Last month at National Review Online, Daniel Pipes and Steve Emerson wrote about “Chris Christie’s Islam Problem“. One of the first examples they provide is Christie’s enthusiastic support for Mohammad Qatanani:
2008: When serving as U.S. attorney for New Jersey, Christie embraced and kissed Mohammed Qatanani, imam of the Islamic Center of Passaic County, and praised him as “a man of great goodwill.” He did this after Qatanani had publicly ranted against Jews and in support of funding Hamas, a U.S. government–designated terror organization, and on the eve of his deportation hearing for not hiding an Israeli conviction for membership in Hamas. In addition, Christie designated a top aide, Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles McKenna, to testify as a character witness for Qatanani.
As the late Paul Harvey would say, “And now, for the rest of the story”.
In September 2008 when a federal immigration judge declined the Department of Homeland Security’s request to deport Qatanani, the imam made much of his connections to both Christie and then-NJ Governor Jon Corzine:
U.S. attorney Christopher Christie, speaking at an annual Ramadan break-fast dinner at ICPC the night before Riefkohl announced his decision, praised the cleric.
“My view is he’s always had a very good relationship with us, and he’s a man of great goodwill,” said Christie, before embracing Qatanani and wishing him well.
Qatanani told NJJN he also had a warm exchange with Gov. Jon Corzine when he visited the official residence in Princeton on Sept. 6 for a Ramadan Iftar observance. “The governor congratulated me and said he was happy with result of the trial,” said Qatanani, who, according to his spokesman, Aref Assaf, met privately with the governor, together with several of the imam’s supporters, before the main event.
But just a few months before the NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness under the administration of Democrat Corzine had published the report below entitled “HAMAS Sympathizers in New Jersey: Supporting Terror Abroad” tagging Christie’s “man of great goodwill” as a Hamas supporter and an example of the terrorist organization’s supporters taking leadership roles in the community (p. 3):
HAMAS supporters in this region may also be taking active leadership roles in their communities. A prominent example is Imam Mohammad Qatanani, who was well regarded in the local Palestinian community. Now, Qatanani is fighting deportation on the grounds that when he initially applied for U.S. citizenship in 1999, he may have misrepresented his ties to HAMAS. Israeli officials have presented a confession from Qatanani in which he admitted to being a member of HAMAS.xiii Questions regarding the Qatanani case are illustrative of the need to increase our intelligence collection vis-à-vis HAMAS, its supporters and presence in New Jersey.
And what happened to Charles McKenna, who Christie sent to testify on Qatanani’s behalf in his deportation proceedings? Christie appointed him as head of the same Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.
(Report HT: Public Intelligence)