Katherine Kersten of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune breaks with ordinary journalistic convention by doing some actual investigation, and finds that the Minneapolis Imams currently trying to shakedown US Airways for a cash settlement in compensation for their removal from a flight last month have some pretty sinister affiliations.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the imams’ legal representative, is an organization that “we know has ties to terrorism,” Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said in 2003. And the Muslim American Society, which is also supporting the imams? It’s the American arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, according to the Chicago Tribune, which called it “the world’s most influential Islamic fundamentalist group.”
How about Omar Shahin, the imams’ spokesman and also president of the North American Imams Federation? He is a native of Jordan, who says he became a U.S. citizen in 2003. From 2000 to 2003, Shahin served as president of Islamic Center of Tucson (ICT), that city’s largest mosque.
The ICT is well known. The mosque has “an extensive history of terror links,” according to terrorism expert Steven Emerson, who testified about terrorist financing before the Senate Banking Committee in July 2005.
The Washington Post described these links in a 2002 article. “Tucson was one of the first points of contact in the United States for the jihadist group that evolved into al Qaeda,” the Post reported. And the ICT? It held “basically the first cell of al Qaeda in the United States; that is where it all started,” said Rita Katz, a terrorism expert quoted by the Post.
ICT members have included high-profile terrorists. Wael Hamza Jelaidan, the mosque’s leader in the mid-1980s, was identified by the U.S. government as a ” ‘co-founder’ of al Qaeda and its logistics chief,” the Post reported.
Another former member, Wadi Hage, served as Osama bin Laden’s personal secretary after leaving Arizona, the Post said, attributing it to government sources. Hage established a bin Laden support network in Arizona and “this network is still in place,” Emerson wrote in his book “Jihad Incorporated: A Guide to Militant Islam in the U.S.,” citing a 2002 Senate Intelligence Committee Report. In 2001, Hage was convicted of plotting the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
The best-known terrorist with apparent (according to the Post and Emerson) connections to the ICT is Hani Hanjour, who piloted the plane that flew into the Pentagon on 9/11. Hanjour took aviation lessons in Tucson in the late 1990s.