A member of the Muslim Brotherhood who has denounced Jews and their "co-conspirators" as "satanic" was removed from a plane in London and then questioned by members of the Department of Homeland Security.
Kamal Helbawy, a prominent member of Britain's Muslim community, was on his way to New York to participate in a panel on the Muslim Brotherhood at the New York University law school.
Mr. Helbawy was asked to leave the American Airlines jet just minutes before the departure and was met outside the aircraft by Homeland Security officials, who questioned him about his background, his reasons for traveling to New York, and his connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, Newsweek reported Wednesday. He was then forbidden to re-board the flight, apparently without explanation.
A senior fellow at the Nixon Center and a consultant to ABC News who participated on the panel, Alexis Debat, said Mr. Helbawy's absence was "outrageous."
"This was a huge missed opportunity for the U.S. government," Mr. Debat said. "Kamal Helbawy can help us in a major way to defeat Al Qaeda. He can be as helpful as a CIA officer."
The executive director of NYU's center for law and security, Karen Greenberg, said she wouldn't second-guess the State Department. "They may know something we don't," Ms. Greenberg said, "but we would've loved to have him here."
The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization founded in Egypt that now spans the Arab world and Europe, has been criticized for funding terrorist organizations.Both Osama bin Laden and Zacarias Moussaoui became members as teenagers. In the scholarly journal "The Middle East Quarterly," Lorenzo Vidino wrote, "While they publicly condemn the murder of commuters in Madrid and school children in Russia, they continue to raise money for Hamas and other terrorist organizations."
The panel discussion, which proceeded despite Mr. Helbawy's absence, addressed the Muslim Brotherhood's role in world politics. But conversation inevitably veered toward Mr. Helbawy's conspicuous absence. Another panelist, Nick Fielding, called Mr. Helbawy a "natural leader" and attested that he heard him give a "very warm, very fascinating, and very Christian" speech.
At a speech delivered at the Muslim Arab Youth Association conference in Oklahoma City in 1992, Mr. Helbawy told the audience, "Do not take Jews and Christians as allies, for they are allies unto each other." He also asked God to praise and release the founder and spiritual leader of the terrorist organization Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, "praise be upon him."
Conversation between the panelists and the audience went beyond the Muslim Brotherhood to Islam itself. Both panelists, Messrs. Debat and Fielding, said they were not worried about the spread of Islam. Asked about the shifting demographics in Europe, Mr. Debat said, "Let's stop hyperventilating about sharia law. When I go to mosques, I hear the same things as when I go to church."
Mr. Fielding sounded the same notes. On the subject of Muslims who desire the worldwide imposition of Islam or a global caliphate, he said that Christians and Jews desire the spread of their religions around the globe as well, and that the aspiration itself does not alarm him. "We're not going to be living in an Islamic world anytime soon," Mr. Fielding said. "It's just not going to happen."