The subtitle of an article published today by Ahmed Yousef, (aka Ahmad Yusuf and Ahmad Youssef) former director of the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR) points to an interesting shift in outlook.
Ahmad Yusuf, formerly of UASR.
Back then, Yousef was full of cheer about the Islamist project in the United States – everything seemed to be going just fine, rolling from one success to another, ignoring those who would stand in their way, such as myself. In my interview with Yousef, I tried to get him to criticize the United States but he would not: he insisted that negative views of Islam and Muslims resulted from misunderstandings, that he admires the First Amendment, that immigrant Muslims are committed to America – even that the Nation of Islam looked perfectly legitimate to him. In those good old days, "Islamic activities and activism were in an ascending order; the outreach and the inroads that were accomplished were very impressive and heartwarming."
But no longer: "then came September 11 with all its fallout, repercussions, and aftermath." The once-cheerful Yousef now displays equal parts dismay and outrage at the results, finding the "acts of a few renegade and fringe Muslims" suddenly reversing "years of integration and assimilation into the American political process." So bad is it that American Muslims now worry about "their future in the United States and the future of their sons and daughters."
Yousef's analysis then turns into a rant against "President George W. Bush and his neo-con advisers" and an argument for voting Democratic in 2004 to oust "the American corporate class, the Evangelical Right, and the Zionist Lobby" that together have set America on what he sees as its "disastrous misadventure."
Comments: (1) Yousef traces all the problems to the one-time actions of "a few renegade and fringe Muslims," conveniently ignoring that the United States has faced a threat from militant Islam since 1979, one that yet seems to be on the ascendant. (2) Yousef's new pessimism reflects a wider sense of dismay among Islamists that the easy times in the United States are over. (December 19, 2003)
Dec. 30, 2004 update: A year later, and Ahmed Yousef appears to be becoming unhinged. In a transcript made available today by MEMRI (Middle East Media and Research Institute) of an interview of the Hizbullah television station, Al-Manar, Yousef explains how Zionists must have been behind 9/11:
Israel excels at espionage within the U.S., and is capable of disguising many operations as Islamic. In other words, Israel is capable of penetrating certain Islamic circles, of directing and running them behind the scenes, so that they will conduct operations from which Israel benefits. Anyone who considers the events of 9/11 cannot say that the Muslims gained anything. There's another dimension, which some people may have noticed. No one could have captured the pictures [of the attacks] so perfectly except for the cameras in the hands of several Mossad agents, who were near the scene of events and succeeded in filming the scene so that it will always serve Zionism to remind the world of the Arabs' and Muslims' crimes against America. These pictures were filmed very expertly so that they would be a constant reminder to America and the Western world that Islamic terrorism is a threat to their culture, their ideals, and their values. Today, there is much evidence casting doubt on the ability of these Muslims, with their meager means, to carry out such an operation, and there are others.
This is classic (and very common) cui bono logic, which I analyzed at length in my two books on conspiracy theories. What is particularly interesting about Yousef's views is his extreme and unwarranted derogation of Muslim abilities.
July 14, 2007 update: In 2005, it appears, Yousef left the United States and went to Gaza where he became a close advisor to Ismail Haniyeh. His career rose along with Haniyeh's, to the point that he is now, according to "The Smiling Face of Hamas," a biographical sketch of him in Asharq al-Awsat, "a star in Israeli media and a familiar face on national Israeli television channels" as well as critical to the work of the Hamas "prime minister":
there are those who affirm that Yousef's role with regards to Haniyeh far surpasses that of a political advisor. These same sources uphold that Yousef is credited with the institutionalization of work within the Palestinian cabinet as well as putting an action plan in place for Haniyeh, which starts with meetings in the morning that are attended by Yousef and a number of his aides. It would be accurate to say that Yousef contributes largely to the drafting of statements for the critical issues to reflect Haniyeh and his government's position, in addition to undertaking the coordination required for foreign delegation visits and submitting studies and analyses on certain issues. Yousef's influence over Haniyeh is apparent, whether through the speeches that the latter delivers or in the increasingly realistic rhetoric of his statements.
May 10, 2008 update: Yousef has become something of a force in U.S. electoral politics. During an interview with WABC radio in New York, he began by complaining that "everybody tries to sound like he is a friend of Israel" when on the campaign trail, including Barack Obama. Then Yousef announced on behalf of Hamas: "We like Mr. Obama, and we hope that he will win the elections. I hope Mr. Obama and the Democrats will change the political discourse. ... I do believe [Obama] is like John Kennedy, a great man with a great principal. And he has a vision to change America to make it in a position to lead the world community, but not with humiliation and arrogance."
John McCain, who in late April called himself "Hamas's worst nightmare," picked up on the Yousef comment, painting Obama as indeed the Hamas favorite. "I think it is very clear who Hamas wants to be the next president of the United States. If Senator Obama is favored by Hamas, I think people can make judgments accordingly." Also, an April fund-raising letter stated that "We need change in America, but not the kind of change that wins kind words from Hamas, surrenders in Iraq and will hold unconditional talks with Iranian President Ahmadinejad."
Obama replied angrily that McCain is "losing his bearings" and engaging in "smear" tactics. He has stated that "Hamas is not a state. Hamas is a terrorist organization." Replying directly to McCain's accusations on May 8, Obama again called Hamas a terrorist group and said that "we should not talk to them unless they recognize Israel, renounce violence and are willing to abide by previous [Israel-Palestinian] accords."
Comment: It would seem that Yousef's interjecting himself in U.S. politics backfired.