Despite FBI evidence presented in federal court, leaders of Islamic groups in the United States such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations have denied they are connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, the supremacist movement that seeks to create a global Islamic state.
But CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad is among the U.S.-based leaders publicly mourning the death Friday of a former chief spiritual guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Akef, reports the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
Akef died in prison in Egypt.
Awad, writing on Twitter in Arabic, said: “What kind of tyrannical regime would imprison a sick 90 years old man?” Who resisted the colonizer, and raised generations on righteousness and the love of their country? #Mahdi_Akef, consider not Allah to be oblivious.”
Awad’s group CAIR was a spinoff of a group Awad helped form that, according to FBI wiretap evidence, was a front for the Muslim Brotherhood. CAIR itself was designated by the Department of Justice as an unindicted co-conspirator in a plot to fund Hamas. CAIR also was designated by the Gulf Arab state United Arab Emirates as a terrorist organization. The group has sued a co-author of a WND Books exposé, “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America,” which documented the group’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Akef, IPT reported, was praised after his death by U.S. Muslim leaders as the “Sheikh of the Mujahidin” and received prayers that Allah place him “in the higher paradise with the prophets, the pious, and the martyrs.”
Among the leaders who eulogized Akef was Esam Omeish, a past board member of the Muslim American Society, a group also founded by Muslim Brotherhood members.
Akef, who led the Muslim Brotherhood from 2004 to 2010, required all members to swear a religious oath of allegiance to him known as bayah, meaning his word was absolute.
He signed a 2004 fatwa written by Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi declaring Muslims had “an obligation … to kill American citizens in Iraq, since they are in Iraq in order to assist the soldiers and the occupation forces; it is forbidden however to desecrate their corpses.”
Months before signing the fatwa, Akef said in an interview with Egypt’s Al-Arabi newspaper, translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, that it was a “religious obligation” to bomb American soldiers in Iraq and Israelis in the Palestinian territories.”
He insisted Osama bin Laden was not a a terrorist but “without a shadow of a doubt – a jihad fighter.”
“I do not doubt the fact that he opposes occupation, nor that he does this in order to get closer to Allah, may He be praised and extolled,” Akef said in a 2008 interview with the website Elaph.com.
Akef, who joined the Muslim Brotherhood in 1940 at age 12, worked closely with founder Hasan Al-Banna and spent more than 20 years in Egyptian prisons, IPT reported.
He joined the Muslim Brotherhood’s “secret apparatus” that was involved in bombings and assassinations in the late 1940s.
Akef helped inspire the foundation of the Muslim American Society during his trips to the U.S. in the early 1990s, the Chicago Tribune reported in 2004.
IPT noted Omeish acknowledged his past Brotherhood membership during a 2011 talk at American University, calling it a “wonderful experience.” He also praised the Muslim Brotherhood last December in a Facebook post.
Awad also previously praised the Brotherhood, congratulating “the Egyptian people and their new president on this great achievement in Egypt’s struggle for freedom” when the Brotherhood won the 2012 election.
Akram Elzend, a board member of the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in Northern Virginia, near Washington, praised Akef on Facebook as the “Sheikh of the Mujahidin.”
Elzend also alluded to supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in a March 2015 Facebook post that featured the Brotherhood’s crossed sword-logo. The post linked to an article written by the group’s spokesman vowing to “liberate Egypt from the grip of this bloody coup.”
Osama Abu Irshaid, a board member of the United States Council of Muslim Organizations together with Awad, joined in the praise of Akef.
“May Allah repose Akef and all the martyrs of injustice in Egypt; may Allah curse their killers, those who enslave Egypt and their supporters, may Allah reward the liked of Habib according to their malicious acts,” he wrote.
Hani Elkadi, president of Egyptian Americans for Freedom and Justice (EAFJ), eulogized Akef as a hero who “died holding his head high; he asked for no mercy, he did not entreat his jailers, or his executioners.”
“The hero and the martyr died giving an example in patience, defiance, manhood, and steadfastness in truth.”
EAFJ spokesman Mahmoud ElSharkawy lauded Akef as the “sheikh of the revolutionaries” who was martyred while in prison.
“May Allah rest the soul of the captive and the martyr, and we ask Allah to grant us the best of end on the path of truth and martyr without any alteration,” ElSharkawy wrote.
IPT reported formal memorial services for Akef were arranged by EAFJ-linked people in New York and in New Jersey.
A banner at the New Jersey event called Akef the “Sheikh of the Mujahideen” in Arabic and described him as a martyr in both English and Arabic.