May 8, 2004, - 3:25 pm

Adam Gadahn’s Extremist American Imam

By Debbie Schlussel
"He was becoming very extreme in his ideas and views. I never thought that he would go to that level."

That’s what Muzammil Siddiqi says about Adam Gadahn, the American convert to Islam and one of seven suspected Al-Qaeda operatives sought by the FBI.

But Siddiqi, the Executive Director of the Islamic Society of Orange County—Gadahn’s former mosque, is the real extremist. Siddiqi taught regular classes and delivered the weekly Friday afternoon sermons at Gadahn’s mosque. And given his views, it’s no surprise that Gadahn is now suspected of involvement with terrorists.

In 1995, Siddiqi praised jihad and martyrdom in the Kansas City Star. "Those who die on the part of justice are alive, and their place is with [Allah], and they receive the highest position, because this is the highest honor."

Siddiqi wants the United States to become a Muslim country through "gradual change," and that shariah (Islamic law) should become our law. "Allah’s rules have to be established in all lands, and all our efforts should lead to that direction," he wrote in 1996.

He opposes Muslims serving in the U.S. military or defending the U.S. "Islam will not allow a Muslim to be drafted by non-Muslims to defend concepts, ideologies, and values other than those of Islam . . . . A Muslim shall defend non-Muslim lands not," Siddiqi said in an article entitled, "Basic Principles of Involvement in War in Islam," in 1991.

"America has to learn," Siddiqi said at an October 2000 protest outside the White House. "If you remain on the side of injustice, the wrath of God will come. Please! Please all American, do you remember that, that Allah is watching everyone . . . . If you continue doing injustice, and tolerating injustice, the wrath of God will come."

In 1989, the L.A. Times asked whether he agrees with the death sentence fatwa issued by Iran against author Salman Rushdie. Instead of saying no, he said that it would have to be determined by Islamic law.

Siddiqi is one of the most prominent Muslim leaders in America. Until late 2001, he headed the Saudi-funded Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), which owns and controls at least 27% of America’s mosques and many American Islamic schools through an ISNA subsidiary.

ISNA is at the forefront of promoting extremist Wahhabi Islam and often uses extremists to take over and seize control of relatively moderate mosques. Sometimes that involves violence, such as a May 1987 scuffle at a Tampa mosque by the family of the now indicted, alleged Islamic Jihad frontman, Sami Al-Arian. In a letter, Al-Arian refers to an official at an ISNA conference agreeing to donate $20,000 to his terror efforts.

While Siddiqi headed the ISNA, the group aided Hamas Political Director Musa Abu Marzook, by giving his legal defense fund a platform at its conferences around the U.S. In an open letter published in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Marzook thanked ISNA while he was in prison awaiting extradition. Marzook was unsuccessfully fighting deportation. Now in Syria, the United States has indicted him.

Siddiqi and ISNA aren’t the most disturbing things in the Adam Gadahn saga. More disturbing are the failure of Gadahn’s parents to check into Siddiqi, who headed their son’s new mosque.

President Bush shares that failure.

Siddiqi was a frequent honored guest of the Bush White House, which chose him as the Muslim representative to lead the national prayer service at National Cathedral right after 9-11. Bush gladly accepted a Koran from Siddiqi at a September 26, 2001 White House meeting, reminding Americans that Siddiqi "led the service at the National Cathedral." "He did a heck of a good job and we were proud to have him there," Bush gushed.

Then there’s the media, including the New York Times and LA Times, which took great pains to distance Gadahn’s extremism from Siddiqi’s "moderation." Rather than mention a single radical view of the extremist cleric, the L.A. Times refers to him as "the Harvard-educated" Muslim leader. As if one educated at Harvard couldn’t possibly be the least bit radical.

With the President, the media, and America’s Muslims honoring extremists like Siddiqi, the resulting Adam Gadahns are no surprise. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

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