There is a well-oiled propaganda machine at work in the West against the Hindu ecosystem and India. Not surprisingly, the multi-headed nexus that conducts this operation has deep connections with Pak-based terror networks and has even managed to infiltrate some US governmental organizations.
Disinfo Lab has published a number of reports on the inner workings of this nexus[1,2]. We have embarked on a series of articles with “Deconstructed” in the title, to present the information from DisInfo Lab reports in easily digestible form.
This article describes the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), one of the oldest US-based Islamic organizations with deep connections with Pakistan-based terror groups.
ICNA is considered the constitutive body of the Jamaat-e-Islami in the US. It was set up in 1968 as Halqa-e-Ahbab-e-Islami (HAI). It was renamed to Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) in 1971 and reformed its administration in 1977. Subsequently, ICNA opened its forum for Da’wah activities. Other important activities included the publication of “The Magazine” monthly editions to galvanize youth in the form of affiliated organizations. ICNA Sisters organization was formed in 1978.Subsequently, ICNA also established a non-profit entity called Sound Vision (Helping Tomorrow’s Muslims Today), which subsequently founded an umbrella organization Justice for All (JFA), under which there are several banner projects, including BTF (Burma Task Force) co-founded by Mujahid and Shaik Ubaid. More about these and others in the sequel.
On the face of it, ICNA was set up as a mix of the community plus advocacy groups for the Muslim community in North America. However, their actions and affiliations tell a very different story.
Fondness for Terrorists and War criminals
- ICNA’s October 1997 edition of its newsletter, The Message, prominently featured an exclusive interview with Syed Salahuddin Ahmed, the Supreme Commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, a terrorist organization that advocates a violent armed struggle against India in Kashmir. Ahmed is also on the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) Most Wanted list.
- In the December 1997 edition of The Message, ICNA openly glorified Jibril Abu-Adam (born Lawrence Nicholas Thomas) as a martyr in the name of Jihad in Kashmir. Abu-Adam, who trained at terrorist camps in Pakistan, was killed in a skirmish in Kashmir along with other terrorists who had crossed over from Pakistan. The newsletter stated: “It is quite evident that Jibril’s struggles were motivated by devotion to Allah (SWT). Clear signs that the conflict in Kashmir is jihad are numerous.”
ICNA honors an odious character involved in the genocide of Bangladeshi intellectuals
- ICNA’s 24th annual convention (1999) featured a number of keynote speakers with histories of war crimes and terror activities:
- Sheikh Muhammad Siyam – He was a former Iman of Al Aqsa Mosque and representative of Hamas. In an investigation revelation led by the FBI on the Holy Land Foundation and Hamas’ presence in the US for collecting funds, Sheik Muhammad Siyam attended a meeting in Los Angeles in 1994 as the head of the military wing of Hamas in Gaza.
- Ghulam Azam – Ghulam Azam was a Bangladesh politician and former Ameer (head) of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh. He was found guilty of committing war crimes during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, wherein the International Crimes Tribunal found him guilty of conspiring, planning, incitement to, and complicity in committing genocide. He was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to 90 years in jail and died a year later in 2014.
- Dr. Muhammad Ayyub Thakur – Ayyub Thakur was a Kashmiri separatist and ISI operative who left India in 1981 and eventually settled in the UK. There he founded three organizations: World Kashmir Freedom Movement, The Justice Foundation, and Mercy Universal. Through Mercy Universal, he channeled the ISI funds and sent them to militant organizations and separatists such as Asiya Andrabi and her organization Dukhtaran-e-Millat.
- Imam Siraj Wahhaj – Born as Jeffrey Kearse, and later joined Islam and adopted the name Iman Siraj Wahhaj. He is the leader of the Muslim Alliance in North America and former Vice President of ISNA. He was amongst the alleged “co-conspirators” in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and had links with the bomb-maker of the attack, Clement Rodney Hampton. Siraj Wahhaj’s son, who also goes by the same name, was arrested by the Police in New Mexico in 2018 for possibly abducting 11 children who were found in a state of starvation, including the remains of a young child, . Federal prosecutors on the case said that all five people, including Siraj Wahhaj (Jr.) were planning and training for a deadly terrorist attack in the US.
- In 2016 ICNA felicitated Motiur Rahman Nizami, the leader of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, and Al-Badr, who was responsible for the mass genocide of Bengali intellectuals during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. ICNA honored him posthumously for his “Outstanding Contribution” to Islam and his role in the 1971 tragedy.
- Ashrafuz Zaman Khan, another war criminal who was sentenced to death in absentia, led the Queen’s chapter of ICNA New York and is one of the founding members of the Burma Task Force.
Congressional Investigation of ICNA’s Links with International Terrorist Organizations
ICNA has had long-term affiliations with global terrorist organizations. These relationships are not even secret and have been well documented. A 2018 hearing held by the US House Subcommittee on National Security discussed the dangerous connections of the Muslim Brotherhood with groups like ICNA, ISNA, CAIR, and others and stated that ICNA was “hatched” by Jamaat-e-Islami. Another US congressional investigation in 2019 express serious concerns about threats to democracy and human rights from several Islamic groups and specifically named ICNA among them.
- The very first public lecture of HAI was by Jammat-e-Islami founder – Maulana Abdul A’la Maududi. Since then, several JeI-affiliated people have headed this organization and been on important posts. Several ICNA heads have been associated with Jamaat and worked for it.
- Likewise, several of its presidents have been from the JeI stable, including its recent president Dr. Mohsin Ansari. Adding more weight to this is the association of Ashrafuz Zaman Khan, convicted of the Genocide of Bengali intellectuals in 1971, with ICNA Queen’s Chapter New York. He also hailed from the Islami-Chhatra-Sangh (student wing of JeI).
- ICNA’s connection with JeI and Syed Salahuddin dated back to 1997 when he was interviewed by its Magazine – The Message. The exclusive interview not only recognized him as the leader of the terrorist outfit but also glorified him as a heroic figure for Kashmir liberation.
- In 2016 ICNA felicitated Motiur Rahman Nizami, the leader of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), and Al-Badr, who was responsible for the mass genocide of Bengali intellectuals during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. ICNA honored him posthumously for his “Outstanding Contribution” to Islam and his role in the 1971 tragedy.
Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD)
HHRD, the global charity wing of ICNA, has a Rehab and Research Centre in Karachi. Its Chairman, Mohsin Ansari, was an alumnus of Islami-Jamiat-Talaba, the student wing of JeI, Pakistan. In 2017, HHRD did a conference in Pakistan along with Falah-e-Insaniyat and Milli Muslim League, respectively, the charitable and political wings of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) – a globally designated terrorist organization along with its Chief Hafiz Saeed (Mastermind of Mumbai terror attacks).
HHRD also did a conference in Pakistan which was chaired by Al-Khidmat, the charity wing of JeI. Al Ghazali Education Trust, another partner of HHRD, is also a branch of Jamaat. The US designated global terrorist, and Hizbul Chief Syed Salahuddin has publicly partnered with both Al-Khidmat and Ghazali Education Trust. HHRD has carried out as many as 214 projects with Al-Khidmat .
Hafiz Naeem Ur Rehman, the Ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami’s Karachi chapter (Al-Khidmat), who partnered with HHRD, also has a close tie with the US-designated Kashmiri terrorist organization Hizbul Mujahideen. In 2016, Rehman was seen celebrating the ‘Martyrdom’ of Kashmiri terrorist Burhan Wani along with Hizb-ul-Mujahideen Commander Salahuddin .
Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI)
The umbrella organization JFA founded by ICNA had the honor to host Ghulam Nabi Fai, a convicted ISI agent. He was found guilty in 2011 by the FBI for concealing the transfer of USD 3.5 million from the US to Pakistan and for lobbying for Kashmiri separatists at the behest of ISI. Fai served as an expert columnist on Kashmir on JFA’s website during the early 2000s . Despite Fai’s public conviction, he has frequently appeared at the events of ICNA and Sound Vision; and has been sharing each other’s content through their social media pages  .
- Operation Tupac – Decoding the longest war – DisinfoLab (thedisinfolab.org)
- USCIRF : An Organization Of Particular Concern – DisinfoLab (thedisinfolab.org)
- 485.pdf (investigativeproject.org)
- 1 – Actions Speak Louder than Words Message December 1997-1.pdf (investigativeproject.org)
- The Muslim Brotherhood’s Global Threat (house.gov)