(September 2, 2014 / JNS)
By Sarah N. Stern/JNS.org
On Labor Day weekend, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder welcomed thousands of Muslims to Detroit for the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). As someone who grew up as the sole Jewish kid in my neighborhood school, I have always cherished our tradition of welcoming religious minorities to our shores, and our constitution that enshrines the protection of religious minorities.
But when one looks at the roster of radical Islamic speakers highlighted in the ISNA program, one wonders about the wisdom of Snyder, a U.S. state’s top official, speaking at such an event and therefore bestowing a state’s legitimacy upon the host organization. This occurred during the same month in which we witnessed pictures of the gruesome beheading of James Foley by the Islamic State terror group, and in which many Americans have abruptly woken up to just how lethal and brutal Islamic fundamentalism can be.
These charismatic speakers are influencing the hearts and minds of many young Muslims throughout the United States today. Now that it has been widely recognized that more than 100 young American Muslim recruits have volunteered to fight and die alongside their comrades with Islamic State, some of the following speakers may potentially be creating future recruits for members of Islamic State, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, al-Shabab, or al-Qaeda.
Among those who spoke this past weekend were:
Jamal Badawi, a Canadian-Egyptian who was removed by former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano from a “no-entry list” to the U.S. He has often praised suicide bombings against Israelis and Jews. He has close ties to Hamas and Hezbollah, is deeply rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood, and is the founder of the Muslim American Society, which is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Zaid Shakir, who was born Ricky Mitchell and converted to Islam in 1977. He believes America has a “brutal and genocidal legacy that drives its current policies.” He has not claimed outright that Muslims were not responsible for 9/11, but he is quick to recommend an author who does. Shakir wrote in 2007, “This article will not examine what actually happened on 9/11, although the glaring weaknesses and inconsistencies in the official narrative call for such an examination. For those seeking greater clarity concerning the events of that day see David Ray Griffin’s ‘Debunking 9/11.’” He has also said, “Muslims are not to blame for 9/11, but America’s genocidal policies [are].”
Yasir Qadhi, president of the Islamic Circle of North America and dean of the Memphis-based Al Maghrib Institute, the largest American-Muslim academic institution that has the capacity to reach impressionable young Muslims. Qadhi is a graduate of the Islamic University of Medina in Saudi Arabia and spreads Wahhabaist Islam. He speaks frequently on podcasts and the radio and has denied the Holocaust, saying that Hitler “never intended to mass-destroy the Jews.” He has called accounts of the Holocaust “false propaganda.”
Zahra Billo, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) San Francisco office, who has called American soldiers “terrorists.” When a Portland, Ore., Muslim teenager attempted to detonate a bomb at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, she called it a “a publicity stunt by Islamophobes” and said that the FBI “was looking for a sensational story.” She cautions American Muslims to “build a wall of resistance around the FBI by not talking to them.”
Muzammil Siddiqi, a former ISNA president, who has said, “America has got to learn, because if you remain on the side of injustice, the wrath of Allah will come.”’ He has also said, “When people carry out jihad, they carry on Islam in its peak, and in its totality.” At a rally in Lafayette Park in Washington, DC, he claimed, “Al-Aqsa, my brothers and sisters, is our sacred mosque. It belongs to Islam. It belongs to all the Muslims of the world, 1.5 billion Muslims of the world, it belongs to them. We cannot accept any threat to the al-Aqsa mosque. We cannot give up Jerusalem. Jerusalem belongs to Islam.”
Nihad Awad, one of the founders and the executive director of CAIR, has documented past ties to Hamas and has openly defended Hamas leaders and charities. Awad was present at the notorious 1993 Muslim Brotherhood Philadelphia meeting, which the FBI considers to have been attended by Hamas supporters. Awad also served as the public relations director of the now-defunct Islamic Association for Palestine, which served as a Hamas support group, and distributed anti-Semitic Hamas materials in the U.S.
Unfortunately, the list of outrageous speakers goes on and on.
ISNA, which grew out of the Muslim Brotherhood, says that its mission is “to advance the cause of Islam and serve Muslims in North America so as to enable them to adopt Islam as a complete way of life,” and it fashions itself as a sort of Islamic Anti-Defamation League.
But in 2007, during the Holy Land Foundation Trial, the biggest terrorism-financing trial in our nation’s history, Judge Jorge Solis deemed ISNA an unindicted co-conspirator and linked it to Hamas. The ruling has been upheld to this very day. During the trial, a memo was introduced into evidence from a raid in a Philadelphia apartment, and read as follows:
“The process of settlement is a ‘Civilization-Jihadist Process’ with all the word means. The Ikhwan (Brotherhood), must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions. Without this level of understanding, we are not up to this challenge and have not prepared ourselves for jihad yet. It is a Muslim’s destiny to perform jihad and work wherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hour comes, and there is no escape from that destiny except for those who chose to slack. But, would the slackers and the Mujahedeen be equal.”
We all know about the high number of Muslims living in Michigan, and we are also aware that politicians need votes to remain in office. But a representative of the U.S. state’s government has no business whitewashing these ISNA conference speakers and what they stand for. It is about time that we take our heads out of the sand and realize that if we are not careful, someone else’s nightmares may soon become our own.
Sarah N. Stern is founder and president of EMET, the Endowment for Middle East Truth, an unabashedly pro-American and pro-Israel think tank in our nation’s capital.