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May 8, 2014 10:58 am

Senator Chuck Grassley Looks Into Visits of Islamic Leaders to U.S.

avatar by Steven Emerson

Capitol Hill. Photo: Wiki Commons.

A longtime Islamic Society of North America leader appears to be at the center of an inquiry by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley about a “hands off” list within the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) service.

Grassley, R-Iowa, released a letter on Tuesday that he sent to the Department of Homeland Security in February asking for an explanation of what “hands off” meant, the Washington Post reports. The letter included CBP emails from 2012 about the impending U.S. visit of “an Egyptian born Canadian citizen who was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood” and a close associate of a supporter of Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The documents are redacted, blocking the subject’s identity.

But they also describe the subject as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation’s Hamas-support trial and as someone who said “that the US is staging car bombings in Iraq and that [it] is ok for men to beat their wives, question who was behind the 9/11 attacks.”

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Jamal Badawi, a member at large on ISNA’s governing board as recently as 2012, fits all of those descriptions. He appears among Holy Land Foundation fundraisers on the prosecution’s unindicted co-conspirator list. He is listed in a 1992 telephone directory of American Muslim Brotherhood members. In 2004, he issued a fatwa saying husbands can physically punish wives who persist “in bad habits and showing contempt of her husband and disregard for her marital obligations” as a way to avoid divorce.

ISNA was created by Muslim Brotherhood members in America in 1981.

Badawi, who also served as a board member for the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) Canada chapter, expressed doubt in 2005 over who was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. That year, he speculated in a Saudi Arabian newspaper that U.S. forces were sneaking explosives into the cars of innocent Iraqis, “and when the car reaches the checkpoint it explodes and they call them suicide bombers, perhaps the occupants of the car were not even aware that they are carrying a bomb in their car.”

That kind of record should have been sufficient to keep the subject out of the United States for “endorsing and inciting” terrorism under the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA), a May 10, 2012 email appended to Grassley’s letter said. But other emails note that the subject sued at least twice over prior denials of admission into the United States, and that, in 2010, his records were removed from a watch list “and the DHS Secretary was involved in the matter.” Under the INA, terrorism-based grounds of inadmissibility require special waivers from the federal government before the person can enter the country.

Although standard procedure for someone with this background calls for secondary inspection before entering the United States, Badawi has entered without it since 2010, the emails indicate.

CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske replied in April, telling Grassley that there is no list “which would render an individual free of the grounds of inadmissibility or from any other inspection requirement.” A traveler might avoid “secondary inspection because information available to CBP has been reviewed and examined on numerous prior occasions,” Kerlikowske wrote.

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