By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
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.
Lecture-Hall Cage Matches
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.
Horowitz defends the atmosphere at his events by throwing up his hands and pointing to the MSA. "I don't go to campuses inciting people," he says. "I go to speak. I can't have a civil conversation. I have to go with bodyguards, and that's because of the Muslim Student Associations. Their behavior is what's important, not their sophistry in avoiding my questions."
But for someone who devotes a good chunk of his calendar to making students go code-red, Horowitz probably realizes they're an easy – and perhaps the only -- mark for his caliber of agitation.
As Henry Kissinger once said, "University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small." But they're very good for landing you an appearance on Fox News.
The charged atmosphere -- and the readiness of the far right to cheer him on -- allows Horowitz to spin theories with little structural integrity.
One of his favorite conspiracies: that all U.S. Muslim organizations are tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian group with a history of jihad and anti-Semitism that has become Egypt's leading political force. His evidence is woven from the thinnest wool.