Last week, the Times Union reported on a situation which is making news nationwide – New York Police Department surveillance of Muslim students on college campuses, including the State University of Albany.

The article is dripping with sarcasm aimed directly at the police force, with little or no attempt at delving deeper into the reasoning behind the surveillance.

Leave it to the Times Union to go out of their way to interject opinion into a news article, while equally managing to keep other important facts out of their report on the NYPD monitoring of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) at SUNY Albany.

Did it ever occur to the Union that there might possibly be a history with the MSA that would prompt investigators to keep an eye on them?

According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism – the most comprehensive data center on radical Islamic terrorist groups – the MSA was founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, and describes them in the following manner:

MSA has gained legitimacy on American campuses as a benevolent collegiate faith club; however, under this moderate veneer MSA advances a different agenda among impressionable college students.  Through conferences and events, publications, websites and other activities, MSA has disseminated and promoted militant Islamic ideologies on college and university campuses throughout North America.   

Now, that isn’t to say the Times Union didn’t actually see neutral postings on the SUNY Albany MSA website, but it is to say there is another side to the story.  Feel free to go with a balanced approach.

The newspaper has yet to indicate in any of their stories that the normally spineless Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, has defended the actions taken by the NYPD.  Via Global Post:

Bloomberg argued it is “legal,” “appropriate” and “constitutional” for police to monitor Muslim communities since they are potential places where terrorists might hide out while they prepare attacks against American citizens, the AP reported.

Of course, the Times Union did the same exact thing last year, when they ran a story about a Muslim summer camp being built in the Adirondacks.  The camp was being considered by a group known as the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA).  When I contacted the newspaper about the lack of information as well as the flat-out false information being printed regarding the ICNA, an editor responded that the story was evolving and would change over time.  It never did.  They never corrected it.

Interestingly enough, the MSA and ICNA do have a connection.  Both have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, both conduct events throughout the nation in conjunction with each other, and both operate under the umbrella of the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT), a coalition of 11 major Islamic organizations.

Think neither of these organizations should be monitored or looked at more closely?  Here is my report last year regarding the ICNA:

One of the largest Muslim organizations in North America is considering plans to build a summer camp on 114 acres of land in the Adirondacks.  Via the Albany Times Union
“The Islamic Circle of North America, a Muslim advocacy group based in New York City, hopes to raise money to develop a camp for children and families of all religions on land donated to it last year.”
The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), based in Queens, New York, is not devoid of controversy in a history that spans over 40 years, yet there is scant mention of these controversies by the media.  The Times Union article states that, “U.S. law enforcement agencies have investigated, but never prosecuted, ICNA for terrorist connections.”  And there is coverage of a fundraiser involving speakers having made anti-American statements in the past, which is quickly justified by saying, “the meeting raised money for homeless women.”
But the ICNA has so much more to offer in the way of newsworthiness, including an event involving radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, as well as a link to the presently relevant Muslim Brotherhood.
Observe…
  • In the book, American Jihad, author Steven Emerson claims that the ICNA has praised terror attacks in the past, is allied with militant fundamentalist movements, and supports the imposition of sharia law.   

  • The same book mentions a statement by Senator Mitch McConnell in 1996 that the group is allied with the Islamic Association for Palestine in North America, which has ties to the terrorist organization, Hamas.

  • The ICNA has demonstrated deep ties to the fundamentalist Pakistani political party, Jamaat-e-Islami, whose main objective is the establishment of a pure Islamic state, governed by Sharia law.

  • Ran a series of Muslim subway ads in 2008, promoted by a Brooklyn imam whom federal officials had linked to a plot to blow up city landmarks.

  • Have expressed great reverence for such outstanding individuals as the Ayatollah Khomeini and Mahmoud Ahmadenijad, a man famous for calling the holocaust a ‘myth’, and stating that ‘Israel must be wiped off the map.’

Additionally, radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was asked to speak at a convention sponsored jointly by the ICNA and the Muslim American Society (MAS) in July of 2002.  Awlaki has been connected with three of the 9/11 hijackers, and has since praised the murderous rampage by the Fort Hood shooter that took 14 lives, and the failed attempt by the Christmas Day bomber to kill 278 innocent people.  What’s more, Awlaki spoke alongside Siraj Wahhaj, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. 
It should be noted that the ICNA released a statement denouncing Awlaki’s views – nearly eight years later – but noting that at the time of his appearance, he had not been accused of any extremist ties, and that he had only started making radical lectures after being detained in 2007.
This is, of course, a flat-out falsehood.  In fact, here’s a bit of what was already known regarding Awlaki at the time of his ICNA appearance:
  • In 1996, he encouraged a student at his mosque to fight jihad, prompting an elder to confront him, eventually leading to his departure.

  • In 1998 and 1999, served as Vice President of a charity founded by Abdul Majeed al-Zindani, an associate of Osama bin Laden and a man designated by the U.S. government as a ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorist’.

  • The F.B.I. first took notice of Awlaki in 1999 based on his relationship with militants and his role in running a ‘front organization to funnel money to terrorists’.

  • The 9/11 Commission had shown that F.B.I. investigators were divided over Awlaki’s involvement in the terrorist attacks, but had expressed concern over his role as spiritual advisor to two of the hijackers, with one detective saying he believed Awlaki ‘was at the center of the 9/11 story’.

But if you’re looking for a current piece of news regarding the ICNA, then look no further than Egypt.  Considered to be the North American branch of the aforementioned Jamaat-e-Islami, the ICNA also maintains close ties to international groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood.   The Muslim Brotherhood has objectives far different than the simple establishment of a camp for various religions.  Their stated motto:
Allah is our objective; the Prophet is our leader; the Quran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.
Joe Kaufman, in Front Page Magazine wrote:
“When tens of thousands of Iranian violence-driven malcontents scream “Death to America” in chorus, we Americans have a right to know who here is screaming with them. And once we find out who, law enforcement and intelligence needs to investigate and take appropriate action, so that inappropriate action is not taken upon us.”
Or, in the case of today’s media, we can simply watch them build a summer camp without so much as a cursory look at who’s behind the project.
Nothing to see here…

Let the Times Union know that it isn’t their job as journalists to interject opinion into their reporting.  But it is their job to report all of the facts.