But ISNA does more than just provide a forum for 9/11 deniers. For sale on its online bookstore is a tome by former Illinois Congressman Paul Findley, published in the summer of 2001, which lavishes praise on Osama bin Laden.
The book, called “Silent No More: Confronting America’s False Image of Islam,” contained the following description of the terrorist who had already orchestrated the murder of Americans in the East Africa embassy bombings and the U.S.S. Cole attack: “Outsiders do not seem to recognize that bin Laden is one of the pre-eminent heroes of Afghans, occupying a role similar to the Marquis de Lafayette, a Frenchman who fought at the side of the Colonials during America’s Revolutionary War.”
Also available at ISNA’s online bookstore is “More in Common Than You Think” by William Baker, who is only well-known to radical Muslims and neo-Nazis. According to a lengthy investigative piece in Orange County Weekly, Baker in 1984 was chairman of the Populist Party, which was “established and directed by Willis Carto, head of the now-defunct Liberty Lobby. …Carto also founded the Costa Mesa-based Institute for Historical Review, a group whose central purpose is Holocaust denial.” Seven months after the article was published, Baker was a panelist at the same ISNA annual conference in September 2002 where Siddiqi and others denied al Qaeda’s perpetration of 9/11.
When asked about much of the above, State spokesman Clay seemed uninterested. He first argued that Hughes’ appearance was no big deal, since the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security were also sending representatives. But DHS and DOJ sent low-level department lawyers who are neither principals nor political appointees. Not the same thing as sending someone who’s logged countless hours by the President’s side.
Clay also defended the appearance before ISNA by noting, “They do not support terrorism.” Except when they do. In a January 2000 press release, ISNA declared, “In order to honor the Shaheeds and the Mujahideen of Chechnia, ISNA has decided to dedicate Shawwal 1, 1420, the day of Eid al Fitr as ‘Solidarity with Chechnia Day’ throughout North America.”
“Shaheeds” is the term used by jihadists for glorification of suicide bombers. U.S. law officials think that the “shaheeds” and “Mujahideen” in Chechnya are terrorists; many of the most high-profile terror cases since 9/11 have involved support for those forces.
Even giving Clay the benefit of the doubt that he did not know of the Chechnya statement, is lack of support for terrorism the only bar which an organization must clear?
Administration officials—particularly someone of Hughes’ prominence—should embrace the organizations fighting the Saudi takeover of Islam in America, not the group perhaps most responsible for perpetrating that very takeover.
Spun off of the Saudi-created and funded Muslim Students Association (MSA) over 20 years ago, ISNA is likely the largest single provider of Islamic materials to mosques in America.
For a sampling of what might be contained in Saudi-sponsored pamphlets and literature, one need look no further than the Freedom House report issued earlier this year. Using Muslim volunteers to gather Saudi-published or sponsored materials in more than a dozen prominent mosques across the country, Freedom House found shocking intolerance, anti-Semitism, and even explicit endorsement of violence.
Though the Freedom House report does not specify if ISNA was responsible for funneling any of the most offensive literature into mosques, ISNA’s own track record suggests that it would do so willingly.
Given that it is highly unlikely Hughes knew exactly what she was walking into, she deserves the benefit of the doubt—this time.
But if groups like ISNA keep getting courted, the question must be asked: Is this embrace happening out of ignorance or out of some cunning—and dangerous—strategy?
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, 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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