A much-heralded Fatwa or Islamic religious ruling "against terrorism" was issued on July 28 by Muslim academics in America and Canada. The edict was signed by 18 scholars from the Fiqh Council of North America and was endorsed by more than 120 Muslim groups. The Islamist organization Council on American-Islamic Relations was given the honor of officially releasing the statement.
"Bogus" is how Steve Emerson of the Investigative Project described the Fatwa on "The Counterterrorism Blog": "Nowhere does it condemn the Islamic extremism ideology that has spawned Islamic terrorism. It does not renounce nor even acknowledge the existence of an Islamic Jihadist culture that has permeated mosques and young Muslims around the world. It does not renounce Jihad ... In short, it is a fake fatwa designed merely to deceive the American public into believing that these groups are moderate. In fact, officials of both organizations have been directly linked to and associated with Islamic terrorist groups."
The Fatwa was heralded by major news outlets, which have grown accustomed to using CAIR's press releases without any scrutiny. In an interview with the Saudi weekly Ukaz in 1999, CAIR leaders discussed the organization's manipulation of the press under the headline "A Muslim America - Only a Matter of Time." One leader stated openly, "We control the media instead of the media controlling us." CAIR's founder, Nihad Awadh, described techniques utilized by the group's spokesman, Ibrahim Hooper, to infiltrate the press: "You will be surprised to hear that all his articles do not go through censorship and correction in the big papers," Mr. Awadh said.
A CAIR leader added, "CAIR [exerts] today an organized and educated effort, using American media techniques and exploiting American legal loopholes ... For example: One of the editors of the American monthlies attacked the Muslims ... Answering these allegations, CAIR convened a press conference and recruited all Muslims to call the monthly in every communication method, and we paralyzed the paper's interests, and the man [the editor] was forced to apologize ... We exploit this position whenever someone else rises up to attack Muslims, and present to him what happened to those before him, and then he retracts ... This method has gained us great achievements and stops serious attempts to attack Islam."
A New York Times story about the Fatwa quoted CAIR, as well as Jamal Badawi, who was identified as chairman of the Islamic Foundation in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Mr. Badawi is influential not only in Canada but also in America. He has been a guest lecturer at Michigan's "The American Learning Institute for Muslims"; directs the Islamic Information Foundation, which seeks to promote better understanding of Islam by both Muslims and non-Muslims and is a federally registered charity in Canada and America; serves as a faculty member at St. Mary University in Maryland, and used to be a lecturer at Stanford University in California.
In an interview with the Saudi Gazette on June 24, 2005, while visiting the kingdom, Mr. Badawi said: "9/11 was un-Islamic," and "I strongly condemn the September 11 attacks ... whoever did it," adding, "It is not confirmed yet who is actually behind the attacks." In the Saudi Gazette story, Mr. Badawi discussed the difficulty in drawing up an "agreement on how terrorism should be defined" and said exploding cars in Iraq's markets and killing civilians should be included.
Mr. Badawi went on to make an outrageous claim - that America could be behind these attacks: "This has to be investigated as to who is actually behind this ... There have been allegations that I cannot confirm that people going to the market to buy vegetables are stopped in the name of inspecting their cars by [American] forces, their hands are tied and they are blindfolded. There have been cases and I want a clarification from American officials to these allegations. After inspecting their cars they are allowed to go and when the car reaches [the] checkpoint it explodes and they call them suicide bombers, perhaps the occupants of the car were not even aware that they are carrying a bomb in their car. Such incidents should be thoroughly probed."
Mr. Badawi was number seven of 18 to sign the Fatwa. Other signers have reported connections to terrorist organizations. If this is the best response leading American Muslim leaders can do to fight terror, then we have a problem in America.
Mr. Stalinsky is the executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute.