New Disclosures Tighten ISNA-Muslim Brotherhood Bonds
by Steven Emerson • Jul 22, 2008 at 11:33 am
The Islamic Society of North America's (ISNA) roots in the Muslim Brotherhood have been strengthened by newly declassified FBI memos and from a second, highly unlikely source.
The records, recently obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism through Freedom of Information Act requests, show that FBI agents investigated a parent organization to ISNA, the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), during the mid 1980s.
The FBI investigation concluded that the Muslim Brotherhood members who founded U.S.-based groups had risen to "leadership roles within NAIT and its related organizations," including ISNA, "which means they are in a position to direct the activities and support of Muslims in the U.S. for the Islamic Revolution." The FBI memo also said that:
The FBI memos date back to 1987-88. Dozens of pages of the released files are redacted in their entirety. But others contradict ISNA claims that it "never was, and is not now, affiliated with or influenced by any international organizations including the Muslim Brotherhood." Furthermore, ISNA still considers NAIT an affiliated organization. ISNA's president is an ex-officio NAIT board member and Muzammil Siddiqi, NAIT's chairman, serves on ISNA's governing board.
NAIT holds the deeds to more than a quarter of the mosques in the United States and continuously seeks to build on that volume.
The dispute is important as ISNA officials assert that the organization is a voice of moderation in the American Muslim community, actively courting outreach and dialogue with government officials and leaders of other religions. ISNA President Ingrid Mattson was among the organization's representatives at last week's international interfaith conference in Madrid. As the IPT reported last week, conference organizer Abdullah al-Turki is alleged in civil lawsuits to have ties to a senior Al Qaeda financier and has openly justified Palestinian suicide bombings.
ISNA's denials, however, are challenged by the Chicago Tribune, federal prosecutors in Dallas, internal Muslim Brotherhood documents and the newly declassified FBI memos. ISNA officials have ignored those reports or denied their legitimacy. Their most recent denial came in the wake of a mistrial in the first HLF trial last October. A retrial is scheduled for September.
But in the past month, ISNA co-founder and convicted terrorist Sami Al-Arian acknowledges that he was a Muslim Brotherhood member in 1981 – the year ISNA formed. Click here and read paragraph 6 on page 5, then see Al-Arian's biography to see his claim that he is an ISNA founder.
In his June 24 affidavit, Al-Arian admits for the first time that his former charity, the Islamic Committee for Palestine (ICP) advocated for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a fact he heatedly denied for more than a decade. ICP conferences routinely featured leaders of the PIJ and other terrorist groups.
Similarly, the FBI concluded that ISNA conferences in the 1980s "provided opportunities for the extreme fundamentalist Muslims to meet with their supporters."
Among the recently declassified FBI memos, NAIT activities are described:
ISNA and NAIT are fighting their continued inclusion as unindicted co-conspirators in the Hamas-support trial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) and five former officials. In a recent rebuttal, prosecutors listed a series of checks routed by ISNA to HLF, often dedicated for "Palestinian Mujahideen" in the memo line. The military wing of Hamas initially was referred to as the Palestinian Mujahideen, prosecutors said.
Internal documents released at the trial show ISNA's founders had been leaders of the Muslim Students Association, which also was founded by Muslim Brotherhood members who came to the U.S. for college. In addition to introducing all the financial transactions between ISNA/NAIT and HLF, prosecutors introduced a Muslim Brotherhood "Explanatory Memorandum" on the group's goals, as the document explains:
ISNA is the first U.S.-based organization listed under a section titled "A list of our organizations and the organizations of our friends."
In their brief, prosecutors continue in describing the Explanatory Memorandum:
The documented links between ISNA and the Muslim Brotherhood have reached critical mass. While it is not illegal to be a part of the Brotherhood, ISNA knows its credibility is at stake here. It appears to have dug in its heels too deeply.