Hamas: Coming to a School Board Near You?

Exactly how did a known Hamas operative obtain an interview with and almost get appointed to the Columbus, Ohio Public School Board, which oversees one of the largest school districts in the country? And what does this incident tell us about the domestic terror threat and the process of radicalization happening right now in the US?

Those were the questions raised during my research for an article I recently wrote titled "Hamas in the House." It revealed that a woman named Anisa Abd El Fattah was scheduled to speak at an "interfaith" event to be held in the atrium of the Ohio State Capitol later this month. Not only was Fattah past president of the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR), an organization founded by Specially Designated Global Terrorist Mousa Abu Marzook and described by another convicted terror leader as "the political command for Hamas in the United States," but she also co-authored two books with current Hamas spokesman Ahmed Yousef. Yousef fled the US in 2005 to avoid prosecution and immediately reappeared as one of the top leaders of Hamas. He has been described by one Middle Eastern newspaper as "The Smiling Face of Hamas."

Additionally, for more than a decade Fattah was a paid consultant to convicted terror leader Abdurahman Alamoudi's now defunct American Muslim Council, as well as a founding board member of the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR, as FBI agent Lara Burns revealed this summer during the Holy Land Foundation trial, was founded as part of the Muslim Brotherhood's Palestine Committee and thereby directly connected to Hamas.

During the research I conducted for that previous article, I discovered that Fattah had been one of thirty-two candidates who applied for an open position on the Columbus Public School Board, and that she had made it far along enough in the process to become one of fifteen individuals who actually received an interview by the board.

How did Fattah's extensive terror-connected credentials escape the notice of the school board screeners and the media who covered the candidates for the open position?

The key was her name. When the Columbus Dispatch identified the candidates who had applied for this school board position on December 5, 2006, and when those who were being interviewed were publicly announced, this innocuous entry appeared:

Caroline F. Keeble, P.O. Box 72032, a management accounting/controller whose grandson attends a district school.

No further information was ever made public.

The reason a Hamas operative almost ended up on the school board of the 15th largest school district in the country was that she has been using two separate identities: her Muslim convert name, Anisa Abd El Fattah (lit., "Anisa, servant of the conquest"), when she was publicly defending the terrorist organization Hamas; and her given name, Caroline Keeble, when she was operating in Columbus and circulating amongst the city's political and cultural elite. As the pictures below clearly show, any uninformed observer would hardly realize that the two individuals were actually the same person.

fattah_keeble.jpg

Thus far, there is no indication that anyone with the Columbus Public Schools or the establishment media was ever aware of anything in Fattah/Keeble's political activist background. Even though she was not selected by the school board to fill the open seat (she had also applied for a previous board opening) - by maintaining dual identities and doing most of her work promoting Hamas under her Arabic name, she had been able to evade the scrutiny of local counter-terror researchers, myself included.

It was only after a recent letter to the editor she had published in the Columbus Dispatch as Fattah and which declared that all Israelis (men, women and children) in Gaza were combatants and legitimate targets for terror operations, that I became aware of her presence in Central Ohio at all. It was only after several days of research that her second identity was discovered.

So how did I finally establish the connection between her two identities? As I said, the letter to the editor a few weeks ago made me aware that Fattah was living in Columbus. That's what initiated my research, but it wasn't much to go on, since it was the first time that Fattah appeared on the radar in the area. Apparently, since her arrival in Columbus after UASR came apart when Ahmed Yousef fled the country, she had been only using her Caroline Keeble name, essentially taking "Fattah" (her convert name) underground. The Dispatch letter was the first time that I could find her Fattah identity was ever used here publicly.

When I discovered Fattah was living in town, the next step in determining how she was able to operate unnoticed was to figure out how she fit into the local extremist network, because it was highly unlikely that someone with her high-level connections wouldn't be here and not be part of their community. It was at that point that I came across the "Many Faces of Islam" conference at the State Capitol, where Fattah was scheduled to speak. It was being organized by the Interfaith Association of Central Ohio (IACO) - an organization controlled by several members of the CAIR-OH network. The event was being organized by Abukar Arman, one of our area's well-known extremists. Arman was forced to resign from our county's Homeland Security oversight board in August following my exposé revealing his many published articles and blog posts praising Hamas and Hezbollah.

What is interesting about that upcoming IACO conference, however, is that while it was quietly promoting the event through the local "progressive" network, IACO hadn't even listed the event on its own website - presumably because it knows that anti-terror researchers regularly monitor the website due to its advocacy of Islamic extremism. (For instance, when I revealed last year that a known cleric supportive of Hamas, Salah Sultan, was living in my own hometown of Hilliard, Ohio, the IACO was one of several organizations that rose up in his defense. Sultan fled the country earlier this year for Bahrain after I revealed that he had a pending US citizenship application - an application that was eventually rejected. The LA Times reported this past July that my former neighbor Sultan is one of several extremist clerics now preaching holy war in Bahrain (despite being portrayed by the Columbus Dispatch as a peaceful, moderate Muslim), and Sultan recently was pictured with his mentor, Hamas spiritual leader Yousef Al-Qaradawi, designated by the US as a "global terrorist" at a conference in Doha, Qatar, honoring Qaradawi.)

Essentially, it became clear that IACO was trying to sponsor off this event without drawing any attention to it.

The Fattah riddle was solved when I discovered that one of the editions of a book she had written with Ahmed Yousef bore her given name, Caroline F. Keeble. Even in many of the entries of the WorldCat library index, those titles are listed under Anisa Abd El Fattah; only a few mention Caroline Keeble, and both are never together. Once I had that tidbit of information - that Caroline F. Keeble was also Anisa Abd El Fattah - I was able to backtrack through my previous research and put the two together.

On Caroline Keeble's application for the open position on the Columbus Public School Board, her address is listed as 336 Harland Drive (this has already been made public by several news outlets as a result of her multiple attempts to obtain open school board seats, so I am not revealing anything new). Final confirmation came when it was discovered that Anisa Abd El Fattah had incorporated a company, Crossroads International Communications, Inc., at that same 336 Harland Drive address.

It's only because the State of Ohio requires corporate agents to list their actual address that this final confirmation could be obtained. In fact, the articles of incorporation for that company were filed through the Crimson Rose Catering Company in Scottsdale, Arizona. When Fattah had incorporated another organization with the State of Ohio in 2005, the Center for Muslim World Studies, as part of Crossroads International Communications, its address was listed as a suite in Hollywood, California. And according to the Franklin County Auditor's property tax records, she didn't even keep the house in her name, but in another relative's name.

During this time of year, Columbus is best known as the home of Ohio State football, not a hotbed of jihad. But with the local media looking the other way (and at times provides active cover) for Islamic extremists - and with many of these leaders tightly connected to the Ohio Democratic Party establishment, including Gov. Ted Strickland and Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, Central Ohio has become a breeding ground for radicalism - one that has produced one of the largest known active Al-Qaeda cells ever found in the US (two members, Iyman Faris and Nuradin Abdi, have been convicted; one more, Christopher Paul, has been charged; and at least ten more are known to have been involved).

The incident leads to the following conclusions:

1. Islamic extremists are actively targeting civic and cultural institutions to provide them cover and to give them legitimacy.

2. These extremists are deliberate, bold, and not beyond intentional and flagrant deception (the Islamic doctrine of taqiyya) to accomplish their strategic goals.

3. Local researchers familiar with those institutions promoting radicalism in their area and who are paying constant attention to what is going on are absolutely critical to gaining an understanding of the threat.

4. Any area is susceptible to infiltration by Islamic extremists.

Documents made public by federal prosecutors in the Holy Land Foundation trial revealed the detailed strategic plans by the Muslim Brotherhood to engage in a "Civilizational-Jihadist process" dedicated to a "grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah's religion is made victorious over all other religions." Military analysts have only recently acknowledged how actively the grand jihad is underway in America.

Someone with Fattah/Keeble's background flying under the radar and coming that close to being appointed to a major metropolitan area school board should be a wake-up call to Americans, that when it comes to Islamic extremism, they not only need to pay attention not only to what is happening in the Middle East - but also in their own backyard.

Patrick Poole is a counter-terror consultant to law enforcement and the Executive Director of Central Ohioans Against Terrorism.