Obama is set to speak next week at a mosque which was led for over a decade by an Imam who justified suicide bombings in some circumstances and who helped found a mosque with ties to Al Qaeda.
The President will visit the Islamic Society of Baltimore on Wednesday and deliver remarks there, the White House confirmed on Saturday. This will be the first time the President has paid an official visit to a mosque during his seven years as President. However, Obama has toured mosques while on overseas trips.
“The president believes that one of our nation’s greatest strengths is our rich diversity,” White House spokesman Keith Maley said, confirming reports. “As the president has said, Muslim Americans are our friends, and neighbors; our co-workers, and sports heroes — and our men and women in uniform defending our country.”
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)–which has been declared a terrorist organization in the United Arab Emirates and was named by federal prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation’s Hamas-funding operation–welcomed Obama’s decision.
“For a number of years we’ve been encouraging the president to go to an American mosque,” said CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper. “With the tremendous rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in our country, we believe that it will send a message of inclusion and mutual respect.”
But critics of Obama’s decision may question his choice of the Islamic Society of Baltimore, where Mohamad Adam el-Sheikh, a native of Sudan and former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, led the institution for eighteen years as its Imam.
Before becoming Imam there, el-Sheikh helped found the Muslim American Society, an outfit created by Muslim Brotherhood members.
In 2004, he told the Washington Post, commenting on Palestinian suicide bombers: “If certain Muslims are to be cornered where they cannot defend themselves, except through these kinds of means, and their local religious leaders issued fatwas to permit that, then it becomes acceptable as an exceptional rule, but should not be taken as a principle.”
El-Sheikh also helped found the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque, which was once led by the deceased infamous Al Qaeda terrorist Anwar Al Awlaki.
When he left the Islamic Society of Baltimore, El Sheikh became the Imam of Dar Al-Hijrah, following Awlaki’s escape from the U.S. after the September 11 attacks.
The Dar Al-Hijrah mosque was founded thanks, in part, to a large grant from Saudi Arabia’s Embassy in the United States, which allowed for the large facility to accommodate some 5,000 Muslims.
Dar Al-Hijrah, which is located right outside Washington, D.C., is connected to several high-profile Islamic terrorists who prayed there, including Major Nidal Hassan – the Ft. Hood massacre jihadi, two September 11 hijackers, and an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
El-Sheikh was also the former Baltimore regional director of the Islamic American Relief Agency (IARA), which the U.S. Treasury Department later designated a specially designated global terrorist group for its support of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.