In 1998, during his reelection campaign, Florida Congressman Jim Davis accepted a financial contribution from Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader Sami al-Arian, only to donate it to charity after al-Arian was arrested and indicted. This was far from a shining moment in Davis’s political career. So why, when Davis is running for Governor of Florida, is he now accepting donations from al-Arian’s main spokesperson in the media, Ahmed Bedier?
For years, al-Arian was being investigated for his role in the promotion and financing of terrorism abroad. Indeed, the man was a co-founder of PIJ and acted as its global chief financial officer, governing “Shura Council” secretary, and senior North American representative (David Tell, Weekly Standard, 2003). His reputation, apart from jihadi circles, was not a stellar one. That being the case, al-Arian took the necessary steps to change his image by attempting to gain political influence. Over the course of three years, he would donate close to $5,000 to candidates of his choosing. [His wife, Nahla, would contribute $3,000 more.] Al-Arian’s first choice was freshman Congressman Jim Davis.
Davis had been elected to Congress in 1996, and like all public servants, he was actively looking to raise funds for his reelection. On October 28 1998, al-Arian answered the call with a check for $200. Just nine days later, two PIJ suicide bombers detonated themselves in Jerusalem, murdering two and wounding 20. In February of 2003, al-Arian was taken into custody and charged with playing a major role in a global terrorist organization. Subsequently, television reports on Tampa’s local Bay News 9 and NBC 6 exposed the campaign contribution. Davis responded by stating that he would donate the contribution to charity.
Two elections and over 100 PIJ murders later, Davis has threatened a replay of the embarrassing saga by accepting a campaign donation of $100 from al-Arian’s main spokesperson in the media, the Communications Director for the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the co-host of WMNF’s True Talk, Ahmed Bedier.
Bedier, on his radio show last month, quipped, “I wouldn’t work for any organization that has any type of bad connections.” When Bedier made the statement, he was talking about CAIR, a group that he has been with for over three-and-a-half years, a group that was related to the terrorist organization Hamas. Since CAIR began, it has had four of its officials convicted in and/or deported from the United States, all found to have had ties with Hamas or al-Qaeda. One of the four, Randall Todd “Ismail” Royer, previously a CAIR Communications Specialist and Civil Rights Coordinator, was conspiring with others to attack Americans and Indians overseas.
These actions have been backed up with statements from CAIR officials. CAIR’s co-founder and National Executive Director, Nihad Awad, stated in March of 1994, at a panel discussion at Barry University in Florida, “After I researched the situation inside and outside Palestine, I am in support of the Hamas movement….” (Steven Emerson, American Jihad, 2002) In November of 2001, CAIR’s then-Executive Director of its New York chapter, Ghazi Khankan, was quoted as saying at an interfaith event, “We don’t support Hamas and Hezbollah just to support them. I look at the issues.”
None of this has escaped Ahmed Bedier. For years, Bedier has acted as Sami al-Arian’s chief spokesperson in the media. Even after al-Arian pled guilty to conspiring to assist PIJ, for which he received 57 months in prison, Bedier took his side, going as far as to describe the judge who sentenced him as “biased and unfair.” (Orlando Sentinel, May 2, 2006) Bedier has defended PIJ, as well. In December of 2005, when he appeared on a local Tampa television show, ‘Your Turn with Kathy Fountain,’ after being asked by the host if he believed there was anything immoral about al-Arian’s connection to PIJ, Bedier said that, “before 1995, there was nothing immoral about it.”
Palestinian Islamic Jihad is not the only terrorist organization Ahmed Bedier has aided. Bedier’s July 21, 2006, radio show was devoted entirely to support for Hezbollah. On the show, all three of his guests – author Bilal al-Amin, Professor Rania Masri, and FSU alum Fadia Anani – gushed praise for the group, never once being reprimanded by Bedier (or his co-host, Samar Jarrah). Some statements from the guests included:
- Al-Amin: “I’m not very good at being brief about Hezbollah, but I’ll try. I’ll just say that it’s not at all the picture that is portrayed of it in the West, as some sort of cartoonish terrorist group. It is a liberation movement in many senses for the Lebanese Shia that has huge support, probably more than any party in Lebanon…It has quite a clean record, and its leader, Hasan Nasrallah, is revered probably by most Lebanese as a fairly eloquent and capable leader.”
- Masri: “Let everyone understand that Hezbollah is not a building, Hezbollah is [not] a street. Hezbollah is composed of families that believe in liberation, families that believe [in] dignity, families that believe [in] purpose.”
- Anani: “They have been trying to invade Lebanon since the first day. Yesterday alone, there was a 20-hour battle between the Israeli army and the National Resistance Movement of Hezbollah. For 20 hours they fought. This speaks volumes about the heroic nature of Hezbollah.”
- Anani: “The fact of the matter is that Hezbollah has a lot of the voice of the people here, so ultimately Hezbollah’s voice needs to be heard. You can’t just keep shutting it away, because it’s always gonna rise again.”
Today are the primary elections for the state of Florida. One of the elections will determine who gets to run as the Democrat for the powerful and prestigious position of governor. The big question is whether Davis will hold the Bedier contribution, like he did the one with al-Arian, and just wait for Bedier to follow in his friend’s footsteps and suddenly donate it, when it’s exposed in the press? Or will he do the right thing and give back the money now?
For all those concerned, the Davis campaign can be contacted at: 813-875-2006.