The head of one of the nation's
most prominent civil rights organizations has warned the White House that
the rise of radical Islam within America's black community could provide a
breeding ground for the perpetrators of the next wave of terror attacks
against the U.S.
In a letter sent to the Bush administration on Friday,
Congress of Racial Equality Chairman Roy Innis requested a meeting with
Homeland Security czar Tom Ridge, Attorney General John Ashcroft and
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to discuss what he sees as the
"clear and present danger" posed to U.S. race relations by the rising tide
of "non-spiritual" Muslim conversions.
Innis fears that the trend has left too many sympathetic to al-Qaeda and
its anti-American agenda, providing a waiting pool of potential terrorist
"Even before the Beltway sniper attacks," Innis told NewsMax in an
exclusive interview, "I anticipated a real problem for our country and for
black Americans in particular. And that is the large number of
non-spiritually based conversions to Islam - both inside and outside of
"It's not going to take long for al-Qaeda to begin capitalizing on this,
if they haven't already," the CORE chief warned.
"Osama bin Laden was able to sneak 19 guys into the country with visas and
attack the country on Sept. 11. That won't be so easy to do anymore,"
"But the guys coming out of jail, the recent converts, the
angry guys floating around the country who are looking for a framework to
express their hostility - they don't need visas."
The longtime civil rights leader fears that if the next
terrorist attack has black fingerprints on it, it could destroy decades
worth of progress in American race relations.
"Al-Qaeda is going to figure this out soon enough and start using it - and
there goes all the years of civil rights improvement in America. All the
revolutionary gains of Dr. Martin Luther King, of CORE and the NAACP and
the others could be washed away overnight if the phenomenon continues
Innis pointed to the recent arrest of six al-Qaeda suspects in Oregon,
noting, "Already we see this trend being played out. ... Three of them
were black Muslims."
The fact that Beltway sniper John Muhammed was also a
Muslim convert who was sympathetic to the Sept. 11 attacks only heightens
his concern, the CORE chief told NewsMax.
He also zeroed in on Nation of Islam chief Louis Farrakhan, who, Innis
said, needs to clean house of people like Mr. Muhammed, who worked as a
security guard for the NOI's 1995 Million Man March.
"He needs to clean his own house and examine his own house to make sure
that he doesn't have sociopaths and psychopaths and haters of other sorts
and al-Qaeda adherents floating into his organization."
He called on Farrakhan to "weed out his non-spiritually
based followers" and to take care that "his rhetoric doesn't give aid and
comfort and nurture" [to] al-Qaeda sympathizers.
Innis stressed that he is not questioning anybody's
genuinely held religious beliefs.
"I'm not challenging a person's right to change from Catholic to
Protestant, from Christian to Muslim to Jewish - I'm not challenging
that," he told NewsMax. "But I am challenging whether these are in fact
spiritually based conversions - or are they just convenient vehicles to
express hostilities and sociopathic behavior."
He noted that "it's stranger than usual, the large amount
of young black men who go to jail and come out as Muslims," adding, "I
don't believe for one moment that they go to jail and then have an
epiphany like Paul on the road to Damascus."
Prisoners become Muslims, he said, "Because it is safer to
become Muslim in jail. They're able to join the gang."
But beyond protection from physical violence, converting to
Islam gives alienated prisoners something else, Innis contended. "They're
able to express their hostility using a religious cover. They're able to
express their anti-Americanism in a religious framework."
The pressure to convert can be overwhelming, Innis contended, noting that
"even a fierce and ferocious boxing champion like Mike Tyson goes to jail
and becomes a Muslim."
The civil rights leader said the first item he'd like to discuss with
Attorney General Ashcroft is the potential national security threat posed
by al-Qaeda sympathizers who will one day be released from prison.
Noting that both confessed al-Qaeda shoe bomber Richard Reid and
dirty-bomb suspect Jose Padilla were jailhouse converts to Islam, the CORE
chief urged, "That's the prime target to deal with right now. Do something
about those prisons."
Innis said it's imperative that the Bush administration send the message
to youthful al-Qaeda prospects now in jail: "You don't have to become a
Muslim to survive in prison. The government will protect you."
He also wants to win the Bush administration's support for
prison-based instruction on the history of the relationship between blacks
and Islam, which, he noted, began with the slave trade.
"When these prisoners give up their Christian 'slave name' for a Muslim
pre-Christian 'slave name' - if they knew the history, they wouldn't be so
inclined," he observed.