Last week, I wrote about the scheduled appearance of Sheikh Mohammed Al-Hanooti, a long-time terrorist supporter and known Hamas fundraiser, at the Islamic Association of Greater Memphis on July 13-15th. Exhibit A in support of Hanooti’s appearance was an announcement posted on the mosque’s website in their “upcoming events” page. No sooner had my article appeared and other media outlets began making an inquiry than the mosque scrubbed its website of any mention of the scheduled event. As of early Thursday, the entire website for the mosque was down.
Fortunately, I captured a screenshot of the page from the mosque’s event announcement before it disappeared into Internet oblivion:
One might think that an upcoming events announcement found on the mosque’s own website would prove a serious impediment to the mosque denying that the event was ever scheduled to occur. But when it comes to the volatile issue of Islamic extremism and open material support for terrorists in American mosques, you would be wrong.
Rushing to the mosque’s aid was reporter Mike Lollar of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, who immediately sprung into action to cover the story. Well, cover at least one side of the story (namely, the mosque’s), because Lollar, who began his “investigation” last Thursday, made no effort to contact me or anyone from PJ Media for his article. Admittedly, making inquiries on only one side makes writing an article very tidy and quick, but rarely does it capture the truth.
The result was an article published by the Commercial Appeal on Tuesday, “Hamas fundraiser not speaking at mosque,” which characterized my article as “inaccurate,” based on the denial of mosque board chairman Gous Mohammed, who claimed that there had been a mistake (presumably mine) and that no event with Hanooti had been scheduled. Had the reporter bothered to contact us, I would have gladly informed him of the additional verification I had obtained prior to submitting my original article confirming Hanooti’s upcoming appearance. (Note: Mike Lollar did not respond to phone and email requests by PJM requesting comment, a professional courtesy the Commercial Appeal did not afford us.)
But there remained the sticky issue of the announcement on the mosque’s website, which Lollar promptly brushed aside despite the fact that the mosque’s chairman could not adequately explain how the announcement had found its way there. We should be grateful, I suppose, that the global Zionist conspiracy was not invoked as the culprit.
Lollar also swiftly dealt with Hanooti’s terror-tied background with one sentence mentioning that he had been named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing trial. He added that I had claimed that “Al-Hanooti raised millions of dollars for Hamas and ‘is an active supporter of terrorism and extremist Islamic ideology,’” as if it were a matter of my personal opinion and subject to debate.
What he failed to mention was that my assessment was based on nearly a dozen government intelligence reports, terrorism trial exhibits, and FBI wiretap transcripts related to Hanooti’s longtime fundraising for Hamas linked to in my previous article that were entered into evidence during the recent Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial in Dallas, in which Hanooti was once again named as an unindicted co-conspirator. It was not my personal assessment that Hanooti was a major Hamas fundraiser, but the conclusion of one of the FBI’s top counterterrorism officials, who noted in a 2001 declassified intelligence memo that Hanooti had raised at least $6 million for Hamas.
Tossing aside that issue and those government documents without the slightest acknowledgement, Lollar then devoted an entire paragraph to the issue of the origins of the PJ Media name.
To bolster the mosque’s denials, Lollar turned to two other officials with an affiliated mosque, both of whom unsurprisingly said that they hadn’t heard of any upcoming Hamas fundraisers. “Other Muslim officials said the relatively close-knit Muslim community of Memphis would have been aware of any high-profile visit by a Hamas leader,” the article explained. But that raises the question: if a leading Hamas fundraiser had been scheduled to appear in the area and the mosque had been caught in the act, would they have admitted to it? One of the other mosque leaders Lollar contacted for this supposed “independent” verification, Mohammed Moinuddin, even dismissed the allegations against Hanooti, remarkably saying, “He did not sound like an aggressive person, or hostile or a terrorist.”
Maybe Mike Lollar should contact the FBI and the Department of Justice to inform them that they have Mohammed al-Hanooti all wrong?
This is the state of old media journalism today, exemplified in this case by the standard “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” approach when it comes to the issue of the rampant extremism found in American Muslim institutions. No longer are facts allowed to be taken at face value (did I mention that the Hanooti event was publicized on the mosque’s own website???), but all deference must be given and any criticism considered a presumptive error even when officials of the Muslim community have no reasonable explanation for obvious facts.
This is precisely why PJ Media exists — to tell the story that the establishment media steadfastly refuse to report (in fact, next week I’ll report on how Lollar got the FBI’s awareness of this event flat wrong). With that in mind, however, we shouldn’t be surprised when the establishment media lash back when their incuriosity, laziness, and incompetence are exposed.