US

Media downplay Tsarnaev connection to Muslim student group

“As the first group established by expat Muslim Brothers in America in the 1960s, the MSA has a history of Islamist radicalism,” Reaboi explains. “At the time, educational grants and fellowships in the US brought large numbers of university-age students from the Middle East to study, especially in the Midwest. The MSA began as a front for Brotherhood activity in this country by providing cover for these recently emigrated Brothers to meet and connect.”

In fact, several Muslim Student Association students have been brought up on terrorism charges. In April 2012, Muslim Student Association member Tarek Mehanna, who earned a doctorate at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, was sentenced to 17 and a half years for  conspiring to aid al-Qaida. Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki (a.k.a. Omar Hammani), a terrorist leader and former president of the University of South Alabama’s Muslim Students’ Association, was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted List in 2012.

The Facebook page of the Muslim Student Association at University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth has over one hundred members and routinely advertises speeches and seminars taught by radical imams and the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)’s Todd Gallinger, who visited the campus in the days after the Boston bombing.

Federal prosecutors in 2007 named CAIR as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a criminal conspiracy to aid Hamas, and an FBI agent testified that the group was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee. Although that case ended in a mistrial, the FBI in January 2009  instructed all field offices to cut ties with CAIR. Still, CAIR continues to be the go-to group for Muslim Student Association groups.

“Islamists’ hold on student groups like the MSA — which parallels the their hold on so-called Muslim ‘civil rights’ groups and other large Muslim organizations — speaks to the unfortunate monopoly Brotherhood-linked groups have over the organized Muslim community in the US,” says Reaboi.

In keeping with that radicalism, U. Mass-Dartmouth’s MSA Facebook group’s members repeatedly advertise talks by radical imams like Suhaib Webb of the Islamic Society of Boston’s Roxbury center. Webb, a convert to Islam who leads the largest mosque in New England, regularly preaches in the Cambridge mosque the two brothers attended.

Webb was an associate of Anwar Awlaki, an Al-Qaeda affiliated preacher killed in 2011 by a drone strike. Two days before the attacks of September 11, 2001, the two imams headlined a fundraiser [pdf] on behalf of Jamil al Amin (a.k.a. H. Rap Brown), who had murdered two police officers. Webb and Awlaki raised $100,000 to pay for Amin’s legal defense.