[This article first appeared in the Australia/Israel Review, the monthly journal of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council.]
In February, Prime Minister Howard’s Muslim Advisory Group met for the first time for 2006, and it was not a happy event. Prior to the meeting, Howard and his Treasurer, Peter Costello, spoke to the media on Islamic extremism in Australia. And then the country’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Taj El Din Al Hilaly, began demanding that the government expel its Muslim youth representative, Mustapha Kara-Ali, from the advisory group.
But, amid the Islamic community’s claims of discrimination and its inter-faith squabbling, the Prime Minister and his Treasurer had, in fact, expressed legitimate and valid concerns. For it appears that the national Islamic youth group, the Federation of Australian Muslim Students and Youth (FAMSY), has been working assiduously to promote extremist aspects of Islam to the next generation of Australian Muslims.
When Steven Emerson – one of the world’s leading authorities on Islamist extremist networks – recently visited Australia, he acknowledged that FAMSY is an ideological offshoot of the international Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood’s motto is: Allah is our goal; the Messenger is our model; the Koran is our constitution; jihad is our means; and martyrdom in the way of Allah is our aspiration. It has spawned violent terrorist groups, including Hamas. It attempted to overthrow the government in Syria and was involved in the assassination of the Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Middle East expert Robert Spencer noted that the Brotherhood was the inspiration behind Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda.
Richard Clark, former head of counter-terrorism for the US National Security Council, testified in October 2003 before a Senate Committee that:
The issue of terrorist financing in the United States is a fundamental example of the shared infrastructure levered by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and al-Qaida, all of which enjoy a significant degree of cooperation and coordination within our borders. The common link here is the extremist Muslim Brotherhood - all of these organizations are descendants of the membership and ideology of the Muslim Brothers.
Today the Muslim Brotherhood is a sprawling and secretive society that purports to follow the laws of the countries wherein it operates. Translated recruitment documents from the Chicago Tribune demonstrate that the US Muslim Brotherhood has been extremely careful in obscuring its beliefs from outsiders. One document informs leaders to be cautious when screening potential recruits. If the recruit enquires whether the leader is a Brotherhood member, it advises, the member should reply, “You may deduce the answer to that with your own intelligence.”
FAMSY has operated in Australia since 1968 and defines itself, on its web site, as “a national student and youth Islamic organisation with branches throughout most states of Australia.” It is, in fact, the umbrella movement that unites all Muslim university and youth groups.
One of the organisation’s most committed members is Zachariah Matthews, who has been involved with FAMSY since 1992 and has been a keynote speaker at its last five annual conferences. He told Margaret Coffey on ABC radio in August 2005 that his title for the conference last year was “Guiding Muslim Youth”, and as a subtitle, he added, “How do we prevent their radicalisation?”
Sounds reasonable enough. But FAMSY’s guest speakers over the last few years validate Emerson’s claim that the organisation is clearly an ideological offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. It also demonstrates that Islamists have become regular fixtures on Australian university campuses.
FAMSY sponsors a number of activities for Muslim youth. On the recent Australia Day holiday it joined forces with ‘Bright Start’ to organise a Youth Camp on the Victorian coast at Anglesea. Ibrahim Abdul Rahim, one of the young attendees, reviewed the camp on the FAMSY web site. Zachariah Matthews, he wrote, “flew from Sydney” to speak to the 33 young people — “many very young people still in High School”. According to Rahim, Matthews spoke to the camp followers and put a number of subjects, including “role models,” into “perspective”.
And then on the last day of the camp, FAMSY produced their ideal role model, Abdul Rahim Ghouse, who presented a “highly interactive” workshop. Amongst the subjects discussed, Rahim wrote, was the “issue of resources in Islamic work.”
In 2003, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on this same subject when it described how the SBS-TV program, “Dateline”, had investigated Rahim Ghouse and claimed he “had business dealings with Sheik Yassin al-Qadi, an alleged al-Qaeda financier.” Ghouse was a Director of the International Free Anwar Campaign lobby group in Australia. Anwar Ibrahim was jailed in Malaysia between 1998 and 2004 on trumped-up sodomy and corruption charges. Ibrahim was also a director of the Washington-based International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) – which Dateline reported – was being investigated for “possibly funding the pro-Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad.” The Washington Post stated that the IIIT network was “set up in the 1980s largely by onetime Brotherhood sympathizers.” And some network figures, the newspaper claimed “had dealings with activists,” such as “USF professor Sami al-Arian” who was “indicted last year  on charges of conspiracy to commit murder via suicide attacks in Israel.”
In 2001, IIIT published a book entitled Violence. The Washington Post reported this IIIT work declared Israel to be a “foreign usurper” and that it should be confronted with “fear, terror and lack of security.” The text also advised Palestinian fighters to choose their targets, “whether the targets are civilian or military.”
At their annual conference at the University of Sydney in 1997, FAMSY presented Ahmad Elkadi, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States. He was the secret leader of the underground movement from 1984 until 1994. In an exclusive interview with the Chicago Tribune in 2004, the newspaper reported that Elkadi explained the process of recruiting new members. It begins, he supposedly said, with small prayer meetings where the identity of the Brotherhood is not revealed. “First you change the person, then the family, then the community, then the nation.”
In 1998 FAMSY invited American convert to Islam, Siraj Wahhaj, to its annual conference. This radical Muslim proved so popular that he was invited back to the 2001 conference. Three years prior to his first FAMSY appearance Wahhaj had served as a character witness for Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman — the blind Sheik who was found guilty of conspiring to bomb New York city landmarks. Rahman had worshipped at Wahhaj’s New York mosque and was once a featured speaker. During this provocative sermon, The Wall Street Journal reported that the blind Sheik had suggested to about 150 congregants that they ought to rob banks to benefit Islam.
Wahhaj was listed as one of 170 “unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators” of the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing. More recently, Wahhaj expressed an opinion that the US constitutional government will eventually be replaced by Islamic law. “In time, this so-called democracy will crumble, and there will be nothing. And the only thing that will remain will be Islam.” Daniel Pipes in his book, Militant Islam Reaches America, describes Siraj Wahhaj as an imam representing Muslims who “both despise the United States and ultimately wish to transform it into a Muslim country.”
Also featured on the 1998 FAMSY program at RMIT in Melbourne, was Kamal Helwabi, a former senior member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Helwabi resigned from the Brotherhood in 1997 and fled to the UK. According to The Investigative Project, Helwabi was also a founder of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), a Saudi organisation that has espoused radical views and has been linked to terrorist activity around the world.
American convert to Islam, Mahdi Bray, spoke to Australian Muslim youth at the FAMSY conference in 2003. Within two months of his University of Sydney guest appearance, Bray was named by a witness who addressed the US Congressional Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security, as the contact for a key organisation involved in Muslim prison recruitment
In his book, American Jihad, Emerson noted that Bray had organised a rally outside the White House in 2000 where the crowd chanted in Arabic, “Khaybar, Khaybar oh Jews, the Army of Muhammad is coming to get you.”, [In the Koran, Mohammed conquered the Jewish settlement of Khaybar and slaughtered all the male inhabitants.] The crowd burned an Israeli flag as they marched from the White House to the State Department and openly distributed literature calling for the death of all Jews.
Emerson also reported that Bray attended a rally co-sponsored by the Muslim Public Affairs Council a few weeks later, where he was seen “jubilantly displaying his support” for Hamas and Hezbollah. Emerson claims Bray was seen playing the tambourine as a speaker sang, “Al-Aqsa is calling us, let’s all go into jihad, and throw stones at the face of the Jews.”
Bray also lobbied vigorously for the extradition from Saudi Arabia of Ahmed Abu Ali. After the prisoner was deported to the US, Bray exclaimed, “Nothing short of his release and return to his family is acceptable.” Abu Ali has been convicted and faces 80 years in prison for plotting to assassinate President Bush and for providing material support and resources to al-Qaeda.
In 2004 FAMSY again demonstrated its comfortable relationship with radical Islam when it invited Shaker Elsayed to its annual get-together. Three years prior, its guest had stated at a US State Department press conference that “...The so-called Israeli settlers are not civilian population. They are military reserves. They are armed, trained and dangerous. They invade Palestinian neighbourhoods at night and they squander everything. They kill, they maim and they destroy homes...”
Elsayed’s declaration was not surprising. A couple of years earlier he had discarded his moderate façade when he declared at the 2002 ICNA- MAS conference that, “...the honor of the Muslims has been violated, the jihad is a must for everyone, a child, a lady and a man. They have to make jihad with every tool that they can get in their hand...”
And last year, FAMSY bought Anas Altikriti to Australia to speak to Muslim youth. Altikriti’s father had attended school with Saddam Hussein and was currently head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Iraq. And Altikriti himself is a founding member of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), which readily admits to having links to the Muslim Brotherhood.
In 2005, Altikriti spoke on behalf of MAB and declared his organisation was “extremely concerned by the decision of the [British] Prime Minister to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir. Despite the fact,” he stated, “that MAB has constantly had major disagreement with Hizb ut-Tahrir, banning HT will serve no cause and could prove counter productive.”
Hizb ut-Tahrir is banned in nearly every Arab state, including the Muslim states of Central Asia and Germany and Russia. Its web site describes its ambition to install the Islamic way of life and convey the Islamic “da’wah” to the world. It is dedicated to bringing “back the Islamic guidance for mankind and to lead the Ummah [nation] into a struggle with Kufr [infidels], its systems and its thoughts so that Islam encapsulates the world.”
In May this year, FAMSY is co-sponsoring a peace conference in Melbourne. And once again, Altikriti is a main player. FAMSY advertise him as “hosting” the conference and define Alkitriki both by his association with MAB and ‘Stop the War Coalition’. The FAMSY web site promotes the Peace Conference by claiming “the US and its allies are trapped in their illegal war in Iraq...At the same time in the name of fighting ‘terror’,” it states, “the government[Australian]] is attacking civil liberties and demonising Muslims in our community.”
Margaret Coffey reported on ABC radio from the University of Melbourne 2005 FAMSY conference, that Altikriti exclaimed to his student audience, “Despite that we stand clear and say we have nothing to apologise for, we are the best of the best and we can and we will play our part in bringing about the best for the future of this country and its people. That is our role, these are our teachings.”
Coffey also noted that FAMSY organiser Zachariah Matthews promoted the “Jerusalem theory” to the young Muslim audience. The West, he explained to the conference attendees, is so unfair to the Muslim world that it is understandable how an extreme margin would strike out in frustration and revenge. This theory, Coffey said, “includes but goes beyond issues like Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.”
The Washington Post has stated that the Muslim Brotherhood is a diverse society where some “supporters went on to help found al-Qaeda, while others launched one of the largest college student groups in the United States.” But the radical religious roots of the Brotherhood have transformed a number of the latter into a campus cheerleading squad for the former. In the era of jihadist terrorism – in which we all live – that is a form of student activism Australia can ill afford.
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