ANALYSIS: Premature Claims About the Muslim American Society


An article posted on the Counterterrorism Blog is prematurely reporting that a phonebook introduced into evidence in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial confirms that the Muslim American Society (MAS) is the representative of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States. According to the report, the phonebook:

..listed the names and numbers of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership in the United States. On the first page of the phonebook under the title “Members of the Board of Directors” were fifteen names. Among those names are Ahmad Elkadi, Jamal Badawi, and Omar Soubani: the founding incorporators of the Muslim American Society.

As previous posts have explained, The MAS is a less well-known part of the Muslim Brotherhood network in the U.S. that first came to national attention when the Chicago Tribune did a feature story on the group in September 2004.

There are two problems with the CT article’s claim about the MAS. First, it appears that the header of the page listing the three names was not translated by the government from Arabic into English. (Examination of the relevant page from the original document (p. 2) shows that the government only marked the page as being in English.) Even assuming the report correctly translated the header as “Members of the Board of Directors”, the report assumes that because the three individuals in question also founded the MAS, that this necessarily implies that the MAS was the “representative” of the Brotherhood in the U.S. This interpretation ignores the existence of the pre-existing infrastructure associated with the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S. Jamal Badawi, one of the MAS founders identified in the phone book, was also one of the original members of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) who in turn had been leaders in the Muslim Student Association, acknowledged by global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi to have been established by Brotherhood supporters who had fled their own countries to the U.S. By the time the MAS was created in 1993, these individuals had created an entire infrastructure in the U.S that included The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), the Association of Muslim Social Scientists, and other organizations as well as MSA and ISNA.

Accordingly, another interpretation of the MAS is that it’s creation illustrates parallel Brotherhood structures in the United States with the MAS faction representing those more closely identified with the Egyptian organization and who had been more or less “underground” prior to 1993. ISNA, MSA, and the other organizations on the other hand were tied to the global Muslim Brotherhood network nominally led by Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi in Qatar. Qaradawi himself had been part of a group of Muslim Brotherhood figures that left the Egyptian mother organization in a dispute over the willingness of Qaradawi’s faction to work with existing governments. This interpretation is supported by other recently released documents that will be discussed in a future post.

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