- Largest Muslim student newspaper in America
- Its prison outreach program seeks to recruit new converts to Islam
- Publishes many articles and opinion pieces expressing contempt for the U.S. and Israel
Al-Talib is the news magazine of the Muslim Students Association of UCLA (MSA UCLA). Founded in 1990 and staffed entirely by unpaid students, it is the largest Muslim student publication in the United States. The press run for each issue is approximately 20,000 copies, which are distributed to more than 150 locations (mostly mosques, community centers, and college campuses) in 37 states. All told, Al-Talib’s estimated national readership is about 56,000.
The publication’s major “topic points” include: “spirituality, politics, Islamic history, and challenges facing Muslim-Americans.” Its mission is to “serv[e] the American community with deeper understanding of events that occur throughout the world”; “to remain an independent forum for a diverse spectrum of views and concerns”; and “to correct the mainstream media’s misconceptions about Islam and enlighten the readers of the true teachings of Islam.”
Through its outreach program for prison inmates, “Al-Talib is made available to the incarcerated population as it may be their only sources of news and consciousness to international events [sic].” The goal of this initiative is to win converts to the Islamic faith.
Along with Alkalima (the newspaper of UC Irvine’s Muslim Student Union), Al-Talib once published a special report titled “Zionism: The Forgotten Apartheid.” This report featured a section devoted to “the resistance movements against Zionist aggression,” glorifying Hamas and Hezbollah not only as noble warriors fighting Israeli oppressors, but also as providers of social welfare services for the Palestinian people. Said the report: “As the Zionists continue to colonize, torture and ethnically-cleanse in the name of the ‘peace process’ and the Americans continue to fund them, the respective staffs of Al-Talib and Alkalima feel it to be their basic duty to expose Zionism, its evils and its effects … Zionist-controlled world media has been purposefully distorting and misconstruing world events too long.”
The report also contained articles titled “‘Israeli’ Apartheid: the Chilling Facts”; “Zionist Torture Exposed”; “Examples of ‘Israeli’ Human Rights Violations”; “‘Israel’s’ Nuclear Weapons: Proof of Their Relentless Terror”; and “Stop U.S. Foreign Aid to ‘Israel’ Now.” All references to Israel were accompanied by sneer quotes, to stress that the authors did not recognize Israel as a legitimate entity.
In July 1999 Al-Talib featured a cover story on Osama bin Laden, titled “The Spirit of Jihad.” Said this piece: “When we hear someone refer to the great mujahideen Osama Bin-Ladin as a ‘terrorist,’ we should defend our brother and refer to him as a freedom fighter; someone who has forsaken wealth and power to fight in Allah’s cause and speak out against oppressors.”
In November 2000, Al-Talib examined the ideas of Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, bin Laden’s spiritual leader who has called for “jihad and the rifle alone” as a means to the formation of an Islamic empire. “We pray that Sheik Azzam’s dream of a true Islamic state comes true,” said Al-Talib.
In another 2000 issue of Al-Talib, MSA national President Atlaf Husain called for the American Muslim community “to rally behind one of its own” — specifically, Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (a.k.a. H. Rap Brown), former Minister of Justice for the Black Panthers. Al-Amin was on trial at the time for having killed Deputy Ricky Kinchen in Alabama, a crime for which he would eventually be convicted. Said Husain, “Each of us needs to show our unwavering support for [Al-Amin], his family, and his community because Imam Jamil is not the only one on trial. The Muslim presence in America is on trial.”
Two days before 9/11, Al Talib co-sponsored a dinner at UC-Irvine to honor Al-Amin. A featured guest speaker at this event was a Black Muslim named Abdul-Alim Musa, Imam of Masjid al-Islam in Washington, D.C. Said Musa:
“You think Zionism and Palestine is the only dictatorial power in the world. We’re telling you about apartheid right here in America. Not an apartheid of the 1960s, but an apartheid right now today. When you fight Old [Uncle] Sam, you are fighting someone that is superior in criminality and Nazism. … The American criminalizer [sic] is the most skillful oppressor that the world has ever known. … Imam Jamil coined a phrase, and that phrase meant this: ‘If you don’t give us justice. If you don’t give us equality. If you don’t give us our share of America. If you don’t stay out of our way and leave us alone, we’re gonna burn America down.’ … America is the most criminal government in the world (Allahu Akhbar) along with the Zionists. … They [America] are a better colonizer, a better murderer, a better killer, a better liar, a better thief, a better infiltrator, than old, than old British. This is America that we know.”
At the same event, another guest speaker made the following remarks concerning the fate of America: “… They were ungrateful for the bounties of Allah and so Allah caused them to taste fear and hunger. That is one reason and, I would say, that this country is facing a very terrible fate. The reason for that is that this country stands condemned. It stands condemned like Europe stood condemned for what it did. . . . This country [America] unfortunately has a great, a great tribulation coming to it. And much of it is already here, yet people are too to illiterate to read the writing on the wall.”
Also in September 2001, Al-Talib featured a cover story titled, “Philippines: the Forgotten Jihad,” where the author lamented the media’s “targeted distortion” of Islamic terrorist groups like Abu Sayyaf: “The marginal Abu Sayyaf are actually beneficial for the United States because they give the United States a reason to be in the Philippines. After all, America is just helping the government get past its nasty Muslim problem, nothing else.” In the same article, Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright were referred to as “the butcher of Baghdad” and “his henchwoman,” respectively.
The November 2001 edition of Al-Talib featured three full-page, color advertisements soliciting donations for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), the Global Relief Foundation (GRF), and the Benevolence International Foundation (BIF). One month later, each of these pseudo-charities would be shut down by federal agents for funding al Qaeda and Hamas terrorists.
Quoted in a December 19, 2001 Associated Press article titled “University Support for Alleged Terrorism Affiliates Sparks Debate,” Al-Talib publisher Mohammad Mertaban condemned the U.S. government for having frozen the assets of these and other Islamic charities that were funding terrorism. “If [the money] goes to families of those who have died in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said Mertaban, “I don’t see anything wrong with that. I don’t understand how people can label Palestinians terrorists.” When Mertaban was asked to give his views on suicide bombers in Israel, he replied, “We’re in no position to condemn a suicide bombing because none of us has experienced what [the Palestinians have] been through under 53 years of oppression.”
A 2002 article in Al-Talib lamented the sudden demise of HLF, GRF, and BIF: “Immediately after the closures, the Muslim American community was stunned. How three of the nation’s largest Muslim charities could be made inoperable at the peak of the giving season of Ramadan seemed unbelievable.”
The February 2002 edition of Al-Talib contained an advertisement for an upcoming MSA West-sponsored event honoring “The Legacies of Hassan Al-Banna [founder of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood] and Malcolm X.”
Al-Talib’s articles archive contains a section titled “The Muslim Witch Hunt,” which states:
“The government of this country is no stranger to creating a well defined enemy, an enemy who can be readily blamed at a time of national crisis, lulling Americans into a false sense of security. In the 17th century, this enemy happened to be a woman who allegedly practiced witchcraft. In the 1950s, it was a communist or a red sympathizer. At the time of World War II, it was the Japanese. And today it is a bearded man or a veiled woman. Our government is all too familiar with how to punish an entire people for the mistakes of a few. The hunt stops at nothing. No one is safe and no Muslim in any thread of the social fabric of this country is left untouched.”
Other articles in this section condemn America’s “arrogance,” its “torture” of Muslim prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay, its “Islamophobia,” and its “Modern McCarthyism.”