My Neighbor, the Hamas Leader
Back in March, my friend and colleague Erick Stakelbeck of CBN News emailed me a link to an article in Tablet Magazine and asked: "Hey -- isn't that your neighbor with the head of Hamas?" Sure enough, it was. My former neighbor Salah Sultan was standing right beside Ismail Haniyeh -- the Hamas "prime minister" of Gaza -- as Haniyeh left a meeting with Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Cairo (purple shirt):
Stakelbeck knew about my neighbor Sultan because Erick and I had worked together on a video segment highlighting Sultan's activity and residence in my hometown of Hilliard, Ohio, back in 2007. That was more than a year after I had first written about returning home to Ohio to discover that I had an internationally known Hamas cleric living about a mile from my own house. Not only that, but Sultan was the religious director at the local Islamic school, Sunrise Academy, which had taken over the former public library building in town. Sultan was also the resident scholar of the newly built Noor Islamic Cultural Center in Hilliard.
As I later recounted, the Columbus Dispatch attacked me as a racist and a bigot, characterizing me as a Christianist Neo-Nazi. This after I had identified Sultan's rabidly anti-Jewish remarks, his calls for violent jihad, his open support for Hamas, his ties to Muslim Brotherhood front organizations, and his association with international Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
The Dispatch article encouraged readers to attend an open house set up in response to my article at the local Islamic school. The relevant section of the Dispatch article responding to my claims was titled "Hostile Assertions":
The condemnations not only came from my local paper, but also from the "interfaith leaders" in town -- namely the Interfaith Association of Central Ohio -- who had arranged the Dispatch hit piece. They also came from local residents, who felt free to vent their fury in phone calls made to my family members. One local columnist wrote an article titled "Muslim Basher, Patrick Poole, Preys on People's Fears."
Two weeks after the Dispatch article appeared defending Salah Sultan as a well-respected Islamic scholar and local interfaith leader (curiously, the Dispatch article can no longer be found on their website), he appeared on Al-Risala TV where he claimed that the 9/11 attacks were a U.S. government plot to victimize Muslims. He also defended designated terrorist and al-Qaeda cleric Abdul Majid al-Zindani. (See video embedded above.)
Needless to say, the Dispatch never followed up, even after I sent the reporter and editors a copy of Sultan's video translated by MEMRI.
Last year at PJ Media, I revisited some of Salah Sultan's activities since that time. I was driven to do so after he appeared last August on Al-Jazeera issuing a fatwa authorizing the assassination of any Israeli in Egypt. I titled that review "Yes, my neighbor really was a racist, terror-supporting Muslim Brotherhood cleric."
As a demonstration of how correct I was, take note of the picture below of Sultan being chummy with Khaled Meshaal --the head of Hamas and a specially designated global terrorist according to the U.S. government -- that was posted on Sultan's Facebook page on May 6 this year:
In law enforcement circles, this is what is known as an "investigative clue."
In case the folks at the Columbus Dispatch still have any doubts about his Hamas connections, here Sultan is again with Ismail Haniyeh in March, just days after the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) -- where Sultan sits on the board -- greeted Haniyeh as a member:
But what about my prior claims about Sultan's ties to the Muslim Brotherhood? Well -- Sultan was actively involved in the Egyptian elections, appearing regularly with the Muslim Brotherhood's presidential candidate Mohammed Morsi (who, I noted here, first became a Muslim Brotherhood member while in the United States studying at the University of Southern California).
Here's a picture of Sultan and Morsi at a campaign event dated May 13:
Here is one of Morsi's campaign flyers noting Sultan's support (top row, second from the left):
In case there was any remaining uncertainty about Sultan's ties to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Sultan led a Muslim Brotherhood rally and gave a fiery speech in Tahrir Square on a live June 21 broadcast on Al-Jazeera:
No doubt officials at the Columbus Dispatch will say I'm an Islamophobe for mentioning Sultan's exercise of democracy on behalf of his preferred political party in his native homeland of Egypt.
What about my previous claims of his anti-Semitic racism? Funny you should ask. Again, I would note his aforementioned fatwa broadcast on Al-Jazeera, where he authorized the killing of any "Zionist" in Egypt.
Also, in November Sultan was the organizer of a "March Against the Judaization of Jerusalem" (here is an English-language report noting his leadership in the event), which is rather remarkable, as the Jews have been living in Jerusalem for more than 3,000 years. During events related to the march, reports indicate that speakers railed against "those treacherous Jews."
At a November 25 rally at the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, Sultan can be seen marshaling religious leaders invoking the notorious Islamic hadith about the end times, when the stones and trees will say "O Muslim, there is a Jew behind me. Come kill him."
As noted by an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) report, in February Sultan gave a speech at an IUMS meeting in Cairo where he blamed violence against Egyptian Christians on "acts of Jews." At the event, the crowd was led in a chant: “To Jerusalem we are going as martyrs in millions.”
In May, the ADL reported that Sultan was the host of a new live television program on the Al-Risala network:
The program also featured live call-ins from viewers, including several who used the platform to make anti-Semitic remarks. One caller from Egypt said:
“It will be impossible for the Jews, those sons of apes and pigs, no way ... no way ... that they can achieve their goal in building their alleged temple. Inshallah and God’s willing this will never happen. We will raise our young children, the seven-year-old ones, the five-year-old ones, and the four-years-old to fight the Jews and have war with the Jews.”
Sultan responded, “God willing.”
A report last month by MEMRI stated that one of Sultan's friends is the director of Al-Risala, Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood leader Tareq al-Suwaidan. They published pictures of the pair and noted Suwaidan's anti-Jewish rhetoric, endorsement for the reestablishment of the global Islamic caliphate, and calls for violent jihad.
The MEMRI report also indicates that Suwaidan is a graduate of both the University of Oklahoma and Penn State.
One of the other issues that the Columbus Dispatch took me to task for was my connecting Sultan to international Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, whom the ADL describes at the "Theologian of Terror" for -- among other things -- his religious endorsement of suicide bombings by Hamas as "martyrdom" (he was the first major Sunni cleric to do so), and by Iraqi insurgents targeting American soldiers and contractors.
As far back as 2008 I noted the close relationship between Qaradawi and Sultan, including the appearance of Sultan at a July 2007 conference in Doha, Qatar (Qaradawi's base), where Sultan praised Qaradawi as his teacher and mentor. Sultan later appeared on the main speakers' dais with Qaradawi and Khaled Meshaal.
As Qaradawi reaches his late 80s, Sultan appears to be assuming his mentor's mantle. Here is one recent picture of the pair:
Sultan's increasing role in Qaradawi's orbit is attested to in a February 10 article in the Khaleej Times reporting on a visit by leaders of the Syrian National Council -- dominated and controlled by the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood -- with Qaradawi. During the meeting, Sultan (identified in the article as part of Qaradawi's group) called for armed jihad against the Assad regime:
Another leading member of Qaradawi’s grouping, Salahudin Sultan, appealed to Gulf leaders to arm rebel fighters in Syria and send troops to back them.
“King of Saudi Arabia, emir of Qatar, take out the weapons and hand them over to those free people,” Sultan said.
“As you sent your Peninsula Shield Force into Bahrain, move them towards Syria,” he added, referring to the Gulf military force deployed to member state Bahrain last March to help the kingdom’s Sunni rulers put down Shiite-led pro-democracy protests.
It's not just the Assad regime or the "Zionists" that are the targets of Sultan's calls for violent jihad. In December 2008 I reported at PJ Media about one of Sultan's appearances on Al-Nas TV, where he warned of the immediate destruction of America and invoked the notorious anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
This is a theme he returned to recently on Sada al-Balad TV back in February (translated by MEMRI), where he responded to a question about whether war with Israel would lead to war with the U.S. He responded: "Why not?", approvingly cited The Protocols once again, and recalled a sermon he had previously given in Dallas where he likened the days of destruction with Noah and the looming wrath for the U.S.:
MEMRI also translated a January 17 interview with Sultan in which he encouraged Muslim youth to take up sports such as karate in preparation to fight for the liberation of Palestine:
I call upon young people to practice sports, and to strengthen their bodies in preparation for jihad. Practice Karate, practice Taekwondo, practice all the sports that make your body extremely strong. Lift weights, and then dream, day and night. Turn your faces towards the heavens. If the young turn their faces to the heavens in a desire to liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque, it will be liberated soon, Allah willing.
Whatever happened to the respected Islamic scholar and interfaith moderate Salah Sultan, for whom the Columbus Dispatch was driven to publicly castigate me for daring to call him a terror-loving, terrorist-associating, racist Muslim Brotherhood leader?
He was a figment of the newspaper's imagination, fed to them by their friends in the local Islamic community and by Sultan himself, and aided in no small measure by soothing narratives of interfaith peace and harmony many hold to despite all the conflicting evidence.
All along, he really was who I said he was. But it's doubtful that the local media will correct the record.
But why does the record need to be corrected? Since his activity is entirely outside the U.S. now (he's been banned from reentering the country), surely there's really no relation between what happens over there and our communities here? Even though everything I said about Salah Sultan going back to April 2006 has been verified, my stated fears of a "hometown jihad" are nothing more than the paranoid fantasies of a raging, racist Islamophobe, right?
I'll answer that question here at PJ Media shortly.
Update: Earlier today, PJM's Andrew McCarthy and I discussed this topic with Glenn Beck at GBTV: