On February 3, President Barack Obama will visit a U.S. mosque for the first time during his presidency. Curiously, the president chose a mosque to visit that is deeply tied to Islamist extremism and terror funding.
The Islamic Society of Baltimore, the mosque Obama will visit, is part of a network of mosques of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). In 1991, a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood memo placed ISNA at the top of a secret list of “our organizations and the organizations of our friends.” The document said the organization’s “work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within…”
The U.S. government’s identification of ISNA as a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity was upheld in 2009 due to “ample” evidence linking ISNA to Hamas.
As if the Islamic Society of Baltimore’s association with ISNA wasn’t bad enough, the mosque’s imam for 15 year, Mohammad Adam el-Sheikh, also has deep ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. In addition, el-Sheikh served as the regional director of the Islamic American Relief Agency, a group which, according to the U.S. Treasury, funneled funds to Osama Bin Laden, al-Qaeda and Hamas, among other terrorist organizations.
El-Seikh is on record as defending and justifying Palestinian suicide bombing against Israelis.
This is not the first time Obama endorsed and supported the Brotherhood-linked ISNA. In 2013, Obama addressed the 50th annual ISNA convention via videotape, praising ISNA for its partnership with his administration.
To the conference participants, Obama said, “Over the last half-century, you’ve upheld the proud legacy of American-Muslims’ contributions to our national fabric and this gathering is a testament to that tradition.”
Yet, the gathering was anything but a testament to American tradition. A Clarion Project report showed the convention's roster of speakers included many known extremists, including Zaid Shakir and Siraj Wahhaj.
Shakir has preached that the U.S. Constitution is flawed because it grants equality to Muslims and non-Muslims and Wahhaj, a main speaker at the conference, has a history of anti-American preaching and envisions the day when sharia law will control America. As a current strategy, he advises Muslims to avoid discussion of Sharia because “we are not there yet.”
Ironically, the White House said one of the purposes of Obama’s visit to the Baltimore mosque is to “reaffirm the importance of religious freedom to our way of life.”
Religious freedom is hardly a concept promoted by the Muslim Brotherhood and those associated with it.
In fact, Muslims who are genuinely interested in religious freedom for all people have found Obama’s visit to the Islamic Society of Baltimore highly offensive.
Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and vice chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, called the visit was “insulting.”
“It’s disgraceful that this is the mosque he’s picked to be the first to visit,” Jasser said on “Fox & Friends” Sunday. “This mosque is very concerning…Historically, they are basically a radical, extreme mosque and not representative of the modern Muslims in America.”
Jasser is right. 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.
If one of the purposes of visiting a U.S. mosque is to “celebrate the contributions Muslim Americans,” as stated by the Obama administration, he could have started by choosing a mosque and its congregants that are have truly done so.
Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org