“Islamic Circle of North America is a U.S. based Islamic organization. We have no relations – no links – to any organization or any country outside the United States.” These were the words of Naeem Baig, the Secretary General of ICNA, after a July 8th protest was held outside the center where ICNA and the Muslim American Society (MAS) were celebrating their 32nd Annual Convention. It was nothing more than a lie from a desperate individual attempting to cover-up his group’s terrorist connections.
The protest calling on the United States to freeze ICNA’s funds and to place Jamaat-e-Islami on the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations went on as planned. As well, the protest brought attention to bigoted and violent statements made by MAS and ICNA’s youth wing, Young Muslims. Outside the Connecticut Convention Center, in Hartford, Connecticut, signs read “SHUT ICNA DOWN,” “ICNA: DONOR TO HAMAS,” “JAMAAT-E-ISLAMI, THE ICNA-HAMAS CONNECTION,” “YOUNG MUSLIMS, YOUNG HAMAS” and “MAS: Anti-Christian, Anti-Jew, Pro-Terror, Pro-Hamas.”
ICNA representatives worked furiously to avoid its convention goers from viewing the protest and/or speaking with the protestors. They blocked the entrances of numerous locations through the convention center, forcing people to leave through side doors. They accosted their members who wished to debate the opposition, demanding that they “ignore” them (the protestors). Essentially, they were asking their attendees to ignore reality – to ignore the fact that their group had been part of an overseas operation to finance Hamas.
A short time ago, this author broke a story in FrontPage (‘Helping Hand to Hamas’) documenting how ICNA was and is the top donor to a charity controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood of Pakistan, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), that was financing Hamas. According to the official site of JI, that charity, the Al-Khidmat Foundation (AKF), located in Karachi, Pakistan, had presented the leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal, with a check for six million rupees – the equivalent of $99 thousand U.S. – in August of 2006. Meshaal responded, thanking JI and stating that Hamas would continue to “wage” its “just jihad” against Israelis.
As well, this author showed how both of ICNA’s own charities, ICNA Relief and Helping Hand, were and are “partner” organizations to another JI charity located in Pakistan, the Al-Khidmat Welfare Society (AKWS). Their two logos were and are the only ones found on the AKWS “Mission Partners” page. Helping Hand even states, right on its website, that it has a Pakistan office in Islamabad.
And finally, this author proved that ICNA is the American arm of JI. ICNA’s website was and is registered to the former website of the JI media division, and the current and then-President (Amir) of JI, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, represented ICNA at a July 2000 “Unity Meeting” held in New York. Indeed, when ICNA was founded, in 1971, it was as an emulation of JI overseas.
Naeem Baig’s statement about how his organization has “no relations – no links – to any organization or any country outside the United States” was entirely false. It would seem that it was made to protect himself and his organization from future government investigation, but the fact that he made such a lie provides even more reason for an investigation. Was he just hiding ICNA’s role in the $99 thousand to Mashaal, or was it something more?
And what of Baig, himself? In July of 2004, at a press conference to discuss an upcoming three-day meeting on national and international political issues, Baig took the opportunity to laud convicted terror supporter, Fawaz Damra. Damra, a fundraiser for Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the founder of Al-Qaeda’s headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, prior to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, had been found guilty, in July of 2004, of providing false information on an immigration form when he obtained American citizenship in 1994. He would later be deported.
Baig stated, “He is a well-respected imam in the Muslim community. We respect his scholarship and we invited him to the program and we would like to listen to him and what he has to say.” Did Baig care about Damra’s links to terrorist organizations or the lies he told, in order to receive citizenship? Apparently not.
Recently, another high profile terror supporter was punished for his own lies. Muhammad Salah, a Hamas operative who had previously spent close to five years in an Israeli jail, was sentenced to 21 months in prison for lying in a civil lawsuit. And like Baig, radicals in Salah’s Chicago community came to his defense, as well. Of the sentence, Christina Abraham, the Civil Rights Coordinator of the Chicago office of CAIR, a group founded by Hamas in 1994, stated, “It’s a sad day for the Muslim Community.”
The judge that sentenced Salah, U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve, could not ignore the deceit. She stated, “Telling the truth is the bedrock of our judicial system and a slap on the wrist will not provide a deterrent.” Naeem Baig needs to understand this, as well. He cannot ignore his organization’s wrongdoing, and he cannot get away with attempting to cover it up with lies.
In December of 2003, United States Senators Charles Grassley and Max Baucus sent a letter to the Commissioner of the IRS requesting federal tax information about a number of Islamic groups, in connection with an investigation into the possible financing of terrorism abroad. One of those groups was KindHearts, a charity that was shut down by the U.S. government, in February of 2006, for its role as a Hamas fundraiser. According to ICNA’s incorporation papers, at the time of KindHearts’ closure, its South Asia Director, Zulfiqar Ali Shah, may very well have been serving as ICNA’s President.
ICNA, as well, was listed in the Senators’ request letter for tax info. However, while so many of the other organizations like KindHearts fell, ICNA got away unscathed. But today, there is proof – proof that cannot be ignored. It is time for justice to be served.