The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) engages in frequent interfaith programs with Jewish groups and has been embraced warmly by the Obama administration as a contact point for the American Muslim community.
In those circles, ISNA presents an open and progressive face of Islam that is led by a woman, Ingrid Mattson.
Literature available at ISNA's annual convention in Washington, however, offers a far different vision. Books and pamphlets obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism from ISNA's July national convention feature numerous attempts to portray U.S. prosecution of terrorists and terror supporters as anti-Muslim bigotry; dramatic revisionist history that denied attacks by Arab nations and Palestinian terrorists against Israel; anti-Semitic tracts and hyperbolic rants about a genocide and holocaust of Palestinians.
Previously, the IPT exposed hate speech during a conference panel that featured a call for "more jihad" along with slurs against Jews and gays and a defense of the terrorist group Hezbollah as an innocent player subject to incessant Israeli onslaught.
ISNA made no comment about pro-Hezbollah comments by author Cathy Sultan, who said she could "see no reason why Hezbollah should not remain armed." It feigned ignorance about invited speaker Warith Deen Umar's radicalism and bigotry, even though his book was available at the convention and is excerpted on Umar's own Web site.
ISNA's pre-convention vendor statement demanded that all literature at its bazaar "must be pre-approved in writing by ISNA, in ISNA's sole and absolute discretion. Book selling vendors must complete enclosed form providing inventory of the literature to be sold at ISNA."
Among the works that met approval from "ISNA's sole and absolute discretion" were:
“The Palestinians' Holocaust: American Perspectives” by Mauri' Saalakhan. The book is a collection of essays, including some by Saalakhan, which include comparisons between Nazi concentration camps and Gaza; claims that the genocide in Darfur is both exaggerated and a product of Israeli provocation and that the "Jewish-Zionist lobby" in America is so pervasive, it even controls Keith Ellison, D-Minn, the first Muslim elected to Congress.
Leaflets condemning the Hamas-support convictions of the Holy Land Foundation and five former officials in November along with the convictions of the Fort Dix 5 on charges of conspiring to kill U.S. soldiers and the ongoing prosecution of alleged al-Qaida terrorist Aafia Siddiqui.
Reprints of letters from Hamas leaders Mousa Abu Marzook and Ahmad Yousef stating the terrorist group's positions toward the United States and its refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist.
In “The Palestinians' Holocaust: American Perspectives”, an introduction says the book "features a myriad of diverse voices, whose individual and collective observations will no doubt underscore why the plight of the Palestinian people must be seen as a genocide and present day holocaust!"
“The Palestinians' Holocaust” was one of several books and pamphlets at the ISNA conference espousing conspiracy theories that portrayed the defendants as victims of a government out to get Muslims.
An essay by Laila Al-Arian, daughter of Palestinian Islamic Jihad board member Sami Al-Arian, was distributed that lamented the "chilling effect" the HLF verdict would have on the Muslim community:
"With its propaganda-like quality, the evidence was clearly intended to provoke an emotional response. For example, jurors were repeatedly shown videos of grisly suicide bombings that none of the defendants were in any way connected to, or accused of planning."
Jurors did see the bloody aftermath of Hamas attacks. But they also saw repeated examples of the defendants praising such violence, and even acting it out.
ISNA was included on a list of unindicted co-conspirators in the case and evidence showed that HLF used ISNA bank accounts to route money to the Middle East. Similarly, HLF board member Jamal was individually listed as an unindicted co-conspirator for his role as a fund raiser for the defunct HLF.
Similarly, a flyer from the "Fort Dix 5 Support Committee" argued the five men convicted of conspiring to attack Fort Dix and kill soldiers were victims of government entrapment. The men were convicted, the flyer said, because "the tactics and strategies of the prosecution in these cases have stretched legal concepts beyond the point where a fair trial is possible."
The defendants were arrested as they met with the informant to buy M-16 and AK-47 rifles to use in their planned attack.
The true measure of character is determined by what is said and written when people think no one is paying attention. The literature promoted at last month's convention shows we may not really be seeing what goes on behind closed doors with ISNA.
A longer version of this story appears at the IPT Web site. To read it go here now
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