Longform

David Horowitz Has Made Taunting College Students a Spectator Sport

Page 3 of 5

After heading overseas and rechristening himself Abu Mansoor al-Amriki, Hammami became the media face for al-Shabaab, a Somalian insurgency group now affiliated with al-Qaeda. Besides appearing in recruitment videos, al-Amriki recorded rap songs with a jihadist message. He recently earned a spot on the FBI's most-wanted list.

Ali Asad Chandia was a third-grade teacher at a Muslim school in College Park, Maryland, when the feds booted in his door in 2003. The Pakistan native was eventually handed a 15-year sentence for providing support to Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Muslim extremist group focused on liberating Kashmir from India. The organization is responsible for numerous attacks on military and civilian targets, including the coordinated attacks across Mumbai in 2008, when 164 people were massacred.

Chandia shuttled group members from the airport when they visited America and let them use his home computer to order Kevlar vests, night-vision goggles and other supplies. His conviction was part of a roundup of the Virginia Jihad Network — also dubbed the "Paintball Cell" for the way it road-tested possible terror ops. Chandia was president of the Montgomery College MSA in the late '90s.

A supporter's role also linked Ziyad Khaleel to al-Qaeda. Throughout the '90s, the Palestinian lived in various locations around the U.S., procuring supplies for overseas extremists. Khaleel's purchases included the $7,500 satellite phone Osama bin Laden used to plot the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya. Khaleel previously headed the MSA at Columbia College in Missouri.

During the 1983-84 school year, the MSA at the University of Arizona was run by Wa'el Hamza Julaidan, the son of a wealthy Saudi family. After college, he ran the Islamic Center in Tucson, where he became passionate about the Afghan-Soviet struggle. In 1986, he headed for that region, serving in the mujahideen alongside Abdullah Azzam and bin Laden. The three would later found al-Qaeda.

This small army of MSA presidents-turned-terrorists has provided Horowitz with powerful ammo among the hard-boiled right, which is quick to see the worst in Islam. After all, more than 50 percent of voters in this year's Mississippi Republican primary still believed that President Barack Obama is a Muslim. Given that sentiment, it's not difficult to spray the entire group as a threat within our shores.

Yet students like Galvan see Horowitz's paintings as crude caricatures done by a rudimentary hand.

Like any college group, the MSA includes all kinds. Some chapters emphasize religion, others social outreach. The MSA at the University of California-Berkeley has produced videos on gay rights. The one at UC-Irvine is known for flexing a militant side. Two years ago, 11 members were arrested for disrupting a speech by the Israeli ambassador.

In short: Broad-brushing the entire group is akin to labeling all evangelical Christians as freaks on par with the Westboro Baptist Church. But Horowitz and his followers are willing to sew these instances into a distinctive pattern. Because that's just good business for David Horowitz.


Punch Horowitz's name into a YouTube search, and you'll find ample evidence of a man who clearly enjoys strapping on the pads.

His campus road shows run from a familiar playbook. They typically begin with an invite from college Republicans to speak, followed by Horowitz's spurring an uproar with ads impugning Muslims in school papers. By lecture day, extra security is required — and Horowitz reliably puts on a show.

While visiting UC-San Diego in 2010, Horowitz scored an on-camera checkmate that's become Exhibit A for Muslim hate on campus. During a question-and-answer period, he tangled with a female student in a headscarf. The woman pressed for specifics on MSA's ties to terrorism. Horowitz ducked the question, instead demanding that she denounce Hezbollah on the spot. "For it or against it?" he barked.

"For it," she replied.

Later, the woman — claiming she was upset and confused — backed off the comment. Regardless, Horowitz landed an appearance on Sean Hannity's show to discuss his triumph.

At a UC-Santa Barbara lecture, he didn't just face down a hostile audience; he controlled the crowd's heat as if his hand had been on a thermostat.

The packed auditorium was filled with members of the MSA. One outraged student after the next took the microphone to confront Horowitz. He nimbly grabbed the reins of each question, steering it off in his own direction or bullying students into frustrated silences by demanding on-the-spot denunciations of groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. Shouts of "Fuck you!" and "You're making stuff up!" periodically popped up from the seats.

Horowitz's incendiary rhetoric was on full display at a Brooklyn College appearance last year. "No people has shown itself so morally sick as the Palestinians have," he announced. "No other people in the world have sunk so low morally as the Palestinians have, and yet everybody is afraid to say this." The crowd responded with angry cries.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Kyle Swenson
Contact: Kyle Swenson