Various media have reported that Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center in Northern Virginia was scheduled to have hosted a fund-raising dinner in mid-February for the ongoing legal fees of Sabri Benkahla, sentenced in 2007 to 10 years in prison for lying to authorities about training with militants in Pakistan. One of the three featured speakers was Jamal Badawi, a leader in many of the most important organizations of the global Muslim Brotherhood including the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR Canada), the Fiqh Council of North America, the Muslim American Society (MAS), and the European Council for Fatwa and Research. Documents released during the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial indicate that he was (and probably still is), a member of the leadership structure of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. The other two scheduled speakers at the dinner were Rodwaan Saleh, the ISNA Affiliates Coordinator, and John Sheldon, Mr Benkahla’s attorney.
The Washington Post has described the case against Mr. Benkahla as follows:
A man once accused of aiding the Taliban with a U.S. group that trained with paintball guns was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison for lying to authorities about training with militants in Pakistan. Under normal sentencing guidelines, Sabri Benkahla would have received at most a three-year term for his convictions this year on charges of lying to a grand jury, obstruction of justice and making a false statement. Unidentified supporters of Sabri Benkahla mourn outside the Albert Bryan U.S. Courthouse in Alexandria, Va., Tuesday, July 24, 2007, after Benkahla was sentenced to 10 years after he was convicted of lying to a federal grand jury about his training with a Pakistani militant group. But for the first time, prosecutors were able to obtain a stiffer sentence by arguing that Benkahla’s lies effectively promoted terrorism by obstructing a wide-ranging terror investigation. Prosecutor Gordon Kromberg argued that Benkahla stymied an FBI investigation by giving a grand jury misleading information about his contacts on a 1999 trip to a training camp run by a group called Lashkar-e-Taiba, which the U.S. has since designated a terrorist organization and Kromberg said has links to al-Qaida.
Read the rest here.
Benkahla appealed the verdict receiving the support of both CAIR and the MAS but in June 2008, the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit upheld his conviction.
Dar Al-Hijrah is tightly tied to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. According to the Dar Al-Hijra web site, four of the nine board members must include the current Secretary General of Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the current President of Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA), the current General Manager of North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) , and the current President of Muslim American Society (MAS). (Both MAYA and NAIT are components of ISNA.) In 2004, the Washington Post reported on the ties between Dar Al-Hijra and the MAS, a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood group close to the Egyptian organization. Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical imam with whom the Fort Hood shooter had been in contact, had been Imam of Dar Al-Hijrah to prior to 911 and in July 2005 Shaker Elsayed, the former secretary-general of the MAS was appointed as the Dar Al Hijrah imam. The former imam left to become the executive director of the Fiqh Council of North America, affiliated with ISNA.
Individuals convicted/indicted in terrorism-related cases that have been known to have attended Dar Al-Hijrah include:
- Abdurrahman Alamoudi, (convicted in plot assassinate Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia)
- Ismail Elbarasse (convicted of obstruction of justice in Hamas financing case)
- Abdelhaleem Ashqar (convicted of obstruction of justice in Hamas financing case)
- Randall “Ismail” Royer (convicted member of the Virginia Jihad Network)
- Ahmed Omar Abu Ali (al-Qaida operative convicted of plotting to assassinate President Bush)
Two of the 9/11 hijackers, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Hani Hanjour were also known to have attended Dar Al-Hijrah.