August 9, 2018
By: M. Zuhdi Jasser, President & Founder
American Islamic Forum for Democracy
Make no mistake.
The militant Jihadi training camp and its horrific child abuse discovered in the small, quiet town of Amalia, New Mexico is not an isolated incident but rather is the tip of the proverbial iceberg of Islamist radicalization in America.
It is unconscionable that major media ignore the bigger story here on Imam Siraj Wahhaj, Sr. and his connections to so-called “mainstream” American Islamist organizations.
AIFD has been closely following the recent reporting regarding the five adults arrested for child abuse in New Mexico after they were found with 11 children held captive in third-world conditions. Every day more information is being released about the situation including the fact that this separatist compound was a terrorist training facility for Islamist radicalization that not only abused these children through starvation and torture, but apparently had plans for terror operations that included attacks on American schools by these radicalized children. This entire situation is straight from the ISIS playbook.
According to a number of sources, including the New York Post, five radical Islamists, three of which were female, were arrested including Siraj Wahhaj, 40; Lucas Morton, 40; Jany Leveille, 35; Hujrah Wahhaj, 38; and Subhanah Wahhaj, 35, including 11 children ages 1 to 15 that were found abused in the facility. The ringleader of the operation was Siraj Wahhaj, son of Imam Siraj Wahhaj, Sr. who was accompanied by four of his relatives.
We bring this story to your attention from our perspective as a reformist American Muslim Organization, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, not only because of the horrific treatment of these children but because of the deeper connections their captors have to the organizations that are thrust upon American Muslims as so-called “mainstream Muslim organizations” in the United States like ISNA, CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), MAS (Muslim American Society), and ICNA (Islamic Circle of North America) to name a few. One of America’s most prominent Imams, Siraj Wahhaj, Sr. is a leading fundraiser, speaker, and Ideological leader among a host of Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups in the United States. Currently, there are no known, direct connections or implications that, Imam Siraj Wahhaj based in Brooklyn, New York, had anything to do with the training camp or the horrific conditions in Amalia, New Mexico, other than that the camp was run by his son. But most importantly here, is that this compound cannot be relegated to the status of “just another whacky cell” in order to continue to protect the reputation of leading American Islamist organizations and their Establishment heads from scrutiny. Honest Americans and Muslims cannot ignore the connection with Imam Wahhaj’s long-standing separationist Islamist ideology and his role in radicalizing Muslims in all of the organizations he has influenced across the country for decades.
Our founder, M. Zuhdi Jasser, had written about Siraj Wahhaj in his 2012 Simon and Schuster book “A Battle for the Soul of Islam“, and on pages 84-87 described his first interaction with America’s largest Muslim organization, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). In those pages, Dr. Jasser detailed an experience he had as a Naval officer on leave while attending ISNA’s annual convention in which Imam Siraj Wahhaj keynoted the opening of the conference. Wahhaj expressed his desire to replace the U.S. Constitution with the Qur’an and proceeded to direct that it is the duty of Muslims to bring the Qur’an and its teachings and legal system to the United States in lieu of its current constitution. He stated: “Can you imagine someone wondering if a document made by humans would be superior to a document made by God,” as he held up the Qur’an which he said should be the Constitution of this country. Dr. Jasser then went to the microphone and publicly voiced his horror with Siraj Wahhaj Sr.’s separationism and the acquiescence of the audience and the leadership of ISNA to his seditious point of view and commentary.
Siraj Wahhaj, Sr. has since remained, and in fact grown to be, a thought leader in position, ideologically, and for fundraising among various American Islamist organizations. Apparently, it has never bothered them that he was also named an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, as he testified as a character witness for the convicted bomber, the blind Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman. Yet, as recently as in the past few months, Siraj Wahhaj, Sr. was openly described at an ISNA meeting proudly by Linda Sarsour, now a leading national advocate for the Women’s March in addition to a host of other Islamist causes, as her mentor she said “favorite person in this room. Imam Siraj Wahhaj who has been a mentor, motivator, and encourager of mine”. Siraj Wahhaj, Sr. has served in various capacities including being on the board of advisers and participating in the speaking circuit of the CAIR, ISNA, ICNA; and MAS to name a few.
It is the responsibility of every media organization and thought leader in America to expose Imam Siraj Wahhaj Sr.’s connection to what’s happening in New Mexico. While he may not have had anything to do directly with the violence or the compound, there should be little doubt that his longtime separationist Islamist ideology proven by concerned Muslims like us at AIFD at every step along the way (yet ignored by most media) very likely played a significant role in the radicalization of his son Siraj Wahhaj Jr.
NOW is the time for Americans to realize that separationist Islamism, like that of the Wahhaj family, is a gateway drug in all of its forms– violent and non-violent— to the radicalization of our youth. It is incumbent upon American media and thought leaders to cover this story and the connection of the abductor(s) and torturer(s) to his father. While Imam Siraj Wahhaj Sr. did voice his desire to have his abducted grandchildren returned safely, earlier this year on Facebook, that does not absolve him of the decades of radicalizing many, as was seen first hand by Dr. Jasser, witnessed in 1995, and that the United States has witnessed repeatedly over and over and over in his positions and ideas about America.
The discovery in New Mexico is just one. How many more camps are actively radicalizing individuals who will carry out terrorist attacks on our soil while we do nothing? Let us rally together to remove the blanket of political correctness that shields these radical leaders who continue to prosper in our denial and use our unprecedented freedoms against us.
1. M. Zuhdi Jasser, A Battle for the Soul of Islam” (Schuster: New York, 2012), 84-87