An Indonesian newspaper has reported that a leader of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), a part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood, recently attended a discussion on pluralism and multiculturalism in Indonesia that was part of an exchange program funded by the U.S. Department of State. According to the report, Abubaker Al Shingieti of IIIT told the conference of religious scholars from Indonesia and the United States:
Muslims should not interfere with the beliefs of other people as the matter was ‘between those people and God’. “And God, with His ultimate wisdom, will hold them accountable to believe in Him or not. This is the right of God. We don’t want to represent God or punish people for their beliefs.
The report also stated that the the interfaith dialogue was part of a two-year exchange programme involving lecturers, Muslim scholars, clerics and prominent figures from the US and Indonesia. The programme is being funded by the US Department of State and is being coordinated by Legacy International and the Centre for Civic Education Indonesia. Also attending the discussion was Racelle R Weiman, the executive director of the Dialogue Institute at Temple University in Philadelphia. A previous post has reported that IIIT recently canceled a $1.5 million offer to Temple University for an endowed chair in Islamic studies. According to a local media report, concerns were raised by Trustees and other parties regarding the role of IIIT in the so-called SAAR investigation into terrorism financing.
An online biography says that Dr. Al-Shingieti held various positions in the Sudanese government from 1991-1998, including Director of Political Affairs for the Sudanese President, when Sudan was both a center for terrorist activity and strongly under the influence of Muslim Brotherhood leader Hassan Turabi. HIs biography also states that he more recently has held positions in U.S. Muslim Brotherhood groups including Research Associate at the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (CCMU) at Georgetown University School, an active member of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists of North America (AMSS), and a former editor of Islamic Horizons, the monthly magazine published by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). He was identified by the IIIT website in August 2006 as an IIIT Regional director. Dr. Al-Shingieti is an important part of a new group known as Americans Muslims for Constructive Engagement (AMCE) described in previous posts and whose rationale is to promote “a constructive partnership between the U.S. Muslim Community and the U.S. Government.” The leadership of the AMCE represents virtually the entire U.S Muslim Brotherhood.
The State Department has been actively sponsoring U.S. Muslim Brotherhood groups by helping them network with the counterparts abroad. Recent examples include a meeting between CAIR and the Organization of Islamic Conference, sponsoring a delegation from Pakistan to IIIT, and sponsoring a visit of a French Muslim Brotherhood Imam to IIIT. As of June 2007, IIIT was still under investigation by the U.S. government in connection with the financing of terrorism. The leaders of IIIT were instrumental in the development of the Muslim Brotherhood infrastructure in the U.S. dating back to the Muslim Student Association in 1963.