MILLER: Are Terror Groups Recruiting On College Campuses?

DURHAM, NC - DECEMBER 09: A general view of the Duke Chapel on the campus of Duke University as snow falls from Winter Storm Diego on December 9, 2018 in Durham, North Carolina.
Lance King/Getty Images

The legal think tank Zachor Legal Institute has filed a complaint with the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office, asking for an investigation into possible terror recruitment activities at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

The Department of Education announced on June 17 that it will investigate an anti-Israel conference held in March at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill after multiple reports surfaced that showed pro-terrorist and anti-Semitic propaganda constituted the bulk of the seminar’s content. Published reports indicate that the same anti-Israel groups active on Duke University’s campus — Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Coalition for Peace With Justice — were also involved with this controversial campus event.

Last April, during Duke’s “Israel Apartheid Week,” SJP provided representatives of Florida-based Dream Defenders and Eyewitness Palestine with access to the campus to teach students about a supposed linkage between the Black Lives Matter movement and the “Palestinian struggle.” Videos show Eyewitness Palestine spokespeople claiming that Israel targets innocent “black and brown people” for torture and death, while recruiters counseled the students that it was their “duty” to fight for the lives of all people of color in their “transnational movement for black lives.”

This “transnational movement” runs a training camp in an area of the Middle East controlled by Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), where willing participants are transported to be trained by “resistance leaders.” Videos and reports show recruiters urging students to travel as a delegation to refugee camps in Ramallah for in-home visits with leaders of the PFLP. The local Coalition for Peace with Justice reportedly covers the travel expenses.

Students from Duke and from North Carolina Central University enthusiastically described on video their own “transformational” meetings in the homes of leaders of the PFLP back in 2017. They presented themselves as active participants, rather than merely conveyors of information, for the PFLP. Because students meet with leaders of a foreign terror organization, as opposed to rank-and-file members, they may put themselves in legal jeopardy.

The PFLP has been on the U.S. State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations since 1997. The group has boasted responsibility for terror attacks ranging from suicide bombings and bus bombings to mass shootings that, in total, have killed hundreds of Israelis and many American citizens.

“In Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, the Supreme Court found that the law prohibiting the provision of material support to designated terror groups did not violate the First Amendment, even if the material support consisted entirely of organizational type support for a terror group’s non-violent activities,” cites the complaint. “The reasoning was that support is fungible, in that even non-violent support can allow a terror organization to re-allocate its resources so it can focus more on its violent activities.”

However, the Eyewitness Palestine organization itself has continued communications with leaders of the PFLP, according to pictures, videos, and public reports.

“Campus anti-Israel groups are not only inciting hate, they are providing material support to foreign terror organizations,” notes Zachor Legal in its complaint to the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office.

“The United States Supreme Court has found that providing material support to designated foreign terror organizations is a violation of federal law and specified that providing organizational assistance to such terror organizations, including engaging in advocacy in support of the organizations, is a prima facie violation of the federal law and not protected by the First Amendment,” continued the complaint. “This is exactly what occurs with the Eyewitness Palestine delegations.”

Zachor Legal also points out that local organizations may be raising funds for charities that are actually fronts for terror groups, as was the case in the federal Holy Land Foundation prosecution, where the U.S. government found that domestic charity groups were actually sending funds to Hamas. Groups like Durham’s Coalition for Justice with Peace, which solicit money for multiple children’s charities in Gaza, should be investigated to ensure that donations are not being funneled to the PFLP, Hamas, or Islamic Jihad.

Part of the evidence developed for this case was the result of an investigation in North Carolina, Florida, and Israel by Sloan Rachmuth of the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center. The investigation is supported by information gathered at meetings, in public records, social media postings, videos, and interviews with sources on multiple North Carolina campuses.

While the leadership of the groups operating on local campuses and in local communities know that their activities are in support of foreign terror organizations, it is likely that many of the students and community members who participate in the activities of these groups are unaware of the ties to terror and simply believe that they are involved in a social justice endeavor.

“College campuses in North Carolina are in danger,” cautions Marc Greendorfer, president of Zachor Legal. “Students recruited at these events are likely unaware that they are being culled by radical operatives to go overseas to train with terrorists. Also left in the dark about these terror recruiting events are well-meaning parents who expect public safety officials to keep their children safe.”

Paul Miller is president and executive director of the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center. Follow him on Twitter at @pauliespoint.

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