Both the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) present themselves as mainstream Muslim organizations, yet in reality they are part of a radical Muslim movement which exists for the purpose of doing harm to America and Western interests abroad. Part of their success lies in getting people and organizations to endorse them and their operatives, thus providing them with a veil of legitimacy. Among their ‘validators' are one of the most popular and influential evangelical preachers and the President himself.
ISNA, said to be the largest Muslim organization in North America, has its roots in the extremist Muslim Brotherhood overseas, the same group responsible for the formation of Hamas and most other international terror entities. Given this bit of information, it is interesting that Ingrid Mattson, the President of ISNA, would be invited to speak at the National Prayer Service for the inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama. While her words at the event were few and entirely innocuous, her mere presence was a profound challenge to America's war on terrorism.
Prior to Mattson speaking, an Associated Press story was released, entitled ‘Obama prayer leader from group US linked to Hamas.' ISNA had recently been named by the U.S. Justice Department as a co-conspirator for a federal trial dealing with the financing of millions of dollars to the terror group. During the trial, proof was presented of ISNA's relationship to a Brotherhood document calling for the destruction of the West.
At the end of the trial, all of the defendants were found guilty on all charges. Only two weeks before the AP story came out, Hamas had called for attacks on Jews worldwide.
Besides its connection to Hamas, ISNA is involved in the propagation of hate materials. ISNA and its sister organization, the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), run an Islamic Book Service for the United States and Canada. The service consists of texts written by leaders of the Brotherhood and a version of the Quran, The Meaning of the Holy Qur'an, which has been banned by the Los Angeles school system for having numerous anti-Semitic commentaries.
ISNA is currently hosting a version of the Quran on its national website. Featured in it are a number of crude statements aimed at Jews and Christians. They include:
• "Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans."
• "O Messenger! let not those grieve thee, who race each other into unbelief; (whether it be) among those who say ‘We believe' with their lips but whose hearts have no faith; or it be among the Jews, men who will listen to any lie… [I]t is not Allah's will to purify their hearts. For them there is disgrace in this world, and in the Hereafter a heavy punishment."
• "The Jews call Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah's curse be on them."
• "O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors; They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust."
Indeed, well into last year, under Mattson's watch, ISNA had statements on its website calling for violence against Jews and Christians.
Giving the invocation at the Presidential inauguration was Pastor Rick Warren. Recently, Warren too has attempted to make inroads with the radical Muslim community. On December 20, 2008, in the guise of "pluralism" and "inclusiveness," Warren gave the keynote address at the 8th Annual Convention of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).
MPAC is based out of Los Angeles, California. The group, which began in 1986 as a conduit to the extremist Islamic Center of Southern California (ICSC), also has an office in Washington, D.C. and a handful of chapters around the U.S. The main function of MPAC is to influence government officials towards its (MPAC's) positions. One of its most prominent positions is a staunch denouncement of the Jewish state of Israel.
A January 9th headline from an L.A. Times news piece read, "L.A. mayor comes under criticism from Muslim groups after he says the nation [Israel] has a ‘right and responsibility to defend itself' from Hamas rockets." Two days prior to the article's release, MPAC had met with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to express its outrage over his statements.
Attending the meeting were MPAC Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati and MPAC Senior Advisor Maher Hathout, both of whom have a long history of being apologists for, if not outright supporters of, anti-Israel terrorist organizations. Al-Marayati has even threatened the U.S. about its relationship to Israel, stating, "Where Israel goes, our government follows… What is important is whether the American people are aware of and ready for the consequences."
On January 9th, at ICSC, during his Friday sermon or khutbah entitled ‘Tragedy in Gaza,' Hathout defended violent actions taken by Hamas. Discussing Hamas's rocket attacks into Israel's civilian communities, he stated, "Desperate people will do desperate things."
This is the same Hathout who Pastor Warren lauded at the MPAC convention. At the very beginning of his speech, Warren said about him, "I love Maher Hathout, the founder of MPAC. He is a dear friend of mine. He is a genius."
On January 24th, just one month after Warren's speech, MPAC sponsored what it called a "Benefit Concert for Gaza." The proceeds of the event went to Islamic Relief and KinderUSA, two Islamic charities that have been accused of financing Hamas. According to the homepage of the concert website, "The event is organized by the MPAC Foundation and all proceeds will benefit Islamic Relief & KinderUSA, two humanitarian organizations who are working on the ground in Gaza today."
The term "separation of church and state" usually denotes a call for the division of Christianity from the American government. However, with regard to the new administration, a new call must be announced: the separation of radical Islam and state. And in the case of Rick Warren, it needs to be the separation of radical Islam and Christianity, itself.
Both ISNA and MPAC, in word and deed, represent threats to the United States and her interests abroad. Pastor Warren and President Obama should publicly repudiate what both groups stand for, not embrace them. There is no excuse for American political and religious figures attaching themselves to individuals and groups who are connected to terrorism and who wish to do America harm.
Beila Rabinowitz, the Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.
Joe Kaufman is the Chairman of Americans Against Hate, the founder of CAIR Watch, and the spokesman for Terror-Free Oil Initiative.