Christian pastors often will speak of the sin in the world, or in their nation, and call for repentance, but an expert on terrorism says when imam Siraj Wahhaj, one of the unindicted co-conspirators of the 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center, preaches in his mosque, he goes one step further.
“Christian pastors will say the [nation] has taken the wrong course, but they don’t say the U.S. is going to be destroyed unless everyone converts to Christianity right now,” Steven Emerson, one of the nation’s leading experts on terrorism, told WND.
But Wahhaj, who is speaking this coming weekend in Hartford, Conn., at the 32nd annual Islamic Circle of North America conference, an event shared with the Muslim American Society, blends into his sermons the “evil” of the United States and the need for an Islamic state.
That, Emerson said, is adding the political to the religious and is when the sermons “become a problem.”
“This is the whole problem of these conferences. They end up inserting a political message into an innocent message, then they politicize the situation. They’re basically mobilizing the Muslim public,” Emerson said.
“He has a message of Islam reigning supreme, and mixed with his message is the fact of the U.S. being an evil country, and defending terrorism,” Emerson said.
“All together that leads someone to become radicalized,” said Emerson, considered one of the leading authorities in Islamic extremist networks, financing and operations.
He’s also the executive director of The Investigation Project on Terrorism, one of the world’s largest storehouses of archival data and intelligence on Islamic and Middle Eastern terrorist groups.
The conference is set up to “address growing Islamophobia,” according to sponsors who have titled their event “Muhammad: Mercy To Humanity and Beyond.”
Wahhaj is on the program as a featured speaker, but it’s not the comments about his faith that concern those who monitor radical groups; it’s sentiments such as:
- “In time, this so-called democracy will crumble, and there will be nothing. And the only thing that will remain will be Islam.”
- “If Allah says stone them to death, through the Prophet Muhammad, then you stone them to death, because it’s the obedience of Allah and his messenger – nothing personal.”
Those quotes were documented by several organizations watching the activities of Islamics they consider radical, such as Wahhaj, who was put on the U.S. attorney’s list of potential co-conspirators to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and soon after was a witness for Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the so-called “Blind Sheikh,” who was convicted in the bombing.
At a news conference promoting the event, Naeem Baig, the secretary general of the ICNA group, condemned the “irresponsible media” and said “Islam remains the most misunderstood religion in America.”
He said the events will include a town hall style symposium called “Window to Islam,” and Baig said it would address “Islamophobia.” Other topics at the convention will be parenting, family issues, civil rights and media and spiritual development.
An online “invitation” to the conference noted Islam is the religion of “approximately seven million Americans,” and it “promotes peace, prayer, humility as well as social, communal and family values.”
But critics note that Wahhaj also is a board member for the Council on Islamic-American Relations, which, as WND reported earlier this month, was named by federal prosecutors, along with two other prominent U.S. Islamic groups, as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a plot with five officials of the defunct Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, who go on trial July 16 in Dallas.
A separate website where Wahhaj’s various speeches are available for purchase advertises his address called “Islam – The Solution to America’s Social Problems,” and “Are You Ready to Die?”
It was on Feb. 2, 1995, when U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White named Wahhaj as one of the “unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators” in the attack in New York.
Daniel Pipes, another recognized expert on the issues of Islam, noted that in 1991 Wahhaj was the first Muslim to deliver the daily prayer in the U.S. House of Representations.
“On that occasion he recited from the Quran and appealed to the Almighty to guide American leaders,” he concluded in a report. “A little over a year later, addressing an audience of New Jersey Muslims, the same Wahhaj articulated a rather different vision from his mild and moderate invocation in the House. If only Muslims were more clever politically, he told his New Jersey listeners, they could take over the United States and replace its constitutional government with a caliphate.”
“If we were united and strong, we’d elect our own emir [leader] and give allegiance to him. . . . [T]ake my word, if 6-8 million Muslims unite in America, the country will come to us,” Wahhaj had told the audience.
He later told another audience, “I see the demise of the Soviet Union as a sign for the American people that what happened in the Soviet Union will definitely happen in America unless America changes its course from the new world order and accepts the Islamic agenda.”
On a religion blog, he’s quoted as telling his followers that a society governed by strict Islamic law, where adulterers would be stoned to death and thieves would have their hands cut off, would be superior to American democracy.