the events going on behind the scenes–the most likely venue of any illegal activities–even though witnessing center stage activities would be considered shocking in and of itself. For example, the Islamic Association for Palestine held annual meetings in 1989 and 1990 in Kansas City where off stage, secret meetings were held with a pre-selected “class” of future Hamas terrorists who were taught car-bombings and other terrorist warfare. Meanwhile, at IAP’s “plenary” sessions–held in the Kansas City Convention center– several notorious militants and leaders of Hamas gave fiery speeches praising attacks by Hamas and other Islamic fundamentalist groups in language and rhetoric more familiar to Hamas rallies in the Middle East than to Kansas City. One of the most electrifying moments came when a keffiyeh-draped leader of the Izzadin Al-Qassem death squads–the military arm of Hamas–delivered a rousing account of the specific violent terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas.
The conferences mentioned above are but a few of the literally dozens of radical Islamic events held prior to the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993. Following the bombing and the subsequent investigations into the militant Islamic networks in the US and their ties to terrorist organizations abroad, it seemed likely that the US would seek to curtail the entrance of Islamic militants into the US. Yet conferences featuring prominent terrorist sympathizers and spokesmen for Islamic militancy have continued unabated.
Dr. Ishaq Al-Farhan:
Dr. Ishaq Al-Farhan is another Islamic militant who has succeeded in coming to the United States several times. Farhan is the current Secretary General of the Jordanian Islamic Action Front (IAF) – the largest Jordanian opposition party which serves as the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Jordan. There exists a strong relationship between the IAF and the international terrorist organization Hamas, which was also an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood philosophy. Both the IAF and Hamas are ideologically opposed to the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and are both opposed to the process of normalization occurring between Jordan and Israel as a result of the peace agreement signed between those parties in 1994. Pursuant to this ideology, the IAF has created a “Committee for Palestine,” whose primary objective is to stop the peace process and to prevent Jewish/Israeli tourism or investment in Jordan.
Farhan and Hamas:
Ishaq Al-Farhan has a long history with Hamas in the United States, which the State Department noted on its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations earlier this month. Nasser Hidmi, a Palestinian youth arrested in Israel in the early 1990s for attempting to detonate a bomb, exposed the role of the Hamas military wing in the United States and how this wing recruited new Hamas activists/terrorists within the United States. In his statements to the Israeli authorities, Hidmi described the role of Islamic conferences in the United States for the training of Hamas activists/terrorists. These conferences were sponsored by both the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) and the Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA). The conferences played host to militant Islamists from around the world including members of the Jordanian IAF. Farhan played an integral role in these conferences not merely as a speaker, but also as one of the individuals who recruited the Palestinian youth to partake in the activities of Hamas. In his statements to the Israeli authorities, Hidmi said:
At the Islamic Conference there were five thousand invited guests that stayed at hotels surrounding the center…. At the conference at Kansas City [in 1989], Muhammad Salah [a/k/a Abu Ahmed] gathered about twenty young men including myself, for a secret meeting of the activists of Hamas in a meeting hall at one of the hotels. At this meeting, Muhammad Salah and Ibrahim Al-Muzain [an officer of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), another United States-based charity that provides funding for Hamas within Israel] lectured to us. They informed us that all the young men that were present and were chosen for the secret meetings were from the Occupied Territories and were selected according to forms they filled out in the [refugee] camps. This was done in order that they will take part in activities that will support and strengthen the Intifadah within the framework of Hamas.
Hidmi’s statement also mentioned Ishaq Al-Farhan:
Among those that lectured to us was Ishaq Farhan who is a member of the Jordanian Parliament.
During the extradition trial of Musa Abu Marzook, the leader of the Political Bureau of Hamas, from July 1995 until April 1997, in the Southern District of New York, the US Embassy in Amman, Jordan, as well as the White House in Washington received a great number of requests for the release of Marzook. Ishaq Al-Farhan, as the Secretary General of the IAF, wrote letters demanding the release of Abu Marzook. In one of the letters dated May 13, 1996, Farhan calls “on all the governments of the Arab and Islamic Worlds and all defenders of human rights to raise their voices and demand the abolition of this decision and the release of Dr. Musa Abu Marzook, a prisoner of opinion and political struggle.”
On November 10, 1996, the American Embassy in Amman received the most militant threat regarding the release of Marzook, which stated the following:
We demand that you immediately release Dr. Musa Abu Marzook and urge you not to hand him over to the Zionist enemy…We warn you that if you do not release Dr. Musa Abu Marzook, and if you hand him over to the Jews, we will turn the ground upside down over your heads in Amman, Jerusalem, and the rest of the Arab countries and you will lament your dead just as we did to you in Lebanon in 1982 when we destroyed the Marine House with a boobytrapped car, and there are plenty of cars in our country. You also still remember the oil tanker with which we blew up your soldiers in Saudi Arabia.
Significantly, the State Department translated the above threat and had the following handwritten message on the translation: “The Arabic fax bears the Islamic Action Front [IAF] name.”
As noted above, Al-Farhan was an attendee at joint conferences of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) and the Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA). At these conferences in the early 1990s, Al-Farhan played an integral role in the recruitment of Palestinian youth for the Hamas movement. Al-Farhan’s continued appearances at such conferences are a direct affront to United States policy considerations. More recently, Al-Farhan was hosted by IAP in Chicago in December 1997 at its annual conference where he made the following statements, “We need to change this situation [where Muslim countries engage in trade primarily with Western countries] so that in the 21st century we will have more trade between Muslim countries and less trade with Western countries. Sudan is the model for independence from the West. Sudan deals with Muslim countries.” By allowing Al-Farhan free rein to come in and out of this country as he pleases, an affront has been created in opposition to the United States policy directive to combat terrorism and the spread of radicalism in our country.
Sheikh Yusef Al Qaradawi:
Sheik Yusef Al Qaradawi currently resides in Qatar and is one of the most popular clerics in the Muslim Brotherhood movement. In the past ten years, Qaradawi has been hosted in the United States by numerous radical Islamic organizations. In the month of November 1999 alone, he was hosted at three conferences in the United States: the conference of the Shariah Scholars Association of North America (SSANA) in Detroit, Michigan; the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) – Southeast Conference in Atlanta, Georgia; and the Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA) Convention held in Los Angeles, California.
Qaradawi possesses a worldwide following as a cleric; however, statements by him indicate his support of terrorist activities of such groups as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. He has even gone so far as to suggest that if one cannot actively participate in the armed struggle, then he or she should provide financial support such that the mujahideen can fight on behalf of all Muslims.
In an interview that appeared in the September 1999 edition of the Palestine Times, Qaradawi states his support for the “Islamic resistance in Lebanon and Palestine” which he says, “represents the glorious face of the Muslim Umma and serves as an example to that effect.” Furthermore, Qaradawi blesses “the martyrdom operations in which a given Muslim fighter turns himself or herself into a human bomb that casts terror in the hearts of the enemy…. If we can’t carry out acts of Jihad ourselves, we at least should support and prop up the Mujahideen financially and morally so that they will be steadfast until God’s victory.”
In a speech delivered by Qaradawi at the 1995 Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA) conference held in Toledo, Ohio, Qaradawi made the following statements:
…[T]his is what is told in the Hadith of Ibn-Omar and the Hadith of Abu-Hurairah: “You shall continue to fight the Jews and they will fight you, until the Muslims will kill them. And the Jew will hide behind the stone and the tree, and the stone and the tree will say: ‘Oh, servant of Allah, oh Muslim, this is a Jew behind me. Come and kill him!’ The resurrection will not come before this happens.
[In a question referring to the state of Islamic movements, Qaradawi responded]…Our brothers in Hamas, in Palestine, the Islamic resistance, the Islamic Jihad, after all the rest have given up and despaired, the movement of the Jihad brings us back our faith….
[In response to a question about suspension of Hamas’ military actions, Qaradawi responded] In regard to Palestine, I would like to say that we are in a standstill for a while, but that does not mean the end of history. As Sheikh Ahmed Yassin [of Hamas]…has said: “It is possible to make a truce limited in time, and this will never mean surrendering. We can bide our time, we can stand still for a while, get some rest, but the Jihad continues…until the Day of Resurrection.
In a sermon (Khuttba) Qaradawi delivered in March 1996, and that was made available at the official website of the Hamas terrorist organization (http://www.palestine-info.net), Qaradawi states that Hamas and Islamic Jihad suicide bombers are not engaged in terrorism, but rather in martyrdom, and that all members of Israeli society are valid targets for terrorism due to Israel’s universal conscription policy.
A lecture delivered by Qaradawi about Jihad, from March 14, 1997, was taken from his website (http://www.qaradawi.net), and the translation of the first paragraph of the Arabic text found on the website states the following:
Qaradawi reaffirmed that the Jihad is the only weapon to stop the Israeli ambitions. He demanded that the Islamic organizations Hamas, Jihad and Hezbollah will recommence their Jihad against the Jews in the Occupied Land. He called for the revival of the Intifadah in the face of the enemy which submits only to the logic of power.
Again, as was the case with Ishaq Al-Farhan, the relative ease with which Qaradawi is allowed to enter and leave the United States is an issue that should evoke concern on the part of the American counterterrorism policy establishment based on the radicalism which he espouses and the support that he gives to terrorist actions including suicide bombings.
Abdulmunem Abu Zant:
On April 21, 1996, the International Relief Association, a US-based charity organization, held a fundraiser “for the children of Iraq” in Brooklyn, NY. The main speaker at the event was Sheikh Abdulmunem Abu Zant, a militant Jordanian Islamic cleric. In the past, Abu Zant’s violent rhetoric has led him to be expelled from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Jordanian authorities have also detained him on several occasions. From 1990 to 1998, he was a deputy in the Jordanian parliament and the self-proclaimed leader of the most radical wing of the Islamic Action Front. His name and number were also found in Hamas chief Musa Abu Marzook’s telephone/address book. He is an ardent supporter of Hamas and has repeatedly called for holy war against Israel and the United States. Given these facts, his repeated entries into the US and his subsequent appearance at the Brooklyn fundraiser are perplexing.
During the 1991 Gulf War, Sheikh Abu Zant became famous for his virulent public exhortations of violence against Western “infidels.” According to Abu Zant, the war “is not a war between Iraq and the U.S., but rather one between Islam and the infidels.” In August 1990, he gave a sermon, during which he thundered “May God attack the Jews and those who stand with them. May God attack the Americans and those who stand with them. May God attack the Soviets and those who stand with them. May God attack the English and French and those who stand with them. May God destroy completely America and enslave the Jews for rejecting the ‘Islamic way.’ We call for a people’s war.” At another demonstration against US involvement in the Gulf Crisis later that month, Sheikh Abu Zant threatened that President Bush would leave the White House “as a cripple in a wheelchair.” He continued, “Bush, you have condemned your own people to death… Either we defeat you or we die for the sake of God.” During the first of these, to an audience of about 15,000 Islamic militants, Abu Zant shouted, “Mr. Bush, the fighters of Islam will turn your soldiers into human charcoal and send them back to you in bags!” He continued, “Oh women of America, prepare to shed tears for your sons and husbands!” The crowd answered him with loud cries of “Allahu Akhbar [God is Great]” and “Down with America.” Banners were unfurled at the rally that read “What is needed is a gravedigger to bury the Americans” and “We shall knock on the doors of paradise with the skulls of the Americans and Israelis.”
At another September, 1990 rally in Jordan of over 50,000 people, Abu Zant reaffirmed that “Moslems will kill all American and Western troops who are dirtying our Holy land, and their corpses will be sent home in black bags addressed to Bush.” Abu Zant frequently attacked moderate Arab regimes that had assembled against Iraq as “apostates” and issued frequent and insistent calls for jihad, or holy struggle, against Western forces engaged in conflict with Iraq.
However, Abu Zant’s militant Islamic crusade did not end with Iraq’s defeat during the Gulf War. He became one of the most outspoken proponents of the Palestinian Islamic terrorist group, Hamas. This was complemented by his unrelenting hostility to any peace with Israel or to anyone who would attempt to achieve it. In November 1994, Abu Zant was quoted as proposing a jihad “to liberate Palestine as an alternative to this surrender.” In May 1995, Abu Zant formally declared to the Jordanian parliament, “I demand the government withdraw from the peace treaty with so-called Israel, end all forms of normalization, and that it take back legislation that activates normalization with the Zionist enemy and allows them to buy land in Jordan.” Despite his consistent record of promoting radical Islamic fundamentalism and violence, less than one year later, Abu Zant was able to freely enter the United States to give his speech at the Brooklyn charity fundraiser. His militant crusade continues undeterred even today. This past October, Zant gave a fiery series of sermons denouncing the Jordanian government’s actions to restrict Hamas activity in the kingdom. He “hailed the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, as the spearhead of jihad (holy war) against the Jewish state.” The sermons were so bellicose that Jordanian authorities summarily arrested the cleric. Abu Zant’s violent opposition to the peace process, his support of the internationally-recognized terrorist group Hamas and his calls for holy struggle against the US were well-known and issued through public channels. Clearly, Western law enforcement agencies have good reason to prevent Abu Zant from traveling to their respective nations. The fact that such an individual was able to enter the United States at will raises a number of serious concerns about the effectiveness of our existing border control measures.
Terrorist fundraising in the United States – The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF):
The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) was founded as a non-profit charity in 1987. Although the Holy Land Foundation claims merely to be concerned with global crisis and with the Palestinian cause, it is an active Hamas supporter and acts as a financial conduit for Hamas. In addition, the Holy Land Foundation strives to legitimate Hamas’ activities by putting a humanitarian veneer on supporting terrorist activity in the Middle East.
Connections to Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzook:
Musa Abu Marzook, together with the Elashi family (his wife’s family), helped to found HLF during the beginning of the Palestinian Intifadah in 1987 and 1988. Moreover, the 1993 Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax Form 990 for the Holy Land Foundation shows that Abu Marzook donated $210,000 as a one time cash donation to the HLF in 1992. Nasser Al-Khatib, who was described as Marzook’s personal secretary in an Affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Robert Wright pursuant to a civil forfeiture case presented in Chicago, Illinois against the property of individuals suspected of providing financial support for the terrorist activities of Hamas within the State of Israel, is also listed on this Return as having given a one time cash donation of $22,450 also in 1992.
Shukri Abu Baker has served as HLF’s CEO since the organization was founded; however, the Abu Marzook/Elashi connection still exists through brothers Basman, Ghassan and Bayan Elashi, all of who have resided in close proximity to the HLF headquarters in Richardson, Texas.
Ronni Shaked, a former official in the Israeli General Security Service, commented on Hamas fundraising in a book he wrote based on his interviews with operatives while they were imprisoned:
The major channel for fund-raising for the Hamas organization in the United States is the Occupied Land Fund that was established in Los Angeles, California. In 1992, the organization changed its name to the Holy Land Foundation and moved to Richardson, Texas. The President of this organization is Shukri Abu Baker.
Evidence strongly suggests that the Holy Land Foundation provides a crucial financial service for Hamas family annuities to suicide bombers. These annuities assure a constant flow of suicide volunteers and buttress a terrorist infrastructure heavily reliant on moral support of the Palestinian populace. In the words of its literature, Holy Land Foundation supports “families of detainees, deportees and martyrs.” The offices of the HLF in Israel were closed by the Israeli authorities, based on the connection between HLF fundraising and support for the Hamas terrorist apparatus. HLF’s Jerusalem office chairman, Muhammad Anati, was arrested and indicted on charges of aiding and abetting a terrorist organization.
Exactly whom the HLF was supporting was addressed in the Israeli interrogation of HLF Jerusalem chairman Muhammad Anati. Anati stated the following about the organization:
I remember I used to send to the United States – pictures of orphans, photos of projects that we did, photos of refugee camps and also videos that used to arrive to videotape projects, refugee camps, and photos of historical places, such as the Machpelah Caves in Hebron, Jerusalem, etc…. They used to present the movies and the photos in front of the people in the United States – invited them to conferences to show these movies. During these conferences, they used to describe the organization – The Holy Land Foundation, about the charity, they used to describe it as an Islamic organization which helps people. They did not say directly that the organization supported Hamas, they told the people that the institute – The Holy Land Foundation – is an Islamic institute, which was connected and was supporting Hamas. During these gatherings about which I spoke, in which also the adopters who support the organization and transfer money and also newcomers would come to these conferences. During these conferences, they [the attendees] would get the idea – that this is an organization that supports Hamas….
Regarding your question, how do I know that the Holy Land Foundation institute in America supports Hamas and talks in the conferences about its support for Hamas and that in these conferences they sing songs for Hamas, my answer is that these people used to arrive in Israel and I had a chance to talk with them – people who participated in these conferences told me all about it.
The HLF Money Trail:
Donations to the HLF are transferred to a variety of organizations in the occupied territories and PA controlled areas. For example, the Israelis found a master list of payments made by the “Moslem Youth Society,” one of the HLF’s “charities,” in Hebron,. The list is divided into six columns: the name of the “martyr” (a Hamas operative who is killed), the “martyr’s” chief benefactor, the benefactor’s identity number, his/her relationship to the “martyr,” the amount paid, and the signature of a Moslem Youth Society official. The list is extensive, illustrating the reach of HLF funds. The previous example is indicative of the way HLF transfers money to Hamas. The funds do not appear to go directly from HLF to Hamas operatives, or affiliated persons. As the example shows, the money apparently goes from the HLF to another organization (in this case the Muslim Youth Society), and from that organization to the operatives or affiliated persons.
A closer look at the list of names from the Muslim Youth Society shows that three of the names on the list are known to be Hamas activists involved in terrorism:
· Eiyad Hasin Abdal Aziz Hadid – Hamas activist, who was involved in the murder of the Lapid family on December 6, 1993. He was killed by the Israeli Defense Forces on March 24, 1994.
· Marwan Muhamad Halil Abu Ramila – He was involved in the attack of Ephraim Zarviv in November 1993. He was killed by the Israeli Defense Forces on March 24, 1994.
· Khatem Kader Ya’akov Makhtaseb – He was an activist with the Izz al-Din al-Qassam brigades of Hamas (the units of Hamas responsible for the suicide bombings carried out by Hamas) who was involved in shooting against the Israeli Defense Forces.
Another revelation given by the Israeli interrogation of the HLF’s Jerusalem chairman is the fact that two families that have been supported by HLF funds have been the families of Yihya Ayyash and Imad Akel. These two individuals served as the leaders of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam brigades of the Hamas organization prior to their deaths.
Another organization that the HLF supports financially is the Islamic Relief Agency of Nazareth, which was shut down by the Israeli authorities on March 17, 1996. The court decision to close the Islamic Relief Agency stated:
The Islamic Relief Agency is involved in providing massive assistance to families of Hamas activists, that committed or planned to commit severe attacks and were arrested, killed or deported, and that the main funding of the Islamic Relief Agency is from donations from organizations abroad, which are part of the funding network of Hamas.
Moreover, the court documents describe the strong relationship between the Islamic Relief Agency and the HLF:
For purpose of demonstration, a list was presented that was found at the offices of the Islamic Relief Agency what was sent to it by the American foundation – The Holy Land Foundation, in this list the American Foundation itemized the amounts of money to be transferred to 28 families in the territories. A review of the documents reveals that the amounts allocated to these families are much greater than the amounts allocated by the same foundation and by the Appellant to families included in other lists. The above list was deciphered by the Shaback and the review turned up that at least 25 out of the families were families of Hamas activists that were killed, arrested or deported.
The conclusion was therefore obvious: this foundation [HLF] through the help of the Appellant [The Islamic Relief Agency], is supporting with significant amounts of money especially those families of Hamas activists…From this the conclusion was established that the main purpose of this foundation [HLF] and of the appellant [Islamic Relief Agency] is to provide massive support to the Hamas.
Although the HLF purports to allocate money to the needy, a disproportionate amount reaches the hands of Hamas activists and their families. The Israeli Government has stated that:
While the [Holy Land] foundation does give occasional small grants to ordinary orphans, the vast majority of its assistance goes to the families of Hamas terrorists who have been killed, deported or imprisoned. By giving the terrorists the assurance that their families will be cared for if anything happens to them, the state said, the foundation encourages and sustains terrorism.
HLF and Immigration Policy:
The Holy Land Foundation hosted, from October 15-18, 1999, a conference entitled “Rebuilding Shattered Lives” which featured representatives from a variety of foreign nations. Included among the participants in this conference were representatives of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; the Palestinian Fund for Relief and Development, based in the United Kingdom; and the Al-Aqsa Fund, based in the Netherlands. It is important to note that the Palestinian Fund for Relief and Development, also known as Interpal, was outlawed in Israel at the same time as the Holy Land Foundation by the Israeli government pursuant to the Israel Defense Forces Emergency Defense Regulations of 1945 Declaration of Unlawful Associations (amendment 3) from May 1997. According to HLF’s December 1999 newsletter, this conference also hosted “several organizations carrying out field duties.” As noted previously, “field duties” of the HLF included the activities of its surrogate organizations within the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Prior to this conference in October, a member of HLF’s Board of Advisors from Gaza, who teaches at the Gaza branch of the Egypt-based Al-Azhar University, attempted to enter the United States in Houston. When he attempted to pass through Customs, the United States officials denied him entry into the country and sent him on a return flight. When questioned as to why he was entering the country, he told these officials that he intended to attend the HLF conference in Dallas, Texas.
Furthermore, HLF’s Jerusalem Office Chairman, Muhammad Anati, answering questions posed by the Israeli authorities regarding who sponsored his visits to the United States, stated:
Shukri Abu Baker sent to me an invitation letter to arrive in order to be trained in the subject of: “Management and customs of the non-profit charitable organization.” This course was intended for me only and no more people arrived to it from charitable committees in Israel and not from abroad, but only me and other employees from the fund in America were there.
In short, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development has facilitated the entry into the United States of individuals representing organizations explicitly outlawed in Israel for their support of the Hamas organization. Though the HLF engages primarily in fundraising, its hosting of these individuals, in addition to others, makes their inclusion in this Immigration and Claims testimony relevant.
Anwar Haddam, a leader in exile of the of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), is currently in prison in the United States. He entered the United States on a visitor’s visa in 1992 and applied for political asylum in 1993. Between 1993 and 1996, Anwar Haddam used the offices of the American Muslim Council (AMC) in Washington, DC as the headquarters for the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in the United States.
In December of 1996, his application for asylum was denied and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) initiated legal proceedings for his deportation. Because the INS found that he was at “risk of absconding,” he was taken into custody pending an exclusion hearing in March of 1997. The court ruled for exclusion. The verdict is now being appealed by Haddam.
In addition, there is a civil lawsuit pending against Mr. Haddam and the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in the US District Court. The lawsuit was filed by several Algerian women, journalists and intellectuals now living in the United States, on behalf of family members for “violations including summary execution, assassination, mutilation, and beheading; torture including sexual violence; hijacking and the taking of hostages…” among other crimes executed by the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS).
In the past, Haddam has been openly supportive of the actions of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) and the Islamic Salvation Army (AIS), the military wing of the Islamic Salvation Front. The Armed Islamic Group, an organization designated as a Foreign Terrorist Group by the US Department of State, is responsible for the brutal murder of countless innocent civilians, in particular teachers, intellectuals, journalists, foreigners and women refusing to wear the hijab (religious head covering). The GIA is also widely known for perpetrating genocidal rampages in small Algerian towns. In 1994, the Armed Islamic Group hijacked a French Airliner and brutally murdered three innocent people onboard.
Despite Haddam’s more recent attempts to disassociate himself from the Armed Islamic Group and the atrocities perpetrated in Algeria, his alliances with these violent groups are widely documented and well-known. At a September 23, 1999 symposium sponsored by the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in Washington, DC, Ronald Neumann, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs US State Department, stated:
There was a period where we spoke with Anwar Haddam. There was a period, then that period ended frankly because of a political judgement on our part that he was not an authentic representative of any one current within the Islamic movement in Algeria. He was speaking neither definitively for the FIS nor for the GIA, a position I think he got himself into by trying to keep a foot in both camps. The fact that he is currently under detention however, is simply not a reflection of political policy. It is a decision by an immigration judge that he be deported.
In addition to his activities in the Algerian arena, Haddam signed his name, along with 500 other Islamic leaders, to a petition supporting the activities of the Palestinian HAMAS, whose terrorist bombings took the lives of dozens of innocent Israeli and American citizens. This petition, titled “Statement of Support and Solidarity,” appeared in an advertisement in the Saudi-owned London newspaper Al-Hayat on April 28,1995 and then again on May 5, 1995.
EXCERPTS FROM THE ADVERTISEMENT:
“….political recognition of the occupation or normalization with [Israel] are rejected. They are not condoned by the creed of the nation and not accepted by its conscience…
The option of jihad to liberate Palestine is the nation’s legitimate option. Any other option that consecrates the presence of the occupation on any part of the blessed land has no legitimacy.”
After Algerian President Zeroual announced that there would be elections held in Algeria at the end of 1995, Anwar Haddam summarized his position (just weeks before the Rome peace conference which he attended) on the political situation in Algeria:
There cannot and will not be any elections. That is a promise. There will quite simply not be any elections under such circumstances. The armed struggle will certainly be stepped up. Algeria is in a state of war.
In an interview with Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Anwar Haddam counters rumors of conflict between the Algerian Islamic Salvation Front (AIS) and the Armed Islamic Group (AIG):
We would like to draw attention to the fact that today (yesterday), 13 May 1995, marked the first anniversary of the unification of the major armed jihad factions under the banner of the GIA. We therefore emphasize that the claims about disagreement or a split are mere lies meant to divert the world public opinion from support for the Algerian just cause…if there is disagreement, or rather differences, they are not of that magnitude. As known, all the mujahidin are from the FIS womb…
In a 1994 interview with the Beruit newspaper, Al-Naha, Haddam stated:
…We consider what is happening in Algeria as jihad and not terrorism. The current jihad was caused by the regime. We all support and back the Jihad in Algeria.
At the 1993 annual Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA) conference in Detroit, Michigan, Haddam, a featured guest speaker, justified the violence in Algeria:
What is happening now in Algeria is a religiously legal Jihad, Religiously legal Jihad. This is submitted to the standards of the law from its point of view, from its goals and message. It aspires to build what is known and to bring the downfall of evil.