March 15, 2007
Frank Gaffney on Grover Norquist and the Islamic Institute
Frank Gaffney lays out some troubling information that may help explain why the Bush Administration keeps getting caught associating with terrorist front groups:
The Islamic Institute was established by Grover Norquist in 1998 with $20,000 in seed money from Abdurahman Alamoudi (who is currently serving a 23-year federal sentence for terrorism-related activities). II is the principal vehicle for the Islamists’ influence operation aimed at the Bush Administration and Republican and conservative circles. Norquist was its founding president; Alamoudi’s long-time deputy, Khalid Saffuri, was its first executive director; and II’s offices continue to be housed in the downtown Washington office suite rented by Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform.
In fact, Grover Norquist is the Islamic Institute’s chief enabler. As Arab-American pollster, John Zogby, put it to the New Republic in November 2001, “[Grover]’s played the role of interlocutor. With all respect, many of the leaders [of the Muslim-American community] are immigrants and don’t have years and years of experience. Grover has filled that void.” He went on to say that “absolutely, [Grover is] central to the White House outreach.”
As detailed at length in “A Troubling Influence,” Norquist has for years used his weekly Washington “Wednesday Group” meetings of what he calls the “Center-Right Coalition” to promote Saffuri, Khan and others associated with the Islamic Institute team as movement conservatives, or at least as reliable allies. Saffuri and Khan are routinely accorded privileged seating at these events. On occasion, in Norquist’s absence, Khan has actually chaired the meeting – a private-sector role of political activism during business hours that seems unlikely to be consistent with the guidelines for conduct of his day-job with the federal government.
If Suhail Khan is useful to Norquist today, he was incalculably valuable in his previous capacity. Prior to becoming a political appointee in the Transportation Department’s Federal Highway Administration (where he reportedly has access to highly sensitive information about the movement of military convoys and nuclear and other hazardous materials and contingency plans), Khan was responsible not just for “outreach” in the White House Public Liaison Office (as his sanitized ACU resume puts it); he oversaw Muslim outreach. Presumably, that had something to do with why when a White House access list of Muslims to be invited to meetings in the presidential complex was prepared, it actually had Norquist at its top.
Interestingly, most of the others on that list were drawn from the various Saudi-funded, pro-Islamist and generally anti-American groups that purport to comprise the so-called “Muslim-American leadership.” People now serving hard time like Abdurahman Alamoudi and Sami al-Arian were at various points among those Khan, Norquist and Saffuri considered appropriate for courting by the Bush team. Others were individuals, like Jamal Barzinji, a board member of several Islamist-sympathizing organizations that were raided and investigated by the FBI on suspicion of fundraising for terrorists.