Joe Kaufman is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center 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).
The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) is the American arm of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), South Asia’s largest Islamist group. As such, ICNA is related to terrorist organizations and spreads fanatic ideologies. Recently, United States Senator from Michigan and Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Debbie Stabenow, gave ICNA an award for community service. In learning about this travesty, this author contacted Senator Stabenow’s office, in hopes of persuading the Senator to rescind the award. Her staffer allotted me just one short minute to rattle off five reasons why she should do so. The following will discuss each reason.
As mentioned, ICNA is linked to groups involved in South Asian terror. Being related to JI means ICNA is also related to JI’s militant wing, Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), a group found on the US State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) that has been responsible for several terrorist attacks in the Kashmir region of India. In December 2017, ICNA, under its subsidiary Helping Hands for Relief and Development (HHRD), organized an event featuring Qari Rehmtullah, the Timergara, Pakistan chief of Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF). FIF is a US-banned front for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the group responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
For the past three decades, ICNA has harbored Ashrafuz Zaman Khan, a former death squad commander in JI’s then-military wing, al-Badr, during the 1971 genocide committed in what is now called Bangladesh. In November 2013, the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) sentenced Khan to death (in absentia) for the torture and murder of 18 individuals, at the time of the massacres. Without an extradition treaty between Bangladesh and the US, Khan has been able to remain here. Khan has served as National Vice President of ICNA and President of ICNA New York. According to Khan’s LinkedIn page, he is currently acting as an imam for ICNA.
ICNA has been tied to support for Hamas and other terrorist outfits. In July 2014, ICNA co-sponsored a pro-Hamas rally in Downtown Miami, where rally goers repeatedly shouted, “We are Hamas” and “Let’s go Hamas.” In August 2006, JI’s Al-Khidmat Foundation (AKF) took a delegation to the Damascus, Syria home of then-global Hamas leader, Khaled Mashal, and handed him a check for $100,000 to continue terrorist acts against Israel. At the time ICNA was a partner and top donor to AKF. ICNA has used the web to promote terrorist groups, including Hamas, Hezbollah and the Taliban and the financing of al-Qaeda-related militants in Chechnya.
ICNA actively propagates material touting domestic violence as a valid method for husbands to punish wives they consider unruly. ICNA’s subsidiary Why Islam (WI) features on its website the controversial text, Gender Equity in Islam, by accused Hamas financing co-conspirator Jamal Badawi. It states, “Men are the protectors and maintains of women… [T]he righteous women are devoutly obedient… As to those women on whose part you fear disloyalty and ill conduct, admonish them (first), (next) refuse to share their beds (and last) beat them (lightly).” The book says some have suggested the use of a small toothbrush (miswak) to be used for the beatings.
ICNA’s leadership has targeted Jews and homosexuals with bigotry. Abdul Rauf Khan is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of ICNA subsidiary ICNA Relief. In July 2014, Khan, an avid Louis Farrakhan fan, promoted on Facebook an anti-Semitic video labeling comedian talk show host Bill Maher, “Zionist Jew Bill Maher.” In April 2018, Khan removed most of his Facebook page, after this author exposed him for posting the anti-gay propaganda piece, “Why is it haram [forbidden] to actively be gay?” which was produced by a media outlet that openly supports Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HT), a radical Muslim group that calls for homosexuals to be put to death.
Up until recently, ICNA’s Why Islam featured a message board on its website, where the forum moderators used it to make posts deriding Jews and in favor of Hamas and the destruction of Israel. One Why Islam moderator, Marwan, in response to a story about an Indian restaurant called “Hitler’s Cross” that was adorned with Nazi symbols, crudely joked, “Nazi restaurant… I wonder if they have kosher meals.” Another WI mod, Br Jim C, wrote concerning Israel, “Those Jews that speak out against such atrocity by holding their public officials accountable are the ones who deserve peace and life… The rest will one day end up in the Mediterranean sea.”
On March 1, 2021, US Senator Debbie Stabenow presented ICNA with a Certificate of Congressional Recognition. According to the certificate, it was awarded to the group “for providing compassionate support services for individuals and families in Southeast Michigan during the coronavirus pandemic.”
In the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak, ICNA took the opportunity to set up stations in different parts of the US to provide food and essentials to local communities. Normally, this would be viewed as an altruistic endeavor, for many have suffered as a result of the virus. But given the group’s radical background, there is no doubt that this was done specifically to provide cover for ICNA’s extremist identity and to create the façade that the group is a civic-minded charity. The cynical exploitation of the Covid crisis proved to be a PR boon for ICNA, earning it Congressional legitimization and approval in the form of Stabenow’s award.
It is obvious that, when Senator Stabenow gave ICNA this honor, she was either ignorant of ICNA’s terror-related and bigoted history or she ignored it. However, now that it has been brought to her attention, it is incumbent upon the Senator to rectify this grievous error that bears her signature and rescind this award immediately. Failure to do so in light of the facts, as presented above, makes Stabenow complicit in enabling ICNA to carry out its radical agenda and continue to deceive the public as to its sinister intentions.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.