Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)

Clarion Project
Article Source: Clarion Project

Article Source: Clarion Project

ISNA says it “is not now nor has it ever been subject to the control of any other domestic or international organizations including the Muslim Brotherhood.”[1] It says it does not accept funding from foreign governments and “rejects all acts of terrorism, including those perpetrated by Hamas, Hizbullah and any other group that claims Islam as their inspiration.”[2]

In 2004, ISNA officials admitted to the Chicago Tribune that “Brotherhood members helped form those groups [including ISNA] but that their overall influence has been limited.”[3] ISNA is an outgrowth of the Muslim Students Association, a Muslim Brotherhood entity.

The president of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood from 1984 to 1994, an Egyptian named Ahmed Elkadi, joined ISNA’s Executive Council in 1984.[4] Sami Al-Arian, an admitted Muslim Brotherhood operative from 1978 to 1983[5], is one of ISNA’s founders.[6] He was convicted in 2006 for his involvement with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group. In November 1987, ISNA established ISNA-Political Awareness Committee. It was led by Abdurrahman Alamoudi, who was an ISNA regional representative.[7] He was convicted on terrorism-related charges in 2004 and has admitted to being a secret Muslim Brotherhood operative. He wrote from his prison cell, “I am, I hope, still a member of the Muslim Brotherhood organization in the USA.”[8]

Declassified FBI memos reveal that ISNA was identified as a Brotherhood front as early as 1987. One memo cites a source that has traveled worldwide on behalf of ISNA and other Brotherhood entities who is “convinced that this organization has a secret agenda which includes the spread of the Islamic Revolution to all non-Islamic governments in the world which does include the United States.”

The source reports that “the entire organization is structured, controlled and funded by followers and supporters of the Islamic Revolution as advocated by the founders” of the Brotherhood in Egypt. The FBI says the source provided a private ISNA document in August 1988 that “clearly states that ISNA has a political goal to exert influence on political decision making and legislation in North America that is contrary to their certification in their not-for-profit tax returns as filed both with the State of Indiana and with IRS.” [9]

A 1988 U.S. Muslim Brotherhood document states that ISNA is part of the “apparatus of the Brotherhood.”[10]  A 1991 U.S. Muslim Brotherhood document, which says “its work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within,” lists ISNA as the first of “our organizations and the organizations of our friends.” It also lists the ISNA Fiqh Committee and ISNA Political Awareness Committee, as well as other groups that have interlocking leadership with ISNA. In discussing its initiative to spread Islam in America, it says “We have the Daw’a [outreach] section in ISNA.”

In 1993, a secret meeting of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood Palestine Committee was held in Philadelphia to discuss how to advance the Brotherhood/Hamas agenda in the country, including through the use of deception. The FBI wiretapped the meeting and recorded the participants talking about using ISNA as a cover.

In 1999, an issue of ISNA’s Islamic Horizons magazine had Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna on the cover with the heading, “A Martyr of Our Times.” The author recalled meeting al-Banna when he was 13 years old and being “mesmerized” with his “describing the gallantry of the mujahideen in Palestine and their martyrdom.”

The ISNA piece implied that it wants to assume al-Banna’s mantle, stating: “It is hard to imagine that we will easily find someone to fill al-Banna’s place, but at least a collective leadership should emerge to take on that task.”[10a]

In 2007, ISNA was designated as an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation, a charity shut down by the U.S. government for financing Hamas. The U.S. government listed ISNA as one of the “individuals/entities who are and/or were members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.”

The Holy Land Foundation was based within the ISNA building. ISNA also deposited checks into its account that were made out to the “Palestinian Mujahadeen,” the name used at the time for Hamas’s military wing. The funding was transferred to the Holy Land Foundation.

ISNA argues that the unindicted co-conspirator label is misleading. It says it is “not a target in this prosecution or any pending investigation, and that the listing of ISNA was not to imply that ISNA was part of a criminal conspiracy or that it acted with any criminal intent, but rather, it was a legal tactic to permit the government to seek the admission of evidence that would otherwise be excluded.”[11]

On July 1, 2009, U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Solis upheld ISNA’s designation as an unindicted co-conspirator because of “ample evidence” linking it to Hamas. However, he also ruled that the designation should not have been made public.

ISNA President Mohamed Magid is also the Executive Director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society and served as an adviser[12] to the Sterling Charitable Gift Fund. Both were raided in 2002 as part of “Operation Green Quest,” a terrorism-financing investigation targeting large elements of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.[13] In October 2004, Magid blasted the investigations into the Brotherhood network, accusing elements of the U.S. government of being “intent on dismantling Muslim organizations and bringing them down.”[14]

The director of ISNA’s Office of Interfaith and Community Alliances[15], Sayyid Syeed, was on ISNA’s founding board of directors and was the secretary-general from 1994 to 2006. In 2006, he was recorded saying, “Our job is to change the constitution of America.”[16]

Syeed has served in a leadership capacity in other Brotherhood-originated groups. He was president of the Muslim Students Association from 1980 to 1983, where he “pioneered its transformation into [ISNA].”  He has served on the board of advisors for the Council on American-Islamic Relations[17] and was a founding board member of Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center.

Muzammil Siddiqi, a member at large of ISNA’s Board of Directors,[18] is one of the original founders. He is also a current trustee[19] of the North American Islamic Trust and previously served as ISNA President from 1997 to 2000. In 1996, he spoke in support of the Brotherhood doctrine of “gradualism.” He said that Muslims “should participate in the [democratic] system to safeguard our interest and try to bring gradual change for the right cause, the cause of truth and justice. We must not forget that Allah’s rules have to be established in all lands, and all our efforts should lead to that direction.”[20]

In 2001, Siddiqi said: “The criminal law of the Sharia is not practiced here [in America] and it is not even required for Muslims to practice the criminal law in a non-Islamic state… Once more people accept Islam, insha’allah, this will lead to the implementation of Sharia in all areas.” He also criticized Muslims for focusing so much on politics because it won’t “bring Sharia in this country” and accused the U.S. of being anti-Muslim.[21]

Another member at large[22] of ISNA’s Board of Directors is Jamal Badawi, a fundraiser for the Holy Land Foundation. He is one of the founders of the Muslim American Society, a Brotherhood entity. His name is listed in a 1992 U.S. Muslim Brotherhood directory. In 1999, he justified suicide bombings. In 2009, he praised the “martyrs” of Hamas and endorsed “combative jihad” in March 2010.[23] He is also closely linked to Brotherhood spiritual leader Yousef al-Qaradawi.[24]

Mohammed Al-Hanooti, a member of ISNA’s Fiqh Committee since 1978,[25] also served as a leader of the Islamic Center of Jersey City, Islamic Center of Passaic County and Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center. He was also the president of the Islamic Association for Palestine from 1984 to 1986, a pro-Hamas group and Muslim Brotherhood front. Al-Hanooti also attended a secret meeting of U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas members and supporters in Philadelphia in 1993.[26] A 1988 U.S. Muslim Brotherhood document lists Al-Hanooti as the head of one of its committees.[27]

A 2001 FBI memo states that informants reported that he is a “big supporter” of Hamas and was “purportedly holding fund-raising activities, as well as supporting visitors to the United States from Israel and Jordan, to speak on behalf of HAMAS.” Another FBI informant reported “in 1993, that Al-Hanooti collected over six million U.S. dollars for support of HAMAS in Israel.”[28]

Two U.S. Muslim Brotherhood documents do indicate that its influence over ISNA lessened in the late 1980s and early 1990s. A May 1991 document states, “The ISNA has developed significantly in the eighties by the Ikhwan’s leadership and direction of it started to gradually decrease due to their scarce presence in it.”[29] A document outlining the plan for 1991-1992 talks of “removing Ikhwan’s resentment towards ISNA” and “restoring the existence of the Group in ISNA.”[30]

The U.S. Muslim Brotherhood may have desired tighter control over ISNA, but the detailed planning for ISNA operations in the documents indicates it was still subservient. The Brotherhood Palestine Committee’s secret 1993 meeting’s discussion of using ISNA as a cover demonstrates a collaborative, secure relationship. A 2009 Hudson Institute study noted that “All but one of the individuals listed on the ISNA founding documents remain active either in ISNA or one of its affiliated organizations” and that ISNA and other Brotherhood affiliates “continue to exist in their original form.”[31]

ISNA continues to work in unison with the other Brotherhood-originated groups, often sharing leadership. The ISNA website lists the North American Islamic Trust, Muslim Youth of North America, Muslim Students Association, Islamic Medical Association of North America, Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers and others as “Constituent Organizations.” [32]

According to a 2011 Gallup poll, only 4% of Muslim-American males and 7% of females chose ISNA as the organization that most represents their interests.[33]

ISNA’s Fiqh Council of North America, the body that makes decisions based on Islamic law, consists almost entirely of Islamists with Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas links. In 2014, 14 of its 17 officials have strong Islamist records.[34]

In September 2014, ISNA President Azhar Azeez 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.

ISNA co-founder Muzammil Siddiqi and former ISNA President Mohamed Magid also endorsed the letter, as did many officials from ISNA’s Fiqh Council of North America.[35]

[1] “ISNA Statement of Position: Who We Are and What We Believe,” ISNA website, September 12, 2007. https://www.isna.net/articles/Press-Releases/ISNA-STATEMENT-OF-POSITION-Who-we-are-and-what-we-believe.aspx

[2] “ISNA Statement of Position: Who We Are and What We Believe,” ISNA website, September 12, 2007. https://www.isna.net/articles/Press-Releases/ISNA-STATEMENT-OF-POSITION-Who-we-are-and-what-we-believe.aspx

[3] Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Sam Roe and Laurie Cohen. “A Rare Look Inside Secretive Brotherhood in America,” Chicago Tribune, September 19, 2004.  https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/watchdog/chi-0409190261sep19,0,3008717.story

[4] List of Executive Council Members, “ISNA Executive Council,” Islamic Horizons [ISNA publication], January 1984, p. 2. Documented by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, “Islamic Society of North America: An IPT Investigative Report,” https://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/misc/275.pdf.

[5] “Affadavit of Dr. Sami Amin Al-Arian,” July 14, 2008, p. 5, https://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/misc/152.pdf.

[6] According to his biography on IslamOnline.net and the Free Sami Al-Arian website run by his family, Americans Against Hate website, https://www.americansagainsthate.org/ISNA_Sami_al-Arian.html.

[7] ‘”Guest CV: Abdurahman Alamoudi,” IslamOnline.net, https://www.islamonline.net/livedialogue/eng- lish/Guestcv.asp?hGuestID=7he3oT. As documented in Steven Merely’s Hudson Institute study, “The Muslim Brotherhood in the United States,” April 2009. https://www.currenttrends.org/doclib/20090411_merley.usbrotherhood.pdf

[8] “Jihad in America: The Grand Deception,” SAE Productions. Alamoudi also states that he hopes he is still a member.

[9] Document obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism. Available at: https://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/misc/708.pdf

[10] The U.S. Muslim Brotherhood document is titled, “Preliminary Vision for Preparing Future Leadership” and was introduced into evidence during the Holy Land Foundation trial.

[10a] Ahmed, Osman Abdel-Magid. “Remembering a True Guide,” Islamic Horizons, March/April 1999. As documented by Point de Bascule, https://pointdebasculecanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/isna%20ih%20banna%20advisory%20board.jpg

[11] “ISNA Statement of Position: Who We Are and What We Believe,” ISNA website, September 12, 2007. https://www.isna.net/articles/Press-Releases/ISNA-STATEMENT-OF-POSITION-Who-we-are-and-what-we-believe.aspx

[12] “Program Circular of the Charitable Gift Fund,” Sterling Management website, as recovered via the Wayback Machine. Documented in “The State Department’s Poor Choices of Muslim Outreach Emissaries,” August 27, 2010, IPT News, https://www.investigativeproject.org/2140/the-state-departments-poor-choices-of-muslim.

[13] For a good summary of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society’s connections to the investigated network, read “A Troubling Presence at a Funeral” by Ben Johnson, June 11, 2004, FrontPage Magazine,  https://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=12670

[14] Murphy, Carlyle. “For Muslims, a Beleaguered Feeling,” Washington Post, October 15, 2004. https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A33857-2004Oct14.html

[15] “About the IOICA,” ISNA website, https://www.isna.net/Interfaith/pages/IOICA-Staff.aspx.

[16] “Jihad in America: The Grand Deception,” SAE Productions.

[17] “Dr. Sayyid Syeed,” Center for Interfaith Action website,  https://www.cifa.org/board/dr-sayyid-syeed.html

[18] “ISNA Executives and Board of Directors,” ISNA website, https://www.isna.net/ISNAHQ/pages/Board-of-Directors.aspx

[19] “About NAIT,” North American Islamic Trust website,  https://nait.net/NAIT_about_%20us.htm.

[20] Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, “Issues and Questions,” Pakistan Link, October 18, 1996. As documented by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, “Apologists or Extremists: Muzammil Siddiqi,” https://www.investigativeproject.org/profile/171.

[21] Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, “The Future of the Muslim Community in America,” Live Dialogue, IslamOnline.net, May 31, 2000.https://www.islamonline.net/livedialogue/english/Browse.asp?hGuestID=04wWNv (Accessed December 14, 2007). As documented by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, “Apologists or Extremists: Muzammil Siddiqi,” https://www.investigativeproject.org/profile/171.

[22] “Dr. Jamal Al-Badawi, Member At Large,” ISNA website, https://www.isna.net/ISNAHQ/pages/Dr-Jamal-A-Badawi.aspx

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

[24] Poole, Patrick. “Homeland Insecurity: Why is Jamal Badawi Still Allowed Inside the United States?” PJ Media, May 16, 2012. https://pjmedia.com/tatler/2012/05/16/homeland-insecurity-why-is-jamal-badawi-still-allowed-inside-the-united-states/

[25] “Muhammad Ali Al-Hanooti,” On Islam, https://onislam.net/english/news/259-Advisers/169964.html.

[26] “Islamic Center of Jersey City,” Investigative Project on Terrorism, https://www.investigativeproject.org/case/404.

[27] Merley, Steven. “The Muslim Brotherhood in the United States,” Hudson Institute, Research Monographs on the Muslim World, Series No. 2, Paper No. 3, April 2009. https://www.currenttrends.org/doclib/20090411_merley.usbrotherhood.pdf

[28] “Extremism and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA),” February 2007, https://globalmbreport.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/20080127_extremism_and_isna.pdf.

[29] The document, titled “Shura Council Report on the future of the Group,” was introduced during the Holy Land trial.

[30] The document, titled “General Goals of the Group For the year (1991-1992),” was introduced during the Holy Land trial.

[31] Merley, Steven. “The Muslim Brotherhood in the United States,” Hudson Institute, Research Monographs on the Muslim World, Series No. 2, Paper No. 3, April 2009. https://www.currenttrends.org/doclib/20090411_merley.usbrotherhood.pdf

[32] “Constituent Organizations,” ISNA website, https://www.isna.net/ISNAHQ/pages/Constituent-Organizations.aspx

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

[34] Mauro, Ryan. “ISNA: Largest U.S. Muslim Org, Dominated by Islamists,” Clarion Project, March 4, 2014. https://www.clarionproject.org/analysis/largest-us-muslim-org-courted-govt-dominated-isalmists

[35] 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