As we have seen from recent events in Paris, Brussels and all across the world, terrorism is not an obscure phenomenon that only affects the Middle East. And no longer can Americans ignore the threat of terrorism as primarily a European problem. Although attacks in the United States are less frequent, in part because of our distance from the region, increasingly, leaders associated with terrorist groups are now finding their way onto American soil.
Not only must we be concerned about terrorist cells hiding in communities around the United States, but also we should worry about domestic Muslim organizations, such as the Islamic Society of Wichita, providing an outlet for terrorist recruitment and incitement. These very groups that seek to cause us harm now have a place to spread their hateful rhetoric in the U.S.
In one particular instance, the ISW invited Sheikh Monzer Taleb, who reportedly has ties to Hamas, to speak at a fundraising event. Hamas is a Palestinian Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist organization of which Taleb is a member. Hamas, which gained international notoriety for unleashing suicide terrorism against Israelis, advocates for the complete destruction of the Jewish state.
Taleb is recorded on video affirming his allegiance to Hamas, which murdered scores of innocents and has long been deemed a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. As stated in a press release released by the office of Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas), whose district includes the ISW, Talib was named a co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism finance case, in which millions of American dollars were funneled to Hamas.
What is most troubling about this Taleb situation is that the ISW apparently does not find his Hamas affiliation problematic. In fact, the ISW likely would not have cancelled his appearance were it not for Pompeo’s vehement and vocal opposition.
At the core of our democratic society is free speech, an ideal that traces its origins all the way back to ancient Athens. It is a cornerstone of our society and one of the markers of the land of the free. It is disturbingly ironic that ISW has taken this perennial symbol of American freedom and twisted it into a pulpit for hatred and oppression. After all, free speech is nonexistent in terrorist society.
We cannot permit radical jihadists to utilize our most sacred values to support their perverse outlook. We cannot welcome them into our country and give them a microphone to spread their hateful vitriol.
Proponents of this radical Islamist mindset view the West as a “kurrfars,” or infidels who aren’t worthy of life unless they submit themselves to Islam. We must take back our freedom of speech and use it to shed light upon and denounce this vulgar hatred.
We simply must not allow freedom of speech to be used against America to recruit new adherents to the warped ideology of terrorism. There is no easy way around this. We need to defend our Constitutional right to speech—yes, even speech we find detestable—but we also must protect our nation and our people from the scourge of terrorism.
In Wichita, we see another case in which a line may have been crossed. Just as you cannot yell “fire” in a crowded theater, terrorists should not have the right to exploit our democratic society for their macabre gain.
There is a great deal to be learned from what is happening in Europe today. In many ways, their societies have been more open than ours for years, if not as welcoming to immigrants from Muslim lands.
Most Muslims in America may be good citizens who renounce violence. But organizations like ISW, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Holy Land Foundation have proved themselves terrorist sympathizers at best and terrorist co-conspirators at worst. If we cannot find a way to cut off the radical indoctrination these organizations espouse, then we could be facing a bloody future that looks more and more like Europe in 2016.
Williams is a national syndicated columnist and sole owner/Manager, Howard Stirk Holdings, LLC TV.