WASHINGTON — Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told the annual convention of a Hamas-Muslim Brotherhood front group Saturday night in Chicago that, thanks to the Obama administration, its struggle for full acceptance in America “is one you will win.”
The group Johnson addressed is the Islamic Society of North America, an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorist-financing trial in the nation’s history.
In 1991, the Muslim Brotherhood, the super-umbrella network of Islamist ideology from which terror groups such as al-Qaida and Hamas arose, listed ISNA as one of its main fronts. Declassified FBI memos said ISNA is a component of the Muslim Brotherhood, which sees its “work in America as a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within.”
In 2007, the U.S. government labeled ISNA a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity and an unindicted co-conspirator in a terrorism-financing trial involving the Holy Land Foundation funneling money to Hamas. The label was upheld in 2009 because of “ample” evidence linking ISNA to Hamas. Several years ago, ISNA’s Canadian affiliate lost its status as a charity because of its accounting discrepancies and links to Pakistani terrorists.
ISNA is known for its enforcement of Saudi-style Islam in mosques throughout the U.S. The Holy Land Foundation, to which ISNA was linked by the Justice Department, was found guilty in 2008 of raising money for the Hamas terrorist organization. Holy Land founders were given life sentences for “funneling” $12 million to Hamas.
ISNA also 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.
Like ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood seeks to create an Islamic caliphate.
But Johnson didn’t mention any of that in his talk Saturday night. Instead, he conducted something of a “love-in” with the audience – comparing the plight of Muslims in the U.S. with the struggle of black Americans during the Jim Crow South his own grandfather is said to have experienced.
Many American Muslims have been critical of his department and federal law enforcement agencies for what they view as discriminatory surveillance and prosecution of American Muslims. In his speech, Johnson did not speak to surveillance practices directly but acknowledged a common experience of discrimination and disrespect among American Muslims.
Johnson was the first sitting Cabinet secretary and the highest-ranking U.S. official to address an ISNA conference. He told the crowd of hundreds of Muslim religious and political leaders, activists and professionals that he hoped his appearance at the conference serves as a precedent for future appearances by officials of his rank. And he compared the Muslim American struggle for recognition, respect and equal rights to that of other American religious, racial and ethnic communities. He spoke of his grandfather, an accomplished African American sociologist who lived and died in the Jim Crow South but whose grandson is now the secretary of homeland security in the administration of a black president.
“Do not despair,” Johnson told the crowd. “If you know American history, take comfort in learning from it.”
He called his appearance before the group a “privilege” and said he hoped future “government officials of my rank will attend your annual convention. President Obama has made it a priority for his administration to build bridges to American Muslim communities.”
“In 33 months as your secretary of Homeland Security, I have personally visited American Muslim communities in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Detroit, Dearborn, Chicago, Columbus, Houston, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles,” he said. “I have come to know many of you, and I hope you know me. You have heard President Obama and me call out the discrimination and vilification you face in the current climate. You have heard us say that the self-proclaimed Islamic State is neither Islam nor a state; you have heard us say that it is a group of terrorists attempting to hijack your religion.”
He said: “Tonight I will not look at this large group of Muslims before me in this room through a homeland security lens. Tonight I will not talk about counterterrorism. Tonight I will simply address you as who you are, ‘my fellow Americans.'”
“Tonight I speak especially to the young people in this audience, and to the parents worried about your future,” said Johnson. “Many of the young people in this room worry that, because of the current climate, your religion, your skin color, and your attire, because of that you will never win full acceptance in this country. I come before you tonight to assure you this is not true. Your struggle for full acceptance in this country is one you will win.”
He said he was confident of this because his own African-American ancestors traveled a similar road.
“I hear your stories of discrimination, vilification, and of the efforts to tar you with the broad brush of suspicion,” he continued. “I hear about the bullying and physical attacks that Muslims are experiencing nationwide. They are familiar to me. I recognize them. I look out on this room of American Muslims and I see myself. I see a similar struggle that my African-American ancestors have fought to win acceptance in this country. Realize it or not, your story is the quintessential American story. Your story is an American story, told over and over again, generation after generation, of waves of people who struggle for, seek, and will eventually win your share of the American dream. Know the history of this country and you will know that – whether it’s Catholic Americans, Jewish Americans, Mormon Americans, Irish Americans, Italian Americans, Japanese Americas, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, or Muslim Americans — this will be true.”
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.
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 Palestinian Liberation Organization 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 [Osama] bin Laden’s role in the terrorist attacks.”
ISNA also 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 condemned the U.S. government’s post-9/11 seizure of Hamas’ and Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s financial assets.
Nevertheless, Johnson who runs the Cabinet-level federal agency specifically created for and charged with combatting terrorism delivered an impassioned speech on the subject of Muslim empowerment in America.
“Do not despair,” Johnson told the crowd. “If you know American history, take comfort in learning from it.”
At least two ISNA board members, James Badawi and Siraj Wahhaj, were listed as unindicted co-conspirators – Siraj in the Holy Land Foundation terror-financing plot and Wahhaj in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Muhammad Qatanani, another key ISNA leader, was arrested and convicted by Israel in 1993 for being a member of Hamas. Homeland Security sought to deport him because of his terror link, saying in a 2008 court filing, “It is certainly suspicious when a person who has been convicted of being a member of, and providing services, to Hamas, who has personal ties to a Hamas militant leader, and a Hamas fundraiser also sends undisclosed cash to the West Bank.”
Another radical American Muslim cleric, Zaid Shakir, spoke at a previous ISNA convention that featured former President Jimmy Carter. According to the groundbreaking book, “Muslim Mafia,” Shakir in speeches to Muslim audiences has said Islamic law permits Muslims to attack U.S. military planes – including ones carrying 82nd Airborne paratroopers out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
“Islam doesn’t permit us to hijack airplanes filled with civilian people,” Shakir said. “If you hijack an airplane filled with the 82nd Airborne, that’s something else.”
Shakir exhorted the Muslim faithful: “Jihad is physically fighting the enemies of Islam to protect and advance the religion of Islam. This is jihad.”
Dr. Mark Christian, born and raised a devout Sunni Muslim with strong ties to the Egyptian military and the Muslim Brotherhood who later converted to Christianity and founded the Global Faith Institute, wrote last year that of the 21 violent attacks on domestic American targets perpetrated by domestic Muslim jihadists, at least 12 of those attackers and possibly as many as 17 regularly attended or were significantly linked to Islamic Society mosques.
He characterizes ISNA’s goal as bringing about “the establishment of Islamic supremacy over North America.”
Muzzamil Siddiqi, ISNA president 1996-2000, current member of Fiqh Council, said: “By participating in a non-Islamic system, one cannot rule by that which Allah has commanded. But things do not change overnight. Changes comes through patience, wisdom and hard work. I believe that as Muslims we should participate in the system to safeguard our interests and try to bring gradual change for the right cause, the cause of truth and justice. We must not forget that Allah’s rules have to be established in all lands, and all our efforts should lead to that direction.”
“The Oklahoman who beheaded his co-worker and attempted to behead another was a regular at his local ISNA mosque,” writes Christian. “Same with the Fort Hood shooter, Nidal Hasan, who spent a great deal of his off-duty hours at his local Islamic Society mosque, steeping his brain in the readily available radicalism-du-jour that appears to be an all-too-common thread among ISNA facilities.”
The Islamic Society mosque in Boston that was the worship home for the Tsarnaev brothers responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing also was home for the following:
- Abdurahman Alamoudi, the mosque’s founder and first president, who in 2004 was sentenced to 23 years in prison for plotting terrorism. In 2005, the Treasury Department issued a statement saying Alamoudi raised money for al-Qaida in the U.S.
- Aafia Siddiqui, an MIT scientist-turned-al-Qaida agent who in 2010 was sentenced to 86 years in prison for planning a New York chemical attack. Known as “Lady al-Qaida,” she is related to 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed. ISIS has tried to trade her release for journalist hostages.
- Tarek Mehanna, who in 2012 got 17 years in prison for conspiring to use automatic weapons to murder shoppers in a suburban Boston mall.
- Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a mosque trustee and Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader banned from the U.S. after issuing a fatwa that called for the killing of U.S. soldiers.
According to a Muslim Brotherhood operative, more than half of the mosques in the West were either founded or acquired by Islamic Society.
“The Islamic Society is no friend to America,” writes Christian. “Its doctrine of domination is obvious and indefensible. Our failure to investigate and respond appropriately has cost the lives of many in our nation and will take many more, should we permit our leaders to dismiss our concerns as ‘Islamophobia.'”