The Obama Administration reacted to Rep. Peter King’s hearings on Muslim radicalization by highlighting examples of Muslim cooperation with the government. Unfortunately, it sent Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough to speak in support of the president of the Islamic Society of North America, a group tied to the Muslim Brotherhood that is one of the reasons that King’s hearings are necessary.
On March 6, McDonough spoke at a mosque called the All Dulles Area Muslim Society in Sterling, V.A., praising the institution and its imam, Mohamed Magid, who is also the president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Though the organization says it “rejects all acts of terrorism, including those perpetrated by Hamas, Hizbullah and any other group that claims Islam as their inspiration,” ISNA was listed by the federal government as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation, a charity found guilty of financing Hamas as part of the Muslim Brotherhood network in the U.S.
ISNA has fought against this label and lost. In July 2009, a judge ruled that though the government should not have publicly labeled the organization, “ample evidence” was provided to tie it to Hamas. It was founded by the Muslim Students Association, a Brotherhood affiliate, and one of the Brotherhood’s internal documents from 1991 identifies ISNA as one of its fronts. Sami al-Arian, a Brotherhood operative later imprisoned for being a secret leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, is one of its co-founders. During the Holy Land trial, it was learned that the charity received checks written out to “the Palestinian Mujahadeen,” a reference to Hamas’ military wing, from accounts jointly owned by ISNA and the North American Islamic Trust. Despite all of this, McDonough praised Magid and ISNA.
“Thank you (Imam Magid), also, for being one of our nation’s leading voices for the values that make America so strong, especially religious freedom and tolerance,” McDonough said. He specifically mentioned his work with ISNA as something to be commended. Magid is also thanked for advising the government.
“Over the past two years, I—along with my White House colleagues—have benefited from the advice of many of your organizations through our Office of Public Engagement,” he said.
McDonough’s embrace of ISNA is just the latest example of the group’s relationship with the federal government. In 2007, Mohamed Magid traveled to the Middle East as part of the State Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs’ Citizen Exchange Program. This happened even though he served as an advisor for the Sterling Charitable Gift Fund whose offices were raided as part of a terrorism-financing investigation into the SAAR network.