Investigation into Muslim Student Union at California University
U.S. Arrests Saudi Student in Bomb Plot
By CHARLIE SAVAGE
The New York Times
Published: February 24, 2011
WASHINGTON — A 20-year-old Saudi Arabian student living in Texas has been arrested by federal agents, who charged him with planning to build bombs for terror attacks in the United States, the Justice Department announced Thursday.
According to an affidavit filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the student, Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, indicated in online research and in a journal that he was considering attacking the Dallas residence of former President George W. Bush as well as hydroelectric dams, nuclear power plants, nightclubs and the homes of soldiers who were formerly stationed at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Mr. Aldawsari, a business major at South Plains College in Lubbock, Tex., is in the United States legally on a student visa, the bureau said. He came to the government’s attention on Feb. 1, when a North Carolina supply company reported that he had tried to order five liters of a chemical that can be used to make an explosive.
A subsequent investigation found that he had already obtained large supplies of the other two chemicals needed for the explosive compound — trinitrophenol or TNP — in December, court documents said.
“Aldawsari purchased ingredients to construct an explosive device and was actively researching potential targets in the United States,” said David Kris, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s national security division. “Thanks to the efforts of many agents, analysts and prosecutors, this plot was thwarted before it could advance further.”
There was no indication on Thursday that investigators had found links between Mr. Aldawsari and Al Qaeda or some other foreign militant group. According to the affidavit, he wrote in his journal that he wanted to found a new terrorist group modeled after Al Qaeda, which he would lead, and he indicated that he had been methodically planning for years to commit a terrorist attack.
“I excelled in my studies in high school in order to take advantage of an opportunity for a scholarship to America” that was offered by the Saudi Arabian government, investigators said he wrote. “And now, after mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives, and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for Jihad.”
The journal was also said to list “important steps” toward his goal, including obtaining a forged United States birth certificate, applying for a passport and driver’s license, renting cars online, putting bombs in them and taking them to various sites during rush hours, and then leaving the city for a “safe place.”
The affidavit says that in his journal, Mr. Aldawsari said he was inspired by the speeches of Osama Bin Laden and wrote that the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, had produced a “big change” in his thinking. It also contends that he was the writer of a blog called FromFarAway90, published in a mix of English and Arabic.
The Arabic posts on that blog speak at times about war and distress in Palestine and other Muslim lands and about driving infidels out of the Islamic world, and they ask that Allah make the writer a martyr. It is not clear whether Mr. Aldawsari wrote the posts or copied material from elsewhere.
The affidavit also said Mr. Aldawsari, using several e-mail accounts, often sent research to himself about potential targets and explosives. The authorities retrieved several e-mails about manufacturing TNP and other explosives and about how to convert a cellphone into a remote detonator.
Other e-mails — with subject lines like “Nice targets” — contained the names and addresses of three Americans who had been stationed at Abu Ghraib during their military service in Iraq and the locations of 12 reservoirs and dams in Colorado and California. An e-mail entitled “Tyrant’s House” listed the address for Mr. Bush’s house in Dallas.
Mr. Aldawsari also made “numerous Internet searches” related to realistic-looking baby dolls and strollers and viewed photographs of altered dolls, which the F.B.I. said “could indicate” that he was considering concealing explosives in such a doll.
The search of his apartment, the affidavit said, also found flasks and chemical lab equipment, a gas mask, a protective suit and Christmas light wiring that it said was suitable for producing a bomb.
Muslim Student Union members shocked by suspension
By DEEPA BHARATH and ELLYN PAK
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Published: June 14, 2010
IRVINE – UC Irvine's Muslim Student Union members say a year-long suspension came as a shock and that the university's action would deny Muslim students a sense of community, according to a statement released Monday afternoon.
“Suspending the MSU would undoubtedly create a chilling effect and deprive Muslim students -- both current and incoming -- of a place where they can develop a sense of community with one another and with the broader UCI campus community,” said incoming MSU President Asaad Traina. “Depriving Muslim students a venue to associate jeopardizes their rights under the First Amendment and is an act of marginalization at a time when Muslim students and Muslim youth already feel besieged."
Campus officials at UCI have banned the Muslim Student Union for one year and placed the organization on disciplinary probation for an additional year, according to the Jewish Federation Monday morning.
Federation officials say they obtained documents from the university through the Freedom of Information Act, which show that the Muslim Student Union has been suspended on campus effective Sept. 1.
MSU members said contrary to the federation's statements, the student group has not been officially suspended.
The suspension is the result of a months-long internal review by the university following the arrest of 11 union students during Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren's speech on campus. Oren was repeatedly interrupted by the union members.
The group has appealed the decision, according to Husam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Members also denies that the Oren disruptions were an officially sanctioned MSU activity and that the students acted on their own.
Their attorney, Reem Salahi, said based on her understanding of the university's policies and procedures, what has been issued is not a "ban," but only a recommendation. The student group is waiting to meet with university officials.
"That said, I don't agree with their actions at all," she said. "This is nothing but collective punishment. All Muslim students on campus have been punished for the actions of a few."
So far, UCI has not released any information about this ban and does not plan on doing so, said Cathy Lawhon, director of media relations.
"I do not have personal knowledge of this, as the process and the actions against the students and the group were privileged," she said. "We value the privacy of our students and the process. This is a private and privileged process, and we will honor that process."
Although other individuals and groups might discuss this issue, the university will not, Lawhon said.
A May 27 letter sent to the Muslim Student Union by Lisa Cornish, senior executive director of Student Housing, which was also copied to Dean of Students Rameen Talesh, details the violations that were believed to have been committed by the union and the disciplinary action taken against them. This document was obtained and provided to The Orange County Register by the Jewish Federation.
Cornish's letter says the university's decision to suspend the union was based on Google Group e-mails, personal observations by university officials including the police chief, observations by other students and "the fact that all of the disruptors retained the same attorney to represent them in the student conduct process."
Cornish's letter talks about how the Muslim Student Union held a meeting Feb. 3 prior to the ambassador's visit and methodically discussed how to disrupt the event. The students talked about sending "the speaker a message – our goal should be that he knows that he can't just go to a campus and say whatever he wants" and "pushing the envelope."
They even voted on one method of action and said, "We all go through with this together insha Allah ta'ala, together as one MSU."
Cornish's letter states that the students planned every detail of the disruption including scripting statements.
The letter also goes into detail about what each one of the disruptors yelled out during Oren's speech.
Cornish says in the letter that she has concluded based on her review that the Muslim Student Union and each of its authorized signers violated several university policies including "disorderly and lewd conduct, participation in a disturbance of peace or unlawful assembly, obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary procedures or other University activities and other forms of dishonesty including ... fabricating information, furnishing false information, or reporting a false emergency to the University."
The letter orders the Muslim student union to cease operations from Sept. 1, a suspension that will be active until Aug. 31, 2011. After that date, the group will be placed on "disciplinary probation" for one more year. Any misconduct during that period could result in further action against the group or its members, Cornish's letter states. Also, group members must collectively complete 50 hours of community service, which also needs to be approved by the university.
Ayloush said he is disappointed by The Jewish Federation's decision to release information that was meant to be confidential.
"I'm puzzled at their attempt to score political points at the expense of the privacy of the students and the process that is internal to UCI," he said.
Ayloush called the university's actions "unprecedented, heavy-handed and draconian."
"It appears to be politically motivated to silence any future peaceful and legitimate criticism of Israel's brutal practices," he said. "This was nothing but a peaceful and symbolic protest of the Israeli Ambassador at UCI. It was a reflection of a growing worldwide campaign by human rights activists to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine and their racism toward the Palestinian people."
The Muslim students did not engage in fraudulent, immoral or criminal behavior, Ayloush said.
Shalom Elcott, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation Orange County, said he commends the university's decision to follow through on this issue.
"The university's disciplinary action regarding the MSU establishes an important and appropriate precedent and sends a powerful message to other universities across the nation."
Elcott said the federation along with other campus and local Jewish organizations have worked with the university to resolve this issue.
Jeff Margolis, co-chairman of the federation's Rose Council, said the university's actions show that it has "taken seriously the on-campus actions of the Muslim Student Union and its serial disregard for university policies and civil discourse."
Muslim student accused of stabbing Jewish prof
Saudi national entered office, attacked Mideast scholar
December 05, 2009
A Muslim anthropology graduate student is being charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing death of a Jewish professor at Binghamton University in Vestal, New York.
The victim is Richard Antoun, 77, professor of Middle Eastern studies and the author of "Understanding Fundamentalism: Christian, Islamic and Jewish Movements."
The man in custody is Abdulsalam Al-Zahrani, 46-year-old Saudi national.
The attack took place Friday afternoon when the student entered the professor's office and stabbed him, according to an eyewitness. Campus police tackled the assailant to the ground, while emergency service workers rushed to Antoun's side.
University President Lois DeFleur issued the following statement Friday: "This afternoon, in an act of senseless violence, the Binghamton University community lost one of its long-time faculty members. ... Our hearts go out to the Antoun family and we will provide them with as much assistance as we can in this time of sorrow."
New York Gov. David Paterson also released a statement about the victim: "He touched the lives of many students and was respected by his colleagues. Though he will be missed on campus, he will live on in his writing, his research and his students, whose lives he forever changed."
Antoun received a doctorate from Harvard in 1963 and joined the Binghamton faculty in the early 1970s. He was "a sociocultural anthropologist who has conducted research among peasants in Jordan, urbanites in Lebanon, peasant farmers in Iran and migrants in Texas and Greece," according to the univerrsity's website. He retired in 1999 as professor emeritus.
"He dedicated his life to trying to understand the people of the Middle East," the professor's sister Linda Miller, of Holden, Mass., told the New York Times. "He never said an unkind word to anyone in his life." Miller's husband, the Rev. David J. Miller, said that Antoun had been married to his wife, Rosalyn, for 17 years and had a son, Nicholas, 40.
The New Chill on Campus
April 11, 2006
When Brigitte Gabriel recently gave a speech at Memphis University, she was confronted with a familiar sight: an audience so hostile to her message that it had come not to debate but to silence her.
A passionate and powerful speaker who had witnessed Palestinian terrorism and experienced anti-Jewish and anti-Christian propaganda in her native Lebanon, Gabriel had been invited to speak at the Tennessee campus by religious studies professor David Patterson. But the day before Gabriel's speech, Patterson began receiving threatening e-mails.
“Do you honestly think the scheduled lecture will serve any useful purpose other than inflaming the Muslims, insulting them and spilling poison in the community?” one message asked. Another charged that inviting Gabriel to speak was “worse than hosting of the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.” Still another described her as among “the true enemies of Islam.”
The menacing emails proved prescient. When Gabriel and Patterson arrived in the campus auditorium 15 minutes before her scheduled presentation, several rows of seats in the front of the room were already occupied by men and women dressed in distinctive Muslim clothing. Before Gabriel was introduced, a Muslim man who has been a long-term graduate student at the university strode to the front of the room and announced: “We have been told that the speaker will only accept questions written on cards. Everyone who believes this is an un-democratic lecture, raise your hands.” The Muslims in the audience shouted their agreement.
Undaunted, Gabriel went to the front of the room and announced that the lecture belonged to her and that those who did not see it this way were welcome to leave. Two campus police officers stood on either side of her. They also called for backup. By the time order was restored and Gabriel began her speech, 10 police officers were posted in the room. Patterson implored the audience to give her a chance to be heard.
After her speech, she answered every question submitted — questions she described as “Palestinian talking points” — before the Muslim audience members swarmed onto the stage and surrounded her, yelling angrily. Finally, police officers grabbed her and hustled her out a side door. Someone else had to retrieve her coat and suitcase while she waited in a police car to be driven to the hotel where, for security reasons, she was registered under another name. Only after she had locked her door and drawn the curtains, did Gabriel allow herself to tremble.
“The intimidation takes a toll on you,” Gabriel said in an e-mail message to friends after the Memphis speech. “I was dreading this all day, ever since my hosts told me they had been receiving hostile e-mail about my lecture. It was weighing so heavily on my heart. My stomach was in knots. I got a migraine headache. I knew I was going into battle and there was no way out of it. I was nervous and stressed. Each time this happens, I hate it and it makes me feel that I don't want to do it anymore. But I will do it. I will never stop. If we stop, the Islamists will have won. We cannot allow that to happen.”
Cases of workplace harassment are nothing new, of course. Years ago, I was asked to testify in a legal action on behalf of a woman who worked the night shift alone in a small store. As a devout Christian, she was offended by the pornographic magazines the store sold. She also felt endangered by the kind of men who came in after midnight to peruse and buy these magazines. She eventually refused to sell the magazines during her shift, and was fired. So she sued.
During her trial, an important question was deliberated: Does the First Amendment right of pornographers override a woman's personal religious beliefs and her rights to on-the-job safety? Does being surrounded by pornographic magazines constitute a “hostile” work environment? The company retaliated for her lawsuit by depicting her to the press as a fanatic on a rampage against both secular society and free speech. My decision to testify on her behalf led some of the usual suspects to question my political sanity and my feminism.
Over the years, I have been consulted by other women, especially those in blue-collar, formerly all-male jobs who have often been harassed and forced to live with sadistic pornography placed in their lockers, locker rooms, and work areas. The film North Country, which stars Charlize Theron, depicts exactly such mistreatment of women miners. The film is based on a real class action lawsuit that 19 women first filed in the 1970s against Ogleby Norton in Eveleth, Minn. The women sued because they were subjected to verbal, physical, psychological, and sexual abuse and to omnipresent sexual graffiti. It took more than 20 years for the women to win a settlement, but only after they found themselves put on trial. Their sexual, gynecological, psychological, and marital histories were scrutinized in the courtroom. Many people said that the women simply ought to “tough it out.” Some said that pornography and insults were protected under the First Amendment.
Today, those who speak out against Islamic extremism face similar circumstances. When someone tries to tell the truth about Islam or departs from the politically correct line — against America, Israel, Jews, and religion — they are subjected to hostile working conditions, just like the women miners of North Country. In the West, authors critical of Islam are routinely threatened, sometimes sued for “defamation,” or slandered as “racists.” Western academics who criticize Islamic culture have been ostracized or silenced on campus. They are shouted down, shamed, interrogated, and cursed. In Muslim countries, meanwhile, such authors are more often jailed, mobbed, murdered or forced into exile.
This state of affairs prompts some urgent questions: Do we want speakers on our campuses to be subjected to such hostility, to run such a gauntlet in order to be heard? (This even as the Western academic world has given a free pass to those who defend the rights of misogynist terrorists who practice both religious and gender apartheid in Islam's name.) Why have so many university presentations descended to the level of the “Jerry Springer” show? Why, when speakers tell the truth about this on American campuses, must they endure harsh and punitive working conditions?
This reality must be exposed, challenged, and transformed. We must condemn militant tactics that aim to suppress speech and not confuse them with a civilized or scholarly exchange of ideas. We must liberate our campuses from such barbarism. Brave voices like Brigitte Gabriel deserve nothing less.
An Annual Hatefest
May 10, 2006
All around America, Muslim student groups are testing the limits of Free Speech by bringing radicals to their respective campuses to give hate-filled talks. One of the institutions that this practice has become prevalent in is Florida Atlantic University (FAU).
The Muslim Student Organization (MSO) at FAU, for the past seven years, has celebrated its annual hatefest – “Scholar’s Night” – with the worst of extremists. In April of 2001, at its 2nd Annual Scholar’s Night, one of the featured speakers was Rafil Dhafir, a man who currently sits behind bars, convicted for illegal activity with regard to an Iraqi-based charity called Help the Needy. In April of 2003, at its 4th Annual Scholar’s Night, the MSO brought to the campus: Hamas and Hezbollah supporter, Al-Haaj Ghazi Khankan; alleged Neo-Nazi, William Baker; and potential co-conspirator of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, Siraj Wahhaj.
Recently, the MSO kept with tradition, when it held its 7th Annual Scholar’s Night. The event, which took place at FAU’s Lifelong Learning Center auditorium on April 22, 2006, featured speakers that denounced non-Muslim religions, verbally attacked Jews, and proclaimed a future worldwide dominance of Islam. It was fittingly and brazenly titled, ‘Believe It or Not: You were born a Muslim.’
The co-sponsors of the event were American Muslims for Emergency and Relief (AMER); the Islamic Society of the University of Miami (ISUM); the American Muslim Association of North America (AMANA); and the Islamic Center of Boca Raton (ICBR), a radical mosque where an Al-Qaeda operative, Rafiq Sabir, was recently taken into custody and shipped to New York for trial.
Attending the function were a little over 50 people. Among the attendees were ICBR representative Bassem Alhalabi, a tenured FAU professor and former assistant to Sami Al-Arian that was charged, in March of 2003, with illegally exporting a $13,000 thermal imaging military device to Syria. Also attending was the head of AMER and AMANA, Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout, who was previously the Vice President of the Hamas-related Health Resource Center for Palestine, which was shut down in April of 2003. However, Zakkout was not just an attendee. Between lectures, he would walk around the audience, taking pictures of anyone that did not look like they belonged there. And Alhalabi sat directly behind a couple of people for what seemed to be intimidation purposes.
AMANA, apart from being a co-sponsor of the Scholar’s Night, supplied numerous informational materials for the event, which neatly lined tables inside the lobby of the auditorium. Event-goers were treated to at least three versions of the Quran; Islamic booklets based on a wide range of subjects; organizational pamphlets; and audio CDs of speeches given by various Islamic scholars.
Some of the booklets had innocuous titles, such as ‘Islamic Activism’ or ‘Non-Violence and Islam,’ but others were nothing short of appalling. One, entitled ‘The Fire of Hell,’ revealed a dark side of Islam, where death is cherished over that of life. It contained such statements as: “Death teaches us how to live; it shows us the way to real success;” “Death is not the end of our lives; it is the beginning of our real life;” “Death is greater than a hurricane. If one were to realize this, one would think and speak about death more than anything;” and “This is the true difference between a believer and a disbeliever; the disbeliever lives for this world, while the believer lives for the next world.” The booklet also assailed Jews as being “disgraced and miserable.” It stated, “If Muslims do not rise to the task of warning people of the next life, they lose their worth in the sight of G-d; they become disgraced and miserable both in this world and the next. One only has to look at the vicissitudes in the history of the Jewish people to understand this fact.”
Another AMANA booklet, entitled ‘A BRIEF ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING ISLAM,’ has listed as one of its editors Ali Al-timimi. Al-Timimi was convicted in April of 2005 of soliciting his followers, in the days after the 9/11 attacks, to join the Taliban and wage jihad (holy war) against U.S. troops. Additionally, in AMANA’s personal brochure, one finds Ibrahim Dremali, the imam of the Islamic Center of Des Moines, Iowa, listed as an AMANA advisor. Dremali’s name is also found on the United States federal no-fly list.
The CDs that were given out by AMANA were also very problematic. One of the speeches, entitled ‘Monotheism, the Foundation of Islam,’ was made by Rafiq Mehdi, the imam of the mosque where ‘Dirty Bomber’ Jose Padilla converted to Islam. In another of the CDs, ‘Islam and Indiscriminate Violence,’ the speaker, Jalal Abualrub, tells of an evil foreboding aimed at Jews, whereby Jews will suffer defeat at the hands of Muslims. He states, “In the future, our prophet has told a prophesy that there will be some kind of battle between Muslims and Jews – in the future. And as usual, the Jews will be aggressors, because they have committed so many aggressions against us. As usual, they’re the aggressors there. There’s gonna be war, and Muslims will defeat the Jews.”
Condemnations of other religions and non-Muslim peoples did not end with the AMANA materials being given out in the lobby. The event itself did much to energize these hateful passions.
The first speaker, who the MSO described as a “lecturer on the subject of Islam at the University of Miami and masjids around South Florida,” was Shakil Haq. The thrust of Haq’s speech was on the meaning of Islam, and he used various quotes from the Quran as proofs. During his talk, Haq took the liberty of pointing out that there were Jews and Christians in the crowd. This, while he proceeded to denounce their religions. He stated, “And do you know that we believe in the three scriptures – that they exist, before Islam. The difference is we believe that those scriptures have been tampered...”
The keynote speaker of the Scholar’s Night was a dark-eyed individual by the name of Fadi Kablawi (not to be mistaken for the Palestine Solidarity Movement leader with a near identical name). A dentist by profession, Kablawi is a student of Open Islamic Academy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He was previously the leader of a mosque outside the University of Pennsylvania, where he attended dental school.
Like Shakil Haq, Fadi Kablawi teaches Islamic topics at different mosques around South Florida. Also like Haq, Kablawi, in the course of his speech, recited select passages from the Quran. One of the passages in particular has insidious overtones towards Jews and Christians. Kablawi stated, “Allah said, ‘You are the best nation created for humanity, then you join good, you forbid evil, and you believe in Allah.’” What Kablawi mysteriously left out was the second half of this verse (Surah 3:110), which says, “If only the People of the Book had faith, [sic] it were best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them [Jews and Christians] are perverted transgressors.” [This quote was taken from one of the free AMANA Qurans offered in the lobby.]
Kablawi followed up his half-missing verse by stating, “So once a Muslim violates these rules, he is not preferred in the sight of G-d. And once any nation, that at one pointchosen by G-d, once they violated the commands of G-d, they don't have that preference any more.” It is obvious, given the previous verse and other verses as well, that, when Kablawi used the term “chosen,” he was referring to Jews, who in his estimate, were once chosen but now go against the commands of G-d. they were preferred by G-d or
If one were not convinced that Fadi Kablawi’s statement was a subtle attack on Jews, Kablawi soon helped him/her to understand the truth, when he went on a loud rant against Jews whom he said complain about the Holocaust, while acting like Nazis themselves. He exclaimed, “What they complain of that happened to them by Hitler, they are the first people to come to Palestine and do it to the Palestinians!”
Just as Haq attempted before him, Kablawi, in his speech, tried to mask his sentiments towards others by bringing up such terms as “the three Abrahamic faiths.” But in the end, he couldn’t hide the obvious, which were his disdain for the West and his idea of a future dominance of Islam over the world. He stated, “And from here I say, the solution for all people and the whole world is the religion of Islam. Because the disasters and the genocide and the killing and the murdering and the bombing and the wars happening in this world right now is by no means for personal gain, whether it’s individual, whether it’s organization, government, whatever. When the western man – without faith and without the conscious of G-d – took charge of the world, this is what happened, and it’s time for Islam to take a turn and prove that the religion of Allah will dominate.”
Before the speeches began, quotes from the Quran were shown to the audience. One of the quotes was from Surah 3:56, which states, “As to those who reject faith [Islam], I will punish them with severe agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help.” It appears that Kablawi’s doomsday statement was the perfect way to end the MSO hatefest and come full circle with the beginning of the night.
From the death-loving booklets in the lobby to the concerted campaign of intimidation by the attendees to the anti-Jewish and anti-Christian rhetoric from the speakers, MSO’s 7th Annual Scholar’s Night was less of a “night” and more or a “nightmare” for FAU. While the university should respect and honor the Freedom of Speech of its students and faculty, it should also be wary of its campus being used as a staging ground for the propagation of hatred and violence.
Fresh Muslim-Jewish Discord on Campus
Program titles are considered anti-Semitic by some at UC Irvine, site of civil rights probe.
By Kimi Yoshino
Times Staff Writer
May 12, 2006
Controversial events scheduled at UC Irvine next week with such provocative titles as "Holocaust in the Holy Land" and "Israel: The Fourth Reich" are sparking outrage among Jewish students who are asking administrators to denounce aspects of the event.
Jewish students and community leaders say the program is the latest in a string of offensive incidents at the university. The U.S. Office for Civil Rights is investigating anti-Semitism at UCI, the first probe of its kind at a college.
"Instead of the university being a place for dialogue and discussion of important issues, it's being turned into a platform for hate speech and bigotry," said Rabbi Yonah Bookstein, a spiritual advisor at colleges in Long Beach and Orange County.
"This is intentionally inciting and hateful toward the Jewish people of the campus."
A complaint filed by the Zionist Organization of America in New York on behalf of Jewish students at UCI prompted the ongoing investigation, said Kenneth L. Marcus, former head of the office and director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
"There are things that are happening on campuses all over the country, but Irvine seems particularly severe to me," said attorney Susan Tuchman, director of the Zionist Organization's Center for Law and Justice.
Federal officials say they have seen an escalation in anti-Semitism at universities across the country since 2000, prompting the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to issue a report on the topic last month. The report, unrelated to UCI, urges university leaders to set a moral example by condemning hate speech.
The latest UCI controversy is centered on the Muslim Student Union's "Holocaust in the Holy Land" program scheduled throughout next week.
Kareem Elsayed, 20, a member of the group, defended the program titles. The dictionary definition of "holocaust" does not include Jews, he said.
"I do understand why they're upset, but of course I disagree," Elsayed said. "We have been doing this kind of programming for years. No matter how you slice it, they are not pleased with the fact that we're criticizing the apartheid state of Israel. We change the name each year. Each year, there's a commotion."
The Southern California Council on American-Islamic Relations also defended the students' right, calling the terms debatable, potentially offensive words that stop short of attacking a religion.
"We should allow students to debate these topics; otherwise we're not going to go forward in this community," council spokeswoman Sabiha Kahn said.
Some Muslims disagreed.
Ijaz Sayed, president of the Ahmadi Muslim Student Assn. at UCI, said, "You'll never find us holding an event like that…. We all have to live on this Earth together and somehow create peace here."
Jewish student representatives and Jewish community leaders said they did not want university officials to cancel the event, just criticize the language.
"We understand that anti-Zionism week is something we cannot stop because of the university's free-speech policies," said Alex Chazen, 20, president of Anteaters for Israel and the Hillel Jewish Student Union.
"But when it comes to the term 'holocaust,' it creates a completely different emotion. It's disrespectful."
UCI officials said they would not criticize the event.
"This is an issue of free speech," said UCI's dean of students, Sally Peterson, adding that it would be illegal to prevent the program. "Hate speech is also protected speech…. There's no law against being a jerk, basically."
Anticipating the controversy, Chancellor Michael V. Drake issued a campuswide message Tuesday.
He made no mention of the "Holocaust in the Holy Land" but encouraged those on campus "to show appreciation for one another, for people of diverse opinions, backgrounds and cultures and for ideas that may be different from their own."
Muslim students faced their own woes in February when college Republicans displayed controversial Danish cartoons that depicted the prophet Muhammad and incited international riots. They protested with posters that read "Yes to Freedom of Speech, No to Hate Speech."
UCI officials allowed that event to continue.
The tension between Jewish and Muslim students goes back several years. In 2002, the Muslim Student Union posted a sign that read "Israelis Love to Kill Innocent Children." The complaint filed with the Office for Civil Rights also contended that students had been physically threatened and were afraid to wear clothing or jewelry identifying them as Jewish.
Attempts at federal mediation, which could have resolved the complaint, failed after the Zionist Organization of America broke off talks last summer because it did not believe the university was willing to change, Tuchman said.
Last month, the Commission on Civil Rights said anti-Semitism should not continue under the guise of political discourse.
"The fact that it takes place in a public lecture or that it presents itself as being foreign-policy related doesn't make it any less anti-Semitic," Marcus said.
"University leadership has a moral obligation to make clear that there are limits on civilized discourse."
Health sciences graduate described as pious and good-natured
By Dana Borcea and Laura
The Hamilton Spectator
June 5, 2006
Colleagues and friends of the McMaster University graduate arrested on the weekend expressed shock and dismay at the Mississauga man's alleged involvement in plotting terrorist attacks in southern Ontario.
Acquaintances of Ahmad Mustafa Ghany, 21, who graduated this spring from the health sciences program, described the Muslim man as pious and good-natured.
Ghany was one of 12 men and five teens arrested in an undercover sting operation and accused of planning a homegrown terrorist attack.
Police said they had acquired three tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertilizer -- three times the quantity used in the Oklahoma City bombings of 1995 that killed 168 people.
Yesterday the Toronto Star reported that police investigating the alleged plot controlled the transfer of the fertilizer to the suspects as part of the sting operation.
The adults range in age from 19 to 43 and are residents of Toronto, Mississauga and Markham, while the five youths cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
The group was transported to a Brampton court on Saturday in a convoy of unmarked vans and accompanied by a police helicopter.
At the courthouse, family members jostled for a glimpse of the men chained together by leg irons and cuffs under the watchful eye of sharpshooters positioned on the roof of a nearby building.
Police alleged the men knowingly participated in a terrorist group and either received or provided terrorist training in Toronto, nearby Mississauga, Fort Erie -- a border town across from Buffalo, N.Y. -- and Ramara Township, located on the shores of Lake Simcoe in central Ontario's cottage country.
Police refused to describe the intended targets but ruled out the Toronto Transit Commission -- a massive public transit system that includes buses, subways and streetcars.
The bail hearing was postponed until tomorrow morning.
Like many of the other suspects, Ghany was born in Canada and his father, a medical doctor with a practice in Toronto, immigrated to Canada from Trinidad and Tobago in the 1950s.
Ghany commuted to Hamilton for school from his parents' affluent home on a quiet, tree-lined street in the Erindale neighbourhood of Mississauga.
A neighbour on Robin Drive said Ghany had moved into the house more than 10 years ago and lived there with his parents and two sisters.
"I really just know his parents enough to say hello," said Angela Rocha, who described them as good neighbours.
She said she rarely spoke to Ghany, who she used to see playing basketball with his friends in the family driveway.
The health sciences undergraduate program he just completed is popular with students planning a career in medicine.
McMaster spokesperson Andrea Farquar said the university had no prior knowledge of an investigation into possible terror suspects or that arrests would be made.
She expressed her surprise, but added she had no concerns for students' safety on campus.
"Security is a top priority at the university, as well as safety ... there is no indication that there is any reason for us to increase our security."
During his time at McMaster, Ghany was involved in the Muslim Students Association and regularly attended social events and Friday prayer services.
He was also a member of McMaster Muslims for Peace and Justice (MMPJ), an organization that advocates for human rights both locally and globally and has tackled issues including the detainees as Guantanamo Bay and the Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed that spawned an international controversy.
Member Omina Helbah worked with Ghany at McMaster and expressed her shock over his arrest.
Helbah said the reaction of many McMaster students has been shock and outrage. Some have been brought to tears.
She believes the student body will stand behind Ghany and that action will be taken.
"I'm sure MMPJ will definitely take this on," she said.
She added the issue hits home for her but has a reach far beyond the campus.
"This is something larger than McMaster. It is something that will affect any Muslim Canadian."
Ahmad Munawar, who just finished his third year at Mac, said he met Ghany a few years ago through mutual friends.
"Everything I do know about him is nothing but good," said the economics major. "Quiet, polite and just a good-natured guy. I've only had good experiences with him, I've only heard good things about him, which is why this is all a huge shock."
He described Ghany as very pious and religious.
"From what I know, he wasn't an extremist. He takes a moderate approach to things."
In a prepared statement, the Muslim Association of Hamilton condemned terrorist activity of any kind.
"We Muslims are Canadians and like any other Canadians, we want Canada to be safe and secure from all external and internal threats," it read.
The issue of the arrests' impact on Canada's significant Muslim population was hotly discussed on radio and television talk shows throughout the weekend, a reminder of the days following the 9/11 attacks.
Canada's spy service -- the Canadian Security Intelligence Service -- said the men had become "adherents of a violent ideology inspired by al-Qaeda."
In Toronto yesterday, police Chief Bill Blair told a gathering of Muslim leaders that the suspects arrested were not acting out of faith, but spurred by an ideology of hate and urged that anger and fear not by directed at the Muslim community.
Ghany's lawyer Rocco Galati, who represents two of the suspects, said he wasn't surprised by the vandalism given the media's representation of the arrests.
Galati has represented several other alleged terrorists, including Hamilton's Abdellah Ouzghar.
"Of course it's going to engender backlash," Galati said. "I hope people keep their wits, but this is the problem with this kind of public show before any allegations are actually read in court."
School Ties Link Alleged Plotters
Arrested Canadians Had Bonded at Clubs and on Soccer Fields
By Doug Struck
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, June 11, 2006; Page A16
TORONTO -- They were school pals. One is 15. Most are just out of high school, some still in. The 17 boys and men whom Canadian police are calling "homegrown terrorists" forged their bonds in student clubs and on school soccer fields, chatted on the Internet, and urged each other to be heroes for their faith.
The arrests last weekend left many Canadians pondering how a country proud of its diverse culture and political moderation could spawn such an apparent interest in violence. Especially by people so young.
What started as boasts and youthful rhetoric crystallized into action, the government says. The youths ordered $4,000 worth of ingredients for a bomb, built a detonator and cased out targets for a two-pronged attack that would take hostages on Parliament Hill in Ottawa while setting off bombs in Toronto, prosecutors contend.
The plans allegedly ranged from the fanciful -- steering remote-controlled toys loaded with explosives into police stations -- to the meticulous. The suspects calculated the exact solutions of nitric acid and grams of mercury they would need to detonate the bombs, according to a summary of the prosecutors' allegations reviewed by The Washington Post.
The school ties have some people here asking if Canada's attempt to accommodate all faiths and backgrounds -- many Canadian schools offer rooms for Friday prayers and foster Muslim student clubs -- is encouraging religious divisions. Some of the clubs "are very conservative, very judgmental," said Rizwana Jafri, a Muslim and an administrator at a Toronto-area high school. "Young people are looking for a group to belong to, and religion plays into that. It's almost cult-like."
Suspect Saad Khalid, now 19, is typical of those charged. At Meadowvale Secondary School, he was bright and outgoing in his early high school years, fellow students told reporters last week. His father, a technology professional from Pakistan, lived in Saudi Arabia before coming to Canada 10 years ago. The family recently moved to a brick townhouse in one of the new suburban developments being carved out of farmland in Mississauga, a spreading suburban town west of Toronto.
In 2003, Khalid's mother died in an accident. In the following years, he became more strident about his Muslim faith. He formed athe Religious Awareness Club to preach Islam during lunch hours at the Meadowvale school. He spent time with two older classmates, Fahim Ahmad, now 21, and Zakaria Amara, 20, the government contends.
Meadowvale is a bustling, brick school in the heart of Mississauga. Teenage boys in T-shirts and baggy jeans lolled about the campus last week. A smaller knot of young girls, with Muslim headdress, stood in the shade of a tree. School officials declined to speak to reporters and urged students to do the same.
"Young people who are disenfranchised or ill-fitting in a society look for ways to belong, and sometimes religion plays to that, creating a desire for martyrdom, a desire to be a hero," Jafri said. In her view, the school clubs they form sometimes paint an extreme view of a Muslim world at odds with the secular values the school is trying to teach.
Khalid and his pals spent time in a chat room on the Internet and called themselves the "Meadowvale Brothers." According to the Globe and Mail newspaper, which reported on the electronic chat diary before it was removed from the Web, the young men's talk dealt with movies and final exams. But Zakaria Amara kept returning to the issue of sacrifice for Islam.
"I love for the sake of Allah, and hate for his sake," he wrote, according to the newspaper.
Khalid and the others began attending a mosque together, teacher Ahmed Amiruddin told CBC Radio last week. "They would enter into the mosque to pray. They would come in military fatigues," he said. "It looked to me like they were watching a lot of these Chechnyan jihad videos online."
Gradually, they gravitated to the Al-Rahman Islamic Center, a storefront mosque in a small strip mall in Mississauga. There they met Qayyam Abdul Jamal, 43, a taciturn Pakistani native with an angry view of the world. He cleaned the rugs and took out the trash at the mosque. For those services, the directors tolerated his vitriolic speeches that portrayed Muslims as oppressed by the West, according to people familiar with the mosque.
"Many people who worked with him thought he was just a loudmouth," said Tariq Shah, a lawyer who represents the mosque. "In retrospect, maybe it was wrong that he wasn't taken more seriously."
Across Toronto at an eastern suburb called Scarborough, a similar process was underway, at the Stephen Leacock Collegiate Institute, a high school. An alumnus of the school, Mohamed Durrani, 19, and another man, Steven Vikash Chand, 25, a former Canadian army reservist, frequented the school grounds to encourage Muslim students to come to the mosques, students and acquaintances told reporters last week. At least two of the juveniles, a 10th-grader and a 12th-grader who are not being identified because of their ages, joined their group.
The group proved inept at keeping its activities secret. The complaints about Jamal, and some of the Internet traffic, drew the attention of investigators as early as two years ago, police officials have confirmed.
Then, in March last year, two Atlanta-area men already under scrutiny in the United States traveled to Toronto to meet Khalid's older acquaintance Fahim Ahmad and a friend from the Scarborough group, Jahmaal James, then 22, according to an FBI affidavit. They allegedly talked about targets for terrorist attacks in North America and the possibility of training in Pakistan.
That summer, Ahmad used his credit card to rent a car for two immigrants from Somalia, Mohammed Dirie, then 22, and Yasin Abdi Mohamed, 22. Those two drove to Columbus, Ohio. When they arrived at the border to return to Canada, guards stopped the car and searched the two. They reported finding a pistol tucked in the back waistband of Mohamed's pants and two more semiautomatic weapons taped to the inner thighs of Dirie.
The arrests and visit by the men from Georgia-- both with ties to Ahmad -- prompted Canadian intelligence and police officials to begin physical and electronic surveillance. Authorities apparently were watching last November, when Zakaria Amara drove to northern Ontario. Prosecutors offer the following account for how the conspiracy unfolded from there:
Amara stopped at the local police and Natural Resources Ministry offices to inquire about nearby forests. He returned to the area the week before Christmas and set up a camp in woodlands near the town of Orillia. Eleven men and boys came with him. They wore camouflage uniforms, fired a 9mm pistol, played paintball, and engaged in training "clearly for terrorist purposes."
They made plans for a second session at the camp. They named their scheme "Operation Badr," after a battle of early Islamic history, and discussed strategies. They would take politicians hostage in the capital, demand the removal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan and the release of Muslim prisoners, and execute the politicians "one by one" if the demands were not met.
Ahmad put a deposit down on another illegal firearms purchase. The suspects scouted out a house where they could retreat after staging an attack. They shoplifted walkie-talkies. Amara plumbed the Internet at public libraries to learn how to assemble a bomb. Durrani enrolled in flight training but eventually backed out, believing he would attract too much attention.
The group had business cards printed up to pose as fictional "student farmers" to raise fewer suspicions as they bought the fertilizer for a bomb.
But as the conspirators talked and made plans, they fractured in disagreement. Zakaria Amara wanted to use truck bombs. Fahim Ahmad favored an attack with guns. Amara thought Ahmad was taking too long.
In the end, they settled on both methods, the government contends. Amara and the Mississauga group would bomb a site in Toronto -- the final list included a downtown Toronto skyscraper containing the offices of Canada's spy agency, the Toronto Stock Exchange and a military establishment. At the same time, Ahmad, who had moved to Scarborough with the group there, was to storm the Parliament or some other public place.
By last month, Amara had concluded that they needed three tons of ammonium nitrate -- the group wanted to make a bomb bigger than the two-ton explosive that Timothy McVeigh used to shatter the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people.
When the youths ordered the fertilizer, agents intercepted the shipment and substituted an inert powder. Police watched as Khalid and one of the youths worked at a rented warehouse June 2 to prepare to receive the shipment. The two lined cardboard boxes with plastic to store the material. When Amara paid $4,000 to an undercover officer for the fake fertilizer, the police descended. Khalid and the juvenile were arrested at the warehouse. Squads of officers positioned around Toronto rounded up the others through the evening.
Khalid is now at Ontario's Maplehurst Correctional Center in solitary confinement. His cell has a metal bed, two blankets, and a light bulb that stays on all night. He met with his lawyer Thursday, but the two were separated by a glass shield and were able to talk only on a telephone. Khalid held it awkwardly, with his wrists still handcuffed together, said the lawyer, Arif Raza.
"Obviously, he's very down," Raza said. "Very depressed."
Researcher Natalia Alexandrova contributed to this report.
A third of Muslim students back killings
WORD FAITH INDEX
CATHOLIC CHURCH INDEX
Theodore Roosevelt's ideas on Immigrants and being an AMERICAN in 1907
“In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American... There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag.... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”