Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America, is a Muslim scholar chosen to speak at President-elect Barack Obama's inaugural prayer service today at Washington's National Cathedral. But the group she leads has ties to the Hamas terrorist group.
Ms. Mattson has spoken at other political events. She spoke at a prayer service at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
In 2007 and as recently as last July, federal prosecutors in Dallas filed court documents linking the Plainfield, Ind.-based Islamic society to the group Hamas, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization.
Neither Ms. Mattson nor her organization have been charged.Linda Douglass, a spokeswoman for Obama's inaugural committee, would only say that "(Ms. Mattson) has a stellar reputation in the faith community." Mark Pelavin, director of inter-religious affairs for the Union for Reform Judaism — another organization participating in the prayer service — called Mattson "a really important voice denouncing terrorism."
But in January 2004, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R- Iowa chairman of the Committee on Finance, and U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mt., the ranking member, asked for information about tax-exempt organizations in connection with a committee investigation into terrorism financing. The Islamic Society of North America was one of the groups named.
An October 2008 report by the office of U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., the ranking Republican on the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security said the Department of Justice (DOJ) should cut off outreach efforts with organizations linked to the Muslim Brotherhood or other Islamist extremist groups, a report from a ranking Senate subcommittee member recommends.
The Coburn report on singles out the Islamic Society of North America and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Both are unindicted co-conspirators in the Hamas support trial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) and five former officials.
Michael P. Tremoglie can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org