by Jerry Gordon (June 2012)
In late April 2012, a Tennessee legislator held a meeting with aides to Gov. Bill Haslam. It concerned unauthorized and apparently unconstitutional moves by Bill Gibbons, Tennessee State Commissioner of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security (DSHS), establishing a partnership with a religious NGO, the American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC) which has ties to local Muslim Brotherhood leaders via the American Center for Outreach (ACO). Gibbons was the long term District Attorney General in Memphis’ Shelby County and previously served as an aide to two former GOP Governors, Lamar Alexander and Don Sundquist.
AMAC is modeled on an organization created by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn in August 2011, the Muslim American Advisory Council. Quinn had appointed the Secretary General of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Safaa Zazour and Kareem Irfan, President of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, to serve on the Council. Illinois has 400,000 Muslims and more than 300 mosques. Its principal purpose according to ISNA is to “help ensure Muslim American participation in state government.” ISNA and the International Institute on Islamic Thought (IIIT), a northern Virginia based “think tank” for the Muslim Brotherhood met with the Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA) as Muslims for Constructive Engagement with the US government and Pentagon to push Islamization from within. IDA is a Pentagon contractor. In 2006 they met to develop guidelines for Muslim Advisory Groups to government agencies. In retrospect the Muslim Advisory Councils were the springboard for the infiltration of host government agencies like the DSHS in Tennessee. It was a furtherance of the Grand Jihad plan of the Muslim Brotherhood uncovered in a hidden basement of a northern Virginia home by FBI investigators. This discovery led to the Federal Dallas Holy Land Foundation trial and convictions in 2008. A trial that named the ISNA and several other Muslim Brotherhood front groups in America as unindicted co-conspirators.
However, AMAC’s role in Tennessee was stymied for lack of full disclosure and transparency by Gibbons and his staff at the DSHS. Those disclosures could be an embarrassment to Tennessee Governor Haslam. Hence, the meeting between the state legislator and the Governor’s aides. As we shall see in this article, the DSHS head, the US Attorney for Tennessee and the US Department of Justice became involved in a web of activities in support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Tennessee. That could raise serious questions about national counter terrorism versus religious civil rights policies. Tennessee has been front and center in the national media debate over citizens concerned about Muslim Brotherhood influence in government at both the state and national levels.
Connecting the Dots in Tennessee
On November 7th, 2011, Commissioner Gibbons issued a letter with the salutation “Salaam alaikum” to announce a partnership with religious non-profit group, the AMAC. He had no prior legislative authority to do so and subsequently it was deemed unconstitutional by a State Attorney General Opinion in March 2012. This despite Commissioner Gibbons’ efforts to cover his tracks and conceal this already existing partnership by filing for legislation in February 2012 under HB2375. Not only was there a partnership formed and functioning but an employee of the DSHS, James Cotter (the Homeland Security Middle Tennessee Regional Advisor), was a member of AMAC. As early as June 2011, members of the Muslim Rapid Response Team had met with Regional Adviser Cotter and Asst. Commissioner David Purkey head of the Office of Homeland Security to discuss pending Tennessee anti-terrorism legislation. When the Governor of Illinois announced the creation of his state’s Muslim Advisory Council that may have triggered the formation of both AMAC and ACO as nonprofit NGOs in Tennessee. As we shall see, the two groups are interrelated having members on both boards, as well as the leadership of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Council (TIRRC). Cotter claimed that membership In AMAC gave him access to any mosque in the State of Tennessee. The date of the letter came four days before the launch of the Preserving Freedom Conference: The U.S. Constitution or Shariah Law sponsored by the Tennessee Freedom Coalition (TFC) and the Shariah Awareness Action Network (SAAN). The November 7th letter signed by Commissioner Bill Gibbons may have been prompted by Muslim community and media criticism of the November 11, 2011 Preserving Freedom Conference. The Conference sponsors had booked convention facilities at the Hutton Hotel near Opryland in Nashville for November 11th to hear international experts discuss the threat of shariah law in America. In late October 2011 Hutton’s owners in Philadelphia summarily cancelled the reservations over alleged security issues including threats to its staff. Independent investigations revealed that the owners of the Hutton in Nashville, Amerimar Enterprises, had provided meeting space for a shariah compliant finance conference at a sister hotel in London, the St. Ermin, in 2010. When the Hutton hotel cancelled, the conference sponsors resorted to using the Cornerstone Church in Madison, Tennessee, a venue where the Hon. Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) had spoken at a TFC event in May 2011 concerning the threat of Islamization in Europe and the West.
In mid-February 2012, Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office sponsored a counterterrorism training program with the Strategic Engagement Group (SEG) and funded by the TFC that was criticized by both the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and local Tennessee Muslim community advocacy groups as being “anti-Muslim.” This despite the endorsement of the Tennessee Peace Officers Standards & Training Commission (POST). That program was roundly criticized by Tennessee DSHS, the US Attorney for Nashville, leaders of Muslim groups in Middle Tennessee and the media. They accused it of being the equivalent of “hate speech” for conveying to local law officers information on the Grand Jihad of the Muslim Brotherhood in America. The SEG program was conducted by noted counterterrorism experts including former FBI officials using, in part, materials drawn from the Federal Dallas Holy Land Foundation trial testimony and exhibits, investigations of home grown terrorism, Islamic jihad and shariah doctrine.
At issue is who authorized the partnership with the shadowy AMAC/ACO modeled on one adopted in the State of Illinois? Moreover was that partnership cleared with Governor Bill Haslam? Did he know about this partnership and secretly approve it? Why would Gibbons, a policy assistant and aide to two former Governors engage in a cover-up of this back door arrangement? Gibbons is not ignorant of his responsibilities under the law as a duly elected law officer who served 14 years as District Attorney General in Shelby County. He should have disclosed the launch of the AMAC/ACO partnership prior to November 2011 or when he introduced legislation in February 2012, SB 2237 and HB 2375 seeking retroactive authorization for forming such partnerships with religious nonprofit groups. On March 2, 2012, State Attorney General Robert E. Cooper, Jr. filed an opinion at the request of Gibbons on companion bills, SB 2237 and HB 2375, which would authorize DSHS “to promote its goals by entering partnership agreements with non-profit organizations.” Measures that were vigorously contested by members of the Tennessee State legislature, among them Rep. Rick Womick and Sen. Bill Ketron. They offered several amendments contesting establishing partnerships with religious NGOs. Attorney General Cooper’s Opinion No. 12-29 concluded that a proposed amendment to the bills that would exclude partnership agreements with political or religious non-profits is constitutionally defensible. Commissioner Gibbons promptly withdrew the pending legislation. The Tennessee DSHS filed the legislation just prior to a two day counterterrorism program on February 27th and 28th, 2012 involving the US Attorney for Nashville, the FBI Office of Counterterrorism, and the West Point Center for Combating Terrorism and members of the shadowy AMAC/ACO. Several State Legislators were denied information as to the members of AMAC/ACO who spoke at this training event. Further they were informed it was none of their concern and that they were on a “need to know basis.” A source from a local law enforcement agency who attended the USDOJ sponsored program in late February in Nashville remarked that members of the board of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM)spoke expressing the view that Islam was a religion of peace. This source thought that overall the program was a waste of time. The source had also attended the SEG program sponsored by the Rutherford Sherriff’s office and found it most informative. The US DOJ sponsored program may have actually suggested that the real threat to homeland security in America came from “white neo-Nazis groups” and “right wing Christian extremists” rather than Islamic extremists.
The USDOJ has the Back of Muslims in Middle Tennessee
The Gibbons letter was aimed at ingratiating the DSHS with the State’s growing Muslim community. There are an estimated 63,000 Muslims in Tennessee, approximately 1% of the State’s 6.3 million population. The state had witnessed a number of controversies with the Muslim community over construction of mega-mosques in Rutherford and Williamson Counties.
To put perspective on the current issues in Tennessee, we have to put them in the context of what has facilitated the spread of Muslim influence in America, ironically accelerated following the heinous act of Islamic terrorism that occurred on 9/11.
Muslim influence and infiltration of our national government had been facilitated under the Clinton, Bush and the Obama Administrations in Washington. Clinton began the practice of holding annual Iftar dinners at the White House during Ramadan. Under President Bush these were expanded to Iftar dinners at the Pentagon, as well, along with appointment of Muslim outreach aides at senior levels in the Defense Department. The day following 9/11 in 2001 President Bush met with Muslim leaders at the Saudi financed Washington Islamic Center in a photo op declaring that Islam was a religion of peace and that extremists had hi-jacked this leading world faith with an underlying political ideological agenda. Bush in 2007 appointed Sada Camber, a Texas Muslim businessman of Indian origin, as the first special envoy with ambassadorial rank to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) (renamed Organization of Islamic Cooperation in July 2011). The 57 member OIC, composed of 56 nations and the Palestinian Authority, is Saudi controlled and headquartered in Jeddah. It is a virtual world Caliphate seeking to impose Qur’anic doctrine and Shariah rules, such as blasphemy codes denying criticism of Islam in the West. Obama appointed another Texas Muslim of similar background in March 2010 to the OIC, former Deputy White House Counsel Rashad Hussain. Later in December 2011, Secretary of State Clinton would convene an international plenary session with OIC members and other foreign representatives at the State Department. The so-called Istanbul Process conference was directed at developing best practices for combating religious intolerance, a code word for Shariah blasphemy codes adopted by the Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez of the USDOJ Civil Rights Division spoke about development of best practices to comply with the UN religious intolerance resolution. We shall see his role later in the USDOJ in the Tennessee mosque and counterterrorism program training conflicts.
Under Bush the FBI had begun both national and regional liaison with Muslim Brotherhood groups such as CAIR and MPACT. Some major city police departments established similar local liaison efforts with Muslim community leaders including the hiring of Muslim personnel. Two city departments, Los Angeles and New York began to use controversial Muslim community profiling as part of their counterterrorism effort. Los Angeles dropped theirs at the request of local community leaders and the deputy mayor for public safety, Arif Alikhan a Muslim. Alikhan had served in the Bush USDOJ under Attorney General Gonzalez and currently is Assistant Secretary for Policy at the US Department of Homeland Security. He was a member of Muslim Brotherhood Front, MPACT.
New York’s police department expanded Muslim community monitoring through outreach to communities in New Jersey and upstate New York eventuating in adverse national media and Muslim community protests in 2011. Under Bush the deracination began with national security agencies eliminating references to Islamic jihad doctrine. Following the disclosures of evidentiary materials during the 2007-2008 Holy Land Foundation Trial and convictions, the FBI withdraw liaison with CAIR, simply substituting another Muslim Brotherhood front group, MPACT. The only venues where concerns were raised about matters of Muslim extremism and the threat of homegrown terrorism were hearings conducted by the Senate and House Homeland Security Committees, chaired by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Rep. Peter King (R-NY).
An illustration of the national concerns about homegrown terrorists that impacted Tennessee was the unfortunate case of Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, formerly Melvin Bledsoe. Bledsoe was a Muslim convert from Memphis who killed an Army recruiter in June 2010 at a Little Rock, Arkansas Mall as payback for fighting his brothers in the Muslim Ummah in Iraq and Afghanistan. Muhammad was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in July 2011. Testimony by his father, Melvin Bledsoe, at a US House Homeland Security Committee Hearing chaired by Rep. Peter King in March 2011 raised national awareness about Nashville Muslim community Da’wa (conversion) activities. The senior Bledsoe’s testimony noted how his son had converted to Islam at Tennessee State University while a student in Nashville under the aegis of the Imam at the Islamic Center of Nashville (ICN). Carlos Bledsoe adopted his Islamic name from his mentor, the Imam at the ICN. Muhammad subsequently went to Yemen for jihadist indoctrination with the late American born radical Imam Anwar al-Awlaki and allegedly may have received terrorist training with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Muslim influence in conservative Republican circles began under the aegis of power house K Street lobbyist Grover Norquist. Norquist had business relations with convicted felon and terrorist financier Abdurahman Alamoudi caught funneling funds to al Qaeda affiliated terrorists groups. Norquist had further insinuated Washington Muslim lawyer and Bush Administration era official Suhail Khan onto the board the prestigious American Conservative Union (ACU). The ACU is the sponsor of the annual Washington Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). At the 2011 CPAC Conference, Khan responded to questions about shariah and Muslim Brotherhood was caught on video saying: “Shariah doesn’t exist in America” and that there was “No Muslim Brotherhood in US.”
With the election of President Obama in November 2008, the official positions with regard to domestic terrorism policies at the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice changed. Muslims with known Muslim Brotherhood affiliations were appointed to Homeland Security Advisory Committees resulting in changes to the counterterrorism threat doctrine in 2011. These changes downplayed any references to Islamic inspired terrorism and raising the visibility of alleged right wing extremist threats from militia groups and returning veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
With the eruption of the Arab Spring in North Africa and the Middle East, what had begun as informal outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt became formalized. The Obama White House received a delegation of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders and the Administration announced $1.5 billion in assistance to Egypt facing a Presidential election in May 2012.
(For a definitive examination of the Muslim Brotherhood influence in America, please see the extended documentation and educational materials compiled and published on–line by the Washington-based Center for Security Policy in the Muslim Brotherhood in America).
One of the first initiatives of the Obama Administration was outreach to the Muslim Ummah with high profile visits to Ankara, Turkey in April 2009 followed by the President’s “New Beginnings” address before a worldwide television audience at Al Azhar University in Cairo. During that speech he announced a new doctrine of aggressive civil and human rights defense of Muslims in the US:
Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one's religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state in our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That's why the United States government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab and to punish those who would deny it.
Immediately following the President’s Cairo speech, US Attorney General Eric Holder issued this statement in furtherance of President Obama’s Cairo remarks:
The President's pledge for a new beginning between the United States and the Muslim community takes root here in the Justice Department where we are committed to using criminal and civil rights laws to protect Muslim Americans. A top priority of this Justice Department is a return to robust civil rights enforcement and outreach in defending religious freedoms and other fundamental rights of all of our fellow citizens in the workplace, in the housing market, in our schools and in the voting booth.
There are those who will continue to want to divide by fear – to pit our national security against our civil liberties – but that is a false choice. We have a solemn responsibility to protect our people while we also protect our principles.
Attorney General Holder’s declarations regarding the official priority for protection of Muslim civil and human rights received one of its first tests in Tennessee with its entry on the side of the proposed mega-mosque into the Murfreesboro Chancery Court Hearings. This was further exacerbated by allegations of arson and vandalism at the job site of the expanded Islamic Center of Murfreesboro. The latter brought the resources of both the FBI and the ATF into the alleged “hate crime” that occurred on August 28, 2010, just prior to the start of the Chancery Court proceedings in Rutherford County. As we shall see, the USDOJ, through the efforts of Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez for Civil Rights, would quickly respond to both local and national Muslim interests.
On September 7, 2010, the outgoing President of the ISNA Dr. Ingrid Mattson and a delegation met with US Attorney General Erik Holder and his staff. They discussed “anti-Muslim rhetoric and violence across America from Tennessee to New York” created by several controversial mega-mosque projects. Holder allegedly made a commitment with the Muslim delegation to enforce laws against anyone committing crimes against Muslims and upholding their First Amendment rights.
In mid-September 2010, the US Attorney for Nashville, Jerry Martin, filed an amicus brief in the ICM Chancery Court proceedings. The filing was in support of both the County’s position and the Muslim Community’s. He noted in his amicus brief:
To suggest that Islam is not a religion is quite simply ridiculous. Each branch of the federal government has independently recognized Islam as one of the major religions of the world.
On October 7, 2010, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Thomas E. Perez, paid a visit to the US Attorney Nashville office and met with local Muslim groups including members of the board of the ICM. Perez told the group that included the Imams the both the ICM and Nashville mosques that “his office has their back if it turns out that opponents aren't as interested in zoning esoteric as they are in sidelining the practice of Islam in Murfreesboro.”
“Basically, what we're being told is that if there's any civil violation of the rights of the Muslim community here, they'll step in,” says Abdou Kattih, vice president of the ICM, who also met with government officials.
However, conflicts over mosques and zoning approvals in Middle Tennessee weren’t the only problems facing the US Attorney’s office in Nashville and elsewhere.
The Nashville US Attorney was also involved in the prosecution of more than 30 Somali Muslim gang members who were arrested and indicted on charges of sex trafficking of minors in 2010. Nine of these Somali gang members from Minneapolis, Columbus and Nashville were brought to trial in April 2012. Three were convicted and six were acquitted. In November 2011 there was the filing of a complaint by the US Attorney for the Southern District in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, on behalf of the US Drug Enforcement Agency regarding the laundering of Hezbollah drug money in a $300 million cash for wholesale used car scheme that caught 30 used car dealers across the US including one in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee owned by Middle Eastern Muslims.
In mid- February 2012 contretemps between the Muslim community in Middle Tennessee and the Rutherford County Sherriff’s office reached a veritable crescendo with the announcement of a counterterrorism training program that the media seized upon as evidence of “fearmongering.”
If You Want to Learn About Islam, Do You Ask an Imam?
An editorial in The Tennessean on February 16, 2012 blasted a Rutherford County Counter Terrorism program sponsored by Sheriff Robert Arnold with this headline, “Anti-Muslim 'training' is fearmongering.” What was the Sheriff’s offense according to the editors?
In a county that has been torn emotionally for nearly two years over the right of local Muslims to build a new Islamic center, the top law enforcement officer is attempting to indoctrinate his deputies with concepts of religious bigotry against a portion of the population that they are pledged to protect.
If you want to learn about Islam, ask an imam.
Sheriff Arnold in Rutherford County showed the mettle of both his courage and independence of mind by putting on the Strategic Engagement Group (SEG) counter-terrorism program for his deputies. Some of the SEG program instructors had participated in the November 2011 Preserving Freedom conference. The TFC funded the SEG program and the World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro hosted it.
Bob Smietana, religious affairs writer and the editorial staff at The Tennessean engaged in promoting adverse commentary over the SEG program. They reached out to Jim Cavanaugh, a former ATF official involved with the Columbia, Tennessee mosque burning of 2008 to malign Sheriff Arnold’s initiative without reviewing the instructional materials. Smietana, not content with his own biased reporting and the published opinion of The Tennessean's editorial staff, used Cavanaugh’s blog post from the website of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in Montgomery, Alabama, Hatewatch. Cavanaugh’s statement was:
“Reject the haters, Sheriff Arnold, and reorganize your training,” he wrote. “Don’t drink from the poison cup of hate, no matter how sweet they tell you it will taste. Leave the hate to the far reaches of the Internet, and don’t put it in front of a police training classroom. It doesn’t belong there. I want you to succeed, Sheriff Arnold, in the right way and for the right reasons.”
What SEG and Sheriff Arnold did was to present information to the deputies on the core Islamic doctrine that violates the human rights of women, gays, unbelievers, and minorities, including those who have left Islam by personal choice. The Tennesseean journalists and editors had forgotten that the First Amendment guarantees the right to criticize a religion, especially one that uses freedom of worship, as a platform to preach its political doctrine. Rather than reviewing and refuting the materials presented, Cavanaugh charged Sheriff Arnold with “hate.” This seems to be the default position for those opposed to telling the truth about Islam. Those who state the facts are hatemongers by definition.
The Tennessean launched a broadside against the Rutherford County Sheriff’s sponsoring the SEG program in another Smietana article, “Law enforcement urged to pick anti-terror courses with care”. The article praised a politically correct alternative program scheduled for February 27-28th. That program involved alleged “experts from the national Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council and the Combating Terrorism Task Force at West Point. Muslim speakers were to explain Islam and its code of conduct.”
The Smietana piece offered this comment from one of the program presenters:
“There is a lot of misinformation out there from people who don’t understand Islam,” said Jonathan White, director of the Homeland Defense Initiative at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich.
White has worked with the Department of Justice, trained employees of overseas embassies and worked with Muslims who oppose terrorism.
The Nashville training included information on religious extremism and domestic terrorism, but also includes Muslim speakers. The Joint Terrorism Task Force and Tennessee Office of Homeland Security also are involved.
White, with a background in law enforcement and specialization in aspects of religious terrorism is the author of Defending the Homeland: Domestic Intelligence, Law Enforcement and Security and Terrorism and Homeland Security. He was a contributor to the official lexicon of the USDOJ Bureau of Justice Administration “Investigating Terrorism and Criminal Extremism” Terms and Concepts, 2009. In an interview with White in the Grand Valley Magazine in the Winter 2012 edition about his professional and academic career in law enforcement and terrorism, he revealed his views:
We can't fight terrorism with political rhetoric. We can't fight terrorism by calling Jihadis “evil-doers.” We can't fight terrorism by invading the wrong country. We fight terrorism by finding the network and neutralizing the people. Not with political rhetoric – and I hope our country gets beyond that political rhetoric.
In the Grand Valley Magazine interview White ranks religion at the bottom of his list of force multipliers for terrorism. Apparently, his views have captured the favor of politically correct arbiters of terrorism and homeland security at the US Departments of State and Justice. Like him they and the Tennessee State DSHS hierarchy didn’t delve into the Islamic jihad war doctrine that other counterterrorism experts have as the wind behind the sails of Islamic terrorism.
Lou Ann Zelnick of the TFC that funded the Rutherford County SEG program when interviewed commented:
We don’t need political correctness when it comes to training our police and sheriffs. This is accurate information. It’s not part of any agenda.
Smietana zeroed in on two of the SEG presenters, Stephen Coughlin, former Pentagon consultant on the Islamic Law of Warfare under Shariah and John Guandolo a former FBI Counter Terrorism expert on Islamic doctrine.
The leaders of SEG have been embroiled in past controversy. According to published reports, Stephen Coughlin, one of the group’s vice presidents, lost his job as a consultant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff after clashing with Pentagon officials in 2008.
Guandolo’s supporters say he left the FBI for being too outspoken about the threat of Muslim terrorists. He claims the FBI and other parts of the federal government have been infiltrated by agents of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Coughlin was forced out of his position as an expert on Islamic warfare doctrine by Heshem Islam, the former Muslim outreach aide to Bush Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, Gordon English. Islam accused Coughlin of being “a Christian fanatic with a pen.” Both Coughlin and Guandolo are among the co-authors of Shariah: The Threat to America. (An Exercise in Competitive Analysis—Report of Team 'B' II) published by the Center for Security Policy, whose President, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. testified during the 2010 ICM Murfreesboro Chancery Court Hearings.
For all of the vitriol directed at Sheriff Arnold about his SEG counterterrorism program he needn’t have feared. It received the official blessings of the Tennessee law enforcement training commission.
The Tennessee Peace Officers Standards & Training Commission (POST) gave its seal of approval to the program put on by SEG. That effectively squelched the criticism blasted from the news and editorial pages of The Tennessean and CAIR, a Muslim Brotherhood front group.
An AP article not run by The Tennessean, but found in the Houston Chronicle, “Panel OKs training that critics call anti-Muslim,” noted that on Friday, February 17, 2012 POST had issued a letter approving credits for the SEG program:
The commission gave its unanimous approval at its Friday meeting without discussing the objections, although Grisham did mention that there had been a complaint and the letter from CAIR was included in the commission's packet.
Sen. Jim Summerville was attending his first meeting as a new commission member. Asked about his vote, he said, “I support training for anti-terrorism.” He added that based on the information he had seen so far about this particular course, he had no objections to it.
Sheriff Robert Arnold, in an interview, said he did not think the training was anti-Muslim.
“We're just trying to get information and knowledge,” he said. “Lady Justice is blind and we will always protect the citizens of Rutherford County.”
Arnold said he wished “both sides” would put together a training that they could agree on so that the sheriff's office wouldn't have to deal with the controversy.
SEG President EJ Kimball also defended the training in an interview, saying it was “meant to provide the law enforcement community with tools to understand the threat from the Muslim Brotherhood specifically in the United States.”
That was good news for those Rutherford Sheriff deputies who attended the SEG program. A number of them commented that they found the program presenters informed and cited no anti-Muslim content. That POST endorsement should encourage other state and local law enforcement groups to consider holding the SEG program.
This POST endorsement of the SEG program came at a time when CAIR and other MB fronts have forced the FBI to disgorge alleged “Islamophobic” training materials from counter terrorism programs. As Andy McCarthy noted in a National Review Online article:
Under a barrage of protest by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and its media stooges, the New York City Police Department has now apologized for showing hundreds of recruits The Third Jihad, a 72-minute video about radical Islam. Concurrently, after badgering by the likes of CAIR, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the FBI has just agreed to purge its training materials of information that elucidates the obvious — the direct nexus between mainstream Islamic doctrine, supremacist Muslim attitudes, and jihadist terror.
Notwithstanding, the POST endorsement and the lame USDOJ program, a contingent composed of Walter Jenkins of the USDOJ Community Relations Service, former ICM Imam Bahloul, ICM AMAC board member Middle Tennessee State University engineering Professor Saleb Sbetany and TIRRC advocacy director Kasar Abdulla met with Sherriff Arnold about the SEG program challenging the presenters and their alleged anti-Muslim views. Arnold alleged told the group that he has a duty to protect and defend the citizens of Rutherford County from all of this country’s enemies both foreign and domestic. That should have closed the door on the matter. However, word came at the Southeastern Intelligence Conference of the FBI held in April 2012 that more of the non-Muslim threat doctrine conveyed by former ATF officer Jim Cavanaugh in his SPLC blog post was propounded. But then the SPLC considers Volunteer State groups like the TFC “right wing extremists.”
Who are the Members of the Tennessee AMAC?
Patrick Poole, veteran counterterrorism analyst, posed a question in a Pajamas Media article Secrecy Surrounds Conference to Train Cops on ‘Political Violence’ about the mysterious Muslim group the AMAC involved in the alternative program promoted by Smietana in The Tennessean:
Despite inquiries by PJ Media in recent weeks, the conference organizers have refused to provide any details about who will be instructing law enforcement officials on these issues.
Last week I requested a copy of the agenda and speakers for the conference from the U.S. Attorney’s contact listed on the conference flyer. This past Monday I received a response from David Boling, the U.S. Attorney’s public information officer:
Your request for the documents referenced below was forwarded to me for disposition. This training conference is not open to the public; therefore you would need to file a FOIA request for this information.
It is unclear what the event being closed to the public has anything to do with providing the information I requested, especially since it appears that two private outside organizations will be directly involved in providing the training.
Perhaps the presence and agendas of these outside organizations are why these government agencies are stonewalling requests for information. Mystery surrounds one of the private partner organizations for the terrorism training — the American Muslim Advisory Council — which is listed on the event flyer as a partner in the conference.
The identities of the AMAC members and the cross relationships with the ACO, TIRRC and major mosques in Tennessee is displayed in Table 1 (click to view). The information is drawn in part from research by the Tennessee Coalition for Political Justice. AMAC has 14 members with representation across the state and from the gamut of ethnic Muslim groups: Iraqi Kurdish refugees, South Asians, Somalis and Middle East Arabs.
There is an overlap between ACO and AMAC mainly for West Tennessee representatives from the Memphis vicinity. They include Danish Siddiqui, Regional Coordinator for West Tennessee, who is also Chair of the ACO. Siddiqui was the President of the Muslim Students Association, a Muslim Brotherhood Front group, while a student at the University of Memphis. Danish’s sister Cherish Siddiqui is a practicing attorney in Memphis and, like her brother, is active in the Memphis Islamic Center. The third AMAC member on the ACO board is Soyab Malani whose family owns a wholesale distributor that supplies Muslim mini markets. Dr. Mohammed Moinuddin, a West Tennessee Representative is a trustee of the Memphis Islamic Center and on the board of the Masjid al-Noor. This mosque houses the Muslim Student Association of the University of Memphis and is owned by the North American Islamic Trust, a largely Saudi funded group that has allegedly funded fully three fourths of all American Mosques. It was identified in the Holy Land Foundation Trial as an unindicted co-conspirator and Muslim Brotherhood front. Dr. Moinuddin endeavored to bring former Michigan CAIR director Sheik Muhammad Al-Hanotti as a speaker to Memphis. Counterterrorism expert Patrick Poole noted that al-Hanotti had been accused of raising funds for Hamas and was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial.
Kasar Abdulla dominates the several interlocking Muslim groups as well as TIRRC. She is an ethnic Kurd, a refugee from the onslaught against her native Kurdistan from the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. She is a public face of the Tennessee Muslim community through her roles as Director of Advocacy & Training for TIRRC. From Nashville, she has also represented the ICN and the Salahadden Islamic Center. She is an alumna of American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute (AMCLI). AMCLI is based at the Center for Religion and Civic Culture in partnership with the Prince Alaweed bin Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Among the funders for the AMCLI program are the Carnegie Corporation, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Open Society Foundation of George Soros. Ms. Abdulla is a graduate of Tennessee State University where she was a President of the Muslim Students Association chapter. She has been a frequent spokesperson in opposition to legislative initiatives such as American Law for American Courts, Putting Tennessee First and The Refugee Absorptive Capacity Act. Ms. Abdulla was in the forefront of criticism of the Preserving Freedom Conference in November 2011 and the Rutherford County SEG Counterterrorism program.
The other prominent Kurdish Muslim is Remziya Suleyman a resident of Nashville who has been a lobbyist for TIRRC and is now the Policy Director & Administrator for the ACO. Ms. Suleyman was profiled by New York Times Pulitzer Prize winning Muslim affairs journalist Andrea Elliott in a 2011 9/11 report on young Muslims in America. Ms. Elliott paid tribute to Suleyman’s efforts in forming the Muslim Rapid Response Team which brought 1000 Muslim protesters to the Tennessee legislature in 2011 to protest against the American Law for American Courts legislation.
Watch Ms. Suleyman discusses ACO’s mission and objectives:
Another TIRRC ally is Sabina Mohyuddin, youth director at the ICN. The ICN has affiliations with the ISNA and was the mosque that supervised the conversion of convicted jihadist murderer, Carlos Bledsoe, also known as Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad. ICN is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood front, the ISNA, an unindicted co-conspirator in the Federal Dallas Holy Land Foundation trial. Ms. Mohyuddin as spokesperson for the AMAC had criticized the recently enacted “Putting Tennessee First” legislation directed at controlling Visa abuses by Gulen chartered schools in the Volunteer State calling it “an anti-Muslim bill shrouded in anti-immigrant language.”
Abdulkadir Gure is a Middle Tennessee representative from the Somali community in Nashville. An Arabic instructor at Vanderbilt. He is an organizer for TIRRC and through his affiliation with the Nashville Metro Drivers Alliance brought hundreds of Muslims to lobby against anti-terrorism legislation at the state legislature in 2011. He is also a member of the Center for Refugees and Immigration of Tennessee (CRIT), the former Nashville Somali Cultural Center. The controversial former executive director of CRIT, Abdirazik Hassan was indicted and served two years for making false statements because his Halawal banking service was linked to Al Barakat that federal counter-terrorism authorities said had funneled funds to al Qaeda. Despite this and charges of committing fraud with federal grant funds, CRIT was able to apply for annual grant aid in excess of $500,000 annually.
Mwafaq Aljabary another Middle Tennessee representative is a Tennessee Transportation Department employee and President of the Salahadeen Islamic Center serving the Kurdish Muslim community. He is also involved with a local group endeavoring to found another Gulen controlled Charter School in Nashville, the Nolensville Academy of Science and Math.
Haneef Shabazz, a Middle Tennessee resident is the property holder in Dover, Tennessee for Islamville, a para military compound affiliated with Jamaat ul-Fuqra (JF) or Muslims of America. JF has a network of 35 such compounds across America and is affiliated with the shadowy Pakistani Sufi Cleric, Sheikh Mubarak Ali Shah Gilani. Gilani was the last person known to have been visited by the late Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter. Pearl was abducted and slaughtered by Muslim extremists including Khalid Sheik Mohammed in Pakistan in 2002.
Saleb Sbetany is an Engineering professor at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in Murfreesboro and also on the board of the Islamic Center in Rutherford County. He has been an outspoken critic of the Chancery Court Hearings on the approvals for the expansion of the ICM that has garnered national attention. He was an outspoken critic of the anti-terrorism legislation passed by the state legislature and the Rutherford County Sherriff’s counter-terrorism program. His daughter is currently president of the Muslim Student Association chapter at MTSU.
Eastern Tennessee representatives on the AMAC include Dorothy Awayed, Hana Ayesh and Zak Mohyuddin, the brother of Sabina Mohyuddin.
We note that the AMAC website has been taken down. Could it be that the missteps by Messrs. Gibbons, Purkey and Cotter have alerted the group that it was time to fold their tents and steal away?
The Rutherford County Chancery Court Ruling that Upset the Agenda
Just after 1:00PM CDT, May 29, 2012, Rutherford County Chancery Court Chancellor Robert Corlew, III issued his ruling in a case with national implications potentially temporarily stopping the construction of the controversial Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM). Judge Corlew ruled narrowly in a second trial held in April 2012 on a complaint brought by local mosque opponent, Kevin Fisher, and local residents near the mosque site. The complaint filed was about whether adequate notice was provided to the citizens of Rutherford County. The WSMV-TV report noted Judge Corlew’s ruling:
Judge Robert Corlew III ruled that construction must cease because not enough notice was given about the May 2010 public meeting.
Corlew ruled in favor of Kevin Fisher and other Rutherford County residents who sued claiming adequate notice wasn't given when the site plan was approved for the new Islamic Center.
“Action of the Rutherford Regional Planning Commission is declared to be void,” Corlew concluded. “There was insufficient notice for the public meeting held on May 24, 2010. Under the terms of the law, then, the decisions reached at that meeting are void ab initio.”
Corlew notes that his opinion does not prevent the Rutherford County Planning Commission from reconsidering the issue and approving the mosque site plan again. Construction of the mosque is well under way, [with the first phase of 12,000 square feet due for completion in early July 2012].
The judge held a trial on the narrower claim that the public meeting law was violated.
That was an overdue victory to many local and national opponents of mega-mosque construction in the heartland of America. The plaintiffs and Tennessee local counsel and their backers are to be commended for bringing the matter that resulted in this ruling from Judge Corlew.
Kevin Fisher the lead plaintiff and a resident of Murfreesboro told The Tennessean:
“Justice is served. When you take away all the rhetoric and all the false accusations of bigotry and discrimination and you look at all the core issues of the case, the judge ruled appropriately. We stated at the beginning that the public notice wasn’t adequate and that the public had a constitutional right to be present when decisions are made affecting the citizens of Rutherford County. I applaud the judge for defending justice. I applaud the judge for looking at the facts of the case and not all the hype surrounding it.”
Lou Ann Zelenik, Tennessee Freedom Coalition, executive director, a past Rutherford County Planning Commission member, is currently a GOP primary candidate in Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District. She commented on Corlew’s decision:
“Local Planning Commissions should treat all applicants fairly and not be intimidated to rush a decision.”
That was on Tuesday May 29th. On May 30th Rutherford County goaded by a rumored US DOJ threat of suit on alleged religious discrimination waffled. Despite the fact that the permit had been voided by Judge Corlew, Rutherford County did not order construction of the ICM stopped. It basically dithered, awaiting a signed order from the Judge. County Attorney Jim Cope told The Tennessean:
Rutherford County has no immediate plans to revoke the building permit for an embattled Murfreesboro mosque.
The county is going to look at all the possibilities. This could take weeks.
There are two sides here that disagree. The county is not the umpire here. There are a lot of moving parts in this.
The Tennessean noted what County Attorney Cope said in 2011 when the possibility arose of revocation of the approvals for the ICM mega-mosque:
If the site plan approval was revoked, then mosque leaders probably would have to reapply to the planning commission. Because the Veals Road site is already zoned for religious use, there would be no public hearing or comments on the site plan.
“What we’d have in effect is a ‘do-over,’ ” Cope said last year.
The county attorney also could appeal the decision.
Within less than 24 hours of Judge Corlew’s decision, what, Fisher, Zelenik and others suspected might happen, occurred. The USDOJ under Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez in charge of civil rights litigation acted promptly to threaten action in federal court seeking to overturn Corlew’s rulings on the grounds that it constituted religious discrimination. Not surprising. As we noted earlier when he met with the Murfreesboro mosque leaders, he told them that the USDOJ “had their back.” Once again in Middle Tennessee, the justice that Kevin Fisher thought was served, was abruptly denied. Now, in addition to free speech being trumped, so are rights of redress in our court system being set aside by intimidation from authorities in Washington and Muslim lawfare.
What we have witnessed with this current problem in Tennessee is compounded at the national level. It reflects the fear of discovering what lies behind the Qur’anic totalitarian doctrine as it affects homeland and international counterterrorism policies. Moreover, because officialdom, whether Nashville or Washington, recognizes Islam as being protected under the free expression of worship doctrine, it has been co-opted by Muslim advocacy groups as part of their agenda of suborning our Constitutional Rights of Free Speech, that is, the understanding of jihad and criticism of Islam is being suppressed. The overarching reaction of government officials to Muslim demands for “justice” is to bring them in for advice and consultation and to prosecute community groups seeking to expose the underlying Islamic doctrinal threat to fundamental constitutional guarantees of free speech. That is the matter now facing Governor Haslam, Secretary Gibbons and his deputies in the Tennessee DSHS, Assistant Commissioner Purkey and Regional Advisor Cotter in the Office of Homeland Security. Whether the latter become sacrificed to political expedience by Governor Haslam will be the issue du jour. On the national level it is clear that the USDOJ is the prima partes agent for furthering the banner of “Muslim civil rights” as exemplified by the pronouncements of Attorney General Holder and the direct actions of Assistant Attorney General Perez. The latter are poised to impose Shariah blasphemy codes under international human rights resolutions in violation our First Amendment guaranteeing the right to criticize a religion, any religion. Given the upcoming November 2012 Presidential and Congressional elections, will this issue surface in the midst of informed public debate? Arousing the American public about Muslim blasphemy trumping free speech should be a concern for all citizens who believe in the First Amendment of our Constitution.
Jerry Gordon's latest book is The West Speaks.
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