Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Muslim cleric behind a plan to build an Islamic center two blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks, is kicking off a nationwide speaking tour by addressing the banquet of a group that is an unindicted co-conspirator in a scheme to raise money for Hamas.
Rauf’s first appearance is scheduled for Detroit, the city with North America’s largest Muslim population, on Jan. 15. Rauf is scheduled to deliver the keynote address to the so-called “Diversity Forum Banquet” of the Islamic Society of North America, or ISNA.
ISNA is known for its enforcement of Saudi-style Islam in mosques throughout the U.S. It was named by the Justice Department as an unindicted co-conspirator in its case against the Holy Land Foundation in Texas, which was found guilty in 2008 of raising money for the Hamas terrorist organization. Last year, Holy Land founders were given life sentences for “funneling $12 million to Hamas.
Rauf had previously refused to condemn Hamas in a radio interview. The chief of Hamas has also come out in public support of Rauf’s proposed mosque near Ground Zero.
Rauf told the Associated Press he will tour the country in an effort “to inspire interfaith understanding” for his proposed mosque neat Ground Zero.
American Muslims like himself, he said, “can play an important role as interlocutors between the United States and the Muslim world.”
“I want to inspire interfaith understanding,” he said. “This past summer, during the demonstrations, we also saw the birth of what we believe to be a global movement of people of all faiths who want to have a better future for their children and grandchildren.”
ISNA was named in a May 1991 Muslim Brotherhood document – “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America” – as one of the Brotherhood’s likeminded “organizations of our friends” who shared the common goal of destroying America and turning it into a Muslim nation, according to Discover the Networks.
Discover the Networks notes that ISNA, through its affiliate, the North American Islamic Trust – a Saudi government-backed organization – reportedly holds the mortgages on 50 to 80 percent of all mosques in the U.S. and Canada.
Islam scholar Stephen Schwartz describes ISNA as “one of the chief conduits through which the radical Saudi form of Islam passes into the United States.”
According to terrorism expert Steven Emerson, ISNA “is a radical group hiding under a false veneer of moderation” that publishes a bi-monthly magazine, Islamic Horizons, that “often champions militant Islamist doctrine.”
The group also “convenes annual conferences where Islamist militants have been given a platform to incite violence and promote hatred,” states Emerson. Emerson cites an ISNA conference in which al-Qaida supporter and PLO official Yusuf Al Qaradhawi was invited to speak.
Emerson further reports that in September 2002, a full year after 9/11, “speakers at ISNA’s annual conference still refused to acknowledge Bin Laden’s role in the terrorist attacks.”
ISNA has also held fundraisers for terrorists, notes Discover the Networks. After Hamas leader Mousa Marzook was arrested and eventually deported in 1997, ISNA raised money for his defense. The group also condemned the U.S. government’s post-9/11 seizure of Hamas’ and Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s financial assets.
Rauf refused to condemn Hamas
Rauf, meanwhile, said he will continue in his speaking tour to Chicago, Washington, San Antonio and college campuses including Harvard, Georgetown, Yale and the University of North Carolina. He did not release specific dates for his speeches.
In a radio interview, Rauf repeatedly refused on-air to affirm the U.S. designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization or call the Muslim Brotherhood extremists.
The Brotherhood openly seeks to spread Islam around the world, while Hamas is committed to Israel’s destruction and is responsible for scores of suicide bombings, shootings and rocket attacks aimed at Jewish civilian population centers.
Rauf was speaking in a live interview with WND senior reporter Aaron Klein, who hosts a show on New York’s WABC Radio.
Klein asked Rauf on his show whether the imam agrees with the State Department’s designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization.
“I’m not a politician,” replied Rauf. “I try to avoid the issues. The issue of terrorism is a very complex question. … I’m a bridge builder. I define my work as a bridge builder. I do not want to be placed, nor do I accept to be placed in a position of being put in a position where I am the target of one side or another.”
Klein pointed out Hamas attacks have targeted civilians and asked Rauf again whether that qualifies to define Hamas as terrorists.
Rauf stated: “The targeting of civilians is wrong. It is a sin in our religion. Whoever does it, targeting civilians is wrong. I am a supporter of the state of Israel. … I will not allow anybody to put me in a position where I am seen by any party in the world as an adversary.”
When Klein persisted in asking about Hamas, Rauf charged the radio host of “accus[ing] me of things. You are killing the messenger.”
“You are trying to bring down the person who is trying to build security between our country and our faith tradition,” said Rauf. “My urge to you. I have worked for the law-enforcement agencies.”
Klein interrupted, stating, “And yet you refuse to tell me Hamas is a terror organization.”
Hamas chief on 9-11 mosque: ‘It must be built’
This past August, two days after President Obama came out in support of a plan to build the Islamic cultural center and mosque near Ground Zero, the controversial project received another high-profile endorsement – this one from the chief of the terror group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
“We have to build the mosque, as you are allowed to build the church and Israelis are building their holy places,” stated Mahmoud al-Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas who is regarded as the chief of the group in Gaza.
Zahar said that as Muslims, “We have to build everywhere.”
“In every area we have, [as Muslims] we have to pray, and this mosque is the only site of prayer, especially for the people when they are looking [to be] in the group, not an individual,” he said.
Zahar was speaking in a radio interview with WABC’s Klein.
Zahar told Klein he was speaking on the mosque issue with authority, claiming Hamas “is representing the vast majority of the Arabic and Islamic world, especially the Islamic side.”
Zahar said that Muslims around the world, including those in the U.S., are united in a common cause.
Stated the Hamas chieftain: “First of all, we have to address that we are different as people, as a nation totally different. We already are living under the tradition of Islam. … Islam is controlling every source of our life as regard to marriage, divorce, our commercial relationships. … Even the Islamic people or the Muslims in your country, they are living now in the tradition of Islam. They are fasting, they are praying.”