Jordanian Brotherhood Chief Tied to Virginia Islamist Think Tank

IPT News

A trustee of an Islamic think tank in Northern Virginia that is long suspected of financing terrorists is expected to become the new head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s chapter in Jordan.

Ishaq Farhan is expected to be named interim head of the Islamic Action Front (IAF), which is the Muslim Brotherhood’s Jordanian political wing, the Jordan Times reported. The move follows the resignation of IAF directors after a leadership dispute.

As first reported by the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report, Farhan also is a longtime trustee of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT). He is listed on the organization’s IRS Form 990s from at least 2005, through 2007, which is the most recent year available. The 990 is an annual report required of non-profits in the United States detailing their income, expenses and other operating details.

Farhan previously served as the IAF’s secretary general, and as an IAF member in the Jordanian Parliament. The IAF has a close relationship with Hamas, which was created by the Muslim Brotherhood in 1987.

As Investigative Project on Terrorism Executive Director Steven Emerson said in congressional testimony in 2000, “Farhan played an integral role in the recruitment of Palestinian youth for the Hamas movement” during attendance at conferences for the Islamic Association for Palestine and the Muslim Arab Youth Association held in the U.S. during the mid 1990s.

Farhan wrote to U.S. officials to protest the detention of then-Hamas political chief Mousa Abu Marzook. Marzook was jailed by U.S. officials between 1995 and early 1997, when he was deported to Jordan.

As IAF secretary general, Farhan demanded Marzook’s release, writing in May 1996 that extraditing Marzook to face trial in Israel, as originally planned, would show that the U.S. was “captive to the Zionist will.”

Farhan called “on all the governments of the Arab and Islamic Worlds and all defenders of human rights to raise their voices and demand the abolition of this decision and the release of Dr. Musa Abu Marzook, a prisoner of opinion and political struggle.”

In November 1996, the U.S. Embassy in Amman received a far more threatening letter about Marzook’s detention:

“We demand that you immediately release Dr. Musa Abu Marzook and urge you not to hand him over to the Zionist enemy…We warn you that if you do not release Dr. Musa Abu Marzook, and if you hand him over to the Jews, we will turn the ground upside down over your heads in Amman, Jerusalem, and the rest of the Arab countries and you will lament your dead just as we did to you in Lebanon in 1982 when we destroyed the Marine House with a boobytrapped car, and there are plenty of cars in our country. You also still remember the oil tanker with which we blew up your soldiers in Saudi Arabia.”

A State Department translation of the letter indicates that the fax page “bears the Islamic Action Front [IAF] name.”

Meanwhile, the IIIT remains the focus of a federal grand jury investigation.

Sami Al-Arian’s refusal to testify before that grand jury despite a grant of immunity and court orders is at the heart of his criminal contempt case. A ruling by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema on Al-Arian’s motion to dismiss that indictment is expected at any time.

The IIIT helped finance a think tank Al-Arian operated in Tampa, which worked with University of South Florida faculty. That think tank housed Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader Ramadan Shallah during the early 1990s and was listed as the employer for PIJ ideologue and governing board member Basheer Nafi. Immigration agents arrested Nafi in 1996 and deported him after discovering he was working at the IIIT in violation of his work visa.

Attempting to renew Nafi’s visa so he could stay in the U.S. was among the tasks Al-Arian, in his 2006 guilty plea, acknowledged doing as a service in support of the PIJ.

Previously released records include a 1992 letter written to Al-Arian by then-IIIT President Taha Jaber Al-Awani. In it, Al-Awani said he considers Al-Arian’s think tank “an extension” of IIIT. “When we make a commitment to you or try to offer,” Al-Awani wrote, “we do it for you as a group, regardless of the party or the façade you use the donation for.”

The financial and work relationships between Al-Arian and the IIIT prompted Virginia prosecutors to subpoena Al-Arian in 2006.

For example, the group was listed among “[a] list of our organizations and the organizations of our friends” in an internal Muslim Brotherhood memorandum about the group’s future in North America.

This document has become infamous for its ominous description of the Brotherhood’s long-range ambitions in the United States (see page 21 of the link):

“The process of settlement is a “Civilization-Jihadist Process” with all the word means. The Ikhwan [Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

IIIT representatives have acknowledged past ties to the Brotherhood, but claim they broke away years ago. Farhan’s clear Brotherhood connection seems to challenge that assertion.

Law enforcement officials have known about Brotherhood ties to the IIIT for 20 years.

Reports obtained by the IPT last year through the Freedom of Information Act show IIIT board members Jamal Barzinji and Yaqub Mirza are listed among “members and leaders of the IKHWAN” or Brotherhood.

In one report, the IIIT was described as “organizing external political support which involves influencing both public opinion in the United States as well as the United States government.”

Islam’s true face: Honour Killing

According to the United Nations, more than 5000 women and children are killed every year under the name of honour killing. The murder of Fadime Sahindal in Sweden brought about a lot of feelings and media coverage all over the world.

Following this tragic event, a lot of questions were raised and debates carried out as to why and how such a crime could have happened. A lot of people talked about the fact that women are killed in different circumstances and that it involves violence by men against women.

The fact that women are killed is a bitter truth. However, when women and children are murdered by their own close relatives and loved ones is a concept that has its roots mainly in the Middle East where women’s sexuality has always been the centre of power and production.

Power itself together with nationalistic sentiments and religion control the society. Following the honour killings of Pela and Fadime in Sweden; and Hursu in England, a lot of academics and pro cultural relativists said that “honour killing lives in the original culture that is still left in certain parts of the world and has nothing to do with religion”. If we accept this explanation then we have given all religions a free hand in interfering in women’s lives.

There is no doubt that honour killing is far more ancient than for example Islam or Christianity. However my question is why does it still happen? Does the original culture exist in Europe?

Obviously the political and religious situation and the consequence culture in the Middle East have a lot to do with the issue. After all it is not any coincident that most honour killings happen in the region or have their roots in the Middle East. For me, honour killing involves physical and physiological violence against women at home and in the society.

Women who choose to take control of their lives, choose their own partners, exercise their freedom, or choose to have sex before marriage are targets for honour killings.

The person who kills under the name of honour is trying to consolidate his/ her position in the society, in the family and community. He/she uses religion to achieve such position. Families who loose their honour are not taken seriously in the community. This is, without doubt, the consequence of the political power that dominates people’s lives. The same system and power imposes laws and regulations such as compulsory veil, negates the right to choose ones life and prohibits freedom of speech in the society. Political Islam steers women’s lives with the help of Sharia law.

In Iran the constitution is based on Sharia law where women are considered immature and imbeciles in every aspect of society. Today, there is a strong women’s movement all over the Middle East against religious injustice in women’s lives and against patriarchy. There are campaigns against honour killings in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Iran, Lebanon and Morocco. It is a movement for equality and human rights.

This debate has another angle in Europe. There is talk of “culture in ethnic minority communities”. It means women’s and children’s rights are tramped on, while cultural relativists take over women’s and children’s lives. Respecting culture takes precedence to human life and women’s rights. Imams and priests have become the representatives and speakers of these communities. It has created a situation where medieval culture is kept alive and religion takes over.

I put a few questions to you. Is this culture so progressive and an advance phenomenon in today’s society that needs to be preserved? Should we have a set of rules for ethnic minorities and another set of rules for the rest of the population? Doesn’t this remind you of apartheid system? Or is there something that I call state racism since it treats people differently?

The result of cultural relativism is worsening of women’s lives. Human history has shown that the old traditions and religious interference in women’s lives is not something that can be fought against without radical actions that show society stands by progressive values. Cultural relativism and racism are two sides of the same coin. It is about time that women activists and human rights organisations look at this issue seriously and change their position against reactionary forces in Europe and engage their energy and recourses into progressive and radical fight in the Middle East.



Abbas Rezai (2005):  A 20-year-old Iranian man, gets killed in Hogsby. The motive is supposedly that his girlfriend’s family, who comes from Afghanistan, could not accept their relationship. The trial found the girlfriend’s brother guilty and fined him four years in institutional youth welfare and banishment from Sweden for life. Her parents are free. The lawyer of the mother to the murdered man is convinced that they planned the killing and has the opinion that they also should be sentenced for the murder.

A Kurdish Wife (2003): A 28-year-old Kurdish man stabs his one-year-younger wife with 37 slashes in Strangnas. The man did not accept that his wife wanted to get a divorce. The trial found him guilty and fined him ten years in prison and banishment from Sweden for life.

Fadime Sahindal (2002): A 26-year-old Kurdish girl, was killed in Uppsala in the evening of the 21st January. Her father did not accept that she had a Swedish boyfriend and wanted to have Swedish life style. The trial found her father guilty and he got a life sentence. Two months before she was killed she held a speech in the Swedish Parliament about her life and how she was treated by her family, relatives and Swedish authorities.

Pela Atroshi (1999): She was shot to death in Dhouk in Iraqi Kurdistan. Her sister called the Swedish police and reported the murder. Two uncles got a life sentence for the murder. The father is still wanted by the authorities.

Umea (1996): A 15-year-old Iraqi girl in Umea was killed by her brother and cousin after a party. The motive was that she had a Swedish life style.

Palestinian Girl (1994): A Palestinian man in Vastmanland killed his 18-year-old daughter when she refused to marry the man the father had chosen for her.

Parvin Kaboli, Secretary of Organisation for Women’s Liberation



by Parvin Kaboli

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