President Obama will pay a visit to his first U.S. mosque this week in order to “celebrate the contributions Muslim Americans make to our nation and reaffirm the importance of religious freedom to our way of life.”
There’s only one problem: the mosque the president has chosen to honor with his presence — the Islamic Society of Baltimore (ISB) — has a history of ties to extremist Muslim groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood.
An imam who served at ISB for a total of 15 years has also been a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood network and has worked for an Islamic relief group that was designated as a terrorist organization by the Treasury Department in 2004.
Mohammad Adam el-Sheikh, who served two stints as ISB’s imam, from 1983 to 1989 and from 1994 to 2003, was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Sudan in the 1970s. He also co-founded the Muslim American Society, a Falls Church, Va.-based group that is controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood.
While in Baltimore, el-Sheikh served as a regional director for the Islamic American Relief Agency. That group’s parent organization is the Islamic African Relief Agency, which the Treasury Department says provided funds to Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Hamas and other terrorist organizations.
After leaving Baltimore, el-Sheikh served as imam at the infamous Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church. That mosque has a lengthy roster of known terrorists and terrorist sympathizers. Its imam during much of the 1990s was Mohammed al-Hanooti. He was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which killed six people.
Dar al-Hijrah came under the control of Anwar al-Awlaki in 2001. He’s the American al-Qaeda recruiter who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011. Nidal Hasan, the U.S. Army major who killed 13 people at Fort Hood in Nov. 2009, is said to have attended the Virginia mosque when al-Awlaki served there. The pair also reportedly exchanged emails. Two of the 9/11 hijackers also attended Dar al-Hijrah during al-Awlaki’s tenure.
El-Sheikh defended Palestinian suicide bombers while at Dar al-Hijrah:
“If certain Muslims are to be cornered where they cannot defend themselves, except through these kinds of means, and their local religious leaders issued fatwas to permit that, then it becomes acceptable as an exceptional rule, but should not be taken as a principle,” he said in 2004, according to a Washington Post article at the time.
It should be noted that all of this disturbing information comes from the Justice Department and not Islamophobic bigots. In short, the president is ignoring the facts dug up by his own law enforcement agencies and will lend credibility to a mosque with obvious ties to groups dedicated to destroying Israel and killing Americans.
Why the Baltimore mosque? It’s not like there aren’t any mosques without ties to extremists in Washington or the nearby Virginia suburbs. The president has left himself wide open to criticism by visiting the ISB. Whatever statement he is trying to make with this visit will be lost in questions about his judgment.