The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized the Obama Administration for appointing an apologist for Islamist causes, Rashad Hussain, as U.S. envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), a 57-member inter-governmental group of Muslim majority states. Hussain was quoted in 2004 in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (WRMEA) as saying that Sami al-Arian, a Florida-based university professor sentenced in 2006 to more than four years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiring to aid the Islamist terrorist group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), was the victim of politically motivated persecutions who was being prosecuted in order to squash dissent.
PIJ was designated by the U.S. government as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997, and in 2003, then Attorney-General John Ashcroft described it as one of the most violent terrorist organizations in the world. PIJ has killed more than 100 Israelis in suicide bombings and other attacks, including American citizens Alisa Flatow, a 20-year-old New Jersey college student killed in a 1995 suicide bombing in Gaza; and 16-year-old Shoshana Ben-Ishai, shot dead in a Jerusalem bus in 2001.
Hussain, who at the time of the cited remarks was a Yale Law School student and an editor, of the Yale Law Journal, went on to serve as a Department of Justice trial attorney and in January 2009 was appointed deputy associate counsel in the Obama White House. His 2004 remarks to WRMEA, which were subsequently scrubbed from its website sometime after October 2007, were revealed by a Lexis-Nexis search to read as follows:
Al-Arians situation is one of many politically motivated persecutions, claimed Rashad Hussain, a Yale law student. Such persecution, he stated, must be fought through hope, faith, and the Muslim vote ( ) Along with many others, said Yales Hussain, Dr. Sami Al-Arian has been used politically to squash dissent. The Muslim community must speak out against the injustices taking place in America, he emphasized (Patrick Goodenough, Obamas New OIC Envoy Defended Activist Who Aided Terrorist Group, CNS News, February 15, 2010).
In addition, Hussain appeared this year at a Leadership Training Event held by the Islamist lobby, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an Islamist organization that has opposed security measures that target Islamist terrorism, defended convicted murderers, and some of whose senior officials have themselves been found to support terrorist groups. In a 2007 article in the Texas Journal on Civil Liberties & Civil Rights examining anti-terrorism initiatives in the U.S., Hussain opposed new security measures imposed on nonimmigrant visitors from 25 countries because 24 of them were Muslim countries, saying that the policy therefore appeared to be based on the notion that certain characteristics make one more likely to be a terrorist: e.g., membership in a particular religious group, having a particular national origin, and membership in a particular racial group Federal law should adopt a standard that protects national security while forbidding the targeting of non-citizens solely on the basis of their racial, religious, or ethnic backgrounds. Of course, the 24 countries were targeted because that is where Islamist threats to the U.S. have emanated, not because of anti-Muslim bias.
ZOA National Chairman of the Board Dr. Michael Goldblatt said, We oppose the appointment of Rashad Hussain as U.S. envoy to the OIC because his record indicates that he associates with and supports Islamist apologists and apologetics, when any U.S. representative should be exposing such people and practices and fostering moderate Muslim voices.
We are deeply worried by a pattern with the Obama Administration of appointing apologists for Muslim extremists to positions in government dealing with national security and the Middle East.
In recent weeks, we saw the Obama Administration appoint Salam Al-Marayati to speak overseas on behalf of the U.S, including to UNESCO in Paris, despite the fact that Marayati is a vocal Israel-hater and apologist for Islamist terrorism who has called for Israels destruction; suggested Israel be placed on a suspect list as the possible perpetrator of the 9/11 acts of terrorism; condemned already in the 1990s American air strikes of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Sudan; and defended the rights of Holocaust deniers.
Last year, the Obama Administration sought to appoint Chas. W. Freeman as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC), a man with a long record of extreme anti-Israel hostility and support for tyrannical regimes like China and Saudi Arabia, which ZOA documented at the time. Freeman withdrew from his appointment, citing ZOAs efforts to inform the Congress and media about his record.
In 2008, while still campaigning for the presidency, Barack Obama was touting as one of his top foreign policy advisers former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE), one of only 12 senators who refused to formally call upon the European Union to declare Hizballah a terrorist organization and who in 2005 was one of only 27 senators who refused to sign a letter to President Bush, urging him to pressure the Palestinian Authority (PA) to ban terrorist groups from participating in Palestinian legislative elections. CAIR even praised Hagel in 2006 saying, Potential presidential candidates for 2008, like Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Joe Biden and Newt Gingrich, were falling all over themselves to express their support for Israel. The only exception to that rule was Senator Chuck Hagel.
Such an ill-conceived appointments and advisers call into question the Obama Administrations commitment to combating Islamist extremists. Indeed, in the Administrations refusal to even refer to Islamist extremists and its tendency to refer to terrorist acts perpetrated by Islamists as man-made disasters, we see a deeply concerning blindness to the threat. In the appointment of Rashad Hussain as envoy to the OIC, we see further lack of seriousness about dealing with the problem.