BREAKING NEWS: New ISNA Secretary-General Has Extensive Ties To U.S. Muslim Brotherhood

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The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) has announced the appointment of Safaa Zarzour as its new secretary general. According to the ISNA announcement:

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) announces the appointment of Safaa Zarzour as its new secretary general. Mr. Zarzour will move to his new office in Plainfield, IN, from Bridgeview, IL, early next week. Mr. Zarzour is a lawyer and educator, and has outstanding contributions to integrate Islamic communities and institutions to mainstream American society. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from DePaul University School of Law and a Masters in Education from the University of Illinois in Chicago. He practiced law in Illinois and is also a passionate educator. He has served as an adjunct professor at Loyola Law School teaching courses in Education and Islamic Law. For over a decade, he served as a teacher and then principal at Universal School, one of the largest PreK-12 independent Islamic schools in the United States. Mr. Zarzour is active in interfaith circles. He is a member of the Board of Advisors of the Bernadine Center at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago where he serves along with distinguished faith leaders from the Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities. He has participated for several years in the Mid-Atlantic Muslim-Catholic Dialogue….Mr. Zarzour is a well known civic leader in Chicago’s Southwest Suburb. He has served in various capacities in his town, including as an administrative coordinator, Zoning Commissioner, and an elected trustee of the Bridgeview Public Library. Over the last 15 years, Mr. Zarzour helped establish and has served on the boards of a variety of local community and advocacy organizations. His civic and educational work has been featured in many media including 60 Minutes, PBS Front Line, Chicago Tribune, Time Magazine and many others. Mr. Zarzour has received several honors and awards for his public service. Most recently, Chicago’s Mayor Richard Daley handed him the Chicago Commission on Human Relations’ 2009 Outstanding Service Award.

The ISNA announcement fails to identify Mr. Zazour’s extensive ties to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood which a Hudson Institute report says includes ISNA as a major component. For example, Mr. Zazour is a board member and President of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR.) Investigative research posted on GMBDW has determined that CAIR had it origins in the U.S. Hamas infrastructure and documents released in the Holy Land Trial have revealed that the founders and current leaders of CAIR were part of the Palestine Committee of the Muslim Brotherhood as well as identifying the organization itself as being another part of the U.S. Brotherhood. A recent post discussed an interview with the Deputy leader of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in which he confirms a relationship between his organization and CAIR.

Mr. Zazour’s CAIR biography also identifies him as a board member and former principal of the Universal School, located in Bridgeview Illinois and which has strong ties to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. Bassam Osman is listed on the school website as a director and as a “Representative of NAIT.” The Hudson Institute report identifies Mr. Osman as a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood leader and NAIT (North American Islamic Trust), as a part of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), holding title to many U.S. mosques and Islamic facilities associated with the U.S. Brotherhood. It should also be noted that ISNA President Ingrid Mattson, another NAIT Trustee, also served on the Board of Directors of the Universal School where she also taught Islamic Studies at the high school level.

A Time Magazine article reports that although the Universal School is located next door to the Bridgeview Mosque, the school asserts its independence from the mosque which a 2004 Chicago Tribune investigative report had associated with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. However, the Tribune investigation showed clear links from the Bridgeview mosque to organizations associated with Universal School board members: ·

  • The Tribune reported that the mosque had been deeded to NAIT in 1981 by Islamic fundamentalists who had taken over the mosque from its former leaders. As noted above, NAIT is part of ISNA and another school board member is also an ISNA board member.  

  • 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.”  

  • Mosque leaders were also leaders of the Quranic Literacy Institute, and the Islamic Association for Palestine, the predecessor of the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR). As noted above, school board members are also affiliated or had been tied to the QLI and CAIR.

As much as $1 million a year was raised from mosque members which was then sent to overseas Muslim charities. 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. 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.

ISNA itself has a long history of fundamentalism, anti-semitism, and support for terrorism and during the recent Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial, ISNA was named as an unindicted co-conspirator.

(Additional Source: Gaines, William and Andrew Marti. “Terror-Funding Probe Touches Suburban Group.” The Chicago Tribune. September 8, 1998)

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