The Right Opinion

Norquist Loses His Grip

And his stealth Islamist agenda also loses influence.

By Arnold Ahlert · Nov. 26, 2012

Anti-tax promoter Grover Norquist is losing his vice-like grip on the Republican party. The head of Americans for Tax Reform, who as recently as last year counted 238 members of the House and 41 members of the Senate among those who had signed his anti-tax pledge, has seen those numbers decline to 217 in the House, one shy of the 218 needed for a majority, and 39 in the Senate. Both totals represent an all-time low. Last Wednesday, Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) disavowed his pledge not to raise taxes, even as he acknowledged doing so could hurt his reelection chances in 2014. “I don’t worry about that because I care too much about my country,” he said. “I care a lot more about it than I do Grover Norquist.” Americans might not like seeing their taxes go up, but Grover Norquist’s fall from grace has its benefits: as he goes down, so goes his pro-Islamist agenda.

That agenda was laid bare by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) in a speech on the House floor, October 4, 2011. “My conscience has compelled me to come to the floor today to voice concerns I have with the influence Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, has on the political process in Washington,” said Wolf. “My issue is not with ATR’s goal of keeping taxes low. My concern is with the other individuals, groups, and causes with whom Mr. Norquist is associated that have nothing to do with keeping taxes low.”

Wolf mentioned Norquist’s “association and representation” of terrorist financier and vocal Hamas supporter Abdurahman Alamoudi, and terrorist financier Sami Al-Arian. In 2004, Alamoudi, one of the most prominent and influential Muslim Brothers in the United States, was sentenced to 23 years in prison for supporting terror. Alamoudi, a self-described supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah, had cultivated ties with the Clinton White House that eventually enabled him and his associates to select, train and certify Muslim chaplains for the U.S. military. Fearing a loss by Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election, Alamoudi befriended Norquist to ensure his access to senior levels of the U.S. government would be maintained, if Republicans took charge. He gave Norquist $20,000 to establish the Islamic Free Market Institute, and Alamoudi’s longtime deputy, Khaled Saffuri, became the founding director.

Norquist and Saffuri eventually became an integral part of the Bush administration’s Muslim outreach efforts during the 2000 campaign, with Saffuri named as Muslim Outreach Coordinator. During that campaign, Bush was also introduced to Sami Al-Arian. In 2006, Al-Arian was sentenced to 57 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to provide support to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

Wolf illuminated the bigger picture of that relationship, noting that Norquist was an “outspoken supporter of Al-Arian’s effort to end the use of classified evidence in terror trials." Al-Arian ran the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom (NCPPF), and Norquist supported their efforts to weaken or repeal the Patriot Act as well, despite the terrorist atrocities perpetrated on 9/11. Wolf also revealed that Norquist "was scheduled to lead a delegation to the White House on September 11, 2001, that included a convicted felon and some who would later be identified by federal law enforcement as suspected terrorist financiers.” One of the members of that delegation was Omar Ahmed, co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR was named an un-indicted co-conspirator when the Holy Land Foundation was convicted of sending million of dollars in funding to Hamas and other Islamic terrorist organizations.

Another relationship Norquist cultivated was with Suhail Khan, who has ties to a variety of Islamist movements. Khan’s father, the late Mahboob Khan, was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and one of the founders of the Muslim Students Association (MSA), whose anti-Semitic activities at American colleges has been documented on numerous occasions by FrontPage, including their latest attempt to organize a divestment campaign against Israel at the University of California, Irvine.

In 2007, Norquist promoted Suhail Khan’s candidacy for election to the American Conservative Union’s (ACU) board of directors. He was subsequently appointed. In 2012, at an irregular meeting of that organization, the board voted to dismiss accusations made against both him and Norquist by Frank Gaffney, head of the Center for Security Policy and a former defense official in the Reagan administration. Gaffney has been hammered by the ACU and others for suggesting that the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood reached the highest levels of the U.S. government, despite the reality that it was Gaffney who drew attention to Abdurahman Alamoudi and Sami Al-Arian, both of whom ended up as convicted felons for their terrorist activity. Yet it is Gaffney’s credibility that has been called into question for daring to draw attention to Norquist’s unseemly activity.

Wolf also pointed out that Norquist was “an outspoken advocate for moving Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States,” and “led a public campaign to undermine Republican-led efforts to block the Obama Administration’s transfer of 9/11 mastermind Khaled Sheik Mohammed to New York City” in 2009. In 2010, Norquist inserted himself into the Ground Zero Mosque controversy, which he characterized as a “Monica Lewinsky ploy,” distracting from the core Republican message heading into the 2010 elections. Yet according to Wolf, Norquist “used Americans for Tax Reform to circulate a petition in support of the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’” completely undermining his own contention that the issue was a distraction.

For years, Grover Norquist’s reputation as a staunch anti-tax advocate has overshadowed his dubious associations with Islamists, and anyone who has dared to criticize him for those associations has drawn rebuke from both sides of the aisle. Thus, it is more than a little ironic that his ability to influence Republicans with respect to taxes is waning, even as Islamists, most notably Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, who are attempting to establish a dictatorship in Egypt, are becoming ever more powerful.

Sen. Chambliss isn’t the only Republican distancing himself from Norquist. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-OH) has referred to him as “some random person.” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) noted that “fewer and fewer people are signing this, quote, pledge.” Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK.) called the pledge a “tortured vision of tax purity.” House newcomer Rep. Ted Yoho, (R-FL), who declined to sign the pledge, was sarcastic. “I’ll pledge allegiance to the flag. I’ll pledge to be faithful to my wife,” he quipped.

Yet it was Rep. Peter King (R-NY) who best summed up the growing rebellion. “A pledge is good at the time you sign it,” he said. “In 1941, I would have voted to declare war on Japan. But each Congress is a new Congress. And I don’t think you can have a rule that you’re never going to raise taxes or that you’re never going to lower taxes. I don’t want to rule anything out.”

Republicans can resist raising taxes without signing a pledge, should they choose to do so for the good of the nation. Yet without the pledge Grover Norquist has long wielded like a hammer, his leverage among Republicans is precipitously diminished. Considering his dubious ties to Islamists and their agenda, that’s more than a reasonable tradeoff.

Arnold Ahlert is a columnist for FrontPage Magazine.