What is the real nature of the Muslim Students’ Association of the U.S. and Canada (MSA)? This octopus-like entity has infiltrated numerous college and university campuses in North America, and has taken the lead in corralling young Muslims to defend the fascist dictator Saddam Hussein. According to MSA, the correct position for Muslims in America involves their marching alongside neofascists and Stalinists, with the legions of “useful fools” who flock to bogus “peace” demonstrations.
When its leaders speak to mainstream media, MSA presents itself as a campus-service organization not much different from other collegiate faith groups. But the reality is very different, and deeply sinister. MSA is a key element in the Wahhabi lobby, and a cornerstone of the conspiracy by Saudi-backed extremists to control American Islam, as well the public discourse about Islam in America.
Above all, MSA now seeks to present itself as moderate and opposed to terrorism, even though its chapters have distributed the propaganda of Osama bin Laden on its websites, along with publicity-recruiting campaigns for Wahhabi subversion of the Chechen struggle in Russia.
To best understand the MSA and its history one should turn to the work of Hamid Algar, a Western Muslim scholar of impeccable academic credentials, who also happens to be a ferocious critic of the U.S. and Israel. Algar, a member of the University of California-Berkeley faculty, is the biographer of Ayatollah Khomeini and among the leading historians of Islamic spirituality alive today.
But although he is no friend of President Bush or Ariel Sharon, Algar has described with stunning accuracy the nature of the MSA. In his brief work Wahhabism: A Critical Essay, published in 2002, he writes: “Some Muslim student organizations have… functioned at times as Saudi-supported channels for the propagation of Wahhabism abroad, especially in the United States. The Muslim Student Association of the U.S. and Canada was established in 1963, one year after the Muslim World League [MWL] with which it had close links.” Let us note here that the MWL was established by the Saudi regime as an extremist Islamic equivalent of the old Communist International or Comintern, and that its cadres included numerous Islamist “revolutionaries” from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and from Pakistan.
Algar continues, “Particularly in the 1960s and 1970s, no criticism of Saudi Arabia would be tolerated at the annual conventions of the MSA… Its numerous local chapters would make available at every Friday prayer large stacks of the [MWL]‘s publications, in both English and Arabic… Although the MSA progressively diversified its connections with Arab states, official approval of Wahhabism remained strong.” Algar notes that in 1980 the organization published a translation, which was actually a text puffed up to give it more substance, of writings by Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, the 18th century founder of the dispensation named for him, which is presently the state sect in the Saudi kingdom.
With some sarcasm, Algar points out “it might appear at first sight puzzling that students pursuing a higher education should be attracted to a Wahhabi reading of Islam… they found in Wahhabism a ‘rationalized’ Islam, stripped of the niceties and ambiguities of juristic reasoning, the complexities of theology, and the subtleties of Sufism” [Islamic spirituality]. He calls attention to MSA’s role in the creation of the Islamic Society of North America, or ISNA, which is best described as a branch of the Saudi religious militia operating to impose Wahhabi conformity on all of American Islam.
In addition, the MSA has strong ties with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), established in 1972 and directed from the Saudi capital, Riyadh. WAMY’s U.S. offices in Northern Virginia have been a central target of the federal investigation of terrorist funding and money laundering by Islamist groups following the horrors of September 11th.
The foremost aim of the Wahhabis is always to impose a single voice on Muslims. Right now, this means projecting the image, in U.S. media as well as on campuses, that all right-thinking Muslim believers consider an attack on Saddam and his regime to be aggression against Islam. This is a lie. Thousands of Iraqi Shias, Kurds, and other Muslims in the U.S. support the Bush project for the liberation of Iraq from the fascist regime, and for the broader liberation of Islamic societies from the grip of tyranny and terrorism, leading to a new epoch of democracy, prosperity, and stability.
This month, Shia Muslims in the New York area will use their commemoration of Ashura, the main Shia holiday, as an opportunity to express loyalty to America, support for the removal of Saddam, and opposition to Saudi-funded terrorism — which has always aimed first to kill Shia Muslims. But you won’t hear that from MSA chapter leaders on our campuses — just as you won’t hear from International ANSWER, the Stalinofascist cabal that organizes pro-Saddam marches, about the crimes of the Butcher of Baghdad. Like the new breed of out-front Jew-baiting Stalinists, and the revived isolationist Judeophobes who see the hand of Sharon pulling President Bush’s strings, MSA stands for the “peace” of the grave — surrender to tyranny abroad and promotion of treason here at home.
— Stephen Schwartz is senior policy analyst at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.