Influential U.S. Imam, Jurist: Hamas is Not a Terrorist Group

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A video on the website of the California-based Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America shows one of its leaders preaching that Hamas is not a terrorist group. The cleric, Dr. Waleed Basyouni, is also the Vice President of the Houston-based Al-Maghrib Institute, which claims to have educated over 80,000 students around the world.

The speech is ironically titled “Reclaiming Islam From the Extremists.” Although Basyouni preaches against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, he explicitly states that Hamas is not among the extremists that he is speaking out against. He says at about 88:20 minutes in:

“As for Hamas, they are not included in the group that I am talking about today … Hamas, it is a political issue putting it or listing it as a terrorist group. What defines a terrorist group is not the State Department for us. What defines a terrorist group is not the NATO. What defines terrorists for Muslim scholars like me or students of knowledge like myself will be the Quran and Sunnah.”

Dr. Basyouni says he disagrees with Hamas on the tactic of suicide bombing: “The suicide bombing is something that I do not believe is allowed even if it’s done in Tel Aviv, but this is my personal opinion,” he says.

On the issue of violent jihad, Basyouni preaches that it must be authorized by an Islamic state’s leadership and “jihad is only allowed to exist if the benefit from it outcomes [outweighs] the disadvantages.”

This echoes earlier Arabic preaching from 2011 by the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA), translated and published into English, on jihad against the West. Its Arabic fatwa states “the Islamic community does not possess the strength to engage in offensive jihad at this time [emphasis added].”

Basyouni has also preached that “secular systems don’t work.”

These are not the words of an isolated cleric with no influence.

Basyouni’s Facebook page has over 150,000 “likes.” He has almost 25,000 followers on Twitter.

Basyouni is on the Fatwa Committee of AMJA, a group with a very radical history. The group trains American imams. It has almost 50 experts, most of them living in the U.S. It has about 40 members in leadership positions in the U.S. and around the world.

He is the vice president of the Houston-based Al Maghrib Institute. Its logo appears on the podium that he speaks at in the video. It has students affairs offices in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, Ireland, the Philippines, Indonesia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Singapore, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates.

“Al Maghrib seminars are offered in Universities and Islamic centers across the United States, Canada, UK, Ireland, Mainland Europe, Asia, Middle East and Australia. Presently, Al Maghrib Institute seminars are offered in twenty U.S. locations, eight in Canada, nine in the UK, and nine others across?? the rest of the world,” its website states.

The Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are waking up to the evil of Hamas, as is the Arab world. The entire basis of Hamas is extreme, with the official charter quoting an Islamic verse that states, “The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!”

Yet, the influential Waleed al-Basyouni is preaching that Hamas does not qualify as a terrorist or extremist group. His opposition to suicide bombing as a tactic is no evidence of moderation because he accepts other acts of terrorism by Hamas and its radical anti-Semitic, anti-Western agenda.

Al-Basyouni and, more disturbingly, his strong influence, shows how strong the radical Islamic ideology is becoming, even in the U.S.


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.

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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