President Obama, a self-professed Christian, visited an Islamic mosque with ties to terrorism on Wednesday.
“Muslim-Americans keep us safe,” Obama said while speaking at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, Maryland, which is affiliated with the Islamic Society of North America, or ISNA. “They are our police. They are our firefighters. They’re in [the Department of] Homeland Security.”
Obama’s speech was his first at a U.S. mosque during his tenure in the White House. Leaders of the 47-year-old building are known for using vehement anti-Israel rhetoric. Terrorism expert Steve Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism told WND on Sunday that Obama was informed of the building’s links to radical politics and terror, but he agreed to the event anyway.
“They prepared memos for the president’s aides that specifically laid out the sordid history and nexus to terrorism of the Islamic Society of Baltimore,” Emerson, the founder and director of IPT, said. “As he has done so many times in the past, he decided to ignore this evidence and still continue his plans to confer legitimacy on a mosque that has a history of having officials connected to Islamic terrorism and to this day still has officials making outrageously pro-terrorist statements that would seem to conflict with the president’s policies.”
Emerson said the mosque’s relationship with ISNA is a red flag. The organization was started by members of the international Muslim Brotherhood in the 1980s.
The president went on to tell attendees at Wednesday’s event that “Islam has always been part of America,” because it was practiced by slaves.
“The very word Islam comes from ‘Salam’ – peace,” Obama said. “The standard greeting is ‘As-Salaam-Alaikum’ – ‘Peace be upon you.'” Like so many faiths, Islam is rooted in a commitment to compassion and mercy and justice and charity.”
Obama and his surrogates have consistently framed warnings by experts and political candidates on domestic terrorism as fear-mongering.
“We’ve seen an alarming willingness on the part of some Republicans to try to marginalize law-abiding, patriotic Muslim Americans,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Tuesday, CNN reported. “It’s just offensive to a lot of Americans who recognize that those kinds of cynical political tactics run directly contrary to the values that we hold dear in this country.”
Farhana Khera, the executive director of Muslim Advocates, was delighted with the president’s visit.
“The president’s trip is extremely timely. It couldn’t have come at a better time,” Khera told the network.
The president’s visit to the Islamic Society of Baltimore comes just one month after Democratic U.S. Reps. Don Beyer of Virginia, Joe Crowley of New York, and Keith Ellison of Minnesota headed to the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Northern Virginia. That mosque also has ties to terrorism.
Deceased terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki was an imam at the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center and convicted Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan also attended services there.
“We are a diverse nation of immigrants whose shared cultural heritage is one of openness and inclusion. We must celebrate this diverse thread of our cultural cloth, not tear it apart,” Beyer said before the group’s Dec. 4 event, WND reported.
The trip took place just two days after Islamic terrorists Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his wife Tashfeen Malik, 27, killed 14 at a social services center in San Bernardino, California.