Today ISNA's annual conventions draw more attendees -- usually over 30,000 -- than any other Muslim gathering in the Western Hemisphere. ISNA’s mission is to function as “an association of Muslim organizations and individuals that provides a common platform for presenting Islam, supporting Muslim communities, developing educational, social and outreach programs and fostering good relations with other religious communities, and civic and service organizations.”
ISNA focuses heavily on providing Wahhabi theological indoctrination materials to a large percentage of the mosques in North America. Many of these mosques were recently built with Saudi money and are required, by their Saudi benefactors, to strictly follow the dictates of Wahhabi imams -- an edict that affects the tone and content of the sermons given in the mosques, the selection of books and periodicals that may be read in mosque libraries or sold in mosque bookshops, and the policies governing the exclusion or suppression of dissenters from the congregations.
Through its affiliate, the North American Islamic Trust -- a Saudi government-backed organization created to fund Islamist enterprises in North America -- the Saudi-subsidized ISNA reportedly holds the mortgages on 50 to 80 percent of all mosques in the U.S. and Canada. Thus the organization can freely exercise ultimate authority over these houses of worship and their teachings.
Writes Kaukab Siddique, the editor of New Trend, an Islamic periodical of extremist views that is nonetheless opposed to Wahhabi domination of American Islam: "ISNA controls most mosques in America and thus also controls who will speak at every Friday prayer, and which literature will be distributed there."
Islam scholar Stephen Schwartz describes ISNA as "one of the chief conduits through which the radical Saudi form of Islam passes into the United States." Adds Schwartz: "Our view is that the number of mosques under Wahhabi control actually totals at least 600 out of the official total of 1,200, while, as noted, Shia community leaders endorse the figure of 80 percent Wahhabi control. But we also offer a number of 4-6,000 mosques overall, including small and diverse congregations of many kinds."
According to Sufi leader Sheikh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani’s testimony before a State Department Open Forum on January 7, 1999, extremists have taken over “more than 80 percent of the mosques in the United States ... This means that the ideology of extremism has been spread to 80 percent of the Muslim population, mostly the youth and the new generation.” Kabbani based his statement on his personal investigation of 114 American mosques. “Ninety of them,” he said, “were mostly exposed, and I say exposed, to extreme or radical ideology, based on their speeches, books and board members.” This is largely due to the efforts of ISNA.
Adds Emerson: “I think ISNA has been an umbrella, also a promoter of groups that have been involved in terrorism. I am not going to accuse the ISNA of being directly involved in terrorism. I will say ISNA has sponsored extremists, racists, people who call for Jihad against the United States.”
Emerson further reports that "In September 2002, a full year after the 9/11 attacks, speakers at ISNA's annual conference still refused to acknowledge Bin Laden's role in the terrorist attacks."
WTHR, an Indianapolis television station located close to ISNA’s Plainfield, Indiana headquarters, said it had found “about a dozen charities, organizations and individuals under federal scrutiny for possible ties to terrorism that are in some way linked to ISNA.”
In December 2003, U.S. Senators Charles Grassley and Max Baucus of the Senate Committee on Finance listed ISNA as one of 25 American Muslim organizations that “finance terrorism and perpetuate violence.” ISNA is known to have permitted the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (and a number of other Islamic charities with terror connections) to set up booths at its conventions, and in some cases has helped raise money for them.
Upon learning of the arrest of Sami Al-Arian, the University of South Florida computer science professor who eventually would be found guilty of conspiring to fund the terrorist organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad, ISNA issued a statement criticizing the U.S. government for its prosecution of Al-Arian.
ISNA was named in a May 1991 Muslim Brotherhood document -- titled "An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America" -- as one of the Brotherhood’s 29 likeminded "organizations of our friends" that shared the common goal of destroying America and turning it into a Muslim nation. These "friends" were identified by the Brotherhood as groups that could help teach Muslims "that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands ... so that ... God's religion [Islam] is made victorious over all other religions."
Also named in the Muslim Brotherhood document were:
ISNA was a signatory to a February 20, 2002 document, composed by C. Clark Kissinger’s revolutionary communist group Refuse & Resist, condemning military tribunals and the detention of immigrants apprehended in connection with post-9/11 terrorism investigations. In ISNA’s estimation, the Patriot Act constitutes an assault on the civil liberties of Muslim Americans and ought to be repealed.
ISNA endorses the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride Coalition, which seeks to secure amnesty and civil liberties protections for illegal aliens, and policy reforms that diminish or eliminate restrictions on future immigration.
ISNA chose not to endorse or participate in the May 14, 2005 "Free Muslims March Against Terror," an event whose purpose was to "send a message to the terrorists and extremists that their days are numbered . . . [and to send] a message to the people of the Middle East, the Muslim world and all people who seek freedom, democracy and peaceful coexistence that we support them."
In July 2006, ISNA Secretary General Sayyid M. Syeed joined Sojourners leader Jim Wallis and National Council of Churches (NCC) General Secretary Robert Edgar in opposing any U.S. military action against Iran’s nuclear weapons program -- instead advocating "direct negotiations" with Tehran. At ISNA's 44th annual convention (held in Rosemont, Illinois) in August 2007, NCC's Interfaith Relations office sponsored an Ecumenical Study Seminar for “reflecting and learning together.”
According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism, an 86-page report issued by the office of U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) states that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has conducted outreach work with ISNA. Most notably, in September 2007 DOJ co-sponsored ISNA's national convention -- with American taxpayer dollars.
On October 19, 2011, ISNA was one of 57 organizations to co-sign a letter that Farhana Khera, executive director of an Islamic
organization called Muslim Advocates, wrote to Barack Obama’s then-Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (and later CIA director) John Brennan. The letter demanded
that Obama officials “purge all federal government training materials
of biased materials”—that is, materials that they claimed were biased
against Islam—and “implement a mandatory re-training program for FBI
agents, U.S. Army officers, and all federal, state and local law
enforcement who have been subjected to biased training.” Joing ISNA as signatories were such groups as the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Circle of North America, Islamic Relief USA, the Muslim American Society, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
Obama Administration immediately complied with the letter's demands.
Dwight C. Holton, former U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, emphasized
that same day that training materials for the FBI would be purged of
everything that Islamic supremacists deemed offensive: “I want to be
perfectly clear about this: training materials that portray Islam as a
religion of violence or with a tendency towards violence are wrong, they
are offensive, and they are contrary to everything that this president,
this attorney general and Department of Justice stands for. They will
not be tolerated.”
ISNA issues a semi-monthly magazine titled Islamic Horizons, which, as journalist Joe Kaufman points out, "is filled with features and advertisements linked to radical Islamic thought and activity." For example, a feature story from the January/February 2013 issue explores the life of CAIR founder Nihad Awad, but says nothing about Awad's (or CAIR's) associations with Hamas. Another story in the same issue promotes Siraj Wahhaj, a Brooklyn-based Imam with a host of ties to Islamic terrorism. The same issue carried a full-page advertisement urging readers to donate, through a charity called Islamic Relief, $10 for “Palestine emergency aid.” Islamic Relief had previously been identified by Israel as a Hamas front group, and by the Treasury Department as a “possible source of funding for al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.” Another full-page ad in the January/February issue urged readers to “sponsor a child” through Helping Hand USA, a charitable function of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). But both Helping Hand USA and ICNA were donors and partners of the al-Khidmat Foundation (a Pakistani charity run by Jamaat-e-Islami), which supports Hamas. Another full-page ad in the issue featured the International Institute of Islamic Thought, which has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, supports Islamic jihad, and has numerous documented links to terrorism. And yet another page of the January/February issue of Islamic Horizons featured the Michigan-based group Mercy-USA for Aid and Development, whose board members have included a number of individuals with ties to terrorism.
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