International Institute of Islamic Thought
The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) is a privately held non-profit organization. It was founded in 1981 in Pennsylvania, and is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia, in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Their main interest is carrying out evidence-based research in advancing education in Muslim Societies and the dissemination of this research through publication and translation, teaching, policy recommendations, and strategic engagements. The International Institute of Islamic Thought was established as a non-profit 501(c)(3) non-denominational organization in the United States in 1981. The headquarters are in Herndon, Virginia.
|Headquarters||555 Grove Street, Herndon, Virginia|
Publications and translationsEdit
IIIT offers many publications in English, Arabic, and other translations. They have a Books-in-Brief series as well as journals. The IIIT Publication and Translation program is the Institute's flagship portal to address core intellectual, topical and epistemological issues whose methodology and significance is relevant to time and space. The aim is to give both value and appropriate response to the latter by stimulating wider discourse through production of key works in the form of books and research papers.
Since 1981 IIIT has published over six hundred titles in English and Arabic, and translated and published more than 400 titles in over 35 languages. The subject matter has been broad ranging from Islamic studies, intellectual development in Islamic thought, humanities, social sciences, maqasid al-Shariah, apostasy, parenting, and the advancement of education in Muslim societies. In addition, the underlying ethical, faith-based prescriptions that mark out IIIT publications embody a universal moral code that aims at the general welfare and betterment of humanity. Taking these factors into account, IIIT seeks and welcomes new ideas and encourages critical thinking in generating knowledge as well as documenting it.
Basheer Nafi and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and HamasEdit
In 1996 Basheer Nafi, who had been working as a researcher and editor at the Institute, was arrested by federal Immigration and Naturalization Service agents and charged with immigration fraud. No link between his work for the institute and the what he was accused of was found. He was considered an active leader of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization who was working for a network of academic front groups, and was linked as well to the Islamist militant group Hamas. He pleaded guilty to a lesser violation of his visa status, and was deported and barred from entering the U.S. for five years.
Sami Al-Arian and the Palestinian Islamic JihadEdit
Just like many Islamic organizations after 9/11, On March 20, 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials raided the Institute and closed the Institute temporarily. The agents were seeking evidence that the Institute was contributing to terrorists, and seized about 25 computers and documents that included financial records, mailing lists, and staff lists . The search was part of a larger FBI-Customs Service series of raids that included 19 other business and non-profit entities known as Operation Green Quest. "Such a massive ream of documents came out of those search warrants," one law enforcement official said, "it takes incredibly lengthy investigative work." The lawsuit was finally dismissed against IIIT, as nothing was found.
The raids led to the convictions of two people, including Abdurahman Alamoudi, who worked for the SAAR Foundation. Alamoudi admitted that he plotted with Libya to assassinate the Saudi ruler and was sentenced to 23 years in jail But no link of his work to IIIT was found.
A leader of the Institute, Iqbal Unus, his wife and daughter brought suit charging that their rights were violated and the government was guilty of assault, trespass, and false imprisonment when their home was searched in the raid. A federal judge dismissed the suit, however. The lawsuit had also named a terrorism researcher, Rita Katz, as a defendant, but the judge dismissed her from the case and awarded her $41,000 in legal fees.
The Institute was a one time donor to Sami Al-Arian's now-defunct World and Islam Studies Enterprise, a "think tank" shut down after the FBI confiscated its files in 1995. That think tank raised money for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which the State Department labeled a terrorist group in 1995. Al-Arian pleaded guilty in 2006 to helping a terrorist organization, and was sentenced to 57 months in prison. Taha Jaber Al- Awani, an officer of the Institute, was named an unindicted co-conspirator in Al-Arian's case.
The Institute, whose money was believed to come from wealthy Saudi Arabians through the SAAR Foundation (a tightly connected Herndon-based network of more than 100 organizations; also known as the Safa Group), also funded other Al-Arian organizations, including the Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace, the Islamic Academy of Florida and the Islamic Committee for Palestine. Two incorporators of the Islamic trust that owns the Islamic Academy of Florida were Jamal Barzinji and Hisham Al-Talib, both of whom also served as directors of the Institute.
Attorneys for the Institute claimed that the raid violated its free speech and privacy rights, and asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa C. Buchanan to order the boxes of records returned. But on May 4, 2002, the Judge found that the investigative agents had acted properly, and declined to lift her order sealing the affidavits, though she urged prosecutors to return seized property as soon as possible.
In October 2002, Virginia Representative James P. Moran, Jr., said he was returning donations from the Institute, as: "I don't want any contributors to my campaign contributing to any individuals or organizations, even inadvertently, that might fund terrorism or organizations involved in terrorism."
In 2007 he refused to answer questions to a grand jury about the Institute, he was found guilty of civil contempt and jailed for 13 months. On October 16, 2006, and on March 20, 2008, Al-Arian refused to answer questions about the Institute before a federal grand jury, asserting that he believed his life would be in danger if he testified. He was charged with criminal contempt the following month for unlawfully and willfully refusing court orders that he testify as a grand jury witness. On September 2, 2008, he was released from custody and put under house arrest at his daughter Laila's residence in Northern Virginia, where he is being monitored electronically while he awaits trial on criminal contempt charges. While under federal law, Al-Arian could not be jailed for more than 18 months for civil contempt, the law does not have a time limit for criminal contempt.
The Institute canceled its $1.5 million offer to Temple University for an endowed chair in Islamic studies after concerns were raised about the Institute's possible funding of suspected terrorists, it was reported in January 2008. Negotiations between Temple and the Institute broke down after trustees and others pressed Temple to reject the gift. Temple president Ann Weaver Hart had said that "after much discussion and consideration, Temple decided to neither accept or reject this generous offer. The university indicated that no decision regarding this matter would be made until post-9/11 federal investigations of the IIIT are complete."
Tarik A. Hamdi and al-QaedaEdit
Tarik Hamdi came to the United States and applied for citizenship providing false information. Hamdi worked for Sami Al-Arian, who confessed to providing assistance to the PIJ (Palestinian Islamic Jihad) and later worked for IIIT.
In May 1998 ABC News, in pursuit of an interview with Bin Laden, had communicated with Mohammad Atef and were directed to Tarik Hamdi as a person who could connect them to Osama Bin Laden. ABC connected with Tarik Hamdi at his place of employment at IIIT. ABC was able to get the interview. Hamdi was able to deliver a satellite phone battery pack that according to federal agents was used three months later in the bombing of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
It took until 2005 for Tarik A. Hamdi, who was employed as a publisher at IIIT, to be charged in a federal affidavit of having been the "American contact" for one of Osama bin-Laden's front organisations.
Contributions to Esam Omeish candidacy for state assemblymanEdit
In 2009 Esam Omeish ran for State Assemblyman in the Democratic Party primary election in the 35th District of the Virginia House of Delegates. Omeish raised $143,734 for his campaign the fourth-largest amount of fundraising statewide among all Virginia House of Delegates candidates. His third-highest contributor was the International Institute of Islamic Thought. Omeish had made controversial statements reflecting radical views, including "you have learned the way, that you have known that the jihad way is the way to liberate your land." Omeish also accused Israel of genocide and massacres against Palestinians, and said the "Israeli agenda" controls Congress. Omeish also was the one who hired Anwar al-Awlaki to what would become known as the "9/11 mosque" in Virgnia. Awlaki, who had previously been investigated for links to Al Queda, was linked to the 9/11 hijacker. Awlaki was the first United States citizen targeted and killed by a hellfire drone strike carried out by the US government.
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