A little over three years ago, a report appeared in the Associated Press (AP) linking the mosque founded by former NBA star and recent inductee into the basketball Hall of Fame, Hakeem Olajuwon, with the financing of Islamic terrorist charities. At the time, Olajuwon said he didn’t know. Now, he will need to find a new excuse, as he continues to associate himself with terror-related entities and individuals.
On April 7, 2008, Hakeem Olajuwon was one of seven people to be newly inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. It’s an honor that attests to his greatness as a world-class athlete. However, the stardom and fanfare that he acquired over his 18-year NBA career became tarnished, when a report was released by the AP discussing his ties to the funding of terrorist organizations.
The story, which came out in February of 2005, stated that Olajuwon’s mosque, the Islamic Da’wah Center (IDC), in 2000 and 2002, gave over $80,000 to two charities connected to Al-Qaeda and Hamas, respectively the Islamic African Relief Agency ($81,250) and the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development ($2430).
The Islamic African Relief Agency (IARA) had been shut down by the U.S. government in October of 2004 for having supplied money to Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. As well, several IARA officials have been linked to Al-Qaeda, including a former fundraiser for the group, Ziyad Khaleel, who purchased a satellite telephone that bin Laden used to plan the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), a.k.a. Occupied Land Fund, had been closed down by the United States, in December of 2001. The organization was founded by Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook, in January of 1989, and had raised millions of dollars for Hamas.
When the money transfers took place, Olajuwon was the Vice President of the mosque. Additionally, as the AP piece mentioned, Olajuwon had participated in a 1999 HLF celebrity bowling tournament. [He participated in the ’98 tournament, as well.]
According to the IDC’s 990 federal tax forms, under the name Hakeem Islamic Daawah Center Inc, for 2002 and 2003, it also gave $25,000 to the Hamas-related Islamic Relief (IR); $25,000 to “unindicted co-conspirator” of the 2007 Dallas HLF trial, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA); $5000 to the Hamas financier, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA); and $1000 to the Muslim Brotherhood created Muslim Students Association (MSA).
Noted by the AP, the mosque’s giving of the funds to the IARA happened after a number of news stories came out discussing the group’s various ties to terrorism. Regardless of this, Olajuwon pled ignorance, saying he and his Islamic center had no way of knowing that the organizations they were donating to had anything wrong with them. He told the New York Times, “At the time they were raising the money in 2000, we didn't even know anything about a terrorist.”
And then, more came out concerning Olajuwon’s Islamist ties. As reported in the Lone Star Times, he has had involvement with another mosque with a shady past, the El-Farouq Foundation, a.k.a. Masjid El-Farouq. The Texas State Comptroller’s office currently lists Olajawon as a Director of the center.
The stated goal of El-Farouq is the building of “bridges for the better understanding among all faiths to ensure a brighter future in a society of tolerance and respect by encouraging all to come and learn the true teachings of Islam.” However, according to Freedom House, a nonpartisan human rights advocacy organization, in its report titled ‘Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Invade American Mosques,’ El-Farouq propagates hate material aimed at non-Muslims.
Freedom House provided quotes from texts found at El-Farouq to back up its claim. They included: “Democracy is an evil system and we have been ordered to reject evil.” (Al-Asala magazine, Issue 2, 1992) And “Residing among the unbelievers continuously is also forbidden because it is dangerous for the belief of the Muslim.” (Science of Tawheed – Unity, Book 32, 1991) About this, Freedom House stated, “The message is that the peaceful coexistence of Muslim and non-Muslim in a multi-cultural state is not simply unachievable, but is undesirable and even punishable...”
According to El-Farouq’s 990 federal tax forms, for 2001, the mosque donated $6781 to the Holy Land Foundation. In tax year 2002, it gave $5000 to the Islamic Broadcasting Network (IBN), a media outlet that features shows hosted by Al-Qaeda fugitive Anwar al-Awlaki and terrorist defender and head of the Muslim American Society’s Freedom Foundation, Mahdi Bray.
In tax year 2003, the mosque donated $505 to Dar-ul-Salam Publications, a Saudi based organization that sells books, CDs and DVDs with “unindicted co-conspirator” of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Bilal Philips. The group also offers a video featuring fellow “unindicted co-conspirator” Siraj Wahhaj along with Olajuwon. According to Dar-ul-Salam, in the “About Us” section of its website, “Islam is also under way, as is the work on the preparation of decent [sic] children literature for their moral training. The importance of this work will be appreciated if it is realized that our new generation has been ruined by the syllabi prepared by the European and American Jews.”
Furthermore, for 2003, El-Farouq accepted $4567 from the Islamic Center of Boca Raton (ICBR), a mosque that has been linked to Al-Qaeda, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
In June of 2003, Olajuwon’s Islamic Da’wah Center hosted an event sponsored by the Houston chapter of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA-Houston). The speaker for the event was Sulayman Nyang, a former National board member of the Hamas-related Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
The event was not the last one dealing with Olajuwon and ICNA. In July of 1994, Olajuwon spoke at ICNA’s 19th Annual National Convention, where the group honored him with an award. Following the speech, ICNA’s media division, Sound Vision, interviewed him at his home. That interview is currently offered for sale by Sound Vision.
This month, on April 8th, ICNA once again honored Olajuwon, with a note of congratulations on its website. It stated, “Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) congratulates Brother Hakeem Olajuwon, a devout Muslim on his election into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Hakeem very openly let it be known that he was a practicing Muslim. He fasted during Ramadan despite facing dehydration in intense match ups. He stayed on the court instead of being in the locker room when his team mates celebrated with customary champagne baths upon winning the Championship. Hakeem set an example for Muslim Youth by being a regular attendee at his local mosque.”
As reported in the Houston Chronicle, at a 1995 conference hosted by the Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA), a group that has been implicated in the financing of Hamas, Olajuwon told a crowd of mostly young people, “America needs Islam, Islam is the only solution and the only way of life. The morality of America is almost bankrupt. There is no morals.”
If Olajuwon has set an example for youth at his mosque, it has been a negative one. The thousands of dollars that his Islamic Da’wah Center has accepted from and has given to extremist and terrorist organizations is appalling and cannot be justified. The fact that the center has been used to host radical Muslim groups is, as well, disturbing. Yet, this all makes sense, when one considers who the persons were behind the establishment of this center.
The two individuals involved in the mosque’s founding (apart from Olajuwon) have their own troubling histories. Co-founder Mohammad Rashad Khalil, the former President of IDC, was also President of the Virginia-based Muslim American Society (MAS), a group that uses the internet to praise terrorist organizations and spread violence and hatred against non-Muslims. Co-founder Jamal Badawi, who is involved with both ISNA and CAIR, wrote a book well-known to the Muslim community, entitled ‘Gender Equity in Islam,’ where he justifies the beating of women by their husbands.
For Olajuwon to cavort with these types of individuals says a lot about him. And for him to be involved with organizations that exchange money with groups that wish to do us harm says even more.
Yes, it is true that Hakeem Olajuwon is an exceptional athlete. No one could ever say otherwise. But being a great basketball player doesn’t mean that the person behind the ball is great as well. In this case, Olajuwon has a lot to answer for, and the answers can’t all be “I didn’t know.”