Newsweek posted an article on MSNBC how an "influential Islamic scholar" from the United Kingdom was prevented from attending a conference at New York University. The story reported that Kamal Helbawy, founder of the Muslim Association of Britain, was removed from a flight in London right before his American Airlines flight was about to take off for New York. Officials at NYU Law School, which had organized the conference, were aghast. Paul Cruickshank, a fellow at the law school's Center for Law and Security was quoted as saying, "He's a really respected guy," Karen Greenberg, Executive Director of the Center, protested the decision to bar Helbawy, "It looks like they are afraid of the words that are going to come out of somebody's mouth." Helbawy claimed in the Newsweek story that he has condemned terrorism "thousands of times."
Well, let's go to the videotape. Helbawy appeared at a conference of the Muslim Arab Youth Association in December 1992. I was there. And here are excerpts from the speech he made recorded on videotape:
"Do not take Jews and Christians as allies, for they are allies to each other."
"O'Brothers, the Palestinian cause is not a conflict of borders and land only. It is not even a conflict over human ideology and not over peace. Rather, it is an absolute clash of civilizations, between truth and falsehood. Between two conducts – one satanic, headed by Jews and their co-conspirators—and the other is religious, carried by Hamas, and the Islamic movement in particular and the Islamic people in general who are behind it."
"Lastly I am going to say something about Imam Hassan al-Banna, peace be upon him, who had been trying to establish 70,000 fighters. And he started with the first battalion with 10,000 fighters and today the Palestinians became strong fighting battalions, let us stand and support this great nation and the future is for Islam and I ask God's forgiveness for you and for me and the Muslims. We ask God to give victory to our brothers and we ask God to release the leader of the Intifada, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, praise be upon him."
Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal also spoke at the same conference, immediately after Helbawy. Meshaal told the audience "… the Palestinian nation was ignited with heroic jihadi martyrdom on the Palestinian land. And the start of the blessed Intifada, which was ignited by the blessed man, the handicapped Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, is the one who caused the earth to shake from under the feet of the occupiers. Since then, the Palestinian people have shown examples of sacrifice and courage and heroism. Among the proofs are the revolution of the stones, the Molotov cocktails and the knives."
In 1991, Helbawy spoke at a conference hosted by the Islamic Committee for Palestine, a front group that was headed by convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) operative Sami al-Arian. Other speakers at the event include Specially Designated Terrorist and current General Secretary of PIJ, Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, the notorious Egyptian "Blind Sheikh," Omar Abdul Rahman (spiritual leader of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, currently serving a life prison sentence for his role in a plot to blow up New York City landmarks), and PIJ founder and spiritual leader Abdel Aziz Al Awda.
Helbawy's radicalism and support for terrorism (and terrorists) is both longstanding and well documented. Despite his current protestations and NYU's willful blindness, U.S. government officials are rightfully wary of his past and level of influence. The Department of Homeland Security deserves credit for keeping Helbawy, and others like him, out of the United States.
Cross-posted at Counterterrorism Blog.