A major U.S. based Muslim Brotherhood leader, Taha Jabir Al-Alwani, has passed away, as The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch (GMBDW) was first to report.
Alwani was one of the earliest founders of the U.S. Muslim Students Association (MSA), the first Muslim Brotherhood organization in the United States. Alwani was also major player in the formation of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS), and the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT). Alwani’s intellectual writings focused on Islamic jurisprudence, particularly as it relates to Muslims living as minority populations in the West (Fiqh of Minorities), and his work on the “Islamization of Knowledge”, an effort spearheaded by IIIT to construct an Islamic alternative to western-dominated social and applied sciences.
Alwani is best known in Counterterrorism circles for his letter to convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad organizer Sami Al-Arian, which linked the Muslim Brotherhoo- affiliated IIIT to the PIJ front organization, the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE). As we wrote in the Center’s monograph “The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT): The Muslim Brotherhood’s Think Tank,”:
A seizure of document in 1995 by federal agents under a search warrant turned up a letter from IIIT President Taha Jaber Al-Alwani to Sami Al-Arian, dated November 19, 1991, with Alwani referring to payment of monies from IIIT to PIJ. He additionally wrote that he and his colleagues and their organization considered themselves to be indistinguishable from Al-Arian, [PIJ leader Ramada] Shallah and other founders and members of PIJ. In this same letter, Alwani mentioned the $45,000 that Safa Group–of which IIIT is a member–actually transferred to Al-Arian, as part of a total $50,000. This $50,000 contribution by IIIT to PIJ front-group WISE was made between the years of 1991 and 1992. A 1991 letter from PIJ’s Secretary General Ramadan Shallah stated that IIIT was the largest contributor to WISE. In the letter to Sami Al-Arian discussing the transfer of funds to WISE, Alwani noted that, “We consider you as a group… a part and extension of us. Also we are a part and extension of you.” He further indicated that, “I would like to affirm these feelings to you directly on my behalf, and on behalf of all my brothers, Drs. Abdel-Hamid [AbuSulayman], Jamal [Barzinji], Ahmad [Totonji], and Hisham [Al-Talib], and, at the same time, affirm to you that when we make a commitment to you, or try to offer, we do it as a group regardless of the party or façade you use the donation for.
A copy of a fatwa signed by Alwani, sometime between December 1988 and November 1989, stated that, “…Jihad is the only way to liberate Palestine; that no person or authority may settle the Jews on the land of Palestine or cede to them any part thereof, or recognize any right therein for them.”
Alwani represents the latest in a series of high-level influential Muslim Brotherhood leaders in the United States passing away, including Jamal Barzinji, Mohammed Al-Hanooti, and Maher Hathout. As we’ve noted previously as the original founding members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood network pass away, it will require open source researchers and analysts of the Muslim Brotherhood to redouble their efforts, and to more extensively cooperate among themselves, as they examine the nature and extent of the Brotherhood’s efforts among younger generations of Islamists.