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Disclaimer: The author of this site maintained the campaign weblog of John Kline's opponent in the 2006 election, which made Congressman Kline a bit testy.

As with all blogs, review the facts carefully and draw your own conclusions.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Terrorists In America!! (Sort Of)

We now return to our dissection of the only issue currently mentioned on John Kline's congressional web site: Terrorists In America!! In part one, we noted that by admitting the possibility (if not necessarily the reality) that al Qaeda operatives may be active in the U.S., Kline has obliterated the basis of the Flypaper Theory as a justification for the war in Iraq.

Now we get into the nitty-gritty.

In addition to citing some Justice Department statistics about the hundreds of terrorists who have been arrested in the past few years, there are links to several news stories, purportedly about Terrorists In America!! Here they are, with the titles Kline has chosen to give them:

  1. Guilty Plea for Al Qaeda Charity Chief
  2. Trial for Ca. Men who Received Terrorist Training
  3. U.S. Sanctions Syrian Bank
  4. U.S. Deports Iraqi with Suspected Al Qaeda Ties
  5. Pa. Man accused of Plot to Hit Pipelines
  6. Al Qaeda Member Sentenced to 30 Years for Assassination Plot
  7. Suspected al Qaeda supporters arrested


Of these, only the final one appears to be an open-and-closed case of al Qaeda sympathizers arrested in the U.S. The rest are questionable, laughable, or outrageous. And at least three of them deserve separate posts of their own.

So let's dispense with the easy ones. As already stated, item (7) appears to be a genuine case the FBI infiltrating, monitoring, and producing evidence for trial against two men who are al Qaeda sympathizers and who planned to set up an al Qaeda training facility in Long Island, New York. One interesting thing I noticed when reading the FBI's statement is that apparently, they were able to track and arrest these men without the help of the Patriot Act or illegal warrantless surveillance.

For item (1), Kline's headline is simply misleading. What appears to be beyond dispute is that Enaam Arnaout, the head of a charitable foundation called the Benevolence International Foundation, was using that foundation to funnel money to Chechen rebels and to soldiers in Bosnia-Herzegovina. But this is hardly the same as aiding al Qaeda --- some would argue that the Chechens at any rate are freedom fighters, not terrorists.

The reason why it is misleading to describe Arnaout as an "Al Qaeda Charity Chief" is that the government dropped charges of funneling money to al Qaeda. And while there is no doubt that Arnaout has had close ties with Osama bin Laden, that seems to have been mostly in the late 80's, when the United States itself was supplying money and weapons to al Qaeda in its fight against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

(Indeed, the fact that the U.S. has for years quietly aided "good terrorists" while denouncing "bad terrorists" makes the whole War on Terror morally ambiguous. That and the fact that we're now applying that policy to torture as well).

Item (3) seems pretty meaningless, since it apparently has to do with a Syrian bank, not terrorist sympathizers in the U.S., but I can't really be sure since the article it links to is gone.

Item (4) is the laughable one. The man who is being deported, Sam Malkandi, was originally arrested for fraudulently obtaining immigration benefits for himself and his family, and is being deported for lying on his 1998 application for political asylum. "Although he has been investigated by the FBI since at least 2002, he has not been charged with any terror-related crime."

It seems he did once try to help one of bin Laden's bodyguards obtain a U.S. visa. But clearly the government doesn't really believe he has meaningful ties to al Qaeda, or they wouldn't be returning him to Iraq.

Update: Items (2), (5) and (6) are discussed in separate posts. As of April 4, item (2) was removed from Kline's web site.

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