International Institute of Islamic Thought
The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) is a privately held non-profit organization.

The Institution is concerned with issues of Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic thought. It was founded in 1981 in Pennsylvania, and is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia
Herndon, Virginia
Herndon is a town in Fairfax County, Virginia, in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area of the United States. The population was 21,655 at the 2000 census, which makes it the largest of three towns in the county.-History:...

, in the suburbs of Washington DC.

Controversy has surrounded Islamist radicalism at the Institute, which was founded with seed money
Seed money
Seed money, sometimes known as seed funding, friends and family funding or angel funding , is a securities offering whereby one or more parties that have some connection to a new enterprise invest the funds necessary to start the business so that it has enough funds to sustain itself for a period...

 from the Muslim Brotherhood
Muslim Brotherhood
The Society of the Muslim Brothers is the world's oldest and one of the largest Islamist parties, and is the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states. It was founded in 1928 in Egypt by the Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna and by the late 1940s had an...

. The FBI has raided the Institute seeking evidence of contributing terrorists, while members have been arrested and found to be active leaders of terrorist organizations. An Institute book justified violence against Israel as liberation struggle, not terrorism.

Mission statement

The Institute is governed by a board of trustees that meets regularly, and periodically elects one of its members to serve as President.

The Institute describes itself as an intellectual forum working from an Islamic perspective to promote and support research projects, organize intellectual and cultural meetings, and publish scholarly works.


The Institute publishes works produced by its own research programs, as well as contributions from around the world, in Arabic, English, and other major languages. IIIT publications include over 400 titles, distributed in various series and topics, in addition to quarterly journals in English and Arabic.

Notable personnel

  • Jamal al Barzinji
    Jamal al Barzinji
    Dr. Jamal al Barzinji is a Muslim Arab-American businessman, associated with the International Institute of Islamic Thought, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, and the SAAR Foundation....

  • Ismail al-Faruqi
    Ismail al-Faruqi
    Isma'il Raji al-Faruqi was a Palestinian-American philosopher, widely recognised by his peers as an authority on Islam and comparative religion. He spent several years at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, then taught at several universities in North America, including McGill University in Montreal...

  • Taha Jabir Alalwani
    Taha Jabir Alalwani
    place this image male.svg|right]] Taha Jabir Al-Alwani , Ph.D. , is the President of Cordoba University. He also holds the Imam Al-Shafi'i Chair in the Islamic Legal Theory at The Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences at Corboda University...

  • Anwar Ibrahim
    Anwar Ibrahim
    Anwar bin Ibrahim is a Malaysian politician who served as Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister from 1993 to 1998. Early in his career, Anwar was a close ally of Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad but subsequently emerged as the most prominent critic of Mahathir's government.In 1999, he was sentenced...

  • Yaqub Mirza
    Yaqub Mirza
    M. Yaqub Mirza is a Herndon, VA -based businessman and Islamic activist.- Background :Mirza holds a M.Sc. from University of Karachi , a Ph.D. in Physics and M.A. in Teaching Science from University of Texas at Dallas...

  • Ahmad Totonji
    Ahmad Totonji
    Ahmad Totonji was a co-founder and officer of the now-defunct Safa Trust and a co-founder of the International Institute of Islamic Thought, along with Anwar Ibrahim, Jamal al Barzinji, and Hashim al Talib. He was also a chairman of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society , and Deputy Secretary General...


Muslim Brotherhood
The Institute was founded in 1981 with seed money
Seed money
Seed money, sometimes known as seed funding, friends and family funding or angel funding , is a securities offering whereby one or more parties that have some connection to a new enterprise invest the funds necessary to start the business so that it has enough funds to sustain itself for a period...

 from the Muslim Brotherhood
Muslim Brotherhood
The Society of the Muslim Brothers is the world's oldest and one of the largest Islamist parties, and is the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states. It was founded in 1928 in Egypt by the Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna and by the late 1940s had an...

. It has branches and offices in a number of major cities worldwide.

Basheer Nafi and the Islamic Jihad and Hamas
In 1996 Basheer Nafi, who had been working as a top-level researcher and editor at the Institute, was arrested by federal Immigration and Naturalization Service
Immigration and Naturalization Service
The United States Immigration and Naturalization Service , now referred to as Legacy INS, ceased to exist under that name on March 1, 2003, when most of its functions were transferred from the Department of Justice to three new components within the newly created Department of Homeland Security, as...

 agents and charged with immigration fraud. He was considered an active leader of the Islamic Jihad
Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine
The Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine known in the West as simply Palestinian Islamic Jihad , is a small Palestinian militant organization. The group has been labelled as a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Australia and Israel...

 terrorist organization who was working for a network of academic front groups, and was linked as well to the Islamist militant group Hamas
Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

. He pleaded guilty to a lesser violation of his visa status, and was deported and barred from entering the U.S. for five years.

Book; targeting civilians with terror
An Institute book by IIIT official AbdulHamid AbuSulayman entitled "Violence," published in 2001, said Israel is a "foreign usurper" that must be confronted with "fear, terror and lack of security." The book maintained "Fighting is a duty of the oppressed people." Palestinian fighters must choose their targets "whether the targets are civilian or military," it said, adding that any such attacks should not be "excessive." The book said such attacks were justified acts of a liberation struggle, not terrorism.

Sami Al-Arian and the Islamic Jihad
On March 20, 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

 (FBI) officials raided the Institute and closed the Institute temporarily. The agents were seeking evidence that the Institute was contributing to terrorists, and seized about 25 computers and documents that included financial records, mailing lists, and staff lists. The search was part of a larger FBI-Customs Service
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is a federal law enforcement agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security charged with regulating and facilitating international trade, collecting import duties, and enforcing U.S. regulations, including trade, customs and immigration. CBP is the...

 series of raids that included 19 other business and non-profit entities known as Operation Green Quest
Operation Green Quest
Operation Green Quest was a United States Customs Service-sponsored interagency investigative unit formed in October 2001 after the September 11 attacks, and concerned with the surveillance and interdiction of terrorist financing sources...

"Such a massive ream of documents came out of those search warrants," one law enforcement official said, "it takes incredibly lengthy investigative work."

The raids led to the convictions of two people, including Abdurahman Alamoudi, who worked for the SAAR Foundation. Alamoudi admitted that he plotted with Libya to assassinate the Saudi ruler and was sentenced to 23 years in jail.

A leader of the Institute, Iqbal Unus, his wife and daughter brought suit charging that their rights were violated and the government was guilty of assault, trespass, and false imprisonment when their home was searched in the raid. A federal judge dismissed the suit, however. The lawsuit had also named a terrorism researcher, Rita Katz
Rita Katz
Rita Katz is a terrorism analyst and the co-founder of the Search for International Terrorist Entities Institute , a private intelligence firm based in Washington, DC....

, as a defendant, but the judge dismissed her from the case and awarded her $41,000 in legal fees.

The Institute was a leading financier of Sami Al-Arian
Sami Al-Arian
Dr. Sami Amin Al-Arian , is a former resident of Temple Terrace, Florida, now living in Northern Virginia, who is a Muslim activist, and former University of South Florida professor of computer engineering...

's now-defunct World and Islam Studies Enterprise, a "think tank" shut down after the FBI confiscated its files in 1995. That think tank raised money for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which the State Department labeled a terrorist group in 1995. Al-Arian pleaded guilty in 2006 to helping a terrorist organization, and was sentenced to 57 months in prison. Taha Jaber Al- Awani, an officer of the Institute, was named an unindicted co-conspirator in Al-Arian's case.

The Institute, whose money was believed to come from wealthy Saudi Arabians through the SAAR Foundation (a tightly connected Herndon-based network of more than 100 organizations; also known as the Safa Group), also funded other Al-Arian organizations, including the Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace, the Islamic Academy of Florida and the Islamic Committee for Palestine. Two incorporators of the Islamic trust that owns the Islamic Academy of Florida were Jamal Barzinji and Hisham Al-Talib, both of whom also served as directors of the Institute.

Attorneys for the Institute claimed that the raid violated its free speech and privacy rights, and asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa C. Buchanan to order the boxes of records returned. But on May 4, 2002, the Judge found that the investigative agents had acted properly, and declined to lift her order sealing the affidavits, though she urged prosecutors to return seized property as soon as possible.

In October 2002, Virginia Representative James P. Moran, Jr.
Jim Moran
James Patrick "Jim" Moran, Jr. is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1991. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district is located in Northern Virginia and includes the cities of Falls Church and Alexandria, all of Arlington County, and a portion of Fairfax County.Jim Moran was...

, said he was returning donations from the Institute, as: "I don't want any contributors to my campaign contributing to any individuals or organizations, even inadvertently, that might fund terrorism or organizations involved in terrorism."

In 2007 he refused to answer questions to a grand jury about the Institute, and was found guilty of civil contempt an jailed for 13 months. On October 16, 2006, and on March 20, 2008, Al-Arian refused to answer questions about the Institute before a federal grand jury
Grand jury
A grand jury is a type of jury that determines whether a criminal indictment will issue. Currently, only the United States retains grand juries, although some other common law jurisdictions formerly employed them, and most other jurisdictions employ some other type of preliminary hearing...

, asserting that he believed his life would be in danger if he testified. He was charged with criminal contempt the following month for unlawfully and willfully refusing court orders that he testify as a grand jury witness. On September 2, 2008, he was released from custody and put under house arrest
House arrest
In justice and law, house arrest is a measure by which a person is confined by the authorities to his or her residence. Travel is usually restricted, if allowed at all...

 at his daughter Laila's residence in Northern Virginia, where he is being monitored electronically
Electronic tagging
Electronic tagging is a form of non-surreptitious surveillance consisting of an electronic device attached to a person or vehicle, especially certain criminals, allowing their whereabouts to be monitored. In general, devices locate themselves using GPS and report their position back to a control...

 while he awaits trial on criminal contempt charges. While under federal law, Al-Arian could not be jailed for more than 18 months for civil contempt, the law does not have a time limit for criminal contempt.

The Institute canceled its $1.5 million offer to Temple University
Temple University
Temple University is a comprehensive public research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Originally founded in 1884 by Dr. Russell Conwell, Temple University is among the nation's largest providers of professional education and prepares the largest body of professional...

 for an endowed chair in Islamic studies after concerns were raised about the Institute's possible funding of suspected terrorists, it was reported in January 2008. Negotiations between Temple and the Institute broke down after trustees and others pressed Temple to reject the gift. Temple president Ann Weaver Hart
Ann Weaver Hart
Ann Weaver Hart was elected the ninth university president of Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 4, 2006. The first female president of Temple, she assumed the presidency on July 1, 2006. On September 9, 2011, Weaver Hart announced that she will step down in June...

 had said that “after much discussion and consideration, Temple decided to neither accept or reject this generous offer. The university indicated that no decision regarding this matter would be made until post-9/11 federal investigations of the IIIT are complete."

Tarik A. Hamdi and al-Qaeda
In 2005, Tarik A. Hamdi, who had worked at the Institute, was accused in a federal affidavit of having been the "American contact" for one of Osama bin-Laden's front organisations, and having given a satellite telephone battery to a bin-Laden aide in Afghanistan for a telephone used by bin-Laden.

Contributions to Esam Omeish candidacy for state assemblyman

In 2009 Esam Omeish
Esam Omeish
Esam S. Omeish is a Libyan-born American physician and chief of the Division of General Surgery at Inova Alexandria Hospital since 2006...

 ran for State Assemblyman in the Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

Primary election
A primary election is an election in which party members or voters select candidates for a subsequent election. Primary elections are one means by which a political party nominates candidates for the next general election....

 election in the 35th District of the Virginia House of Delegates
Virginia House of Delegates
The Virginia House of Delegates is the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly. It has 100 members elected for terms of two years; unlike most states, these elections take place during odd-numbered years. The House is presided over by the Speaker of the House, who is elected from among the...

. Omeish raised $143,734 for his campaign the fourth-largest amount of fundraising state-wide among all Virginia House of Delegates candidates. His third-highest contributor was the International Institute of Islamic Thought. Omeish had made controversial statements reflecting radical views, including "you have learned the way, that you have known that the jihad
Jihad , an Islamic term, is a religious duty of Muslims. In Arabic, the word jihād translates as a noun meaning "struggle". Jihad appears 41 times in the Quran and frequently in the idiomatic expression "striving in the way of God ". A person engaged in jihad is called a mujahid; the plural is...

way is the way to liberate your land.", Omeish also accused Israel of genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

 and massacres against Palestinians, and said the "Israeli agenda" controls Congress. Omeish also was the one who hired Anwar al-Awlaki
Anwar al-Awlaki
Anwar al-Awlaki was an American and Yemeni imam who was an engineer and educator by training. According to U.S. government officials, he was a senior talent recruiter and motivator who was involved with planning operations for the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda...

 to what would become known as the "9/11 mosque" in Virgnia. Awalki, who had previously been investigated for links to Al Queda, was linked to the 9/11 hijackers, and is now targeted for killing
Targeted killing
Targeted killing is the deliberate, specific targeting and killing, by a government or its agents, of a supposed terrorist or of a supposed "unlawful combatant" who is not in that government's custody...

by the US government.

External links

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