So it was a little curious Tuesday morning to see representatives of major Islamist organizations with roots in the Muslim Brotherhood call a Washington news conference to defend the mosque project.
The Investigative Project on Terrorism hoped to ask officials from the Muslim American Society (MAS) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) whether their support was counter-productive. After all, officials with the Muslim Brotherhood – an 80-year-old political/theological movement that seeks to spread Islamic law throughout the world – acknowledge founding MAS.
And court records show CAIR was founded by members of a Hamas-support network operating in America in the 1990s. FBI officials acknowledge being unsure "whether there continues to be a connection between CAIR or its executives and HAMAS," and cut off communication with the group in 2008.
The question was not asked, however, because MAS officials refused to let our reporter in. MAS announced the news conference in a release to the media. It was held at the National Press Club. But as MAS-Freedom Executive Director Mahdi Bray correctly noted, "it's a private event. We paid for the room. It's a private event." In exercising that right to keep us out, he avoided taking our questions.
Bray alone makes a dubious candidate to vouch for the Ground Zero mosque. He has at least two felony convictions: one for drug possession and one for keeping more than $71,000 in disability benefits that were meant to go to his late grandfather. As a political activist, he has spoken out on behalf of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative and has led radical demonstrations (See a highlight reel here)
The previous national president of MAS, Esam Omeish, had to resign from a Virginia state immigration panel in 2008 after video from the IPT showed him praising Palestinians who "have learned the way, that you have known that the jihad way is the way to liberate your land."
Joining Bray at the news conference was CAIR legislative affairs director Corey Saylor. When pressed, Saylor has danced around condemning Hamas as a terrorist organization.
Also listed as present for the event were representatives from the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and The Muslim Students Association (MSA).
ICNA's reading list for its members includes a series of radical texts by Islamist scholars who cast the West as incompatible with Islam. The MSA, like MAS, was created by Muslim Brotherhood members in the United States. Many MSA chapters host rallies and speeches by radicals defending terrorists. MPAC routinely opposes U.S. counter terror efforts, defends designated terrorist organizations and their supporters and has published anti-Semitic rhetoric.