While it strives for respectability, the Muslim Students Association (MSA) has a dark side. For example, a 2007 report by the New York Police Department describes MSAs as "part of a growing trend of Salafi-based radicalization."
The report lists MSAs as an example of "Salafi Influences and Incubators," stating: "Extremists have used these university-based organizations as forums for the development and recruitment of like-minded individuals - providing a receptive platform for younger, American-born imams, to present a radical message in a way that resonates with the students."
But the organization's role in radicalizing other Muslims is just part of the problem. Patrick Poole shows how some of the organization's most senior members have been implicated in a variety of terror-related conspiracies:
"These include an MSA national president who was al-Qaeda's top financier in the U.S., as chapter president who was one of al-Qaeda's co-founders, and a former MSA faculty advisor who is currently the terrorist most wanted by the U.S. government," according to Poole. "Other MSA leaders have been recently identified in several domestic and international terror plots, and some currently are facing terrorism charges."
A few of the spotlighted by Poole include:
- Abdurrahman Alamoudi, who served as MSA national president in 1982 and 1983, is serving a 23-year prison sentence for his international terrorist activities. In 2005, the Treasury Department called his arrest "a severe blow to al-Qaeda, as Alamoudi had a close relationship with al-Qaeda and raised money for al Qaeda in the United States."
- Aafia Siddiqui was convicted in February of the attempted murder of a U.S. Army captain while she was incarcerated and being interrogated at a prison in Afghanistan. Siddiqui was active in the MSA while attending MIT. According to a 2005 story in Vogue, Siddiqui authored a guide published by the national MSA organization encouraging members not to water down Islamic doctrine on issues such as jihad.
- Ali Asad Chandia, convicted of terror charges as part of the Northern Virginia jihad network, was president of the Montgomery College (Maryland) MSA. He is serving a 15-year prison sentence.
- Al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, currently the U.S. government's most wanted terrorist, served as chaplain for George Washington University's MSA.
- Wa'el Hamza Julaidan, former president of the University of Arizona MSA, was one of al-Qaida's co-founders and its logistics boss.
For the full report, click here.