Earlier this week, a media firestorm erupted around a Heritage Foundation panel about the 2012 Benghazi attack, which featured a number of anti-Muslim activists including ACT! for America’s Brigitte Gabriel and Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy.
Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank attended the event, and wrote about an ugly exchange in which a Muslim woman in the audience asked a question about Muslim representation at the event, and was met with a tirade from Gabriel, who told her that the “peaceful majority” of Muslims was “irrelevant,” made a comparison to Nazi Germany, and demanded to know if the woman was an American.
Milbank’s column, in turn, caused outrage from the conservative media and from Politico, who claimed that he misrepresented the event, although, as Milbank later pointed out, his critics were not actually there to see Gabriel’s diatribe and the enthusiastic response of the Heritage crowd.
Now, Gabriel is responding to criticism of her remarks in trademark fashion, by attempting to smear the woman who asked her the question.
In a fundraising email yesterday, Gabriel claimed that she had found “additional information” about the woman that “begins to bring into more focus the possible real reason for her ‘question’ at Monday’s event.” Gabriel breathlessly reports that the woman, Saba Ahmed, has been active in politics before (not a huge surprise for someone attending a panel event in Washington). She then tries to link Ahmed to an attempted terror plot in Portland (Ahmed was a family friend of the suspect, and has not in any way been implicated in it). And to top it all off, Gabriel reports that Ahmed was once arrested for something completely unrelated.
This line of attack should not come as a huge surprise from someone who has used similarly tenuous connections to claim that former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin was a Muslim Brotherhood agent, an accusation that Gaffney repeated at the panel.
Gabriel concludes her email by repeating her remark from the panel that “it is time we take political correctness and throw it in the garbage” and asking for money from her supporters.
Although the only focus of Monday’s Heritage event was getting to the bottom of the Benghazi attack and holding those responsible accountable for their actions (or lack of action), my panel was asked a rather unusual question by a woman in the audience, Saba ‘Queen’ Ahmed – a woman portraying herself as a young Muslim student concerned about the discrimination of Muslims.
Ms. Ahmed has been described by many in the media as a “young Muslim law student.” However as is so often the case, there is just a little more to the story.
The additional information we found about Ms. Ahmed begins to bring into more focus the possible real reason for her “question” at Monday’s event – and a possible explanation about why she attended the discussion and left immediately after her question and our exchange:
She is CEO/President of Saba Ahmed, LLC a Washington, DC, lobbying firm.
She is the friend of the family of Mohamed Osman Mohamud, the Somali-American accused of attempting to bomb a Portland Christmas tree lighting ceremony in 2010. (In fact, here is a photo of her leaving his court proceedings!)
She is a former candidate for U.S. Congress. (Right: Image from her campaign website)
She has been active in Democratic politics as well as with the radical “Occupy” movement.
She was an assistant of former Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski and also for U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).
She was arrested for a “stalking incident” in Florida.
I am glad that I had the opportunity to address Ms. Ahmed’s comments directly and respectfully – even though they had nothing to do with the issue of the event. It was an important educational moment.
I stand by how I closed my remarks on Monday:
It is time we take political correctness and throw it in the garbage where it belongs, and start calling a spade a spade.
I have received letters and e-mails from all over the country in support of my response to Ms. Ahmed. I am humbled by, and appreciative of, this support and encouragement. And I want you to know that I intend to continue standing up to individuals like this who seek only to misrepresent the truth and who use the liberal media to spread falsehoods about the Islamist threat that surrounds us.
UPDATE: On Sean Hannity's program last night, Gabriel again attacked Ahmed, saying “she took the limelight instead of standing up as an American.” Hannity then spent several minutes hounding Ahmed.