Our friend Hugh Hewitt drew my attention to Joel Mowbray’s Wall Street Journal column about the Bridgeview mosque in suburban Chicago that has been taken over by radical Islamists. Mowbray’s Journal column is “Reign of Radicals.” Mowbray reports:
Between 1991 and 2001, the mosque gave a total of almost $400,000 to three Islamic charities: the Global Relief Foundation, the Holy Land Foundation and the Benevolence International Foundation. All had offices near the mosque and shared many of its leaders. When the charities were closed after 9/11 for financing terrorist activities, the mosque leaders thumbed their noses at the government, re-electing GRF officer Mohamed Chehade to its board and hiring Kifah Mustapha, who had run the Chicago-area HLF office, as its new prayer leader.
Other prominent members of Bridgeview have ties to terrorist groups too. Muhammad Salah, who was on the mosque’s executive committee until 1993, is under house arrest, pending trial on charges of laundering millions to fund Hamas. Bridgeview’s imam was the treasurer in the mid-’90s for Al Aqsa Educational fund, described by the FBI as a front for Hamas. The list goes on.
In February 2004 the Chicago Tribune ran an outstanding article on the mosque: “Hard-liners won battle for Bridgeview mosque” (registration required). The Tribune article kicked off its “Struggle for the soul of Islam” series and reported:
Relying on hundreds of documents and dozens of interviews, the Tribune has pieced together the details of a bitter fight in Bridgeview that saw religious fundamentalists prevail over moderates.
The story is a rare look inside the transformation of an American mosque, the role of Middle Eastern money in shaping Islam and the tensions many Muslims feel as they try to create enclaves in the U.S.
It also provides insight into the wave of fundamentalism sweeping many parts of the world, creating divisions between East and West, between Arab governments and militants, and within Islam itself.
Some critics inside and outside the religion charge that Islamic fundamentalism fosters intolerance and militancy, and that religious leaders have not done enough to distance Islam from terrorist acts.
Among the leaders at the Bridgeview mosque are men who have condemned Western culture, praised Palestinian suicide bombers and encouraged members to view society in stark terms: Muslims against the world. Federal authorities for years have investigated some mosque officials for possible links to terrorism financing, but no criminal charges have been filed.
In light of Mowbray’s column, the Tribune article deserves a second look.