Rep. Darrel Issa (R-C.A.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-M.E.) are demanding answers following the Investigative Project on Terrorism’s discovery that taxpayer money is going to the radical Dar al-Hijrah mosque of Falls Church, Virginia. The revelation is an unsettling reminder of how jihadists are using America’s freedoms and ineptitude of the government to their advantage.
The Investigative Project on Terrorism has found that the Census Bureau has been paying Dar al-Hijrah about $23,000 per month since November 2008 to rent space in one of its buildings. The State Department has used the mosque in its videos about America’s Muslim community and sent students from its Foreign Service Institute to Dar al-Hijrah this month.
Dave Gaubatz, a former Special Agent with the U.S. Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations, and author of Muslim Mafia, described Dar al-Hijrah to FrontPage as “Wahhabi quarter,” in reference to the oppressive form of Islam practiced and promoted by Saudi Arabia. He said that when he investigated the mosque, he found that its library included “very, very violent materials” that advocated physical jihad and sedition, and that extremism was promoted during the week but not during Friday prayers when they are most likely to be caught.
Gaubatz also says that the mosque immediately reaches out to people that have arrived in their area from Iraq and other places. Like in Iraq, he says, “the mosques are being used as safehouses with which to spread violent ideology.” This is dangerous because mosque attendees and leaders are “fond” of extremists like Ali al-Tamimi, a preacher who has been convicted of preparing young Muslims to wage jihad through the use of paintball guns.
Another section of that same building being rented by the government is also used by the Muslim American Society, a front for the extremist Muslim Brotherhood organization. The Brotherhood and its affiliates have proven to be skillful in portraying themselves as “moderates” so as to wage jihad using more effective means than the reckless violence of Al-Qaeda.
The renting of some of its property to the Muslim American Society is just one small part of Dar al-Hijrah’s connections to the Muslim Brotherhood and extremism in general. Its imam from 1995 to 1999, Mohammed al-Hanooti, defended a senior Hamas official named Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook. Another Dar al-Hijrah founder, Ismail Elbarasse, was an assistant to Marzook and later found to be part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee in the U.S.
Al-Hanooti was labeled as a possible unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and supported a Muslim who refused to testify about the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Al-Hanooti argued that Islam “gives him the right to abstain from giving testimony in case it hurts him or it hurts any other Muslim.” He was an open supporter of Hamas.
Another former imam is Anwar al-Awlaki, the Al-Qaeda leader who currently lives in Yemen and has been involved in terrorist plots including the Fort Hood shooting and the Christmas Day underwear bomb plot. Two of the 9/11 hijackers and the Fort Hood shooter attended al-Awlaki’s sermons there. Al-Awlaki’s preaching also inspired Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American who recently tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square.
The mosque was also attended by Abdulrahman Alamoudi, who was later convicted for his illegal dealings with Libya related to a plot to kill Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. Alamoudi was a Muslim Brotherhood member who publicly supported Hamas and Hezbollah, and was integral to the Brotherhood’s efforts to influence the political process.
One of Dar al-Hijrah’s founders, Sheikh Mohammed Adam El-Sheikh, became the imam in 2003 and left in 2005. He also helped found the Muslim American Society and was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s branch in Sudan. In 2004, he spoke in support of Palestinian suicide bombers since “they cannot defend themselves, except through these kinds of means.”
One of the mosque’s board of directors is Esam Omeish, who ran for the Virginia House of Delegates and is the former President of the Muslim American Society. He has called the Muslim Brotherhood “moderate” and admits that he and the MAS have been influenced by them. In 2004, he described the founder of Hamas as “our beloved Sheikh Ahmed Yassin” and has praised Palestinians who knew “that the jihad way is the way to liberate your land.”
A trustee of Dar al-Hijrah, Abdulhaleem Al-Ashqar, took part in a secret Hamas meeting in Philadelphia in 1993 where they discussed the need to use front organizations that appear more moderate. Al-Ashqar was later convicted for refusing to testify about the terrorist group’s efforts to raise money in the U.S. Ahmed Omar Abu Ali,a camp counselor and teacher at the mosque, has been convicted of supporting Al-Qaeda and planning to kill President Bush.
In February, a fundraiser was held at Dar al-Hijrah for the legal costs of Sabri Benkahla, who was convicted for lying to the FBI and in court about his terrorist links. Benkahla traveled to a training camp run by Lashkar-e-Taiba and when he returned, helped train Muslims from the mosque using paintball guns.
The mosque’s current imam is Shaker Elsayed, a former secretary-general of the Muslim American Society. He praised Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, in 2004, saying that his teachings as “the closest reflection of how Islam should be in this life.” In 2002, he spoke in support of suicide bombers and said that when Muslims are attacked, they must fight jihad with whatever “they can get in their hand and if they don’t have anything in their hand then they can fight with their hand without weapons.” Sheikh Elsayed gave the opening prayer for the Virginia House of Delegates in March.
Dar al-Hijrah’s Director of Outreach, Johari Abdul-Malik, has gone to great lengths to denounce Anwar al-Awlaki, but he is a radical himself. He has supported attacks on Israelis, and pushes 9/11 conspiracy theories. He also incorrectly denies that al-Awlaki preached extremism while he was the mosque’s imam.
Dave Gaubatz also ties Dar al-Hijrah to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, another Muslim Brotherhood affiliate that was labeled by the federal government as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the Holy Land Foundation trial. The HLF was found in court to have acted as a front to raise money for Hamas and was part of the Brotherhood apparatus in the U.S.
“CAIR and Dar al-Hijrah are one-in-one,” Gaubatz told FrontPage. “Very little happens with CAIR where they don’t consult with Dar al-Hijrah’s board members and leaders.”
Government documents also support the conclusion that the mosque is a jihadist front. The IPT has one report from 2002 from a Customs and Border Protection database that said that Dar al-Hijrah is “operating as a front for Hamas operatives in the U.S.” Two other reports from December 2007 confirmed that the mosque was under investigation for potential criminal and terrorist activity. One said that people connected to the mosque were involved in financing terrorism and has been “encouraging fraudulent marriages.” WorldNetDaily.com reports that an investigation into credit card fraud has led to the mosque, “following reports of mysterious Dar al-Hijrah line-item charges appearing on the statements of local individuals not even connected to the mosque.”
The mosque’s ties to radical Islam and terrorism are so numerous they hard to keep track of. A basic Internet search would have yielded this information for the government officials that decided to do business with Dar al-Hijrah. The mosque should not be operating, and it is a disgrace that the American people are paying them tens of thousands of dollars without even knowing it.