The Frank Beckman Show- Friday, December 26, 2009 10:20AM

WJR Radio Detroit, MI 760AM

“Interview of Dr. Jasser on Fort Dix Plot convictions and other issues”



Frank Beckman: We, first though, welcome back into the program a gentleman who has been with us before, he is the president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, and he is a man who speaks up when he feels that the Arab American community is not being properly represented by other groups that claim to do so. And one of his targets is regularly, The Center (sic) for American-Islamic Relations or CAIR as it’s known. The president of the AIFD, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy is Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, who is on the other end of our line from his home down in Arizona this morning.


Beckman: How are you?


M. Zuhdi Jasser, MD: Great Frank, it’s nice to be with you again.


Beckman: Good to be, good to have you on the show as well and I‘m sorry it’s only 50 degrees down there this morning in Arizona, it breaks my heart.


Jasser: I know, it’s all relative, I guess.  


Beckman: This past week, so much attention is being paid to the economy, I am not sure how many folks noticed this, but there was the conviction that was announced in the trial of the group of people called the Fort Dix Six. These were the six Islamic fundamentalists who had made plans to attack Fort Dix to kill American soldiers at that military complex. They were convicted of conspiracy to murder members of the U.S. Military and while that normally would bring applause from everyone, that group we mentioned a moment ago, the Council for American Islamic Relations or CAIR, was not so sure it was happy about those convictions. And you said, “dog gone it, we should be applauding the courts, we should be applauding the justice department” and you are a little concerned about the reaction, tell me why.


Jasser:  Yes, I am. I think these types of convictions, not only are they good for American security, but they allow us to see exactly what the stripes are of some of these organizations. We have had 2 major convictions now in the past month that the Department of Justice has been able to complete. And one was the Holy Land Foundation trial in Dallas and now this one with the Fort Dix Six. And the head of CAIR in New Jersey basically, Jim Sues, the executive director there, gets up in media and you see them in  Philly, in the Philadelphia Inquirer and other newspapers basically saying---‘well you know, this is really terrible. It’s going to alienate the Muslim community.’ The only reason this case was victorious was because of an informant, and now Muslims..the community and are not going to trust the Department of Justice because this all was sort of an entrapment they said. Then they had a guy, James Yee, who some of you may remember has become the poster boy for the Council on American Islamic Relations as a former Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo and was taken up on charges, most of which were actually dismissed, but then still he ended up being forced to leave the military and you, know the issue…”(Beckman interrupts)


Beckman: He wrote a book, didn’t he Zuhdi?


Jasser:  Yeah, he wrote a book about his whole experience and his expose about how he was treated in the military, etc., and you know, listen, I can feel for some of the injustices that may have happened to him, but the bottom line is that I didn’t see any positivity coming from him or at the time. But more importantly, his commentary demonstrated where he was coming from. He said this basically—‘America should be on notice that Muslims may not work with them as they should because of the type of techniques used in this case’.. And I mean what more do they want?  It’s interesting. CAIR, at it’s annual dinner last month, said that the Obama administration is going to be wonderful because ‘they are going to bring back the rule of law as will be seen in Guantanamo Bay because they haven’t seen the rule of law.’ So, I’m trying to figure out, what kind of rule of law do these people want? If it is the rule of law that is adjudicated by a jury of our peers, I guess then that doesn’t qualify when they get a guilty verdict! It is probably the type of rule of law where their friends and Islamists, always seem to be taken off the hook, and you know, I can tell you that is a major liability for me as a Muslim. Because, you know, what bothers me about Mr. Yee’s comments is now, you know, we may hear similar things from the ACLU and other groups, but what bothers me is that he says-- ‘the American Muslim community’, as if we would all agree with what he says.


That is why I really take great umbrage in that. You know, I‘m a former naval officer and I think that it is our duty as Muslims to be informants and to work against these types of groups, because if we don’t infiltrate them ourselves, the Department of Justice is going to have a very difficult time. In this Fort Dix case, what happened was a video clerk had received a DVD to copy for this group and he saw the Jihadist training and all he did was he reported it to the Department of Justice and then they infiltrated that group over the following 6 months. I’m trying to figure out what type of information was revealed in the trial, which these people attended actually, that they felt…you know, they said ‘Oh, it’s just a bunch of dumb kids and they’re just doing crazy things, but it’s not really militant as they’re just experimenting and they never really wanted to do it’.. and that’s just absurd! This is at the beginning of home grown terror and I guess they want to wait for people to actually do something before they know they are guilty.


Beckman: Well, in fact, this is what we are counting on in our country, isn’t it?  The kind of informant that we had in the Fort Dix case to help expose the cover being given to people within that community. And look, those people, the bad people, the terrorists among us, or potential terrorists, they are a small minority, we know that. Everybody knows that, but they are the ones that give the suspicion, the reason for suspicion by Americans to an entire population of people that you represent.


Jasser: Exactly. If anything, as a Muslim, I feel even more compelled to work to expose these individuals and see that we will not stand for that and say we have zero tolerance for any type of militant ideology because of the fact that it ends up speaking for all of us. And, you know, it’s case after case. On the one hand, they cite cases that have been dismissed and say, ‘Oh, the Department of Justice is out on a witch hunt,’ and on the other hand, then when they have an attack in which we legitimately as a Muslim community need the FBI and others to help us because of some hate crimes that may happen, they turn around and ask the FBI to immediately investigate and help them because they are being attacked because they are Muslim. So you can’t turn around and tell the FBI, ‘well on the one hand, we’re not going to help you because you are using informants, and on the other hand, if we get attacked because of other hate groups that are attacking Muslims, we want you to help us immediately.’ So, you have to be part of the team in the U.S. and what we are doing and stand for the rule of law and understand where America is coming from. I mean, you look back in Dallas, there was a major 10 year case that finally finished and they were convicted of over 100 counts of funding terrorism to Hamas of the major Holy Land Foundation charity and these groups could not get themselves to laud that and they said again it was an inappropriate conviction, etc., etc. And I think it’s important for the media, like you are doing now, and others, to start to push these groups and say okay, what type of case would you find appropriate? What type of case would you help in? How do you think we haven’t had an attack since 9-1-1 here in the U.S.?                                        


Beckman: Well, because we have been more vigilant and because our military has wiped out so many terrorists in Iraq. That is a great untold story of that war. How many terrorists have gone there to meet our military in battle and have been killed? And that is another reason. Terrorism is still a threat. We do have to remain vigilant. Let me ask you this though Zuhdi. The prisoners at Guantanamo—President (elect) Barack Obama has said he plans to close Guantanamo and the question remains, what happens to all of the prisoners there? What do we do with them? Any suggestions?


Jasser: Well, I think we need to bring them through the legal system and convict them, or try them for their charges, if that’s what’s going to happen. I wasn’t in favor of it being closed, but that is sort of where the winds are changing and going, but we cannot just release them. They are talking about sending them back to their countries, but most of their countries will not even take them. And we have to understand, you talk to our troops in Afghanistan and they will tell you that some of the people they ended up seeing on the other end were people who had been released from Guantanamo. And you know, it‘s pretty complicated when you are talking about, you know, the CAIR folks and others have been saying, ‘well these people have been imprisoned without court, etc’, this is a war that we are fighting. And there is a certain way when you take these people to court, we are going to have to adjudicate them, but what’s going to happen with the secrets. There are so many examples in American history where we have been forced to put people like this through open court and there are secrets revealed that ended up hurting us significantly. We saw this in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Many of the things revealed in that trial, ended up affecting American security profoundly and in the 9-11 report, there were some hints that some of that information ended up affecting our security into 9-11.


Beckman: Certainly.  I also wondered, did you see the recent story out of Minneapolis, for those who don’t know it, there is a very large Somali-Muslim community in Minneapolis and the story was that there are a number of young people who have disappeared and they believe that these young people have gone over to points in the Middle East to take up radical jihad and have left the U.S. to do this. Have you been following that story at all?


Jasser: Yeah, it was actually a significant story in the USA Today and it’s very interesting. And what bothered me about it is they went to the mosque where these individuals had come from and they said, ‘Oh, they said, that’s not happening, and if it is, they are making more out of it then they should.’ And again, it’s almost like we need a 12 step program in many of these Muslim communities to get out of denial. Because what’s happening is-- not that the mosque was advocating violence, I don’t think that is what was happening-- but there was a lot of estrangement. There was complaints about, for example the conflict in Somalia and these kids, many of them, ended up probably feeling like they need to go help in the “Jihad”, so the Imam doesn’t necessarily need to be preaching violence, all they need to be preaching is a type of victimization, a type of separatism and immediately, and then more slowly, these kids end up feeling compelled to go and I think that’s really, you know… the NYPD had a report out last year that talked about home grown terror and the process by which Muslims could become radicalized. And then Senator Lieberman’s Homeland Security Committee then came out with an augment of that and said, well, these are actually the things we need to be doing nationally. And sure enough, our favorite organization, CAIR and then MPAC in New York came out with a counter to that and said that, ‘this is ridiculous, it is fear mongering, we can’t be targeting the Muslim community.’---rather than look at the parts of the report that really pointed out where things like the Somali incident are happening, what is radicalizing these individuals and what can we do as a community to treat this diagnosis early, rather than too late?


Beckman:   Well, and Zuhdi, the other part of this, if you don’t believe this can happen, just look at Britain, where the radical part of that community there was involved in a plot to blow up airliners. The recent attacks in Mumbai, included a young Brit, who was transplanted back over to carry out attacks and there are these horror stories and that is why the vigilance must remain high. And to just say we shouldn’t target, I guess I have, in my own mind, I try to separate targeting a community with simply being vigilant because you know that that community is being used for cover by people who wish to do harm.


Jasser:  And the bottom line is that if we as a community wake up, I mean, our organization, the American Islamic Forum, is dedicated on the fact that we believe that terrorism is just a tactic and that actually we need to counter the ideology and separate out spiritual pietistic Islam from political Islam, which is the ends that these individuals, whether they are militant or non militant, seek. And if we can counter the ends that makes them feel that western society is ‘evil and anti–Islamic’, if we can counter that and make them feel identified with western society as Muslims and be at the head of the counter terrorism movement, then you both-- you allow non Muslims to see us leading the fight and we are not a separate community-- and then you also treat the disease at its core. And that’s why I think until you start seeing Muslim organizations doing that, rather than being apologists and victim oriented, you are going to continue to see, I think, the majority of America wondering, you know, what are they doing? Why aren’t they really looking at this the way the Department of Justice and everybody else is looking at this?                


Beckman: Quite frankly, I have people saying whose side are you on? You know?


Jasser: Well I hope not, I mean, that’s why I went in the Navy for 11 years and that is why we formed this group.


Beckman: Exactly right, I hear you my friend. Zuhdi, thanks for the time, we really appreciate it and I know it is a busy period for everyone. We thank you for taking time out to talk with us this morning. Have a very happy new year. We look forward to talking with you in 2009 my friend.


Zuhdi: Thank you, likewise, and happy holidays.


Beckman: So long, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, the president of The American Islamic Forum for Democracy, here on the Frank Beckman show.