Yesterday, the New York Police Department announced the end of a special unit charged with trying to expose terror threats in Muslim communities. The program came under fire by civil rights groups due to the secret surveillance of Muslims in seemingly mundane environments, such as bookstores and colleges, without any evidence of criminal activity. Former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly defended the program saying his police force was well within legal guidelines. The program was part of a broad effort to watch communities where terror cells might operate.
One of the largest Muslim organizations in North America issued a statement today welcoming the decision. The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) claims the surveillance program “alienated the Muslim communities in New York and created an environment of fear and mistrust.” They view the shutdown as “a positive first step.”
Of course, the ICNA stands to benefit from having law enforcement not looking in their direction, having hosted an event with the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, as well as a link to the Muslim Brotherhood.
- 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 was of course, connected with three of the 9/11 hijackers, and later praised the murderous rampage by the Fort Hood shooter that took 14 lives, as well as 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’.
If you’re looking for a another 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. 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.
It’s good to know the New York Police Department won’t be keeping an eye on people that celebrate radical elements of the Muslim religion. Nothing to see here…