Gilbert, Athey criticize Kaine: Delegates - Ties too closeMr. Shippley also embedded the following video in the online version of the article:
By Garren Shipley -- Daily Staff Writer
Democratic Gov. Timothy M. Kaine is far too close to a Muslim group that allegedly has ties to Islamic terrorism and espouses radical views, according to two local delegates. But a group leader says the charges are founded in racism.
Kaine should move to put some distance between his administration and the Falls Church-based Muslim American Society, said Dels. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock, and Clifford L. "Clay" Athey Jr., R-Front Royal.
It all started when Kaine appointed Dr. Esam Omeish, the president of the society, to the Virginia Commission on Immigration. Gilbert wrote to Kaine, asking him to reconsider the appointment after seeing online videos of Omeish accusing Israel of genocide against Palestinians and exhorting Muslims to "the jihad way."
Omeish resigned less than a day later under pressure from Kaine.
But after some investigation, the delegates say the connections between Kaine and MAS appear to be deeper than just one appointment.
Kaine was the keynote speaker at the society's Freedom Foundation "Standing for Justice Dinner." He was photographed with leaders of the group, including Imam Mahdi Bray, the executive director of the foundation.
In an online video of a 2000 rally in Washington, Abdurahman al-Amoudi — who would later plead guilty to charges of funneling money from Libya to Saudi militants — took to the podium and declared his support for Hamas and Hezbollah.
Hamas, now the ruling party in the Gaza Strip, started a wave of suicide bombings against Israeli civilians in 1993, according to the nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations. Hezbollah, which now holds a quasi-state in southern Lebanon, is thought to be behind the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 servicemen.
"I have been labeled by the media in New York to be a supporter of Hamas. Anybody support this Hamas here?" al-Amoudi says in the video, drawing cheers from the crowd and fist pumps from Bray.
"I wish the added that I am also a supporter of Hezbollah. Anybody supports Hezbollah here?" he asks, drawing more cheers and fist pumps.
The video speaks for itself, Gilbert said.
"The governor shouldn't have been involved with this organization and its leadership," Gilbert said.
That being said, anyone can be the victim of bad staff work, he said.
"If [Kaine] didn't know this stuff, now that he does know it, he should say he rejects what the leadership of this organization stands for and he's going to distance himself from it, and encourage other leading Dem-ocrats to do the same."
Athey was less generous.
"It is clear that Governor Kaine and the Democratic Party sought the support of radical individuals who could turn out votes in his election. According to Mahdi Bray, the governor received that support," said Athey, referring to a story earlier this month in The Washington Times, in which Bray credited the Democrats' success in 2005 and 2006 to his organization.
"Ask Jim Webb what kind of impact we have," Bray said. "Ask the governor of Virginia what kind of impact we have. The Democrats' win hinged on the Muslim vote."
"I am not going to dignify the latest allegations by Dels. Gilbert and Athey with a comment," said Kaine spokesman Kevin Hall via e-mail. He also declined to comment on Bray's election-related statements.
Bray said Monday that he and others at the video weren't cheering for the terrorist organizations.
"The majority of the people they were kind of raising their hands, and kind of cheering, and so on because this was so uncharacteristic of al-Amoudi," Bray said. "We didn't know he had a problem with law enforcement. He was considered the pillar of the American Muslim community."
Bray said his gestures weren't in support of Hamas and Hezbollah.
"You saw me pumping my fists. You didn't see me raising my hands. If they had shown the audience, you would have seen people in the audience raising their hands and falling out laughing," he said. "For him to come and make these kinds of radical rants, no one took him seriously."
Bray said he does not support violence, and would have been more judicious in his reaction had the event happened after Sept. 11, 2001.
He also suggested that Gilbert had racist motives for his statements, noting that the delegate could be a "throwback" to Virginia's racist past.
"There are some throwbacks. And I think that Gilbert and others are throwbacks to the old days" who want to "maintain the status quo. Maybe their district is not as diverse as Northern Virginia."
Gilbert said Bray's charges are typical.
"We're so mired down in political correctness and this feeling that you have to be tolerant of all views that you can't even call somebody out for congratulating suicide bombers, and promoting and supporting recognized terrorist organizations," Gilbert said.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
More On Esam Omeish And Mahdi Bray
Article from the October 23, 2007 edition of the Northern Virginia Daily: