See our post this morning on the six imams who were taken off a US Airways flight bound for Phoenix, on their way home from an imams’ conference in Minneapolis. Their conduct alarmed passengers, who notified the flight crew, and the decision to remove the imams from the airplane apparently was made by the pilot. The latest is that Omar Shahin, who has acted as the group’s spokesman, is calling for a boycott of US Airways. Shahin professes outrage that he and his colleagues were tossed off the flight:
“They have no reason to refuse service to us just because of the way we look,” he said “It’s terrible. We want America to stay the way it is because we love this country.”
The supervisor asked Shahin to leave the ticket counter.
“This is prejudice,” he replied. “This is obvious discrimination. No one can argue with this.”
“I am calling for a boycott of US Airways because I’m not going to stay silent,” said Shahin, who is Jordanian. “I came to this country to enjoy justice and freedom.”
At the same time, word is starting to leak out as to what it was that alarmed the passengers:
Pat Hogan, spokesman for the Metropolitan Airports Commission, said that witnesses to Monday’s events told police that before the flight that besides praying, the imams were spouting anti-American rhetoric, talking about the war in Iraq and Saddam Hussein.
One of the imams was heard saying that he would do whatever is necessary to fulfill his commitment to the Qur’an, witnesses told police, Hogan said. Other witnesses said some of the imams were repeating “Allah, Allah,” he said.
And a couple of the imams asked for seat-belt extensions, even though it did not appear they needed them, Hogan said.
All of this made passengers, the attendants and the pilot uncomfortable, Hogan said.
It doesn’t take much Googling, either, to find that Omar Shahin appears to have ties to terrorist-supporting groups. On July 13, 2005, Steven Emerson, Executive Director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, testified before the Senate Banking Committee on investigations into the funding of terrorist groups. His testimony focused, in part, on an Islamic charity called “KindHearts for Charitable Humanitarian Development.” (I have omitted the footnotes to Emerson’s testimony.):
There is evidence, however, that KindHearts may possibly be filling the void created by the closure of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF). In early 1994, Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzook, who had given the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) $210,000 in initial funding, decided that the charity would serve as the primary fundraising arm of HAMAS in the US.
The HLF was in operation until the Treasury Department froze its assets in December 2001. KindHearts was incorporated in Toledo, Ohio in 2002, and is registered in a number of other states, including Oklahoma, Nevada, Indiana, Colorado, while awaiting renewal in Pennsylvania.
An assessment of its operations indicates a close business relationship with the
Holy Land Foundation network as well as with other charities that have been designated for being conduits for terrorist financing.
Emerson mentioned Omar Shahin as one of KindHearts’ links to terror-supporting organizations:
Other KindHearts representatives have been linked with radical Muslim groups in the U.S. According to a business card produced in April 2004, Omar Shahin, a former Tucson imam, is a KindHearts representative. Shahin served as the Imam at the Islamic Center of Tucson (ICT) for three years until he