A Texas Muslim organization held a special event honoring the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini, advertised as a “tribute to the great Islamic visionary.”
With the aim of cultivating “the unity of the Muslim ummah [brotherhood] around the globe,” the Metroplex Organization of Muslims in North Texas, a Shia group, invited prominent local and national Muslim leaders to the seminar Saturday, including Mohammad Asi, the former imam of the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C., who has been monitored by U.S. law enforcement for ties to Tehran’s radical regime.
Asi wrote in a 1994 public letter to Khomeini’s successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: “I … swear allegiance to you as leader of the Muslims.”
Other speakers included the director of the local branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which casts itself as the nation’s leading Muslim civil-rights group, and an NBA player.
A Dallas-area Muslim leader who has been honored for his civil-rights work told WorldNetDaily he spoke at the day-long seminar in Irving, Texas, and heard a couple of other speakers.
But Mohamed Elibiary claimed he was not aware of the event’s general theme and “tribute” to Khomeini.
In a phone conversation yesterday, WND directed him to an ad for the seminar posted on the Metroplex Organization of Muslims in North Texas website, which includes a photo of Khomeini alongside a message speaking of “Islamic revolution.”
[Editor’s Note: Since the publishing of this story, the Muslim group has removed the page. The link goes to a Google, cached version.]
The leader of Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979, Khomeini famously viewed the U.S. as the “Great Satan” and said “Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males … to prepare themselves for the conquest of countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world.”
Elibiary – known for his Muslim lobby and vote-mobilization efforts as president of the Plano, Texas-based Freedom and Justice Foundation – stated that this was the first time he had seen the flyer.
Replying to a question, Elibiary said he disagreed with the thrust of the message, which reads:
“‘Neither east nor west’ is the prinicipal slogan of an Islamic revolution in a world of hunger and oppression and outlines the true policy of non-alliance for the Islamic countries and countries that in the near future with the help of Allah SWT, will accept Islam as the only school for liberating humanity and will not recede or sway from the policy even one step.
“I don’t know what they mean by revolution,” Elibiary commented, “but I see myself as a Westerner.”
The Muslim leader said he doesn’t foresee America becoming an Islamic nation.
“I don’t think it’s possible,” Elibiary said. “We’ll always have choice of different faiths. I don’t see that disappearing.”
He said he is very aware of debates within Islam on such issues, “but I don’t bother with them.”
Asked his view of Khomeini, Elibiary, reared in the U.S., said he didn’t know much about the Shiite leader and his revolution.
“All I know is what I grew up learning about it, the hostage crisis,” he said. “All I know about him is negative stuff. I have never read his writings. I never bothered to learn any positive stuff about his history.”
‘Grand strike against New York’
Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes told WND he finds the Dallas-area event a troubling step in the direction of Great Britain, where radical leaders freely speak of overthrowing the government.
“Historically, in this country, Islamists have had the decency to pretend to not have the view they have and try to accommodate American opinion,” said Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum and a presidentially-appointed board member of the U.S. Institute of Peace.
“In a place like Great Britain, they don’t worry about that anymore,” he said. “While on the one hand, that clarifies matters and makes it easier to see who’s who, on the other hand, it shows a disdain for majority opinion that is troublesome.”
The imam Asi drew attention with an October 2001 speech at the National Press Club in Washington in which he called 9-11 “a grand strike against New York and Washington” launched by “Israeli Zionist Jews” who had warned Jews working at the World Trade Center to stay home that day.
If America contines to offend Islam, he warned, “the day of reckoning is approaching.”
Asi’s website says he was expelled from the Islamic Center in Washington for the “fiery nature of his speeches” and has been “forced to deliver the Friday khutbah for the past 20 years from the sidewalk across the street” from the center.
Elibiary spoke Saturday for only about 15 minutes – about how citizens can become active in local politics – and did not hear Asi’s speech, he said.
Yesterday morning, however, Elibiary was forwarded an e-mail that included Asi’s message, which he described as “not very flattering.”
Is he concerned about being linked with such an event and figures such as Asi?
“I wouldn’t want my name associated with radicalism,” Elibiary said, “but I expect people to judge me on what I do. Anybody who has known me for any period of time wouldn’t worry about it.”
In March, Elibiary was awarded the “Invisible Giant” Award at the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma, Ala., “based upon his work on the electoral process in the Dallas-Fort Worth community,” according to a press release.
Along with Asi and Elibiary, listed speakers at Saturday’s seminar were host Imam Shamshad Haider; Imam Abbas Ayleya of Seattle; Imam Dr. Yusuf Kavakci of the Dallas Central Mosque; Iyas Maleh of the Dallas Fort Worth branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations; and “special guest” Tariq Abdul Wahad, who plays for the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.
WND was unable to reach Haider for comment.
Elibiary said he doesn’t know why Maleh was listed in his role as head of the Dallas-area Council on American-Islamic Relations, pointing out Maleh spoke as a representive of a local activist group called United for Peace and Justice.
A founding member of CAIR’s first Texas chapter, Ghassan Elashi, was indicted for financial ties to Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzook.
Haider, has spoken at events such as Southern Methodist University’s “The World of Islam” series in October 2002, which “explored what it means to be American and Muslim in North Texas.”
Asi once led a workshop at an Islamic conference titled “What the Western Press Calls ‘Suicide Bombings,'” defining terrorism as the “poor man’s warfare.”
In a Jan. 1, 2003, story, the Washington Post said that for 14 years, until 1997, Asi ran the Islamic Education Center in Potomac, Md., funded by the New York-based Alavi Foundation, “which law enforcement officials say is closely tied to the mullahs who dominate Iran.”
FBI counter-terrorism chief Oliver “Buck” Revell said the bureau has long believed Alavi is “a front organization for the Iranian regime that is engaged in covert intelligence activity on the part of a hostile foreign government,” the Post reported.
The foundation funds a variety of anti-American causes, including Islamic centers around the nation that espouse support for Khomeini.
In 1990, just before the first Gulf War, Asi was recorded saying, “If the Americans are placing their forces in the Persian Gulf, we should be creating another war front for the Americans in the Muslim world – and specifically where American interests are concentrated.”
An audio excerpt was included in counterterrorism expert Steven Emerson’s 1994 PBS documentary, “Jihad in America.”