This past July, a video was posted to YouTube produced by the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Michigan), featuring the group’s legal advisor and project coordinator, Melanie Elturk. On the video, Elturk cautions those who are “solicited by extremists” to “report suspicious activity.” However, what she doesn’t mention are the extremist institutions that she is involved with herself.
Melanie Elturk has been with CAIR-Michigan since January of this year. Even though she is somewhat new to the organization, she holds a prominent position within it, listed on the CAIR-Michigan website as one of its top three leaders.
To attest to her leadership in the group, Elturk has been featured as the spokesperson for various CAIR-Michigan videos. One of these videos asks and attempts to answer the question, “What should you do if you are approached by individuals soliciting politically extreme statements?” Of course, who is CAIR to be lecturing anyone on extremism, when CAIR itself is an extremist organization?
As recent as November of last year, CAIR was named a co-conspirator for a Hamas financing trial, where all of the defendants were found guilty on all charges. The defendants included leaders of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), a Hamas financing network. CAIR had been created as a part of the same terrorist umbrella group as HLF, the American Palestine Committee, headed by the then-global leader of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook. It was this association that led the FBI to recently cut ties with CAIR.
This must have not mattered much to Ms. Elturk, as she took her position with CAIR maybe two months following the trial. Either that or it drove her to CAIR. Elturk had already been involved with an extremist group prior to CAIR — the Islamic Organization of North America (IONA) — a radical mosque located in Warren, Michigan.
IONA is the American arm of Tanzeem-e-Islami (TI), a Nazi-style Islamist movement located in Pakistan, whose website preaches violence and hatred towards non-Muslims. The movement was founded by Israr Ahmad, a religious fanatic who, according to IONA’s website, had broken away from the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) in 1957 because of the group’s “involvement in the electoral politics.”
A couple of Ahmad’s favorite targets are Jews and Christians, whom he chillingly describes as “enemies of Islam.”
In his anti-Semitic tome entitled Lessons from the Past, which was first published in 1997 and is still widely distributed by the Tanzeem, Ahmad talks of a future where Jews will be exterminated and Islam will rule the world. He writes, “According to the predictions of the Qur’an and Hadith, the process of Muslim re-awakening and revitalization is going to continue, culminating … in the establishment of the Islamic System of Social Justice over the entire globe. On the other hand, the revival among the Jews is going to be evanescent and short-lived, and their continuing decline, in due course of time, will overshadow their apparent ‘rise,’ ultimately leading to their final and total extermination. Moreover, the beginning of the domination of lslam and the annihilation of the Jews will be temporally coincidental.”
Another of his targets is women, whom he believes must be subservient to their husbands and other figures of “authority,” should be punished if they don’t cover themselves completely, and must remain confined in their homes. He writes in his Religious Obligations of Muslim Women, “They are indirectly involved [in establishing the rule of Islam], by taking care of the household and children in order to provide a harmonized and congenial atmosphere for the men. … Women should facilitate their husbands’ participation in the struggle for the supremacy of Islam by relieving them of unnecessary burdens and by not being over-demanding. By doing this, they would be making the most valuable and a substantial contribution to this noble cause. After all why should they bother to come out if they can earn the same reward inside their homes!”
But by far, Ahmad’s biggest target is the West, which he feels is responsible for spreading immorality throughout the Muslim world and which he believes must be confronted and “defeated” by the religion of Islam.
All of the above themes were incorporated within TI, with the end goal being Islamic revolution along with Islamic law (Sharia) for the masses.
Ahmad brought his movement to America in 1993, under the name Tanzeem-e-Islami North America (TINA). In 2003, the organization changed its name to the Islamic Organization of North America (IONA), after Ahmad had appointed Mustapha “Steve” Elturk to be the group’s new leader.
Subsequent to the name change, IONA has made the claim that it is somehow independent from TI. Yet, the web address tanzeem.us is a mirror address of IONA’s official website, ionaonline.org.
As well, the group never relinquished the harsh anti-Western and Nazi-like rhetoric of its Pakistani parent.
In a text which is currently found on IONA’s site, a past edition of The Qur’anic Horizons, the following is written: “A godless Zionist Movement emerged among East European Jews. It declared that the Holy Land of Palestine belonged to the Jews because G-d gave it to them. It totally ignored the fact that Jews had both corrupted and betrayed the religion of Abraham and, as a consequence, no longer had any right to the Holy Land! … Zionism was created by a truly evil force which set out to deceive the Jews and to take them for a ride. That ride would be the last ride they would ever take. At the end of the road, both Jews and Judaism now faced utter destruction.”
Furthermore, the group propagates material defending terrorists, such as the spiritual leader of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Omar Abdel-Rahman. In another issue of Qur’anic Horizons currently found on the IONA website, it is stated: “Riba [interest, usury] has even created within our very midst a predatory Muslim elite who control the economy, the military, and political power around the world of Islam. Their way of life mirrors the Jewish money-lender in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. They literally suck the blood of their own Muslim brothers and sisters. It is because he challenged those oppressors that the innocent blind Shaikh, Omar Abd-ur-Rahman, is now in an American prison.”
IONA became embroiled in its own terrorism controversy, after Canadian TI member Qayyum Abdul Jamal was arrested for his participation in a plot to blow up various structures throughout Ontario. IONA leader Mustapha Elturk disavowed any connection to him.
CAIR’s Melanie Elturk has been involved with IONA since at least the middle of last year. In the July 2008 edition of the IONAmasjid Community Newsletter, she is described as “IONA’s Sunday School teacher,” where presumably children are taught the values of Ahmad and the Tanzeem. And in the April 2009 edition, she wrote a fundamentalist-based piece for the publication concerning the “nature of forbidden actions,” titled “Purity of Intention.”
Ms. Elturk’s own purity of intention, it seems, would be to enlist in organizations which advocate hatred and violence. To her, this must not be a “forbidden action.”
While Elturk’s involvement in CAIR and IONA makes her an expert on extremism, it does not make her an expert on fighting it. If one wishes to keep away from extremists and caution others to do the same, one would certainly not join up with CAIR or IONA. One would shun them.
It is apparent that Elturk does not practice what she preaches on the CAIR videos. If she did, she wouldn’t have made the videos to begin with.
Beila Rabinowitz, director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.