Feisal Abdul Rauf is the imam behind the “Cordoba Initiative” that is spearheading plans to build a $100 million Islamic center at Ground Zero, the site where nearly 3,000 Americans were killed by jihadists on 9/11. He is also the author of a book called What’s Right with Islam Is What’s Right with America. But the book hasn’t always been called that. It was called quite something else for non-English-speaking audiences. In Malaysia, it was published as A Call to Prayer from the World Trade Center Rubble: Islamic Dawa in the Heart of America Post-9/11.
Now it emerges that a “special, non-commercial edition” of this book was later produced, with Feisal’s cooperation, by two American tentacles of the Muslim Brotherhood: the Islamic Society of North America and the International Institute of Islamic Thought. The book’s copyright page tells the tale:
Both ISNA and IIIT have been up to their necks in the promotion of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood’s ruthless Palestinian branch, which is pledged by charter to the destruction of Israel. In fact, both ISNA and IIIT were cited by the Justice Department as unindicted co-conspirators in a crucial terrorism-financing case involving the channeling of tens of millions of dollars to Hamas through an outfit called the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. For the last 15 years, Hamas has been a designated terrorist organization under U.S. law.
Dawa, whether done from the rubble of the World Trade Center or elsewhere, is the missionary work by which Islam is spread. As explained in my recent book, The Grand Jihad, dawa is proselytism, but not involving only spiritual elements — for Islam is not merely a religion, and spiritual elements are just a small part of its doctrine. In truth, Islam is a comprehensive political, social, and economic system with its own authoritarian legal framework, sharia, which aspires to govern all aspects of life.
This framework rejects core tenets of American constitutional republicanism: for example, individual liberty, freedom of conscience, freedom to govern ourselves irrespective of any theocratic code, equality of men and women, equality of Muslims and non-Muslims, and economic liberty, including the uses of private property (in Islam, owners hold property only as a custodians for the umma, the universal Muslim nation, and are beholden to the Islamic state regarding its use). Sharia prohibits the preaching of creeds other than Islam, the renunciation of Islam, any actions that divide the umma, and homosexuality. Its penalties are draconian, including savagely executed death sentences for apostates, homosexuals, and adulterers.
The purpose of dawa, like the purpose of jihad, is to implement, spread, and defend sharia. Scholar Robert Spencer incisively refers to dawa practices as “stealth jihad,” the advancement of the sharia agenda through means other than violence and agents other than terrorists. These include extortion, cultivation of sympathizers in the media and the universities, exploitation of our legal system and tradition of religious liberty, infiltration of our political system, and fundraising. This is why Yusuf Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and the world’s most influential Islamic cleric, boldly promises that Islam will “conquer America” and “conquer Europe” through dawa.
In considering Imam Rauf and his Ground Zero project, Qaradawi and the Muslim Brotherhood are extremely important. Like most Muslims, Rauf regards Qaradawi as a guide, and referred to him in 2001 as “the most well-known legal authority in the whole Muslim world today.” And indeed he is: a prominent, Qatar-based scholar whose weekly Al Jazeera program on the subject of sharia is viewed by millions and whose cyber-venture, Islam Online, is accessed by millions more, including Muslims in the United States. Not surprisingly, his rabble-rousing was a prime cause of the deadly global rioting by Muslims when an obscure Danish newspaper published cartoon depictions of Mohammed.
Qaradawi regards the United States as the enemy of Islam. He has urged that Muslims “fight the American military if we can, and if we cannot, we should fight the U.S. economically and politically.” In 2004, he issued a fatwa (an edict based on sharia) calling for Muslims to kill Americans in Iraq. A leading champion of Hamas, he has issued similar approvals of suicide bombings in Israel. Moreover, as recounted in Matthew Levitt’s history of Hamas, Qaradawi has decreed that Muslims must donate money to “support Palestinians fighting occupation. . . . If we can’t carry out acts of jihad ourselves, we at least should support and prop up the mujahideen [i.e., Islamic raiders or warriors] financially and morally.”
Qaradawi’s support for Hamas is only natural. Since that organization’s 1987 founding, it has been the top Muslim Brotherhood priority to underwrite Hamas’s jihadist onslaught against the Jewish state. Toward that end, the Muslim Brotherhood mobilized the Islamist infrastructure in the United States.
The original building block of that infrastructure was the Muslim Students Association (MSA), established in the early Sixties to groom young Muslims in the Brotherhood’s ideology — promoting sharia, Islamic supremacism, and a worldwide caliphate. As Andrew Bostom elaborated in a New York Post op-ed on Friday, Imam Rauf, too, is steeped in this ideology.
In 1981, after two decades of churning out activists from its North American chapters (which now number over 600), the Brotherhood merged the MSA into ISNA. In its own words, ISNA was conceived as an umbrella organization “to advance the cause of Islam and service Muslims in North America so as to enable them to adopt Islam as a complete way of life.” That same year, the Brotherhood created IIIT as a Washington-area Islamic think tank dedicated to what it describes as “the Islamicization of knowledge.”
After Hamas was created, the top Brotherhood operative in the United States, Mousa Abu Marzook — who actually ran Hamas from his Virginia home for several years in the early Nineties — founded the Islamic Association for Palestine to boost Hamas’s support. One of his co-founders was Sami al-Arian, then a student and Muslim Brotherhood member, later a top U.S. operative of the terrorist organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which he helped guide from his perch as a professor at the University of South Florida. In 2006, al-Arian was convicted on terrorism charges.
Marzook and other Brotherhood figures established the Occupied Land Fund, eventually renamed the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), to be Hamas’s American fundraising arm. The HLF was headquartered in ISNA’s Indiana office. As the Justice Department explained in a memorandum submitted in the HLF case:
During the early years of HLF’s operation, HLF raised money and supported Hamas through a bank account it held with ISNA. . . . Indeed, HLF (under its former name, OLF) operated from within ISNA, in Plainfield, Illinois. . . . ISNA checks deposited into the ISNA/[North American Islamic Trust] account for the HLF were often made payable to “the Palestinian Mujahideen,” the original name for the Hamas military wing. . . . From the ISNA/NAIT account, the HLF sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook . . . and a number of other individuals associated with Hamas.
Ultimately, the HLF raised over $36 million for Hamas. At the height of the intifada, this was not about the social-welfare activities Hamas touts to camouflage its barbarism. As the journalist Stephen Schwartz of the Center for Islamic Pluralism has observed, “Ordinary Americans should be shocked and outraged to learn that Hamas was running its terror campaign from a sanctuary in the U.S.” In addition, prosecutors showed that ISNA was central to a 1993 meeting of top Brotherhood operatives, who were wiretapped “discussing using ISNA as an official cover for their activities.”
Meantime, in 1992, the IIIT contributed $50,000 to underwrite an al-Arian venture, the World & Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE), a front for Palestinian Islamic Jihad that ostensibly employed several members of the PIJ governing board. IIIT has been under federal investigation since 2002 — and after his terrorism conviction, al-Arian went into contempt of court rather than honor a grand-jury subpoena in the probe.
In 1991, the Muslim Brotherhood’s American leadership prepared an internal memorandum for the organization’s global leadership in Egypt. It was written principally by Mohamed Akram, a close associate of Sheikh Qaradawi. As Akram put it, the Brotherhood
must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.
The memorandum included a list described by Akram as “our organizations and the organizations of our friends,” working together to implement this sabotage strategy. Prominently included in that list were ISNA and IIIT.
The Ground Zero project to erect a monument to sharia overlooking the crater where the World Trade Center once stood, and where thousands were slaughtered, is not a test of America’s commitment to religious liberty. America already has thousands of mosques and Islamic centers, including scores in the New York area — though Islam does not allow non-Muslims even to enter its crown-jewel cities of Mecca and Medina, much less to build churches or synagogues.
The Ground Zero project is a test of America’s resolve to face down a civilizational jihad that aims, in the words of its leaders, to destroy us from within.
— Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.