Given my line of work, from time to time, I get angry e-mails from people affiliated with hate and/or terror-related groups – groups that I have worked hard to expose and hopefully, one day, help to shut down. Recently, I was sent a handful of e-mails from the President of the campus chapter of the Muslim American Society (MAS on Campus) at John Jay College in New York City. The specifics contained within them were a valuable confirmation of things previously suspected to be true.
In April of 2003, I received a series of e-mails from an individual identifying himself as “Ismail Royer.” He had been upset at my depiction of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) – a group that he had previously been employed with – as a radical Islamist organization. At the time of his contacting me, he was working as the National Communications Director of the Muslim American Society (MAS), also an extremist Muslim group.
Some of the matters discussed in my conversations with Royer included: how he got involved with MAS, his feelings towards the Muslim Brotherhood, and the dates of his time with CAIR – all important subjects. Nearly two months later, he – Randall Todd “Ismail” Royer – was arrested and charged with conspiring with a foreign terrorist organization to attack Americans and Indians overseas.
In February of 2009, another MAS leader had e-mailed me – a Muslima by the name of Mashal Azhar. Like Royer before her, the correspondence was of significant importance, as she verified what many understood to be the case regarding MAS and similar entities and their disturbing affiliations abroad.
Mashal Azhar is the President of MAS on Campus at John Jay College (JJC) and an operative for MAS Youth of Brooklyn. She was formerly the President of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) at JJC. Besides her current involvement with MAS, Azhar is also heavily involved with Islamic Relief (IR), a “charity” that the Israeli government has labeled a front for Hamas.
Azhar is the Blog Contact for IR’s Orphan Fund, and according to the group’s Facebook page, she is one of the fund’s “Top Recruiters.” Another of the group’s Top Recruiters – its third highest recruiter – a Pakistani named Anas Bin Tariq, has a Facebook icon photo of himself and a comrade dressed as Hamas mujahids, complete with green bandanas and bandito-style keffiyehs. Up until last weekend, the photo was appended to the IR recruiter page.
Azhar has also sponsored at least one orphan herself, through ICNA Orphan Relief. ICNA or the Islamic Circle of North America, like IR, has been connected to extremist movements overseas, including Hamas via its (ICNA’s) Pakistani affiliate, the Al-Khidmat Foundation (AKF). This activity regarding IR and ICNA orphans could be of concern, given the fact that Hamas-related charities in the past have been found to have provided money to the families of suicide bombers under the guise of fundraising for “orphans.”
On February 22nd, I received the first of four e-mails from Azhar. It was a simple one, as it was a play on the slogan from the group which I chair, Americans Against Hate (AAH). Our slogan is “Fighting Hate with Truth.” She wrote, “With all due respect, this is not fighting hate with truth. It is fighting truth with hate.”
I paid no heed to her misguided statement. I have been falsely accused of hating Muslims by radical Islamists on a number of occasions, and the charade has gotten old. Instead, I took the opportunity to ask her about her organization. I wrote, “Apparently you are active in MAS. Do you know that MAS is a part of the Muslim Brotherhood? Are you okay with that?” Her answer was surprising.
Azhar stated, “Yes actually I am. The Muslim Brotherhood, here in America, has been active since circa 1960. Our primary goal is to create a society in which Muslim Americans, such as myself, can easily assimilate into this beautiful society. Integrating Muslims into American society is just the beginning of a future of Americans of every race, ethnicity, culture, and religion living amongst one another in harmony and striving for moral goals, such as diminishing poverty and hunger.”
The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) or Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimun is a secret society, so one would not usually expect such candor from one of its members. What Azhar failed to mention, though, was that the “society” which the Brotherhood wishes to create is a destruction of America as we know it.
As stated in the 1991 MB document presented by the U.S. Justice Department during the recent Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trial, “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.”
Azhar continued, “One of our main goals is dawah, which is generally conveying the religion of Islam to Muslims and non-Muslims.” Here too, she is stating only half the truth. Actually, the dawah that she is talking about is a conversion tactic developed through Muslim outreach. ICNA, mentioned earlier, has an entire wing of its organization devoted to such outreach, called Why Islam (WI).
In a follow-up e-mail sent to me a week later, Azhar was once again unusually open about the subject of the Brotherhood. Not only did she out MAS as being an Ikhwan creation, but she did the same for other mainstream American Islamic groups as well.
I brought up to her the fact that MAS was established by the Brotherhood in 1992. Indeed, the man who currently serves as the international head of MB, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, was amongst the group’s founders. Azhar replied to me, “Yes MAS was started by Muslim Brotherhood members. These members had been living in America for years (the founders). Since the 60s.”
Then, Azhar astonished me with further info concerning entities apart from MAS. She continued, “They also started MSA, ISNA and other organizations.” While this was no grand revelation – it has been widely reported that the Muslim Students Association (MSA) was created by MB in 1963 and that the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is an integral part of the MSA – normally it is not information that is voluntarily supplied by its affiliates.
I asked Azhar her thoughts on Hamas. She would not discuss the matter, only to say that MAS had “no relationship” to the terror org. But that is not entirely so. Just as MAS is a part of the Brotherhood, so is Hamas. However, the groups are more than distant cousins; they are “brothers,” and that bond forever links their members to one another, from one side of the globe to the other, whether they be MAS in America, Hamas in Gaza, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) in Pakistan, or the Ikhwan right from its global Egyptian headquarters.
I inquired about Hamas, because Azhar had made it seem as though the Brotherhood had entirely peaceful objectives. Certainly no morally upright individual could say that there were anything peaceful about suicide bombings against civilian men, women and children. Azhar might disagree, as the logo of her MySpace page, End the Occupation Now, is of what appears to be a Palestinian militant hoisting the flag of “Palestine.” She didn’t want to talk about it, but she had already said a lot.
Mashal Azhar lives in America, though her life is worlds apart from most Americans. Her ability to discuss her associations with radical organizations is without a doubt commendable. But her involvement in these groups is disturbing nonetheless.
Azhar is a study of extreme interest – an Islamist willing to break the silence.