The Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Virginia, has never been known as a moderate institution.
During the 1990s, its imams included Mohammed al-Hanooti, who called on his congregation "to be ready for the jihad" and stated that "the curse of Allah will become true on the Jews". In 2001, the imam was Anwar al-Awlaki, who later become one of Al Qaeda's most senior leaders, before his death in a drone strike. Subsequent imams and officials included Mohammed Adam El-Sheikh, who also served as an official at an Al Qaeda front charity; and Johari Abdulmalik, who once encouraged attacks against Israel. More recently, its current imam, Shaker Elsayed, was the subject of widespread condemnation and media attention after he was caught advocating Female Genital Mutilation. He also once expressed support for suicide bombings.
But in spite of this long, long history of extremism, Dar Al-Hijrah has continued to enjoy political support. Both state representatives and the nation's congressmen continue to praise and visit the institution. In fact, Dar Al-Hijrah is a key stop on the campaign trail in Virginia, and the mosque was at the head of a initiative to register a million Muslim voters before the 2016 Presidential election.
Lawful Islamist groups work hard to exploit democratic processes to advance their own anti-democratic agenda. The reason for Dar Al-Hijrah's keen involvement in both state and national politics has now been explained rather candidly by this recent Facebook post, which features a quote from the prominent extremist cleric Siraj Wahhaj:
"As long as you remember that if you get involved in politics, you have to be very careful that your leader is for Allah. You don't get involved in political [sic] because it's the American thing to do. You get involved because politics are a weapon to use in the cause of Islam"
(For more information about Siraj Wahhaj's own particularly violent hatreds, click here)
If politics is now openly acknowledged as an ideological weapon for Dar Al Hijrah and the Islamist network it leads, can we finally get our politicians to stop providing the ammunition?