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News Analysis

Taking Action: State Initiatives to Combat Islamism in the U.S.

Thu, June 27, 2013

by: 
Christopher Holton and Ryan Mauro

The failure to recognize, let alone confront, the Islamist ideology on the federal level does not mean that nothing can be done. An increasing number of states are passing or considering legislation designed to take on this task.

Below are five initiatives you can promote in your state:

American Laws for American Courts

In 2011, the Center for Security Policy released a studied titled Shariah Law and American State Courts: An Assessment of State Appellate Court Cases. The study found 50 appellate court cases in 23 states where Shariah-based legislation from 16 foreign countries contradicted American law.

The primary victims of this “conflict of law” are Muslim-Americans. A review of 10 cases where Shariah-based law and American law clashed in court found:

“In cases 1-3, the Appellate Courts upheld Shariah law; in cases 4-7, the Trial Courts upheld Shariah, but the Appellate Courts reversed (protecting the litigant’s constitutional rights); in cases 8-10, both Trial and Appellate Courts rejected the attempts to enforce Shariah law.”

The American Public Policy Alliance explains that unclear state law has resulted in “the courts and the litigants hav[ing] repeatedly failed to recognize that comity to a foreign judgment may be at odds with our state and federal constitutional principles…”

American Laws for American Courts is model legislation that prohibits courts from putting foreign law before American law. This has often been described as “Anti-Shariah” legislation, but it doesn’t even mention Shariah or Islam. Its purpose is to protect Americans from being abused by any kind of foreign law.

American Laws for American Courts has been passed in Tennessee, Louisiana, Arizona, Kansas and Oklahoma. It was recently passed by the Alabama legislature as a constitutional amendment and will soon be put to a vote by the people. In Missouri, the legislature will meet in September to try to override the Governor’s veto of the bill.

Free Speech Defense Act

Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld was sued by a Saudi billionaire named Khalid bin Mahfouz because her book linked him to terrorism-financing. Because 23 copies of the book were bought online in the United Kingdom, Mahfouz was able to exploit the U.K.’s libel laws and sue Ehrenfeld even though she lives in America. Altogether, he targeted 45 publishers and journalists and only she refused to settle.

In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Committee warned that loose libel laws “discourage critical media reporting on matters of serious public interest, adversely affecting the ability of scholars and journalists to publish their work, including through the phenomenon known as ‘libel tourism.’”

Federal legislation called the SPEECH Act, also known as “Rachel’s Law,” has been passed but there is a glaring loophole that could result in Americans being denied a trial in U.S. courts.

The Free Speech Defense Act protects the First Amendment rights of Americans from foreign libel tourism. A modified version of this legislation has been passed in South Dakota, New York, California, Illinois, Florida, Utah, Tennessee, Louisiana, Maryland and Oklahoma. It is pending in the South Carolina legislature.

 Andy’s Law

“Andy’s Law” is named after Private William “Andy” Long, a soldier who was shot to death by an Islamist terrorist outside of a recruiting station in Little Rock, Arkansas in 2009.

On June 1, 2009, terrorism literally hit home in Little Rock, Arkansas when a jihadist terrorist, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad (formerly known as Carlos Bledsoe) shot two US Army soldiers outside a recruiting office in a shopping mall. Private William “Andy” Long was killed. Private Quinton I. Ezeagwula was wounded.

To fully comprehend the true nature of the threat of terrorism, one must understand that, though Muhammad has been labeled a “lone wolf,” such terrorism does not happen in a vacuum.

Before he became Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, Carlos Bledsoe was recruited. He was indoctrinated. He was selected to receive training in the far off land of Yemen and, after that training, he committed horrible acts of terrorism in what he himself termed “jihad.”

Terrorism doesn’t just happen. Terrorism is committed and terrorist acts are perpetrated by individuals who are motivated and trained. In some cases they are funded directly, but all of the activities involving recruitment, indoctrination and training cost money.

All of these types of activity form material support for terrorism. Not only did Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad commit a horrific act of terrorism, but others provided support that eventually led to his act. For that, those people should have been made to pay. Unfortunately, there was no specific mechanism to see to it that they should pay.

Andy’s Law was designed to change that.

The law allows for seizure of the assets “including money, used in the course of, intended for use in the course of, derived from, or realized through” terrorism.  This would empower law enforcement to prevent terrorists, or attempted terrorists, from keeping their assets.

The bill also creates a civil cause of action against terrorists by victims that allows victims to recover actual damages, treble damages and attorney fees.  The pain of the terrorist attack does not end with the healing of wounds. Victims suffer financially, further exasperating their emotional stress. Inspired by the documentary Losing Our Sons, this legislation permits the distribution of some of the seized terrorist assets to the victims to help cover damages and legal fees. 

This law would allow victims of terrorism to sue those who committed the terrorist act; those who provide material support for the terrorist act; those who make a terrorist threat; those who falsely communicate a terrorist threat; those who hinder prosecution of terrorism; those who expose the public to toxic biological, chemical or radioactive substances, or those who use a hoax substance. 

Current state laws do not clearly establish such a cause of action.  Further, some states lack their own RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations ) statute, which in some other states would provide some remedy. The federal RICO statute does not provide meaningful remedies because it only allows damages for business losses and property damage, and not for personal injury or wrongful death.

By passing Andy’s Law, Arkansas has set the example for other states, in particular Tennessee, where Carlos Bledsoe became Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, and empower state and local law enforcement, as well as victims of terrorism to not just prosecute the perpetrators of acts of terrorism but also those who provide material support—funding, recruitment, indoctrination, training and other forms of support--which lead up to those acts.

Forms of this legislation have been passed in Arkansas and Louisiana.

Disclosure of Foreign Gifts to Higher Education Act

It is not rare for Middle Eastern money to make its way to American universities. This legislation does not prohibit foreign gifts, but requires their disclosure by public colleges and universities so they can be held accountable.

The legislation does not stop Islamist groups in the U.S. from making donations to universities, with the Muslim Brotherhood-linked International Institute of Islamic Thought being a prime example. However, it goes a long way in establishing transparency.

This law has been passed in New York, Louisiana and Utah.

Female Genital Mutilation Act

This legislation specifically outlaws the act of female genital mutilation, sometimes euphemistically referred to as “female circumcision.” It is a common and brutal practice in the Islamic world.

The passing of this bill stiffens penalties for this crime. To avoid state penalties this crime, perpetrators of FGM have transported their victims who are minors across state lines. This bill closes that loophole.

A total of 21 states have outlawed this practice, with Louisiana and Kansas being the most recent additions. The bill is pending in Pennsylvania.

 

Christopher Holton is Vice President Outreach for the Center for Security Policy. He was formerly president and marketing director of Blanchard & Co. and editor-in-chief of the Blanchard Economic Research Unit and currently a member of the Board of Advisers of WorldTribune.com.

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