New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his police commissioner have agreed to settle a federal lawsuit that the Muslim Students Association (MSA)—along with a few other plaintiffs—filed against the New York Police Department in 2012. In its complaint, the MSA charged that the civil rights of Muslims were being violated by the NYPD’s use of informants and plainclothes detectives to monitor various Islamic institutions—particularly MSA chapters—in the New York/New Jersey area. The de Blasio settlement explicitly bans police from basing any future law-enforcement investigations on race, ethnicity, or, as in the case of the MSA, religion.
Is this good public policy? Was there any legitimate reason for the police to conduct surveillance on the MSA? To answer these questions, let’s recall exactly what the MSA is, and what its foremost objectives are.
Currently the most influential Islamic student organization in North America, the MSA was founded in 1963 by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the ideological forebear of Hamas and al Qaeda. The MSA’s purpose, for more than half a century, has been to spread fundamentalist Islamist ideology across the globe. The group’s enduring ties to the Brotherhood are demonstrated by the fact that the MSA’s organizational “Pledge of Allegiance”—which vows unwavering loyalty to Allah, the Koran, jihad, and martyrdom—is essentially an adaptation of the famous Brotherhood credo: “God is our objective, the Koran is our Constitution, the Prophet is our leader, struggle [jihad] is our way, and death for the sake of God [martyrdom] is the highest of our aspirations.”
The MSA’s activities are guided at all times by a desire to advance Islam’s influence in the United States, one campus at a time. Toward that end, the Association once published A Guide on How to Run a Successful MSA, which states: “It should be the long-term goal of every MSA to Islamicize the politics of their respective university.” This same objective, explains a former MSA member from UCLA, should serve as a model for the organization’s pursuit of its larger “end goal,” which is “the establishment of [an] Islamic form of government” across the entire globe.
Cognizant that such plain, unfiltered talk might be unsettling to many people, the MSA has advised its members to deceptively adapt their rhetoric to the particular cultural sensibilities of Westerners. For example: “Instead of using ‘Holy War’ to translate the word ’Jihad,’ use a more comprehensive and proper term like, ‘struggle’ or ‘striving’ … Try to use language that is more appealing to North Americans.”
Part and parcel of the MSA’s operational strategy is to make the presence of Muslim students and traditions increasingly ubiquitous on college and university campuses. According to the MSA’s Muslim Accommodations Task Force (MATF), campus MSAs can achieve this goal by demanding that their universities become more “Muslim-friendly,” and by claiming that a school’s failure to do so would make Muslim students feel like outcasts. Consistent with this strategy, the MATF prepared and published guides on such topics as “How to Establish a Prayer Room on Campus,” “How to Achieve Islamic Holidays on Campus,” and “How to Achieve Halal Food on Campus.” As Islam scholar Robert Spencer explains, these guides instruct Muslim students “to present [their] demands in the context of multiculturalism and civil rights.”
This approach is entirely consistent with the “General Strategic Goal” which was outlined in a 1991 Muslim Brotherhood document naming the MSA as one of the Brotherhood’s leading allies in its quest to transform North America into an Islamic continent. Said the document: “[T]heir work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands … so that … God’s religion [Islam] is made victorious over all other religions.”
Routinely spewing ugly, anti-Semitic libels in the course of their remarks, it is not uncommon for MSA speakers to voice their support for the genocidal agendas of terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. For example, a former MSA campus president once burned an Israeli flag while he led a crowd of demonstrators in chants of “Death to Israel!” and “Death to the Jews!” MSA members at UCLA have raised money for Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists at their annual “Anti-Zionist Week” festivities. An MSA chapter in California held a fundraiser for an organization that once received a $50,000 contribution from a pro-Osama bin Laden front group. An MSA event in Virginia featured a panelist who had previously extolled an Islamic suicide bomber as a blessed “martyr.” A former MSA member on the West Coast praised Hamas and Hezbollah for being “uncompromising” with regard to their lofty principles. And many MSA chapters have participated in “Israeli Apartheid Week” events designed “to educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system.”
Perhaps even more significant than these—and many other—displays of anti-Semitism at MSA events, is the fact that a host of top MSA leaders over the years have become directly involved—both as members and supporters—with terrorist organizations like al Qaeda, al-Shabaab, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammed, the Islamic Association for Palestine, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the SAAR Foundation.
When the NYPD recently explained that its surveillance of Muslim groups was intended to identify any entities that might be secretly promoting violent jihad, the MSA reflexively complained that “student organizations affiliated with other religious denominations were not subject to similar surveillance.” That is true. And there’s a very simple, very obvious reason for it.