Court papers filed in an Illinois federal civil lawsuit make it clear that a Hamas-supporting imam would have been a state police-sanctioned chaplain in 2010 if not for disclosures made by the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT).
Attorneys for the Illinois State Police (ISP) have asked a federal judge to grant their clients' motion for summary judgment, effectively ending a lawsuit brought by Imam Kifah Mustapha. Mustapha cleared an initial background check to the ISP's first Muslim chaplain in late 2009.
In his application, he failed to disclose his work as fundraiser for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. The foundation was convicted a year earlier of illegally routing millions of dollars to Hamas. The IPT reported on Mustapha's documented connections to the Holy Land Foundation in January 2010, after he received a state identification card.
The ISP received an e-mail alerting it to the IPT report a day later, a legal memorandum filed with the motion Thursday said. The state police "were previously unaware of Plaintiff‟s association with HLF, as it was omitted from his resume," the memo said. A second background check resulted in Mustapha's invitation to be a chaplain rescinded. He sued, claiming violations of his 1st and 14th Amendment rights.
The suit should not be allowed to continue because Mustapha was never deprived of pay or benefits, something required by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which covers workplace discrimination, state lawyers wrote. In addition, Mustapha's attorneys have not shown evidence of actual discrimination. All the pending chaplain candidates went through additional background screening, but they all were cleared.
Ahmed Rehab, head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' (CAIR) Chicago chapter, tried to deflect attention away from Mustapha, telling a television reporter that the state police were "kowtowing to articles online published by notorious anti-Muslims who have been in the business of smearing Muslim activists leaders and Imams for the longest time."
But there's a funny thing about court records. They show what they show no matter who finds them. When the state police looked, they found exactly what the IPT reported.
The additional investigation on Mustapha led to court records tying him to Hamas support. That includes a videotape admitted into evidence in the Holy Land case showing Mustapha singing, "O Hamas, teach us the rifle … O Hamas, raise the banner of Jihad." A child holding a machine gun joins the singers on stage, along with "a man wearing a mask traditionally associated with Hamas."
Illinois State Police officials "were profoundly disturbed" by that video, the memorandum said, because their chaplains have to deal with people of all faiths as part of their work.
"The expression in the video is conveyed in a manner that is militant and certainly not peaceful. At best, its message could be reasonably interpreted to advocate violence and vigilantism, highly inconsistent with ISP's mission of maintaining order and legal compliance," the memorandum said. "More likely, the video and Plaintiff's fundraising activities for the [Holy Land Foundation] could lead the public to believe that ISP looked the other way when confronted with evidence that Plaintiff aided and abetted, or at least cheered for, terrorism."
Mustapha remains an imam at the Mosque Foundation, in the Chicago suburb of Bridgeview. A number of other mosque officials have been tied to Hamas support and other radical activity. That has not deterred public officials, including Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, from legitimizing the mosque with high profile public appearances.
Mustapha's attorneys will file a response before any order is expected. Read the full memorandum here.