Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Leadership Center Director Louay Safi smeared Investigative Project on Terrorism Executive Director Steven Emerson and others last week in an article in which Safi, ironically, complained of being the victim of a smear.
Safi generated unwelcome scrutiny when it was disclosed he visited Fort Hood to instruct soldiers about Islam not long after the massacre of soldiers there. We hadn't mentioned Safi's work at Fort Hood when his article was published. We understand the concern expressed by others, however. ISNA has documented ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and serves as a magnet for extremists.
Critics, Safi said in response, were tossing around "a set of fictitious affiliations and unfounded accusations." Only they aren't critics. Those who criticize ISNA or Safi are "Muslim bashers." Safi invokes the phrase five times in a 1,100-word article. He also called the IPT "a shadowy investigative operation, whose investigative tools include guilt by association, innuendo, and half truths."
Naturally, we disagree and will do more than just offer up vague accusations which go unsubstantiated as Safi did. First, about the IPT, Newsweek this week cited our work and called us "an American group that monitors Islamic extremism." Former National Security Council Counter Terror Advisor Richard Clarke wrote in his best seller Your Government Failed You that "Steven Emerson's Investigative Project on Terrorism, a not-for-profit research group, repeatedly told me things about terrorists on the web and terrorists in the United States that neither the CIA nor the FBI knew. Often he was right."
As we did with the Council on American-Islamic Relations' recent attempt to hide beneath a false veneer of victimization, we want to respond to some of Safi's accusations with specific, documented facts from the public record.
Safi's claims are in italics. Each link goes to the evidence to substantiate our claim.
· "McCarthy cited a statement by Emerson in which the latter urged the FBI to sever contacts with ISNA because it has been mentioned in a sealed affidavit as an 'unindicted coconspirator.'"
It is not a sealed affidavit and never was. It was filed openly with the court. You can see it here. ISNA is listed in section dedicated to "individuals/entities who are and/or were members of the US Muslim Brotherhood."
That's the assessment of federal prosecutors based on evidence in the Hamas-support trial of the Holy Land Foundation. Its leaders were convicted of routing millions of charity money to the terrorist group. ISNA and CAIR petitioned the court to be removed from the list, but that was rejected.
Among the arguments offered by prosecutors in defending ISNA's inclusion:
"During the early years of the HLF's operation, HLF raised money and supported HAMAS through a bank account it held with ISNA and NAIT (the North American Islamic Trust) ... Indeed, HLF (under its former name, OLF) operated from within ISNA, in Plainfield. Indiana, where Defendant and [HLF director] Shukri Baker was employed ... ISNA checks deposited into the ISNA/NAIT account for the HLF were often made payable to "the Palestinian Mujahadeen." The original name for the HAMAS military wing ... From that ISNA/NAIT account, the HLF sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to HAMAS leader Mousa Abu Marzook; Nadia Elashi (defendant Ghassan Elashi's cousin and Marzook's wife), Sheikh Ahmed Yassin's Islamic Center of Gaza, the Islamic University, and a number of other individuals associated with HAMAS.
In short, evidence introduced during the course of a public trial demonstrates that ISNA and NAIT are indeed co-conspirators/joint venturers, and no relief that the Court can grant would alter the state of the record in that regard."
· "Spencer and his ilk in the Muslim bashing industry, including Steve Emerson, does not explain how he could appropriate the fantasy of an unknown author to assert that ISNA is an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood."
Safi refers to this document, an explanatory memorandum by a Muslim Brotherhood member who sees the movement waging "a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands..."
It's not clear what makes the memo a fantasy beyond Safi's insistence. Federal investigators found it in the home of Ismael Elbarasse during a 2004 search. Elbarasse was a founder of the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Va. and a member of the Palestine Committee, created by the Muslim Brotherhood to support Hamas in the U.S. (The "unknown author" Mohamed Akram Adlouni appears just below Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook on the Palestine Committee's telephone list. Elbarasse is listed sixth. See for yourself here.)
Safi, meanwhile, has worked with one of the Hamas support arms Marzook created in addition to working for a Virginia think tank suspected of financing terrorists. That think tank helped underwrite a similar operation in Florida run by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) board member Sami Al-Arian. Al-Arian spent years insisting he had no connection to the PIJ, yet Safi had the foresight to ask in 1995 whether an executive order prohibiting dealings with the PIJ would affect him.
Safi would rather you not know this. He can argue with its significance, but not its accuracy. He also can call people names.