July 27, 2004, - 3:32 pm
John Kerry is trying to show he’s “tough on terrorism.”
But with delegates like Ismael Ahmed, it’s a tough sell.
Ahmed, a Michigan delegate to this week’s Democratic National Convention, is a long-time Democratic activist and a repeat delegate.
But the Democrats aren’t touting him to the media. In fact, the only place you’ll read about Ahmed’s delegate credentials is on Al-Jazeerah’s website.
In this first Presidential nominating convention since 9/11, Ahmed’s presence at the convention and his views are more disturbing than ever.
Ahmed is the founder and executive director of ACCESS – the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, based in Dearborn, Michigan.
Under Ahmed’s leadership, ACCESS paid for commercial driving lessons and attempts at hazardous material hauling certificates for two men convicted as part of the Detroit Al-Qaeda sleeper cell. Testimony at their trial revealed that the men planned to bomb the MGM Grand Casino and a host of other prominent US sites.
More chilling is that since ACCESS’ multi-million dollar budget is largely tax-funded, tax dollars likely paid for these men to get their “job training” organized by ACCESS.
When confronted with this, Ahmed made no apologies. On the contrary, he was defiant in defending his organization’s aid to the Qaeda sleepers, comparing their membership in the terrorist group to mere “political credential,” such as Democrat or Republican.
In 2002, ACCESS sponsored and funded the Second Annual Palestinian Students Divestment Conference at the University of Michigan. The conference’s keynote speaker was Sami Al-Arian, the now-indicted, alleged leader of the Islamic Jihad terrorist group. His activities were well-known at the time, including letters stating that “the merger with the brothers in Hamas” was almost complete and bragging of a successful bus-bombing in Israel. Other conference speakers included assorted anti-Semites and anti-Westerners who had previously exhorted violence against and murder of Jews.
When confronted on ACCESS’ sponsorship of this conference, Ahmed – whose agency provides tax-funded “sensitivity training”– told a reporter that it was a cultural activity for Arabic children in the area.
Ahmed apparently thinks that donating to terrorist groups is also a “cultural activity.” He opposed the Clinton Counter-terrorism package of 1996, because it prohibited donations to terrorist groups, including Hezbollah and Hamas. Ahmed told a Detroit paper of the difficulty finding Arab-Americans who did not give to these groups.
Give Ahmed credit for his honesty – for once. He has been less than truthful about his own background. For example, he has bragged in writings and to reporters of his “tours” and “hitches” in Vietnam and claimed that he is a “Vietnam Veteran.”
But, while Ahmed did serve in the U.S. Army, any time he spent in Vietnam was as a tourist – unlike his party’s likely Presidential nominee. While Ahmed was briefly in Korea, military records show that most of his military career was spent stateside at Fort Knox. “Records do not indicate veteran served in Vietnam,” wrote Scott Levins, Assistant Director for Military Records at the National Personnel Records Center.
Then there is Ahmed’s reason for founding ACCESS. The organization claims it exists to help Americans of all sorts get social service help. But in an old newspaper interview, Ahmed admits he founded ACCESS “as an advocacy group” while campaigning to persuade auto unions to divest their Israeli bond portfolios.
Since then, Ahmed has used ACCESS to shake down corporations and government, much the same way Jesse Jackson has for Operation PUSH and the Rainbow Coalition. And what a coincidence: Ismael Ahmed ran one of Jackson’s successful wins of the Michigan Democratic Primary in the 1980s. Ahmed continues to shower Jackson with accolades, including keynote speeches at ACCESS’ annual banquet. “Unfortunately,” he recently wrote, “Americans had not listened to Jessie [sic] Jackson’s election warning to ‘Stay out of the Bushes.’ ”
But, despite the dig, Democrats are not alone in pandering to Ismael Ahmed and ACCESS. In fall 2002, President Bush went out of his way to recognize ACCESS, citing it and an Americorps volunteer who worked for the agency, in a speech at a Detroit area public school. Thereafter, Bush sent then-Americorps chief, Leslie Lenkowsky, to shower ACCESS with a multi-million dollar Arab Americorps program.
While Americorps volunteers typically help build Habitat for Humanity homes for the poor and help underprivileged kids learn to read, Ismael Ahmed’s Americorps program is political. He sends volunteers to work for the Arab-American Institute, a Saudi-funded lobbying group headed by Democratic advisor James Zogby – all at taxpayer expense.
After 9/11, ACCESS campaigned against universities cooperating with federal agents to find foreign students linked to terrorism. In 2002, ACCESS was raided by federal agents in a Medicaid fraud investigation. A television report and several newspaper articles said ACCESS was involved in helping foreign Arabic women fraudulently obtain Medicaid to have their babies here in the United States.
With delegates like Ismael Ahmed, John Kerry will have a tough time showing us he’s the best guy to fight terror.
Tags: ACCESS, Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, Ismael Ahmed