The professional pundits seem to be in a hot lather for Governor Chris Christie. But count me as one of those that hasn’t drunk the Christie kool-aid. We will be covering his candidacy in detail if he decides to run, but my initial research doesn’t get me excited:
“Governor Christie’s nomination of Sohail Mohammed, an attorney to detained terrorist suspects, to a Superior Court judgeship in Passaic County. The Sohail nomination continues Christie’s unfortunate pandering to the American Muslim Union and the Islamic Center of Passaic County.
Passaic County has the second largest Muslim population in the country. And the Islamic Center of Passaic County is the state’s largest mosque, and it’s the only one run by an an Imam who was a member of the Hamas terrorist organization. But when the United States government attempted to deport Mohammed Qatanani, New Jersey’s pols and wannabe pols like Christie, quickly came to his aid. Despite the fact that Mohammed Qatanani was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization that is behind both Al Qaeda and Hamas, despite his own guilty plea to being a member of Hamas, and despite the fact that even in the United States, he had defended a charity that provided funds to children of suicide bombers (this is done as an incentive to reassure terrorists that if they die their families will be taken care of), Qatanani was not deported.
This is less a sign of his innocence, than of the power and influence wielded by Qatanani and the American Muslim Union. There was hardly a top New Jersey public official who did not come out for Qatanani. And that included both of the major candidates in the governor’s race, Governor Jon Corzine and Chris Christie. Christie called Qatanani, “a man of great goodwill” and “a constructive force” and allowed Charles McKenna, one of his associate attorneys to testify on behalf of Qatanani. Afterward Christie tapped McKenna to head New Jersey’s Department of Homeland Security. McKenna had spent a good deal of time on Muslim “outreach” and made numerous statements echoing their talking points.
The pioneering terrorism researcher, Steve Emerson called it, “a disgrace and an act of pure political corruption”. He stated, “I know for certain that Christie and the FBI SAC had access to information about Qatanani’s background, involvement with and support of Hamas.” Defending Qatanani required Christie to pit himself against the Department of Homeland Security, which wanted him deported. But the Department of Homeland Security wasn’t running for office in New Jersey. Christie was.
The first Imam of the Islamic Center of Passaic County, Mohammad El-Mezain, was convicted of funneling money to Hamas. El-Mezain had actually boasted of raising almost 2 million dollars for Hamas. And his replacement, Qatanani, actually was a member of Hamas. An ordinary politician might have been forgiven for not knowing this, but Christie was the US Attorney for New Jersey. It’s absolutely impossible that he would not have known the background of the Islamic Center of Passaic County. Yet Christie attended a Ramadan dinner, in the same place where terrorists had fundraised, and kissed Qatanani on the cheek.
Now Christie has nominated Sohail Mohammed, Qatanan’s former lawyer, to a Superior Court judgeship. Sohail Mohammed is a board member of the American Muslim Union, an organization that has interlocking leadership with groups that have fundraised for Hamas and hosted a Hamas speaker. The American Muslim Union is closely interlinked with Qatanani’s Islamic Center of Passaic County.
When five Muslims were convicted of plotting to murder US soldiers at New Jersey’s Fort Dix, American Muslim Union president, Mohamad Younes, came out in their defense. When El-Mezain, the original Imam of the Islamic Center of Passaic County, was convicted, Younes claimed that he had only been convicted because he was a Muslim. The ICPC and the AMU shared five members in their leadership, which essentially makes them one and the same. Nominating an AMU board member is an indirect payoff to the Islamic Center of Passaic County’s own leadership… and to Mohammed Qatanani.
Sohail Mohammed defended suspected terrorist detainees and was the go-to man for local and national media looking for a good quote. He lobbied against the use of both ‘Islamic’ in descriptions of Islamic terrorists, condemned the television show 24 for depicting Muslim terrorists and made an appearance outside the Qatanani trial. After the massacre of a Coptic Christian family, Sohail Mohammed tried to have some Copts investigated for opposing Muslim attendance at their funeral. And most importantly, Sohail Mohammed was Qatanani’s original lawyer when the government began its case against him.
So after helping Mohammed Qatanani escape deportation, Christie then nominated his lawyer to a Superior Court judgeship. Sohail is the second Muslim Superior Court judge in New Jersey after Hany Mawla. And if you want a preview of New Jersey’s future, you can see it in Judge Hany Mawla conducting the swearing in ceremony for Mayor Mohamed T. Khairullah in Passaic County’s Prospect Park borough. And the opening prayer for the event is delivered by none other than Imam Qatanani, leading a prayer in the name of Allah.
There’s still an American flag in place and the pledge of allegiance is recited, but those are symbols masking the hijacking taking place underneath the red, white and blue.
There have been setbacks. The Democratic party had to dump Sami Merhi, when some of his comments sympathetic to terrorists came to light. But his friend Mohamed T. Khairullah made it through. A critical flyer mailed out to local households was described as a hate crime and exploited by the media for the sympathy vote. Corzine and the local Democratic machine moved Hawla from a civil rights commissioner to a superior court judge. They put Sohail Mohammed on the same track. Christie could have stood up to the Democratic machine, but instead he sucked up to Passaic’s Islamists, first by aiding Qatanani and then by nominating his lawyer to a Superior Court Judgeship.
Some might compare the situation in Passaic County to France with its “no go zones” where the local authorities and non-Muslims cannot enter, but it’s actually a good deal worse. The government and the judiciary is being taken over, small pieces of Muslim ruled territory are being carved out and expanded with the support of the state’s leading politicians, who trade political support and campaign contributions for something dangerously close to treason. It’s not just New Jersey. America is being carved up this way, piece by piece. The areas with the highest Muslim population like Illinois, Michigan and New Jersey are ground zero for the Islamist hijacking of America, using front groups, media friendly spokesmen, lawyers, leadership training and the slow climb up the ladder.
If you wondered why Governor Christie intervened in the Ground Zero Mosque issue or why a New Jersey state employee who participated in a protest against the mosque by burning a few pages from the Koran, lost his job– you were only seeing the tip of a very large iceberg. In Muslim heavy states such as New Jersey, politicians and law enforcement have been largely suborned. In their attempt to co-opt Muslims, they instead have been co-opted by them. Who is really working for whom? Decide for yourself.
When American Muslim Union president Mohamed Younes was detained in Dubai, he knew exactly whom to call. The deputy director of New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security who offered to vouch for him. Now remember Younes was a member of the board of trustees of a mosque that had conducted fundraising for terrorists and whose Imam had been convicted of raising money for terrorists. But none of that mattered. No more than the IPCC’s history mattered to Christie. The very same Sohail Mohammed boasted that the deputy director of New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security is “someone we can call 24/7″.
Is this what the people of New Jersey really want in their officials? It doesn’t matter, because they’re not being given a choice. And that’s the worst part of it. Whether you voted Corzine or Christie, you still ended up with a politician who was in bed with the IPCC and the AMU and who was going to nominate Sohail Mohammed to a Superior Court Judgeship. And that denotes a profound level of corruption that should cause intense scrutiny for any elected official from the Garden State who tries to run for national office. That includes Governor Christie who fought one brand of corruption, but surrendered to another, who was willing to stand up to the teacher’s union, but not to the terrorist’s union.”
Governor Christie would have you believe opposition to Mr. Mohammed was sheer bigotry:
“It’s just unnecessary to be accusing this guy of things just because of his religious background,” he railed to reporters. It’s a narrative Christie fans would like to help cement. It’s not true.
For the record, Sohail Mohammed is not just an attorney. He served as a board member for an Islamist organization, the American Muslim Union, which, as Commentary’s Jonathan S. Tobin and terrorism expert Steve Emerson have shown, has a checkered past of rationalizing jihadist attacks and supporting jihadists.
Indeed, when the Holy Land Foundation was shuttered in 2001 for its facilitation of terrorist groups, Mohammed told the Bergen Record that the federal government was unjustly singling out Muslim organizations. Seven years later, a jury convicted several HLF operatives for channeling millions of dollars to Hamas, the terrorist organization that is the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch. Mohammed also ripped the Justice Department’s prosecution of al-Arian as a “witch-hunt” and a “politically motivated indictment.” Al-Arian eventually pleaded guilty to a terrorism charge in a case that showed him to be a key operative of the murderous Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization.
One of the AMU’s most influential members is Mohammed Qatanani, a 47-year-old Palestinian firebrand from Jordan, who is not just an associate but a client of Sohail Mohammed’s. According to federal law enforcement, Qatanani is a former Muslim Brotherhood member who, when apprehended by Israeli authorities in 1993, confessed to being a member of Hamas. Not surprisingly, Qatanani is also an avowed enthusiast of the Brotherhood-Hamas one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As Mr. Tobin notes, he’d have the Jewish state disappear by its absorption into an Islamic “Greater Syria.”
“New Jersey has one of the country’s largest Islamic populations, and Qatanani has been the imam of one of the state’s largest Muslim communities, the Islamic Center of Passaic County. His predecessor as imam there, Mohammed el-Mezain, is among the five defendants convicted of financing Hamas in the HLF case. In fact, el-Mezain boasted of raising money at the mosque for Hamas. No surprise, then, to learn, as Steve Emerson recounts, that imam Qatanani included his predecessor and the other HLF defendants in a 2007 prayer for relief from oppression
Oh Allah assist our brothers and sisters in Philistine [Palestine], and Iraq and Chechnya . . . Oh Allah remove occupation and oppression, and oh Allah improve the matters of our community . . . to assist our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land Foundation, ask oh Allah . . . to assist them and to remove the difficulty that they have been inflicted with, all of the brothers and sisters in this country, oh Allah to prove them non-guilty.
The Department of Homeland Security has been trying for some time to deport Qatanani for lying on his 1999 immigration paperwork. He’d been granted a religious-worker visa in 1996, enabling him to be the imam at the Islamic Center. When it expired in 1999, he sought to become a permanent U.S. resident. Though specifically asked about his criminal history, Qatanani failed to disclose that he was convicted in an Israeli military court for his membership in, and support of, Hamas. Mohammed’s firm helped Qatanani prepare the I-485, and Qatanani later claimed that he’d signed the form because he “trusted his attorney, Sohail Mohammed.” (See Homeland Security Investigation, Appendix, p. 4.)
The deportation case against Qatanani was heard by an immigration judge in 2008. Christie was then the Bush-appointed U.S. attorney for New Jersey, though his office did not handle the case. In light of Qatanani’s track record and the Islamic Center of Passaic County’s connections to the Bush Justice Department’s then-ongoing HLF prosecution, it is nothing short of shocking that U.S. attorney Christie went to Qatanani’s mosque for a Ramadan celebration while the immigration case was underway. There, he is reported to have embraced Qatanani and praised the former Hamas operative as “a man of great good will.”
More astoundingly, Christie permitted one of his assistant U.S. attorneys, Charles B. McKenna, to testify at the immigration hearing as a character witness on behalf of Qatanani — i.e., a Justice Department official was dispatched to undermine the Homeland Security Department’s case against Qatanani, which was built in part on an investigation conducted by the FBI, an agency of the Justice Department.
The immigration judge, Alberto Riefkohl, ultimately ruled in Qatanani’s favor, an absurd decision in which he baselessly discredited two federal agents who’d testified about Qatanani’s admission that he’d been arrested for Hamas activities, and irrationally discounted the evidence of Qatanani’s Israeli conviction. The judge stressed, in arriving at this ruling, how impressed he’d been by “law-enforcement officers that took time from their respective duties to appear before the court.” I’m sure. But the feel-good hallucinations of bridge-building can’t erase the reality of terror promotion. Judge Riefkohl was later reversed by the Board of Immigration Appeals, which found that there was no basis for Riefkohl to have ignored the government’s evidence.
The questions about Governor Christie’s appointment of Sohail Mohammed and his exertions on behalf of Mohammed’s client, Mohammed Qatanani, have nothing to do with either sharia or the all-purpose smear of Islamophobia. They are about the governor’s judgment. They are about a U.S. attorney with political ambitions pandering to a politically active constituency at the expense of national security and enforcement of the immigration laws. They are about his decision to award a state judgeship to an attorney who was an active and vocal board member of a very troubling Islamist organization — and who has a penchant for presuming that perfectly valid anti-terror prosecutions are, instead, anti-Muslim persecutions.