Governor Christie's Islamist Problem

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is a rising star in the Republican Party, forcing him to constantly deny that he will run for president in 2012. His stardom has just hit a bump though, as he is under fire for embracing Muslims with Islamist ties.

The controversy began when Governor Christie nominated Sohail Mohammed, the general counsel to the American Muslim Union (AMU), to become a Superior Court judge. The Investigative Project on Terrorism has discovered that the AMU is not a moderate group, as its online newsletter has told readers that a “Zionist commando orchestrated the 9/11 terrorist attacks.” The group has also supported the Neturei Karta, an Orthodox Jewish group that rejects Israel’s right to exist and supports Hamas and Ahmadinejad. The AMU also declined to support the 2005 “Free Muslims March Against Terror.”

The organization is also very closely tied to the Islamic Center of Passaic County (ICPC), as it has had five common officials. The ICPC was founded by a Hamas operative named Mohammed el-Mezain. In November 1994, el-Mezain boasted of how the ICPC and the Holy Land Foundation, of which he was chairman, were supporting Hamas and how he had raised $1.8 million for it. He was later convicted in 2008 of financing the terrorist group.

The ICPC has had a cozy relationship with groups tied to the Muslim Brotherhood. For example, the former president of the Muslim American Society, Esam Omeish, used to be a chairman of the mosque’s board, according to the website of an MSA chapter. He has called the Muslim Brotherhood “moderate” and admits that he and the MAS have been influenced by them. In 2004, he described the founder of Hamas as “our beloved Sheikh Ahmed Yassin” and has praised Palestinians who knew “that the jihad way is the way to liberate your land.”

The mosque has also brought in speakers like Abdelhaleem Ashqar, who has extensive ties to Hamas but has been acquitted of helping finance the group. Telephone records show Ashqar has been in communication with Hamas officials. He was convicted for refusing to testify before a grand jury about the financing of Hamas in the United States.

Sohail Mohammed has a history of defending Islamists. He steadfastly proclaimed the innocence of Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Sami al-Arian, who he claimed was being victimized by a “politically motivated indictment” and a “witch hunt.” He has also defended the Holy Land Foundation, railed against the depiction of Muslim terrorists on the TV show 24, and protested the use of the term “Islamic militants” in the prosecution of the Fort Dix plotters by Christie’s office when he was the U.S. attorney for the District of N.J.