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Islamic Center of Tucson
Tucson, AZ

Al Qaeda; Hamas

Between 1985 and 1993 the Islamic Center of Tucson (ICT) is alleged to have served as the de-facto Al-Qaeda headquarters in the United States.[1] In the mid 1980s, the ICT was the US satellite office of the Mektab Al Khidmat, an organization considered to be the "precursor to al Qaeda."[2] Several leaders and attendees of this mosque became Al Qaeda leaders. Among them, former ICT president and Imam Wael Julaidan became a senior bin Laden advisor[3] and was named a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) because of his work with Rabita Trust, an Al Qaeda funding source.[4] Wadih el Hage, whom government officials say acted as Usama bin Laden's secretary, was convicted of conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, conspiracy to destroy buildings and property of the U.S., perjury and murder in May of 2001.[5] El Hage, who regularly attended the ICT, told a federal grand jury that he heard ICT attendees say that dissident Muslim leaders "should be killed" as "infidels."[6] Ramzi Yousef, the future mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing carried a fake identification provided by Al Bunyan Islamic Information Centre (AIIC) in Tucson when detained at an airport in 1992.[7] The post office box number given on their badges for the Al Bunyan Center was the same as that on the letterhead of ICT's Al Kifah Refugee Center.[8] Abdullah Azzam, Usama bin Laden's mentor, also spoke at this mosque.[9] Al Kifah Refugee Center and Mektab al Khidmat, the al-Qaeda linked organization mentioned above, were named as Specially Designated Terrorist organizations on September 23, 2001.[10] Al-Kifah Refugee Center was established as the American-based affiliate of Mekhtab al-Khidemat.[11]

Omar Shahin, who became the mosque's imam in 2000, headed up efforts at the mosque to collect money for the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) and Global Relief Foundation (GRF) in 2001.[12] Specifically, Shahin told reporters that the ICT collected $7,000 for HLF in November of 2001and that he had raised money for HLF in the past. [13] Shahin served as the imam and as director of the ICT from 2000-2003.[14] HLF and five of its leaders were convicted of funneling money to Hamas in November 2008. [15] GRF was raided and shut down on December 14, 2001[16] and designated under Executive Order 13224 by the U.S. Treasury on October 18, 2002 for its ties to Al Qaeda.[17]

See: Islamic Center of Tucson


[1] World Trade Center Properties LLC v. Al Baraka Investment and Development Corporation, et al., 04-7280 RCC, "Complaint," (S.D.N.Y. September 10, 2004).

[2] "Treasury Department Statement of the Designation of Wa'el Hamza Julidan," US Department of the Treasury, Office of Public Affairs, PO-3397, September 6, 2002.

[3] World Trade Center Properties LLC v. Al Baraka Investment and Development Corporation, et al., 04-7280 RCC, "Complaint," (S.D.N.Y. September 10, 2004); see also: State of Arizona Annual Report for "Islamic Center, Tucson," June 5, 1991.

[4] "Treasury Department Statement of Designation of Wa'el Hamza Julidan," Office of Public Affairs, United States Treasury Department, Document #PO-3397, September 6, 2002.

[5] USA v. Usama bin Laden, et al., S7R 98 CR 1023, "Opinion and Order," (S.D.N.Y. November 2, 2005).

[6] USA v. Usama bin Laden, et al. Testimony of Wadih el Hage, February 15, 2001. P. 790.

[7] USA v. Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, et al. S12 93 CR 180, Government Exhibit 2849-1"Al-Bunyan Information Centre ID Card for Ramzi Yousef," (S.D.N.Y.1997).

[8] USA v. Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, et al. S12 93 CR 180, Government Exhibit 2849-1"Al-Bunyan Information Centre ID Card for Ramzi Yousef," (S.D.N.Y. 1997); Alkifah Refugee Center, Inc. Letterhead, P.O. Box 44149, Tucson, AZ 85733.

[9] Steve McGonigle, "Mosque in Tucson, home to operatives, denies supporting jihad," The Dallas Morning News, January 13, 2002.

[10] "Executive Order 13224," U.S. Department of State, December 20, 2002.

[11] USA v. Usama bin Laden, S9 98 CR 1023, "Indictment," (S.D.N.Y. November 4, 1998).

[12] Wichner, David, "Mosque aids group accused of Hamas tie," Arizona Daily Star, November 18, 2001.; "Imam Omar Shahin's Profile: 2009 Fundraiser Speaker Bios," EastSideMosque, http://www.eastsidemosque.com/EVENTDETAILS/SPEAKERBIOS/tabid/59/EVENTDETAILS/SPEAKERBIOS/tabid/59/Default.aspx#shahin (accessed June 7, 2010).

[13] Wichner, David, "Mosque aids group accused of Hamas tie," Arizona Daily Star, November 18, 2001.

[14] "Imam Omar Shahin's Profile: 2009 Fundraiser Speaker Bios," EastSideMosque, http://www.eastsidemosque.com/EVENTDETAILS/SPEAKERBIOS/tabid/59/EVENTDETAILS/SPEAKERBIOS/tabid/59/Default.aspx#shahin (accessed June 7, 2010).

[15] USA. v. Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development et, al., 3:04-CR-240-P, "Jury Verdict," (N.D.Tex. November 24, 2008).

[16] Deanna Bellandi, "FBI issues search warrants at two Islamic charities based in suburban Chicago," Associated Press, December 14, 2001.

[17] Press Release, "Global Relief Foundation," http://www.treas.gov/offices/enforcement/key-issues/protecting/charities_execorder_13224-e.shtml#grf (accessed May 15, 2009).

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