Tom Campbell’s Troubling Ties

A Republican Senate candidate's record includes connections to Islamists.

Republican Tom Campbell, who served in the House of Representatives for ten years between 1989 and 2001, is currently running for the U.S. Senate seat occupied by California Democrat Barbara Boxer. While the incumbent has acted as little more than a rubber stamp for the Obama agenda, it is by no means clear that Campbell would represent much of an improvement.

His credentials as a self-anointed “fiscal conservative” are tainted by several unsavory elements: an apparent hostility toward America's staunch ally, Israel; an inability to comprehend the aggressive and hateful nature of radical Islam; an eagerness to appease Islamists who have intimate ties to known terrorists; and a propensity to repeatedly massage the truth until such time as his prevarications are publicly discredited with clear and compelling evidence – at which point Campbell typically concedes that he may have inadvertently goofed. These are hardly the qualities of a man who could be depended upon to help advance a conservative resurgence in America.

Consider, to start, Campbell's most recent falsehood. In a February 24th interview, the candidate was asked whether there was any truth to an allegation that in 2000 he had accepted a campaign donation from Sami Al-Arian, the University of South Florida professor who was, at that time, the North American leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) – a terrorist organization whose objectives include the destruction of Israel.

Campbell replied emphatically, “I received no contribution from Sami Al-Arian,” though he did concede it was possible that Al-Arian's wife had given him some money that year. When a Federal Election Commission report subsequently showed that Al-Arian had in fact made a $1,000 donation to Campbell on May 2, 2000 – and that Al-Arian's wife, Nahla, had given an additional $300 – Campbell reluctantly let the truth drip out:

“I apologize, but I made a mistake. I was aware that Sami Al-Arian had asked others to contribute to me … I did not realize that [he] had contributed himself. It was an honest mistake, with no attempt to mislead.”

Campbell's supporters have pointed out that when the then-congressman took Al-Arian’s money, the latter had not yet been charged with any terrorism-related crimes. That's true enough, but media accounts speculating about Al-Arian's inks to PIJ dated back to as early as 1994. Campbell was undoubtedly aware of those rumors but accepted the professor's money anyway. Why?

Perhaps it was because he shared at least some of Al-Arian's agendas. At a May 2000 congressional hearing, for instance, Campbell testified in support of Al-Arian's campaign to repeal the provisions of the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. This law permitted federal authorities to detain foreign terrorist suspects on the basis of classified information, and to withhold that information from the suspects’ defense attorneys on the rationale that full disclosure could conceivably place the sources of the information in physical danger. Later that year, Campbell penned a letter to immigration judge R. Kevin McHugh, on behalf of Al-Arian's brother-in-law and terrorist collaborator Mazen Al-Najjar, who was busy protesting the federal government's plan to use classified evidence to prosecute him. A number of years earlier, Al-Najjar and Al-Arian together had established the World Islam Study Enterprise (WISE), an Islamic think tank that was shut down in 1995 for its suspected ties to terrorism.

According to Campbell spokesman Jamie Fisfis, there was nothing nefarious about Campbell's actions on behalf of these terrorists. It was just a case of good intentions poorly executed. “A lot of folks [at that time] were involved in trying to improve relations with the Muslim world,” explains Fisfis, “and this is one of those initiatives Tom Campbell regrets being involved in.”

In September 2000, Campbell continued to advocate for Al-Arian's (and Al-Najjar's) agenda when he attended the Islamic Society of North America's 36th annual conference and participated in a panel discussion focusing on how the Muslim community could organize to prevent the U.S. government from using secret evidence against Islamic terror suspects. Other panel members included Agha Saeed of the American Muslim Alliance (which has pledged “to condemn [Israeli] atrocities and to expose the hideous nature of this neo-colonial occupation”); Salam Al-Marayati of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (which opposes the shutdown of Muslim charities suspected of supporting terrorism); Nihad Awad of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (an outgrowth of the Islamic Association for Palestine, which was established by senior Hamas operative Mousa Abu Marzook and functioned as Hamas' public relations and recruitment arm in the United States); and Najir Khaja of the American Muslim Council, (whose founder and former chairman Abdurahman Alamoudi was a supporter of Hamas, Hezbollah, the Islamic Association for Palestine, and Islamic Group leader Omar Abdel Rahman, mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Even longtime anti-America radical Ramsey Clark made an appearance at the conference.

The following month, Campbell and Al-Arian crossed paths again, when both spoke at an American Muslim Alliance gathering in Irvine, California.

Campbell's questionable moves as a congressman were not limited to his efforts on behalf of Al-Arian and Al-Najjar. Indeed, in April 2000 his Senate campaign gave $1,000 to the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), in support of that organization's lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of President Bill Clinton’s military action in Yugoslavia. CCR is a pro-Castro outfit that only represents defendants whose political views it supports. Among its more notable clients have been such luminaries as Tom Hayden, co-founder of the radical Students for a Democratic Society; Leonard Peltier, an American Indian rights activist who murdered two FBI agents in 1975; and attorney Lynne Stewart, who illegally facilitated and concealed communications between her client, the incarcerated "blind sheik" Omar Abdel Rahman, and members of his Egyptian terrorist organization. CCR has also taken up the cause of such groups as the Black Liberation Movement, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Communist Party USA, the Black Panther Party, the Chicago Seven, and the Hamas-linked Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.

Just one month after the 9/11 attacks, Campbell received a lifetime achievement award at the American Muslim Association's national convention. At that event, speakers reportedly suggested that the United States should respond to the al-Qaeda attacks by “re-evaluat[ing] its foreign policy—specifically its positions on Israel and Iraq.”

We can learn a great deal about an individual by taking note of who his friends and supporters are. When it was recently shown that Campbell had indeed accepted Sami Al-Arian's money during his 2000 political campaign, none other than the aforementioned Salam Al-Marayati, Executive Director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, rushed to Campbell's defense. “It’s an unfortunate pattern in the campaigning to attack people because of their association with the Muslim community,” Al-Marayati said. “People are using it selectively to scare voters.... It’s just an unfortunate exploitation of people’s fears.”

This was the same Salam Al-Marayati who, a few hours after the 9/11 attacks, told a radio audience:

“If we're going to look at suspects, we should look to the groups that benefit the most from these kinds of incidents, and I think we should put the state of Israel on the suspect list because I think this diverts attention from what's happening in the Palestinian territories so that they can go on with their aggression and occupation and apartheid policies.”

It was also the same man who in 2004 demanded that the Treasury Department allow the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, whose assets had been frozen because of the organization's terrorist ties, to transfer $50,000 to the Palestine Children's Relief Fund (PCRF). “This is the donors' money and it should go where donors wanted it to go, to good, charitable causes,” said Al-Marayati. But PCRF is an organization with some heavy ideological baggage of its own. Most notably, it is headed by Stephen Sosebee, who depicts Israel as a murderous Zionist regime that Palestinians must resist by means of “armed struggle.”

Equally troubling is that Campbell is an admirer of Alison Weir (not to be confused with the British historian and author Alison Weir), an activist who contends that America's support for Israel “makes us an accomplice to war crimes and an accessory to oppression”; who depicts the Israeli-Arab conflict as a battle between “the brutalizer and the brutalized”; who states that “Israel will keep shooting kids in the back until we all say, Enough”; and who likens Israel's security barrier in the West Bank to the “Berlin Wall.” Notwithstanding – or perhaps because of – Weir's views, Campbell considers her “an intelligent, careful, and critical” scholar and suggests that “American policy makers would benefit greatly from hearing her first-hand observations and attempting to answer the questions she poses.”

And then, of course, there is the matter of Campbell's voting record during his time in the House of Representatives. In 1990 he opposed a resolution (which was passed 378-34) expressing support for Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, but it’s wrong to say it can’t also be the capital of Palestine,” he once stated. In 1997 and 1999, Campbell introduced separate amendments to cut foreign aid to Israel; one failed in committee by a margin of 9 to 32, the other was defeated on the House floor by a vote of 13-414. Also in 1999, he was one of just 24 House members to vote against a resolution expressing congressional opposition to the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.

Before would-be Republican voters resolve to throw their support behind Tom Campbell in this November's election, they ought to look long and hard at his rather troubling record.