ICNA’s Parent Organization Outlawed in Bangladesh

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A Bangladeshi court has banned Jamaat-e-Islami, the parent group of the New York-based Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), an organization that puts together some of the largest Muslim-American conventions.

ICNA describes itself as “a leading grass roots organization which seeks to obtain the pleasure of Allah (SWT) through working for the establishment of Islam in all spheres of life.” Approximately 32,000 Muslims were taught that the U.S. Constitution is inferior to Sharia Law at ICNA’s last conference.

The Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami group, essentially a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, is now outlawed in Bangladesh from participating in elections because of its opposition to the secular constitution. The group would have to delete its Sharia agenda from its platform and declare allegiance to Bangladesh’s secular identity in order to become eligible for next year’s elections. The court, however, did not ban the group from continuing its activites.

Jamaat-e-Islami said it will appeal the ruling and organize mass protests on August 12-13. Its leader also asked the Muslim world to take unspecified action to defend his group from the Bangladeshi government’s “state terrorism.”

Leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami are on trial in Bangladesh for war crimes committed during the country’s war of independence from Pakistan. When one leader was sentenced to life in prison instead of execution in February, massive anti-Islamist protests erupted. Canadian Muslim Tarek Fatah said it was “the first time ever in the Muslim world there has been a popular uprising against the fascism of Islamist parties.”

Also on trial is Ashrafuzzaman Khan, a former Secretary-General of ICNA. Khan was formally charged in October 2012 with being the “chief executioner” in at least 18 gruesome political assassinations in 1971. He had to be charged in absentia because he is currently living in New York. Khan says he is innocent and never belonged to the Al-Badar death squad, but three eyewitnesses contradict him.

Khan is still on the executive board of ICNA's New York chapter (as discovered by the Investigative Project on Terrorism) and is president of the North American Imams Federation. He also leads its New York regional office. The organization’s stated purpose is to “facilitate cooperation, coordination and fellowship between the leaders of mosques and Islamic Centers in the U.S. and Canada.”

Terrorism researcher Joe Kaufman discovered in 2007 that ICNA’s website is registered to a Jamaat-e-Islami website, and ICNA’s logo is identical to that of Jamaat-e-Islami’s student wing.

One of ICNA’s own publications in 1996 stated that ICNA was developed “using the organizational development methodology of [Jamaat-e-Islami founder] Maulana Mawdudi and the Jamaat Al-Islami of Pakistan.” ICNA’s youth branch and female branch were reading Mawdudi's texts as of 2010.

The deputy-chief of Jamaat-e-Islami and a senior Hamas official spoke at ICNA’s annual conference in 1990. In July 2000, the President of Jamaat-e-Islami represented ICNA at a meeting in New York. He reportedly talked about contributing to jihad in Muslim-majority countries against Islam’s enemies.

Kaufman also found financial links between ICNA and Jamaat-e-Islami charities in Pakistan, including one that delivered about $100,000 to Hamas in 2006.

The U.S. Muslim Brotherhood lists ICNA as one of its fronts in an internal 1991 memo. Meetings between the Brotherhood and ICNA “in an attempt to reach a unity of merger” are mentioned twice. ICNA’s conventions are held jointly with the Muslim American Society, a group that federal prosecutors say “was founded as the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America.”

This may be a fruition of those meetings: A smoking gun revealing ICNA’s intentions is its official handbook from 2010.  It describes a five-tiered strategy to establish a “united Islamic state, governed by an elected khalifah [caliphate] in accordance with the laws of shari’ah [Islamic law].”

The handbook draws upon the teachings of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yousef al-Qaradawi and, of course, the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami, Maulana Mawdudi.

ICNA is outraged over the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Time will tell if the group is unwise enough to drop its mask and campaign for its Jamaat-e-Islami parents in Bangladesh.


Ryan Mauro is the ClarionProject.org’s National Security Analyst, a fellow with the Clarion Project and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org