One of the stranger aspects of the Super Bowl LII broadcast on Sunday was the Turkish Airlines sign on the NBC Sports desk during the pre-game show.
Social media posts by fans were not particularly appreciative:
NBC also ran a commercial for Turkish Airlines. Starring television celebrity surgeon Dr. Oz, the ad, like previous years’ Turkish Airlines Super Bowl ads, was an advertising work of art. It was brilliantly written and beautifully produced. It’s hard to imagine the average viewer would feel anything other than attracted to Turkey after watching it.
There is nothing wrong with a business or civic group advertising its message. But the uneasiness the ad caused many viewers was reasonable. Turkish Airlines is not a private business. The Turkish government owns a controlling 49.12 percent of the airline. And the Turkish government is not demonstrating affinity with America, let alone with American sports, these days.
To the contrary, although it’s a member of NATO, everywhere you look, Turkey is actively harming American interests.
For example, Turkey has led the diplomatic onslaught against America since President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem on December 6.
Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan hosted a conference of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in December to criticize the U.S. and was an outspoken advocate of the U.N. General Assembly’s resolution to condemn the American move.
And just last Tuesday, Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) held an America-bashing conference in Istanbul.
As John Rossomando reported for the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) on Monday, the U.S. deported one of the speakers at the conference, Sami al-Arian, in 2015 after he served his prison term for funding the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror group.
Al-Arian operated in the U.S. from the early 1990s through his arrest in 2006. Working under the cover of his position as a computer science professor at the University of South Florida, Arian played a key role in setting up U.S.-based front groups and support networks for the Iranian-controlled PIJ in the 1990s. He also served on PIJ’s Shura council, which governed the terror group. He formed the Islamic Committee for Palestine, which raised money for PIJ and featured PIJ terrorists as speakers at its events.
In addition, Al-Arian reportedly formed the Tampa-based World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE). In the early 1990s, Al-Arian secured a U.S. visa for a man named Ramadan Abdullah Shallah by appointing him to direct WISE. Later, in 1995, Israeli commandos assassinated PIJ commander Fathi Shiqaqi in Malta. Shallah departed the U.S. shortly thereafter to replace Shiqaqi as commander of PIJ. I
In 2006, al-Arian was convicted of aiding and abetting PIJ. After he was deported, rather than treat al-Arian as a terrorist, Erdogan’s Islamist government appointed him director of the Center for Regional Politics at Istanbul’s Sabahattin Zaim University when he landed in Istanbul.
At last week’s Diyanet conference in Istanbul, al-Arian referred to the U.S. as “our enemy.” He also called on the Muslim world to boycott America for its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Another speaker, Diyanet president Ali Erbas, denounced President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. embassy to the city, according to IPT.
Just a few weeks before he hosted al-Arian at his America-bashing conference in Istanbul, Erbas was in the U.S., according to the IPT, working to mobilize Muslim groups on behalf of Turkey.
As IPT reported, the American branch of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate, the Diyanet Center of America, held a reception in Lanham, Maryland, featuring Erbas. Among the attendees were the heads of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Egyptian-Americans for Freedom and Justice.
Oussama Jammal, the Secretary General of the United States Council of Muslim Organizations, attended the event and allegedly pledged his support for Erdogan, according to IPT.
Against this backdrop, the uneasiness and confusion expressed by many fans at Turkish Airlines’ prominent sponsorship of the Super Bowl makes perfect sense. Turkey spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year on outreach to Muslims in Western countries and in lobbying efforts.Read the rest at Breitbart here.