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Why Is This Georgia Islamic Center Hosting Radical Iranian Clerics?

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Current Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei (L) and founder of the Iranian Islamic revolution Ayatollah Khomeini (Photos: Reuters)
Current Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei (L) and founder of the Iranian Islamic revolution Ayatollah Khomeini (Photos: Reuters)

Clarion Project has learned that the Fatemah Zahra Islamic Center in Norcross, Georgia is hosting radical Iranian clerics. The list of events and speakers at the Shiite center through November raise concerns about why this ideology is being supported in America .

Earlier this month, the center hosted the Al-Walaa Foundation, a non-profit whose scholars are directly tied to the Iranian regime.

From October 12-14, the center held an event with Mirza Muhammad Ali Baig, a Shiite sheikh whose allegiances lie with Iran’s fanatical leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Baig, who was born in Chicago, studied in Qom, Iran in the early 90s, according to Al-Walaa’s website.

His speeches in the United States are evidence of his radical views.

In a 2008 talk in Dallas during Muharram (an Islamic holy month during which war and cruelty are strictly forbidden), Baig spoke some on the subject of jihad.

“If those people who do jihad in Allah’s way, maybe they might be called terrorists by this government. But you see those who do jihad are those who are esteemed by us. And if you do not hold them up like that, then we have nothing to do with Qu’ran,” Baig said.

In June of 2013, Baig was a speaker at an event commemorating the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

During his speech, he made it clear that he supports Khomeini’s radical interpretation of the principle of wilayat al-faqih (literally, the law of the jurist). Khomeini maintained that the supreme leader of Iran is Allah’s representative on earth until the 12th Imam (Shiite Islam’s concept of a messiah, Muhammad Al-Mahdi) returns to take his place at the head of the Islamic world.

Baig praised Khomeini during his speech, saying, “We want to thank Allah for making a witness and letting us be alive in the same time and era of Imam Khomeini. We also thank Allah for letting us taste Islam and obedience under reliance.”

In another segment of his speech, he encouraged parents in attendance to teach their kids about Khomeini. “Imam Khomeini is someone that we and our children need to know about more. A real champion of humanity and a hero of Islam,” Baig emphasized.

He then spoke of Khomeini’s successor, current Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and why others should follow him.

“He tells you what to think of and what are important in your life and in life of this ummah [Muslim world] and this nation. This what Ayatollah Khamenei does. What does he do? He tells us, listen this is what’s important in the ummah right now.” Baig said.

Older videos also shot in Florida also show Baig flanked by framed portraits of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Ali Khameini.

Aside from being a scholar of the Al-Walaa Foundation, Baig is also a member of the faculty at the Imam Ali Seminary in Adelanto, California. The seminary immerses students in religious classes, preparing them to be sent abroad for further studies in Iraq and Iran. One of the classes listed in the coursework for its first year students raises alarm about its educational programs.

The class, Islamic Laws 1, comes with a textbook from Ayatollah Nasir Makarem Shirazi. Shirazi is a prominent cleric in Qom. He’s also a Holocaust denier, someone who has called for female activists who don’t want to wear their hijabs to be treated harshly and, most recently, suggested executing “money changers,” blaming them for Iran’s current financial crisis.

Baig isn’t the only radical scholar connected to the Al-Walaa foundation. Hezbollah and Washington, D.C. native Sheikh Usama Abdulghani is also listed. In September, Clarion Project reported that Abdulghani praised Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader.

As evidenced by the report on the Al-Walaa Foundation and a few of its listed scholars, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s ideology is thriving in the United States. A country that refers to America as the “Great Satan” is successfully spreading its belief system, including support for terrorism, throughout the United States without intervention or incident.

 

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Ryan Mauro and Justen Charters

Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org's Shillman Fellow, national security analyst and the director of Clarion Intelligence Network. Mauro is also an adjunct professor of counter-terrorism. He is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. Justen Charters is a research analyst with the Clarion Intelligence Network.