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The Prison-Islamist Complex By: M. Zuhdi Jasser
The Hill Blog | Thursday, May 28, 2009


Last week’s foiled bomb plot in New York City has been widely reported and confirms that homegrown Islamist-inspired terrorism is a clear and present danger.

With three of the four assailants converting to Islam in prison, no one can ignore the impact which Wahhabi Islam, the strain of Islam being promulgated in many prisons has upon the radicalization of Muslim inmates.

Predictably, Islamist groups (like CAIR and MPAC) with the aid of some non-Muslim echo chambers continue to be intransigent in their blindness. This blindness is manifest in their refusal to accept the fact we in the Muslim community have an ideological cancer lying within the House of Islam which can only be treated by fellow Muslims willing to do the hard work of reform. Blaming others or trying to say that their Islam is not our Islam while bearing some truth deflects real responsibility.

Regardless of how some may try and dismiss the accused as “degenerates”, “drug addicts”, or “criminals”, the more important teachable moment here is that the opium of the minds of these inmates was pure and simply a supremacist form of Islam which depends upon the medieval Wahhabi-Islamist interpretations of our Islamic scripture and tradition. To deflect the public from this reality is to shirk our responsibility as Muslims and more importantly as Americans.

Counterterrorism researchers have databases full with examples of speeches from Wahhabi imams (Islamic teachers) and books of Islam indoctrinating and radicalizing new and old Muslims with a part of our Islamic theology that is long overdue for reform.

This reform can no longer wait. It needs a frontal attack by fellow Muslims. Let’s not let those in denial minimize the problem. This extent of radicalization may be small in proportion to the total population of Muslims. But the series of foiled plots continues to virally regenerate itself because the ideology has not been countered by Muslim faithful in any systematic or public method. And the bigger problem of the slippery slope of political Islam towards radical Islam is also a clear and present danger. The 2007 NYPD Report on Radicalization again predictably dismissed by Islamist groups intelligently laid all this out.

The time for denial is over. In the documentary, the Third Jihad, just released by Clarion Fund which I narrate, we discuss the lethal impact which imams like, Warith Deen Umar, who formerly led Muslim inmates in the New York Correctional Services as a chaplain for over 20 years, have when they give speeches like Imam Umar’s where he said,

Brothers be prepared to fight, be prepared to die, be prepared to kill. It’s a part of the (faith) and this ain’t your brother just saying this. This is history. This is the Koran. Nobody can deny it. You think there is no terror in the Koran? It’s called irhab. Read it in the 56th sura of the Koran. There’s no lack of translation. There’s no mistranslation.

This prison imam is certainly not speaking about the faith of Islam which I and so many American Muslims know and practice, but we can no longer deny that such an ideology exists within the house of Islam which demands our national attention.

Removing imams like Umar and rooting out plots is not enough. Always playing defense will unfortunately miss the root cause of what creates these cells.

It is time to get public opinion galvanized in understanding that our nation needs a coordinated public- private partnership to develop a strategy against the political ideology of Wahhabism and more generally political Islam which carries a supremacist construct against western nations founded in freedom which will continue to fuel radicalism. We need to develop a program to foster an offense in the war of ideas led by Muslims for liberty and against the theocratic underpinnings of political Islam (Islamism).


M. Zuhdi Jasser is the founder and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy based in Phoenix Arizona. He can be reached at zuhdi@aifdemocracy.org.


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