Muzammil the "Moderate"
by Steven Emerson
July 30, 2007
Continuing in its efforts to help sanitize radical Muslims and present them as mainstream voices, the Washington Post and Newsweek, in their "On Faith" blog, published a piece from long-time Imam of the Islamic Society of Orange County, Muzammil Siddiqi.
"On Faith" describes Siddiqi as involved in "inter-faith initiatives, including participation in an inter-faith prayer service with President George W. Bush" and as the "Chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America, a body tasked with interpreting religious law throughout the continent." (For more information on the pro-terrorism background of the Fiqh Council, read, "The American Islamic Leaders' 'Fatwa' is Bogus").
And speaking of that Fatwa, Siddiqi writes in his post:
Terrorism, suicide bombings or any other kind of bombings, shootings or violence that target civilians are totally forbidden in Islam and there is no justification for these acts. A body of Muslim jurists known as the Fiqh Council of North America has issued a strong Fatwa (religious ruling) against terrorism and suicide bombing. This Fatwa has been endorsed by hundreds of Islamic centers and mosques throughout North America.
If we are to trust that Siddiqi really believes what he writes, one would expect to find a string of denunciations by Siddiqi against terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, who have specifically targeted civilians for murder. Yet not only has that never happened (nor does the Fiqh Council's "anti-terrorism" fatwa name Hamas, Hezbollah or any Islamic terrorist group), but when Siddiqi was President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in 1997, his organization received special thanks from Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook, who wrote that ISNA supported him through his jailing and extradition process, writing that such efforts "consoled" him. (That fact is likely one of the many reasons why federal prosecutors named ISNA an un-indicted co-conspirator in the current trial against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.)
And Siddiqi has made numerous pro-jihad statements in the past and has denied that 9/11 was carried about by Muslims.
In a video recording, made roughly 15 years ago, obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), Siddiqi exhorted the successes of violent jihad, proclaiming:
When people really carry on Jihad, they carry on the Islam in its peak in its totality. And that's why in the hadith the Prophet (SAS) said (Arabic), ‘No people have ever neglected Jihad except they became humiliated.' And people leave, renounce Jihad, they became humiliated. That means in order to gain the honor, Jihad is the path, Jihad is the way to receive the honor.
The most first and foremost the most important effect of Jihad on Afghanistan on the Muslim Ummah at large because I do not see that Jihad of Afghanistan, only the victory of the Afghan people. Certainly it is the victory of the Afghan people, but I see it as the victory of the Muslim Ummah at large. I see it as the victory of Islam and in that sense it brings, aychsa, dignity and honor to the whole Muslim Ummah.
I can see that there is already some impact after Jihad in Afghanistan in the Intifada movement in Palestine. With this, more courage, more strength, more confidence and shall I even say that in a few years we will be celebrating with each other the victory of Islam in Palestine. Insh'allah, we shall be celebrating the coming of the Masjid al-Aqsa under the Islamic rule. We shall be celebrating insh'allah the coming of Jerusalem and the whole land of Palestine insh'allah and the establishment of the Islamic State throughout that area.
And as I first reported in American Jihad, at the Jerusalem Day Rally in Washington DC, October 28, 2000, Siddiqi said:
The people of Palestine, they were not given the right to return to their homes and to their land, like any refugees. Any people that you find that have occupied land, they have the right to return to their own land, they are not given that right. They are not given that right to go back. Jerusalem, which is the heart of the whole issue, Jerusalem has not been solved. There have been all types of accuses (sic) have been made. The land of Aqsa, the land of Jerusalem, is the land that belongs to Muslims.
The United States of America is directly and indirectly responsible for the plight of the Palestinian people. Our government is responsible for plenty of the injustice that is going on there. The United States is the greatest supporter of Israel – economically, militarily, and politically. We give billions of dollars to the State of Israel.
Our Congress and our media is blaming the victims, not the oppressors. The Palestinian demonstrators are not violent people. The violent people are those who are oppressing them day and night and for many years. We want to say to our government to respect the right of the Palestinian people. Do not be the blind supporters of oppressors. And al-Aqsa, my brothers and sisters, is our sacred mosque. It belongs to Islam. It belongs to all the Muslims of the world, 1.5 billion Muslims of the world, it belongs to them. We cannot accept any type to the al-Aqsa mosque. We cannot give up Jerusalem. Jerusalem belongs to Islam. We want justice and peace. We want justice for ourselves and as for everyone else. We do not want anyone mistreated. We want respect for all holy places and for all people.
We want our government to be on the side of justice and not on the side of oppression. We want our government not to be a blind supporter of Israel. We want our government to stop feeding the Israeli war machinery. We want to awaken the conscience of America. America has to learn that because if you remain on the side of injustice, the wrath of God will come. Please! Please all Americans, do you remember that, that Allah is watching everyone. God is watching everyone. If you continue doing injustice, and tolerating injustice, the wrath of God will come.
In the comments to Siddiqi's post, he is asked whether he said the above (in particular, "America has to learn ... if you remain on the side of injustice, the wrath of God will come. Please, all Americans. Do you remember that? ... If you continue doing injustice, and tolerate injustice, the wrath of God will come." By "injustice," he meant U.S. support for Israel.") and Siddiqi replied that the "statement is mutilated and distorted."
Rather than being "mutilated and distorted," Siddiqi said exactly that and more, calling for the destruction of Israel by "peaceful" means (the right of return), as well as violent means, supporting the violent jihad of the Palestinian terrorist groups and their suicide bombings, that Siddiqi euphemistically calls an "uprising," and further stated that Jerusalem belongs to Muslims and Muslims alone, justifying violence to acquire it, which is all in contrast to his message of brotherly love and inter-faith relations that the Post and Newsweek uncritically published.
In a September 2002 speech at an ISNA convention, Siddiqi stated of 9/11, well after Osama Bin Laden took credit for the attacks:
It is, the point is that we said, whosoever did it, we condemn it. We did not say it is Muslims who did it. We did not say this and that. But the point is that whosoever did it, it was wrong. And this is a basic point … We cannot say in surety whoever did it or not. But the point is that if the name of Islam is taken, we have to clarify the name of Islam.
Yet Siddiqi's radicalism is not limited to his own statements, but also to the company he keeps. In January of this year, the New Yorker published an article profiling a famous former congregant at Siddiqi's mosque, Adam Gadahn (a.k.a. Azzam the American), which included the fact that Siddiqi had hosted the notorious Blind Sheikh to speak about jihad:
In December, 1992, Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, a prominent Egyptian cleric and Islamic radical also known as the Blind Sheikh, visited the Islamic Society to lecture about jihad, and Siddiqi sat beside him to translate. Abdel Rahman dismissed nonviolent definitions of jihad as weak. He stressed that a number of unspecified enemies had "united themselves against Muslims" and that fighting them was obligatory. "If you are not going to the jihad, then you are neglecting the rules of Allah," he said. The opportunities for jihad were virtually everywhere, ranging from apostate Middle Eastern regimes to "those who are taking the wealth of Muslims from petrol or from oil." As he spoke, a red toolbox, with a slit cut into its lid for donations, was passed around the room. Videotapes of the lecture were later offered for sale at the society's bookstore. (emphasis added)
Several months afterward, Abdel Rahman was indicted for helping to plot the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. One of his fatwas, issued from prison in 1998, became central to Al Qaeda's justification of mass violence. (When I asked J. Stephen Tidwell, the assistant director of the F.B.I.'s Los Angeles division, about Siddiqi's association with Abdel Rahman, he said, "We have a very strong relationship with Dr. Siddiqi. You do have to put it into the context of back then." Siddiqi told me that Abdel Rahman "was touring, and some people insisted that he should be there."
Also of note is the FBI's insistence, despite copious evidence of his radicalism, of partnering with Siddiqi. This problem of legitimizing radical Muslims goes far beyond the media's involvement: it extends right up through the highest levels of our top law enforcement agency.
Once again, sadly, we are left to come to the same conclusion: one must be very suspicious when the media and the FBI tell you they have found, or are dealing with, mainstream Muslim leaders, involved in "inter-faith" activities. They are often suckers for polite smiles and Western business suits, but pull back the covers, and the truth is, all too often, much more sinister.