Joe Kaufman is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center; a writer for the Counter-Islamist Grid, a project of the Middle East Forum; and the Chairman of the Joe Kaufman Security Initiative. He was the 2014, 2016 and 2018 Republican Nominee for U.S. House of Representatives (Florida-CD23).
During Black History Month, individuals are generally honored by schools, government entities and others for the important contributions they made to the civil rights movement. One group, though, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), has honored a man, in the name of Black History Month, Siraj Wahhaj, who is known for being linked to one of the worst terrorist attacks on US soil. That event, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, took the lives of six people, including a pregnant woman, and injured over one thousand more. To pay tribute to such a man is an act of callous disregard to the attack victims and those who suffered injustices of the past.
ICNA is the American arm of South Asian Islamist organization, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). JI’s militant apparatuses have caused much murder and mayhem. One former JI death squad leader, Ashrafuz Zaman Khan, who was sentenced to death, in absentia, for multiple murders in Bangladesh, is currently active in ICNA and has served for years in ICNA’s top leadership. ICNA has used the web to promote terrorist groups, including Hamas, Hezbollah and the Taliban, and in December 2017, ICNA organized an event featuring Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), a US-banned front for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the group responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Starting February 1st, every year, America celebrates Black History Month, and this month, ICNA did its part by posting a graphic containing famous black icons along with the logo of its social services division, ICNA Relief, onto its national website and social media. The graphic included images of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, people who played a large role in uplifting the black community at a time when discrimination against blacks was commonplace. Also included among these iconic figures was a man whom many would probably not recognize, the imam of Brooklyn, New York’s At-Taqwa Mosque, Siraj Wahhaj.
Wahhaj, like Malcolm X, can credit the beginning of his existence as a Muslim to the Nation of Islam (NOI). While with NOI, Wahhaj took classes from rabid anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, who at the time was supervisor of NOI New York operations. Decades after he left the Nation, Wahhaj still kept strong ties with Farrakhan, giving speeches and helping Farrakhan to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars at NOI events, while showering Farrakhan – a man who lauded Hitler – with glowing admiration.
In February 1995, along with Osama bin Laden and others, Wahhaj was named by the US government an “unindicted co-conspirator” related to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, al-Qaeda’s precursor to 9/11. Wahhaj had been linked to the bomb-maker of the attack, Clement Rodney Hampton-El, and during the trial, he was a character witness for the spiritual leader of the attack, the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman, whom Wahhaj has openly praised. In one of his sermons, Wahhaj infamously stated about America, “In time, this so-called democracy will crumble, and there will be nothing. And the only thing that will remain will be Islam.”
One last image on ICNA’s Black History Month graphic was that of Ieasha Prime. Prime, who is a regular speaker at ICNA conventions, is billed by Islamists as a leader in women’s empowerment, though her involvement with ICNA, a group that promotes subservience to men, contradicts this. Prime sits on the Executive Committee of the Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA), an organization that was founded by Wahhaj and calls for freedom for notorious cop killer Jamil Al-Amin, a.k.a. H. Rap Brown. Al-Amin, an ex-member of the Black Panther Party, made the infamous statement, “If America don’t come around, we’re gonna burn it down.”
Putting Siraj Wahhaj and Ieasha Prime on the level of historical black icons – albeit a couple, Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, who bore significant controversies of their own (Malcolm X preached racism and violence; Ali refused military service) – is an act of disrespect to everyone who fought for African-American civil rights in America. More than that, to place Wahhaj on anything of importance is an insult to the memories of all those who perished in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the ensuing attack that took place on September 11, 2001 in addition to the first responder heroes who acted bravely to save them.
In an attempt to prop up two of its Islamist colleagues, one who is linked to one of the worst terrorist attacks on US soil, ICNA has made a mockery of Black History Month. ICNA should remove the images of Wahhaj and Prime from all of its Black History Month posters immediately and offer apologies to all offended parties. These individuals are not persons to be celebrated. They, as well as the organization honoring them, do not foster the civil rights of anyone. In fact, they destroy them.