By Cinnamon Stillwell
The field of Middle East studies has a troublesome penchant for partnering with Islamist organizations. Case in point: The 2014 annual conference of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) will host an International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) reception at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC on November 23.
The true nature of IIIT, a Virginia-based think tank, was revealed during the 2007U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation terrorism-financing trial, which unearthed a 1991Muslim Brotherhood memorandum naming IIIT as one of the likeminded organizations in the U.S dedicated to a “grand jihad” aimed at “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within” so that “God’s religion [Islam] is made victorious over all other religions.” Middle East studies professors have long shared the podium with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), another Islamist outfit linked by the United States government to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
As far back as 1988, an FBI investigation exposed IIIT’s goal to “get inside . . . American universities” for the larger purpose of instituting “the Islamic Revolution in the United States.” Clearly, IIIT is making headway. Consider the following:
IIIT has on ongoing relationship with Hartford Seminary, including a $1 million donation in 2013 to endow a faculty chair in Islamic chaplaincy. According to oneM.A. graduate, its Islamic studies program has been “an institution promoting Islamization” for the better part of a decade. Ingrid Mattson, the previous director of the Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at Harford, is also former president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA.
In 2011, IIIT contributed approximately half of a $2 million endowment for a new chair in Islamic studies at Huron University College in Ontario, Canada. Soon after, Ingrid Mattson was appointed as the first London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies at its Faculty of Theology.
In 2008, Temple University declined a $1.5 million gift from IIIT to endow a chair in Islamic studies, citing ongoing federal investigation of IIIT’s possible involvement in funding for Palestinian terrorists. Shaykh Taha Jabir al-Alwani, a cofounder and former president of the IIIT, had been named an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial of Sami al-Arian, a former University of South Florida professor and North American head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). IIIT was theprimary funder of Al-Arian’s think tank and PIJ front, the World and Islam Studies Enterprise.
In addition to the aforementioned gifts to George Mason University and Huron University College, IIIT has entered into a “Memorandum of Understanding” with Nazareth College in New York and a “Memorandum of Agreement” withShenandoah University in Virginia. At the latter, Daoud Nassimi, chosen by the IIIT-run Fairfax Institute, taught a spring 2014 class on Islamic civilization with a Shenandoah professor.
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