When five young men disappeared from comfortable lives in America last fall and showed up in Pakistan hoping to wage jihad against American troops, all eyes shifted to their community mosque and youth group for answers.
The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), a leading Muslim American organization which oversaw both the mosque and the youth group, claimed no connection to the radicalization that drove these young adults to seek violence. In the wake of this story, other national Muslim organizations announced plans for anti-radicalization programs. But no such announcement came from ICNA, perhaps because such a campaign would stand in direct contradiction to the education that ICNA requires of its members.
Literature that is required reading for ICNA members and that is provided at its conferences prominently features a host of radical scholars and an ideology that casts the practice of Islam as incompatible with the West. As members advance into deeper stages, they are required to master more strident texts, ICNA bylaws show.