EXCLUSIVE: American Islamic College Reopens; Closely Tied To Saudi Arabia and Global Muslim Brotherhood

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Local media has reported that the American Islamic College (AIC), host to a recent conference featuring US government officials together with representatives of the US Muslim Brotherhood, has only recently reopened under the auspices of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). According to a report in the Chicago Tribune:

Seeking to combat negative attitudes toward Islam, Muslim leaders are reopening an Islamic college that was established nearly three decades ago in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood.The American Islamic College, in a Prairie modern brick edifice on three acres near Lake Michigan, has closed and reopened several times since it was formed in 1981. The last time it offered a catalog of classes was in 2001. But the college will be back in session this week, teaching courses in Islamic history, arts and theology. Administrators said they hope to attract a diverse student body and earn accreditation that will eventually allow the college to become a four-year degree-granting institution.”The whole of America needs an Islamic institution of Islamic thought,” said Ali Yurtsever, a former research scholar at Georgetown University, who is overseeing the effort. “If you don’t have Islamic colleges, then people are misled, they’ll easily be deceived and the clash will continue to grow.” The school is affiliated with the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a coalition of 57 member states that considers itself the collective voice of the Muslim world. Some local leaders worry that the organization will oversee the school from its headquarters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, instead of turning it over to local leaders. Doing so would handicap the school’s potential to meet the specific needs of Chicago’s Muslim community, they say. The Organization of the Islamic Conference has “not been a part of the community,” said Mohamad Nasir, executive director of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, who is working with Yurtsever to include the council in the oversight of the college. Scott Alexander, director of the Catholic-Muslim Studies Program at Catholic Theological Union, said that though the college eventually became a hub for interfaith relations, it failed to capture the imagination of Chicago’s largely immigrant Muslim community when it was founded nearly 30 years ago. Its style of governance also didn’t win support from many American Muslims. “Historically, it was probably premature because the immigrant community was very new and not ready to take that step,” Alexander said. “A paternalistic understanding of what Muslims in America needed from the traditional Muslim world … just doesn’t work. It needs to be directed locally.”

The AIC website states only that the College was established in 1981 as a private institution. However, a Hudson Institute report speculates that the AIC was planned as the “first Islamic university in the US” and at one time was headed by Muslim Student Association (MSA) founder Ahmed Sakr.

According to the AIC website, the AIC trustees that could be identified are:

  • Prof. Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu (Chairman), head of the OIC
  • H.E. Dr. Muhammed Abdo Yamani (Member), likely the Saudi Information Minister
  • Dr. Ahmad M. Ali (Member), President Islamic Development Bank
  • Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef (Member), (see below)

Abdullah Omar Naseef has held many important positions in Saudi Arabia including serving as Vice-President of the Kingdom’s Shura Council, President of King Abdul Aziz University, and most importantly as Secretary-General of the Muslim World League (MWL) from 1983-1993. In addition, the address listed for Dr. Naseef on the MWC web site belongs to the MWL in Mecca. The MWL was established in 1962 as a means for the propagation of Saudi “Wahabbi” Islam. Muslim Brothers played an important role in its founding and, to date, the League has been strongly associated with the Brotherhood. The MWL, together with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), are Saudi organizations believed by US. government officials to have helped to spread Islamic extremism around the world as well as sponsoring terrorism in places such as Bosnia, Israel, and India.

Dr. Naseef is currently the President of the International Islamic Council for Da’wa and Relief, (IICDR) which is composed of more than one hundred Islamic organizations from all around the world and headquartered in Cairo, Egypt. The IICDR web site identifies a large number of affiliated organizations, many of which are associated with the global Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas fundraising, or support for Al Qaeda. Examples include:

  • Association of Reform and Social Guidance – Dubai, United Arab Emirates  (likely UAE Muslim Brotherhood chapter)
  • Palestine and Lebanon Relief Fund – London, United Kingdom (aka INTERPAL, Hamas fundraising)
  • Revival of Islamic Heritage Society – Kuwait (US designated terrorist entity, Al Qaeda support)

Dr. Naseef is also the President of the Muslim World Congress. Previous posts have discussed the reopening of the Saudi International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) in the US whose representative is also the registered agent for the MWC. The IIIRO is a Saudi charity whose Indonesian and Philippine offices have been designated by the US. Treasury in connection with the financing of Al Qaeda.

The AIC website also identifies Cherif Bassiouni as the only member of its Advisory Board. Cherif Bassiouni is an Egyptian immigrant who is a Distinguished Research Professor of Law at DePaul University College of Law. According to a U.N. press release, in 1996 Mr. Bassiouni was elected Vice-Chairman of the General Assembly body preparing the ground for the establishment of the criminal court. He had earlier, in 1995, served in a similar position on the Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on the Establishment of the International Criminal Court. He is known to have spoken at a conference on “Islamaphobia” organized by CAIR in 2005. A statement posted by the US Muslim Brotherhood following the first Holy Land Foundation (HLF) terrorism financing trial called the Holy Land prosecution one that is ” likely to go down in the record books as one of the great abuses of the American legal process.” The statement went on to to call the trial an example of “intimidation and harassment” and a “fear-mongering campaign” that is an “assault upon constitutional freedoms under the guise of terrorist-related prosecutions .” The statement concludes by alleging that if nothing is done, American Muslims will suffer the same fate as Japanese-Americans during World War II:

If the present tactics of the Department of Justice continue, it will not be long before American Muslims suffer the same fate Japanese-Americans did in World War II. Demonizing an entire minority group based on suspicion and fear-mongering was wrong then, and it is wrong now. We cannot allow such a blot on our history to be repeated.

The second trial resulted in a conviction of the HLF and its leaders.

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