In a startling article today, "Federal Money Goes to Controversial Muslim Group," Sherrie Gossett reveals for Accuracy in Media that the Bush administration has sent $50,000 to the Islamic Society of North America, a leading organization in the Wahhabi lobby's American division.
Mohamed El-sanousi, director of community outreach and communications for ISNA, told Gossett his organization received grants in 2003 and 2004 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services. The money did not save anyone from substance abuse or improve mental health, however. Instead, it went to teach other members of the Wahhabi lobby how to milk the government: "We used the grants to train Muslim community leaders in how to apply for grants to do social services," El-sanousi explained.
Gossett does a fine job documenting ISNA's many ties to radical Islam, including to Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, Rashid Ghanushi, the International Institute of Islamic Thought, and the Islamic Universal Heritage Foundation. She cites a November 2003 report on WTHR-TV, the NBC affiliate in Indianapolis (near Plainfield, Indiana, where ISNA's headquarters is located), that found "a dozen charities, organizations or individuals under federal scrutiny for possible ties to terrorism that are linked in some way to ISNA." ISNA is also under Senate scrutiny for links to terrorist groups.
Sayyid M. Syeed, ISNA's secretary general, responded aggressively to Gossett when she asked about such matters in a phone interview on March 10: "You cannot pick up these small things. You will repent when you do these things," he told her. Referring to Accuracy in Media's prior coverage of a Freedom House report on Saudi hate literature in U.S. mosques, Syeed threatened Gossett: "You will be hurt, you will be pained by this if you continue to write such things."
Comment: It's an outrage that ISNA receives taxpayer funds. But then, the U.S. government has often indulged, patronized, endorsed, and legitimated Islamist organizations. So, why not fund them as well? (March 15, 2005)
Apr. 25, 2008 update: Three years later and more of the same. Beila Rabinowitz and William Mayer report that the Department of State is now funding ISNA (and the leftist National Peace Foundation) to run a "Citizen Exchange Project." As ISNA's press release explains:
This program brings young professionals from the Middle East, specifically from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, to the United States. The goal of this project is to explore Islam, the functions of Islamic institutions in the United States, and the activities of interfaith work. In return American professionals from the three Abrahamic faiths; Christianity, Judaism and Islam, will visit these countries in the Middle East to explore Islam and interfaith work as it is done in the respective countries.
ISNA's graphic for the "Citizen Exchange Project."