You'll have to forgive our skepticism, but we cannot imagine that President Obama randomly selected the Islamic Society of Baltimore (ISB) mosque for the first such visit in his official capacity as head of state.
Perhaps we are being overly generous, but his national security team must have spent considerable time and energy reviewing its leadership, relationships and history prior to the announcement over the weekend.
In the process of due diligence, they should have learned that ISB leaders financially and ideologically support radical Islamist terrorists and hate homosexuals. It is a controversial choice of venue for a roundtable focused on tolerance, rejecting bigotry and celebrating religious freedom.
If the White House truly believes that the ISB represents the acceptable mainstream practice of Islam in America, it suggests a much larger issue with radicalism in the U.S.
In 2014, two ISB officials — President Muhammad Jameel and General Secretary Abid Husain — joined with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in a news conference where they denounced Israeli for committing "genocide in the name of self-defense" in Gaza, when it was in fact the murderous Hamas terror organization launching rockets at Israel from heavily populated civilian areas.
CAIR was designated an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial, which resulted in the largest terrorist money-laundering conviction in U.S. history. The FBI terminated its formal relationship with CAIR in 2008 over its ongoing status as a front for Hamas.
Why would Obama confer legitimacy on a mosque that joins forces with a terrorist front group? Would he visit a church that welcomed the KKK as a political partner?
Mohamad Adam el-Sheikh, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood and lmam of the ISB for 18 years, endorsed Palestinian suicide bombings in a 2004 Washington Post interview. El-Sheikh also served as regional representative for the Islamic African Relief Agency — which the U.S. Treasury Department shut down for funding Osama bin Laden and other terrorists — while serving as ISB Imam and director.
Soon after Sept. 11, 2001, the ISB hosted American-born al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, whose inflammatory sermons are among the most effective online recruiting tools for jihad.
Does Obama condone advocating violence against the Jewish people? Does he think that it presents less of a complication than "Islamophobia," a fabricated term designed to portray murderous Islamist extremists as victims and to silence their critics?
The president famously "evolved" on the issue of same-sex marriage during his 2012 re-election campaign. Did he now evolve to where he can accept resident ISB scholar Yaseen Shaikh's 2013 description of homosexuality as a psychological disorder?
Does Obama even believe that radical Islam is a problem?
The administration at its highest levels regularly engages with groups connected to the most menacing elements of Islam, including domestic and international representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood. It recently invited a CAIR official who accused the FBI of killing two men in cold blood in separate incidents to the White House to participate in a forum on religious discrimination.
His White House banned the words "radical Islam" from administration dialogue and deleted any text that might offend Muslims from the FBI training manual. Obama refused to discuss Islamist terror following the massacre in San Bernardino, Calif., despite all evidence indicating it as the motivating factor. The words "radical Islam" were also absent in his statement soon after the mass murder in Paris.
The president endorses the ISB and Muslim groups with radical Islamist connections at the expense of welcoming moderates who recognize the difficulties of American Islamism, such as Dr. Zuhdi Jasser into the conversation.
Obama's actions will speak much more loudly than his carefully scripted words on Wednesday.
Religious tolerance will always remain a pillar of America's founding principles. Political violence as espoused by the ISB and mosques trafficking in similar extremist ideology never will be. It is unfortunate that the president cannot seem to distinguish between the two.
Steven Emerson is the Executive Director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism. Pete Hoekstra is the Shillman Senior Fellow at the Investigative Project on Terrorism and former Chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee. Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our guidelines on submissions.