President Obama met behind closed doors on Wednesday with 13 Muslim leaders at a Baltimore mosque with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. And, according to a White House pool report, one of the participants is the Islamic Society of Baltimore’s anti-gay resident scholar, Imam Yaseen Shaikh.
Obama’s short trip to the Islamic Society of Baltimore (ISB) marks his first visit to a U.S. mosque since taking office. After the meeting Obama spoke to congregants at the mosque, which he said “like so many in this country, is an All-American story.”
Introduced by ISB’s president, Muhammad Jameel, who in 2014 accused Israel of engaging in “genocide” against Palestine, praised the mosque for its inter-faith outreach efforts. He also praised the mosque’s school, “where teachers open young minds.”
But ISB’s schools, the Al-Rahma School and Qur’an Academy, are led by Imam Shaikh, a British citizen who formerly served as imam in Plano, Tex., who has said that Islam is adamantly opposed to homosexuality.
A 2013 YouTube video uncovered by The Daily Caller also shows Shaikh lamenting that gay rights activists have “hijacked” the political system to further their agenda. (RELATED: The US Mosque Obama Has Chosen For His First Visit Has Deep Extremist Ties)
“This whole subject of homosexuality in the public sphere…is no longer a religious issue, unfortunately, as much as we want to use the religious card and try to defeat this, now it’s become a politicized issue,” Shaikh said in the hour-long sermon.
“Politicians are highly influenced by people who back them, and we find that these politicians who are calling for gay rights and marriage and supporting gay rights are lobbied and campaigned by gay activists, by gay groups. And they are throwing money at it left and right to gain some acceptance in society, to be considered normal people, to be treated normally.”
Shaikh also warned that children must be taught that homosexuality is “not okay.”
“We have to counter the efforts that are taking place elsewhere,” Shaikh says in the video, adding that “if our children are taught that [homosexuality is] okay, we have to teach them it’s not okay.”
But ISB’s extremist ties runs deeper than its relationship with Shaikh.
The mosque is also a member of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) network. That organization has long-standing ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation terror financing case. Five executives with the Foundation were convicted of funneling money to the terrorist group Hamas, which is the Palestianian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.
One of the mosque’s imams for much of the 1980s and 1990s also has close ties to extremists and terrorist groups.
Mohammed Adam el-Sheikh was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Sudan, his home country, in the 1970s. He also co-founded the Muslim American Society, which is controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood.
While in Baltimore, el-Sheikh served as a regional director at the Islamic American Relief Agency, which the Treasury Department designated as a terrorist organization in 2004. The organization’s African arm reportedly funneled money to al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and other terrorists.
After leaving ISB in 2003, el-Sheikh served as imam at Dar al-Hijrah in Falls Church, Va. That mosque has numerous links to terrorists and terror sympathizers. Before el-Sheikh’s tenure, Dar al-Hijrah’s imam was Anwar al-Awlaki, the al-Qaeda recruiter killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011.
In 2004, el-Sheikh defended Hamas’ use of suicide bombers against Israelis.
“If certain Muslims are to be cornered where they cannot defend themselves, except through these kinds of means, and their local religious leaders issued fatwas to permit that, then it becomes acceptable as an exceptional rule, but should not be taken as a principle,” he said in 2004, according to a Washington Post article at the time.
Another one of the 13 roundtable attendees on Wednesday has espoused extremist, anti-Israeli rhetoric.
Rami Nashashibi, the executive director of the Chicago-based Inner-City Muslim Action Network, has gone on record supporting a movement to sanction and boycott Israeli companies and scientists. During a May 2015 speech supporting that movement, known as the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, Nashashibi asserted that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in disputed territories is a form of “apartheid.”
Obama did not address any of the issues backed by ISB officials and some of his roundtable attendees. Instead, he sought to portray Islam as a religion of peace and offered thanks to American Muslims.
“So the first thing I want to say is two words that Muslim Americans don’t hear enough — thank you,” Obama said during his speech.
He also expressed sympathy over what he said is a spike in anti-Muslim bias.
“On top of that, as Muslim Americans, you also have another concern. And that is your entire community is targeted or blamed for the violent acts of a few,” Obama said.