What you don’t know about the Muslim Students Association (MSA), one of the largest Islamic organizations in America, with chapters on hundreds of college campuses, is that several of its leaders have been convicted of terrorism, prompting some terror experts to call the MSA a recruiting tool for jihad.
CBN —Although many Muslim and liberal groups complained about recent congressional hearings on homegrown Islamic radicalism, American-born Muslims are behind a growing number of terror plots — a trend that Attorney General Eric Holder has said keeps him “up at night.”
Many of these homegrown jihadists once belonged to the MSA, which has thousands of members on college campuses throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Terrorism expert Patrick Poole, however, told CBN News his investigation of the organization shows it’s being used for another purpose.”The Muslim Students Association has been a virtual terror factory,” said Poole. “Time after time after time again, we see these terrorists — and not just fringe members: these are MSA leaders, MSA presidents, MSA national presidents — who’ve been implicated, charged and convicted in terrorist plots.”
The roll call includes Anwar al-Awlaki, the al Qaeda cleric linked to terror plots from Fort Hood to Times Square and beyond. Then there is Ramy Zamzam. Before his conviction in Pakistan last year for attempting to join the Taliban and kill American troops, Zamzam was president of the MSA’s Washington, D.C., council. Omar Hammami, a leader of the al-Shabaab terrorist group in Somalia, is another MSA alum. He was once president of the group’s chapter at the University of South Alabama. Abdurahman Alamoudi, who was national president of the MSA during the 1980s, was al Qaeda’s top fundraiser in America and is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence.
The MSA is a supposedly “mainstream” group that has long operated on college campuses from coast to coast. Yet a 2007 New York Police Department report identified the organization as an “incubator” for Islamic radicalism.
Former FBI Special Agent John Guandolo told CBN News that the problem can be traced back to the group’s roots in the Muslim Brotherhood — a jihadist movement that seeks to establish Islamic Sharia law worldwide.
“The MSA serves as a recruitment tool to bring Muslims into the Brotherhood,” Guandolo said. “Which was its original purpose: to evaluate Muslims and to bring them into the Brotherhood and to recruit non-Muslims into Islam as a dawa entity, giving them the call to Islam.”
Guandolo worked on several major terrorism cases for the FBI. He calls the MSA the “focal point” for the Muslim Brotherhood in America. “Their goal, both from their senior leaders, presidents of MSA’s around the country, national leadership, is to implement Islamic government here in the United States,” he explained. “And they say that.”
“There were really three leaders, three Iraqi guys: Jamal Barzinji, Ahmed Totonji, and Hisam Altalib, who really set it up, who are known, identified Muslim Brotherhood leaders,” said Poole. “And from there, MSA became the mother ship of all the Muslim Brotherhood front groups.”