Muslim American Society (MAS)

Clarion Project
Article Source: Clarion Project

Article Source: Clarion Project

Federal prosecutors said in 2008 that "MAS was founded as the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America."

MAS says it works for a “virtuous and just American society.” It says it “has no affiliation with the Ikhwan al-Muslimoon (Muslim Brotherhood, known as Ikhwan in Arabic) or with any other international organization.” It also says that “it is not the goal of MAS to establish khilafa (caliphate), an Islamic state or impose Islamic law in the United States.”[1]

Federal prosecutors said in 2008 that “MAS was founded as the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America” and that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and MAS “omit reference to a shared background that limits their membership to those of a particular political bent, and undercuts their credibility.”[2] In January 2012, Abdurrahman Alamoudi, an admitted U.S. Muslim Brotherhood operative that was convicted on terrorism-related charges in 2004, stated, “Everyone knows that MAS is the Muslim Brotherhood.”[3]

In 2014, the United Arab Emirates banned MAS as a terrorist group.[3a]

In 2011, MAS reacted to Bin Laden’s death with a press release that condemned the 9/11 attacks but described him as ‘a visionary who believed in the possibility of an Islamic state in Afghanistan, and the possibility that this thing might someday be.”

It continued, “There was nothing wrong with that dream, even if it differs from one that all Americans have here for themselves.” It reiterated its support for Bin Laden’s vision “dream of a pure and merciful Islamic state in a Muslim land.”

MAS then issued a retraction saying the press release “does not represent in any way the position of the Muslim American Society and its leadership.” The retraction condemned the vague terms of hate, injustice and terrorism but did not condemn the Islamist vision that the press release endorsed.[3b]

In 2008, Dr. Mamdouh Mohamed, the Educational Adviser for American Open University, stated that MAS is actually the Muslim Brotherhood.[4]

According to former U.S. Muslim Brotherhood member Mustafa Saied, the decision to establish MAS was made after a meeting where he and 40 other members debated how openly the Brotherhood should operate in the U.S. They decided to become more public at the suggestion of senior Egyptian Brotherhood leader Mohammed Mahdi Akef.[5] He later served as the Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide from 2004 to 2010.

An undated MAS memo recommends deception through semantics. The organization must maintain that it is independent and answer questions about its Brotherhood ties by saying, “It is a self-explanatory name that does not need further explanation.” The document also suggests condemning terrorism with the understanding that jihad is not terrorism. MAS officials responded to the find by claiming it is old and doesn’t represent current thinking. [6]

In September 2014, MAS co-founders Jamal Badawi and Mohamad Adam El-Sheikh endorsed a letter opposing the Islamic State terrorist group’s tactics, but endorsed Sharia governance’s brutal hudud punishments, the recreation of a caliphate and the Islamist doctrine of gradualism. It even implied that journalists that are viewed as dishonest as acceptable targets for violence.[6a]

A 1992 U.S. Muslim Brotherhood phone directory shows that three MAS founders sat on its Board of Directors, specifically Omar Soubani, Jamal Badawi and Ahmad Elkadi. Badawi is an unindicted co-conspirator in the terrorism-financing trial of the Holy Land Foundation, a charity for which he fundraised. In 2010, he endorsed “combative jihad.” He has also justified suicide bombings and refers to Hamas terrorists as “martyrs.”[7] Elkadi was the president of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood from 1984 to 1994.

A 1994 U.S. Muslim Brotherhood document talks about using the MAS to prevent the building of ties between Muslim-American leaders and Zionist organizations. It was written by the Palestine Committee, a secret component of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood set up to advance the Hamas agenda.[8]

In 2004, senior Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood official Mohamed Habib was asked about MAS. He replied, “I don’t want to say MAS is an Ikhwan entity. This causes some security inconveniences for them in a post-Sept. 11 world.”[9]

The leadership of MAS is indicative of its Islamist nature. Shaker Elsayed, the secretary-general from 2000 to 2005, left to become the imam of the radical Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center. In June 2001, he said he supports the “Palestinian resistance” and that Israeli civilians are legitimate targets. [10]In 2002, he said that suicide bombers are “unfairly named” and that jihad requires Muslims to fight “with every tool that they can get in their hand.”[11]

Elsayed admitted that MAS was founded by Brotherhood operatives but says “MAS went way beyond that point of conception” and now has many disagreements with the Brotherhood. In the same interview, he said that the teachings of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Brotherhood, are the “closest reflection of how Islam should be in this life.”[12]

On January 1, 2013, he “liked” Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi on Facebook. Morsi was the Brotherhood’s presidential candidate and, at that time, was facing a severe backlash because of his moves to implement sharia law in Egypt. Elsayed “liked’ at least three four other Facebook pages supportive of Morsi and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in 2012.

He downplayed MAS’s connection to the Brotherhood by saying MAS is “not your typical Ikhwan” because it is not administered by the Brotherhood headquarters in Egypt. In 2004, he estimated that slightly less than half of MAS’s 1,500 active members are part of the Brotherhood. To qualify as an active member, you must get an Islamic education for five years that includes studying Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna and senior Brotherhood preacher Sayyid Qutb.[13]

Esam Omeish was MAS’s president from 2004 to 2008. In 2000, he was videotaped praising Palestinians that believe “the jihad way is the way to liberate your land.”[14] In 2004, he praised the spiritual leader of Hamas as “our beloved Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.”[15] That year, he also complained to the Washington Post about its negative depiction of the Muslim Brotherhood, saying that its “moderate” beliefs were “instrumental” in influencing the MAS.[16]

Omeish claimed that MAS has no current ties with the Brotherhood and, “The Brotherhood does not exist as far as we know in the United States.” In the same statement, he said that “we still view them as a good ally.”[17] In 2010, he “liked” the Facebook page of Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, the Hamas-supporting spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Qaradawi was also the chairman of MAS’s Islamic American University in Michigan until 2002.[18]

The executive director of the MAS Freedom Foundation, essentially its political wing, was Mahdi Bray until he had a stroke in late 2010. The Foundation closed in June 2011 because of insufficient funding.[19] In 2000, Bray was on stage with Abdurrahman Alamoudi when he praised Hamas and Hezbollah. Bray gave an approving gesture and the audience cheered when the statement was made. Bray tried to downplay his action by saying he was only pumping his fists, not raising his hands.[20] Bray later condemned the Israeli assassination of Hamas’ spiritual leader as “state-sponsored terrorism.”[21] He also accused the U.S. of waging a “war on Islam.”[22] In February 2008, Bray traveled to Egypt to stand in solidarity with Brotherhood members being prosecuted by the ruling government.[23]

MAS holds its annual conferences jointly with the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), another group with Brotherhood origins. Their 2012 conference included at least 10 prominent Islamist speakers, many of whom have ties to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and have expressed support for Hamas and acts of terrorism.[24]

The MAS-ICNA conference in 2002 included a speaker essentially telling Muslim-Americans to follow the Brotherhood doctrine of gradualism.  He said, “We may all feel emotionally attached to the goal of an Islamic state [in America]” but “We mustn’t cross hurdles we can’t jump yet.”[25] Another speaker said, “So now the occupiers [Israel] are whining to the U.S. that they are being hit back, that they are getting burned once in a while, that the settlers are being set aflame. Let them burn. I say let them burn.”[26]

In a statement on its website denying ties to the Brotherhood, MAS frames the Islamist group as moderate, calling it a “grassroots Islamic movement for reform and revival.” It admits that Brotherhood literature was originally the “foundational texts for the intellectual component for Islamic work in America” and credits the Brotherhood with protecting Muslims from “extremist ideologies.”[27]

MAS says there was a “re-examination” of Brotherhood literature that concluded that “the majority of what was written by [Brotherhood founder] Hassan al-Banna can be categorized as foundational thought (e.g. balanced understanding of Islam, societal reform, peaceful change, etc.) while a part of what he wrote may have been applicable to his time and place, but not to Muslims in America.”[28]

The “re-evaluation” resulted in “identifying many areas where such literature was deemed irrelevant or unacceptable to Muslims in America and therefore should not be part of any foundational thought or curriculum, except within the context of understanding history and critiquing the literature.”

The MAS statement still defends the Brotherhood, saying: “This critical re-examination of the Ikhwan literature is by no means a contribution to the efforts to demonize them.” [29]

MAS denies that it seeks the establishment of sharia law in the U.S., but says that sharia law has not been “proper[ly]” instituted anywhere in the world. “MAS believes that Islamic principles, when applied appropriately, can give rise to a good way of life and promote a healthy society,” its website says.[30]

MAS works closely with other components of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood network and similarly attacks its critics as “Islamophobes.”

Former top MAS official Mahdi Bray said in 2006, “there are certain interest groups, in and outside of America, that have long used bigoted distortions of Islam, portraying particularly the Muslims in America as seditious, dangerous, disloyal, or a fifth column, totally incompatible with democracy. This is, I think, the underpinning, in terms of when we start talking about Islamophobia.”[31]

When the U.S. government investigated and shut down elements of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood network after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the same accusation of “Islamophobia” was used. In 2003, Bray said, “I am saddened today to say that the greatest purveyor of discrimination against Muslims is indeed my own government here at home. The war on terrorism is really becoming a war on Muslims.” [32]

When the Holy Land Foundation was indicted, an MAS press release suggested it was “politically motivated,” quoting Bray.[33] He said that the Abdurrahman Alamoudi was the victim of a “witch-hunt” by the pro-Israel lobby and Christian Right to “stifle dissent” and “marginalize” the Muslim-American community.[34] MAS also called for “rolling hunger strikes” to protest the prosecution of Sami Al-Arian, who was convicted for his involvement with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group. He was closely involved with the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood network.[35]

A Gallup poll published in 2011 found that 0% of Muslim-American males and 2% of females picked MAS when asked which Muslim-American organization most represents their interests.[36]

[1] “Frequently Asked Questions About MAS,” MAS website, https://muslimamericansociety.org/main/content/frequently-asked-questions-about-mas.

[2] U.S. v. Sabri Benkahla, No. 07-4778, Brief for the United States, Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, On Appeal From U.S. District Court of Eastern District of Virginia. https://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/case_docs/542.pdf

[3] “IPT Exclusive: Under Oath, Alamoudi Ties MAS to Brotherhood,” IPT News, March 14, 2012. https://www.investigativeproject.org/3486/under-oath-alamoudi-ties-mas-to-brotherhood

[3a] www.clarionproject.org/analysis/united-arab-emirates-ban-cair-other-us-brotherhood-groups

[3b] “MAS Official: Bin Laden a ‘Visionary,’” IPT News, May 6, 2011. https://www.investigativeproject.org/2832/mas-official-bin-laden-a-visionary

[4] “American Open University Under Ikhwan Attacks,” YouTube channel “NewIkhwan,” May 5, 2008. https://youtu.be/jO48UyljLeU

[5] Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Sam Roe and Laurie Cohen. “A Rare Look at Secretive Brotherhood in America,” Chicago Tribune, September 19, 2004. https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/watchdog/chi-0409190261sep19,0,4605917,full.story

[6] Ibid., Ahmed-Ullah, Roe and Cohen. “A Rare Look at Secretive Brotherhood in America.”

[6a] Mauro, Ryan. “Muslim Leaders Sign Letter Against ISIS, But Endorse Sharia.” Clarion Project, October 1, 2014.  https://www.clarionproject.org/analysis/muslim-leaders-sign-letter-against-isis-endorse-sharia

[7] “Jamal Badawi: Enduring Link to ISNA’s Past,” IPT News, May 8, 2012. https://www.investigativeproject.org/3569/jamal-badawi-enduring-link-to-isna-radical-past

[8] The document is titled, “Meeting Agenda for the Palestine Committee 7/30/1994” and was revealed during the Holy Land Foundation trial.

[9] Ibid., Ahmed-Ullah, Roe and Cohen. “A Rare Look at Secretive Brotherhood in America.”

[10] “Islamist Groups Condemn US Support for Israel,” Investigative Project on Terrorism, June 5, 2001. https://www.investigativeproject.org/231/islamist-groups-condemn-us-support-for-israel

[11] “Elsayed: Suicide Bombers Are an In-House Business,” IPT News, December 26, 2002. https://www.investigativeproject.org/228/elsayed-suicide-bombers-are-in-house-business

[12] Ibid., Ahmed-Ullah, Roe and Cohen. “A Rare Look at Secretive Brotherhood in America.”

[13] Ibid., Ahmed-Ullah, Roe and Cohen. “A Rare Look at Secretive Brotherhood in America.”

[14] “Esam Omeish at Jerusalem Day Rally,” Investigative Project on Terrorism Youtube channel, September 27, 2000. https://youtu.be/Lajn3zOoWt4

[15] “MAS’ Esam Omeish Seeks Virginia Office,” IPT News, May 1, 2009. https://www.investigativeproject.org/1025/mas-esam-omeish-seeks-virginia-office.

[16] “MSA President Letter to the Washington Post,” September 16, 2004, screenshot from MAS website, UnitedStatesAction.com, https://www.unitedstatesaction.com/documents/omeish/www-masnet-org_pressroom_release-asp_nycmexs4.pdf

[17] Ibid., “MAS’ Esam Omeish Seeks Virginia Office.”

[18] Ibid., Ahmed-Ullah, Roe and Cohen. “A Rare Look at Secretive Brotherhood in America.”

[19] “MAS’ Activist Wing Closes Shop,” IPT News, June 21, 2011. https://www.investigativeproject.org/2988/mas-activist-wing-closes-shop

[20] Shipley, Garren. “Gilbert, Athey Criticize Kaine: Delegates—Ties Too Close,” Northern Virginia Daily, October 23, 2007. https://web.archive.org/web/20071208085800/http:/www.nvdaily.com/Newstories/299021296405084.bsp

[21] As stated in a March 23, 2004 MAS press release titled, “”MAS Condemns the Assassination of Sheikh Yassin, Calls for Congressional Action.” Documented by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, “Apologists or Extremists: Mahdi Bray,” June 20, 2011. https://www.investigativeproject.org/profile/112#_ftn4

[22] “Cover Story: American Muslims and Politics,” Religion & Ethics News Weekly, PBS.org, November 2, 2001. https://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week509/cover.html

[23] “MB Military Sentencing Session Feb, 26th,” IkhwanWeb, February 2, 2008. https://ikhwanweb.com/print.php?id=15945

[24] Mauro, Ryan. “American Islamist Conference Comes to Chicago,” RadicalIslam.org, November 20, 2012. https://www.radicalislam.org/analysis/another-american-islamist-conference-comes-chicago

[25] Ibid., Ibid., Ahmed-Ullah, Roe and Cohen. “A Rare Look at Secretive Brotherhood in America.”

[26] “Let Them Burn,” December 26, 2002, Investigative Project on Terrorism, https://www.investigativeproject.org/229/let-them-burn.

[27] Ibid., “Frequently Asked Questions About MAS.”

[28] Ibid., “Frequently Asked Questions About MAS.”

[29] Ibid., “Frequently Asked Questions About MAS.”

[30] Ibid., “Frequently Asked Questions About MAS.”

[31] The statement was made at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. on December 4, 2006, titled, “Islamophobia: Its Rising Threat and Policy Challenges.” The comment was documented by IPT News in “Mahdi Bray’s Secret, Checkered Past,” March 29, 2009. https://www.investigativeproject.org/1013/mahdi-brays-secret-checkered-past

[32] “Activists plan huge protest in Washington to demand US troop withdrawal from Iraq,” Channel NewsAsia, October 22, 2003.  As documented in, “Mahdi Bray’s Secret, Checkered Past,” IPT News, March 25, 2009. https://www.investigativeproject.org/1013/mahdi-brays-secret-checkered-past.

[33] “Muslims Arrested in Holy Land Foundation Raid,” MAS Press Release, July 27, 2004. As documented in the Investigative Project on Terrorism’s dossier on MAS, available at: https://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/misc/44.pdf

[34] Abdeljabbar, Falasten M. “Alamoudi: What His Case Means to Muslims,” American Muslim, February 2004, p.20-21. As documented in the Investigative Project on Terrorism’s dossier on MAS, available at: https://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/misc/44.pdf

[35] “Thousands Join Rolling Hunger Strike for Justice in Support of Dr. Al-Arian,” MAS INFO email, February 9, 2007. As documented in the Investigative Project on Terrorism’s dossier on MAS, available at: https://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/misc/44.pdf

[36] Gallup Nightly Poll from January 1, 2008 to April 9, 2011.  https://www.gallup.com/strategicconsulting/153611/REPORT-Muslim-Americans-Faith-Freedom-Future.aspx