Local media is reporting that ground breaking will begin September for a controversial mosque in Temecula, California. According to a Press-Enterprise report:
Ground will break for the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley in September, according to the construction committee chairman for the contested Muslim place of worship. An exact date has not been set. Hadi Nael, spokesman for the center approved in December 2010, said the first phase of the $4.2 million project could be completed in 2013. The second and final phase could be done two years later, Nael said. The 24,943-square-foot, two-story mosque on a 4.32-acre site on Nicolas Road will serve as the permanent place of worship for more than 100 local Muslim families who currently gather in a rented space in Murrieta. The four-year process coincided with the approval of an Islamic center blocks away from Ground Zero in New York City, and protests over the approval of the local center earned Temecula a place in the post-9/11 spotlight focused on Islam. The City Council in January 2011 denied an appeal of the Planning Commission’s yes vote on the center, paving the way for its construction. After the council’s action, opponents of the project announced they would not try to block its construction.
In December 2010, a post reported that a group opposed to a the proposed mosque had planned to appeal the city’s approval of the project. One of the churches opposing the mosque has cited both the size of the project, concerns about Islam itself, and anti-Israeli rallies. sponsored by the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley (ICTV) as reasons for its opposition to the project. In one of those rallies held in January 2009, the ICTV partnered with the Al-Awda – The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, an organization opposed to Israel’s right to exist and which supports resistance against Israel “by any means necessary.”
As has been the case with other mosques planned for rural communities, the mosque sponsor has ties to the Global Muslim Brotherhood. A faculty bio, no longer available online, describes ICTV imam Harmoush as follows:
Mahmoud Harmoush joined the World Languages and Literatures (WLL) Department in the Winter of 2007 to teach Arabic Language and Islamic Culture. He was born and raised in Syria and completed his college education in the USA. He earned a B.S. in Economics from the California State Polytechnic University in Pomona and a Master’s of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies and Second Language Acquisition from Mountain State University in West Virginia. Mr. Harmoush holds many educational and leadership positions at several institutions in Southern California. He currently leads the community in Temecula / Murrieta where he also teaches Arabic Language and Islamic Studies and organizes community events. Mr. Harmoush has traveled and conducted business in several parts of the world. He is highly informed on the Middle East and the Global affairs.
A Gulf newspaper reports that Mr. Harmoush emigrated from Syria in the mid-1980s and according to their now defunct website, he was a member of the leadership council of the Syrian American Congress which was headed by Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) leader Louay Safi and also includes ISNA President Safa Zarzour. As documented by a Hudson Institute report, ISNA is an important part of the USMB and Safi is now part of the leadership of the Syrian National Council, an opposition group dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Other possible ties to the Global Muslim Brotherhood include:
- Mr. Harmoush may have also had a leadership role in important Islamic student organizations tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood. For example, a report on Muslims in the Caribbean identifies a Mahmoud Harmoush as the 1993 Caribbean representative for the International Federation of Islamic Student Organizations (IIFSO), an organization in which many leaders in the Global Muslim Brotherhood belong at one time including Ahmed Totonji of International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) who played a prominent role in the Carribbean branch of IIFSO at one time.
- A 2001 list of speakers (see note below) for the Muslim Student Association (MSA) identifies a Br. Mahmood Harmoush as a former MSA President. The Hudson report also identifies MSA as important part of the US Muslim Brotherhood.
- As late as June 2008, the website of the Muslim World League (MWL) Canada listed a Mahmoud Harmoush living in LA as one of its approved speakers. The MWL is a Saudi religious organization strongly tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood.
(Note: List of Names of Speakers on the MSA Speakers List http://www.msa-natl.org/resources/speakers.pdf Last Updated: Sat Sep 1 04:13:11 2001 (no longer available)