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Hijacking the Pope's Visit By: Joe Kaufman
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It’s hard to argue that the Pope’s first U.S. tour, which took place earlier this month, was not a huge success. Tens of thousands of Catholics and others came out to various appearances just to get a glimpse of the man. However, one of the Pope’s events included, as participants, members of organizations tied to the extremist Muslim Brotherhood, putting a stain on the Pope’s trip. How did groups with such controversial backgrounds get past handlers, in order to make this unholy meeting occur?

Pope Benedict XVI touched down at Andrews Air Force Base, on April 16th, greeted by the president of the United States George W. Bush, followed by an arrival ceremony at the White House. It was the beginning of an unprecedented Papal visit.

One of the Pope’s events was an interfaith dialogue session consisting of 220 religious leaders drawn from a wide range of backgrounds. Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, and others joined in the talk. However, some of those that attended were of a variety connected to radical Muslim organizations.

According to an e-mail sent out by the Muslim Students Association (MSA), “On April 17, 2008 a representative from MSA National met with the Pope Benedict XVI at an inter-faith reception during his visit to Washington, DC.”

Established in 1963, the MSA is the first major American Islamic institution connected to the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun, the group responsible for the creation of such terrorist organizations as Hamas and Al-Qaeda. Indeed, beginning in January 2004, the MSA was the subject of a U.S. Senate investigation into potential links between the group and the financing of terrorism overseas.

Indirect associations with terrorists have left the MSA with a certain level of accepted violence. This is reflected in the materials that the group propagates, such as its national magazine, MSA Link. An article entitled ‘We are the Palestinian People’ in the March 2002 edition of the Link stated, “The ‘Intifada’ is our song of freedom, our rebellion against the cage of occupation, and our anthem of hope. Some call it resistance. Some call it terrorism. Others call it revolutionary violence and some describe it as civil disobedience. We just call it ‘Intifada’...They can suppress us, but we will erupt again.”

Once in a while, an MSA member will cross the line and become an actual terrorist himself/herself, possibly even from something he/she read at the MSA. Syed Maaz Shah was arrested in November 2006, charged with illegally possessing a firearm while in the United States on a non-immigrant visa. Shah had been plotting to travel overseas with three others (Houston Taliban) with the purpose of murdering U.S. soldiers. At the time of his arrest, Shah was the Secretary of the MSA at the University of Texas Dallas (UTD). Shah was later found guilty and was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison.

The individual representing the MSA with the Pope was Asma Mirza, the National President of the group.

In August 2007, on a radio program, Mirza was asked, “What criteria do you use in selecting [MSA event speakers], so you can assure parents, family members, neighbors, whatever that these secondary role models will not propagate extremist views?” Mirza sidestepped the question, stating, “What we try to do is get a group of speakers with diverse, very academic, or very credentialed backgrounds.”

In fact, many of the people that lecture at MSA functions are among the most hardened extremists. This includes people like Hamas supporter Abdul Malik Ali; “unindicted co-conspirator” of the World Trade Center bombing, Siraj Wahhaj; and former officer of the KindHearts terror charity, Zulfiqar Ali Shah.

Mirza, herself, supports Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist Sami Al-Arian, calling the U.S. government’s actions against him “one of the biggest civil rights violations of our time.”

In 1981, Al-Arian and the MSA came together to create an alumni organization for the MSA. They named it the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Today, the group acts as an umbrella organization for a large percentage of mosques, Islamic centers, and children’s schools throughout the United States and Canada.

In addition, ISNA has been tied to terrorism. Like the MSA, ISNA was a subject of the January 2004 U.S. Senate terror financing investigation. And in June of 2007, ISNA was identified as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a legal case brought by the Justice Department against officials from the Islamic charity, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), that dealt with the funding of millions of dollars to Hamas.

During the trial, a May 1991 MB document bearing ISNA’s name was presented as evidence, stating: “The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and G-d’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” The MSA’s name was also listed on the document, directly under ISNA’s, which was the first name on the list.

And similar to the MSA, ISNA propagates violent hatred. Currently on its national website, one can find the following quotes:

  • “The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.’”
  • “May Allah fight the jews and the christians. They took the graves of their Prophets as places of prostration. Two deens [religions] shall not co-exist in the land of the Arabs.”
  • “I will expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian peninsula and will not leave any but Muslim.”
  • “Whoever takes them [Christian Arabs] as friends is from them.”
  • “O Allah! I ask you for martyrdom in Your way and death in the city of Your Messenger!”

Along with the head of the MSA, attending the Pope’s interfaith function was the former National President of the MSA and co-founder and current National Director (Secretary General) of ISNA, Sayyid M. Sayeed. Besides his involvement with the MSA and ISNA, Sayeed has been active in a number of other terror-related organizations.

From 1984 to 1994, Sayeed served as Director of Academic Outreach for the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT). As well, he was Editor-in-Chief of the group’s quarterly publication, the American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences (AJISS). A letter from IIIT President Taha Jaber Al-Awani to Sami Al-Arian [pdf], dated November of 1992, shows that, while Sayeed was with the IIIT, the group was providing funds in the tens of thousands to Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Sayeed has also sat on the National Board of Advisors of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and on the Board of Advisory Editors of the Middle East Affairs Journal, a publication of the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR) [pdf]. Both CAIR and UASR have been cited as being fronts for Hamas. As well, Sayeed held a position on the Executive Board of the American Muslim Council (AMC), when the group was being run by convicted terrorist Abdurahman Alamoudi.

Also present at the Pope’s event was former ISNA National President and current ISNA board member, Muzammil Siddiqi. As reported by counter-terror expert Steven Emerson and his Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), Siddiqi, while trying to appear as a “moderate,” has in the past advocated violence.

Siddiqi has preached in favor of the destruction of Israel: “I can see that there is already some impact after Jihad in Afghanistan in the Intifada movement in Palestine. With this, more courage, more strength, more confidence and shall I even say that in a few years we will be celebrating with each other the victory of Islam in Palestine. Insh’allah, we shall be celebrating the coming of the Masjid al-Aqsa under the Islamic rule. We shall be celebrating insh’allah the coming of Jerusalem and the whole land of Palestine insh’allah and the establishment of the Islamic State throughout that area.”

And he has issued threats against the United States: “The United States of America is directly and indirectly responsible for the plight of the Palestinian people. Our government is responsible for plenty of the injustice that is going on there...America has to learn that, because if you remain on the side of injustice, the wrath of G-d will come. Please! Please all Americans, do you remember that, that Allah is watching everyone. G-d is watching everyone. If you continue doing injustice, and tolerating injustice, the wrath of G-d will come.”

Siddiqi has also made various extremist statements concerning social issues. About homosexuals, he has said, “Those who insist on this lifestyle, consider it legitimate and feel ‘gay pride,’ we should not associate with them and should not take them as friends. We should certainly avoid those people.”

About wife beatings: “[I]n some cases a husband may use some light disciplinary action in order to correct the moral infraction of his wife...[T]his ‘light strike’...is not to be used to correct some minor problem, but it is permissible to resort to only in a situation of some serious moral misconduct when admonishing the wife fails, and avoiding from sleeping with her would not help. If this disciplinary action can correct a situation and save the marriage, then one should use it.”

About intermarriage: “According to the Qur’an, the husband is the head of the household and his wife should obey him. Allah does not put the Muslim woman in a position that a non-Muslim becomes her head in her own private life. Allah has spared her to suffer from being under the authority of a non-Muslim husband.”

About polygamy: “According to the Qur’an and Sunnah, a man is allowed to have more than one wife (up to four) with the strict condition that he will treat all of them with equity. Multiple marriages...could be good and useful for some people and in some situations.”

On April 18th, ISNA announced on its website that it played a “major role in organizing the inter-religious meeting,” which included another former MSA leader, Saman Hussain, presenting a leather bound Quran to the Pope. Question: Why would the Pope’s handlers allow organizations linked to the forbearer of the majority of the world’s terrorist movements to be involved in setting up an event with the Pope, let alone sit in the same room with him? And why would they allow him to accept their gifts, which obviously come with a price?

While the Pope, during his visit to the U.S., was gracious in his attempt to connect with peoples of all different backgrounds, his meeting with the types of individuals mentioned above could only result in the legitimization of their groups and thus the legitimization of their sinister goals. If the Pope wishes to hold gatherings such as this in the future, he should only limit them to those individuals that distance themselves from hatred and violence. He has spoken eloquently on eradicating the use of force to compel belief; those with whom he shares a platform should be equally committed to this belief.

Joe Kaufman is the Chairman of Americans Against Hate and the founder of CAIR Watch.

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