The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) just released a new, misleading report entitled “A Homegrown Threat: Islamist Extremist Plots In The United States” which downplays and underestimates terror attacks and threats from Islamist terrorist migrants to the United States. For example, the ADL’s report refused to “count” the 2002 deadly attack by Islamist terrorist and Egyptian immigrant Hesham Mohamed Hadayet at the Los Angeles airport’s El Al ticket counter, during which Hadayet murdered 2 innocent Jews (a young woman ticket agent and an expectant father) and wounded 5 other innocent passengers and bystanders – and would have murdered more if a quick-acting El Al security agent had not stopped Hadeyet. ADL used the outrageous excuse that Hadayet “was not included in our [ADL’s] data because he was likely politically motivated and did not express an explicit Islamist extremist ideology.” (ADL report appendix, page 19.)
It is wrong and dangerous for ADL to categorize attacking Jewish/Israeli-targets in the United States as something different from Islamist terrorism aimed at others. And it is especially wrong that ADL uses the “political motivation” excuse. ADL’s excuse aids Israel-haters and terrorists who falsely distinguish and justify attacks on Israelis and Jews by calling them “political” – rather than “terrorism.”
Moreover, the established legal and general definition of terrorism includes attacks that are “politically motivated.” The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) defines “terrorism” to include “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” (28 CFR 0.85(l).)
ADL’s categorizations aid Israel-haters and terrorists who falsely distinguish and justify attacks on Israelis and Jews by calling them “political” – rather than “terrorism,” when the established legal and general definition of terrorism includes attacks that are “politically motivated.”
ADL’s other excuse for “not counting” Hadayet, that Hadayet “did not express an explicit Islamist extremist ideology,” is also absurd. Hadayet was a member of Islamic terrorist group Gama’a al-Islamiyya, which has been continually designated by the U.S. State Department as a foreign terrorist organization, ever since the State Department designations began in 1997. (See Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) Report: Hesham Mohamed Hadayet.) It is remarkable that ADL’s report considered being a member of a vicious designated Islamic foreign terrorist organization insufficient to be considered an Islamist terrorist.
(Incidentally, Hedayat benefitted from the United States’ diversity visa lottery.)
ADL’s report “Homegrown Threat” headline is also distorted. In reality, the threat is largely not “home grown” as ADL claims. ADL’s accompanying press release headline also stated: “U.S. Citizens Responsible for Vast Majority of Islamist Extremist Terror Plots in the U.S. Since 2002, Annual ADL Report Finds: A full 90 percent of the plots and attacks were carried out by U.S. citizens or individuals living in the country with lawful permanent or temporary status.” However, many of the “U.S. citizens” and legal residents perpetrating terrorist attacks referenced in ADL’s headline and report were actually Islamist immigrants from the Middle East, who managed to obtain citizenship or residency here. Reading ADL’s full report reveals that only 52% of the Islamist terrorists counted by ADL were U.S. born – not 90% as an initial perusal of ADL’s headlines might lead a hurried reader to believe. Another way to look at it: ADL leads hurried readers to believe that only 10% of Muslim terrorists are foreign born immigrants, while even ADL’s skewed numbers admit to 48% immigrants.
ADL further dramatically skewed its statistics by ignoring and not counting some of the worst terrorist attacks and plots carried out on U.S. soil by Islamist immigrants – (1) including 9-11-01 via ADL’s decision to use a 2002 start date; (2)Egyptian immigrant Hesham Mohamed Hadayet’s lethal 2002 attack at the Los Angeles El Al counter (discussed above); (3)clear Islamist terror attacks by immigrants – which ADL excluded with the strange excuse that ADL will include those attacks in a later report; (5)the five Middle Eastern immigrants convicted in the Holy Land Foundation trial for funneling money to designated terrorist organization Hamas; and more.
ADL further limits and skews its “Islamist terrorism” statistics by requiring that such incidents be motivated by particular foreign terrorist ideologies, in order for ADL to include them in its analysis. ADL’s report methodology (page 13) reveals that ADL “limited [ADL’s] analyses to plots motivated by foreign terror organizations like al-Qaeda or Islamic State, or by the Sala-jihadist ideology that many of these groups espouse.” In other words, ADL didn’t count Islamist terrorism motivated by other types of Islamist groups, or “unaffiliated” Islamist hatred for Jews, Christians, and Americans, or terrorist attacks that some authority decided to classify as a “hate crime” instead of terrorism.
ADL leads hurried readers to believe that only 10% of Muslim terrorists are foreign born immigrants, while even ADL’s skewed numbers admit to 48% immigrants.
ADL thus admits that it excluded Naveed Afzal Haq’s 2006 attack at the Jewish Federation in Seattle, during which Haq shot at six women and killed one woman. ADL’s report states: “Because authorities labeled the attack as a hate crime, and Haq’s actions were not linked to an international terror group, we excluded him from the data.” (ADL Report Appendix, p. 20.) Unlike the ADL, most observers would surely understand that an Islamist attacker shooting up and killing employees at a Jewish organization is terrorism.
Another interesting exclusion is ADL’s failure to count the June 2017 stabbing attack by Tunisian native Amor Ftouhi on an officer in an airport in Flint, Michigan, while yelling “Allahu Akbar” during the attack. (AP, Jan. 18, 2018) ADL excluded the attack from its current analysis with the excuse that “At the time of the attack, Ftouhi expressed anger over the deaths of people in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, but law enforcement did not link his motivations to a particular foreign terror organization.” (ADL Report Appendix, page 20) Why does ADL consider yelling “Allahu Akbar” and supposed retribution-against-America motives insufficient to immediately categorize an Islamist terrorist attack as such?
ADL then stated that “in March 2018, federal prosecutors added a terrorism charge to Ftouhi’s case after he declared his support for al-Qaeda and its late leader, Osama bin-Laden. His case will be included in future analyses of 2017 plots and attacks.” ADL similarly refused to include ISIS-inspired Mall of America jihadist, immigrant Mahad Abdiaziz Adbiraham in ADL’s current report. (See“Jihadist Responsible for Mall of America Stabbing Spree Entered U.S. with Foreign Relatives,” by John Binder, Breitbart, Feb. 5, 2018.)
Was keeping Ftouhi’s and Adbiraham’s terrorist attacks out of this year’s report with such a unconvincing excuse, despite evidence than now meets even ADL’s restrictive inclusion standards, simply another method used by ADL to skew this year’s report?
ADL’s “analysis” is moreover the tip of the iceberg. For instance, the ADL report omitted (and never mentioned or provided any excuse for omitting) the following:
- ADL’s report omits the June 16, 2006 by Islamist terrorist Mujtaba Rabbani Jabbar. After planning his attack for months, Jabbar stood and fired at movie-watchers in a packed movie theater in the heavily Jewish area of Owings Mills, Maryland, murdering an innocent Jewish man, Paul Schrum. (See“More Incidents of Denying Islamist Terrorism,”by Daniel Pipes, Middle East Forum, Feb 8, 2005, updated Apr 25, 2013.) The “Muj” in the terrorists’ name may have stood for Mujahideen or “holy warrior,” a word frequently used in the name of Islamist terrorist groups.
- ADL’s report also omits the infamous, thwarted “underwear bomber” al Qaeda attack by Nigerian Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, on a Northwest Airlines flight descending into a Detroit airport, on Christmas Day 2009. (“Christmas Day Bomber Sentenced to Life in Prison,” by David Ariosto and Deborah Feyerick, CNN, Feb. 17, 2012.)
- Still another example: ADL’s report omitted Egyptian immigrant Ahmed Amin El-Mofty’s three shooting attacks on police officers in Harrisburg, PA. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) explained that the shootings were terrorist attacks, and also noted that El-Mofty immigrated to the U.S. via chain migration through a distant relative, and had recently traveled to the Middle East. (“Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Was an Islamic Terrorist Attack,” by Shayne Heffernan, Heffx, Dec. 24, 2017.) (The county DA said that motive was still under investigation, and claimed that El-Mofty had no ties to known terrorist groups; however, DHS would seem to be the more reliable source.)
- ADL’s report omits the four murders committed by self-described Somali jihadi Ali Muhammad Brown in New Jersey and Seattle, including two men from a gay nightclub. (“Skyway Slaying Linked to Suspect in 2 Seattle Killings,” by Jennifer Sullivan,Seattle Times, Aug. 19, 2014.)
- Although ADL’s report includes the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings by Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, ADL’s report omits the earlier jihadi terrorist murders by Tamerlan Tsarnaev – the Waltham triple murder. On September 11, 2011, Tsarnaev and an accomplice slashed the throats of three young Jewish men “with such force that their heads were nearly decapitated. A veteran Waltham investigator called it ‘the worst bloodbath I have ever seen,’ and compared the victims’ wounds to “an Al-Qaeda training video.” (See, e.g., “The Murders Before the Marathon,” by Susan Zalkind, Boston Magazine, Feb. 25, 2014; “Tsarnaev Allegedly New Brother Was Part of Triple Slaying,” by Derek Anderson, Boston Globe, Oct. 12, 2014.)
- ADL’s report also does not include the numerous Islamist threats, particularly against Jews, on college campuses, and only mentions two campus attacks. Plots appear to be woefully understated: FBI Director Christopher Wray recently testified that the FBI has 1,000 active ISIS investigations in all 50 states. “FBI Director: The FBI Has 1,000 Active ISIS Investigations Across All 50 States,” Dec. 7, 2017.
- ADL’s report also ignores the impact of other dangerous Islamist immigrants on those who commit or plot terrorist attacks in the U.S. Although it’s outside ADL’s self-selected date range, it should not be forgotten that notorious Egyptian immigrant Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, a/k/a the Blind Sheikh, called for jihad against the infidel, plotted attacks with a group of followers, and was convicted of seditious conspiracy regarding the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Recently, in 2017, Egyptian immigrant Imam Ammar Shahin called for the death of Jews in a California mosque, and Syrian immigrant Imam Abdullah Khadra called for the death of Jews in a Raleigh, North Carolina mosque.
- ADL’s report also claims that killings related to right-wing extremism are more prevalent than murders related to Islamist terrorism in the U.S. – but ADL’s report then failed to provide ADL’s right wing extremism inclusion criteria or a list of included right wing extremism attacks. ADL’s report only counted certain Islamist terrorist attacks that ADL concluded were “motivated by foreign terror organizations like al-Qaeda or Islamic State, or by the Sala-jihadist ideology that many of these groups espouse.” Did ADL similarly only count “right wing extremist” attacks motivated by specific right wing organizations or ideologies? Did ADL used different criteria to try to bolster a political argument? Why did ADL omit 9-11, and other Islamist attacks?
Of course, it’s not a contest. All terror is heinous, and should be vigorously combatted.
An important and positive aspect of the ADL report is its discussion of Internet channels that incentivize and provide bomb-making manuals and suggested targets to terrorists. ZOA agrees with ADL that this is an area that must be thoroughly addressed and counteracted.
However, addressing Internet assistance to terrorists does not warrant underestimating and downplaying the threat of Islamist terrorism posed by poorly-vetted or other immigrants into the United States.
We urge the ADL to reanalyze, revise, and reissue their Report on this important issue in order to eliminate the underestimating/downplaying of Islamist migrant terrorism.
Morton A. Klein is the president of the Zionist Organization of America. Elizabeth Berneyis ZOA director of special projects.