Homeland Terrorism

How Arabs and Muslims Should Combat It—Despite What the Jewish Defense Organization Says

I for one do not really think the "new war" will be fought overseas. . . . I feel the real war is gonna be at home. We [hear] language about "finding their supporters and their organization.". . . I fear that the government is going to use this as a pretext—and I'm going to say the I-word—to go after those groups and individuals who have stood up against the Israeli lobby in this country. They will use this as an opportunity to empanel grand juries, to go after financial records, to do everything they can to repay their friends in the Middle East. And we know who their friends are. . . .

—Radical attorney Stanley Cohen, speaking to Muslims in Passaic County, September 22

This is the kind of Israel bashing that infuriates the Jewish Defense Organization, a band of anti-Arab and anti-black extremists who once called for the assassination of the Reverend Al Sharpton. But because it is illegal for the JDO to openly sanction the murder of people like Cohen, it has spewed the type of incendiary rhetoric that could get him killed in the wake of the outrage over the terrorist attack on America.

Last week, after the Voice first reported that Cohen might defend Saudi Islamic extremist Osama bin Laden—if he is captured and brought to justice for the massacre at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon—the JDO left a threatening outgoing message about Cohen on the group's answering machine. Although the message stops short of calling on supporters to exact "infinite justice"—what the Bush administration has promised to deliver to the terrorists it suspects are behind the suicide bombings—it makes plain the fate the JDO wishes would befall Cohen.

This is what callers will hear on the two-minute-long recording:

A vicious bombing by Arab and Muslim terrorists against America, the same Arab and Muslim terrorists that want to destroy Israel and also want to destroy America. And yet an attorney by the name of Stanley Cohen, a self-hating Jew, may become the lawyer, and offering to be the lawyer for Bin Laden, the Arab terrorist. Stanley Cohen defended Hamas terrorists and now is defending Bin Laden. Stanley Cohen's office, for your information, is located at [address deleted], and that's in Manhattan. His office number is [deleted]. Stanley Cohen is a traitor to the Jews. He is a traitor to America and all the victims of the World Trade Center bombing, all those innocent people of all different backgrounds. Their fingers point at this greedy pig, Cohen, and they scream out for justice.

Boycott! Don't ever use Stanley Cohen as an attorney. Spread the word about what he is. Give his phone number to all your friends. . . . Stanley Cohen, self-hating Jew. Stanley Cohen, traitor to America. Stanley Cohen, traitor to Israel. Stanley Cohen, garbage that needs to be swept into the bag and run out of town, permanently, legally, and effectively. Stanley Cohen must be driven from New York, legally and effectively. Jewish Defense Organization intends to do it.

The ponytailed Cohen, who believes that his detractor, a male JDO member, is "in need of some major doses of Thorazine and a good shrink," considered the threat serious enough to file a complaint with the FBI. It mirrors a similar one that three Washington, D.C.-based Muslim organizations lodged with U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, alleging that the JDO's virulent criticism of Cohen amounted to a hate crime. "They, Jews themselves, are targeting me as a Jew, in violation of the law," asserts the 47-year-old Cohen, who has skirmished with the JDO before. In 1995, while Cohen was defending Hamas political leader Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, about six angry JDO members swooped down on the attorney's Lower East Side office. As Cohen recalls, "They basically were confronted by about 50 of my clients from the projects and they ran home quickly."

Cohen claims that after his picture appeared in the Voice, and after the JDO recorded the voice-mail message, he began "receiving hundreds of phone threats, including faxed threats from Israel." He said that during his defense of Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, he got about a dozen faxed threats from Israel; this time he received half that amount. The venomous protests call for this "self-hating Jew" to be "blown up" and "thrown out with the rest of the Arab trash you represent." Cohen has hardened in the face of the threats. "If Osama bin Laden arrived in the United States today and asked me to represent him, sure I'd represent him," he vows.

Last Saturday, leaders at the Islamic Center of Passaic County in New Jersey introduced Stanley Cohen to about 300 bewildered Muslims by playing the JDO's wild threat to get rid of him. Cohen tried to mask his nervousness with humor. "I'm not sure what I can say after that wonderful greeting by my friend on the phone," he says referring to the male voice on the JDO's answering machine. "I hope he has a sister. I can marry her and call him brother-in-law."

The Muslims—men, women, and boys—chuckled. But amid the FBI's wide-ranging investigation of their community's suspected involvement in the September 11 attacks, what the Muslims of Passaic County had invited Cohen to talk to them about was no laughing matter. The FBI seems to be hauling in any Arab or Muslim with ties to Bin Laden's associates. Hundreds of people nationwide are being questioned or held on immigration charges. Many of the Passaic County Muslims feared agents would be knocking on their doors next, and wanted to know about specific rights they once enjoyed under the Constitution. Cohen told them they did not have to cooperate with the FBI, federal prosecutors, or police. But if subpoenaed by a grand jury, they must respond.

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