Joe Kaufman, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, is Chairman of the Joe Kaufman Security Initiative and the 2014, 2016 and 2018 Republican Nominee for U.S. House of Representatives (Florida-CD23).
The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) has a long history rooted in terror. However, recently the group has been giving out food, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Can a few bags of fruits and vegetables remove ICNA’s horrors of the past and threat to the present? Two lawmakers, US Congressman Lou Correa and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, seem to think so, as they have showered ICNA with praise and commendations, while ignoring the organization’s extremism and bigotry. Correa and Whitmer should rescind their unwarranted words and awards immediately.
ICNA was established, in September 1968, as the American arm of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), the largest Islamist group in South Asia. Not long after ICNA’s founding, JI’s then-paramilitary wing, al-Badr, was helping to massacre people in East Pakistan, what is now called Bangladesh, in a genocide that took the lives of up to three million individuals. One of al-Badr’s commanders, Ashrafuz Zaman Khan, who was sentenced to death (in absentia), in November 2013, for multiple murders, held the positions of Vice President of ICNA National and President of ICNA-New York and, according to his LinkedIn page, is still involved with ICNA.
In August 2006, JI announced on its website that its charitable apparatus, the Al-Khidmat Foundation (AKF), had taken a delegation to the Damascus, Syria home of then-global head of Hamas, Khaled Mashal, presenting Mashal with a check for $100 thousand. Mashal thanked the delegation and said that Hamas would continue terrorist activities against Israel. At the time of the transaction, ICNA was a partner to AKF and topped the list of donors on AKF’s website. AKF’s current President, Muhammad Abdus Shakoor, is a former Secretary General of ICNA; ICNA continues to be a partner to AKF; and JI continues to openly support Hamas.
In December 2017, ICNA’s overseas relief function, Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD), organized an event masked as something to help people with disabilities that featured representatives from AKF as well as the Timergara, Pakistan chief of Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), Qari Rehmatullah. In November 2010, the US government designated FIF a front for the Pakistani terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
In October 2000, on the homepage of the website for ICNA’s South East Region, links could be found to the official websites of Hamas, Hezbollah and the Taliban. The group also published a link to qoqaz.net, a now-defunct financing and recruitment website for al-Qaeda. The webmaster of the ICNA site, Syed Khawer Ahmad, was also a webmaster for Hamas, itself.
Syed Ammar Ahmed is the Government Affairs Specialist for ICNA Relief USA, the division of ICNA that has been giving out food during the coronavirus pandemic. In February 2010, following a debate he participated in at a school, Ahmed wrote on Facebook, “I hate white people” and joked that he “should have threatened to blow up the school.”
None of this should be overlooked. Yet, two powerful lawmakers have ignored all of it.
Last month, on May 21st, US Representative Jose Luis Correa presented ICNA with a Congressional Certificate of Special Recognition. And not only did he honor the group, but he made it seem as if the entire US Congress did so as well. With the Congressional Seal atop the certificate, Correa wrote, “I join with Congress to recognize your outstanding and invaluable service to the communities of Anaheim in hosting food distributions for families in need during the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
On May 27th, Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer penned a letter of praise to ICNA. It says in part, “On behalf of the state of Michigan, I would like to extend my utmost gratitude for the caring and compassionate services you have provided to people across our state and nation during the COVID-19 pandemic… ICNA Relief’s sacrifice and service reflect the compassion, generosity, and leadership of its members and have been crucial to providing valuable resources… to those in need of help. Your actions have made a positive difference in the lives of many people and have become an inspiration to myself and to countless others.”
While it is indeed commendable to provide food to the needy, for ICNA it is only seen as a method of whitewashing the group’s extremist and bigoted past and present. Congressman Correa and Governor Whitmer, who is also reportedly a consideration for Vice Presidential running mate of Democrat Joe Biden, should consider this and rescind the certificate and letter immediately. By not recognizing the terrorist and hateful relations of ICNA, the two lawmakers are legitimizing it.
Congressman Correa and Governor Whitmer, do the right thing. Rescind your awards and words honoring the terror-linked ICNA, now!
For those who wish to contact Congressman Lou Correa to demand he rescind his certificate, call (202) 225-2965 and/or (714) 559-6190. To contact Governor Gretchen Whitmer to demand she take back her letter, call (517) 373-3400. Please be respectful in any and all communications with these individuals and their offices.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.