Counterterrorism efforts got a major boost last week when a U.S. district court found three Muslim organizations and one individual, mostly based in the Chicago area, guilty of funding Hamas and fined them an astonishing $156 million (U.S.)….
Third, as the Boims’ lawyer, Stephen J. Landes explains, it shows that “the American court system is prepared to bankrupt the Islamist terror network,” just as it earlier destroyed the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nations, two extremist and violent organizations, “by bringing unpayably large judgments against them.”
Finally, the case confirms a pattern of culpability among even the most innocent-appearing of Islamic institutions. Two of the three liable groups have known ties to Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group; Holy Land Foundation serves as its fundraising arm, Islamic Association for Palestine as its political front. But the Quranic Literacy Institute appeared wholly unconnected to Hamas. It is a religious group based in a Chicago suburb that since 1991 has engaged in the pious work of translating Islamic sacred texts from Arabic, then publishing them in English.
But appearances can deceive. In June 1998, Federal authorities charged QLI with having for nine years supported “a conspiracy involving international terrorist activities and domestic recruitment and training in support of such activities” and seized $1 million of its cash and assets….
QLI’s complicity in terrorism has great significance, for it is no rogue outfit but a stalwart of the Saudi-backed “Wahhabi lobby” in the United States. QLI’s founding president, Ahmad Zaki Hammad, is a scholar of Islam boasting advanced degrees from Cairo’s prestigious Al-Azhar University and the University of Chicago. He has served as president of the lobby’s largest organization, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and sat on the board of the North American Islamic Trust, its mechanism for taking over mosques and other Islamic properties.
When the QLI’s assets were impounded in 1998, leading organizations of the Wahhabi lobby – ISNA, the Islamic Circle of North America, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim Students’ Association – leapt to its defense, declaring themselves “shocked at this unprecedented action taken against members of the Muslim community.” Nearly a thousand supporters rallied on QLI’s behalf, chanting “Allahu Akbar.”
And yet, we now know that this innocuous-appearing organization did have a key role funneling money to Hamas.
Muslim institutions too often are not what they seem to be. The “Progressive Muslim Union” is actually reactionary. Mosques harbor criminals. Honey companies and Islamic “charities” fund terrorism. A “mainstream” Muslim leader pleads guilty to an assassination scheme.
The lesson is clear: Wahhabi organizations like the QLI cannot be taken at face value but must be scrutinized for extremist, criminal, and terrorist connections. Extensive research, including undercover operations, is needed to find out the possibly sordid reality behind a seemingly benign exterior.
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