Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam behind the Ground Zero mosque, is kicking off his nationwide speaking tour at the Islamic Society of North America’s Diversity Forum Banquet in Detroit on January 15. He will be speaking alongside extremists like Siraj Wahhaj and Zaid Shakir, contradicting the moderate image he’s trying to put forth on his tour.
The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) denies being an extremist organization, saying it “rejects all acts of terrorism, including those perpetrated by Hamas, Hizbullah and any other group that claims Islam as their inspiration.” This statement, however, does not necessarily mean they oppose the Islamist political agenda. In fact, ISNA has been listed by the federal government as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the Holy Land Foundation trial that found the charity to be guilty of financing Hamas. ISNA has tried to have this designation removed, but a judge ruled on July 1, 2009 that the government “produced ample evidence” to justify it.
The organization was founded in 1981 by the Muslim Students Association, an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, with help from Sami al-Arian, later convicted of being a Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader. An FBI investigation around that time found that ISNA’s conferences have “provided opportunities for the extreme fundamentalist Muslims to meet with their supporters.” One of the Muslim Brotherhood’s own documents written in May 1991 listed ISNA as one of its fronts.
ISNA websites have promoted extremist preachers like Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi and its conferences have included “some of the world famous Islamists and advocates of Jihad.” The North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), a subsidiary of ISNA, is also tied to the Muslim Brotherhood and was listed as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the Holy Land case. The court learned that checks deposited into joint ISNA/NAIT bank accounts for the Holy Land Foundation were often written to “the Palestinian Mujahadeen,” a term referring to Hamas.
Also speaking at ISNA’s Diversity Forum Banquet is Zaid Shakir, one of the founders of Zaytuna University in California. Shakir opposes attacks on civilians, such as the hijacking of airliners, but then says, “If you hijack an airplane filled with the 82nd Airborne, that’s something else.” The New York Times wrote in June 2006 that “he said he still hoped that one day the United States would be a Muslim country ruled by Islamic law” and he voices 9/11 conspiracy theories.