Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi: Theologian of Terror
Posted: February 2, 2009
Qaradawi is a major figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic movement founded in Egypt in 1928 that has spawned several contemporary terrorist groups (including Hamas and Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which was absorbed by Al Qaeda). Since the 1980s – after several crackdowns in Egypt and Syria – the group has generally refrained from violence while remaining dedicated to enshrining Islamic teaching as civil law.
Its ideology is rooted in anti-Semitism. For example, Said Qutb, the group's leading intellectual, wrote an essay in 1950 titled "Our Struggle with the Jews," in which he argues that the Jews had always been enemies of Muslims and in modern times used secular Western culture to corrupt and ultimately destroy Islam.
In early 2004, Qaradawi declined an offer to serve as the group's leader, a position he said had first been offered 28 years earlier. His prominence in the movement was underscored when he and two other Brotherhood leaders met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in May 2004 in an effort to improve the group's relations with Assad's government.
European Council for Fatwa and Research
Qaradawi is chairman and president of this Dublin-based group, which he founded in 1997 to establish a central religious authority for European Muslims. The organization issues fatwas that guide European Muslims to follow Shariah, or Islamic law, outside of the Muslim world.
The Council does not acknowledge the state of Israel and rejects any compromise with the Jewish state. The Council's deputy, Faisal Mawlawi, stated on IslamOnline in June 2007 that Palestinians fight merely "to drive out the Zionist aggressors and to force them to return to the countries they came from."
During its annual conference in 2003, the Council issued a fatwa supporting suicide bombing operations against coalition forces in Iraq as well as against Israelis. In April 2004, Mawlawi published a fatwa on IslamOnline in response to the mutilation of the bodies of security contractors in Iraq, where he permitted such acts. Two weeks after the fatwa was published, the body of a Spanish officer, who died during a raid on a terrorist cell associated with the March 11 Madrid bombing, was disinterred and burned.
International Association of Muslim Scholars
Qaradawi is founder and president of the International Association of Muslim Scholars (IAMS), which was officially launched on July 11, 2004, in London, and is now based in Dublin. The group describes itself as a "pan-Muslim body," working on "safeguarding the Muslim identity and bridging the gap between the peoples and their rulers in the Islamic countries."
IAMS has issued several anti-Zionist fatwas. For example, in May 2004, Taskhiri said on Iranian TV: "We must support this [Palestinian] uprising as much as we can so it will realize its goals and cut off the treacherous Zionist hands and the American hands standing behind Zionism and supporting it." He has also called the U.S. the "mother of international terrorism."
In September 2004, Qaradawi led an IAMS delegation to Sudan to fact-find and help mediate between the government and rebel forces in Darfur. Following the tour of Darfur, the association's secretary general, Dr. Mohamed Saleem al-Awa, denied that genocide had taken place in the region. He also insisted that reports of widespread rapes and other atrocities were false, and alleged that Muslims in the region were being victimized by a Zionist conspiracy.
Qatar Foundation's Education City
The Al-Qaradawi Centre for Research and Modern Thought, established in April 2009, is a "center for jurisprudence" under the aegis of Qatar Foundation's Faculty of Islamic Studies (QFIS), an Islamic university in Qatar's Education City. One of six research centers the QFIS planned to build on its campus, the Al-Qaradawi Centre's specific mission is to research "the challenges and complexities of the developments unfolding in contemporary societies and to propagate the message of the middle path as a tenet of Islam for which Qatar's most prominent Islamic scholar, Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, has devoted all his life," according to the Qatar Foundation's publication.
In an August 2009 interview with the Qatar Foundation shortly after the Al-Qaradawi Centre opened, Dr. Hatem El-Karanshawy, the Founding Dean of QFIS, said Qaradawi is "very well known for his moderate thinking and for his ability to face the challenges facing Muslims all over the world."
Sheikh Qaradawi's affiliation with the university goes beyond being the namesake of its research center. Qaradawi reportedly participated in the commemoration ceremony for students on May 6, 2008, where he announced the Sheikh Al-Qaradawi Scholarship program. Five annual scholarships will be offered to students per year for a Master of Arts in Islamic Studies with a specialization in Contemporary Fiqh (Jurisprudence).
Qaradawi also shields the Qatar Foundation's other projects from controversy with support in religious terms. In October 2009, Qaradawi reportedly provided verbal support to a stem cell storage bank that sought to operate within the Qatar Foundation's Science and Technology Park.
In 1999, Qaradawi founded the online media outlet IslamOnline in Qatar with support from the country's royal family. Qaradawi served as the site's chairman, heading a committee of scholars that oversaw its content. The site, published in both Arabic and English, enabled Qaradawi to reach the American public despite being banned from the country in 1999. The site often featured comments and religious rulings by Qaradawi or his European Council on Fatwa and Research.
The site was dedicated to all facets of Islamic life, but it focused primarily on religious and political topics. It contained articles and religious rulings which supported violence against non-Muslims, as well as anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and anti-American content. In several news stories, Zionism was referred to as a "cancer," and numerous reports claimed that the close ties between the U.S. and Israel demonstrated their mutual desire to oppress Muslims. Several news stories were marked by conspiracy theories, including one entitled, "Israel Uses Chemical Weapons against Palestinians."
Many of the fatwas posted on the site condoned violence. For instance, a July 2007 fatwat by Sheikh Faysal Mawlawi, deputy chairman of European Council for Fatwa and Research, read: "Martyr operations are not suicide and should not be deemed as unjustifiable means of endangering one's life."
In March 2010, after more than a decade, a reorganization by Al-Balagh Cultural Society, the company that owns the site, resulted in an end to Qaradawi's affiliation with the site.
After Qardawi's cut his ties with the Web site IslamOnline, some of the editorial staff also left and created a new online media outlet, called OnIslam. Although no explicit connection between Qaradawi and OnIslam has been reported, it appears that Qaradawi is engaged in the new initiative. The same week OnIslam launched in October 2010, the site published an extensive interview it conducted with Qaradawi "on the occasion of the official launch."
Much of the content from IslamOnline is available on OnIslam, including Qaradawi's own fatwas expressing support for "martyrdom operations," or suicide bombing against Israel. The site is structured in much the same way as IslamOnline, with sections on various religious and political topics.
The site includes articles and religious rulings supporting violence against homosexuals, as well as anti-Semitic and anti-Israel content. On February 24, 2011, OnIslam launched a new section as part of its "special focus on the institution of the family" that is singularly dedicated condemning homosexuals, arguing against gay rights and providing Islamic fatwas that call for the "worldly punishment" of death for gays.
An anti-Semitic fatwa by Sheikh Mohamed El-Moctar El-Shinqiti was posted to the site on January 5, 2009. The ruling by El-Shinqiti, the former director of an Islamic center in Lubbock, Texas, who no longer resides in the U.S., read, "The Israelis are currently proving to the world that the blood-thirsty sacredness of their Old Testament ancestors is still acceptable in their ideology." In a number of other fatwas available on the site, El-Shinqiti expresses support for "the resistance" against Israel.
Muslim American Society
The Muslim American Society (MAS), based in Falls Church, Virginia, claims to be "America's largest grassroots Muslim organization with over 50 chapters nationwide." The organization has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, sponsored anti-Israel rallies in the U.S. and publishes anti-Semitic articles in its magazine, The American Muslims.
Qaradawi is chairman (in absentia) of the Michigan-based Islamic American University (IAU), a subsidiary of MAS, according to information on the MAS Web site. He is also listed by the IAU as a faculty member.
The IAU vice-chairman, Jamal Badawi, and IAU's founder, Salah Sultan, are members of Qaradawi's International Association of Muslim Scholars and the European Council for Fatwa and Research. Both Badawi and Sultan attended a conference in July 2007 honoring Qaradawi and his support for suicide bombing in Israel.
In 2006 Sultan was a keynote speaker at a Hamas rally in Istanbul, according to Qaradawi's Web site IslamOnline. Another IAU board member, Abdul Lateef Arabiyat, is a leader of the Islamic Action Front, the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing in Jordan.
Islamic Society of Boston
ISB was formed in 1981 in an effort to help new Muslims in the Boston area preserve their Islamic identity, as stated by the society's Web site. Qaradawi was a member of the society's board of directors, according to its tax returns from 1998-2000. Qaradawi was reportedly also featured on ISB's Arabic-language brochure endorsing a new building project for which the Society was raising money. The brochure, which was published in 2003, states that Qaradawi is one of "several international Islamic personalities who are working to support the project." Qaradawi reportedly also appeared in a video that was shown at a November 2002 fundraiser for the ISB project in Boston. Nonetheless, the group has said that Qaradawi "has never played any role in the ISB."
ISB's founder and first President was Abdurahman Alamoudi, a prominent Muslim-American community leader who pleaded guilty to accusations that he had illegal dealings with Libya and that he took part in a plot to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. He is currently serving a 23-year prison term.
In 2005 the ISB filed a defamation lawsuit against 17 defendants -- journalists, scholars and activist groups who expressed concerns about the society's leaders. In May 2007, ISB agreed to drop the lawsuit, claiming victory because the deal also brought to an end a related lawsuit that threatened the construction of a mosque in Roxbury, Massachusetts.
Al Taqwa Bank
This Bahamas-based financial institution, designated as terrorist financiers by the U.S. Department of Treasury in 2001, concealed terrorists' holdings, according to U.S. intelligence, including those of Al Qaeda. Qaradawi was one of the institution's largest shareholders, according to a 1999 shareholders list. He also served on the bank's Sharia Board, overseeing its adherence to Islamic law.
In January 2007, the Egyptian government froze the assets of Yusuf Nada, the head of the Al Taqwa Bank, because of his involvement in the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic extremist movement founded in Egypt that has spawned and inspired global terrorist groups, including the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
Union of Good
Qaradawi serves as the president of the Union of Good (UG), a charity organization that was designated as a terrorist entity by the U.S. Department of Treasury on November 12, 2008. The UG, established in 2000 and based in Saudi Arabia, is an umbrella organization that represents over 50 Islamic charities worldwide. According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, Hamas leadership founded the UG shortly after the inception of the second Intifada with the purpose of facilitating the transfer of funds to Hamas.
The UG is linked with various Hamas-affiliated organizations and has transferred tens of millions of dollars to Hamas directly. Hamas uses the money to support terrorism and the families of suicide bombers, according to court documents.
Several of the primary charities under the UG umbrella are also designated as terrorist entities by the U.S. for providing support to Hamas and other terrorist organizations, including Australian based Al-Aqsa Foundation, the United Kingdom-based International Palestine Relief and Development Fund (Interpal), and the France-based Comite de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens (CBSP). Another organization under the UG umbrella, the Al-Salah Society, was designated in August 2007 after it was discovered that the now defunct charity employed members of Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's military wing, during the first Intifada.
In 2002, Israel outlawed the UG because of its links to Hamas. Five years later, Israel indicted four officials in the A-Ram Charity Committee in Jerusalem for receiving money from the UG. These officials were charged with channeling money to Hamas. According to the indictment, 1 million New Israeli Shekels had been transferred from the UG to Hamas in 2007.