Nine days before Hamas murdered and raped its way through kibbutzim in southern Israel and brought almost 200 hostages back into Gaza, officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) hosted a White House roundtable with five prominent Islamist organizations in the United States, three of which have promoted pro-Hamas propaganda after the October 7 attack. Ironically enough, the September 28 roundtable, which included leaders from Jewish and Christian charities, was devoted to promoting the safety of houses of worship in the U.S. as part of a "Protecting Places of Worship Weeks of Action" campaign administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) which operates under the control of the DHS.
The goal of the campaign "is to elevate practical steps faith communities can take to prevent acts of hate, discrimination, and bias," a FEMA spokesperson told Focus on Western Islamism (FWI). "This includes providing information on steps faith and community leaders can take to improve the safety and security of places of worship and community spaces."
In addition to officials from DHS and FEMA, staffers from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), another DHS bureaucracy, attended the event, which was also attended by the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Indian American Council (IAMC), ICNA Relief, and the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO).
All of these groups have troubling ties to the global Islamist movement. For example, in the early 2000s, the ADAMS center was named in a federal investigation as part of the SAAR network, an alleged terror finance organization funded by Saudi donors. CAIR, another participant in the roundtable is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood with a long history of promoting hostility toward Israel and Jews. Its leader, Nihad Awad, has praised Yusef Qaradawi, an inveterate antisemite. Oddly enough, none of this has stopped the Department of Homeland Security from allocating taxpayer money to CAIR, with its local chapters receiving almost $150,000 in the middle of the last decade, and with its headquarters receiving $100,000 from the bureaucracy in 2019.
ICNA relief, which received more than $10 million in taxpayer funds from DHS in between 2016 and 2018, is an offshoot of the Islamic Circle of North America, which has ties to Jamaat-e-Islami, an organization whose members played a role in the murder of intellectuals during conflict in Bangladesh in 1971. Leaders of the Indian American Muslim Council have praised the Taliban, and USCMO is regarded as a front group for Turkish President Recep Erodoğan.
To make matters worse, some of these organizations have expressed support for and demonized Israel. For example, the Indian American Muslim Council issued a press release condemning Israel for war crimes, suggesting that it harbors "genocidal intent" toward the Palestinians.
And on the day of the attack, USCMO issued a statement expressing solidarity with Hamas. In addition to playing an outsized role in promoting the USCMO statement, CAIR leader Nihad Awad, who in 1994 publicly stated, "I am in support of the Hamas movement," took to X to promote the false story that Israel bombed a hospital in the Gaza Strip, when in fact, it was hit by a Palestinian rocket that fell short. And another CAIR leader, Ahmed Amad of Illinois, falsely suggested that the man who killed a six-year-old Palestinian in Illinois was a Jew, when in fact he was a Roman Catholic.
FWI queried officials at DHS about the event, but received no response. Queries to two Jewish organizations — the Union of Orthodox Congregations and Agudath Israel — and one Catholic organization, the Society of St. Vincent DePaul, also went unanswered.
Samir Kalra, co-founder of the Hindu American Foundation, expressed shock that DHS would involve Islamist organizations in a "safety" roundtable and provide funds to them. "In particular, ICNA Relief's alleged ties to Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamist organization that has a long history of radicalism and violence in South Asia, including engaging in genocide against Hindus in Bangladesh during that country's 1971 War of Independence from Pakistan, should raise red flags for FEMA and other government agencies," he said.
These red flags have been waiving right out in the open for years, and yet these groups were able to get a seat at the table — in the White House no less.
Will they remain in the White House's good graces post October 7? Given that the Biden Administration recently promised to send $100 million to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, probably so. Nevertheless, the White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Dexter Van Zile is managing editor of Focus at Western Islamism.