Jihad in Tennessee

While the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and other American Muslim advocacy groups vehemently oppose efforts to investigate American mosques for signs of terrorist activity, evidence continues to mount that radical Muslims have been operating more or less with impunity in many stateside mosques and Islamic centers. It has just come to light that a militant Muslim organization in Knoxville, Tennessee, helped fund jihad in Bosnia and Chechnya in the 1990s. Mustafa Saied, a former student at the University of Tennessee, says that he was a member of the radical Muslim group the Muslim Brotherhood while at the university. He also told the Wall Street Journal that in the 1990s, charitable donations to the Annoor Mosque, which is located near the University of Tennessee campus in Knoxville, were sent to jihad fighters in Bosnia and Chechnya. But CAIR and Co. would evidently insist that there is no need to be concerned: after all, it isn’t being done any more! The Muslim Brotherhood is hardly a benign organization. In Onward Muslim Soldiers I explore the thought of Brotherhood founder Hasan Al-Banna, as well as that of one of its greatest exponents, Sayyid Qutb. Both of these men, whose writings are widely revered in the Islamic world even today, declare that no government, Muslim or non-Muslim, has any legitimacy unless it obeys Islamic law. They exhort Muslims to wage armed jihad against those that do not. Modern-day terrorist groups worldwide, including Hamas and Al-Qaeda, can trace their lineage back to the Muslim Brotherhood. But until now, it hasn’t been widely known that the Brotherhood had made its way to the state of the Grand Old Opry. Rather predictably, no one knew about all this. According to KnoxNews, Rosalind Gwynne, the University of Tennessee’s faculty adviser to the Muslim Student Association chapter, expressed surprise to hear that the Brotherhood was operating on campus. Hanan Ayesh, founder of an Islamic school connected to the mosque, said: “I’ve lived here for 30 years, and this is the first time I ever heard about it.” Mostafa Alsharif, another Knoxville Muslim, added: “The majority of Muslims in the United States couldn’t care less about the Muslim Brotherhood. They’re going to stay in the United States. There’s no need to be affiliated with something like that. . . . It’s not the reality of what’s happening in Knoxville today at all.” Tennessee was by no means the only American site of jihadist activity. The Journal says that Saied “attended meetings in hotels in Toledo and Chicago where radical sheiks glorified jihad.” Saied, who has since renounced Islamic radicalism and embraced secular principles, told the Journal that anti-American sentiment remained widespread among American Muslims: “Anti-American sentiment is usually reserved for closed-door discussions or expressed in languages that most Americans don’t understand. While such rhetoric has been drastically reduced since 9/11, it is still prevalent enough to be a cause for concern.” A question for Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR: Ibrahim, my friend, what is CAIR doing to counter such rhetoric? What is CAIR doing to counteract what Saied refers to as “venomous hatred toward Western society” among many American Muslims? Of course, Islamic communities aren’t alone in this. There is a great deal of venomous hatred toward Western society on college campuses among non-Muslim students. It is fueled by observations such as this one reported by KnoxNews: “Ayesh said she sometimes feels like she had more freedom when she first came to America 34 years ago than her children have today.” It would be refreshing for Mrs. Ayesh to be more specific, explaining exactly what she could do 34 years ago in America that her children can’t do now. Also, if she really thinks her freedoms are being restricted, it might be useful to know what she and her fellow moderate Muslims are doing to alleviate suspicions of the American Muslim community, so that such restrictions will become unnecessary. What is she doing to eradicate Islamic radicalism — or even the anti-American rhetoric referred to above — from the American Muslim community? Or is she contenting herself with spreading vague and unfounded accusations? Muslims who are genuinely concerned about the standing of the Islamic community in the United States today should study carefully the Muslim Brotherhood’s 1990s activities in Knoxville, and resolve to report immediately any similar activity occurring in their mosques today. Real anti-terrorist deeds will do much more to remove suspicions directed toward American Muslims than all the tired clichés of victimology that Mrs. Ayesh repeats.


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