A religion adviser to President Obama has close ties to a radical Muslim group that was an unindicted co-conspirator in a scheme to raise money for Hamas.
The group, the Islamic Society of North America, has an extensive relationship with the Obama administration.
In February, Obama named a Chicago Muslim, Eboo Patel, to his Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Patel is the founder and executive director of Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core, which says it promotes pluralism by teaming people of different faiths on service projects.
Patel is listed on ISNA's official speakers bureau.
From his own comments, Patel apparently is a member of ISNA. Upon the August 2007 election of the group's president, Ingrid Mattson, Patel told USA Today, "I'm proud to have her elected as my president."
"The bulk of the American Muslim community is very young and overwhelmingly under 40. Increasingly our leadership needs to be people we can relate to," Patel told the newspaper.
Patel also served last year on a panel at ISNA's annual convention in Washington, D.C.
He has written columns for the Washington Post and Huffington Post that promote ISNA events.
ISNA, meanwhile, is linked to the Obama administration.
The relationship began even before Obama took office. One week before last year's presidential inauguration, Sayyid Syeed, national director of ISNA's Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances, was part of a delegation that met with the directors of Obama's transition team. The delegation discussed a request for an executive order ending "torture."
ISNA President Mattson represented American Muslims at Obama's inauguration, where she offered a prayer during the televised event. Mattson also represented ISNA at Obama's Ramadan dinner at the White House.
In June 2009 , Obama senior aide Valerie Jarrett invited Mattson to work on the White House Council on Women and Girls, which Jarrett leads.
One month later, the Justice Department sponsored an information booth at an ISNA bazaar in Washington, D.C.
Also that month, Jarrett addressed ISNA's 46th annual convention. According to the White House, Jarrett attended as part of Obama's outreach to Muslims.
In February, President Obama's top adviser on counterterrorism, John Brennan, came under fire for controversial remarks he made in a speech to Muslim law students at New York University. The event was sponsored by ISNA.
During the speech, Brennan stated that having a percentage of terrorists released by the U.S. return to terrorist attacks "isn't that bad," since the recidivism rate for inmates in the U.S. prison system is higher.
He also criticized parts of the Bush administration's response to Sept. 11 as a "reaction some people might say was over the top in some areas" that "in an overabundance of caution [we] implemented a number of security measures and activities that upon reflection now we look back after the heat of the battle has died down a bit we say they were excessive, OK."
WND reported Brennan stated at the ISNA-organized event that the Obama administration is working to calibrate policies in the fight against terrorism that ensure Americans are "never" profiled.
Speaking at the question-and-answer session, Brennan declared himself a "citizen of the world."
"We need to be looking at ourselves as individuals. Not the way we look or the creed we have or our ethnic background. I consider myself a citizen of the world," he said.
Brennan told the audience the Obama administration is trying to "make sure that we as Americans can interact in a safe way, balance policies in a way that optimizes national security but also optimizes the opportunity in this country never to be profiled, never to be discriminated against."
'Burn down the master's house'
Discover the Networks notes ISNA, through its affiliate the North American Islamic Trust – a Saudi government-backed organization – reportedly holds the mortgages on 50 percent to 80 percent of all mosques in the U.S. and Canada.
"Thus the organization can freely exercise ultimate authority over these houses of worship and their teachings," states Discover the Networks.
ISNA was founded in 1981 by the Saudi-funded Muslim Students' Association. The two groups are still partners. WND previously attended an association event at which violence against the U.S. was urged by speakers.
"We are not Americans," shouted one speaker, Muhammad Faheed, at Queensborough Community College in 2003. "We are Muslims. [The U.S.] is going to deport and attack us! It is us versus them! Truth against falsehood! The colonizers and masters against the oppressed, and we will burn down the master's house!"
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.
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 bimonthly 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 Sept. 11, speakers at ISNA's annual conference still refused to acknowledge Osama bin Laden's role in the terrorist attacks.
Also, ISNA has 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 has condemned the U.S. government's post–Sept. 11 seizure of Hamas' and Palestinian Islamic Jihad's financial assets.
Patel and the Ground Zero imam
Last week, WND reported Patel has close ties to the imam who wants to build a 13-story Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero. The two have been documented together discussing America as "the ideal place for a renewal of Islam," WND has learned.
Now it has emerged the two also share a relationship with ISNA.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the controversial Muslim leader behind the plan to build the Islamic center and mosque two blocks from Ground Zero, wrote a book in 2004 that had two different titles, one in English and the second in Arabic. In the U.S., his book was called "What's right with America is what's right with Islam."
The same book, published in Arabic, bore the name "The Call From the WTC Rubble: Islamic Da'wah From the Heart of America Post–Sept. 11."
It has emerged that the Arabic edition of Rauf's book was produced, with Feisal’s cooperation, by ISNA.
Rauf, meanwhile, wrote the afterword to Patel's 2006 book "Building the Interfaith Youth Movement: Beyond Dialogue to Action."
Patel is listed as one of 15 "Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow" on the website for the American Society for Muslim Advancement, which is led by Rauf.
In Patel's 2007 book "Saving Each Other, Saving Ourselves," he recounts discussing with Rauf the future of Islam in the U.S.
Rauf "understood the vision immediately and suggested that I visit him and his wife, Daisy Khan, at their home the following evening," Patel recalled.
Khan founded the society with her husband and has aided him in his plans for the mosque near Ground Zero.
"The living room of their apartment on the Upper West Side was set up like a mosque, with prayer rugs stretched from wall to wall," wrote Patel in his book.
Continued Patel: "I arrived at dusk, prayed the maghrib prayer with Daisy and Imam Feisal and then talked with them about how America, with its unique combination of religious devotion and religious diversity, was the ideal place for a renewal of Islam."
"In the twentieth century, Catholicism and Judaism underwent profound transformations in America," Rauf observed. "I think, this century, in America, Islam will do the same."
Patel boasts of a "critical mass" of Muslims in the U.S.
"Islam is a religion that has always been revitalized by its migration," he wrote. "America is a nation that has been constantly rejuvenated by immigrants. There is now a critical mass of Muslims in America."
Patel last March wrote a Huffington Post piece referring to Obama's former "green jobs" czar Van Jones as a "faith hero."
"In my last post on Van, I called him an American patriot," wrote Patel. "That is high praise in my book. But watching Van's speech at the NAACP, I have another title for him, one that I reserve for the true giants of history. Van Jones is a faith hero."
Jones resigned in September after it was exposed he founded a communist revolutionary organization and signed a statement that accused the Bush administration of possible involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks. Jones also called for "resistance" against the U.S.
Jones previously stated his advocacy for green jobs was part of a broader movement to destroy the U.S. capitalist system.
WND reported that one day after the Sept. 11 attacks, Jones led a vigil that expressed solidarity with Arab and Muslim Americans as well as what he called the victims of "U.S. imperialism" around the world.
With research by Brenda J. Elliott