February 3, 2016, President Obama visited an American Mosque for the first time. However, the visit has been marked with criticism since the mosque is known to have ties to terrorist organizations.
The Islamic Society of Baltimore (ISB) has been around for several decades, but those who come through and preach inside its doors have been known to support terrorist organizations.
The Investigative Project on Terrorism lists one particular individual of interest as Mohamad Adam el-Sheikh, a Sudan native who actively participated in the Muslim Brotherhood’s Sudanese branch. El-Sheikh served as imam for the ISB twice, 1983-1989 and 1994-2003. During his time with ISB el-Sheikh also served as a regional director for the Islamic American Relief Agency, which has been cited by the Treasury Department as having ties to Al Qaeda (AQ).
Not only was El-Sheikh employed with IARA, but also during his time at ISB, the mosque actively issued an action alert calling on its members to support Chechen jihadists financially, through IARA. The alert also encouraged financial support to other known terror finance entities: Qoqoz.net (a website tied to the Al Qaeda-linked Caucasus Emirate), Benevolence International Foundation (designated as a terror finance entity by the Treasury Department) and Islamic Relief Worldwide, an Islamic charity suspected of terror finance ties and designated by Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
The action alert also called for support for the American Muslim Council, an organization founded by convicted Al Qaeda financier Abdurrahman Alamoudi.
While serving as imam, El-Sheikh helped found the Northern Virginia-based Dar Al-Hijrah mosque. This mosque was once led by Anwar al Awlaki, an American al Qaeda affiliate who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2011, and was attended by Nidal Hassan, the Ft. Hood shooter. However, these are not the only notable individuals linked to terrorism who have passed through or served at the mosque:
- Mohammed Al-Hanooti, named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, served as imam in 1999. Al-Hanooti was also active in the Muslim Brotherhood’s efforts in Palestine. Al-Hanooti served as President of the Islamic Association Palestine where he raised around $6 million for Hamas-linked entitles.
- Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, convicted in 2005 of providing material support to the al-Qaeda terrorist network, and conspiracy to assassinate President Bush, served as an Islamic studies teacher and camp counselor for the mosque.
- A member of Dar Al-Hijrah’s Executive Committee, Abelhaleem Hasan Abdelraziq Ashqar, was convicted in November 2007 of contempt and obstruction of justice for refusal to testify before a grand jury with regard to Hamas.
In 2004, El-Sheikh spoke about the Islamic justification for suicide bombing, telling the Washington Post, “if certain Muslims are to be cornered where they cannot defend themselves, except through these kinds of means, and their local religious leaders issued fatwas to permit that, then it becomes acceptable as an exceptional rule, but should not be taken as a principle.”
This was not the only controversial statement made by an ISB member. Yaseen Shaikh, a resident scholar of ISB, was videoed giving a sermon condemning homosexuality. It would seem odd that President Obama would honor this group despite his stance on gay rights.
The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch lists as the most damning tie to ISB as Maqbool Patel, the long-time ISB President. Maqbool has been an activist for the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), a group associated with the American Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of Southeast Asia’s Jamaat-e-Islami. Just this past December Patel spoke at an ICNA convention in Baltimore.
The President has claimed he seeks set and example for tolerance and inclusion, but even members of the Islamic community are outraged by the visit. Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, told Fox News on Sunday “As a Muslim American I’m just insulted, this is disgraceful that this is one of the mosques — or the mosque — that he’s chosen to visit.”
It is troubling to think that the Obama Administration did not look into the mosque’s history. There are several examples the Administration could have drawn from, but instead they chose to look past this and try to promote tolerance and inclusion with a group that has spoken out against gay rights and justifies terror.