The Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America, an influential group that issues fatwas (Islamic religious declarations), teaches Muslims that they “are allowed to show friendship to the disbelievers outwardly but never inwardly.”
The 2009 fatwa , which was originally brought to our attention by John Rossomando of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, cites Islamic scripture in its directive that Muslims must not befriend a non-believer over a Muslim except as a form of deception in response to a possible danger.
See the fatwa below:
AMJA has a history of extremist fatwas and sermons, including teaching that Hamas is not a terrorist group and ruling out offensive jihad against the U.S. only as a matter of pragmatism. You can read more about their background here.
Because AMJA doesn’t get in front of the cameras or maintain a high profile, it is often overlooked as part of the Islamist network in the U.S., but its influence should be taken seriously. In 2014, it trained 200 imams at its conference in Texas. Last year’s imams’ conference was in Chicago, as will 2017’s.
AMJA’s list of "our experts" and list of members includes Islamist clerics from across the country, including top leaders from the Islamic Society of North America, the Islamic Circle of North America, Al-Maghrib Institute, the North American Imams Federation, the Muslim Association of Virginia and various mosques. The lists also include many international clerics, even though AMJA presents itself as an American organization.
The group’s influence can be seen behind efforts undertaken by the more publicity-hungry Islamist groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group that the Justice Department identified as a Muslim Brotherhood front that deceptively casts itself as a “moderate” civil rights group.
When I was booked to give educational counter-terrorism training to law enforcement in California, the San Diego chapter of CAIR responded aggressively, going so far as to compare my training of law enforcement officials to having the leader of the KKK teach police about black people. The CAIR official leading the charge had only months earlier traveled all the way to Chicago to attend AMJA’s imams’conference.
AMJA can serve as a window into the Islamist strategy. The extremism of AMJA is so clear that it cannot effectively operate in the limelight, so it stays away. Instead, the so-called “moderates” that serve as experts go in front of the cameras to wage their jihad against Islamism’s enemies.
When they speak, the official titles they have with their primary “moderate” organizations are used. But they are part of AMJA’s network even though few know it and the affiliation won’t show up in a byline in an article or interview. All it takes is using a different title and the AMJA member is never held accountable for the group’s radical fatwas.
However, these people must be held accountable. No genuine Muslim reformer will join AMJA. If a cleric involved with AMJA is positioning himself as an unobjectionable moderate to unbelievers, he is following his group’s radical fatwa.
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. Read more, contact or arrange a speaking engagement.