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News Analysis

Chris Christie Bent on Including Islamists in Security Forums

Mon, September 2, 2013

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (Photo: © Reuters)

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (Photo: © Reuters)

by: 
Ryan Mauro

Almost 10 months after the Clarion Project originally made public its discovery that four Islamists are members of N.J. Governor Chris Christie’s Muslim Outreach committee, the Clarion Project has obtained documents obtained from the Office of the Attorney General that the four radicals continue to participate in this sensitive forum.

In addition, a fifth committee member with a faulty background has since been identified. Christie also appointed the Attorney General who oversees the committee as the interim Senator after the death of Senator Lautenberg.

On November 15, 2012, Clarion released the names and backgrounds of four committee members, including a Hamas-linked imam named Mohammad Qatanani whose deportation is sought by the Department of Homeland Security. Christie has long defended the imam, describing him as a friend in July 2012 and attacking his critics as “bigots.”

The four were:

Imam Mohammad Qatanani, whose deportation is sought by the Department of Homeland Security for not disclosing on his green card application that he was arrested and convicted by Israel in 1993 for his involvement with Hamas;

Ahmed Shedeed, a fervent website currently contains disturbing statements about jihad, the West, wife beating and polygamy;

Mohammed Younes, the President of the American Muslim Union, a group with Islamist leadership and close ties to Qatanani’s mosque, which was founded by a Hamas fundraiser; and

Imam Abdul Basit of the New Brunswick Islamic Center, a mosque founded by a radical cleric. In July, it held a Brotherhood-linked seminar featuring multiple extremist speakers.

Disturbing information about a fifth committee member, Khader “Ken” Abuassab of Paterson, has since been found. After the controversy over the NYPD’s intelligence-gathering in N.J. began, Abuassab said, “I would tell people not to cooperate” with law enforcement because “I can’t promise people they will be safe or not be spied on again.”  

Abuassab pled guilty to credit card fraud in 2002 after using over 40 cards to make $615,000 in purchases. He then declared bankruptcy to have the debt wiped out. Two years later, he was sentenced to 13 months in prison; a request for a delay so he could make the pilgrimage to Mecca was rejected.

Abuassab organized Paterson Mayor Jeffrey Jones’ declaration of May 19, 2013 as "Palestinian-American Day" and the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s flag flew over City Hall. The chosen date coincided with Israel’s Independence Day holiday. About 120 demonstrators protested in Paterson, which Abuassab says is called “Little Ramallah.” (Ramallah is the seat of governance of the Palestinian Authority in Israel.)

It is obvious that the Clarion Project ‘s November 15 revelations about the Islamists on Christie’s Muslim outreach committee, which were picked up by the Daily Caller, show that our research has not compelled the Christie Administration to change course.

Documents show that the committee met with high-level law enforcement officials, including Attorney General Chiesa, on December 12, 2012. According to the meeting agenda, a State Police official briefed the committee on the upcoming schedule of State Police outreach training and the committee members gave a presentation with an “outline of substantive outreach training.”

On March 6, 2013, another meeting took place that included an update on State Police outreach training and a presentation by the Police Training Commission on county and local police outreach training. Imam Abdul Basit and Mohammed Younes were unable to attend this meeting.

Another meeting was held on June 5. This included another update on State Police outreach training and a presentation from the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. The committee members were briefed on “Homeland Security Grants for Non-Profit Organizations.” Abuassab was unable to attend this meeting.

The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for September 4.

The Christie Administration cannot claim ignorance any longer. Christie’s fiery defense of Imam Qatanani last year shows he is aware of the criticism. Yet, the top tier of N.J. law enforcement continues to meet and consult with Qatanani and the other Islamists as identified by the Clarion Project.

These meetings are a two-way street: Law enforcement briefs the committee about its outreach and the committee presents recommendations. The committee members were even guided on how to be awarded Homeland Security grants during the last meeting.

Governor Christie seems bent on including Islamists in his administration’s security forums, ignoring the evidence of their extremist ideologies.

 

Ryan Mauro is the ClarionProject.org’s National Security Analyst, a fellow with the Clarion Project and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.