“I grew up in the crosshairs of the Israeli-Palestinian war in Gaza” and “the threat of terrorism has cast a long shadow on my life.” Even so, to impose “even more intensive vetting on the entire Muslim world would be dangerous and unconstitutional.” American Muslims “are proven to be peaceful contributors to our American economy and way of life,” and “moderate Muslims, like my friend and former colleague Rumana Ahmed, can help protect American lives and restore the original glow that once graced the face of Islam.”
Who is this who touts the “original glow” of Islam, lived in the shadow of terrorism, and grew up the crosshairs of the “Israeli-Palestinian war” in Gaza? It’s Ammar Campa-Najjar, writing in a February 25, 2017 commentary in The Hill, which bills him as “a Mexican-Palestinian American and former Obama campaign and administration official.” But there’s more to the man.
Ammar is the grandson of Muhammad Abu Yousef al-Najjar, mastermind of the Palestinian terrorists who abducted, tortured and murdered 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972. Maybe that’s the “shadow” of terrorism he was talking about. Ammar is also the son of Palestinian Authority official Yasser Najjar. Ammar claims his father “migrated from the Middle East to America on a student visa,” met a Mexican-American lady named Abigail and raised a family in San Diego county, but there’s a problem here.
Back in 2003 Linda Gradstein of National Public Radio interviewed Yasser al-Najjar at his office in Gaza, where he served with the Palestinian Authority. Yasser was married, with four children but his wife and children were not named. After the Israelis killed Muhammad Abu Yousef al-Najjar, Yasser was a fugitive. Son Ammar has not documented Yasser’s move to the United States, or claims that he earned an MBA from San Diego State and started several clothing boutiques.
“I attended an Islamic school in San Diego as a child,” Ammar told The Hill. “The school was part of a mosque called Masjid Abu Bakr, where hundreds of people prayed and maintained strong relations with local elected and law enforcement officials. I knew of three men at that mosque, Khalid al-Mihdhar, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Hani Hanjour, who were issued visas. . . Those three men were among the 19 terrorist hijackers who carried out the September 11 attacks in 2001.” So maybe the relations with politicians and law enforcement were not that strong, and Ammar may have “known of” other terrorists in Gaza.
Why anybody would move there from San Diego, “America’s finest city,” is hard to fathom, but Ammar told the San Diego Union-Tribune he “lived in Gaza from ages 8 to 12.” Born in 1989, that would put Ammar’s Gaza stretch from 1997 to 2001, year of the 9/11 attack and “five years after President Bill Clinton got the Israelis and Palestinians to sign a peace agreement. Sadly, that peace didn’t last, and Gaza devolved into a war zone — the Second Intifada.” The former Obama official wasn’t done.
“As a proud Mexican Palestinian American, witnessing a U.S.-brokered peace collapse into a U.S.-funded war was an early lesson on how fragile things can be. I remember the first night of bombing, the entire city of Gaza had its electricity cut off, and I, my mom, stepmom, dad and younger brothers hid in the dark corner of a cold kitchen floor as Apache helicopters and F-16s leveled surrounding buildings and carpet-bombed the town for hours.”
Note the joint presence of “mom and stepmom.” Ammar has two mommies, and a daddy who allegedly “migrated to the USA on a student visa” but is also a Palestinian Authority official in Gaza. His own time in Gaza, Ammar told Rolling Stone, was “a very Obamaesque, Dreams of Your Father, situation.”
Despite attendance at an Islamic school that was part of a mosque, Ammar comes billed as a Christian. His mother is Catholic and as a teenager, “he spent time as a teenager living with a great-uncle who is a Catholic priest,” but the priest is not named or interviewed in the story. It’s not clear when, exactly, Ammar abandoned Islam but the story stuck. It was hardly the only example of deceptive behavior.
As La Prensa San Diego revealed, the Islamic student once went by the name Ammar Yasser Najjar, and only changed it to Ammar “Campa-Najjar” when he ran for Congress in 2018. Rolling Stone billed him as a “a rockstar Democratic candidate.” He ran as a progressive and lost to Duncan Hunter. In 2020, the son of Yasser Najjar styled himself as a moderate conservative and lost to Darrell Issa.
The congressional loser had never held public office or served on any local community board, commission, or civic group in the city of Chula Vista, near San Diego, where he ran for mayor in 2022. Despite more than 700 mail-in ballots with either non-matching or missing signatures, the Obama Democrat lost to Republican John McCann. In August, the former Obama White House official joined the U.S. Navy.
“Today, in front of my family, friends, my grandmother in heaven and God, I stood aboard the USS Midway and swore an oath to preserve, protect and defend our nation as a commissioned United States Navy Officer,” Ammar told People Magazine, quoting Winston Churchill that as a reservist he was now “twice the citizen.”
The former Ammar Yasser Najjar claimed he first tried to join up at age 17, but as People’s Virginia Chamlee explained, “his mother refused to sign off on the decision, due to his father being away at the time.” In similar style, Ammar told Robin Abcarian of the Los Angeles Times that “he’d always wanted to serve in the military, and even tried to enlist at 17 before his mother put a stop to it.”
Neither journalist specified whether that was the mother or the step-mother Ammar previously mentioned. And no comment from Yasser Najjar, the Palestinian Authority official in Gaza who somehow migrated to the USA on a student visa.
“The military doesn’t have the luxury of getting into these cultural disputes trying to divide us,” the officer told Abcarian. “Where some people have seen my heritage, my background as a liability, the Navy says those are not liabilities, they are assets. A command of the Arab language, fluent in Spanish, having lived in the Middle East, my cultural competency gives us a strategic advantage. . . My Arabic is actually more fluent than my Spanish.”
Abcarian found Campa-Najjar to be somewhat “guarded” but accepted his contention that he was done with politics, “at least for now.” The columnist might cast a glance at his Wikipedia entry.
“Ammar Campa-Najjar is a United States naval officer,” it begins, as though he had graduated Annapolis and commanded a carrier. His father Yasser Najjar “was an important internal critic of Palestinian hardliners” and during his time in Gaza, “he attempted to counteract the rising influence of Hamas.” Grandfather Muhammad Abu Yousef al-Najjar “has been the subject of significant controversy,” and so on.
On Sunday, nearly a thousand pro-Hamas demonstrators gathered in San Diego, but if the newly minted naval officer showed up, he did not speak to reporters. At this writing, his former White House colleague Rumana Ahmed has also been on the quiet side.
“In 2011, I was hired, straight out of college, to work at the White House and eventually the National Security Council,” Ahmed told the Atlantic in 2017. In that role, Ahmed became senior adviser to Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, a big-time promoter of the Iran deal. That was an easy sell to reporters, Rhodes quipped, because they “literally know nothing.”
If that seems a stretch, check out the establishment media reporting on the man formerly known as Ammar Nasser Najjar. He’s the Palestinian Mexican-American with two mommies, who moved to Gaza. He’s the Islamic school student who became a Christian and seeks to restore “the original glow that once graced the face of Islam.”
The rockstar Democratic candidate is in the Navy now, and a Senate seat is up for grabs. As Donald Trump likes to say, we’ll have to see what happens.