The Virginia-based Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center, an extremist mosque attended by three of the 9/11 hijackers with extensive links to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, is fundraising for its outreach to inmates. The fundraising pitch quotes an extremist cleric and says the mosque has been working with the Washington, D.C. jail for 10 years.
“For over a decade Dar Al-Hijrah has been supporting the spiritual growth of Muslim inmates in the DC jail, CTF [Correctional Treatment Facility] and youth offenders,” the announcement states.
The request is specifically for donations to send 100 Qurans to the inmates.
There’s a sign of danger even in the announcement itself. It uses a quote from the Islamist theologian Ibn Taymiyya, “Let my imprisonment be a spiritual retreat.”
The choice of this particular Islamic cleric gives us insight into the ideology of the mosque’s leadership.
Atta Barkindo, a respected researcher on political Islam, writes, “some scholars suggest there is probably no other Islamic theologian, medieval or otherwise, who has had as much influence on radical political ideology of Islam as Ibn Taymiyya.” This includes the leaders of Al-Qaeda.
In fact, Osama Bin Laden quoted Taymiyya in 2003, pointing to when he said, “to drive off the enemy aggressor who destroys both religion and the world—there is no religious duty more important than this, apart from belief itself. This is an unconditional rule.”
The basis of Taymiyya’s preaching is that sharia must be the form of governance, a premise that “runs contrary to the demands of the fundamental principles of democracy.” He argued that the failure to do this is responsible for the descent of the Muslim world, and it would continue until Muslims overthrew their leaders that did not implement sharia governance.
On the topic of jihad, Steve Simon of the Brookings Institute explains that Taymiyya is responsible for the “elevation of jihad—not the spiritual struggle that many modern Muslims take it to be, but physical combat against unbelievers—to the rank of the canonical five pillars of Islam.”
Due to Taymiyya, jihad would become considered the “sixth pillar” of Islam by millions of Muslims. The primary focus of Muslims should be the “near enemy” instead of the “far enemy,” Taymiyya said.
His ideology would later inspire Salafism, the virulent form of Islam promoted by Saudi Arabia.
The documented history of Dar al-Hijrah shows that this mosque has been consistently radical in its beliefs. In January 2013, its imam, Shaker El-Sayed preached in favor of violent jihad at a Virginia high school. Using language that Taymiyya would agree with, El-Sayed told the audience that Muslims should be “first in the jihad line” and condemned Muslims who “bow down to Western pressure.”
A Customs and Border Protection document of the mosque in 2002 explicitly said it is “operating as a front for Hamas operatives in the U.S.” A December 2007 document said it “has been linked to numerous individuals linked to terrorism financing” and “has also been associated with encouraging fraudulent marriages.”
Dar al-Hijrah’s involvement in the Washington, D.C. prison system is part of a broader problem.
The Islamic Society of North America, a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity and unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas-financing trial, has a Chaplaincy Services Department that endorses chaplains for the Bureau of Prisons (and the U.S. military).
In 2003, Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) demanded that the Office of the Inspector General review the Bureau of Prisons’ relationship with ISNA. At the time, ISNA was the only Muslim group that filed the necessary paperwork to be approved as a chaplain endorser.
In a 2003 hearing, Schumer used the example of Warith Deen Umar, the administrative chaplain of the New York Department of Correctional Services who hired prison clerics. He was banned from New York prisons in 2002 after he was caught teaching Muslim inmates that the 9/11 terrorists are heroes that should be emulated. Schumer also mentioned that a New York State prison chaplain in Auburn was arrested earlier in the year for illegally transferring millions of dollars to Iraq.
ISNA did not distance itself from Umar after he was exposed. He spoke at its 2009 convention where he preached that the U.S. is hostage to a Jewish conspiracy and that the Holocaust victims “were punished for a reason because they were serially disobedient to Allah.” He also said “there should be more jihad.”
Schumer expressed his concern about ISNA’s involvement in the prison system. He pointed out that Imam Siraj Wahhaj, an extremely radical cleric, is an ISNA board member, as is Bassam Osman. He used to be the director of the Koran Literary Institute in Illinois whose assets were frozen in 1998 because of evidence it was financing Hamas.
Schumer warned that the Islamist involvement in the prison system was part of an overall offensive.
“As the Saudis turned a blind eye, the Wahhabi machine is becoming well-financed, politically powerful, difficult to prosecute and making dramatic inroads here in the United States. Let me give you an example of how Wahhabism has reached some degree of havoc in my own backyard in New York State,” Schumer said.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
In 2008, anti-Islamist Muslim Stephen Schwartz reviewed a list of all the Islamic literature and videos used by the Bureau of Prisons. The list included:
A 2010 FBI report found that the sermons of Anwar al-Awlaki, a former Dar al-Hijrah imam who led an Al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen until he was killed by a U.S. drone strike, could be found in prison libraries across the country.
Muslims of the Americas, a front for a Pakistani terrorist group named Jamaat ul-Fuqra, has a large number of ex-convicts as members. The group has 22 “Islamic villages” around the country and there is videotape of female members receiving paramilitary instruction at its headquarters in Hancock, New York.
The Sankore Institute of Islamic African Studies International, a very radical Pennsylvania-based group that says jihad is obligatory and believes constitutional democracy is antithetical to Islam, says its curriculum is being taught to 400 Muslim inmates in two California facilities alone.
The Islamists are paying attention to the prison system. So should we, before it is too late.
Ryan Mauro is the ClarionProject.org’s National Security Analyst, a fellow with the Clarion Project and is frequently interviewed on top-tier TV stations as an expert on counterterrorism and Islamic extremism.