Domestic Front in the War on Terror: A Network of Advocacy Organizations in the United States Is Raising Money and Peddling Influence to Support Terrorist Activities at Home and Abroad. (Investigative Report)

Article excerpt

The brochure warns: "Don't talk to the FBI. The FBI is looking for information to use against you, your family and/or your community." It has been posted on the Internet since 1997 by the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom (NCPPF).

Many militant groups and their supporters, from the antiglobalist anarchists to the White Aryan Resistance, have developed their own variations of this brochure. But it disappeared quietly from prominent Muslim Websites on Sept. 27 after those groups took heat for not offering to help in the FBI investigation of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

As President George W. Bush moves the war from Afghanistan to terrorist networks elsewhere in the world, he likely will encounter increasing opposition at home, thanks in no small part to organized groups sympathetic to, or even fronting for, various violent causes. An INSIGHT investigation has uncovered a network of organizations around the United States that supports terrorism abroad and at home, with roots that go back decades to the emergence of the modern Terrorist International.

These groups -- including fund-raisers for the Irish Republican Army (IRA), legal defenders of convicted cop-killers, backers of Marxist-Leninist guerrillas and pistoleros in Latin America, Muslim fanatics and conspirators in the 1983 U.S. Capitol bombing and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing -- have joined forces in an attempt to cripple U.S. law enforcement and to facilitate terrorist-support activities inside the country. In the name of preserving civil liberties, some have been operating for decades to defend terrorists in court and get convictions thrown out or sentences reduced, to litigate selectively to weaken national-security legislation, to limit the capabilities of the FBI and to discredit U.S. law enforcement by labeling it a threat to civil liberties.

Not all condone terrorist violence. Some simply believe they are promoting constitutional rights at home or fighting political repression abroad. Collectively, however, they have an influential following that includes a powerful network of lawyers who hamstring U.S. antiterrorism efforts by exploiting the judicial system.

The NCPPF says its members oppose "the use of secret evidence to deny bond or deport immigrants, and criminalization of humanitarian or political assistance to organizations because of their alleged connection to so-called foreign terrorist organizations."

NCPPF President Sami Al-Arian, a professor at the University of South Florida, sent out an e-mail eight days before the Sept. 11 attacks criticizing President Bush for not dropping the use of secret evidence in terrorist cases. Small wonder: Al-Arian has been a major supporter of terrorist causes. The Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilley exposed some of Al-Arian's activity, and NBC's Dateline aired a video of the NCPPF leader stating, "Let us damn America. Let us damn Israel. Let us damn their allies until death."

INSIGHT obtained a copy of a 1995 letter Al-Arian wrote to raise funds for suicide bombers of the Hamas terrorist group. An FBI translation, in Arabic, discusses a recent suicide bombing: "The movement's financial situation is very difficult, and it cannot fulfill its responsibilities toward the martyrs and prisoners.... The link with the brothers in Hamas is very good and making steady progress.... I call upon you to try to extend true support to the jihad effort in Palestine so that operations such as these can continue"

Just as the IRA uses Catholic churches from which to raise funds for its terrorist campaign against the United Kingdom, Arab and Muslim terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda use mosques across the United States. Bush calls Hamas "one of the deadliest terrorist organizations in the world today."

To help break the IRA, the FBI had the politically prickly task of recruiting Irish-Americans and Catholics to inform on terrorist-support activity within the churches. …