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August 16, 2018 7:18 am

The Gray Lady Once Again Sanitizes Radical Islam

avatar by Steven Emerson

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The New York Times logo. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

For many years now, The New York Times has sanitized radical Islamic groups, militant Islamic leaders, and even Islamic terrorist attacks. The paper does this by deliberately omitting critical details that would discredit Islamist groups. For example, the Times routinely describes the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) as either a civil rights or a Muslim advocacy group. In reality, CAIR was started as a front for Hamas. But over the course of more than two decades, the Times has never reported on any of the many government documents and official transcripts that prove this.

And when reporting on many of the Islamic terrorist attacks that have occurred in Europe in recent years, the Times has often omitted the key fact that the Islamist attacker often yelled out “Allahu Akbar” before committing the terrorist atrocity, despite no such reluctance by European media to report such critical facts.

Last week’s Times reporting on the arrests of US Muslim extremists in a compound with 11 starving children who were being taught to carry out school shootings offers a glaring case in point.

Local authorities searching for a missing three-year-old boy with special needs discovered his body — and 11 starving children — on a remote New Mexico compound loaded with weapons. In a story on the discovery and resulting arrests of the adults involved, the Times omitted a key statement the local New Mexico sheriff made, according to the Associated Press: that the “adults [arrested] at the compound were considered ‘extremist of the Muslim belief’ adding that it was part of the investigation.” The AP reported those comments; why didn’t the Times?

And when the Times described Imam Siraj Wahhaj, the father of one of the adults arrested, it provided a glaringly incomplete and inaccurate picture:

The elder Mr. Wahhaj has for decades been the imam of Masjid at-Taqwa, which several people connected to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center either attended or visited around the time of the attack. During the investigation of the bombing, the elder Mr. Wahhaj was named on a list of several dozen potential conspirators in the plot, though he was never charged in the case and the list was later criticized for being overly broad, some former terrorism prosecutors said.

To be clear, there is no information connecting Imam Siraj Wahhaj with his son’s alleged crimes or his New Mexico camp. But the Times ignored a key factor, according to former Federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, one of the lead prosecutors in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing conspiracy cases.

The trial court asked prosecutors for a list of un-indicted co-conspirators, a standard procedure before trial, he said. This is a technical matter, allowing statements that otherwise might be prohibited as hearsay into evidence.

“The point is to alert defense counsel of people whose statements might be offered by the prosecution under the co-conspirator exception to the hearsay rule. Under this rule, an out-of-court statement by a member of the conspiracy, made during the course and in furtherance of the conspiracy, may be admitted against the defendants,” said McCarthy, who served on the Investigative Project on Terrorism’s board from 2009 to 2011.

The government did not make the list public, McCarthy said. Defense attorneys did. Wahhaj’s name was on it. That he was never charged in the case is irrelevant to his inclusion on the mandated co-conspirator list.

Later, Wahhaj testified as a defense witness, praising Omar Abdel Rahman as “a respected scholar” and “a strong preacher of Islam.” Abdel Rahman died in prison last year after being convicted in 1995 of terrorism and seditious conspiracy for masterminding a plot to blow up New York landmarks and murder hundreds of people.

“These lists, moreover, are always overly inclusive, for two reasons,” McCarthy said. “First, they are not filed publicly; the point is to help the defense prepare for trial, not to smear uncharged people. Second, if the prosecution fails to put a name on the list, and then tries to offer a hearsay statement by that person under the co-conspirator exception, the court may suppress the statement on the ground that the prosecutor failed to provide notice to the defense.”

Now, why would the Times not name one of these prosecutors let alone all of them? It’s misleading at best to toss out a phrase like “overly broad” without identifying a source or providing any context. It’s not too late. Let the Times belatedly name the “former prosecutors” and explain how the list was “overly broad” in light of the juridical mandate given to the prosecutors, as explained by McCarthy.

In selectively omitting the role of militant Islam in the New Mexico arrests or the role it played in the life of the elder Wahhaj, the Times went on to report:

In Brooklyn, a spokesman for the mosque, Ali Abdul-Karim Judan, said in a video posted on Facebook Thursday that the news media and the authorities were engaging in “propaganda” by wrongfully injecting mentions of international terrorism and school violence into what amounted to “a domestic situation” in New Mexico. “They’re not bringing up accurate events — they’re bringing up false narratives,” Mr. Judan said. “Look how this case has turned from a domestic situation, and now they’re trying to create an atmosphere where his son is involved with an extremist radical group.”

Furthermore, the Times reported that the “elder Mr. Wahhaj has had a long career as a clergyman, traveling the world and delivering lectures on Islam, and even once gave a religious invocation in Congress.”

But as we showed in our documentary The Grand Deception, Siraj Wahhaj’s invocation at the House of Representatives in 1991, contrary to proving his peaceful legitimacy as the Times clearly suggested, was in fact a ruse to cover up his true militant Islamic beliefs that he had preached before and after his Congressional invocation.

Our video shows that Wahhaj was spouting poison as far back as 1982, when he called it “bulls**t” for Muslims to pledge allegiance to the American flag. He later called the United States “filthy and sick.” And in 1991, the same year that he gave a Congressional invocation, Wahhaj called it “an honor to die in jihad.”

The omissions of key facts and erroneous statements of unidentified sources in this Times story are not the worst in the world. But they are indicative of a much larger and longtime pattern in the Times‘ reporting about incidents involving radical Islam. This is not only unfair to its readers; it is plainly dishonest.

To be sure, the Times is not the only mainstream media outlet guilty of this de facto cover up. It is even done by governments. But the Times holds itself to the highest level of journalistic integrity. It has historically played a prominent role in uncovering corruption and injustice. But when it comes to radical Islam, it has been blinded by a corrosive political correctness that has infected the entire paper. And that’s not only a scandal, but a tragedy.

Steven Emerson is considered one of the leading authorities on Islamic extremist networks, financing, and operations. He serves as the Executive Director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism, a non-profit organization that serves one of the world’s largest storehouses of archival data and intelligence on Islamic and Middle Eastern terrorist groups.

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