Here are excerpts from part 3 of WND's series on the Islamic conference in Florida and American Islam in general.
"The Islamic Circle of North America, or ICNA, along with the Islamic Society of North America, or ISNA, and representatives of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, are mainstays of the American Islamic conference circuit, which has featured radical clerics and ideology derived from its overseas forebears.
"The conference circuit, which is used to recruit and educate Muslims and raise funds, works to portray itself as moderate. It also provides a meeting place where new friends can be found.
"At the Silver Spurs Arena in Orlando, elegantly dressed women shared meals and mingled with newfound friends from a variety of backgrounds, some with their roots as far away as Egypt and Indonesia. Meanwhile, their children played games together as vendors sold books, CDs, colorful prayer rugs, artwork and intricately detailed robes.
"A repeated theme at such conferences is the 'crisis,' 'challenge' and 'nightmare' that is everyday life for a Muslim in America.
"Community leaders, terrorism experts and Middle East specialists say the groups are whitewashing their radicalism to get positive press, which they later parlay into community and political power. They say the groups are holding themselves out as moderates, that they play the race card at will, and exaggerate the climate for Muslims in the U.S. With accusations of intolerance, prejudice or bigotry, these leaders present themselves to young Muslims as needed protectors in a scary world. A nervous press, meanwhile, plays the role of public-relations mouthpiece for them, frightened of being labeled intolerant, racist or bigoted. From the newly gained platform of mainstream media acceptance, they then bully critical moderate Muslim groups and individuals to intimidate them into silence as they insinuate themselves in to the power flow in America.
"Critics also claim the groups routinely portray terrorism experts, moderate scholars, FBI counterintelligence veterans and anybody else criticizing them as individuals who slander Islam as a whole, despite copious evidence to the contrary."
I have personally experienced this.
"Editor Rod Dreher of the Dallas Morning News cited attempts to silence legitimate questions about ISNA's agenda through intimidation and misdirection, a charge also leveled by others at CAIR.
"One pattern that concerns critics is the pulling out of moderate clerics from mosques and replacing them with extremist ones. Some Muslim leaders complain that American mosques and institutions are now 80 percent owned by hard-liners who only represent a minority of Muslims in the U.S.
"The North American Islamic Trust, a sister organization set up for what its website calls the 'protection and safeguarding' of the finances of ISNA and other groups owns between 20 percent and 27 percent of this country's mosques and is said to be heavily funded by Saudi sources.
"ISNA board member Bassam Osman is the president of the North American Islamic Trust, or NAIT, which owns the Islamic Academy of Florida. That school was described as a criminal enterprise in the federal indictment handed down in February against school founder Sami al-Arian and others alleged to be Palestinian Islamic Jihad fund-raisers.
"Echoing similar reports from across the country, Dr. Khalid Duran, a moderate Muslim, and unnamed others like him told the St. Petersburg Times extremists try to take over American mosques and hand the titles over to NAIT. NAIT contends the opposite, saying they can protect mosques from false teachers.
"Last month's Orlando conference invitees Abdullah Idris Ali, Siraj Wahhaj (the unindicted co-conspirator of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing), and Dr. Muzammil Siddiqui have all served as a members on the Board of Trustees for ISNA's North American Islamic Trust.
"Moderate Muslims are among those alarmed by the alleged acceptance of radical groups as moderate and their subsequent maneuver into the media forefront and institutional positions of power where critics say they now wield influence and control over the rank-and-file-Muslim moderates.
"Citing the late Seif Ashmawi, a moderate Muslim-American newspaper publisher, Dreher recalls the cautionary warning: 'Radical Islamic groups have now taken over leadership of the "mainstream" Islamic institutions in the United States, and anyone who pretends otherwise is deliberately engaging in self-deception.'"