Muhammad Salah is shown with supporters leaving the Everett McKinley Dirksen Federal Courthouse in Chicago on Tuesday, January 9, 2007. (Chicago Tribune Photo by Terrence Antonio James.)
In a move that will draw ire among those who fear the ever-growing perils of the America's preoccupation with Islamic-sensitivity, the administration made a bold step Wednesday -- the day after President Obama won his re-election bid -- of removing a convicted Hamas operative (and Chicago resident) from its designated terrorist list.
59-year old Muhammad Salah, who spent nearly five years in an Israeli prison for funding the terrorist outfit, was taken off the list by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control. The terrorist designation prohibited Salah from obtaining employment or allegedly to make simple purchases without seeking permission from proper authorities. JTA explains the details:
Two months ago, backed by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the American Friends Service Committee, he filed a lawsuit for his removal.
"A strong message was sent, and that is all Americans are entitled to their due process and essential rights," the Anti-Discrimination Committee said in a statement.
The organizations had challenged the designation in part because it forbade them from assisting Salah -- a ban they said violated their First Amendment protections.
Stranger still, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is actually a national Quaker organization.
"One of our principle tenets is we work in partnership with the most vulnerable," Michael McConnell, Midwest regional director for AFSC told the Chicago Tribune. "Not being able to work in some kind of partnership or in connection with Muhammad Salah is against our core principles, which are based on Quaker principles of equality. The American Friends Service Committee believes everyone is of God, and because of that there is that divine spark that we can connect with in any person."
In 1993 Salah was convicted in Israel for funding Hamas after Israeli authorities found $95,000 in his eastern Jerusalem hotel room. He returned to the U.S. 1997.
In 2007, Salah was acquitted of U.S. charges that he funded Hamas, but was ultimately convicted of lying under oath in the civil case brought by the family of David Boim, an American teenager murdered by the militant group.
With a second-Obama term now solidified, many conservatives fear a lenient approach to dealing with convicted terrorists and Islamists operating in the U.S. will intensify.