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Weekly word: ISNA

September 1, 2010

Islamic Society of North America

Here’s Jocelyne Cesari’s idealized view of the Islamic Society of North America:

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), an offshoot of the Muslim Students Association, was founded in 1981 in Plainfield, Indiana.  ISNA was established to address the changing needs of the MSA constituency, which at the time was largely made up of immigrant students residing temporarily in the United States.  As these members graduated from colleges and universities across the United States, started families, joined the workforce, and otherwise began to make permanent their stay in America, their needs outgrew the resources and purposes of the MSA.  It was this need for an institution that could serve the expanding religious, social, civic, and professional interests that led the MSA leadership to create ISNA.  Now an umbrella organization, ISNA has come to supersede its parent entity in terms of size as well as the scope of activities that it carries out.

And now, the rest of the story.  The Holy Land Foundation, once the biggest Islamic charity in America, was convicted in 2008 on 108 counts for funding Hamas.  During the trial, federal prosecutors filed documents which named ISNA as an unindicted co-conspirator with an “intimate relationship” with the Muslim Brotherhood.  The Justice Department has stood behind these filings against ISNA.

Cesari is right about one thing:  ISNA has outgrown its parent organization in size and scope.  It has also outgrown the MSA in its perfidy and the damage it has inflicted.

A few words about the money.  Apart from ISNA’s well-known, real estate rich, & deep-pocketed financial instrument, the North American Islamic Trust (which was also identified by the feds as a Muslim Brotherhood intimate), ISNA has its own internal funding office known as the ISNA Development Foundation.  IDF has a long-term goal of establishing its own endowment fund and living off the interest and dividends.  IDF says it makes an annual report of its finances available, but there are no links or downloadable copies on ISNA’s website…

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