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Islamist Organization Profile

International Institute of Islamic Thought

<p>Image: Google Earth</p>

Image: Google Earth

by: 
Ryan Mauro

2010 Revenue: 2010 Revenue: $3,006,440

Website: www.IIIT.org

Year Founded: 1980

Address: 500 Grove Street, Suite 200 Herndon, VA 20170-4735

IIIT’s 2012 documentary says it stands for “reviving the Islamic legacy and addressing the crisis of the Muslim Ummah [worldwide Muslim community].” Further, it wants to “define Islamic values in ways easily understood and integrated into American political values and global democratic values.”[1]

Their website says IIIT is “dedicated to the revival and reform of Islamic thought and its methodology” and “promote[s] moderation, inter-faith dialog [sic] and good citizenship.”[2]

IIIT is located in the same building as the Association of Muslim Social Scientists.

The organization has offices in Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Bosnia, Lebanon, Indonesia, Morocco, Nigeria, India, Bangladesh, Brunei and the United Kingdom.[3] It also has partnerships with North American universities including Virginia’s George Mason University, Nazareth College’s Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue in New York, Virginia’s Shenandoah University and Canada’s Huron University College.[4]

The decision to establish IIIT was made at a major Islamist conference in Lugano, Switzerland in 1977. A lead organizer was a senior member of the Egyptian Brotherhood that was also the father-in-law of Ahmed Elkadi, the president of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood from 1984 to 1994. Participants included the leaders of other Brotherhood-originated groups like the Islamic Society of North America and the Muslim Students Association and non-American Brotherhood leaders like Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi.[5]

Senior member of the European Muslim Brotherhood, Youssef Nada, says in a 2012 book he co-authored that he was the host of the meeting. He denies that its purpose was to set up IIIT. He said the goal was to be “united in ideology, to try to bring the Muslim understanding together” and advocate the non-violent spread of Islam.[6]

Swiss police raided Nada’s home in 2001 and discovered a secret 1982 Brotherhood plan called “The Project” that called for infiltrating countries around the world in order to advance the Islamist agenda. A stated goal is supporting jihad for “the establishment of an Islamic State, in parallel with gradual efforts aimed at gaining control of local power centers through institutional action.”[7]

A 1988 FBI file states that IIIT board members Jamal Barzinji and Yaqub Mirza are among those “previously characterized as … members and leaders of the IKHWAN [Muslim Brotherhood].”[8] Another 1988 FBI document states that a source inside the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood network “advised that the IIIT … and all the subsidiary and sponsoring Muslim organizations under the control of the IIIT … are in fact IKHWAN organizations.”

A source told the FBI that IIIT leaders speak of a six-stage plan to “institute the Islamic Revolution in the United States.” The leaders “indicated that in this phase, their organization needs to peacefully get inside the United States government and also American universities.” They “claimed success in infiltrating the United States government with sympathetic of [or] compromised individuals.” The source believed IIIT was only in the first stage.

The FBI source warned that the Brotherhood has “unlimited funds” and has “set up political action front groups with no traceable ties to the IIIT or its various Muslim groups.” In a document made public, the FBI redacted the name of a Brotherhood leader, presumably within IIIT, that the source claims “stated that Muslims in the United States have to be prepared for martyrdom.”[9]

In 1991, a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood memo stated its “work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within.” The same memo listed IIIT as one of “our organizations and the organizations of our friends.”

In 2002, the headquarters of IIIT was raided as part of a terrorism-financing investigation called Operation Green Quest. The probe continued until at least 2007 when the U.S. government tried to force convicted terrorist Sami al-Arian to testify before a grand jury about his links to the organization.[10] IIIT was the largest donor to Sami al-Arian’s front for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group, providing at least $50,000. Al-Arian even said in a letter to IIIT’s president in 1992 that the two groups are one.[11]

IIIT employed a founder of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Bashir Musa Nafi, until he was deported in June 1996. Nafi was a close friend of Al-Arian’s. [12] Another IIIT employee, Tarik Hamdi, gave cell phone batteries to Osama Bin Laden, according to a former U.S. Treasury Department official in 2002.[13] In 2003, IIIT made a donation of $720 to the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation in Oregon. The Foundation was shut down as an Al-Qaeda front the following year.[14]

In 2004, the Washington Post reported that “a number of its [IIIT] members ended their Brotherhood ties years ago after concluding it was too inflexible but still advocate some of its principles, the activists said.”[15]

IIIT has long published and promoted Islamist texts. In 1990, it endorsed the English translation of an Islamist text on Sharia (Islamic) law, Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law by Umdat al-Salik, calling it a “valuable and important” work for “teaching Islamic jurisprudence.” In 2001, it published a book authored by an IIIT official titled Violence that approved of attacks on Israeli civilians as “justified acts of a liberation struggle, not terrorism.”[16]

The organization’s website still lists Islamist books it has published. This includes at least three by Brotherhood spiritual leader Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi. Former IIIT president Taha Jabir Al-Alwani authored one text that complains that there are no academic institutions in the Muslim world that teach “the Islamic vision with the same force and persuasiveness” as Western ideas are taught in the West.[17]

IIIT Regional Director Abubaker Ahmed Al-Shingieti has a long history with the government of Sudan, listed by the State Department as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. He was the Councilor at the Sudanese embassy in Washington D.C. from 1990 to 1993. He then became the Secretary-General of the External Information Council in Khartoum until 1995 when he became the Director of Political Affairs for President Omar Bashir until 1998. He previously served as the editor of the Islamic Society of North America’s publication, Islamic Horizons and is a member of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists in North America.[18]

Jamal Barzinji is the Vice President for Research and Publications. As mentioned, FBI documents from 1988 reported that he had been identified as a Muslim Brotherhood operative. In 2003, his home was raided because, in the words of U.S. Customs Service Special Agent David Kane, Barzinji “is not only closely associated with PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad]…but also with Hamas.”[19] In 2011, it was reported that the Justice Department stopped a planned indictment of Barzinji.[20] Barzinji played a leading role in establishing multiple U.S. Brotherhood entities, including the Muslim Students Association, Islamic Society of North America and the North American Islamic TrustHe is also a founder of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists and Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers.[21]

IIIT co-founder and Finance Director Hisham Al-Talib used to work for the Al-Taqwa Bank run by Muslim Brotherhood member Youssef Nada. Al-Talib was reportedly identified by the FBI as an Iraqi member of the Muslim Brotherhood before he moved to the U.S.[22]

Sayyid Syeed was IIIT’s Director of Academic Outreach from 1984 to 1994.[23] He is also a founder and former secretary-general of the Islamic Society of North America. In 2006, he was recorded saying, “Our job is to change the constitution of America.”[24]

The IIIT is also linked to the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood’s political party, the Islamic Action Front. One of the party’s founders and former secretary-generals, Ishaq Farhan, was an IIIT official from 2005 to 2007.[25]

On September 24, 2012, Al-Shingieti and Altalib met with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood that is trying to institute Sharia law in Egypt. IIIT’s website says that Morsi “welcomed the participation of IIIT in the reform of higher education in Egypt.”[26]

Former imam and IIIT member Abdur-Rahman Muhammad says he was at an IIIT meeting where they decided to begin using the term “Islamophobia” to “beat up their critics.”[27]

IIIT works intimately with other the other components of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood network. Al-Shingieti is the President of American Muslims for Constructive Engagement, a coalition with a large number of leaders from groups like the IIIT, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Society of North America, Muslim American Society, the Islamic Circle of North America and the Muslim Public Affairs Council.[28] Former Islamic Society of North America president Ingrid Mattson is a member of IIIT’s Council of Scholars.[29]



[1] “IIIT Documentary 2012,” Vimeo website, IIIT-TFI channel,  http://vimeo.com/48167671.

[3] “Offices & Affiliates,” IIIT website, http://iiit.org/AboutUs/OfficesAffiliates/tabid/68/Default.aspx.

[5] Shafiq, Muhammad. Growth of Islamic Thought in North America (Beltsville, MD: Amana Publications, 1994, p. 27). As documented in “The Muslim Brotherhood in the United States” by Steven Merley,  Hudson Institute, Research Monographs on the Muslim World, Series No. 2, Paper No. 3, April 2009. http://www.currenttrends.org/doclib/20090411_merley.usbrotherhood.pdf.

[6] Nada, Youssef and Douglas Thompson. Inside the Muslim Brotherhood (London, UK: John Blake, 2012, p.45).

[7] Gabbay, Tiffany. “TheBlazeTV Unveils ‘The Project Part II: Civilization Jihad,” The Blaze, September 27, 2012. http://www.theblaze.com/stories/theblazetv-unveils-the-project-part-ii-c...

[8] “Forgotten Investigation, Emails Offer Insight into IIIT Probe,” IPT News, August 3, 2008. http://www.investigativeproject.org/737/forgotten-investigation-emails-offer-insight-into-iiit-probe. The original FBI file can be read at: http://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/misc/459.pdf

[9] Ibid., IPT News. The original FBI file can be read at: http://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/misc/159.pdf

[10] Markon, Jerry. “Ex-Professor’s Contempt Citation Prolonged,” Washington Post, June 22, 2007. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/21/AR200706...

[11] “Al-Arian Indicted for Contempt,” IPT News, June 26, 2008. http://www.investigativeproject.org/700/al-arian-indicted-for-contempt

[12] Ibid., “Al-Arian Indicted for Contempt.”

[13] “Prepared Statement of Mr. Matthew A. Levitt, Senior Fellow, Washington Institute for Near East Policy,” U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Subcommittee on International Trade and Finance, Hearing on “The Role of Charities and NGOs in the Financing of Terrorist Activities.” August 1, 2002. http://banking.senate.gov/02_08hrg/080102/levitt.htm

[14] Weinglass, Ilan. “Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced Terror,” FrontPage Magazine, January 12, 2006.

[15] Mintz, John and Douglas Farah. “In Search of Friends Among Foes,” Washington Post, September 11, 2004. http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A12823-2004Sep10?language=printer

[16] Ibid., Mintz and Farah.

[17] “English Abstracts,” “Publications” page of IIIT website,  http://iiit.org/Publications/English/tabid/177/Default.aspx.

[18] “Abubaker Y. Ahmed Al-Shingieti,” International Center for Religion and Diplomacy website, http://icrd.org/aa.

[19] “(Proposed Redacted) Affidavit in Support of Application for Search Warrant (October 2003),” David Kane, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. http://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/case_docs/891.pdf

[20] Poole, Patrick. “Holder’s DOJ Scuttled More Terror-Related Prosecutions,” PJ Media, April 28, 2011. http://pjmedia.com/blog/pjm-exclusive-holders-doj-scuttled-more-terror-r...

[22] Malkin, Michelle. “Who is White House Visitor Hisham Altalib?” Townhall.com, September 26, 2012. http://townhall.com/columnists/michellemalkin/2012/09/26/who_is_white_ho...

[23] Baran, Zeyno. “The Muslim Brotherhood’s U.S. Network,” Current Trends in Islamist Ideology vol. 6, February 27, 2008. http://www.currenttrends.org/research/detail/the-muslim-brotherhoods-us-...

[24] “Jihad in America: The Grand Deception,” SAE Productions.

[25] “Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood Leadership Resigns; Likely Caretaker is Director of IIIT,” Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report, May 12, 2009. http://globalmbreport.com/?p=1460

[27] “Moderate Muslims Speak out on Capitol Hill,” IPT News, October 1, 2010. http://www.investigativeproject.org/2217/moderate-muslim-speak-out-on-ca...

[28] “Leadership,” American Muslims for Constructive Engagement website, http://amceweb.net/2.html.