WASHINGTON – An Islamic group here that edited the English version of the Koran most widely accepted by Muslims as accurate was among several organizations raided last month by federal authorities seeking evidence of aid to anti-Israeli terrorists.
Since 1989, the International Institute of Islamic Thought has edited the popular “The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an,” translated from Arabic by Abdullah Yusuf Ali in 1934. The group, commonly known as “Triple I-T,” is based in Herndon, Va., a Washington suburb, where it also organizes seminars and conferences.
The same book was recently banned by the Los Angeles school district after anti-Semitic slurs were found in commentaries and footnotes and reported to school authorities.
In late March, authorities raided 14 Islamic businesses and groups in Virginia as part of a new probe – “Operation Green Quest” – into their funding of suspected terrorists. Coordinated by the Treasury Department’s counterterrorism task force, agents from the IRS, U.S. Customs Service, Immigration and Naturalization Service and FBI seized computers, bank statements and other documents.
The International Institute of Islamic Thought reportedly was targeted because it allegedly was a major source of funding for World and Islam Studies Enterprise, a now-defunct Florida group founded by Sami Al-Arian, a former University of South Florida professor. Al-Arian has been accused of raising money for Hamas and other anti-Israeli terrorists through World and Islam Studies Enterprise and other front groups named by the State Department.
The federal warrants sought, among other things, information related to financial backing of Al-Arian and his alleged front groups.
The International Institute of Islamic Thought, founded in 1982, updated Ali’s English version of the Koran in 1989, its first major revision in more than 50 years. It was printed by Beltsville, Md.-based Amana Publications.
An institute spokesman denied any ties to terrorists.
Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Unified School District pulled “The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an” from school bookshelves because it contains derogatory language about Jews.
Officials had to yank some 300 copies – donated by the Omar Ibn Khattab Foundation in Los Angeles to promote religious tolerance and understanding, ironically enough – after the Islamic suicide plane attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
The footnotes of the book describe Jews variously as “arrogant,” “illiterate” and “cursed.” They also say Jews are “men without faith” and “beasts of burden,” who have “corrupted (Allah’s) message.”
So-called “people of the book” – defined as both Jews and Christians in the text of the “Holy Qur’an” – are described as “treacherous” in the footnotes.