The head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) vows to complain to U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials after they blocked a radical Saudi cleric from entering the country this week to attend a national Islamist conference in Chicago.
Sheikh Ayed al-Qarni was scheduled to speak twice during the Muslim American-Society (MAS)/Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) national convention Dec. 22-25. But a statement released during the convention expressed “the unpleasant and saddening news” that al-Qarni had been removed from his flight from Saudi Arabia despite having a visa from the U.S. embassy, and that he appears to be on the U.S. “no-fly list.” Al-Qarni is described as “one of our great speakers” and as someone known “for his logical discourse and balanced views, he promotes understanding and collaboration between all people, regardless of their faith, background, or language.”
Al-Qarni has advocated jihad in the past and his preaching on the subject has been described as influential among al-Qaida followers.
CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad told an Arabic news outlet that he would protest al-Qarni’s exclusion with DHS and State Department officials. “We defend all Muslims who are subject to arbitrary measure, and by this logic, we will act but not formally plead, unless we obtain authorization from him.”
It’s an ironic protest to make in light of a public relations campaign orchestrated by CAIR’s Chicago chapter. “MyJihad” aims to show non-Muslims that the term jihad is more about peaceful, personal attempts at overcoming challenges than about calls for violence and terror.
Through Awad, also a listed speaker at the convention, CAIR is fighting to bring a Saudi cleric into the United States who has argued the exact opposite message. During a 2005 sermon flagged by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), al-Qarni called the jihad against American forces in Fallujah “a source of pride … downing their planes, destroying equipment, slaughtering them, taking them hostage, and proclaiming ‘Allah Akhbar’ from the mosques, and the worshippers and the preacher cursing them in their prayers, and then come others begging for forgiveness, and requesting a dialogue and a ceasefire and negotiations. Who can say even one word against this true Jihad against these colonialist occupiers?” [Emphasis added]
He belittled Muslims who failed to take action, including “harming the Jews.” He invoked Israel’s targeted killings of Hamas leaders Ahmed Yassin and Abdel-Aziz Rantisi, saying he prayed that Allah “will destroy the Jews and their helpers from among the Christians and the Communists, and that He will turn them into the Muslims’ spoils. I praise the Jihad, the sacrifice, and the resistance against the occupiers in Iraq. We curse them all of them every night and pray that Allah will annihilate them, tear them apart, and grant us victory over them…”
“Throats must be slit and skulls must be shattered,” al-Qarni said. “This is the path to victory, to shahada, and to sacrifice.”
This was no one-time rant.