From what I can see, many Arabs seem to be targeted by recent legislation
that has been passed during the Clinton administration. Specifically, I refer
to the Anti-Terrorism-Death Penalty Act and also to 1996 Immigration
Act. Both of those acts, which have been enacted into law, set up a system
whereby people can be deported, whereby people can be held basically
indefinitely, whereby secret information can be used against them, whereby the
attorneys representing those individuals are not allowed to see and basically
have very little input into the decision that's going to be made. This law is
on the books seemingly applying to everyone, but all the applications of this
law that I have seen have been to Muslims specifically to Arabs, most
specifically to Palestinians.
My question is, why is this? Why is this law being applied to these people, as
opposed to other people, other terrorists. There's all kinds of other groups
that would be targeted, could be looked, but the application of this law is so
specifically targeted to this population, you have to wonder why that is. Who's
making those decisions and what's the motivation for those decisions?
H. Ibrahim Salih, Ph.D.:
And besides the law, if you fit the profile when you're traveling, you are
always thoroughly searched and why are we targeted, from the Middle East, to be
searched thoroughly? Like if we are all terrorists, as soon as you are from the
Middle East, we have on our forehead, "terrorist."
It's been suggested to us over and over again in Washington and
elsewhere that really what this all is about is finding a substitute for the
Soviet Union. We don't have the Soviet Union, so we have you guys.
H.H.A. (Tony) Cooper
(Teacher of terrorism class, University of Texas, Arlington):
I don't agree. I'm sorry, but this is another little piece of media fiction
that is persuasive to many people. Let me revert, if I may for a moment, to
something that you raised earlier and we didn't deal with...
The first thing-do you really want to apprehend Osama bin Laden and bring him
to justice in the United States? If you do, then it really makes no sense
whatsoever to rocket those who purportedly were holding him. And a very
distinguished gentleman from the Central Intelligence Agency, who had served in
that country during the Russian or the Soviet occupation said, you know,' this
is futile,' he said. The Russians dropped 200,000 tons of bombs on this same
area. All it did was move around the rubble.
The Afghani people, after perhaps the Uzbekis, are some of the most warlike in
the world. They are not frightened by Americans who bomb from afar. They fight
hand to hand. Don't try and fight people like that.
The Taliban, you may not like them, you may not understand them, you may not
appreciate their position in relation to womankind, but one fact, undeniable
fact, is they are good Muslims.
Now, let me make this point to you. The majority of the people killed an
injured in Kenya were Kenyans and among them was a large number of Muslims.
Bombs, whether they're set by Israelis, or by Muslims or by Christians, are not
set by accident. They are set deliberately.
And in the Koran, if you'll permit to just read this to you, "He that kills a
believer by design shall burn in hell forever." Now, if I had been in charge of
trying to get hold of Osama bin Laden, I would have sent somebody to talk to
the Taliban with that text who could sit down and drink perhaps innumerable
cups of coffee, but who would get that point over to them. They would have
dealt with him, if you could make your case.
Now, why was this not done? The only answer that I can give you is either the
people who were in charge were ignorant or they didn't want to get Osama bin
Laden. Take your choice. I rest my case on that.
But they said they presented their evidence to the Taliban and
the Taliban replied by saying, 'this is no evidence.' ... Everywhere we went
people said to us, "We don't support terrorism." Or, "We don't support
indiscriminate violence." So we asked, "Why would people do this against the
United States?" Then we got answers...that their governments were oppressive of
them and the United States was a major supporter of that particular government.
That's why the U.S. gets targeted--we are friends of the enemies of these
We put many of those people in positions of power. We support them. Those
people would not exist without American support. Look at Pinochet. ... Look at
the Shah. I mean, you can go through the whole list. The United States has
supported countries that have been not only anti-democratic, they have been
dictatorial, oppressive countries. The United States has been behind those
countries supporting them economically every step of the way. It's not just
friends. These are like client states. ...
H. Ibrahim Salih, Ph.D.:
I disagree. Every country has a national interest. So does the United States.
We are not running a Salvation Army or United Way. You make a policy [based on]
the national interest of the United States. Friends are temporary. National
interest is permanent. If we can use, let's say, [Pinochet], if we can use
Spain for our national [gain], we're going to do it.
The Saudi royal family?
H. Ibrahim Salih, Ph.D.:
Sure, we are using them. As long as it serves the national interest of the
United States, we're going to use the family until they're kicked out. Just
like what happened to the king of Iran. I mean, we all know who put him back on
the throne in 1953. CIA did. ... Until 1979, he was the best man we could find
in the Middle East. But once he became a detriment to the interest of the
United States, we practically kicked him out along [with] Ayatollah Khomeini.
H.H.A. (Tony) Cooper:
Let me give you another perspective...this is perhaps unspoken among a lot of
people but it has to be said. If there were not a state of Israel, you wouldn't
have a program. Let me explain to you.
Why the focus on Islam? You have terrorism in Northern Ireland. You have
terrorism through out Africa. You have terrorism in Asia. You have terrorism
everywhere that does not have an Islamic focus. The Islamic focus is entirely
generated by the magnet of Israel. And let me explain to you why that is [a]
matter for the United States. If you study the history of this, you will
understand very clearly why Israel began to adopt what from it's perspective in
the short term, certainly was a very fine anti-terrorism strategy. Imagine for
a moment, that you are a little boy in a playground and you're being bullied.
They all pick on you. They don't like your nose. They don't like your dress.
They don't like your religion. What are you going to do? ... Certain people
said, "We must do what is necessary to save this country. We are surrounded by
enemies. All of whom are sworn to destroy this nation and throw us into the
sea. We need a champion." They found that champion in the United States, after
Eisenhower. But the real problem was this--and this is where Dr. Salih is
absolutely correct--countries act in national interest. Why bother with a tiny
little [country] sitting on 10,000 square miles? The answer, very, very simply
is that we have been induced, in terms of terrorism, into seeing the terrorists
not as Israel's enemy but as our enemy. And in order to do that, terrorists
have had to attack the basic interests of the United States.
Khalid Y. Hamideh:
...the Palestinians, the Muslims, the people in the Middle East-- we're the
victims. Still are the victims. But we are made to be the villains by the
media. When you see tens of billions of dollars--of our tax dollars--go to
support the state of Israel, and you see the suffering of the people in the
refugee camps, then you know the basis of the anti-American feelings that may
or may not lead to some of these bombings you're talking about. But the genesis
of the problem, as the doctor has said, is, if you want to go back to history
and study the root cause of all of these things, it's the creation of the state
of Israel. That was the problem. . ...
Let me ask you about an issue that has come up because of all
the bombings. And it has been raised by Mr. bin Laden. Is the presence of U.S.
troops in Saudi Arabia truly an affront to Muslims?
(Political Science Student):
Yes, it is. The perception that America has about the troops in the Middle
East [is] that we liberate[d] Kuwait. We help[ed] to defend [against] the
enemies of democracy and Saddam Hussein. I grew up in Saudi Arabia. You did a
good favor [there], defend[ing] Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. We appreciate that.
We give you how much billions you ask for. However, [to] the average Arab or
average Saudi citizen--it's like you have a Thanksgiving party. All your
relatives came to visit you from out of town. Thanksgiving is over. You know,
"Please leave." You have  in your house. And they don't want to get out.
And a lot of Arabs, they say, "Okay, you've done good." The average Saudis and
Kuwaitis, they don't want the troops to be there. But they can do nothing about
it. ... And after a while people said, "Wait a minute." ...
But is it a religious insult for U.S. troops to be in Saudi
Khalid Y. Hamideh:
A huge religious insult. And that's the underpinnings of all the anti-American
fervor. We see the second holiest place in Islam--in Jerusalem--has been under
occupation for almost 50 years now. Now, most Muslims [see] that the holiest
sites in Islam are also becoming under occupation. It's unfortunate that we as
Americans ... don't view our foreign policy with at least ... a small bit of
inclination towards the Islamic religion or culture. It is an insult for most
Muslims for the American troops to be there.
Khalid Y. Hamideh:
Well, ... women in our religion aren't supposed to be in shorts. Not supposed
to co-mingle and drink and stuff with the males. That happens in our US bases
there. Other parts of our religion that deal strictly with forbidding certain
things--eating of pork and things of this nature, things that are fundamental
to us, are routinely violated by the US troops there. ...
[For Muslims], Saudi Arabia is like a very holy place for Judaism or
Christianity. And when you enter a church or you enter a synagogue, if I went
with a friend who was either Jewish or Christian, I would ask them what are the
rules and pay respect to the rules when you enter such a holy place. You don't
want to cause a disruption in their worship. The same thing goes for Saudi
Arabia. It's not just a country for Saudi Arabians. It's the place where
Muslims from around the world--we are talking about almost two billion
people--they worship. ... And they pray five times a day towards [Mecca]. Now,
it is [felt] by the Muslims that it is being contaminated. No one wants their
church or synagogue or place of worship to be contaminated or made unclean.
So the opinion that Osama bin Laden expresses in his statement
is not a wild statement that people in general find unpalatable--that he's
opposed to US presence in Saudi Arabia. ... He's not just spouting something
that's out of his own head. This is something the people in general agree
with--that US troops should leave.
Donald Jackson, Ph.D.:
It's a widely-accepted notion.
Khalid Y. Hamideh:
... Osama bin Laden's objection is not so much to the United States presence
per se, as to the legitimacy of the present guardians of the holy places. He
would challenge the right of the Saudi government to be the guardians of the
holy places. That is his objection. ... America is ancillary to that. And he
sees America as, in effect, propping up a regime which he cannot accept. ...
... A lot of people we spoke with--I'm thinking now of the
mosque in Mombasa as well as in Dar es Salaam--they said that America's
targeting Osama bin Laden, making him public enemy number one, has turned him
into a folk hero in their communities. He's willing to stand up to the United
States. He's willing to oppose the Saudi royal family. Do you have any sense of
how this has happened and what this may mean?
Inayat Lalani, MD:
... I think it would be the greatest error on the part of the United States to
somehow capture bin Laden. Bring him here. Convict him. And either send him to
jail or hang him. Because that would really turn the Muslim world. It's
irrational. I agree with you. It shouldn't be that way. But that will be the
result if Bin Laden is made into a true martyr. ...
H. Ibrahim Salih, Ph.D.:
He's not as popular as you make him out to be. ... But [if you] continue with
your intent on capturing him, then you'll make a folk hero out of him. And then
the radicals will further rally behind an individual like him. But as far as
the Muslim community goes around the world, he's not a hero. He's not a
prophet. He's nobody. You're going to make him one, just like what we have made
When a member of community was arrested and charged in these
bombings, what was your reaction?
Khalid Y. Hamideh:
Our community's a very normal peace-loving, hard-working, tax-paying
community. Just like the Italians, the Irish, the African Americans, the
Mexican Americans. Just like everyone else. And so, when you have anyone that
you see come to a holy place and worship being accused of a crime--it's utter
disbelief. The fact that none of the evidence has come out, no true statement
of what he is being held for--what the specifics are--has really come to the
surface, still leaves us in the same utter disbelief state ... .
.. There is this assumption that this man is guilty. He hasn't been tried. The
most fundamental tenet of American law is a person is not guilty until they
have been tried...Very little proof has been proffered by the government. ...
But yet, there's this assumption that he is somehow linked with this. He has
not been convicted of anything. He's still an innocent man. ...
The Imam of the mosque is apparently under investigation, [the
story of the local Arlington Iman] so this case is going to get closer to
Syed A. Ahsani
(Former Pakistani Ambassador to the Sudan, Italy and Brazil
Visiting Professor, University of Texas, Arlington):
I have known Imam for the last ten years, after I came back from Pakistan. He
is a very nice, good person. ... He is very conservative. He is so much
engrossed in priestly activities, various religious activities ... performing
marriage ceremonies and so on, that he has hardly any time. And trying to help
others is his job. For instance, somebody is incarcerated for a lack of visa
and over stay. He asked the community to raise funds to help him to go back
home. So if this gentleman wants to talk to him on the telephone, what is the
harm? And I told the press, to raise money is a just legitimate function of the
Imam. To help this man to get out on bail. Now, what are the factors which
persuaded the judge not to allow the bail? We do not know. Maybe he had more
facts. But as Mr. Thomas Spaniola said, until he is proved guilty, he is
innocent, and he has certain rights. ...