Fantastic. An update on this previous post, Illinois State Police hire Hamas-linked Muslim chaplain.
CHICAGO — The Illinois State Police has revoked the appointment of the agency’s first Muslim chaplain, citing only information revealed during a background check. A national Muslim advocacy group Wednesday blamed the move on Islamophobia.
Kifah Mustapha, a Chicago-area imam, was appointed the agency’s first Muslim chaplain in December. Community groups had praised Mustapha’s appointment as a nod to the growing diversity among the agency’s nearly 2,000 officers.
But within days, the appointment came under criticism from the Investigative Project on Terrorism, a Washington-based think tank.
The group alleged that Mustapha was linked to the Palestine Committee of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, a popular movement in the Muslim world that advocates the formation of Islamic governments in the Middle East. It also alleged he raised money for the Holy Land Foundation, a now-defunct Islamic charity whose founders were sentenced last year for funneling money to the Palestinian militant group Hamas. The group cited internal documents and a list of unindicted co-conspirators.
Mustapha hasn’t been charged with any crimes. Messages left Wednesday for Mustapha weren’t immediately returned.
According to a statement from the Illinois State Police, after Mustapha underwent training in December and was issued state identification and a bulletproof vest, it was discovered that he had not undergone background checks required to serve in the volunteer position.
Mustapha’s appointment was rescinded Friday, but that action wasn’t publicly disclosed until late Tuesday after media inquiries.
“Due to information revealed during the background investigation, Sheikh Kifah Mustapha’s appointment as a volunteer ISP Chaplain has been denied,” ISP spokesman Master Sgt. Isaiah Vega said in an e-mail. “Specific details of background investigations are confidential and cannot be discussed.”
Vega declined to say whether there was a connection between the think tank’s allegations and Mustapha’s dismissal.
But the Council of American-Islamic Relations in Chicago, which is representing Mustapha, said the imam was told that was why his appointment was put on hold.
Ahmed Rehab, CAIR’s executive director in Chicago, called it discrimination against Muslims, especially since Mustapha hasn’t been formally accused of wrongdoing.
“The ISP is kowtowing to the run-of-the-mill fear-mongering that Islamophobes have devoted their careers in order to avoid a public relations controversy,” he said.
Steve Emerson, executive directr of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, on Wednesday defended the group’s original report, saying it merely published content linking Mustapha to fundraising for terrorists.
He said his group was prompted to investigate after news of the appointment was published on the website of the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, one of the Chicago area’s oldest and largest mosques. Mustapha is an imam and director there.
Emerson dismissed charges of Islamophobia as “empty diversions and without merit” in an e-mail.
CAIR planned to file a lawsuit and a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Mustapha’s behalf.
“He knows that he’s a good man and he’s a good leader and that he really wanted to serve in this capacity to help,” Rehab said. “He feels he was unfairly denied.”
More from IPT:
In January, the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) reported that Kifah Mustapha had completed a training program and was poised to become the agency’s first certified Muslim chaplain. The story pointed to court records in which Mustapha acknowledged working as a fundraiser for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which was shut down by the U.S. government in 2001 due to its connections to the Hamas terrorist group.
Mustapha was included on a list of unindicted co-conspirators during the Holy Land Foundation’s subsequent prosecution for providing material support to terrorists. The case ended in November 2008 with convictions on 108 counts.
Mustapha was listed among members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee. Prosecutors described the Brotherhood as “an international Islamic fundamentalist organization” that is “committed to the globalization of Islam through social engineering and violent jihad.”
Internal records entered into evidence in the case showed that the Palestine Committee was created to support Hamas “with what it needs of media, money, men and all of that.”
Mustapha not only was a fundraiser for HLF, he was on their payroll. In testimony, FBI case agent Lara Burns said Mustapha sang in a band that performed at fundraisers. She pointed to internal HLF records to confirm Mustapha was a paid employee from 1996 through 2000.
In addition to persuading 12 jurors, the evidence convinced the presiding judge of the defendants’ guilt. “The purpose of creating the Holy Land Foundation was as a fundraising arm for Hamas,” Judge Jorge Solis said just before sentencing the defendants a year ago.
Mustapha was not charged with a crime. In March, however, the Illinois State Police acknowledged that they were reviewing Mustapha’s appointment. On Friday, officials told him he would not be accepted into the program.
There is no truth to CAIR’s claims and Rehab offered nothing to substantiate them. Like Mustapha, CAIR was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land prosecution as a member of the Palestine Committee. Its attempts to be cleared of that label were rejected last summer. In addition, the Department of Justice and the FBI have stood by their conclusions about CAIR’s ties to the Hamas-support network.
Mustapha has helped raise money for CAIR, too.