January 11, 2017
The Honorable Chuck Grassley
United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary
224 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary
152 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Members of the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Dear Chairman Grassley, Senator Feinstein, and Members of the Committee:
I am writing to you today to ask that you enthusiastically confirm Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General of the United States. I am an American Muslim, former U.S. Naval officer and the son of Syrian political refugees who escaped to the United States in 1966 and instilled in me a love and devotion for the U.S. Constitution, our Bill of Rights and this great nation of ours.
In addition to serving my nation in uniform for 11 years, I have also dedicated my life to countering what many of us Muslims believe to be the root cause of Islamist terror—political Islam or the global identity movements of Islamism. The mission of our American Islamic Forum for Democracy based in Phoenix, Arizona is to protect the U.S. Constitution, freedom and liberty thought the separation of mosque and state. This has led us to what we believe to the solution to the threat of global Islamism—our diverse, bipartisan led Muslim Reform Movement with Muslim leaders in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.
As an American patriot who loves this nation, it saddens me to no end to see American Islamist sympathizers like Mr. Khizr Khan and his bevy of enabling Islamist and partisan organizations falsely malign an honorable appointee for Attorney General not only on behalf of the far left’s political machinery but in the name of American Muslims and the free practice of the faith of Islam that I love. They have no shame in exploiting the appointment of a conservative, extraordinarily well-qualified Senator in order to speak on behalf of Islamists. They are intentionally spreading false fears of the impending victimization of American Muslims in order to derail Sen. Sessions’ appointment. There is no opportunity that Islamists will not exploit or fabricate in order to victimize, segregate, and collectivize Muslims into a single group. Make no mistake. Muslims are an ideologically, diverse community and Mr. Khizr Khan, CAIR and other Islamist grievance groups do not speak for all of us.
In fact I call upon you to look at the very records of this Judiciary committee to witness, in case you missed it, the long overdue “tough love” for Muslim communities that Sen. Sessions articulately defended when I testified in June 2016 to the Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts on “Willful Blindness: Consequences of Agency Efforts To Deemphasize Radical Islam in Combating Terrorism” chaired by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). He said,
“Dr. Jasser, I remember during the Civil Rights days, national TV networks, maybe they were atheist, maybe they were Jewish or whatever, going into churches in the south, sticking a camera in the face of a (white) preacher and asking them, can an African-American, can a black person worship in your church, yes or no? This was a difficult question and it was very tough. But I thought and in retrospect that kind of challenge caused people to realize the position was untenable and could not be defended in public debate. ” (1:53:41-1:57:21 CSPAN Video)
I then responded to him that it is in fact this kind of tough love that refuses to treat Muslim communities and their leaders with a bigotry of low expectations but rather with the respect of genuine equality. Senator Sessions agreed that we Muslim reformers should be given the space to call out the homophobia, anti-Semitism and anti-freedom beliefs of Islamist leaders at mosques and any Islamic institutions.
Sen. Sessions further concluded that,
“the Islamic world and the Muslim religion is a great religion. Millions of people follow its doctrines and don’t believe in these things.” (1:53:41-1:57:21 CSPAN Video)
This is the unvarnished non-partisan truth regarding my last very public interaction with Sen. Sessions on Muslims, Islam, Islamism, national security and religious freedom. I have testified repeatedly to Congress on no less than four occasions in the past five years of the need to shift the U.S. government away from the feckless mission to simply “Counter Violent Extremism (CVE)” to the more accurate mission of “Countering Violent Islamism (CVI)”. Such a move would not mean that we Muslims would ever agree to giving up one iota of our constitutionally protected civil rights. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Public monitoring of non-violent Islamist precursors of violent Islamist terrorists is perfectly appropriate and should be part of the public-private partnerships in honest counter-radicalization programs. It is incumbent upon us in the Muslim communities to reform against the theocratic ideas which radicalize our youth. Sen. Sessions has shown a profound understanding of that need and the fact that the government should not and cannot do that. Again, this is not to suggest any illegal intrusions upon privacy, religious freedom, or the intimidation or shuttering of any mosques that are not advocating imminent acts of violence in violation of the Supreme Court decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio.
I defy anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim, protesting the appointment of Sen. Sessions to find one iota of evidence that his policies and enforcement of the U.S. Constitution and our laws will violate the religious freedoms of Muslims or put us at risk. As I said to Sen. Sessions in the June 2016 hearing, there is no better way for Muslims to melt away any bigotry that may exist than for Americans to see us lead the battle of ideas against the theocratic ideas that radicalize our youth. In fact, I believe Sen. Sessions would be a long overdue refreshingly honest partner with American Muslim communities with regards to the hard work we have yet to do against the radicalizing conveyor belt of political Islam (Islamism). That, in and of itself, uniquely qualifies him for the position.
Indeed the job of Attorney General includes a large portfolio with obviously many other interest groups and communities affected beyond the Muslim communities. I will let others speak to that. But I felt it very important that your committee understand that there are patriotic American Muslims who love our country and our faith and believe that Sen. Sessions will be unwaveringly loyal and true to lady justice. As Byron York recently reminded us, in Sen. Sessions own words when he grilled Attorneys General Reno or Gonzales, he asked them if they will have “the backbone to walk into the Oval Office, pound your fist on the desk and say, ‘Mr. President, you can’t do that.’
The Islamists groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (a group formally considered persona-non-grata by the FBI due to their position on HAMAS) protesting his appointment are proof positive that his appointment is the right one for national security and our rule of law in the next administration.
Zuhdi Jasser, MD
Phoenix, ArizonaPresident, American Islamic Forum for Democracy
Co-Founder, Muslim Reform Movement
Dear Friend of AIFD:
As Americans of every religion, ethnicity, culture, and family structure prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, we write to express our gratitude to the many who have supported us over the years. Without your solidarity, we would not be able to do the work we do.
Even in times of turmoil and tension, our country remains one of the most blessed, abundant and promising places the world has ever known. On this Thanksgiving, we remain ever focused on protecting and advancing the American vision of liberty and justice for all, through our efforts to combat Islamism and protect religious freedom and other universal human rights.
This holiday season, we also have an exciting announcement to make: this year, we will be launching our first ever AIFD Courage Awards. AIFD’s inaugural Courage Awards are given to individuals who have shone a light on some of the most urgent matters of our time, and whose work for universal human rights in the face of staunch opposition has inspired action toward positive change.
We have chosen winners in the fields of activism, media and philanthropy, with special focus on those who have demonstrated a willingness to dissent with their own identity groups in order to protect the rights of the most vulnerable. Winners have been contacted, and we will soon be introducing them to you!
As we reflect on our blessings this Thanksgiving, we also must remain focused on the work we still have to do. While it is easy and natural to become distracted by what has dominated the media, we must remember that the perils of radical Islam and the malice of fascism continue to advance. While we at AIFD remain committed to our efforts, we need your support to continue to advance our mission.
We have made tremendous strides with few resources, and must this year make a special appeal to our friends and followers: can you contribute to support our cause today? You contribution is tax-deductible in the United States – and 100% of your gift goes directly to our work. Plus, you will receive regular updates from our team about the efforts we’re making and our progress. Please click here to make your contribution – and please know that no amount is too small. I look forward to thanking you for your support.
I also invite you to check out our new website, which we’ve been working on over the last several months.
We at Team AIFD (as we call ourselves!) wish you a happy, safe, and blessed Thanksgiving.
Yours in liberty.
Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser
Since September 2001, terrorism has dominated the headlines. But there is a much less discussed form of terrorism — assault on dissidents in which the very systems meant to protect them fail and hand them over to their killers.
The attack on dissidents is robbing families of their loved ones, instilling fear in communities, and obstructing many pathways toward deep reform within the House of Islam. It is long overdue for security forces and governments to modify their policies and stand unwaveringly by the universal human right of free speech.
Last month, Jordanian writer and political activist Nahed Hattar was murdered in cold blood outside a local court for “insulting Islam” by sharing a satirical cartoon on his Facebook page.
Hattar was murdered by a “known extremist” cleric as he was facing trial by his own government which opposed his freedom expression. These autocratic and quasi-theocratic governments often light the fuses of radicalism which at times they explode themselves and other times hand over blindly to rogue assassins who they empower.
In Bangladesh, bloggers who question theocracy are slaughtered in broad daylight – this year alone, at least eight dissident bloggers have been murdered. In Pakistan, dissidents and even lawmakers who break rank with the religious establishment are murdered with impunity – often with their own bodyguards tipping off and aiding the killers. When they are not killed, Muslim reformers, dissidents and freethinkers are threatened, stalked and made to live in fear. With the continued advance of Islamic State and those who are inspired by them, the problem is growing.
by John Rossomando
A Muslim legal group, girded with $1.8 million in grant money from George Soros’s Open Society Foundations (OSF), has helped influence major policy changes in the war on terror, including the Department of Homeland Security’s screening of individuals with suspected terror ties and the FBI’s training program for its agents working in counterterrorism.
Internal records, made public by the hacking group DC Leaks, show OSF spent $40 million between 2008 and 2010 on programs aimed at weakening U.S. counterterrorism policy.
Muslim Advocates’ Executive Director Farhana Khera played a key role in shaping the foundations’ spending. Khera co-authored a 2007 memo that “informed” the foundations’ U.S. Programs Board’s decision to create the National Security and Human Rights Campaign (NSHRC), a Sept. 14, 2010 OSF document discussing the program’s reauthorization, shows.
The NSHRC’s goals included:
- Closing Guantanamo Bay, eliminating torture and methods such as the extraordinary rendition of prisoners, and ending the use of secret prisons;
- Ending warrantless and “unchecked” surveillance;
- Ensuring that anti-terrorism laws and law enforcement activities do not target freedom of speech, association or religious expression;
- Reducing ethnic and religious profiling of people of Muslim, Arab or South Asian extraction;
- Decreasing secrecy and increasing oversight of executive actions, and expose U.S. government or private individuals who abuse or violate the law.
We at AIFD have been watching the continued tensions and violence in Israel with heavy hearts and increasing concern.
AIFD has always been committed to a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict which would grant all parties dignity, peace, and a safe homeland. As we’ve watched the latest rise in violence unfold – including horrific stabbings, incitement, and street violence – we join many in struggling to maintain hope.
Many organizations avoid the topic of Israel altogether to avoid getting into the often toxic dynamic that results when individuals are not able to engage with reason. At AIFD, we have been clear in our support for a solution resulting in meaningful coexistence and lasting peace. An integral part of this position is a commitment to recognizing the State of Israel, and encouraging our fellow faithful to do the same. Further, we believe that all forms of radicalism and violence must be opposed – and the kind that has resulted in the targeting of Israeli civilians by radicalized individuals yielding knives is no exception.
The State of Israel was created as a result of one of the most horrific crimes in human history – the genocide of millions of Jews at the hands of the Nazis. In 2015, anti-Semitism remains rampant: from stabbings to attacks on synagogues and attacks on visibly religious Jews, anti-Jewish sentiment is far from extinguished. We, as faithful Muslims and fellow citizens, understand and respect the need for the State of Israel, and hope for the day when Israelis and Palestinians can truly live side by side in peace.
As Americans and as Muslims, we must recognize this: what happens in Israel may ultimately find its way here. Indeed, we have already seen attacks on religious Jews in New York City, and a stabbing attack in California. While the motive in the California attack is still being investigated, even the possibility of a “copycat attack” inspired by stabbing crimes in Israel is of grave concern.
All who are rightly worried about the advance of groups like ISIS and their supporters should take special note of this rise in violence: not only have ISIS supporters tweeted support for the attacks in Israel, they’ve also expressed support for the stabbing attack just last week in California. While social media has the capacity to organize people – including youth – for positive change, it is also one of the key tools used by radicals to recruit people of all genders, ages and backgrounds. Stabbing attacks in particular have been encouraged – from both ISIS and radicals in the West Bank and surrounding areas. In the words of Palestinian cleric Muhammad Salakh: “Restrain the victim while others attack him with axes and butcher knives…do fear what will be said of you…next time, attack in a group of three, four, or five. Attack them in groups. Cut them into body parts.” This sermon has been widely distributed. The “Intifada of the Knives,” as it is called, has been bolstered by the likes of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood movement worldwide, and ISIS – who launched a campaign called “Project Behead the Jews.” Videos distributed by the group and by Hamas include titles like “Lovers of Stabbing.”
In California, Faisal Muhammad carried out an attack initially reported as something fueled by minor inter-personal frustrations. Alarmingly, the autopsy of Muhammad’s body revealed that he had written a manifesto – and that while the catalyst for his violence seemed to be a conflict with other students, he did use religious language in his promises to kill. Would he have lashed out at other students regardless of current events in the Middle East? Maybe. But is it also possible that his method and level of vitriol were inspired by what is happening in Israel and everywhere radicalization takes hold? Very possibly, if not likely.
AIFD condemns, in no uncertain terms, the violence perpetrated against Israeli citizens, and acts daily against the anti-Semitism behind the venomous attacks on Israel. We invite you to watch our video blog, “We are not post anti-Semitism” by clicking here. We also continue to work steadfastly at combatting the ideology of groups like ISIS, with the solemn and urgent awareness that without a firm and consistent strategy against these groups, we will all find ourselves in increasing peril.
We at AIFD wanted to take this opportunity to wish all of our readers and friends a wonderful, safe and happy Thanksgiving.
As liberty-minded Muslims, we are thankful each and every day for the freedom we enjoy in this remarkable nation, where individual liberty and freedom of conscience remain a sacred blessing. As we gather with our loved ones this Thanksgiving, we are especially thankful for all of you who have shared your support, encouragement and passion for freedom with us this year. We will also keep in our hearts and prayers those who may not have the blessings of home and family to share this day with.
Together we must all remain hopeful and vigilant in our efforts to bring about the day when all may enjoy the freedoms we do. Thank you for your support of our work, and for being a part of our American family, united in spirit and in dedication to liberty.
We would also like to wish a happy Hannukah to our Jewish friends. May your celebrations be blessed, and may your spirit be renewed by the remembrance of God’s grace and love for His Creation.
In liberty and with great love,
The AIFD Team
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