I do not understand this unseemly rush to anoint Perry without vetting him. I've never seen anything like this: friends have broken with me, I've been attacked on hitherto friendly websites, I've gotten calls from people I haven't heard from in years, telling me to lay off Perry, and more -- all because I dared to raise some concerns about Rick Perry. Perry may be the greatest thing since microwave popcorn, but I remain concerned about his closeness to Grover Norquist and other matters. And I don't think it's illegitimate to ask Perry to address these concerns.
And today, Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, whom we have seen do this kind of thing before, attacks Pamela Geller in the American Thinker because she dared to question Perry. Also in the Thinker today, Geller responds:
In his piece attacking me for raising questions about Rick Perry's associations, "Smearing Perry on Jihad," Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi leaves out the most salient parts of my information about Perry, and then attacks me as if they don't exist.
He says that "the Ismailis favor an interpretation of jihad as working on and financing charitable, economic projects to improve the well-being of humanity as a whole," accuses me of "smear-by-association," and points out that "the Ismailis do not advocate violence or advancement of Shari'a in politics anywhere in the world today." He adds that "it is therefore difficult to see how Perry and the Aga Khan are working to advance an Islamization cause via 'taqiyya,'" although I never suggested any such thing.
Jawad ignores what I wrote here: "The Ismailis are peaceful, yes, and the Aga Khan Foundation is an established Islamic charity. But the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development is also part-owner of the Pakistan-based Bank al-Habib, which Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl's widow Mariane sued in 2007 for damages relating to its funding of al-Qaida and involvement in the murder of her husband by Islamic jihad terrorists. She dropped the suit later that year without explanation, except to note that the Habib Bank had never answered her charges."
There is more. The Aga Khan Development Network made has signed agreements with the Syrian Government to develop "microfinance, healthcare, and cultural tourism" in Syria. Between 2003 and 2008, the Aga Khan spent $40 million to develop business in Syria. Syria is, don't forget, still listed as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. And according to investigative reporter Mark Mitchell, "the Aga Khan Foundation's membership and supporters also include top military officers in Syria, such as General Moustapha Sharba, who had a hand in the early stages of the covert nuclear weapons program that Syria was developing with help from North Korea (and probably Iran)."
Don't Sharba and the others know that the Ismailis are peaceful? Is it really illegitimate to ask questions about a candidate who is friendly with someone who owns an alleged al-Qaeda bank, and spends millions to develop a State Sponsor of Terrorism?
Also, in an interview with Spiegel, the Aga Khan doesn't sound so moderate. He says there is not a clash of civilizations, but a "clash of ignorance," for which the "Western world" is "essentially" responsible. Never mind all the jihad terror attacks. The problem is the West's "ignorance." He says that the West should negotiate with Hamas, and says that the cartoons of Muhammad should not have been published, so as to show "civility" to Muslims. Free speech? Forget it.
Jawad also criticizes me for pointing out that the curriculum that Perry has gotten from the Aga Khan for Texas schools is "whitewashing Islam's bloody historical and modern-day record." I stand by my words. A reader of my website AtlasShrugs.com has examined the curriculum and found numerous questionable aspects of it. "The religion that the Prophet Muhammad preached provided his followers an ethical and moral vision for leading a life of righteousness," it tells kids. Muhammad's jihad conquests and cultural annihilations? His child marriage? Forget it. The curriculum also discusses "the beauty and perfection of the Qur'an." Calls to jihad? Calls to hate unbelievers and wage war against them? Nothing.
Then Jawad turns to my criticism of Perry's ties to Grover Norquist, saying, "one need only note, as Pipes did, that all of Perry's connections to Norquist concern taxation issues, not Islam." That's the kind of thinking people use to say that Hezbollah is a fine group, because look, they run schools and hospitals. No candidate worth his salt should have anything to do with Norquist, for tax issues or any other reason. You can't come out for cutting taxes without playing ball with Norquist? Please.
And Perry's ties to Norquist are extensive: Robert Spencer notes that "Perry and Grover Norquist held a joint press conference in March 2011. Perry appeared at a fund-raiser for Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform group. Also, Norquist actively campaigned for Perry back in 2009. Their association is longstanding: Perry was investigated by the Texas Ethics Commission in 2004 for allegations that the Governor illegally used campaign money to finance a trip to Bahamas; the point here is not the allegations, but the fact that along on the Bahamas trip at his own expense was Grover Norquist. Perry and Norquist are clearly not just casual acquaintances."
So what will happen when Norquist approaches his good buddy Perry and asks him to give an appointment to or do some favor for some Islamic supremacist? Will Perry then turn against his old friend? I hope so. But if we don't call out Perry on his ties to Norquist now, how can we be sure of that?