Home      |      Weblog      |      Articles      |      Satire      |      Links      |      About      |      Contact

Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Threatened gathering relocates - leader of pro Al Qaeda MAS group says he is "very upset" by outcry against Jihad retreat

Threatened gathering relocates - leader of pro Al Qaeda MAS group says he is "very upset" by outcry against Jihad retreat

January 1, 2006

Threatened Gathering Relocates


By CHRIS ECHEGARAY [email protected]

Published: Jan 1, 2006 TEMPLE TERRACE -

Except for the Arabic symbols on the PowerPoint presentation and the occasional hijab in the audience, the retreat could have been for young people of any religion. The men and women listened intently, their hands shooting up for a question here and there. But this retreat went on despite a last-minute relocation and threats of torture and death.

Local members of Tampa's Muslim American Society will gather through Monday in Temple Terrace to learn about their faith, leadership and the biblical Joseph's role in the Koran. A right-wing blogger's Web site alleged a different curriculum - Joe Kaufman suggested in a link on AmericansAgainstHate.com that it would be a "children's jihad retreat, with a guest speaker who exalts terrorists and another who is linked to al-Qaeda."

The retreat was scheduled for Cedarkirk Camp and Conference Center, a Presbyterian-affiliated center in Lithia. A flurry of threatening e-mails and phone calls to Cedarkirk, its director and Muslims prompted the campground's board of directors to close the camp and cancel all activities this weekend. At home on the Cedarkirk grounds Saturday, camp director the Rev. Debbie Bronkema declined to comment about the closure. She later posted a statement on the conference center's Web site that said the Muslim group provided a copy of its retreat curriculum in November and invited Cedarkirk staff to attend.

Law Enforcement Cleared Speakers

"During the week of December 25th, terrorism allegations were made against the Muslim American Society and retreat speakers," it reads. It states Cedarkirk officials contacted local and federal law enforcement to check on the speakers and learned "there was nothing at all about the scheduled speakers or this group that should cause us to not allow this group to come on retreat." Still, "due to threats received," Cedarkirk's board decided to close the camp down for the Dec. 31 weekend.

Mohamed Moharram, the Muslim society's president, said workshops were held in other Florida towns for the last four years without a problem. He said Kaufman's false accusations are harmful and silence moderate voices.

"I am very upset about this," he said. "If you allow lunatic extremists to feed hate, we will lose the war on terror. This is not the American way."

Moharram said the e-mail and phone calls ranged from threats of physical harm to derogatory comments. He said the threats have been forwarded to authorities.

A 23-year-old Muslim convert said one e-mailer wrote her that he would paint her body with pig fat and light her on fire.

"Jihad and al-Qaida, where did that come from?" said Jen, who asked that her last name not be used. "That bothered me. This makes it twice as hard for many of us when we face these threats."

She forwarded the e-mail to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which will file a formal complaint with police.

Threats Called Unfortunate

Kaufman, whose organization is in Coral Springs, said the threats against Cedarkirk and Muslims are unfortunate, but the public had a right to know about the gathering.

"That's disgusting, if that happened," he said of the threats, "but we still brought this to the attention of the public."

He said he stands by the reporting on his Web site. The threats stemmed from an article he wrote stating Mazen Mokhtar, an Egyptian-born U.S. citizen and speaker at the retreat, had ties to al-Qaida.

Kaufman appeared on Fox News last week and on the air said Mokhtar was recruiting terrorists through a Web site.

Mokhtar, from New Jersey, works with young Muslims in the Northeast. He said he has no ties to terrorist organizations and does not condone or approve of any violence.

Mokhtar, who gives lectures on Islam, said the people who disseminate misinformation are conducting "intellectual terror."

The self-employed information technology specialist was investigated in 2004 by federal authorities for possible ties to a British man who was charged with soliciting money for terrorist groups. Mokhtar was not named in the complaint filed by U.S. authorities and was not charged, according to Washington Post articles.

On Saturday, Mokhtar flew in from Newark, N.J., and spoke to the retreat of 30 Muslims.

Moharram asked that the location not be disclosed.


A New Year's Jihad Retreat
By Joe Kaufman
FrontPageMagazine.com | December 29, 2005

Watching the ball drop, twirling a noisemaker, kissing your sweetheart, and making a resolution that rarely comes to pass -- everyone looks forward to the memory of a new year. But one group will be ringing in the New Year a little differently…through a children's jihad retreat, with a guest speaker who exalts terrorists and another who is linked to al-Qaeda.

The majority of Islamic organizations within the United States have, at one time or another, been cited for their connections to terrorism, whether by support of terror groups or through actual terrorist activity carried out by its members. Two of those organizations, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and the Muslim American Society (MAS) have been working together putting on joint conferences. As stated in the New York Daily News (January 30, 2004), the organizations "have held conferences featuring speakers accused of terror ties and have published material supporting suicide bombings against Israel."

Both ICNA and MAS stress the need for providing forums for Muslim youth. ICNA, in order to address this "need," has created an apparatus called Young Muslims (YM). Likewise, MAS has established its own Youth Division. Through the two groups, children can learn the tenets of radical Islam by attending winter and summer camps.

Prior to 9/11, the camps would be referred to as "Jihad Camps," but given the greater meaning of the term (holy war), why attract more attention than what's necessary? Today, though, while the name has changed, the same radical message is taught. In YM Newsletter Issue 3 (2002/2003), Young Muslims extols the virtues of the works of Osama bin Laden's mentor, Abdullah Azzam. According to YM Newsletter Issue 4 (2003), one of its goals is to assist in outreach "designed to call people to Islam, strengthen their belief in it, and organize them to work and to wage jihad in its cause."

From December 31st of this year through January 2nd, the Tampa chapter of MAS will be launching a new camp, or as they put it, an ‘ILM & TARBIYAH RETREAT. Taking place in Lithia, Florida, at the Cedarkirk Camp & Conference Center, the theme of the event is "A Generation with a Mission." That title is a little more subdued than the YM August 2002 "Planning for Our Akhira (afterlife)," but make no mistake, the speakers are just as extreme.

Featured at the "retreat" is the former President of MAS-Chicago, Chantal Carnes. Carnes is well known in the radical Islamist American community; she has given speeches at such venues as ICNA, MAS and Muslim Students Association (MSA) conventions. In addition to being a lecturer, she has also hosted a radio program for the Islamic Broadcasting Network (IBN). Each half-hour program was spent reviewing a different book.

On the occasion of July 22, 2003, Carnes and a guest had reviewed the title ‘Imam Shaheed Hassan Al-Banna - From Birth to Martyrdom.' During the show, she lathered Al-Banna, the founder of the violent Muslim Brotherhood, with praise. She stated, "Every movement I can think of – every organization I can think of – in a way or another, is tracing back to what he started." She said he had "inspired" her, and that "His life was captivating." She said she liked "the fact that he was a shaheed (martyr)," and that she was going to model Al-Banna's "personal development" with that of her own.

According to former federal prosecutor John Loftus, "Al Banna was a devout admirer of Adolph Hitler and wrote to him frequently. So persistent was he in his admiration of the new Nazi Party that in the 1930's, Al-Banna and the Muslim Brotherhood became a secret arm of Nazi intelligence."

Carnes also gushed about the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood started with only four persons. She exclaimed, "It's not quantity, it's quality!" According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Muslim Brotherhood is a "terrorist group"… "The Brotherhood shares with HAMAS a complete rejection of Western values and Communism and calls for the establishment of a pan-Islamic state founded on the basis of shari'a, or Islamic law… The two movements similarly share the view that Israel is the theological archenemy of Islam… As the precursor of the HAMAS movement, the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza promoted the long-term strategy of creating the foundations of a Muslim state that would eventually become powerful enough to destroy Israel."

On another occasion, Carnes and her guest had reviewed a book (‘To Be A European Muslim') written by the grandson of Hassan Al-Banna, Tariq Ramadan. She admiringly referred to Ramadan's writing as being "deep." She stated, "He's actually not that old to be writing about such deep concepts." In August of 2004, Ramadan made the news when the Department of Homeland Security barred him from entering the United States by revoking his visa and work permit. Cited was the Immigration and Naturalization Act, which denies entry to aliens who have used a "position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity."

Chantal Carnes thoughts on Al-Banna and his lineage are nothing new to MAS, for as Daniel Pipes states on his website (in a piece concerning a 2004 paintball event held by MAS-Tampa), "the Muslim American Society is the U.S. face of the Muslim Brotherhood."

The other featured speaker for the MAS Retreat is Mazen Mokhtar. Mokhtar is the Youth Division Head of MAS-New Jersey and the Khateeb (sermon-giver) of Masjid Al-Huda and the Institute of Islamic Studies. Mokhtar is also associated with the terrorist group Al-Qaeda.

In August of 2004, shortly before he was to speak at a Young Muslims camp in Pennsylvania (‘A Few Good Men'), the U.S. government accused Mokhtar of assisting Al-Qaeda through the use of a web site he had created. The web site was www.minna.com, and it was a "mirror site" (replica) of www.azzam.com (Azzam Publications), a site named for Abdullah Azzam that was soliciting funds and recruiting Taliban, Chechen and Al-Qaeda mujaheddin (holy warriors) for terrorist operations overseas. Mokhtar's site was to be used as a back-up for Azzam Publications, when Azzam was shut down after the 9/11 attacks, so that fundraising and recruitment could continue.

On Azzam Publications, in an "APPEAL FOR PROFESSIONAL WEB DESIGNERS," it is stated, "…we hope inshallah, that Allah would reward you for any time or effort spent in assisting our aspiration of providing an independent media source from the Islamic perspective." It seems that Mokhtar answered the appeal.

His reward? A search was conducted on the New Jersey home of Mokhtar, and copies of Azzam Publications sites were found on his computer's hard drive and files. These sites were being run by a British citizen named Babar Ahmad, a man thought to have been part of an operation headed by captured Al-Qaeda mastermind, Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

On Mokhtar's Minna site, in the page titled ‘Jihad in Chechnya,' a video CD depicting terrorist operations was being sold through the website. On the bottom of the page, it states, "Any enquiries regarding the content of this CD should be directed to the Islamic Army of the Caucasus, to Field Commander Shamil Basayev, Field Commander Khattab or their spokesman Movladi Udogov." In September of 2004, Shamil Basayev claimed responsibility for the Beslan school massacre in Russia, which left over 300 dead, mostly children.

Acquaintances of Mokhtar's expressed "surprise" at the notion that he would be affiliated with something such as this -- that his speeches were "mild," not extreme. However, when one looks at his past, prior to his involvement with Al-Qaeda, one gets an entirely different picture.

On an Internet newsgroup forum, from the years 1992 to 1996, Mazen Mokhtar had made some very disturbing (and somewhat comical) remarks about the terrorist group Hamas and the concept of suicide bombing. Some of his statements are as follows:

  • "One of the reasons of my support for Hamas is that they have very high moral standards… If their standards were lax, they would have lost my support, and moral standards can't get any more lax than killing those who are innocent."
  • "Bombing houses is best left to the IDF (IOF?) they are the experts in the field. Hamas prefers to invest its limited resources in doing good."
  • "I have read the [Hamas] covenant. I support the covenant…"
  • "Hamas's path is the only path in the history of the Palestinian struggle against Israel that has produced results, and the results are impressive, I must say. I think it is clear that Hamas has the wider vision and the better plan."
  • "…the operations of HAMAS are heroic."
  • "In any action of mass self defense, there is the possibility that some innocent people will die… I have enough trust in Hamas to feel that no one is killed before being identified as a collaborator."
  • "Yes, [suicide bombing is allowed], assuming that the targets are legitimate (and the suicide bombing is a sacrifice, not a suicide.)"
  • "[Blowing yourself up is not considered suicide], because it's an effective method of attacking the enemy and continuing jihad… These are not people [sic] committing suicide because they are fed up with life, these are people who are sacrificing their lives for Allah."

The Muslim American Society of Tampa cannot plead ignorance, with respect to the views of the two featured speakers it is sponsoring at its retreat. This is the case not just because MAS has associated with these two in the past, but because quite simply, the viewpoint of the organization is identical!

On the MAS-Tampa website, one can peruse through an e-library filled with many significant Islamic texts, all written or translated in English. Included in these works is a text entitled Sahih Bukhari, whose section, ‘Fighting in the Cause of Allah (Jihaad),' begins with the following: "I asked Allah's Apostle, ‘O Allah's Apostle! What is the best deed?' He replied, (1) ‘To offer the prayers at their early stated fixed times.' I asked, ‘What is next in goodness?' He replied, (2) ‘To be good and dutiful to your parents.' I further asked, what is next in goodness?' He replied, (3) ‘To participate in Jihad in Allah's Cause.'"

Also of relevance on MAS-Tampa's e-library are a number of discourses, letters and prayers authored by Hassan Al-Banna, himself. In one of the letters dated 1947, entitled ‘Toward the Light,' there is contained a foreboding message. In it, Al-Banna lists a set of political, judicial and administrative goals. They are: "(1) An end to party rivalry, and directing the political forces of the nation into a unified front; (2) Amending the law, such that it conforms to all branches of Islamic legislation; and (3) Reinforcing the armed forces, and increasing the number of youth groups; igniting in them the spirit of Islamic jihad."

With all of this in mind, one has to wonder how long it will take the participants in a jihad camp or retreat to accomplish the "deeds" and "goals" set forth in Sahih Bukharih and Al-Banna's letter. Will they take the time to learn and grow as mature adults, or will they skip right to the third of each (Jihad) and move immediately towards the here-after (Akhira)?

Printer-friendly version   Email this item to a friend