EXCLUSIVE: Illinois Governor Appoints U.S. Muslim Brotherhood Leader To New Advisory Council

Safaa Zarzour

The State of Illinois has announced the creation of its Muslim American Advisory Council that includes the Secretary-General of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). According to the press release:

CHICAGO – August 30, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today named members to serve on the Muslim American Advisory Council, which will help ensure Muslim American participation in state government. Governor Quinn announced the new council during “Eid,” the close of the holy month of Ramadan. “Illinois is a diverse state, which is one of our greatest strengths,” Governor Quinn said. “There are more than 400,000 Muslims and 300 mosques within our borders, representing various racial and ethnic sects of Islam. I want to make sure that everyone has an opportunity for input in how we address issues such as education, public safety and jobs, because the strategies may need to differ based on the history, culture and needs of different communities.” The Muslim American Advisory Council will advise the Governor on ways to advance the role and civic participation of Muslim Americans in Illinois. Additionally, the council will recommend strategies to better integrate Muslims in Illinois socially, educationally, culturally and economically. The council will facilitate relationship-building in the Muslim community to achieve goals related to International Commerce in Muslim countries/communities, and identify ways to more effectively disseminate information and outreach to Muslim Americans regarding state programs and services. The council will advise the Governor on appropriate policy developments, official directives, and other issues of significance impacting Illinois’ Muslims. It will bring important faith-based issues based on factual findings to the Governor’s attention and make recommendations to address those issues. It will also strengthen communication between the state and Muslim leadership and the general community.

Included in the list of appointees is ISNA Secretary-General Saafa Zarzour who has 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. In 2010, Bassam Osman was 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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