Middle East studies in the News
Tampa Terror Radio [incl. Rashid Khalidi]
by Joe Kaufman
For the past nine years, a radio show has been broadcast out of Tampa Bay, Florida every Friday representing the viewpoints of radical Islamists. The subjects on the show, ironically called 'True Talk,' almost always revolve around two subjects: extreme hatred of Israel and/or support for those associated with terrorism.
During the month of March, different anti-Israel and terror-related content made its way over the airwaves with the blessing of one of the show's co-hosts, Ahmed Bedier.
On March 14th, over half of Bedier's radio show consisted of a recorded speech given by Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi discussing strides being made by the boycott movement against Israel. Khalidi has previously been identified in different news reports as "a PLO spokesman" and "a director of the Palestinian press agency, Wafa" (Wikalat al-Anba al-Filastinija), which Khalidi himself has described as "the PLO's news agency."
According to the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act of 1987, signed into law by then-President Ronald Reagan, "The PLO and its constituent groups have taken credit for, and been implicated in, the murders of dozens of American citizens abroad… [T]he Congress determines that the PLO and its affiliates are a terrorist organization and a threat to the interests of the United States, its allies, and to international law…"
Bedier took calls in response to Khalidi's speech, while lauding him as a "Middle East scholar."
The previous week, on March 7th, Bedier had as a guest on the show the mother of convicted terrorist Ziyad Yaghi. According to the indictment against him, "the multiple defendants in the case," Yaghi included, "prepared themselves to engage in violent acts and were willing to die as martyrs. They also offered training in weapons and financing and helped arrange overseas travel and contacts so others could wage violent acts overseas." Yaghi was convicted on all counts and was sentenced to 31+ years in prison. He and his fellow co-conspirators lost their appeal.
According to his mom, Laila, Ziyad did nothing wrong. She called him a "goofy young man… a young man having fun." She said that his only crime in the eyes of the prosecutors was that he was a Muslim.
Bedier agreed with the racism angle. But even if Yaghi was a terrorist, for Bedier it was not a problem, because Yaghi didn't actually carry out any violence. He said it was "shocking" that Yaghi was arrested before he actually did anything. He asked, "What kind of jihad and terrorism did these guys commit?… Did they commit any violence? Did they kill anybody? Did they hurt anyone? Did they shoot anyone?" Bedier called it a "preemptive prosecution" or arresting a terrorist before the crime takes place. What he failed to understand was that a conspiracy to commit terrorism is a crime in itself. For Bedier, it's just a case of Freedom of Speech.
The ringleader of the group was Daniel Patrick Boyd a.k.a. Saifullah ("Sword of Allah"). Boyd, a convert to Islam, received training in terrorist camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Boyd recruited and trained others to go overseas and undertake violent jihad. He had discussed attacking the Quantico, Virginia Marine Corps base, while in possession of a large arsenal of firearms. He pled guilty to one count of conspiring to "provide material support to terrorists" and one count of conspiring to "murder, kidnap, maim and injure persons in a foreign country."
Yaghi's mom said, much as her feelings towards her son, that she didn't think Boyd "did anything wrong." She said he was coerced by his lawyers into pleading guilty. Bedier, on the other hand, parodied Boyd as a Duck Dynasty wannabe, who probably just liked to go hunting.
One of the subjects brought up during Bedier's interview of Laila Yaghi was that of Ziyad Yaghi's intention to get married overseas, a subject that came up during the trial. Laila made light of this saying that Muslims get married at a young age, and Bedier flippantly asked if intending to get married was "against the law." However, this subject in reality dealt with a conversation that Ziyad Yaghi had with Daniel Boyd, where Ziyad was discussing his intention to become "married" to the battlefield in jihad. Either Laila Yaghi was totally in the dark about her son's militant plans or she was covering up for him.
While these things may seem to be merely show material for the station's listeners, for Bedier it's much more than that, as he himself has been directly involved with groups and individuals connected to terrorism.
Bedier was the Executive Director of the Tampa office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR has been named by the U.S. Justice Department as a co-conspirator for two federal trials dealing with the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas. CAIR was using its national website to raise money for the main group on trial, the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), which along with its leadership was found guilty on all charges.
During his tenure with CAIR, Bedier became a spokesman for Sami al-Arian, a co-founder and North American leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). In discussing the al-Arian case on a local Tampa TV news show, Bedier stated that, "before 1995, there was nothing immoral" about associating with PIJ. Prior to 1995, PIJ took credit for five terrorist attacks, which included a suicide bombing. The attacks resulted in the murders of eight innocent individuals.
Bedier has been a representative, as well, for Islamic Relief (IR). In 2006, Israel labeled IR a front for Hamas, after arresting the group's Gaza program manager for providing "funds and assistance to various Hamas institutions and organizations." In 1999, IR gave millions of dollars to and received tens of thousands of dollars from groups associated with al-Qaeda. Bedier is still involved with IR, attending a fundraiser for the group as recently as last month.
Bedier has (or more appropriately had) his own association with al-Qaeda, as his brother, Amir, was a devoted follower of Osama bin Laden. Last August, Ahmed accompanied Amir, who Ahmed has exalted as a "hero," to a Muslim Brotherhood demonstration in Cairo against Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. This was days before Amir was shot and killed at the same location by the Egyptian military in a disbursement action against terrorists. Ahmed helped with the dead bodies, the next morning.
On a regular basis, Ahmed Bedier uses his radio program, found on WMNF 88.5 FM Tampa, to provide a forum for radicals, including himself, who wish to spout hatred and/or protect those associated with terrorist activity.
The show and Bedier's actions outside the show are evils in our democratic society that need to be exposed.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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