Obama’s Dubious Mosque Choice

Mehmet Kaman / Anadolu Agency/AFP

Mehmet Kaman / Anadolu Agency/AFP

IPT News
February 2, 2016

1345Barack Obama is scheduled to visit the Islamic Society of Baltimore (ISB) Wednesday, his first visit to a U.S. mosque since becoming president.

ISB leaders have amassed a record of support for radical Islamic causes over the years, including endorsing the Chechen jihad and Palestinian suicide bombings. Its former imam was active in a charity later linked to terror financing including Hamas, the Taliban, and for providing “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to Osama bin Laden.

More recently, a resident scholar described homosexuality as a threat to societal health, in stark contrast to the president’s views on the issue.

It’s safe to assume the White House vetted the ISB and found it an acceptable venue for a presidential appearance despite this history. And that is not surprising. The Obama administration has repeatedly embraced contact with the Muslim Brotherhood, repeatedly meeting with its officials during and after the Arab Spring while ignoringsecular democracy advocates. It praised the early tenure of Brotherhood member Mohamed Morsi when he briefly served as Egypt’s president. The administration also helped a Brotherhood delegation skip routine screening by U.S. Customs and Border Protection upon landing in America.

And, as we reported in December, a White House meeting also aimed at standing by the Muslim-American community featured representatives of Islamist groups, including some with consistent records of opposing U.S. law enforcement counter-terrorism efforts.

ISB officials have worked closely with one of those groups, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). In 2014, two ISB officials joined with CAIR in a news conference blasting Israeli military actions in Gaza. The conflict, known as Operation Protective Edge, started when Hamas operatives kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teens and continued its incessant campaign of firing rockets with the hope of killing Israeli civilians.

Those rockets were fired from densely populated areas, including near schools andhouses of worship.

But Hamas’ murders and ongoing efforts to carry out more were never mentioned by the CAIR and ISB officials. Instead, they blamed Israel when raids aimed at rocket launchers and other Hamas targets inadvertently killed and injured civilians.

ISB President Muhammad Jameel recklessly invoked “genocide in the name of self-defense” and said that, “as an American I am ashamed to stand here.”

Abid Husain, the ISB’s general secretary, joined Jameel in calling for the U.S. to pressure Israel into opening Gaza’s borders, ending an embargo that was enacted to stop the flow of weapons and materials used to make them.

“The U.S. government must not remain silent about Israel’s indiscriminate assault and unjust use of force,” Husain said. “The right of a nation to defend itself does not extend to unrestrained aerial bombardments of civilian populations and must be condemned.

Far from genocide, which is the systematic elimination of a people, and from an indiscriminate attack, Israel campaign against Hamas “went to extraordinary lengths” to minimize civilian casualties, said Gen. Martin Dempsey, then-chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. Israel dropped leaflets and called residents of buildings targeted for bombing in hopes the residents would heed the warnings and seek safer locations.

After the conflict ended, Dempsey sent a team of senior officers to learn from Israeli military leaders to study the tactics in Gaza to minimize civilian casualties. “In this kind of conflict, where you are held to a standard that your enemy is not held to, you’re going to be criticized for civilian casualties,” he said.

Another ISB official, resident scholar Yaseen Shaikh, sermonized against homosexuality as a mental disorder and “something which we despise.” The talk is dated May 2013, just weeks before he joined the ISB.

The Quran says “harm them” to those who engage in homosexuality, he said. “What does this mean? If it was not an aberrant act, if this was not a despised act, why would Allah … say, ‘Harm them’? Allah then says, ‘[Several Arabic words],’ ‘If they repent and they reform and they transform themselves and change, then let them be.”

As the Daily Caller reported, a past ISB imam worked with an Islamic charity latershuttered by the Treasury Department for supporting terrorists.

Mohamad Adam El Sheikh was a regional representative for the Islamic Africa Relief Agency (IARA) in Baltimore the same time that he was an ISB imam and director.

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An archived ISB action alert says that the “Islamic Society of Baltimore was recently visited by an IARA representative who brought the attached pictures of atrocities committed by Russians against the Muslims in Chechnya.”

Although links to several pictures from the Chechen jihad are still available on ISB’s archived web page, the actual pictures are no longer accessible.

“Despite all of this, by the grace of Allah, the Mujahidin in Chechnya have been able to defend themselves and remains a formidable threat to heavily armed Russian Army. However, it is also our responsibility as Muslims all over the world to help them in their Jihad effort,” the action alert added.

The action alert further solicited donations “to help the Refugees and Mujahidin in their struggle.”

In 2004, El-Sheikh justified Palestinian suicide bombings, saying they are acceptable when “certain Muslims are to be cornered where they cannot defend themselves, except through these kinds of means, and their local religious leaders issued fatwas to permit that.”

Another page on the ISB’s archived “Official English Site” links to a feature on the “Jihad in Chechnya” on the Azzam Publications website. Azzam publications was an al Qaida-tied website that was “one of the most well-known supporters of jihad, or holy war, on the internet.” The site is replete with material promoting jihad and martyrdom operations and includes a photo and link to a biography of Osama bin Laden’s mentor,Abdullah Azzam.

Just after 9/11, the ISB hosted speakers who would become prominent advocates of jihad, including American-born al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a 2011 U.S. drone strike. Awlaki’s online sermons remain some of the most watched, most effective terrorist recruiting material online.

A page from ISB’s archived website links to the homepage of Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf Qaradawi. Qaradawi has issued fatwas or religious rulings in support of terrorism and described suicide operations as “heroic martyrdom operations.” In a 2004 fatwa, Qaradawi called abducting and killing Americans in Iraq is “a [religious] duty.”

At a 1995 conference held by the Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA) in Toledo, Ohio, Qaradawi called for the “conquest” of Europe and America through Dawa, or proselytizing. “We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America! Not through sword but through Dawa,” he said.

The ISB’s leaders have had connections with radical Islamists and espoused extreme viewpoints throughout its history. Like a lot of mosques, it continues to segregate men and women during prayer, something American-Islamic Forum for DemocracyPresident Zuhdi Jasser called “gender apartheid.”

During an appearance on Fox News Monday, Jasser said he was insulted by the president’s choice of the ISB. It continues an administration policy of working with Islamist groups and ignoring Muslims like him who stand against theocracy.

“It’s disgraceful that this is one of the mosques – or the mosque – that he’s picked to be the first visit,” he said. ISB’s website looks like “a covert operation. There’s no name on it. It basically has pictures of individuals, but no names.”

For an event that is expected to focus on tolerance, diversity and inclusion, Obama made a puzzling choice in the ISB. Its leaders sympathize with terrorists, hate homosexuals and treat women as less than equal.

The US Mosque Obama Has Chosen For His First Presidential Visit Has Deep Extremist Ties

Mehmet Kaman / Anadolu Agency/AFP

Mehmet Kaman / Anadolu Agency/AFP

Daily Caller, by Chuck Ross, Jan. 30, 2016:

The Baltimore mosque President Obama has chosen as the first U.S.-based mosque to visit during his presidency has deep ties to extremist elements, including to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The White House announced on Saturday that Obama will visit the Islamic Society of Baltimore (ISB) on Wednesday. He has visited several mosques overseas as president but has resisted visiting one in the homeland. The purpose of the trip, according to the White House, is to “celebrate the contributions Muslim Americans make to our nation and reaffirm the importance of religious freedom to our way of life.”

But ISB is a curious choice for Obama’s first domestic visit.

The mosque is a member of a network of mosques controlled by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a Muslim civil rights group named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation terror case. Several executives with that organization were convicted of sending money to aid the terrorist group Hamas. (RELATED: Here’s A Map Of Radical Mosques In The U.S. [Interactive])

An imam who served at ISB for a total of 15 years has also been a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood network and has worked for an Islamic relief group that was designated as a terrorist organization by the Treasury Department in 2004.

Mohammad Adam el-Sheikh, who served two stints as ISB’s imam, from 1983 to 1989 and from 1994 to 2003, was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Sudan in the 1970s. He also co-founded the Muslim American Society, a Falls Church, Va.-based group that is controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood.

While in Baltimore, el-Sheikh served as a regional director for the Islamic American Relief Agency. That group’s parent organization is the Islamic African Relief Agency, which the Treasury Department says provided funds to Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Hamas and other terrorist organizations.

After leaving Baltimore, el-Sheikh served as imam at the infamous Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church. That mosque has a lengthy roster of known terrorists and terrorist sympathizers. Its imam during much of the 1990s was Mohammed al-Hanooti. He was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which killed six people.

Dar al-Hijrah came under the control of Anwar al-Awlaki in 2001. He’s the American al-Qaeda recruiter who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011. Nidal Hasan, the U.S. Army major who killed 13 people at Fort Hood in Nov. 2009, is said to have attended the Virginia mosque when al-Awlaki served there. The pair also reportedly exchanged emails. Two of the 9/11 hijackers also attended Dar al-Hijrah during al-Awlaki’s tenure.

El-Sheikh took over at Dar al-Hijrah in Aug. 2003, a little over a year after al-Awlaki left. While there he defended Palestianian suicide bombings against Israel.

“If certain Muslims are to be cornered where they cannot defend themselves, except through these kinds of means, and their local religious leaders issued fatwas to permit that, then it becomes acceptable as an exceptional rule, but should not be taken as a principle,” he said in 2004, according to a Washington Post article at the time.

As The Post reported Saturday, ISB’s website states that it seeks “to be the anchor of a growing Muslim community with diverse backgrounds, democratically governed, relating to one another with inclusiveness and tolerance, and interacting with neighbors in an Islamic exemplary manner.”

But that desire for tolerance — which President Obama frequently touts as well — does not appear to be a virtue shared by ISB’s resident scholar, Yaseen Shaikh.

Imam Yaseen Shaikh

Imam Yaseen Shaikh

A 2013 Youtube video shows Shaikh, who previously served as imam at a mosque in Plano, Tex., speaking out forcefully against homosexuality in Islam.

During an hour long diatribe, Shaikh called homosexuality a psychological disorder that has no place in Islam or society. He also lamented that gay rights groups have “hijacked” political discourse.

“This whole subject of homosexuality in the public sphere…is no longer a religious issue, unfortunately, as much as we want to use the religious card and try to defeat this, now it’s become a politicized issue,” Shaikh says in the video.

“Politicians are highly influenced by people who back them, and we find that these politicians who are calling for gay rights and marriage and supporting gay rights are lobbied and campaigned by gay activists, by gay groups. And they are throwing money at it left and right to gain some acceptance in society, to be considered normal people, to be treated normally.”

Obama is one such politician who has supported gay rights.

“We have to counter the efforts that are taking place elsewhere,” Sheikh says in the video, advising that “if our children are taught that [homosexuality is] okay, we have to teach them it’s not okay.”

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