The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood, has published an editorial in the Chicago Tribune attacking both this publication and the Wall Street Journal for reporting the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood ties of Mazen Asbahi who recently resigned as the Obama campaign Muslim outreach coordinator. According to the CAIR editorial, titled “For Muslim-Americans, fear-mongering continues”:
The Wall Street Journal, which likely considers its piece a work of investigative journalism, failed to investigate who exactly runs this “Internet newsletter.” If it did, then it failed to report on its findings. Sources are a big part of any story. Would the Wall Street Journal build an exposé around information obtained from the David Duke Daily Report? I would hope not. This Internet newsletter, which is privately registered, lists virtually every major American Muslim organization as being part of a global Islamist conspiracy. It is mind-boggling how seamless it is for mudslinging Web sites harboring a blatantly anti-Muslim agenda to break their hogwash into the mainstream media.
The five “major American Muslim organizations” referred to by CAIR are listed by the GMBDW not as part of a “global Islamist conspriacy” but rather as part of the global network of organizations and individuals tied to the Muslim Brotherhood. These include:
3. Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)- founded in 1981 by members of MSA seeking to expand their influence over Islam in the U.S., acknowledged by global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi to be part of the global Brotherhood.
4. Muslim American Society (MAS)- founded in 1993 as a chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S. An extensive Chicago Tribune investigation in 2004 revealed the MAS connection to the Muslim Brotherhood.
5. Muslim Public Affairs Council (MAPC)- founded in 1988; playing an important role in its founding was MPAC “Senior Adviser” Mather Hathout, an Egyptian physician and immigrant who most likely was imprisoned in 1965 for playing a role in the Muslim Brotherhood at that time.
By virtue of Middle Eastern funding and superior organization skills, part of their Muslim Brotherhood heritage, all five organizations have gone on to assume the mantle of “mainstream Islamic organizations” frequently acting in concert and in coalitions with each other.
Although the postings on Mr. Asbahi detailed connections to four organizations with ties to the U.S. Brotherhood, the Wall Street Journal chose to focus on Mr. Asbahi’s service on the board of Allied Asset Advisers, part of the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT). Most of the subsequent media attention focused on Jamal Said, one of the other members of the Allied Assets board. The CAIR editorial described Mr. Said as follows:
Of course, Said is not a fundamentalist. He is in fact a cornerstone of the Chicago Muslim community and a respected American faith leader who has dedicated his professional life to the sort of everyday services that makes our communities safe and prosperous. His daily work includes counseling couples in troubled marriages and owners of failing businesses, advocating for safe streets, fighting bigotry and discrimination, collecting funds to help the poor, encouraging congregants to vote and overseeing faith matters for hundreds of families. The Mosque Foundation, where Said works, is a noted contributor to Chicago’s civic life. It is an active participant in Department of Homeland Security round-table discussions and is hosting one in just a few weeks. In 2006, it generously donated a public garden to the City of Chicago in order to beautify its lakefront. It is environmentally conscious and is the first mosque in the nation to go solar.
A February 2004 Chicago Tribune investigation revealed that NAIT played an important role in the takeover of a Chicago-area mosque by Islamic fundamentalists who seized control from the original, moderate leaders of the mosque.ii 312 According to the newspaper, the original leader and members of the mosque were uneducated immigrants from a small Palestinian village who purchased land in the Chicago suburb of Bridgeview in order to build a mosque. By 1978, a new wave of more “political and educated” immigrants had arrived in Chicago and promised to help solicit funds for the construction of the mosque. These individuals were elected to the mosque foundation’s board of directors and helped to raise $1.2 million from the Saudi and UAE governments as well as Kuwaiti donors. The new leadership replaced the mosque leader with Ahmad Zaki Hammad, described as “a conservative Islamic scholar from Egypt.” An assistant prayer leader was appointed who was identified as a Palestinian from Jordan who belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood. The mosque leaders were reported “adhering to a strict interpretation of Islam “who instructed women to cover their hair, wear looser clothing, and to stop smoking. The mosque’s older faction fought the leadership’s plans to deed the mosque to NAIT alleging that “the essence of NAIT is the [Muslim] Brotherhood” and wishing to preserve “the Islam of flexibility and commitment to faith rather than fundamentalism and tension.” After a bitter and sometimes violent struggle, the mosque was deeded to NAIT in 1981. In the following years, the mosque became one of the area’s largest Islamic centers and Friday prayers grew from 75 people in 1982 to 800 in 1993.
The Tribune investigation went on to report that in 1985, Jordanian Sheikh Jamal Said became the new mosque prayer leader, replacing Ahmed Zaki Hammad who later became the President of ISNA. Sheikh Said was reported to have been inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood, educated at a Saudi Arabian University, and noted for his sermons espousing strict Islamic fundamentalist views and critical of America as “a land of disbelievers.” Part of his salary was paid by the government of Saudi Arabia. Evidence of extremist activity at the mosque under Sheikh Jamal’s directions included:
• Abdullah Azzam, Osama bin Laden’s mentor, visited the mosque in the mid-1980s as part of a national tour to recruit supporters for the Afghan war against the Soviet Union.
• One of the mosque’s eight-member executive committee was Muhammad Salah, a Muslim Brotherhood member who was arrested in Israel in 1993 and has since been identified as a Hamas military commander.
• Sheihk Jamal raised as much as $1 million a year from mosque members which was then sent to overseas Muslim charities. In 2000, he raised money at one national Islamic conference by “asking people to donate in the memory of a Palestinian suicide bomber.”
• The mosque donated money to three Islamic charities that have since been identified as involved in financing terrorism—the Holy Land Foundation, Benevolence International, and the Global Relief Foundation.
• Mosque leaders were also leaders of the Al Aqsa Educational Fund, the Quranic Literacy Institute, and the Islamic Association for Palestine, all known to be associated with terrorism.
• In March 2002, the mosque hired a new assistant prayer leader who had run the local office of an Islamic charity until it was closed by the federal government for alleged terrorism ties.
• Sheik Jamal raised $50,000 in May 2003 for Palestinian Sami Al-Arian, a former professor at the University of South Florida who was recently convicted and imprisoned for his support of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. At that time, Sheikh Jamal called Israel “a foreign, malignant and strange element on the blessed land.
• Most of the mosque’s 24 directors belong to the Muslim American Society (MAS) are known to be strongly associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The mosque vice president runs the society’s local chapter of the MAS.
As of the time the article was written, Sheikh Jamal was still leader of the mosque and continued to espouse fundamentalist views, calling for an Islamic state, praising the views of Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Savid Qtub, and stating that women should not travel long distances without chaperones. The evening prayers at the mosque have reportedly grown to 2000 worshippers and the mosque community is said to be “more conservative than ever.”