Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube/Diller distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. His bi-weekly column appears regularly in newspapers around the globe. His website, DanielPipes.org, is one of the most accessed internet sources of specialized information on the Middle East and Islam.
A bit of background on GETS: In times of extreme telecommunications congestion, such as during a national emergency, it offers a calling card that permits those "responsible for the command and control functions critical to management of and response to national security and emergency situations," including members of Congress, law enforcement, and the military, to benefit from priority status when making calls. Private organizations with roles to play in emergency response also may receive cards.
CAIR, which claims to enjoy a "status of enviable prestige within [the] highest echelons" of Washington, figured it, too, deserved the privilege. This month, the group applied for GETS status, claiming to serve as an important point of contact with Muslims following September 11, 2001.
CAIR's request was denied in less than three hours.
GETS reportedly turned down CAIR because it did not qualify for the status. But it would have been on solid ground denying the request based on CAIR's telephonic connections to persons suspected of links to terrorists, as CAIR helpfully has detailed in its own court filings.
More background: CAIR submitted documents in January 2006 as part of a lawsuit the organization co-filed. It claimed its international calls likely had been listened to by the National Security Agency under an allegedly unconstitutional program President Bush authorized in 2002 that enabled the NSA to wiretap without warrants enemy communications during wartime.
In the suit, CAIR documented some of its electronic communications with persons accused of links to terrorists. Specifically, four names are mentioned:
* Tariq Ramadan. The Swiss Islamist, as he was about to assume a position at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana in 2004, had his American visa revoked under what a Department of Homeland Security spokesman at the time said was a law barring from entering the country aliens who have endorsed or espoused terrorist activity. Though recently filed papers contradict the initial assertion, a senior DHS official told one of us then, "the evidence we have [against him] is damning." Mr. Ramadan previously was denied access at an international border. The French authorities kept him out of their country in 1995, suspecting him of being linked to Algerian terrorists then bombing Paris.
* Yusuf Islam. The convert to Islam - formerly known as Cat Stevens - was removed from a flight bound to America in September 2004 and returned to Britain when American authorities noted his name on a "no fly" list. According to a DHS spokesman, Brian Doyle, the one-time folk singer was added to the list because of "activities that could be potentially linked to terrorism." Earlier, Israeli authorities twice barred Mr. Islam from entering their country, accusing him of having provided funding to an Islamist organization that has repeatedly pounded Israel with terrorist attacks, Hamas.
* Rabih Haddad. This CAIR fundraiser co-founded a Muslim charity, the Global Relief Foundation, which the American government designated as a sponsor of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda in 2002 and shut it down.
* Islam Almurabit. The former head of the Islamic Assembly of North America, now living in Saudi Arabia, in the words of CAIR's complaint, is trying to evade "continual harassment by the FBI." That "continual harassment" is likely related to Mr. Almurabit's IANA activities, or what federal prosecutors have described as the organization's "recruitment of members, and the instigation of acts of violence and terrorism" in the service of its "radical Islamic ideology." Specifically, the IANA hosted a senior Al Qaeda recruiter, Abdelrahman Al-Dosari, and distributed publications advocating suicide terrorism against America.
By its own court filings, then, CAIR conclusively established its multiple communications with persons suspected of connections with terrorists. More than merely denying CAIR's request for GETS privileges, the American government should consider cutting the organization's telephone lines in the event of a national emergency.
Mr. Pipes (www.DanielPipes.org) is the director of the Middle East Forum. Ms. Chadha is a co-author of Jihad and International Security (Palgrave, forthcoming).
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