New Head Of North American Islamic Trust Founder Of Islamic Center of Passaic County; Center Has Long History Of Ties To Hamas And Muslim Brotherhood


The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is reporting that Salah Obeidallah has become the executive director of the North American Islamic Trust, Inc. (NAIT). According to the report:

Salah Obeidallah has taken the helm as executive director of the North American Islamic Trust, Inc. (NAIT), succeeding Mujeeb Cheema, a member of the NAIT board of trustees. Obeidallah, among the founders of the Islamic Center of Passaic County, New Jersey, served as its president for 10 years. Obeidallah, who held corporate managerial positions in the engineering and manufacturing sector, also served as the executive director of the Islamic Education Foundation of New Jersey that oversees three Islamic schools.

Azam Nizamuddin, NAIT’s new general counsel and deputy executive director, is a Chicago attorney with 15 years experience in the areas of commercial litigation, employment, not-for-profit and family law. He serves on the Illinois State Bar Association’s Attorney Disciplinary Committee and the editorial board of the DuPage County Bar Association Journal. He also has been serving as president of the Muslim Bar Association of Illinois, and leads interfaith efforts for the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, the Niagara Foundation, and the Islamic Foundation.

Both officials have a long history of community work and leadership roles in local mosques, Islamic schools, and civic organizations.

Cheema, who served as NAIT’s executive director since 2003, also was chairman of NAIT’s board during 2005-06, and its secretary since 2007. Since 2003, Cheema also has been secretary of Iman Fund, a mutual fund that meets Islamic principles. Previously, he held various positions with Hawkins group of energy-related companies in Tulsa, Oklahoma, from 1980 to 2003.

NAIT is a waqf, the historical Islamic equivalent of an American trust or endowment, serving Muslims in the United States and their institutions since 1973. As a waqf, NAIT holds titles to real estate assets of Islamic centers and schools in more than 40 states.

The Islamic Center of Passaic County (ICP) in Patterson, New Jersey has a long history of ties to Hamas. In 2004, the New York Sun reported on the past ties of the ICP to fundraising for Hamas:

The co-sponsor with the most apparent ties to radical Islam, including allegedly raising funds for Hamas and hosting as a speaker last year an alleged Hamas figure, is the Islamic Center of Passaic County. The American Muslim Union, though, appears to have close ties to the Islamic Center of Passaic County, as five of its current and former directors and executives have held or still hold leadership positions at the Islamic Center. …. The co-founder of and former imam at the Islamic Center of Passaic County, which was founded in 1989, was Mohamed El-Mezain. He worked with the ICPC to raise funds for Hamas in the mid-1990s, according to an FBI memo drafted in November 2001 by the FBI’s assistant director of counterterrorism, Dale Watson. Mr. El-Mezain, who is no longer affiliated with the Islamic Center and could not be reached for comment, was never charged or arrested.

 Read the full report here. 

In 2008, the Investigative Project reported on the Hamas ties of ICP Imam Mohammad Qatanani, then facing possible deportation:

In anticipation of the deportation proceedings of Imam Mohammad Qatanani of the Islamic Center of Passaic in New Jersey, New York Times trumpeted “Revered New Jersey Imam, Facing Deportation, Has Interfaith Support.” And indeed, the Imam has had various “interfaith” leaders testify on his behalf, as reported by Newsday: Several Catholic priests and a Jewish rabbi became emotional on the stand when describing how much Qatanani had done for interfaith understanding. Qatanani is accused of having lied on his immigration documents both about his arrest and conviction in Israel (which he now claims was merely a “detention”) and his confession that he was a member of Hamas (which he now claims was procured under torture). Qatanani also claims he only recently became aware of his conviction by Israeli authorities.

In January 2014, the ICP hosted Syrian Sheik Mohammad Rateb al-Nabulsi as part of an 11-city tour across America and co-sponsored by the Syrian American Council (SAC).  In January 2014, the ICP hosted Syrian Sheik Mohammad Rateb al-Nabulsi as part of an 11-city tour across America and co-sponsored by the Syrian American Council (SAC).  The GMBDW reported the same month on the US tour of  the controversial Syrian cleric who once called for suicide bombings against civilians in Israel and for the death penalty for homosexuals.

Generally unreported has been the link between the ICP and the Muslim American Society (MAS). In 2007, a web page of the Columbus, Ohio MAS chapter stated that MAS President Essam Omeish had been a onetime chairman of the ICP board (see note below). The MAS was identified in Hudson Institute report authored by the GMBDW editor as a part of the US Muslim Brotherhood and closely tied to the Egyptian organization. Dr. Omeish drew national attention several years ago when he was appointed to a Virginia state immigration commission on Immigration. Omeish resigned less than a day later, after online emerged in which he accused Israel of genocide against Palestinians and exhorted Muslims to “the jihad way.”

The North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) describes itself as “a waqf, the historical Islamic equivalent of an American trust or endowment, serving Muslims in the United States and their institutions. NAIT facilitates the realization of American Muslims’ desire for a virtuous and happy life in a Shari’ah-compliant way.” A research report on the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) authored by the GMBDW editor describes the origins of NAIT and the role that it played in the early development of the US Muslim Brotherhood.

The GMBDW reported in May 2015 that both the shooter outside an event in Garland, Texas devoted to cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad and in July 2015 that the man accused of killing four Marines at a Navy-Marine training facility had both attended mosques owned by NAIT.

For a full profile of NAIT and its role in the ideological takeover of at least two US mosques, go here.

 (Note: accessed 7/26/08)

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