Wednesday, June 12, 2024

U.S. Taxpayers Funding Anti-American Mosque in Michigan

ResearchGovernment Funding of IslamismU.S. Taxpayers Funding Anti-American Mosque in Michigan

American taxpayers have given more than $350,000 to a mosque in Michigan that has eulogized a member of a terrorist organization that has killed hundreds of U.S. citizens. The Islamic Center of America, one of the most prominent Shia mosques in the U.S., invited members to mourn the death of Hezbollah member Ali Bazzi in a Facebook post on December 27, 2023. The post, documented by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), invited members to attend a memorial service scheduled to take place on December 30, 2023. Bazzi died as the result of an Israeli airstrike in Lebanon that also killed his brother and sister-in-law.

A member of the U.S. armed forces serving at Rhein-Main Air Base in Germany adds details to the list of U.S. Marines brought to the base after they were killed in a 1983 bombing in Beirut, Lebanon. A mosque in Dearborn, Michigan, recently eulogized a member of Hezbollah, the jihadist organization responsible for the bombing, which killed 241 U.S. military personnel. (Public domain photo via NARA & DVIDS Public Domain Archive)

“The invitation stated that the three had ‘died unjustly as martyrs in an attack by the Zionist army,’” MEMRI reported. “It neglected to mention that Ali Bazzi was a Hezbollah operative, although the Hezbollah statement to that effect was issued on the previous day.” Hezbollah killed 241 U.S. military personnel, including 220 Marines, in a terrorist bombing of the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut in 1983.

With its memorial for Ali Bazzi, the Islamic Center of America has sided with a terrorist organization recognized as such by the United States government, thereby legitimizing its terrorist attacks against Israel, said Eyal Zisser, vice rector of Tel Aviv University and incumbent of The Yona and Dina Ettinger Chair in Contemporary History of the Middle East. “The United States and many other countries consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization; however, the Islamic Center of America issued a statement in which it declared that the man died a martyr’s death during the holy war against Israel,” he said.

Given its history, it should come as no surprise that the mosque lamented the death of someone who belonged to a terror organization that has murdered hundreds of Americans. Located in Dearborn, Michigan, the center, which bills itself as the largest mosque in North America, is well known for its support for extremism on American soil. Middle East Forum President Daniel Pipes reports that Mohammad Ali Elahi, who served as the center’s imam in the 1990s, once inspected “American branches of Hezbollah (Tehran’s network of agents)” on behalf of Iran and worked “to reinforce Tehran’s influence on Shi’ite communities” in the U.S.

In November 1998, the Detroit Free Press reported that the mosque invited Louis Farrakhan, the notorious antisemite and anti-white racist who leads the Nation of Islam, a black supremacist organization, to speak at an event honoring Mohammad Jawad Chirri who founded the mosque in 1949.

The United States and many other countries consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization, however the Islamic Center of America issued a statement in which it declared that the man died a martyr’s death during the holy war against Israel.

Eyal Zisser

Frontpage Magazine reports that in 2010, the mosque held a memorial for Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, regarded as a spiritual leader of Hezbollah. “Fadlallah supported suicide bombings, and the elimination of Israel, and questioned the Holocaust. [ICA Imam Hassan] Qazwini has boasted that Fadlallah ‘considered me his son’ and the two met whenever he traveled to Lebanon,” Frontpage reported. Closer to home, U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who has a long history of antisemitic comments and who is a frequent speaker at the Muslim Brotherhood linked CAIR events, gave a speech at the center in 2017 after a terrorist attack in Canada.

And in 2020, the mosque’s current imam, Ibrahim Kazerooni, condemned the U.S. killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Quds Force, an organization that supplied Iraqi forces with roadside bombs that killed dozens of American soldiers in Iraq between 2005 and 2011. Kazerooni called the U.S. airstrike a “cowardly and heinous act.” MEMRI reports that Kazerooni praised Soleimani as someone whose “presence brought hope to the marginalized and to those who were afraid, and it brought hatred and fear to the enemies of Islam – particularly the United States.”

Despite the mosque’s long history of support for America’s enemies, both the state of Michigan and the U.S. government have deposited more than $350,000 into its coffers over the past decade or so. In 2013, the Michigan State Police awarded the mosque $71,250 and in 2016 it gave another $75,000 to the mosque as part of a nonprofit security grant program funded by the Department of Homeland Security and administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. When queried about the grants, a spokesperson for the Michigan State Police stated law enforcement officials had no ongoing relationship with the mosque. “The Michigan State Police’s only professional affiliation with the Islamic Center of America was assisting with the facilitation of two federally funded and approved security grants … in 2013 and 2016, authorized by FEMA,” the spokesperson stated.

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has also provided substantial funding to the ICA. Between 2020 and 2022, the MDE gave a total of $212,000 to the mosque as part of the states Great Start Readiness Program which teaches four-year-old children “how to get along with others, share, take turns, and make friends.” “We have no other known records of payments to ICA,” an MDE spokesperson told Focus on Western Islamism.

The upshot is that U.S. and Michigan taxpayers are funding security and day care programs for an institution whose leaders have sided with Islamist organizations that have killed hundreds of their sons in daughters in Lebanon and Iraq and engaged in numerous acts of terror against its allies, most notably Israel. That’s a scandal. Unsurprisingly, the folks at the ICA prefer not to talk about it. Focus on Western Islamism reached out to the Islamic Center of America for comment but received no reply.

Michigan residents who object to the U.S. government providing monies to an anti-American, Hezbollah-supporting extremist mosque in their state should act to stem the flow of funds.

Click here to find the email and phone numbers of Michigan lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

The contact information for Michigan state senators can be found here. Contact information for state representatives can be found here.

Michiganders can contact Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer here or by leaving a phone message at 517-335-7858. The message for all policy makers is a simple one: Stop funding anti-American extremism.

Amine Ayoub is a policy analyst and writes about Middle Eastern affairs.

Dexter Van Zile, the Middle East Forum’s Violin Family Research Fellow, serves as managing editor of Focus on Western Islamism.

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