'Anti-Islamist' Crusader Plants New Seeds
the apparent decision by President George W. Bush against re-nominating
him to the board of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP),
"anti-Islamist" activist Daniel Pipes is working as diligently
as ever to protect the United States and the Western world from
the influence of radical Islamists.
has proposed the creation of a new Anti-Islamist Institute (AII)
designed to expose legal "political activities" of "Islamists,"
such as "prohibiting families from sending pork or pork byproducts
to U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq," which nonetheless, in his
view, serve the interests of radical Islam.
the long term...the legal activities of Islamists pose as much or
even a greater set of challenges than the illegal ones," according
to the draft of a grant proposal by Pipes' Middle East Forum (MEF)
obtained by IPS.
is also working with Stephen Schwartz on a new Center for Islamic
Pluralism (CIP) whose aims are to "promote moderate Islam in
the U.S. and globally" and "to oppose the influence of
militant Islam, and, in particular, the Saudi-funded Wahhabi sect
of Islam, among American Muslims, in the America media, in American
and with U.S. governmental bodies."
a former Trotskyite militant who became a Sufi Muslim in 1997, has
received seed money from MEF, which is also accepting contributions
on CIP's behalf until the government gives it tax-exempt legal status,
according to another grant proposal obtained by IPS.
CIP proposal, which says it expects to receive funding from contributors
in the "American Shia community" and in "Sunni mosques
once liberated from Wahhabi influence," also boasts "strong
links" with Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and other
notable neoconservatives, such as former Central Intelligence (CIA)
director James Woolsey and the vice president for foreign policy
programming at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Danielle
Pletka, as well as with Pipes himself.
who created MEF in Philadelphia in 1994, has long campaigned against
"radical" Islamists in the United States, especially the
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and several other national
before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and the Pentagon,
he also raised alarms about the immigration of foreign Muslims,
suggesting that they constituted a serious threat to the political
clout of U.S. Jews, as well as a potential "fifth column"
for radical Islamists.
addition, Pipes has been a fierce opponent of Palestinian nationalism.
He told Australian television earlier this month, for example, that
Israeli Prime Minister's Gaza disengagement plan and his agreement
to negotiate with the new Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas,
were a "mistake" because 80 percent of the Palestinian
population, including Abbas, still favor Israel's destruction.
2002, Pipes launched Campus Watch, a group dedicated to monitoring
and exposing alleged anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian,
and/or Islamist bias in teachers of Middle Eastern studies at U.S.
colleges and universities.
group, which invites students to report on offending professors,
has been assailed as a McCarthyite tactic to stifle open discussion
of Middle East issues.
nomination by Bush in 2003 to serve as a director on the board of
the quasi-governmental USIP, a government-funded think tank set
up in 1984 to "promote the prevention, management, and peaceful
resolution of international conflicts," moved the controversy
over his work from academia into the U.S. Senate where such appointments
are virtually always approved without controversy.
nomination, however, offered a striking exception. Backed by major
Muslim, Arab-American, and several academic groups, Democratic senators,
led by Edward Kennedy, Christopher Dodd, and Tom Harkin, strongly
opposed the nomination as inappropriate, particularly in light of
some of his past writings, including one asserting that that Muslim
immigrants were "brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods
and not exactly maintaining Germanic standards of hygiene."
Republican senators subsequently warned Bush that they would oppose
the nomination if it came to a vote, and, in the end, the president
made a "recess appointment" that gave him a limited term
lasting only until the end of 2004. It appears now that, despite
the enhanced Republican majority in the Senate, Bush does not intend
to re-nominate him.
both the USIP and Bush now probably regret having nominated him
in the first place. During his board tenure, Pipes blasted USIP
for hosting a conference with the Center for the Study of Islam
and Democracy, charging that it employed Muslim "radicals"
on its staff.
accusation was publicly refuted by the USIP itself, which echoed
the complaints of his longtime critics, accusing him of relying
on "quotes taken out of context, guilt by association, errors
of fact, and innuendo."
also criticized Bush for "legitimizing" various "Islamist"
groups, such as CAIR and the Arab-American Institute, by permitting
their representatives to take part in White House and other government
ceremonies and for failing to identify "radical Islam"
as "the enemy" in the war on terror.
own disillusionment with Bush is made clear in the AII draft which
notes that "creative thinking in this war of ideas must be
initiated outside the government, for the latter, due to the demands
of political correctness, is not in a position to say what needs
to be said."
goal, it goes on, "is the delegitimation of the Islamists.
We seek to have them shunned by the government, the media, the churches,
the academy and the corporate world."
complementary goal to enhance the influence of "moderate"
Muslims is to guide the work of Schwartz's CIP which is to
"headed by one born Muslim (its President) and a 'new Muslim',
i.e. an American not born in the faith, as its Executive Director.
This is the best combination for leading such an effort."
"extremists," according to the CIP proposal, are mainly
represented by the "Wahhabi lobby," an array of organizations
consisting of CAIR, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA),
the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), the Muslim Students' Association
of the U.S. and Canada (MSA), the Muslim Public Affairs Council
(MPAC), as well as "secular" groups, including the Arab-American
Institute (AAI) and the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
first goal of CIP will be the removal of CAIR and ISNA from monopoly
status in representing Muslims to the American public," the
proposal goes on. "[S]o long as they retain a major foothold
at the highest political level, no progress can be made for moderate
achieving its goal, CIP cites the help it can expect from its "strong
links" to Wolfowitz, Woolsey, and Pletka; as well as Senators
Charles Schumer and Sen. Jon Kyl, among others, "terrorism
experts" Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project, Paul
Marshall of Freedom House, and Glen Howard of the Jamestown Foundation;
and journalists such as Fox News anchors David Asman, Brit Hume,
and Greta van Susteren, Dale Hurd of the Christian Broadcasting
Network; and editors at the New York Post, the Los Angeles
Times, and the Toronto Globe and Mail.
by phone, Professor Kemal Silay, "president-designate"
of the CIP who teaches Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies at Indiana
University, told IPS he was not aware that he was to be group's
president, but that he had talked about the group with Schwartz
and agrees with both Pipes and Schwartz about the dangers posed
by Wahhabi groups in the U.S. and the world.
al-Ahmed, director of the Washington-based Saudi Institute and named
as CIP's research director in the grant proposal, told IPS he had
also talked with Schwartz about the group and strongly supported
its goals, although he thought several of the groups listed as part
of the Wahhabi lobby were more independent.
also said that he did not know that Pipes was involved with the
sees all Arabs and Muslims the same, because he has interest in
the security of the state of Israel," said al-Ahmed, who publicizes
human rights abuses committed in Saudi Arabia.
refused to speak with IPS.
Lobe is Inter Press Service's correspondent in Washington, DC.
© 2005 Inter Press Service