July 12, 2020

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J. Michael Waller on President Bush’s Post-9/11 Speech


Christine Brim, having read my section on George Bush’s Speech of September 17, 2001 at the Islamic Center in Washington DC, sent it to a White House insider at the time, J. Michael Waller. He has given me permission to post his response which appears below.

I have not had the chance to verify some of the details, and welcome any challenges or verifications from readers.

Let me walk you through this entire process, because I was in the middle of it as an observer at the time. Rather than say it verbally, let me put it down in writing so that you can follow it more easily and, if you wish, quote from it.

Cropped photos of the September 17 event show President Bush flanked by Muslim Brotherhood operatives Nihad Awad (of CAIR) and Khaled Saffuri, then of the American Muslim Council (AMC), now defunct, which was headed at the time by Abdurahman Alamoudi. Alamoudi was reputedly head of the North American Muslim Brotherhood. He is now in federal prison, serving a reduced 23-year federal prison sentence for terrorism-related crimes.

(RL note: A PBS special described Alamoudi as “an influential [Muslim] Brotherhood supporter described as an ‘expert in the art of deception’ by an FBI insider” for expressing moderate, pro-American sympathies in his lobbying and public relations work with Americans, but then expressing support for Hamas and Hezbollah at an Islamist rally.” His enthusiasm for H&H predates 2001. In other words, a Caliphater, doing Da’wah, hence a master demopath.)

President Bush stands with Islamic leaders during a visit to the Islamic Center of Washington, Monday, Sept. 17, 2001, to try to put an end to rising anti-Muslim sentiment in the wake of last week’s terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)

Uncropped photos of the same event show Alamoudi standing several feet to Bush’s left (toward the right of the photo). 

Bush and Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi (center)

The speech itself was prepared with the active participation of the above figures and others in that circle. Most of the work was farmed out to Grover Norquist, a close confidant of White House General Counsel Karl Rove, who had been running lobbying operations for the Qatar regime and others. Around 1997, Norquist, who was close to Khaled Saffuri and shared a lobbying business with him, set up a group called the Islamic Free Market Institute, known as the Islamic Institute for short. The Islamic Institute was a Muslim Brotherhood-run operation to infiltrate Republican and conservative political movements. The original money to found the Islamic Institute came from AMC checks signed by Alamoudi, making the Islamic Institute a Muslim Brotherhood spinoff. We recovered some of those checks and published them.

When the Bush administration took office in early 2001, Saffuri’s young acolyte Suhail Khan was given a low-level job at the White House Office of Public Liaison. Khan’s parents were reputed Muslim Brotherhood operatives who co-founded CAIR in California. Khan worked closely with another White House official, Tim Goeglein (non-Muslim Macedonian ancestry), on Muslim outreach. The White House Office of Public Liaison’s principal list of politically vetted “Muslims” was a three-page document that was faxed from Norquist’s office to the White House in about February 2001. Norquist’s name, date of birth, and Social Security number appeared at the top of the list. All the names on the list had been vetted by Norquist’s Muslim Brotherhood people. Prominent Muslims who opposed the Muslim Brotherhood were not on that list, and would not be invited to the White House for another two or three years.

The people on this list – especially Alamoudi, Khan, Norquist, and Saffuri – became the core of what would become the Muslim voice of the Bush administration. This core organized a meeting with President George W. Bush in which Bush was scheduled to state his desire to repeal a law that allowed federal immigration judges to use secret intelligence information in deportation cases against foreign nationals suspected of terrorist ties. The ACLU had branded it the “secret evidence” law. Bill Clinton had promised to abolish the law, but realized that, as president, the law was necessary. That caused the Muslim Brotherhood to shift its support from Democrats to Republicans in the 2000 election, as Norquist had counseled Bush to embrace Muslims because Jews were considered too liberal and Muslims were seen as natural conservatives. Norquist referred to Muslims in general, but in practice he was working only with Muslim Brotherhood operatives and assets.

Norquist and Rove arranged for Muslim Brotherhood operatives to meet candidate Bush in Texas during the 2000 campaign, and posed for a photo with him. Alamoudi and Saffuri were among the attendees.

Norquist wrote about how conservatives and Republicans should embrace Muslims in an article he wrote for the American Spectator in the fall of 2000. After the election, he credited the Islamic Center of Tampa, Florida, with turning out the votes necessary to elect Bush president amid the “hanging chad” recount in Florida. 

The Islamic Center of Tampa, Florida, was run by Sami Al-Arian, an Islamist operative who was on the North American Shura of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Al-Arian frequently visited Norquist’s office on L Street, NW, not far from the White House, between 2001 and 2003. He was later convicted of terrorist-related crimes, imprisoned, and deported.

Back to the September 17 speech: President Bush’s official calendar shows that at 3:00 PM on September 11, 2001, he was to have met with a Norquist-led group of Muslim activists at the White House, where he would announce his intent to repeal the “secret evidence” law.

That didn’t happen, of course, because al Qaeda had committed its hijackings and terrorist attacks that morning. The attacks did not stop the Muslim Brotherhood-led activists from assembling at Norquist’s office for the scheduled White House meeting, as they were there. Norquist was also there, but years later he denied that he was, saying he was out of the area at the time. I know about it because I was there and witnessed it all.

The White House was put on lockdown. However, Suhail Khan and Tim Goeglein took the trouble – as smoke from the wreckage at the Pentagon rose above the White House in the distance – to walk from the White House to Norquist’s office and address the Muslim activists in Norquist’s “Wednesday Meeting” conference room. After Goeglein left, the Muslim activists met to decide on a common response to the al Qaeda attacks. I listened to their discussion through an opening in the ceiling.

The activists disagreed on which of the airplane hijackings were terrorism and which were not. Finally, they agreed on common rhetoric to condemn the “senseless” killings of “innocents” or “innocent civilians.” This was compromise code language in which the World Trade Center attacks and Pennsylvania hijacking were condemned, but the attack on the Pentagon was not.

The activists also decided to stop their opposition to any cooperation with the FBI and law enforcement, and indeed, to lead their communities as local liaisons between Muslim populations and the FBI and police. Those liaisons would volunteer as cultural advisors to the FBI and police, would introduce the FBI and police to the communities, serve as translators and interpreters, and so forth – literally making Muslim Brotherhood-approved people the link between communities and law enforcement. This had the effect of putting the Muslim Brotherhood in control of the situations at the state and local levels, showing the local communities that they had better obey the Brotherhood because the Brotherhood was now tied to the cops, and providing Muslim Brotherhood-approved people to local, state, and federal government agencies to serve as linguists, cultural experts, and subject-matter experts.

Thus the Muslim Brotherhood cadres were chosen and emplaced to “assist” the Bush administration and shape its response to 9/11.

Muslim Brotherhood operatives organized Bush’s September 17 appearance at the Islamic Center on Massachusetts Avenue, arranging for their own people to flank the president. In the photo during that appearance, MB operative Khaled Saffuri (no beard) stands at Bush’s right, while MB operative Nihad Awad (with glasses and beard) stands at Bush’s left.  

The same group provided the “proper” wording to presidential speechwriters for the September 17 speech.

It should now be clear how that language was assembled for Bush’s speech.

Here’s another tell: The inclusion of “tax-paying citizens,” as opposed to the normal term “citizens,” shows Norquist’s own hand. Norquist, the aggressive tax-reformer, liked to have as many mentions made as possible to citizens who are tax-payers (versus those who were not, a nod to Ayn Rand). A faith-based religious speech would have included all citizens, but the tax-paying addition was Norquist’s little contribution to combine the tax issue with the Islamic base that he was working to build. 

That’s pretty much the story. I either witnessed all of the above personally, or worked actively with others who did. I had known Norquist since 1982, and our organization had sublet space from his organization around 2000, which is why were able to witness all that we were able to see and hear.
All of the above is on the record. You may quote me as you wish. Please contact me if you have further questions.
– Mike Waller

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