Tag Archive for: Deborah Weiss

Interview with a 9/11 survivor: ‘We are not immune from attack on U.S. soil!’ (+Video)

The jihad attack that took the lives of 2,996 Americans and foreigners on 9/11 was perpetrated by 19 middle class Egyptians, Saudis and Yemenis. This dastardly act by Al Qaeda (AQ) Islamic terrorists destroyed an iconic landmark of American International economic prowess, the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Another plane took out one side of the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia and another crashed into a rural area near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The last recorded voice heard from Flight 93 was “allahu akbar” – their god Allah was “the greatest.” This was the first act of Islamic terrorism perpetrated from afar on America.  9/11 was called the “Pearl Harbor of the 21st Century.”

9/11 was followed over the past 13 years by other AQ- inspired acts of jihad terrorism in the US, two of which killed American service personnel in Little Rock and Fort Hood. Dozens of AQ-inspired attempts were foiled in Detroit, Times Square and other locations across the country. As of early 2014, 6,802 American service personnel and an estimated 6,800 contractors died in both the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts fighting AQ and Taliban jihadists.

The West and the world were unprepared when 9/11 occurred, although many warnings had been given.

The 9/11 warnings still have not been heeded. On August 19, 2014, the Islamic State (IS), formerly ISIS, released a “Message to America” – a video of the gruesome barbaric beheading of intrepid American photo journalist Jim Foley of Rochester, New Hampshire. He was captured in November 2012 by radical elements of the Free Syrian Army who contributed their captive to the extremist Salafist jihadi group, ISIS. ISIS is rumored to hold several other Americans captive, among them, journalist Steven Joel Sotloff was featured in the same video.

IS threatens the Levant from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf, the West and even the US. The 13th commemoration of 9/11 finds us no safer, perhaps unprepared to deal with this supremacist jihadist threat.

On the occasion of this 13th Commemoration of 9/11, we interviewed a survivor of that attack in lower Manhattan; Deborah Weiss, Esq. Ms. Weiss heads Vigilancenow.org.  She formerly worked for the Committee on House Oversight in Congress; the Forbes for President Campaign in 1995-96; and served as an attorney in New York under the Giuliani administration. Her articles have also been published in FrontPage Magazine, American Thinker, American Security Council Foundation, the Weekly Standard, Washington Times, and National Review Online. She is the co-author of Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamist Terrorist Network (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011). She is the principal researcher and writer of Council on American-Islamic Relations: Its Use of Language and Intimidation.

Watch this You Tube video of Deborah Weiss presenting at the Westminster Institute in August 2013:

Jerry Gordon, Senior Editor New English Review

Jerry Gordon:  Deborah Weiss, thank you for consenting to this interview.

Deborah Weiss, Esq.

Deborah Weiss:  Thank you for inviting me.

Gordon:  You are a 9/11 Survivor. Where were you when the terrorist attack occurred?

Weiss:  I was running late for work or I would have been inside the WTC. Instead, because it was Election Day for the mayoral primary, I was still in my apartment at Gateway Plaza, the closest residence to the WTC. I was getting ready for work and all of a sudden, I heard a really loud noise, like nothing I’ve ever heard before. I couldn’t figure out what it was. It sounded like my upstairs neighbor’s furniture was falling down. I also heard people screaming outside, but I’m not a morning person and NYC can be noisy, so at first, I didn’t bother to look out the window. I turned on the radio and found out that a plane had hit the WTC, so I turned on the TV. A little while later, I heard another noise, even louder than the first one. I knew then that the first plane wasn’t an accident, but that these were terrorist attacks. The lights in my apartment flickered and then went out. The building started to shake and I fell to the floor. I knew I had to get out of there and it was pretty scary. I made the decision to take my cat. So I went inside the closet to get her box and when I came out, I couldn’t see anything outside my window except pitch black. I had a huge window facing away from the WTC. I remember it was a beautiful sunny Tuesday morning. Just a bit earlier I had looked out and saw the sun and the leaves of a tree pressing against my window. The window was very wide and covered the whole side of my living room. Yet, after I got up, I couldn’t see one ray of light. Part of what makes it so scary when you’re in the midst of it is you don’t know what’s happening. People in other parts of the world know more of what is going on than you do. I thought we were getting bombed. All you really know in that situation is someone is trying to kill everyone around you and something really, really bad is happening and that you might not get out alive.

I dug my nails into my cat, threw her into her box and ran down the stairs. In the lobby, a lot of people were entering our building from the WTC side. They were covered in white with red eyes. Smoke started coming in and it became increasingly difficult to breathe. Along with some others, I entered a back apartment on the ground level and sat down on the floor. I remember one woman there with tears in her eyes holding her newborn twins, one in each arm. We couldn’t exit the back door of the building because it was locked. Finally, they unlocked it and a lot of people fled. I had learned that all the dust I saw was from the collapse of the first tower. Because there was no plan and nowhere to run, a few of us decided to stay put. Then, all of a sudden, a police officer came to the apartment and started screaming hysterically for us all to leave NOW! I ran out the door and knew immediately that we were at war. Everything was covered in white: the trees, the streets and the benches. I ran along the water. Looking backwards, I saw the remaining tower burning and tilting in my direction. Suddenly, a Coast Guard rescue ferry appeared and approximately 15 of us jumped on. Moments later, when we were a yard or two out, the second building collapsed. We all said a prayer for those who had just died. We were taken to a triage center in NJ, where we sat all day listening to radio updates. All the phones were out because the transmitters were in the WTC. So it was awhile before you could reach anyone by phone. Once you could, all the hotels were quickly filled up.

I was fortunate in that I wound up meeting a nice young woman whose mother had come to get her. Her mom took me and her daughter’s roommate home with her. She gave us clean clothes, food, and a place to sleep. I was very grateful. It became clear in the coming days that I was not going to be able to go back home or to work any time soon as both my apartment and office were in the inner zone of Ground Zero. It was hard to get information since we couldn’t call the premises. I had to listen to TV updates to find out the status of my home and office.

In the end, I was homeless for two months, hopping from couch to couch, a week here and a week there until I finally put money on a new apartment uptown. For a year, I had to deal with FEMA and other agencies, get hazardous waste cleaners, and throw out my new couch, chair, and bed. Amidst all that, I had to pack whatever I had left in order to move. We had to wear masks and sign a liability release to enter our apartments and get our belongings. At work, my office had a whole wall blown off. The contamination required the office to replace all its carpets, computers and other equipment. We were displaced and dispersed for 8 months.

Gordon:  Describe what it was like in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

Weiss:  A lot of people don’t realize how large the scope of the attack was. It wasn’t just two WTC buildings; all 7 buildings collapsed. And within a two mile radius, buildings had windows bashed in, walls that fell down, computers shooting outside, and the streets covered in white.

When I returned to get my belongings, a really high fence had been erected and the vicinity was divided into 3 zones. There were military tanks on the street with camouflaged guards. ID was required to determine which zones you could enter. The whole area was silent.  It was a ghost town. The few people on the streets wore masks and had tears in their eyes. It didn’t look like America. It was very eerie. Subsequently, spontaneous memorials sprang up, with teddy bears, photos, love letters and flowers. Grown men stood by the memorials and cried. This was a daily thing for at least a year. If you worked in the area, there was no escaping it. It was like being in a war zone.

Gordon:  How did 9/11 change the course of your professional career?

Weiss:  In the beginning, there wasn’t a real change and I continued to work as an attorney in NYC. The main difference was that our office was dislocated and a lot farther away and it was rather hard to concentrate for many of us that were at the scene of the attack. Our office, which consisted of an entire building, had to separate different departments into different buildings and even different boroughs. When we finally moved back to the original location, we had to pass the WTC site on a daily basis. It was very hard. At first, they were employing rescue efforts. But after awhile, they realized there was nobody else left alive, so they started searching for dead bodies. It was like passing a morgue every day. We could still smell the stench, and the smoke which burned for months. They also had a helicopter regularly flying over the Ground Zero site. Our office secured psychotherapists and held group sessions to inform us about the symptoms of PTSD and also offer private therapy sessions, which were paid for by the NYC Crime Victims office and Red Cross. There were several people in our office who had been on the way to work and were frozen in front of the WTC, watching the people jump. They were very traumatized. It wasn’t until I moved to Washington and started exploring why the 9/11 hijackers wanted to murder US citizens did I start to understand that it wasn’t just a few crazy guys who wanted to kill us. I learned that there is an entire movement or movements that want Sharia law on a worldwide scale. Indeed, my conclusion after years of research was that what I call “non-violent radical Islam” for lack of a better term, really poses more of a threat to freedom and western civilization than terrorism. Terrorism is a tactic; it’s the last step in the process. But the goal is Sharia law and in fact, some groups don’t believe in achieving it through violent means as it brings too much attention. So there are many groups that have this same goal, but work to achieve it through peaceable, often even legal means. This is much more insidious because it often goes unnoticed, so they are better able to achieve their goals gradually and incrementally. Once I was convinced that such a movement existed, I felt I had to do something to raise awareness because if you are not aware of a threat you are powerless to combat it. I didn’t want to be like a non-Nazi German, standing idly on the sidelines. So I began writing, speaking, and teaching on the subject, with a special emphasis on Islamist stifling of free speech and its consequences. I gained an expertise in the concept of “combatting defamation of religions” and have written extensively about it, particularly as it is being pursued and implemented by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and CAIR. I wrote a chapter in the book titled, Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network and I was the primary writer and researcher for the book, Council on American Islamic Relations: Its Use of Lawfare and Intimidation. I also am a frequent contributor to many online publications on the subject and speak nationally to various organizations.

Gordon:  When the national 9/11 memorial museum opened in lower Manhattan, did you visit it and what were your impressions and emotions?

Weiss:  Yes, it was very tastefully done. I thought it was thorough and I was surprised by its objectivity. As you might have heard, there was great controversy regarding a short documentary included in the museum about the rise of Al-Qaeda. Many liberal clergy in NYC objected to the use of the words “jihad” and “Islamist” in the film, though Al-Qaeda itself used that language. Nobody challenged the accuracy of the film, but many wanted to turn the film into a statement on Islam, and a politically correct statement at that. But the film was not intended to be commentary on Islam. It was intended to tell the history of Al-Qaeda, and its goals and motivations. To its credit and to my surprise, the museum stood by the film and refused to change it. The museum had many different sections, so if you go, plan in advance to determine what you want to see. I was there for 8 hours and still did not see everything. There were sections on the structure of the building, which I skipped, but also a room where they discussed a little about each person killed, they had totaled vehicles, remnants from survivors, the controversial cross of course, and the last column standing and even a semi-demolished staircase from inside the World Trade Center. They also showed footage pertaining to the US’ invasion of Iraq as well as those who supported it and protestors against it. I felt that generally, the museum did not comment or take a side on any of these issues but just objectively portrayed both sides of the story. They did an excellent job and I would recommend it to anyone visiting the city.

Gordon:  What do you believe are the important lessons to be learned from 9/11?

Weiss:  The most important lesson we learned from this is that we are not immune from attack on US soil, as I think many previously believed. Second, we have enemies that pose a real threat to American freedom and security and we had better take them seriously. Additionally, we need to understand the goals and motivational ideology of Islamists and address these in their early stages if we want to prevent future attacks rather than merely clean up after-the-fact.

Finally, I think it’s a big mistake to focus only on the violent aspects of Islamism. Many talk about “peace” as though non-violence is the end goal. But the goal should be to retain our freedom, through whatever means necessary and not to surrender just to have “peace” without freedom. This is another reason that Islamist ideology needs to be understood, so that we can also address it on political, educational, and legislative fronts, not just as a military issue. We had forefathers that believed in freedom and believed it was worth dying for. Now that we have it, we have to be vigilant to ensure that we don’t let it slip away.

Gordon:  Have these lessons been reflected in national security and counterterrorism policies following the recommendations of both the 9/11 Commission Report and its recent 2014 update?

Weiss:  Some of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations have been implemented and some have not. There has been an increase in communication between the FBI and the CIA; there has been the creation of the NCTC and the Department of Homeland Security; there’s been a dramatic increase in Airport and seaport security, and many of Al-Qaeda’s top leaders have been captured and/or killed. But cyber security threats and emerging threats, especially in the Middle East, are still underfunded, and our military budget is being cut. Additionally, our porous borders have not been sealed, as we’ve seen with the recent influx of illegal immigrants. And, we have failed to tighten up sources of identification so that we know who is in the US.

However, where we are really falling short is on clearly defining the threat, addressing the ideological underpinnings of Islamist terrorism, and adequately training those in intelligence, law enforcement and national security on the goals, strategies and motivations of Islamists. This is really a huge problem and in fact, we are moving in the wrong direction in this regard.

Gordon:  Can you give some examples of how both the Bush and Obama Administrations have censored language regarding Islamic Jihad war doctrine and changed their national security policies to align with this censorship?

Weiss:  Certainly. The censorship started under the Bush Administration, but got noticeably more flagrant under the current Administration. At the urging of groups like CAIR, Bush started censoring his language regarding Islam, presumably not to offend Muslims. During his term, the Department of Homeland Security issued an advisory memo to its employees, discouraging them from using words like “jihad,” “Islamist,” or anything related to Islam. He also censored himself in public speeches. This is the exact opposite of what the 9/11 Commission report recommended. Under the Obama Administration, things have gotten exponentially worse. On his watch, all federal agencies have totally purged any mention of Islam-related language. Programs designed to train national security and counterterrorism experts have been rewritten to exclude any training about Islamism or Islamic terrorism. Some of the agencies have gone as far as to purposely teach their professionals to focus on terrorist behavior, (which is merely a symptom), and “delink it” from the underlying ideology that motivates it. Agencies that have rewritten their training programs include the FBI, DHS, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), State Department, CIA and others. At least Bush asserted in the National Security Strategy Memo, the document that guides all the U.S.’ national security strategies, that “militant Islamic radicalism is the greatest ideological conflict of the 21st century.” But under the Obama Administration, that phrase was deleted and all mention of anything Islam-related is strictly verboten. Instead, the Obama Administration teamed up with the OIC and CAIR on a number of fronts. He has turned a blind eye to Islamist supremacism, to Islamist goals, and to Islamist ideology. The stance on censorship that this Administration has taken, has not only changed the national security lexicon, but has changed what the Administration can talk about. The focus is away from Islamic terrorism and its motivating ideology, which should obviously be our main concern. Now, we collaborate with Islamist nations to discuss issues like the environment, poverty and education, while ignoring the human rights violations, oppression and violence spawned by the ideology this Administration refuses to discuss, or even acknowledge.

Gordon:  Can you tell us a little more about the Administration’s relationship with the OIC?

Weiss:  The two main Islamist groups that the Obama Administration has worked with are the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and CAIR, though there are others as well.

The OIC constitutes the largest voting bloc in the UN so it has quite a lot of power. It holds itself out as a moderate organization, but in fact is an Islamist supremacist group whose long term vision is worldwide Sharia law. One of the OIC’s main goals in the international criminalization of all speech that is critical of anything Islam-related, including Islamic terrorism. The OIC does not engage in violence directly, but instead uses UN resolutions, international “consensus building” and multilateral conferences in order to achieve its goals. It is a mastermind at language manipulation, using words that are palatable to the West but employing different meanings. Those who are naïve wrongly believe the OIC and the West have a meeting of the minds. The OIC basically wants Islamic blasphemy laws in the West. But if it came out and stated so, nobody would listen. Instead, the OIC asserts that we should have “responsible speech” or “sensitive speech” or “respectful speech.” In each case, what they really mean is censorship. The Bush Administration appointed the first envoy to the OIC, thinking we could engage with the Muslim world. In fact, to date, all of our engagement has amounted to nothing more than capitulation as we have ever tightening self-censorship and censorship as a matter of policy, rather than persuading the OIC countries to be freer and comply with human rights standards. Under the Obama Administration, former Secretary Hillary Clinton actual held the first international conference to “implement” the infamous Resolution 16/18, which is something not normally done for UN resolutions. This started a series of conferences and collaborations with the OIC, resulting in US policies aimed at censoring language regarding our Islamist ideological enemy. The Administration has also teamed up with OIC countries in other areas, such as the formation of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, which excludes Israel and fights a “terrorism” it can’t define, since the OIC countries refuse to define terrorism to include anything that allows Israel to defend herself.

The OIC’s concept of “combatting defamation of Islam” has severe repercussions on freedom of speech, freedom of religion, human rights and national security. America should not be aligning with the OIC, which includes some of the most egregious human rights oppressors in the world. Instead, we should be holding ourselves out as a role model for freedom, human rights and equality.

Gordon:  You were the primary writer and researcher on a book titled, Council of American-Islamic Relations: its Use of Lawfare and Intimidation. What is CAIR and its agenda?

Weiss:  CAIR holds itself out as a Muslim Civil Rights organization, but in reality it is a Muslim Brotherhood front group, spawned out of Hamas and the Islamic Association of Palestine, which are terrorist organizations. CAIR is basically Hamas’ propaganda wing located in America and Canada. It was also an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial, the largest terror-financing trial in the history of the United States. CAIR appears to have three main goals. The first is to censor all criticism of anything related to Islam including Islamic terrorism and human rights violations committed in the name of Islam. The second is to Islamize the workplace. It does this partly by filing EEOC claims on behalf of clients demanding special preferences not given to other religions. For example, it often demands special prayer break times for Muslims, longer breaks, the on-site provision of a prayer room, and exemptions from various company policies. Third, CAIR works hard to hamper national security in a number of ways including tying up government resources by filing endless FOIA requests and requesting “investigations” of anyone investigating Islamic supremacist groups or individuals that might pose a threat to US national security interests. Ultimately, CAIR, like other Islamist supremacist groups would like to see the implementation of Sharia law in the West.

Gordon:  Who funds CAIR and why has the US government allowed CAIR to function as a non-profit organization under the guise of legitimacy?

Weiss:  Because CAIR is incorporated as a non-profit organization, it is not required to make its donors public.  It should be mentioned that CAIR is not one legal entity, but has numerous chapters that are all separately incorporated, though they often work together with interlocking and overlapping staff and goals. CAIR claims that it has approximately 50,000 members and obtains its funding from member donors. However, the evidence is that CAIR membership is significantly lower. And, in recent years, CAIR has had numerous large donations, often from abroad. For example, CAIR has received large donations from Prince Talal of Saudi Arabia, The Islamic Development Bank based in Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Hamden bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, and even indirect funds from the OIC, funneled through Georgetown University. CAIR is permitted to function as a non-profit because in order to outlaw CAIR and groups like it, the US would have to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. To date, the US has not done that. Recently, Egypt has officially named the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. Now would be an ideal time for the US to do the same. Additionally, because CAIR has foreign funding and works closely with foreign entities, it should be required to register as a foreign lobbying agent.

Gordon:  Tell us about the US government’s relationship to CAIR.

Weiss:  For awhile, the Bush Administration worked with CAIR until it realized CAIR’s direct and indirect ties to terrorist organizations. Then, the FBI officially cut off all ties with CAIR. Unfortunately, under the Obama Administration, the relationship with CAIR has been slowly creeping back, even if it’s not official or made public. The Obama Administration has consulted with CAIR, MPAC and other Muslim Brotherhood front groups for “advice” and “community outreach” on a range of matters regarding national security, terrorism and homeland security.

The current Administration has also hired a number of individuals with associations to CAIR, ISNA, and MPAC for a variety of diplomatic and national security posts. These organizations believe in an ideology that is in direct opposition to the values espoused in the US Constitution. We should not be placing affiliates in sensitive government positions.

Gordon:  Can you give us some examples of CAIR’s tactics employed in its lawfare and intimidation campaign? Has CAIR been effective in achieving its objectives?

Weiss:  CAIR employs a myriad of tactics to silence people and get its desired results. Some of these include frivolous lawsuits to bleed dry the target, pressuring organizations to cancel speakers, name-calling, false accusations of “bigotry” or “Islamophobia,” smearing the reputations of individuals and organizations, harassment, company-wide boycotts, veiled threats and intimidation. CAIR has a wide range of targets including public speakers, politicians, prayer leaders, corporations, film producers, cartoonists and even clothing designers. Their intimidation, threats and lawsuits often include demands for silencing speech, product recalls from the market, requiring companies to have “sensitivity training,” donate money to mosques, and make public apologies. Unfortunately, CAIR has been very successful is achieving its goals. Many individuals capitulate because they simply don’t have the funds to fight a lawsuit, for example. Companies cave in because at a certain point, they either can’t get business done due to the interference or bad publicity, or the threats are so great that they are afraid their business will have to shut down. Government, on the other hand, simply has no excuse for caving in to groups like CAIR. At a minimum, our government and law enforcement should stop working with them and capitulating to their censorship demands, giving them the cover of legitimacy.

Gordon:  Al Qaeda perpetrated the 9/11 attacks, but it has now been eclipsed by the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS. IS has declared itself to be the Caliph over conquered areas of Syria and Iraq. Does ISIS represent a potential threat to the US? How is the IS different from other terrorist organizations and why has it been so successful?

Weiss:  The Islamic State is absolutely a threat to the US. When the US pulled out of Iraq prematurely, it created a vacuum. Nature abhors a vacuum and IS came to fill the space created. It is a big mistake to think that any jihadist terrorist group is only a threat abroad, but it is especially a mistake when the group threatens US interests or, as in the case of the IS, makes direct threats to the United States. Recently, addressing the United States via Twitter, the IS asserted that it will “drown us” in blood, and that eventually, the US will “disappear” at the hands of the Caliphate. Subsequently, it beheaded an American journalist. We have to take it seriously. IS is unlike other terrorist organizations we have witnessed. It is the most well-funded, well-staffed, and heartless terrorist organization to date. Reportedly, it has about 2 billion dollars and over 10,000 fighters from all over the world. It is organized, ideological, and goal-oriented. IS does not consist of isolated terror cells, but is a large movement, with a sophisticated marketing and recruiting campaign that attracts jihadists from around the world. And while its immediate goal is to take over power in Iraq and Syria, and then next in other parts of the Middle East, if it accomplishes that, it will not stop there. This is a battle between freedom and tyranny and we must not sit by passively. At the same time, it’s probably false that the IS is the most immediate or greatest terror threat to the U.S. We shouldn’t forget about Iran, which this Administration seems not to take seriously. The Obama Administration appears to have aligned with Iran on numerous fronts, and to engage and negotiate with them, to the point where Iran believes, and correctly so, that it has the upper hand. For example, America stood by and said nothing during the Green Revolution, when freedom fighters were dying on the streets of Iran. We should have made a clear statement in their support and perhaps found a way to provide some of them with assistance. The only point, on which the US tried to override Iran’s objectives, was in the nuclear negotiations, and most experts believe that the talks were a failure, merely allowing Iran to buy time. There are other areas in which we failed to stand up to Iran as well. When this happens, the Sunni Gulf States including Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar, see this and realize that America is not their friend. This Administration’s foreign policy seems to be the appeasement of American enemies and the abandonment of our allies. It’s not good for America, it’s not good for the world and it’s certainly not good for the cause of freedom.

Gordon:  This fall, the House Select Committee on Benghazi begins its investigation under Chairman, South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy. Given what has been revealed to date about the events of 9/11/12, what might be the outcome of this committee’s investigation?

Weiss:  I hope the committee will be able to get to the bottom of the events that transpired on 9/11/12. We all know by now that the attack on our embassy in Libya was a terrorist attack committed by an Al-Qaeda affiliate and not a “spontaneous uprising” as the Obama Administration originally claimed. So the job for the Select Committee is to determine exactly what was happening on the ground on that fateful day, and to uncover the truth about why Ambassador Stevens and his cohorts were not sent help when they seemed to have asked for it repeatedly. Additionally, the Committee should find out why the truth of the facts regarding that day were covered up and who initiated the talking points about the so-called “anti-Islam video.” I think it’s important to point out that by perpetrating this falsehood; the Administration killed two birds with one stone so-to-speak. First, it mislead the public about the truth of what transpired at Benghazi at a minimum, to hide its failed foreign policies, and second, it conveyed to the Muslim world that America won’t “defame Islam.” Instead, America should have been standing up as a shining example of freedom of speech. In an ideal world, there would be appropriate firings and perhaps a prosecution or two as a result of the committee’s findings. However, I think we are witnessing the most politicized Department of Justice that we have seen in the history of our country. This Administration seems to believe it has the authority to pick and choose which laws it will uphold and which it will disregard. Unfortunately, no matter what findings of fact the Select Committee uncovers, I think there is a reasonable chance that appropriate legal action will not follow since that determination rests in the hands of Attorney General Eric Holder, who has shown himself to be a real partisan even while acting with the title of highest prosecutor of the land. It is imperative that the American public realize the importance of the rule of law, and understand that we are supposed to be a nation of laws, not men. I hope people will keep that in mind during the next election.

Gordon:  As a 9/11 survivor do you believe that this country is more secure against possible jihadist attacks on this 13th commemoration?

Weiss:  Unfortunately, 13 years after 9/11, I have to say that I think our country is less safe than it was before. We are witnessing the proliferation of Islamist groups all around the world. In part because America stood idly by while Iranians bled in the streets protesting their Islamist regime and we said nothing to support them. That regime is still in power and cracking down on freedom more than it was before the protests. Because America pulled out of Iraq prematurely, it created a vacuum that was filled by the IS, a threat not only to the Middle East but to the west as well. We have seen the proliferation of Al-Qaeda affiliates, Al-Shabab and others, the virtual genocide of Christians in the Middle East including crucifixions and the beheading of children; Jews are fleeing Europe as anti-Semitism, largely from Islamist immigrants, is the highest it’s been since WWII; we see Israel, while fighting the same enemy (Islamism) that America is fighting, being criticized and demonized merely for defending herself. And of course, in Sudan and other parts of Africa, Christians are also in an existential struggle.

We cannot continue to view these wars as a series of separate wars. That is not how the enemy views it. Instead, it is one war, fought on different fronts. The war that Israel fights with Hamas is the same war that America is in with Al-Qaeda, is the same war that Iraq is in with the IS. It is Islamist ideology in pursuit of a Caliphate and worldwide Sharia law versus freedom, equality and human rights. It’s easy to be complacent when we live in a relatively secure country and people are busy with their jobs and families. But if we want to pass on that freedom for generations to come, we had better wake up before it’s too late. 9/11 wasn’t the first day our enemies were fighting us and it wasn’t the last. We need to be vigilant if we want to keep America free.

Gordon:  Deborah Weiss thank you for this engrossing and comprehensive interview.

Weiss:  My pleasure.

EDITORS NOTE: This interview originally appeared in the New English Review.

9/11 Museum Refuses to Censor Al-Qaeda Film

Deborah Weiss, Esq. is a regular contributor to FrontPage Magazine and the Washington Times. She is a contributing author to “Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network” and the primary writer and researcher for “Council on American Islamic Relations: Its Use of Lawfare and Intimidation”.  Ms. Weiss is also a 9/11 Survivor.  Her thoughts on the controversy reflect her unique views and expertise.  This article was originally published in Front Page Magazine.  We had posted on the controversy surrounding the seven minute film, The Rise of Al Qaeda in  an Iconoclast post, “Denying the Truth of Islamic Terrorism in the National 9/11 Memorial Museum Film”.   The 9/11 Memorial Museum opened yesterday in Manhattan.

Read this AP report of the emotions and remarks of survivors and families at the opening ceremonies for the 9/11 Museum. Among them was someone we have met, conferred and interviewed, David Beamer,. His son Todd was a Passenger on Flight 9/11, one of 43 on board the aircraft that fateful day, who valiantly undertook the first counter attack against the Al Qaeda jihadis to the cry of “let’s roll”. Beamer contributed  to the 9/11 Museum his late son’s watch recovered in the field of debris in Southwestern Pennsylvania with the time of impact sealed forever.

Amidst a barrage of controversy and criticism, the 9/11 museum officials stand firm in their decision to air a documentary on Al-Qaeda without censorship of Islam-related language.

The 911 Museum will open to the public on May 21, 2014, with a preview period for 9/11 families and survivors from May 15, 2014 to May 20, 2014.

Included is a 7-minute documentary titled, “[T]he Rise of Al-Qaeda.” It shows footage of Al-Qaeda’s journey over the prior several years on the way to 9/11, from its training camps to a series of terrorist attacks.  The film will be adjacent to a room displaying photos of the 9/11 hijackers.

The film portrays the 9/11 hijackers as “Islamists” who viewed their mission as a “deadly jihad.” After all, in the words of the hijackers: “[M]any thanks to Allah for his kind gesture and choosing us to perform the act of jihad for his cause and to defend Islam and Muslims.”  So, it was the hijackers themselves that believed they were on a jihadi mission for the cause of Islam.

The film has been thoroughly vetted and its accuracy is not in dispute.  But an advisory panel of interfaith clergy who previewed the film is complaining about the use of the words “Islamist” and “jihad,” insisting that the jihadists should be shown in a greater “context” that portrays most Muslims as peaceful.

Reverend Chloe Breyer (Justice Breyer’s daughter), who preaches at Saint Philips Church in Harlem, wants the video to show Islam as a peace-loving religion where only a few outliers like the 9/11 hijackers are violent.  She believes that the word “jihad” is an Islamic struggle to do good and that the film in its current form may justify bigotry or violence unless accompanied by a disclaimer.

Sheikh Mostafa Elazabawy, the only Imam on the advisory panel, made a splash when he quit the panel in response to the film, stating that “unsophisticated visitors who don’t understand the difference between Al-Qaeda and Muslims may come away with a prejudiced view of Islam, leading toward antagonism and even confrontation toward Muslim believers near the site.”  He went on to say that “the screening of the film in its present state would greatly offend our local Muslim believers as well as any foreign Muslim visitor to the museum.”

Akbar Ahmed, Chair of Islamic Studies at American University, protested that most museum visitors will assume that the language refers to all Muslims. He argues that one shouldn’t associate the terrorists with their religion because doing so implicates 1.5 billion Muslims by association.

John Esposito, an apologist for Islam at the Saudi-funded Prince Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, generally prefers the phrase “Muslim terrorism” to “Islamic terrorism” in order to dissociate the motivating ideology from the terrorist behavior, and instead give the impression that the terrorist conduct is just coincidently committed by Muslims.

Others want the museum to go out of its way to show Muslims mourning over the 9/11 attacks to “balance out” images of Islam.  Ibrahim Hooper, spokesperson for CAIR, a group which holds itself out as a Muslim civil rights organization but which in reality has many terrorist ties of its own, insisted that the film will reinforce “stereotypes” of Muslims as terrorists.  He emphasized: “it’s very important how Islam is portrayed.”

But the film is not about Islam.  The purpose of the museum is to educate the public on the events of 9/11, including who committed it and what their motivation was.  The focus should be on the atrocity that murdered almost 3000 people in cold blood, not a PC version of feel-good Islam.

Joseph Daniels, the museum’s Executive Director, said that museum officials “stand by the scholarship that underlies the creation of this video.”  NBC News Anchor, Brian Williams, who narrates the film explained, “[w]e have a heavy responsibility to be true to the facts, to be objective.”  He asserted that the film in no way smears a whole religion, but instead talks about Al-Qaeda, a terrorist group.  And, the film clearly acknowledges that Muslims were among the 9/11 victims, mourners, and recovery workers.

So the issue is how the terrorists are characterized and whether the public can discern the difference between Al-Qaeda and those who identify themselves as Muslim but are peaceful and law-abiding.

First, it is a fact that Al-Qaeda’s interpretation of Islam motivated the 9/11 attacks.  To say that acknowledging Al-Qaeda’s motivational ideology indicts 1.5 billion Muslims is to say that all 1.5 billion Muslims agree with Al-Qaeda’s interpretation of Islam.  If they do, they should be indicted. If they don’t, they shouldn’t be offended because the statements don’t apply to them.

Second, it’s unlikely that the Imam on the advisory panel speaks for all local and foreign Muslims, whom he claims to know will all be offended.  If all Muslims should be painted with this broad brush, then the offense is deserved.  If they are not a monolith, they shouldn’t be offended. On the contrary, they should be insulted that some unknown Imam thinks they can’t handle the truth.

Third, to claim that 9/11 or any other Islamic terrorist attack was just terrorism that incidentally was committed by Muslims is just a lie.  It is the terrorists, not the reporters, who assert that they are motivated by their faith.  Those who disagree with the terrorists’ interpretation of their faith should take it up with the terrorists, not those observing and reporting the facts.  The same goes for terrorists who are members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Boko Haram, Hezbollah and others.

Fourth, CAIR is an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terror financing trial in the history of the United States and has many terrorism ties.  It is on a mission to stamp out all criticism of anything Islam-related, even if it’s true.  Indeed, there’s nary a terrorist that CAIR doesn’t defend.  Asserting that the 9/11 hijackers were Islamic terrorists is factual reporting, not “stereotyping.”  But CAIR wants the public to believe that anybody except for Muslims can be terrorists.  Besides, CAIR has no credibility and should not be given legitimacy by accommodating its gripes.

Fifth, the film is not a theological documentary about Islam; it’s about the events of 9/11. The documentary needn’t endorse or oppose Islam, nor evaluate the theological accuracy of the hijackers’ beliefs.  It merely reports what their beliefs were; how the hijackers viewed themselves.

Sixth, it is not the museum’s job to soothe the feelings of hypersensitive Muslims. The museum should not go out of its way to portray a disproportionate number of Muslim mourners or recovery workers to “balance” things out.

Seventh, it’s ludicrous to believe that the general public is so stupid that it can’t distinguish between Al-Qaeda members and law-abiding Muslims.  There is no reason to believe that learning about Al-Qaeda will lead the general citizenry to become bigots.

But even if it did, it is a falsity to claim that this bigotry would necessarily lead to actual violence.  There is no evidence whatsoever that so-called anti-Islam sentiment leads to violence.  This argument is disingenuously used to stifle criticism of Islam and shut down the debate.  On the contrary, it is primarily in the Muslim world where offense leads to violence.  It is “blasphemy” or insults to Islam that Muslims use to justify their violence, blaming the victims and evading personal responsibility.  But in the West, one can have an emotion, even hatred, without acting on it.  When someone does act violently, it’s illegal.  So, there is no basis to conclude that Islam-hating infidels will assault and batter Muslims at the 9/11 memorial site, which will also be heavily policed.

Most importantly, it’s critical that the motivation of the hijackers be accurately conveyed.  Their ideology must not be whitewashed, for fear of deleting history altogether, depriving future generations of an education regarding the largest terrorist attack on US soil, and increasing the likelihood that history will repeat itself.

Some 9/11 families and survivors believe that the truth should take priority over “sensitivity.”  The museum officials should be saluted for standing firm under a storm of criticism and for holding to the facts.

After all, only the truth shall set us free.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.