Joel Mowbray

One of President Bush’s closest confidants, Karen Hughes, on Friday addressed the annual conference of an organization whose primary purpose is the propagation of Saudi-sponsored Wahhabist Islam—and which has praised suicide bombers, whose president has publicly denied that al Qaeda was behind 9/11, and whose web site to this day sells a book that lavishes praise on Osama bin Laden.

Not only did Hughes publicly endorse the Islamic Society of North America with her mere presence, but this was the first major public address in her new role spearheading outreach to the Muslim world.  In the process, she undoubtedly sent a signal as to whom the administration does—and does not—support in the U.S. Muslim community.

Asked last week whether the woman who was instrumental in Bush winning the White House knew the true nature of the group she spoke to in Chicago, State Department spokesman Noel Clay responded, “Karen Hughes has been briefed on the organization.”

Somehow, it just doesn’t seem likely that Hughes had been fully briefed on ISNA.  If she had, she almost certainly wouldn’t have headlined its annual conference—let alone as her first major appearance in her new post.

At the 39th annual ISNA conference, held in Washington DC, several speakers on a panel agreed emphatically that there was no proof that bin Laden was behind 9/11—and this occurred just shy of the one-year anniversary of the attacks, just miles from the Pentagon.

During a session dedicated to the aftermath of 9/11—not on how Muslims can help strip the religious justification of future such terrorism, but rather on how to fight back against “attacks on Islam”—a questioner expressed his anger that the Muslim leadership in the U.S. had “asked [Muslims] to accept the blame for 9/11.”

The three prominent members of the panel all rushed to assure the questioner that, in fact, they weren’t really sure that al Qaeda was behind 9/11, or for that matter, if any Muslim was.  According to a transcript provided by the Investigative Project, panel moderator Jamal Barzinji, the then-director of the International Institute of Islamic Thought, responded, “It is not only that we don’t have any proof, but the FBI doesn’t have any proof.  They are still looking.”

Former ISNA president Muzammil H. Siddiqi, who was still on the board, added, “We cannot say in surety whoever did it or not.”  Rounding out the bizarre denials of al Qaeda’s culpability for 9/11, the then-president of Muslim-American Society, Suhail al Ganouchi, opined, “Probably we’ll never know who actually did it, or who, what, or what groups.”

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

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