International Institute of Islamic Thought and the Muslim Brotherhood

In my column this morning, I wrote that the International Institute of Islamic Thought had been “cited by the Justice Department as unindicted co-conspirators in a crucial terrorism-financing case” — the Holy Land Foundation prosecution. It would have been more accurate to say that the IIIT had been demonstrated by the Justice Department to be an unindicted coconspirator.

The legal test of whether one is a coconspirator hinges on the evidence presented in a case, not merely on a Justice Department designation. That is no doubt why prominent

members of Congress and some press reporting have identified the IIIT as an as an unindicted coconspirator in the HLF case. IIIT is not specifically named in the Justice Department’s coconspirator list filed pretrial in that prosecution. Nevertheless, it is a frequent occurrence that conspirators not identified by DOJ on coconspirator lists provided pretrial emerge as such during the trial, as the government’s case is proved. There is, furthermore, abundant evidence tying IIIT to the Muslim Brotherhood and its agenda.

To begin with, the Brotherhood is prominently cited in DOJ’s coconspirator list for the HLF case. More significantly, central to the HLF prosecution was the Brotherhood’s 1991 internal memorandum, discussed in my column. The IIIT is expressly identified by the Muslim Brotherhood in that memorandum as being among “our organizations and the organizations of our friends.” In addition, IIIT board members Jamal Barzinji and Yaqub Mirza have been identified in an FBI investigation as leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Barzinji is also listed as secretary-general of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). As noted in my column, ISNA is specifically cited as coconspirator by the Justice Department. Moreover, Sayyid Syeed, a founder of IIIT, was also a founder of the ISNA. Syeed has also served on the board of advisers of the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which is also cited in the Justice Department’s HLF coconspirator list.

IIIT board member Barzinji was also a co-founder of the Muslim Students Association that was later merged into ISNA. Abdel Rahman Alamoudi is a close associate of Barzinji’s. As the Hudson Institute’s Zeyno Baran has recounted, when IIIT convinced the U.S. government to allow IIIT to be “the official arbiters of Islam in the U.S. military,” Alamoudi was tasked to select Muslim chaplains for American armed forces. Alamoudi, who has been probed in the Justice Department’s investigations of the IIIT and Sami al-Arian, was later convicted for illegal transactions with the Libyan government and assisting in a plot to assassinate then-Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

Finally, as detailed in my column, the IIIT was a major contributor to al-Arian, a former Muslim Brotherhood member who was later convicted of terrorism charges arising out of his association with Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). PIJ has long been formally designated as a foreign terrorist organization under U.S. law. IIIT cofounder and president, Shaykh Taha Jabir al-Awani, was cited by the Justice Department as unindicted coconspirator number 5 in the al-Arian case.  

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