Yet a migrant couple in Pennsylvania illustrated Thursday that there is ample reason to temper our enthusiasm over Old Joe’s welcome mat: Shahidul Gaffar, a naturalized citizen, and his wife, Nabila Khan, a legal permanent resident, both from Bangladesh, were sentenced to federal prison for sending nearly $5,600 to Khan’s brothers, who happen to be Islamic State (ISIS) jihadis. Writes Robert Spencer
Old Joe Biden’s handlers are in the process of bringing 94,000 Afghan refugees into the United States, and really, only a racist, bigoted “Islamophobe” could possibly object to such a grand humanitarian gesture, right? Yet a migrant couple in Pennsylvania illustrated Thursday that there is ample reason to temper our enthusiasm over Old Joe’s welcome mat: Shahidul Gaffar, a naturalized citizen, and his wife, Nabila Khan, a legal permanent resident, both from Bangladesh, were sentenced to federal prison for sending nearly $5,600 to Khan’s brothers, who happen to be Islamic State (ISIS) jihadis.
As Gaffar was sentenced, he declared: “God bless America, God bless the United States.” Khan insisted that the couple only sent money out of love for her brothers, not because they supported ISIS. Weeping, she said: “I’m really sorry about everything I did.…It has cost my family a lot.” U.S. District Judge Joshua D. Wolson nevertheless sentenced Gaffar to eighteen months in prison, and Khan to two years, after which she is to be deported back to Bangladesh.
The Philadelphia Inquirer observed that “the nearly four-hour court proceeding in Philadelphia — which played out days before the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks — brought into focus the persistent allure of extremist ideologies in the decades since but also the difficult choices and disastrous consequences facing some families of those caught in that web.”
So is this just a tragic story of misguided family loyalty? Not exactly.
The Inquirer goes on to note that one brother started talking about joining ISIS, prompting Khan, for reasons left unexplained in the story, to take their children and visit family in Bangladesh. Meanwhile, the other brother was living with Gaffar and started expressing a desire to join ISIS as well. Gaffar “told the court Thursday that he and his wife foolishly indulged Ibrahim, hoping they could talk him out of going and fearing if they pushed back too hard it might push him away. The money Gaffar sent to Bangladesh was mostly intended to support his wife while she was overseas, he said. Ibrahim had pressured her to give it to him instead.”
Gaffar explained: “The thought process was: Since we’ve already lost one brother, let’s not lose another. We tried to solve our own problem. This is why I didn’t go to the police here. This is why I didn’t alert police there. We thought we could handle it ourselves.”
Well, all right. Unfortunately for his story now, however, at the time “Gaffar texted his mother-in-law, telling her to be proud of her son ‘for the noble cause and for the sake of Allah!!’” Gaffar even “expressed disappointment that he had remained behind in the U.S., which he described in a text as ‘the land of great unbelievers.’” When the second brother joined ISIS, Gaffar was thrilled: “At the same time, I feel very proud. What a lucky mom and dad.”
Now Gaffar says “he didn’t really believe any of those statements and that he only said them to keep open the lines of communication with his wife’s family.” He added: “When you’re in a toxic situation, sometimes you just talk without knowing the consequences.”
Wolson, however, pointed out that “family pressure can be great, but there’s a part of me that thinks that people who love America don’t talk about it as the ‘land of unbelievers.’”
Indeed. And the question before us now is how many of the Afghan evacuees Biden’s handlers are busy bringing into the United States believe they are coming to the “land of unbelievers.” The public discourse has been so deformed by fears of charges of “Islamophobia,” which can bring professional ruin, that no one outside of PJ Media and a few others is even asking that question.
There is, however, abundant reason to ask it. The Washington Post reported Friday that “the Department of Homeland Security flagged 44 Afghan evacuees as potential national security risks during the past two weeks as the government screened tens of thousands for resettlement in the United States.” Forty-four may not seem to be a large number out of 94,000, but of course many have not been screened yet, and some are likely to slip through, particularly in light of the law enforcement and intelligence establishment’s continuing determination to ignore the ideological roots of jihad terrorism and pretend that there really isn’t any violence inspired by the exhortations to make war against unbelievers that can be found in Islamic texts and teachings.
The story of Shahidul Gaffar and Nabila Khan should be read as a cautionary tale, especially by authorities who are overseeing the Afghan refugee operation. But nothing is more certain than the fact that they will ignore this story.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
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