As noted in an extensive investigation by the Albany Times Union, during the early 1990s al-Hanooti was the imam of the Islamic Center of Passaic, New Jersey, which members of the 1993 World Trade Center plot attended. One used the mosque’s address to rent the truck used in the bombing. Another frequent visitor to al-Hanooti’s mosque was the blind sheik, who is currently serving a life sentence for his support and direction to the bombers.
And as the New York Times reported, in August 1999 al-Hanooti appeared as a witness at the trial of al-Qaeda operative Ihab Ali, who refused to testify about his knowledge of the plot to bomb the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. During al-Hanooti’s testimony he backed Ali’s silence, telling the court that Islamic law “gives him the right to abstain from giving testimony in case it hurts him or it hurts any other Muslim.” Whether it hurt U.S. citizens was apparently not a consideration for al-Hanooti.
Feeling the heat from the blind sheik’s terrorism trial, al-Hanooti moved to D.C. in 1995, where he became the imam of the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Virginia. He found a home there — in a recording made by the Investigative Project on Terrorism of a speech delivered in 1998, he declares that the D.C.-area mosque was the greatest example of “carrying out the Jihad that Allah calls for”:
At the moment, Dar al-Hijrah is the greatest example in sacrifice, execution, and in carrying out the Jihad that Allah calls for. Allah will give us the victory over our tyrannical enemies in our country. Allah, the infidel Americans and British are fighting against you. Allah, the curse of the infidel Americans and British are fighting against you. Allah, the curse of Allah will become true on the infidel Jews and on the tyrannical Americans.
Al-Hanooti served as imam at Dar al-Hijrah until 2000, replaced as imam by al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, spiritual mentor to several of the 9/11 hijackers. The questioning by the FBI of al-Awlaki’s role in the 9/11 terror attacks didn’t stop al-Hanooti from joining al-Awlaki as the religious leaders of a 2002 Hajj tour organized by a travel agency owned by a top U.S. Hamas supporter. After a brief stint as imam at an Albany, New York, mosque, al-Hanooti today serves as the self-styled “grand mufti,” or top religious leader, of the D.C. area.
It is doubtful that any of this readily available information about Mohammed al-Hanooti’s long history of fundraising for Hamas and supporting terrorism will be touted by Masjid Al-Noor in preparation for his forthcoming appearance. And no doubt the mosque’s Jewish and Christian interfaith partners in Memphis are in the dark about their city’s upcoming visitor. Perhaps Hanooti’s hosts will find time to take the Hamas fundraiser to Graceland? But what would Elvis have to say about the land of W.C. Handy becoming the land of Hamas?