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By SARAH HONIG
I was Brooklyn bound - or so I thought. I took the subway to see a fellow alumna of New York's High School of Music and Art (as today's LaGuardia High School for the Arts was then called). I looked forward to the nostalgic reunion. I hadn't been in NYC for ages, and catching up with an old classmate seemed an indispensable component of walking down memory lane.
What's more, Kathy still lives at the same address in the cozy middle-class neighborhood where I sometimes visited her way back then. It was common for the house-proud Irish to keep property in the family, and hence I'd soon reenter the two-story red-brick home in whose wood-paneled rec-room we occasionally whiled away hours.
But when I climbed up the grimy station stairs and surveyed the street, I suspected that some supernatural time-and-space warp had transported me to Islamabad. This couldn't be Brooklyn.
Women strode attired in hijabs and male passersby sported all manner of Muslim headgear and long flowing tunics. Kathy met me at the train and astounded me by pointing out long kurta shirts as distinguished from a salwar kameez. She couldn't help becoming an expert.
She's now a member of a fast-dwindling minority because "people are running away. We're among the last holdouts of our generation. My kids have fled."
Pakistani and Bangladeshi groceries lined the main shopping drag, and everywhere stickers boldly beckoned: "Discover Jesus in the Koran." An unremarkable low-slung building on the corner of Kathy's block was now dominated by an oversized green sign identifying it as Masjid Nur al-Islam (the Light of Islam Mosque) and announcing that "only Allah is worthy of worship and Muhammad is his LAST prophet." Here too Christians were urged to "turn to the Koran" if they were "genuinely faithful to Jesus."
It wasn't hard to identify the remaining non-Muslim residences. Kathy's was typical. A huge American flag fluttered demonstratively in the manicured front yard, accompanied by a large cross on the door and an assortment of patriotic/jingoistic banners.
"We're besieged," she explained. "Making a statement is about all we can do. They aren't delighted to see our flag wave. This is enemy territory."
LEST I judge her paranoid, Kathy began regaling me with what she knew about the mosque a few doors down her street, still as tree-lined as I remember but somehow less pretty and tidy, even vaguely grubby.
Kathy had compiled a bulging dossier of press clippings and computer printouts about the masjid that grew in a once heavily Jewish area. Until the mid-1990s, its imam was the late Egyptian-educated Gulshair el-Shukrijumah, dispatched by the Saudis as a Wahhabi missionary in 1985 and financed by them thereafter. His disciple, Clement Rodney Hampton-El, an explosives specialist, possibly helped assemble the bomb detonated in the '93 World Trade Center attack. He was convicted of plotting to blow up the UN, FBI headquarters and the Holland and Lincoln tunnels. Gulshair acted as interpreter for Omar Abdel-Rahman, the "Blind Sheikh" now serving life for the first WTC bombing, conspiring to use explosives at other NYC landmarks and colluding to assassinate US politicians.
Nabbed operational commander of the 9/11 plot, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, fingered Gulshair's eldest son Adnan as having been designated by al-Qaida and personally approved by Osama Bin-Laden to lead new terror assaults and serve as successor to Muhammad Atta, with whom Adnan was connected. Adnan received flight training and is dubbed "Jaffar the pilot." He was likewise linked to "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla, Hamas and al-Qaida fund-raiser Adham Hassoun, and terrorist Imran Mandhai (convicted of conspiring to bomb the National Guard armory, South Florida electrical substations, Jewish-owned businesses and community centers, and Mount Rushmore).
Kathy's ex-neighbor is now a fugitive and subject of a worldwide FBI manhunt. Adnan's brother Nabil, incidentally, uploaded to his Web page an image of Jerusalem ablaze with the caption: "Al Kuds, we are coming."
BUT OF more immediate concern to Kathy and the few leftover neighborhood natives is the "in-your-face insolence of the immigrants." For years the mosque had been calling the faithful to prayers via a rooftop loudspeaker five times daily. Police intervention persuaded the imam to omit the pre-dawn sonorous summons. Catholic Kathy knows all about "Allahu akhbar" and how the muezzin intones it.
"I'm not a bigot," she stressed repeatedly. "The Jewish community which once flourished here was so different. This was always a pluralistic live-and-let-live section. The jihadists, however, aren't here to coexist but to conquer. The Jewish community here was so different. They weren't on the offensive. They just wanted to be left alone."
She recalled her brother Eddie, whose best childhood friend was the son of a nearby Orthodox rabbi. During his teens Eddie was regularly recruited by his chum to the minyan until he was roused too early one winter morning and exclaimed: "What do you want from me? I'm not even Jewish!"
"This kind of a relationship," Kathy commented, "just isn't possible these days. Muslims call us infidels and want all infidels out. We're threatened."
On the way back, I decided to photograph the masjid, sensing it could make a story. Kathy became frantic. "Don't you dare," she almost yelled. As I slipped the camera back into my handbag, she explained that several weeks before my arrival two journalists, Bos Smith and Paul Williams, HAD photographed a similar Brooklyn mosque, Masjid al-Takwa. They were grabbed by 20 ninja-uniformed men, shoved into the mosque cellar, held captive and roughly interrogated by the group's henna-bearded leader, Ali Kareem. He released them only after they fibbed that they were interested in converting to Islam. On a subsequent visit to the site they were accosted again and an attempt was made to seize and break their camera.
"I don't know who may be watching us now," Kathy warned.
Nevertheless, I perused the notice board near the entrance and learned that enrollment is on for the mosque school (where Gulshair once taught) and that if I hang around I could hear one Abu Yousuf lecture on "protecting yourself from Shaytan (Satan) this summer."
Alternatively, I could seek sanctuary from Shaytan in Israel. It suddenly seemed way safer than certain Brooklyn nooks.
By John Perazzo
June 26, 2008
Forty-eight-year-old Rima Barakat-Sinclair has been a resident of Denver since 1987. Never having held political office before, she is currently running as a Republican for a State House seat in Colorado's Sixth District, which is heavily Democratic and features the largest per capita Jewish population in the state. With the self-identified aim of working "for better understanding among peoples of different backgrounds," Barakat-Sinclair has participated in numerous "interfaith dialogues" to promote "more tolerance" and create "a stronger united America." She pledges undying allegiance to such ideals as "upholding the Constitution," defending "individual freedom," promoting "small government," enacting "prudent tax and spending policies," "investing in our children," guaranteeing "freedom of religion," and recognizing "the sanctity of human life."
Oh, and by the way, she is a Muslim activist who considers Israel to be a nation of bloodthirsty monsters who indiscriminately murder innocent Palestinian women and children for no reason other than to satisfy their own beastly compulsions.
While working as a contract translator for CNN in 2003, Mrs. Barakat-Sinclair was part of an interfaith delegation of Christians and Muslims who paid a friendly visit to Yasser Arafat at his Ramallah headquarters, where, since December 2001, Israeli troops had been keeping him under virtual house arrest in an effort to derail his terrorist activities. Favorably impressed by the most prolific Jew-killer since Adolf Hitler, Barakat-Sinclair would later reflect: "I know the accusations about him [Arafat] supporting terror, but he was so confined and surrounded that to me it seemed more like visiting a tourist attraction than visiting a head of state. It was very, very weird." Arafat's main message to his visitors, she expanded, was that he felt "robbed of his legacy" because "the peace process had not gone forward." Added the star-struck woman, "He [Arafat] flirted [with me] a bit, in a very nice way, you know, saying, 'I like your hair, your long braids.'"
Barakat-Sinclair was a key participant in an October 2005 conference sponsored by Sabeel, a Jerusalem-based organization that supports a "one-state solution" to the Arab-Israeli conflict, where Israel would continue to exist, but not as a Jewish state. Barakat-Sinclair led a workshop on the topic of the so-called "Right of Return" of those Palestinian refugees who (for the most part) voluntarily had left the region during the 1948 Arab invasion of Israel. At that time, the refugees sought out safe haven during what they anticipated would be a brief war that the Arab allies undoubtedly would win, and they fully expected to return to their homes within a few weeks -- once the fighting had stopped and the Jews had been crushed. Instead, the Arab armies were defeated. Barakat-Sinclair now calls for the re-admittance not only of the relatively few surviving people who were among those 725,000 original refugees, but also for the admittance of several millions of their descendants, a move that would transform Israel overnight into an Arab-majority state dominated by Muslims sympathetic to the aims of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
In a July 2006 interview with CBS television, Barakat-Sinclair stood truth on its head when she condemned Israel's "imprisonment of five million Palestinians" who, for their part, were "trying to resolve this conflict peacefully." Israel had responded to those peace efforts, she said, by engaging in "more and more land-grabbing," by erecting a wall "literally imprisoning hundreds of thousands of people," and by incarcerating more than "ten thousand prisoners," including women and children, "for no reason." "Israeli soldiers now are known to be just bombing and killing babies," she added for good measure. (Click here for video of this interview.)
Four months later, Barakat-Sinclair charged that a "depraved" Israel routinely carried out "massacres" by means of "the regular use of disproportionate firepower against a trapped population in Gaza" -- thereby demonstrating "the level of contempt with which the Israel government views Palestinian lives." She told tales of sadistic Israeli soldiers beating handicapped people, gunning down women and babies, opening fire on crowds of beachgoers, breaking into homes at night and murdering entire families in their beds, and riddling children with bullets while the youngsters were merely harvesting strawberries. Likening Israel's "mass slaughter" of Palestinians to the horrors that existed under "slavery, [South African] apartheid and Nazi concentration camps," Barakat-Sinclair said that Israel "has turned back the clock to the time of the barbarians" by engaging in "the systematic indiscriminate murder of civilians and the illegal collective imprisonment of a whole nation."
"As Americans we must understand that the world sees the United States as a collaborator in this endless carnage," says Barakat-Sinclair. "The F-16s that drop Israeli death decrees upon the Palestinians were 'Made in the USA.' We finance and enable the perpetrators to commit these crimes with impunity and in violation of our own laws."
Just as Barakat-Sinclair places no limits on the lies she is willing to tell about Israel, so is she prepared to go to any lengths to avoid criticizing Islamic terrorists. Indeed she has claimed on the air that the Hamas Charter does not in any way call for Israel's destruction. Yet that document decrees plainly, "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it." The Charter further contains numerous calls for violent jihad to counter "the Jews' usurpation of Palestine."
Barakat-Sinclair also has defended Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi against his critics, calling him "a renowned Muslim scholar." A disciple of the Muslim Brotherhood -- which Islam expert Robert Spencer describes as "the parent organization of Hamas and al-Qaeda" -- Qaradawi is a supporter of Palestinian terrorism who has been barred from entering the United States since 1999.
Barakat-Sinclair is a member of the Steering Committee of Muslims Intent on Learning and Action (MILA), an organization that seeks to increase Muslims' involvement in the American political process. Her own current candidacy is a reflection of that mission.
To pass herself off as a conservative Republican, Barakat-Sinclair has had to resort to considerable deception. For instance, she falsely represented herself at the District Assembly as a pro-life opponent of abortion. Her duplicity on this issue eventually would come to light, however, when a researcher tracked down a quote where Barakat-Sinclair had told the Rocky Mountain News on August 14, 2004: "I would like to have a president who is pro-choice."
Barakat-Sinclair's opponent in the upcoming Republican primary (slated for August 12th) will be Joshua Sharf, a contract web developer whose professional career also has included work as a talk radio host, a financial analyst, and a defense and intelligence consultant for such projects as satellite systems and missile defense. In 2004 and 2005, Sharf served as an election judge, and in 2006 he was a delegate to the Colorado Republican state assembly. A blogger at his own View From a Height website and at Brent Bozell's Newsbusters, Sharf is running as a traditional conservative Republican, and not, despite the overwhelmingly Democratic makeup of the district, as an identity candidate.
Sharf has accurately characterized Barakat-Sinclair as "a terror apologist, and an avowed enemy of Israel, with no credible conservative credentials." "When engaged in anti-Israel propaganda," Sharf observes, she usually goes by [the name] Rima Barakat. When engaged in broader political work, she goes by Rima Sinclair.…"
Taking a page directly out of the leftist playbook, Barakat-Sinclair has cast herself as a victim, dismissing Sharf's criticisms of her affinity for Islamic extremism as evidence of her opponent's Islamophobic bigotry. Complaining that "these attacks on me have intense emotions of hate and militancy behind them," she laments that her detractors "hate my religion, my very being."
In an effort to gain favorable press coverage for her political campaign, Barakat-Sinclair has turned to the Washington Report for Middle East Affairs, a project of the Council for the National Interest (CNI). CNI's stated mission is "to restore a political environment in America in which voters and their elected officials are free from the undue influence and pressure of a foreign country, namely Israel." Specifically, the organization calls for: "total withdrawal of Israel from all occupied territory"; "an end to all acts of aggression, provocation, and retaliation by Israel"; "American recognition of a totally independent state of Palestine"; and "an elimination of all unaudited U.S. aid to Israel." In short, CNI is no friend of Israel.
Barakat-Sinclair's case is vitally important because it offers a vivid illustration of how a Muslim radical can effectively wage bloodless jihad against the West by infiltrating the government and gaining a platform from which to infect the entire body politic. Her strategy is wholly consistent with the plans that were laid out in a secret 1991 Muslim Brotherhood memorandum on "the General Strategic Goal…in North America." Explaining that the Brotherhood's mission was to establish "an effective and...stable Islamic Movement" on the continent, this document outlines a "Civilization-Jihadist Process" for achieving that objective. It states that Muslims "must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands...so that...God's religion [Islam] is made victorious over all other religions.'"
Rima Barakat-Sinclair is the living embodiment of that strategy. Those who oppose this strategy must place their principles above party identification.
McLEAN, Va. - Textbooks at a private Islamic school in northern Virginia teach students that it is permissible for Muslims to kill adulterers and converts from Islam, according to a federal investigation released Wednesday.
Other passages in the school's textbooks state that "the Jews conspired against Islam and its people" and that Muslims are permitted to take the lives and property of those deemed "polytheists."
The passages were found in selected textbooks used during the 2007-08 school year by the Islamic Saudi Academy, which teaches 900 students in grades K-12 at two campuses in Alexandria and Fairfax and receives much of its funding from the Saudi government.
The academy has come under scrutiny from critics who allege that it fosters an intolerant brand of Islam similar to that taught in the conservative Saudi kingdom. In the review, the panel recommended that the school make all of its textbooks available to the State Department so changes can be made before the next school year.
School was recommended for closure
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a panel formed by Congress, last year recommended that the school be closed amid concerns that it promotes violence and too closely mimics the conservative Saudi educational system.
The commission made its recommendation last year to close the school even though it had not reviewed the textbooks. Now that some have been reviewed, "we feel more confident that the potential problems we flagged before really are there," said the commission's spokeswoman, Judith Ingram.
School officials have long denied that the academy fosters intolerance. It has acknowledged that some of the Saudi textbooks contain harsh language, but says that the texts have improved in recent years and are revised as needed by the academy before being distributed to students.
School officials and the State Department did not immediately respond to phone calls and an e-mail seeking comment Wednesday.
The commission said it obtained 17 of the academy's textbooks through a variety of channels, including from members of Congress. The texts did appear to contain numerous revisions, including pages that were removed or passages that were whited out, but numerous troubling passages remained, according to the panel:
The authors of a 12th-grade text on Quranic interpretation state that apostates (those who convert from Islam), adulterers and people who murder Muslims can be permissibly killed.
The authors of a 12th-grade text on monotheism write that "(m)ajor polytheism makes blood and wealth permissible," meaning that a Muslim can take with impunity the life and property of someone believed guilty of polytheism. According to the panel, the strict Saudi interpretation of polytheism includes Shiite and Sufi Muslims as well as Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists.
A social studies text offers the view that Jews were responsible for the split between Sunni and Shiite Muslims: "The cause of the discord: The Jews conspired against Islam and its people. A sly, wicked person who sinfully and deceitfully professed Islam infiltrated (the Muslims)."
More generally, the panel found that the academy textbooks hold the view that the Muslim world was strong when united under a single caliph, the Arabic language and the Sunni creed, and that Muslims have grown weak because of foreign influence and internal divisions.
The commission's findings issued come a month after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to extend the academy's lease for its main campus, which sits on county property.
The county conducted its own study of the textbooks last year at the request of Supervisor Gerald Hyland, whose district encompasses the academy.
Hyland and the county never released results of what they had found, but Hyland said in approving the lease that he is comfortable with the school's teachings, though he did so with a qualification.
"I would be less than frank if I didn't tell you that the curriculum does contain references to the Quran, which, if taken out of context and read literally, would cause come concern," Hyland said at the meeting at which the lease was extended.