Representative Jim Banks (R-Indiana) has introduced House Resolution 160, Expressing concern about the threat posed to democracy and human rights by theocratic groups operating in South Asia
This important bill calls on the Governments of Pakistan and Bangladesh to disrupt and dismantle the network of organizations and front groups run by the South Asian Islamist movement, Jamaat-e-Islami. It also names prominent Jamaat proxy groups in the United States, calls for USAID and the State Department to halt all partnerships with Jamaat organizations; and urges an investigation into American Jamaat funding of terrorists in Pakistan and Kashmir.
In particular, the resolution shines a light on the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Jamaat-e-Islami's chief proxy in the United States.
However, ICNA denies that it is a Jamaat-e-Islami organization, stating that it has "no structural, collaborative, organizational or any other ties" with Jamaat.
So, here in this blog post, we'll be keeping a running list of examples of ICNA's ties to Jamaat-e-Islami. We'll update the post each time we find more examples.
- A 1996 article published in ICNA's own publication, The Message International, states that: "Using the organizational development methodology of Maulana Mawdudi [the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami] and the Jamaat Al-Islami of Pakistan, which lays special emphasis on spiritual development, ICNA has developed a strong foundation."
- Another Message article openly states that in the 1970s, ICNA was "striving to recruit Islamic movement oriented Urdu speaking Muslims and to strengthen the Jama'at-e-Islami Pakistan."
- The same issue of the Message also includes an interview with the leader of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, Qazi Hussein Ahmed, in which he praises ICNA, discusses his appearance at one of ICNA's conventions, and emphasizes the role of Islamic movements in creating "an Islamic society, an Islamic government and an Islamic state."
- An ICNA brochure defines ICNA as "an Islamic Jama'ah (organized group) and movement. The brochure states that at the time of ICNA's establishment in 1971, "several concerned North American Muslims initiated a plan to launch an Islamic movement in this continent. The idea was to inspire and help Muslims adopt and practice the Islamic way of life and share it with fellow residents."
- Mohammed Naseen, the former head of ICNA's Tarbiyah Program and a member of its Shura Council, is openly named by ICNA as a leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami branch in Lucknow, and a "member of the Central Shura of Jamaat Islami Hind" (Jamaat-e-Islami's national Indian branch).
- Yusuf Islahi, a regular speaker at ICNA conventions and the "Chief Patron" of ICNA's WhyIslam project, is a senior leader of Jamaat-e-Islami's Indian branch.
- After the 1971 Liberation War, in which Jamaat-e-Islami fighters helped the Pakistani army murder Bangladeshi independence activists, a Jamaat-e-Islami operative named Ashrafuzzaman Khan fled to the U.S. and helped develop ICNA, eventually becoming its Vice-President. Testimony and evidence during Bangladeshi War Crimes Tribunals revealed that Khan served as the "chief executor" of a Jamaat killing squad named Al-Badr.
- Mohsin Ansari, the chairman of ICNA's foreign aid charity, Helping Hand for Relief and Development, and the former chairman of ICNA Relief, ICNA's domestic charity, openly identifies as a JI member. He is an alumnus of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami's branch in Pakistan. Today he runs a "networking" group for its graduates in the United States. Ansari refers to convicted Jamaat-e-Islami war criminal as "heroes" whom the "Pakistani nation will remember... for centuries to come."
- In 2016, Ansari revealed that ICNA was asked to arrange funeral prayers for an executed Jamaat-e-Islami war criminal, Motiur Rahman Nizami, the founder of the Al Badr killing squad. Ansari praised Nizami and noted that his son had "has worked in USA tirelessly for years to help relieve the victimization of Jammat workers in Bangladesh."
- Zahid Bukhari, the Executive Director of ICNA's Council for Social Justice, openly identifies as a Jamaat-e-Islami support on social media.
- A recent post on ICNA's website eulogizes Ameenuddin Hussaini, a "senior ICNA leader" who served as leading Jamaat-e-Islami activist in Pakistan.
- ICNA is a partner and funder of the Al Khidmat Foundation, the official "welfare arm" of Jamaat in Pakistan, which openly funds designated terrorist movements such as Hamas. ICNA openly acknowledges its long-standing partnership with Al Khidmat on its website.
- ICNA's international aid charity, Helping Hand for Relief and Development also works with Al Khidmat in Pakistan. According to the Indian BBC journalist Subir Bhaumik, Al-Khidmat "aids militancy and helps to support the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Jamaat's armed wing and other groups."
- The Rural Education and Development (READ) Foundation is another Jamaat-e-Islami charity in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, which ICNA and its various sister organizations describe as their "partner." READ's social-media posts include a homage to Mumtaz Qadri, an Islamic extremist who, in 2011, murdered Punjab governor Salman Taseer in retribution for Taseer's public support for a Pakistani Christian woman convicted of blasphemy. Other READ posts include text denouncing the "American Secular Terrorists . . . dirty people" who "destroyed Iraq and killed 150,000 Iraqis" on the "instructions of Iran."
- ICNA's Helping Hand for Relief and Development is also a partner of the Ghazali Education Trust, another official Jamaat charity.
- ICNA is frequently referred to as a Jamaat organization by other radical Islamist groups.
- WHOIS data reveals that the registered agent for ICNA's website, icna.org, was listed as another website – farrukh.net, a website run by Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan.
- ICNA's logo is identical to that of Jamaat-e-Islami's student wing.
- ICNA's WhyIslam project, an Islamic educational website, features the work of Abul Ala Maududi, the founding ideologue of Jamaat-e-Islami, as well as religious teachings by Khurram Murad, the late vice-President of JI in Pakistan.
- The writings of Abul Ala Maududi, the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami, have been promoted on the website of ICNA's youth division, Young Muslims.
- Vali Reza Nasr, a leading Iranian-American academic at John Hopkins, has described ICNA has one of the leading Jamaat-e-Islami institutions in the West.
- John Esposito, an prominent academic at Georgetown and editor of the Oxford Dictionary of Islam, mentions that ICNA is known to be linked to Jamaat-e-Islami.