Inviting Enemies and Rejecting Friends

By Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld and Alyssa A. Lappen
FrontPageMagazine.com | January 11, 2006

While welcoming outspoken Islamists like Moroccan Mustafa El Khalfi and Malaysian Former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim into the U.S. on “fellowships” and as “visiting scholars,” the State Department has repeatedly denied visas to an Israeli billionaire philanthropist and ally in the U.S. War on Terror.

The State Department had no qualms admitting El Khalfi, whose Islamist activities are well documented. At the early age of 15, he joined Morocco’s Islamist party Jama Islamiya, which is associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. More recently he edited Morocco’s key Islamist newspaper, At-Tajdid, which condones Islamist terrorism and anti-American actions.

Likewise, the State Department found nothing wrong with Anwar Ibrahim, who co-founded the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated and U.S., based International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT). Ibrahim also strongly supports the pro-Jihad doctrine advanced by Qatar-based radical Muslim cleric Yusuf Qaradawi, who is banned from the U.S.

Yet, the Israeli philanthropist, Michael Cherney, who has donated more than $20 million over the last decade to anti-terror activities and studies, and support for terror victims, has been repeatedly denied entry to the U.S. Cherney’s crime? He did not commit any. Unlike most innocent people, he was forced to prove his innocence: his business success and wealth attracted crooks who attempted to extort hundreds of millions from him. When they failed, they went on an international “smear offensive,” and even attempted to kill him.

Now Cherney has been invited next month to the U.S. to receive the first Distinguished Service Award granted by the Intelligence Summit. “The Summit’s International Advisory Council includes former heads of CIA, generals, and the former Chair of British Joint Intelligence Committee.”

Cherney, owner of business conglomerates that included aluminum and communications companies, among other industries, made his fortune by buying low and selling high in the chaotic and unregulated post Soviet economies in several newly independent Eastern European states. These were the years when a new Russian oligarchy was formed by entrepreneurs willing to take the huge risks involved in the modernization and development of antiquated Soviet era industries. Not all of them were successful or honest, and some were proven to be outright criminals. Even the former Russian president Boris Yeltsin and his family were investigated for fraud and corruption.

The competition was fierce. According to Yakov Kedmi, the former head of Netiv, “an operational outlet of [the] Israeli Government in the USSR (and later in CIS) and… East Europe,” it was not uncommon to launch disinformation campaigns to besmirch business rivals, known as “compromat.”

In 1994, the Russian Mafiya threatened Cherney with compromat. This collection of corrupt political officials, police and competitors demanded a share of his profits. He refused to comply and moved to Israel in 1994. Subsequently, these criminals circulated many unsubstantiated rumors about him to the Russian media. These rumors were then picked up and recirculated by the media and others in Switzerland, England, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Monaco, Austria and Israel, among other places. He was accused of murder, but there was never a body, much less any other evidence of any kind. He was accused of drug trafficking and money laundering, but these charges proved equally false.

When domestic law enforcement officials in these countries were challenged, some responded by saying that Cherney’s activities were so sophisticated that they were impossible to trace. But Cherney tackled the charges one by one, sued in some cases for libel, and in all cases to clear his name. He won in all of them.

Over the next several years, courts, law enforcement agencies and even Interpol exonerated Cherney of all rumored illegal activities across Europe and Israel. Only one civil—not criminal—case remains outstanding, in Israel, and most of the accusations in that case have already been dismissed. The rest of the charges are expected to be thrown out soon as well. Officials throughout Eastern Europe, Europe and Israel have legally documented, with statements and extensive evidence, that Cherney has never committed any crime – never even a traffic violation. In Bulgaria, Cherney won a libel case against those who slandered his good name.

Throughout the 1990’s the State Department was busy chasing the Russian ‘Mafiya,’ producing little to show for their efforts. Still, apparently, the State Department prefers to rely on rumors, innuendoes, and unsubstantiated fables from criminals, instead of the massive official documentation proving Cherney’s innocence.

There is ample recent evidence that both Mustafa El Khalfi, and Anwar Ibrahim support Islamist terrorism. Despite the Patriot Act and the special new requirements for extensive background checks for foreigners admitted to the U.S., however, the State Department has yet to update its information either about the anti-American activities of El Khalfi and Ibrahim, or about Michael Cherney’s obvious innocence.


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Alyssa A. Lappen is a U.S.-based investigative journalist. She is currently Managing Editor at the Leeb Group. A former Senior Fellow of the American Center for Democracy (2005-2008); she is also a former Senior Editor of Institutional Investor (1993-1999), Working Woman (1991-1993) and Corporate Finance (1991).

She served six of her 12 years at Forbes (1978-1990) as an Associate Editor. Ms. Lappen was also a staff reporter at The New Haven Register (1975-1977).

During a decade as a freelance, her work appeared in Big Peace, Pajamas Media, Front Page Magazine, American Thinker, Right Side News, Family Security Matters, the Washington Times and many other Internet and print journals. Ms. Lappen also contributed to the Terror Finance Blog, among others.

She supports the right of journalists worldwide to write without fear or restriction on politics, governments, international affairs, terrorism, terror financing and religious support for terrorism, among other subjects.

Ms. Lappen is also an accomplished poet. Her first full-length collection, The Minstrel’s Song, was published by Cross-Cultural Communications in April 2015. Her poems have been published in the 2nd 2007 edition of Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust and both 2007 issues of Wales‘ award-winning Seventh Quarry: Swansea Poetry Magazine.

Dozens of her poems have appeared in print and online literary journals and books. She won the 2000 annual Ruah: A Journal of Spiritual Poetry chapbook award and has received a Harvard Summer Poetry Prize and several honorable mentions.

Alyssa A. Lappen can be reached at alyssaalappen@alyssaalappen.org

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