In an otherwise important article published by Newsweek this past Wednesday (An Unwelcome Guest), reporters Mike Isikoff and Mark Hosenball detailed a Department of Justice outreach event, cancelled at the last minute because of one of the invitees was a high ranking official with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) - a potentially embarrassing fact since ISNA was recently named as an un-indicted co-conspirator in the current trial against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) in Dallas.
The cancelled event was slated for the same day as President Bush's speech at the Islamic Center of Washington D.C., problematic in its own right for several reasons, as I reported at the time, including the presence of Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), also an un-indicted co-conspirator in the HLF case. Recent testimony and evidence in the HLF trial has conclusively linked CAIR's founders with HAMAS, and its American affiliate, the Palestine Committee of the Muslim Brotherhood.
But back to ISNA; Newsweek put a call into ISNA to ask about its status as un-indicted co-conspirators in the HLF trial, and this is the result:
In a brief telephone interview with NEWSWEEK Wednesday, Magid pointed a reporter to an e-mail statement saying that the ISNA was seeking an immediate retraction of the government's "unfounded allegations" in the Holy Land case. "ISNA is not now and has never been involved in any covert or illegal activity and has never supported any terrorist organizations," the statement read. "Rather, ISNA is an open and transparent membership organization that strives to be an exemplary and unifying Islamic organization … ISNA hereby reaffirms its unqualified condemnation of all acts of terrorism." (emphasis added)
Isikoff and Hosenball, however, let that statement go unchallenged. And this is the same Newsweek that, several months ago, uncritically reported that new ISNA President Ingrid Mattson was, "bringing the moderate viewpoint to the world."
Yet, as I recently reported here, ISNA's sympathy with terrorism, and individual terrorists, runs quite deep.
ISNA has never condemned terrorist groups like HAMAS or Hizballah by name. More notably, in June of 1997, two and a half years after HAMAS was officially designated as a terrorist organization by the United States government (and long after common sense and reality indicated as such), top HAMAS official Mousa Abu Marzook thanked ISNA (and several other U.S.-based Islamist and "civil rights" organizations), writing that ISNA supported him through his "ordeal" – Marzook had been detained at JFK airport in 1995 and arrested and the Israelis were seeking his extradition. Marzook wrote that ISNA's efforts had "consoled" him.
ISNA's magazine, Islamic Horizons, is a hotbed of pro-jihadist literature, and has long championed HAMAS and HAMAS officials, notably Mr. Marzook himself. In the November/December 1995 issue, almost a full year after HAMAS was officially designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization, Islamic Horizons published an article titled, "Muslim Leader Hostage to Israeli Interests." That leader was Marzook, characterized by ISNA as:
[a] member of the political wing of Hamas, disliked by the Zionist entity for its Islamic orientation, continues to be held hostage in the U.S. at the whims of his Zionist accusers.
And in the September/October 1997 issues, two and a half years after the designation of Hamas as a terrorist group, Islamic Horizons published an article describing Marzook as:
[j]ailed without trial in New York for-months for alleged ties to organizations seeking Palestinian rights.
The pro-Hamas rhetoric and apologia in Islamic Horizons is off the charts, yet ISNA continues to get a free pass as a "moderate" organization by much of the government and media, who have probably not bothered to pick up a copy of its magazine.
Additionally, evidence has been introduced during the HLF trial which further exposes ISNA's claim of "unqualified condemnation of all acts of terrorism" as lies, at the same time, undercutting HLF's innocent claims that the organization only assisted impoverished widows and orphans, and establish long-standing ISNA ties to HAMAS. Exhibits entered into evidence a few days ago at the HLF trial include an expense voucher from the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), an ISNA subsidiary, made out for $10,000 in the name of Musa Abu Marzook, as well as a check drawn on a NAIT account in the same amount made out to Marzook. Another check for $10,000 on the same account was made out to Marzook's wife, Nadia Elashi. Another check for $30,000 was made out to the Islamic University of Gaza (and has Shukri Abu Baker/OLF written on the memo line), a school long known to be controlled by HAMAS, and which counted such notables as former HAMAS leader Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantissi and current HAMAS leader Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahar as professors, and the recently deposed HAMAS Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh is a former dean of the University.
Beyond the evidence in the HLF trial, ISNA counts among its former leadership such luminaries as convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) operative Sami al-Arian. According to his own bio:
Dr. Al-Arian has also been an active community leader. He helped establish the largest grass roots organization in the U.S., the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in 1981, and its many affiliates such as the Muslim Arab Youth Association (1977), the Islamic Association for Palestine (1981), Islamic Committee for Palestine (I.C.P), Islamic Community of Tampa (1987) and Islamic Academy of Florida (1992). (emphasis added)
ISNA also granted an official "Certificate of Affiliation" to al-Arian's "charity," the Islamic Concern Project (a.k.a. the Islamic Committee for Palestine/ICP).
Al-Arian was a frequent speaker at ISNA events, which have also hosted speakers such as Abdurrahman Alamoudi, currently serving a 23 year prison sentence for acting as a financial courier for a State sponsor of terrorism, having admitted his role participating in an Al Qaeda-inspired plot to assassinate the then-Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and Mohammed Salah, recently convicted and sentenced for obstruction of justice related to lying about his HAMAS connections in a civil law suit against U.S.-based HAMAS front groups.
ISNA officials can say they "condemn acts of terrorism" all they want, but the evidence supporting their ties to, and true feelings about, terrorist groups like HAMAS and PIJ, is overwhelming. The Department of Justice has started to take note. One can only hope that other branches of the government and mainstream media will follow suit.