Posts Tagged ‘ISNA’


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February 24, 2010

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ISNA’s Non-Apology Apology

July 14, 2009

ISNA’s Non-Apology Apology

IPT News
July 13, 2009

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The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) has rebuked anti-Semitic comments by a speaker at the group’s national convention July 4th weekend.

As the Investigative Project on Terrorism reported last week, Warith Deen Umar’s remarks during a “meet the authors” panel included claims that Jews controlled the world, used the Civil Rights movement for their own gain and suffered the Holocaust as a punishment for being “serially disobedient to Allah.”

In a statement, ISNA expressed “our complete rejection of all prejudicial views and bigoted stances toward the Jewish community and any other community of faith.” ISNA President Ingrid Mattson also was quoted in the statement:

“We pride ourselves in the many good relations we build with our interfaith partners for peace. There is no place for bigotry and intolerance in our organization and community.”

The statement was issued late Friday afternoon and is notable for what it doesn’t say as much as for what it does. It never identifies Umar as the speaker. While ISNA “rejects” his message, it never apologizes for facilitating them during a convention that featured a high-profile evangelical Christian leader and leaders of national Jewish movements.

And it seems to pass the buck when it comes to ISNA’s vetting process:

“These sessions are proposed by members of the community, and the proposal described a completely different content than what reportedly transpired. The title of the speaker’s presentation was ‘Jews for Salaam [Peace],’ and the presentation was described as a ‘… blue print for world peace. Christians, Jews and Muslims have common roots; focuses on the unique position Jewish people are in to move the world toward peace.'”

As our story pointed out, however, Umar’s radicalism and anti-Semitism were easily discoverable to anyone who bothered to look. A simple Google search for Umar and his book titles turns up this 2003 article on Umar’s opinion that the 9/11 hijackers were martyrs; this excerpt from his book Judaiology, which describes “the inordinacy of Jewish power” and calls Jews “an amazing people who can steal you blind as you watch; and this audio recording from a 2004 speech in which Umar endorses violence:

“Rise up and fight. And fight them until turmoil is no more and strike terror into their hearts.” You think there is no terror in Quran? It’s called [word unclear] read it in the 56th surah of the Quran. There’s no lack of translation, there’s no mistranslation There’s not one Sheikh says one thing, no, it’s very clear. “When you fight, you strike terror into the heart of the disbeliever.”


The statement also ignores Umar’s rambling theory at the ISNA conference that Hurricane Katrina was a wrath of God punishment for homosexuality and his conclusion that there should be more jihad even if people are too afraid to agree.

Umar sold copies of Judaiology and his newest book, Jews for Salaam at a booth during the ISNA convention. ISNA’s pre-convention vendor statement demanded that all literature at its bazaar “must be pre-approved in writing by ISNA, in ISNA’s sole and absolute discretion. Book selling vendors must complete enclosed form providing inventory of the literature to be sold at ISNA.” [Emphasis added]

Whether that was an empty promise or someone signed off on Umar’s anti-Semitic books has not been explained.

Likewise, ISNA had nothing to say about a second speaker on the authors’ panel, who argued that Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated terrorist group second only to Al Qaeda in the number of Americans it has killed, serves as a protective force for Lebanon. Cathy Sultan’s remarks ignored Hezbollah’s role as an Iranian proxy and its campaign of violence that may have helped turn Lebanese voters against it last month:

“Hezbollah still serves a role. I think that Lebanon is still under constant threat from its southern neighbor. And I see nothing wrong, as long as Hezbollah abides by certain rules and regulations; I see no reason why Hezbollah should not remained armed.”

The speakers were not challenged on their assertions.

The disclosures come at a bad time for ISNA, which has been trying to build bridges with other religious communities and with law enforcement. Those efforts seem to be advancing despite the fact ISNA maintains ties to some of the same people who were part of its 1981 creation by Muslim Brotherhood members in the United States. The organization is included among unindicted co-conspirators in the Hamas-support prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. ISNA board member Jamal Badawi also was named as an unindicted co-conspirator, listed among people who raised money for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), which then funneled money to charities controlled by Hamas.

The IPT has chronicled ISNA’s radical history and the incendiary rhetoric offered at previous conferences. Those examples fall well short of the hate speech Umar offered this year.

Yet ISNA’s statement takes no responsibility for his presence or the totality of his message. For another critique, see this from Daniel Pipes.

Listen to Umar’s comments at the ISNA convention here, here, here and here.


ISNA Convention: Hate Speech and Hezbollah Defense

July 8, 2009

“Mainstream” Islamist Convention Features Hate Speech and Hezbollah Defense

IPT News
July 8, 2009

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A top aide to President Barack Obama provided a keynote address at last weekend’s 46th Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) national convention, a gathering that attracted thousands of people and also featured anti-Semitic, homophobic rhetoric and defense of the terrorist group Hezbollah.

In her remarks, Senior Advisor for Public Engagement and International Affairs Valerie Jarrett noted she was the first White House official to address ISNA. She spoke in general terms about interfaith dialogue and cooperation. She praised her hosts for “the diversity of American organizations, and ideas that are represented and will be debated” at the convention.

And she openly invited ISNA President Ingrid Mattson to work on the White House Council on Women and Girls that Jarrett leads.

During her 15-minute remarks Friday, Jarrett briefly echoed the challenge her boss issued in Cairo last month about the changes needed to bring peace between Palestinians and Israelis. “Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed,” Obama said in his speech.

“Hamas,” he added, “must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel’s right to exist.”

Jarrett was less specific, saying:

“Lasting peace will require a concerted effort on behalf of the Palestinians as well to end incitement and increase security and by Israel’s Arab neighbors to take steps towards normalizing [relations with] Israel.”

That’s a significant shift since ISNA is an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas-support conspiracy and maintains significant leadership ties to its foundation 28 years ago by members of the Muslim Brotherhood in America. A more pointed statement also would have stood as a powerful retort to extremist sentiments offered in other segments of the conference.

While many panels featured criticism of U.S. policy and law enforcement, one stood out for its hate-filled rhetoric, and ISNA officials should have seen it coming a mile away. During a “meet the authors” session, Imam Warith Deen Umar, former head of the New York state prison chaplain program managed to:

  • Argue that key Obama aides are “Israeli,” proving Jews “have control of the world.”
  • Malign the motives of Jews active in the Civil Rights movement.
  • Portray the Holocaust as punishment of Jews for being “serially disobedient to Allah.”
  • Insinuate that Hurricane Katrina was a result of tolerance for homosexuality.

Umar’s radicalism is no secret. He previously hailed the 9/11 hijackers as martyrs who were secretly admired by Muslims. He has called for violent jihad. In a January 2004 speech, he urged people:

“Rise up and fight. And fight them until turmoil is no more and strike terror into their hearts.” You think there is no terror in Quran? It’s called [word unclear] read it in the 56th Surah of the Quran. There’s no lack of translation, there’s no mistranslation There’s not one Sheikh says one thing, no, it’s very clear. ‘When you fight, you strike terror into the heart of the disbeliever.’

He has a website promoting a past book, Judaiology, which features an excerpt describing “the inordinacy of Jewish power.” Jews, he wrote, are “an amazing people who can steal you blind as you watch. If you discover the theft, they can put you to sleep. If you wake up to them, they can put you back to sleep with mind games, tricks of fancy, smoke screens, and magic. Henry Ford almost uncovered them.”

Umar’s ISNA appearance Sunday afternoon promoted his latest book, Jews for Salaam: The Straight Path to Global Peace. In discussing it, Umar first thanked ISNA for inviting him to speak.

He then described a distinction between “holy Jews,” who are devout, apolitical and poor, and “unholy Jews” who are greedy, conniving and all powerful. He looked to the White House for an example (hear the clip here):

“You need to know that Obama, the first man that Obama picked when we were so happy that he was the President, he picked an Israeli – Rahm Emanuel – his number one man. His number two man – [David] Axelrod – another Israeli person. Why do this small number of people have control of the world? You need to go back into your history and find out about France and Germany and England and America got together and offered the Israelites, who became the Israelites, they offered them Ghana, the plains of Ghana. Why don’t you take Ghana since we beat you down so badly? That’s what the Holocaust was all about. You need to read my chapter on the Holocaust and the anti-Holocaust movement. There’s some people in the world says no Holocaust even happened. Some of their leaders say no Holocaust even happened. Well it did happen. These people were punished. They were punished for a reason because they were serially disobedient to Allah.” [Emphasis added]

ISNA described the author’s panel as “an interactive session which provides a wonderful platform to learn, share ideas, and provide literary contributions to society.” Remarkably, ISNA included Umar in that platform despite a very public record of anti-Semitism, advocacy for jihad, and praise for the 9/11 hijackers.

Umar shared the microphone with another author who did not spew out bigotry, but who did cast Hezbollah as an innocent player subject to incessant Israeli onslaught. Cathy Sultan described her book, Tragedy in South Lebanon: The Israeli/Hezbollah War of 2006, as a history of “the tragedy of the repeated incursions and wars in South Lebanon, the complexities of the Lebanese politics.”

She made no mention of Iranian funding for Hezbollah or Syrian meddling in Lebanese politics or its suspected involvement in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Instead, she lumps Hariri among a list of “docile Arab rulers willing to acquiesce to the West and to Israelis’ demands … provided they eliminate or at least contain and disarm Hamas and Hezbollah.”

Nor did Sultan describe indiscriminate Hezbollah rocket fire toward Israeli civilian communities, or the cross-border attack on an Israeli army base by Hezbollah that left three soldiers dead and two others kidnapped.

In response to a question, Sultan said “Hezbollah still serves a role. I think that Lebanon is still under constant threat from its southern neighbor. And I see nothing wrong, as long as Hezbollah abides by certain rules and regulations; I see no reason why Hezbollah should not remained armed.”

The United States considers Hezbollah to be a terrorist group, and some experts consider it a bigger potential threat to the United States than Al-Qaeda.

The panel did not feature anyone with contrasting viewpoints to challenge Sultan or Umar. The program drew about 50 people, who sat passively during most of the remarks.

Umar’s books were available for purchase at the convention. Government agencies were represented with booths of their own, including the departments of Justice, State, Homeland Security, Commerce, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Before the convention started, ISNA posted a statement for vendors which said “Any literature (fundraising or otherwise) is restricted to the assigned booth and must be pre-approved in writing by ISNA, in ISNA’s sole and absolute discretion. Book selling vendors must complete enclosed form providing inventory of the literature to be sold at ISNA.”

Judaiology devotes two pages to “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” allegedly the minutes of a meeting of Jewish leaders at the first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, in 1897, in which they plotted to take over the world. Researchers have definitively proved that the Protocols were in fact forged in Paris sometime between 1895 and 1899 by an agent of the Russian secret police. This has not kept anti-Semitic groups from believing the validity of this forgery. For example, the Charter of Hamas states:

“For Zionist scheming has no end, and after Palestine they will covet expansion from the Nile to the Euphrates. Only when they have completed digesting the area on which they will have laid their hand, they will look forward to more expansion, etc. Their scheme has been laid out in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and their present [conduct] is the best proof of what is said there.”

To Umar, however, the Protocols “remain a mystery:”

“Jewish leaders have denied [the Protocols] and called them a forgery, a pact [sic] of lies, absurd and counterintuitive. No Jew, they say, would ever resort to writing down such self-defeating words and plans. However their denials appear ineffective because the Protocols actually explain and reveal what others observe about the real activities and results of Jewish diplomatic, industrial, business, and political involvement among the peoples of the world… What is revealed and clarified is so shocking and stunningly in accord with the behavior and results of world events that involve Jews that it gives credence and importance, relevance and standing to what otherwise would simply be a biased and discredited documents.”

A woman in the audience reminded Umar that Jews marched with Black people during the Civil Rights movement. But, Umar said, that was not motivated by a genuine desire for justice:

“The Jews in America used the black community to advance the Jewish community. In many instances in history, they gained much of what they gained by putting the African Americans out front to get things that were necessary to get through the politics of this country and of the social setting of this country.”

Umar also managed to stray into a reference about same-sex marriage, which he said would prompt God’s wrath:

“It’s against the laws of Allah and against the laws of the Bible for homosexuality. And if you think the Quran talks about harsh punishment from Allah, you should read what the Bible says. I don’t have the time to go into it, but it’s in my book. The Bible is very hard on, he says, Allah says that the land itself is doomed. You wonder why things are happening in America are going to happen? You think that Katrina was just a blow of wind?”

This is the man responsible for the Muslim chaplain program in New York prisons for 20 years. He was forced out of that job after his praise for the 9/11 hijackers became known. This is who ISNA chose to showcase in a “meet the authors” panel and provide an unchallenged platform.

“My conclusion is that there should be more jihad,” he said. “But people don’t want to hear that. They’re scared.”

In Cairo, the President said:

“Threatening Israel with destruction — or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews — is deeply wrong” and a hindrance to peace. [Emphasis added]

But somehow, partnering with a group that invites the same thing is okay?


US Muslims hopeful but wary of status under Obama

February 6, 2009


Terrorist Fund: ISNA (Islamic Society of North America)

US Muslims hopeful but wary of status under Obama

The Associated Press
31 January 2009 – Ann Arbor News

NEW YORK — Many American Muslim leaders are eager to help President Barack Obama improve the U.S. image in the Islamic world, but they worry that their contribution might not always be welcome. The broad suspicion that has dogged them at home since the Sept. 11 attacks continues to keep many U.S. groups from working with the Muslim community, they say.

“These issues are not going to go away just because we have a president now who has more understanding of the Muslim world,” said Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, an advocacy group based in Los Angeles. “We’ll actually be under more scrutiny now that these issues are going to be raised at the top of the Obama administration.”

In his inaugural speech last week, Obama told the Muslim world, “we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.” The president, in an interview broadcast Tuesday on Al-Arabiya, an Arabic TV network based in Dubai, said, “Americans are not your enemy.”

The Leadership Group on U.S. Muslim Engagement last year issued a report, “Changing Course: A New Direction for U.S. Relations with the Muslim World,” that, among other recommendations, urged U.S. leaders to enlist more American Muslims to help counter Islamic extremism.

The group includes former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, two former Republican congressmen, Vin Weber and Steve Bartlett, and Ingrid Mattson, who in 2006 became the first woman president of the Islamic Society of North America, an umbrella group for tens of thousands of Muslims nationwide.

“There are lots and lots of Muslims that we’ve worked with on this project that are quite anxious to do this for their country,” Weber said in an interview. “We would have no lack of people who would come forward.”

In the last few years, American Muslims have been taking a more active role in fighting extremism.

The Muslim Public Affairs Council started its “National Anti-Terrorism Campaign” in 2004, urging Muslims to monitor their own communities, speak out more boldly against violence and work with law enforcement officials.

The Islamic Society, based in Plainfield, Ind., dedicated its 2005 annual convention to fighting terrorism and extremism. Two years later, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the liberal Union for Reform Judaism, the largest branch of American Judaism, became the first major Jewish leader to address the Muslim convention in its four-decade history. The two groups have pledged to fight extremism and build ties between mosques and synagogues nationwide.

Muslim Advocates, a legal group based in San Francisco, last year joined with the Better Business Bureau to create the Muslim Charities Accreditation Program, which evaluates nonprofits and trains leaders on compliance with the government’s legal and financial rules.

Following the 2001 attacks, the government shut down some U.S. Muslim charities after they were designated supporters of terrorism. American Muslim leaders have been working with the Treasury Department to find a way to identify legitimate Muslim nonprofits.

“American Muslims are ready to play their part,” said Eboo Patel, founder of Interfaith Youth Core, an international agency based in Chicago that works with former President Bill Clinton and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Patel, who is Muslim, and his colleagues travel throughout the Muslim world on behalf of the U.S. State Department to promote interfaith relations.

“I want our president to find terrorists and destroy and dissolve those networks, I just want him to find actual terrorists,” Patel said. “I live in America and I don’t want to be bombed by anybody.”

Still, some American Muslims resist cooperating with the government. They argue that not all terrorists are Muslim. And they are angered over the impact of the intensive surveillance of their community, such as misleading entries on the “no fly” lists at airports.

The administration of President George W. Bush had said the monitoring was critical to national security. But some Muslims contend that the measures did little to protect America.

As just one example, the Islamic Society has been the target of investigations that have left a stigma, but yielded no public penalties or criminal charges.

In 2003, the federal Bureau of Prisons temporarily stopped accepting the Islamic Society’s (ISNA) endorsements for Muslim prison chaplains while the agency’s inspector general reviewed all Islamic religious services for inmates. The prison bureau lifted the moratorium the next year.

The Senate Finance Committee reviewed the private tax and fundraising records of the Islamic Society and several other U.S. Muslim nonprofits, seeking any evidence of terrorism financing. The panel concluded its inquiry in 2005 without any public action against the groups.

In 2007, prosecutors in the terror-financing case against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development included the Islamic Society on a list of about 250 Muslim people and groups considered unindicted co-conspirators in the case.

After an initial mistrial, five Holy Land leaders were convicted of bankrolling schools and social welfare programs that prosecutors said were controlled by the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Federal agents had shut down the charity in 2001.

The American Civil Liberties Union, representing the Islamic Society, has asked a judge to remove the group’s name from the list of unindicted co-conspirators, saying the prosecutors’ actions violated the Fifth Amendment right to due process.

Marc Pelavin, associate director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the Washington-based public policy arm of the movement, said Reform leaders reviewed the Muslim group’s position on terrorism and on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before working with them.

But Pelavin said they did so recognizing that the Islamic Society is “a large and sometimes unwieldy umbrella organization” and that not all its members agree with the leadership.

“If we’re serious about talking to American Muslims, we have to go where American Muslims are,” Pelavin said. “ISNA, through its mosques, is the closest kind of parallel to our own synagogue movement.”

The FBI is among the law enforcement agencies that attend the Islamic Society conventions to recruit Arabic speakers.

Thomas Nicpon, assistant special agent in charge in the FBI’s New York intelligence division, said deciding which Muslim groups to work with is a “difficult question” since within many groups, members may differ widely in their outlook. But he said the FBI “tries to vet it out” before working with a Muslim organization _ or any community group.

“The overwhelming majority of American Muslims are loyal, patriotic Americans who obviously are very upset by and very concerned about what happened on 9-11,” said Nicpon, who leads the FBI’s New York outreach to Muslims. “They’re generally a lot more well-integrated in society than they perhaps are in London or Britain in general. They identify a lot more with America and American culture.”



December 2, 2008
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