Doubts grow over Muslim lawmaker’s loyalty

Doubts grow over Muslim lawmaker’s loyalty
Keith Ellison tied to group that holds Quran as highest legal authority

Posted: December 6, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern

© 2006

The first Muslim member of Congress is linked to a radical Islamic school of thought that requires loyalty to the Quran over the U.S. Constitution, WND has learned. Rep.-elect Keith (Hakim-Mohammed) Ellison, D-Minn., has drawn fire for asking to take the constitutional oath on the Quran rather than the Bible at a swearing-in ceremony next month.

The Constitution specifies that members of Congress shall be bound by an oath to support the constitutional law of the land. In the oath, Ellison will be required to swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic … without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.”

Critics argue he has conflicting loyalties, while Ellison insists he’s a patriot.

But within days of being elected, Ellison held a workshop on politics for a group closely affiliated with a radical Islamic school that preaches no Muslim can pledge loyalty to the Constitution or make laws outside the laws of the Quran, which the school’s leaders assert is the “supreme law” of the land, trumping all man-made laws including the U.S. Constitution.

A black convert to orthodox Sunni Islam, Ellison spoke to the North American Imams Federation, or NAIF, at the group’s Nov. 19 conference in Minneapolis.

His talk flowed into a breakout session listed on the agenda simply as “American Open University,” according to the conference program. It turns out the university is a “distance-learning” center based in Alexandria, Va., and known to local law enforcement as “Wahhabi Online.”

Later that day, Ellison met with NAIF’s president, Omar Ahmad Shahin, who lectures at the same American Open University. (He also met at the time with New York imam Siraj Wahhaj, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.) The radical Islamic school trains many of NAIF’s more than 150 members, who control mosques across America.

American Open University supports Sharia, or Islamic law. And its founder and chairman, Jaafar Sheikh Idris, has denounced the U.S system of democracy as “the antithesis of Islam” and argued no man has the right to make laws outside Allah’s laws expressed in the Quran.

“There is a basic difference between Islam and this form of democracy,” he says. “The basic difference is that in Islam it is [Allah’s] law as expressed in the Quran and the Sunna that is the supreme law within the limits of which people have the right to legislate.

“No one can be a Muslim who makes or freely accepts or believes that anyone has the right to make or accept legislation that is contrary to that divine law,” Idris adds. “Examples of such violations include the legalization of alcoholic drinks, gambling, homosexuality, usury or interest, and even adoption.”

Conversely, laws prohibiting polygamy and domestic violence also violate the Quran.

Further, he maintains that no Muslim elected to Congress or the White House can swear to uphold the U.S. Constitution and still be a Muslim.

“No Muslim could become president in a secular regime, for in order to pledge loyalty to the constitution, a Muslim would have to abandon part of his belief and embrace the belief of secularism – which is practically another religion. For Muslims, the word ‘religion’ does not only refer to a collection of beliefs and rituals, it refers to a way of life which includes all values, behaviors and details of living,” Idris says. “Separation of religion and state is not an option for Muslims because it requires us to abandon [Allah’s] decree for that of a man.”

He further explains: “Islam cannot be separated from the state because it guides Muslims through every detail of running the state and their lives. Muslims have no choice but to reject secularism for it excludes the laws of [Allah].”

Also, he asserts that “there is absolutely no compromise: Any belief that contradicts Islam is false.”

Backed by CAIR

Ellison’s campaign was backed by the Washington-based lobby group Council on American-Islamic Relations, a partner organization to American Open University-affiliated NAIF. CAIR held fundraisers for Ellison, a civil-rights lawyer and one-time acolyte of Louis Farrakhan who admits to making anti-Semitic remarks in the past (under various alias including Keith Hakim, Keith Ellison-Muhammad and Keith X Ellison).

CAIR’s founder has argued the Quran should replace the Constitution as the highest authority in the land. The group’s director of communications, moreover, has expressed his desire to see the U.S. become an Islamic state. CAIR is an offshoot of the Islamic Association for Palestine, a suspected front for the terrorist group Hamas.

Pundit Dennis Prager and other critics have demanded Ellison take the constitutional oath on the Bible, arguing the constitution derives its authority from the Bible, not the Quran. If Ellison puts his hand on the Quran, Prager says he would be in effect nullifying his oath and undermining “American civilization.”

“He should not be allowed to do so,” he asserted in a recent column.

Another critic, Glenn Beck of CNN, questioned Ellison’s loyalties. “Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies,” he asked Ellison on a recent show.

“There’s no one who is more patriotic than I am,” Ellison replied. “And so, you know, I don’t need to prove my patriotic stripes.”

Others point out Ellison has shown a pattern of disrespect for U.S. laws, raising the question whether he’s qualified to make law. Failure to pay his taxes resulted in liens on his home. Failure to pay more than 40 parking and traffic tickets has twice led to suspension of his Minnesota license. He’s also racked up hefty fines from campaign finance violations and defended the leader of a cop-killing gang.

Constitutional scholars say Congress is under no obligation to seat Ellison as a new member of the 110th Congress.

“The Senate and House have the power to seat new members,” says Mark Levin of the Landmark Legal Foundation in Washington. “They could say, ‘Nope, sorry, we’re not swearing you in, and we don’t care how many citizens voted for you.”

But that is unlikely to happen, he says, “because they would never challenge the electorate,” even in time of war.

Levin adds that the legislative branch is entering uncharted waters.

“A Muslim congressman with access to U.S. secrets is a situation we haven’t yet faced,” he said. “But it’s one that would certainly raise issues of loyalty and trust.”

Members of Congress are not required to undergo FBI background checks before gaining access to classified information.

Red flags

In addition to CAIR, the NAIF-affiliated American Open University, however, has raised a number of red flags at the FBI, including the fact that:

  • It’s founder and chairman, Jaafar Idris, is a Sudanese radical on the Saudi payroll who was recently deported for visa fraud and spreading extremism in America. Idris, like NAIF’s Shahin, studied Islam in Saudi Arabia and Sudan and says he has “great respect” for the father of the purist Wahhabi movement followed by Osama bin Laden – Saudi theologian Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab.
  • A co-founder of the school, Salah As-Sawi, is a professor at Al-Azhar in Egypt, a bastion of the dangerous Muslim Brotherhood, which gave rise to Hamas and al-Qaida. In fact, American Open University is a fully accredited satellite campus of Al-Azhar. As-Sawi worked with Idris at the Institute of Arabic and Islamic Sciences in Washington, a propaganda center set up by the Saudi Embassy to spread Wahhabism in America. It was raided after 9/11 and is still under surveillance by federal authorities.
  • Alumni of the “university” include convicted members of the Virginia Jihad Network, who trained to kill American troops overseas.
  • The school has received funding from a suspected al-Qaida front that has expressly advocated suicide attacks and using airliners as weapons. The Islamic Assembly of North America, or IANA, is bankrolled by the Saudi religious minister who stayed at the same Washington-area hotel as the hijackers the night before they attacked the Pentagon. (He feigned a heart attack when FBI agents tried to question him and was subsequently evacuated with other Saudi officials on White House-approved escape flights after 9/11.)

A former CAIR official, Bassem Khafagi, headed IANA. He pleaded guilty to terror-related charges and was deported after 9/11.

Last month’s NAIF conference program outlining Ellison’s session, titled “Imams and Politics,” says Muslim involvement in Western politics is a “sensitive” issue.

“Imams must be able to provide Muslims with the proper guidance and educate them on the etiquettes [sic] of any political involvement within the Islamic context,” the program says. “Questions also arise on whether imams and Islamic centers should be involved in politics at all and what the extent of this involvement should be.”

Transcripts of his talk and the subsequent breakout session on American Open University were not made available to the public

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