Hizb Ut-Tahrir: Shariah Takes Precedence over U.S. Constitution
Imam Promises to Fight "Until Islam Becomes Victorious or We Die in the Attempt"
July 20, 2009
Oak Lawn, Illinois - Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), the international movement to re-establish an international Islamic state or Caliphate - kicked off a new campaign to win American recruits Sunday afternoon in this Chicago suburb. Nearly 300 people packed the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton Hotel for its Khalifah Conference on "The Fall of Capitalism and the Rise of Islam" to listen to listen to HT ideologues blame capitalism for World War I and World War II; the U.S. subprime mortgage meltdown; the current violence in Iraq and Afghanistan; world poverty and malnutrition and inner-city drug use.
A speaker identified as Abu Atallah even blamed capitalism for the late singer Michael Jackson's decision "to shed his black skin."
Hizb ut-Tahrir aims to restore the Caliphate that existed during the Ottoman Empire in Turkey. Turkish leader Kemal Ataturk abolished it in 1924 in an effort to create a secular, Europeanized state.
Security at the conference was very tight. Oak Lawn police maintained a checkpoint outside the Hilton, and local police and HT's own security people had a substantial presence inside the hotel. In the ballroom where the conference took place, men and women were largely segregated, with men in the front and women in the back. This became a significant point of contention between HT supporters and several members of the audience who objected to this arrangement. At one point, an unidentified Hizb ut-Tahrir speaker became flustered over this line of questioning.
"Men and women," he blurted out, must be kept separate "to prevent people from behaving like animals."
A woman in the audience responded: "How does intermingling between men and women make you animals?" HT panelists didn't have a persuasive answer, and soon adjourned that session.
The conference was sometimes poorly organized. There was no list of speakers, forcing reporters to sometimes guess at the spelling of speakers' names. But HT certainly appeared to be serious about working for the larger goals of the conference: abolishing capitalism and imposing Caliphate rule over the world.
According to Hizb ut-Tahrir, the world's social and economic problems will not be fixed until the world is governed by Shariah and the government controls all major industries. Lenders would no longer be able to charge interest, which one speaker decried as a "poisonous concept." Charity, or zakat, was advertised as the way to alleviate "economic inequality."
"Secular capitalism has made me devalue my skin" and "has kept my family in ghettos," said one speaker, an African-American who went on to blame it for the fact that he smoked marijuana and his grandmother played the lottery. Capitalism, he added, is a form of economic "terrorism" and "causes us to be sent to mental hospitals." Barack Obama's presidency, he said, "is only a scheme or con" to trick people into thinking that things will get better under capitalism.
But time and again on Sunday, Hizb ut-Tahrir officials seemed to be playing slippery rhetorical games of their own - particularly when it came to the behavior of despotic Muslim regimes and terrorists. When a few skeptical audience members pressed speakers over the fact that Islamic governments in Iran and Saudi Arabia are despotic, conference speakers claimed those weren't "authentic" Muslim governments and that the CIA (and by implication, the capitalist U.S. government) was to blame for the problems in those countries. In an interview with WBBM-TV in Chicago, HT deputy spokesman Mohammad Malkawi refused to specifically condemn Al Qaida and the Taliban.
Hizb ut-Tahrir has not been designated a terrorist group by the U.S. government and it insists it is only interested in instituting radical change by nonviolent means. But HT's alumni include 9/ll mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the late Iraqi terrorist leader Abu Musab Zarqawi and would-be Hamas suicide bombers, and the group's pro-jihadist rhetoric has led critics to label it a "conveyor belt for terrorists."
One Muslim American group issued a statement in advance of the conference condemning Hizb ut-Tahrir's radical ideology and challenging others to follow suit.
"Hizb ut-Tahrir preaches an ideology that calls for the destruction of the principles that America is founded on," said Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American-Islamic Forum for Democracy. "While their words are protected by our First Amendment, their actions and movement must not be allowed to take hold. The silence of American Islamist organizations like [the Council on American-Islamic Relations] CAIR and [the Islamic Society of North America] ISNA in condemning the ideologies of Hizb ut-Tahrir and their agenda of insurgency in America speaks volumes to their own, albeit, more camouflaged Islamist agenda."
HT's efforts to rehabilitate its image won't be helped by the menacing tone on display Sunday. One late-afternoon panelist suggested that modern industrial powers could fall to Muslims the way Mecca fell to Mohammed nearly 1,400 years ago.
A speaker identified by conference organizers as Imam Jaleel Abdul Razek said that "if they offer us the sun, or the moon, or a nice raise, or a passport, or a house in the suburbs or even a place to pray at the job, on the condition that we stop calling for Islam as a complete way of life - we should never do that, ever do that - unless and until Islam becomes victorious or we die in the attempt." (To see the clip, click here.)
Later, the following dialogue ensued between the imam and a member of the audience over whether Shariah or the Constitution should be the supreme law of the land in the United States (click here to see the clip):
Audience member: "Would you get rid of the Constitution for Shariah, yes or no?"
Imam: "Over the Muslim world? Yes, it would be gone."
Audience Member: And so if the United States was a Muslim world, the Constitution would be gone?"
Imam: "If the United States was in the Muslim world, the Muslims who are here would be calling and happy to see the Shariah applied, yes we would."
Audience Member: "And the Constitution gone. That's all."
Imam: "Yes, as Muslims they would be long gone."
While Hizb ut-Tahrir's controversial message attracted demonstrators and some media attention, the group at least is open about its ambitions. It not only is determined to destroy capitalism -- it would shred the United States Constitution as well in favor of Shariah law.
Pro Terror group to meet in Chicago Suburb
IPT News 7-10-09
Hizb ut-Tahrir, an international movement seeking to re-establish an international Islamic state - or Caliphate - and to indoctrinate Muslims into supporting jihad, wants to step up its recruitment efforts in the United States. On July 19, the group, whose alumni include 9/ 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and suicide bombers, will hold a conference entitled "The Fall of Capitalism and the Rise of Islam" in the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton Hotel in Oak Lawn, Ill, a Chicago suburb.
RELATED: Hizb ut-Tahrir, Islam's Political Insurgency
COVERAGE: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,533880,00.html# , http://www.investigativeproject.org/1097/emerson-on-fox-news-jihadi-convention-in-chicago
For decades, Hizb ut-Tahrir America (HTA) has operated covertly, holding these Khalifa (Caliphate) conferences in the United States under the name of front organizations. But that has begun to change. Last fall, the group issued a leaflet in its own name urging Muslims to boycott the U.S. elections. The group just released this video promoting the July 19 conference. According to the conference website, the program includes a question-and-answer session and two panels; one entitled "Capitalism is Doomed to Fail," the other "The Suffering Under Capitalism."
The conference initially was scheduled for the Aqsa School in Bridgeview, Ill. But the school withdrew, claiming Hizb ut-Tahrir officials "misrepresented themselves." An official said the group approached the school in late April claiming it wanted to hold a bazaar-type event in July that would involve selling traditional food and clothing. School officials said that when they learned the real purpose, they cancelled and refunded the group's deposit.
While solid numbers are difficult to come by, there is little question that Hizb ut-Tahrir's worldwide membership has grown substantially since the September 11 attacks, says Madeleine Gruen, a senior analyst with the NEFA Foundation. In 2003, estimates of HT membership ranged from 10,000 to 100,000 people worldwide. Today, by contrast, the group (currently active in more than 40 countries) has approximately 100,000 members in Indonesia alone and "many thousands" more around the world, Gruen told IPT News.
In the United States, Hizb ut-Tahrir's following is estimated at no more than a few hundred. The decision to hold this month's conference under its own name is a sign that the group is preparing to raise its profile. Once that is achieved, Gruen adds, its cadres are supposed to establish "an Islamic government and military" in order to take Hizb ut-Tahrir's message to the world.
HT seeks to fuse an ideology combining orthodox Islam, Marxist-Leninist economics, anti-Semitism and opposition to Western democracy into a political program to bring back the Caliphate. Despite its public rhetoric about nonviolence, Hizb ut-Tahrir has "precisely the same ideology and objectives" as al Qaeda, Gruen told IPT News. And HT has a much larger membership base to recruit from, she added.
While it refrains from carrying out terrorist actions itself, Hizb ut-Tahrir glorifies jihadism and excoriates the terrorist organization Hamas as being too soft on Israel. In a leaflet posted on its website July 1, HT said that if the Caliphate were in existence, all of "Palestine" would be rid of "the usurpation of the Jewish occupiers" and brought "to the fold of the Islamic state."
HT was founded in 1952 in Bayt al-Maqdis, a Jordanian-occupied suburb of Jerusalem, by Sheikh Yaqiuddin Al-Nabhani, a man whose philosophy had been shaped by the Muslim Brotherhood. After he concluded that the Muslim Brotherhood was too moderate, Al-Nabhani formed Hizb ut-Tahrir. After its involvement in failed coup attempts in Egypt and Jordan, HT was banned throughout the Middle East. It moved to Western Europe, and after the fall of Soviet Communism the group spread into Central Asia.
HT is obsessed with the purported evils of the United States, President Obama and the capitalist system. A look at its website found articles with titles like "Bailouts and bonus culture shows [sic] the corruption of democracy;" "Obama Offers Sugar-Coated Poison for the Region!" (a recap of the President's recent visit to the Middle East); and "G20 Leaders attempt to salvage the last vestiges of Capitalism." A common theme is that Muslims in Pakistan should not join with the U.S. military in fighting against the Taliban. "Fighting Muslims is a great evil, which only benefits America," reads one typical entry on the HT website.
A posting entitled "Obama's words will not hide America's ugly face of Colonialism" said of the President's speech to Muslims in Egypt last month:
"Although this appears a seemingly positive gesture towards the Muslim world, the actions of his government appear every bit as ruthless as the Bush administration. [Obama] differs only to the extent that, unlike Bush who spoke with frank hatred, he uses 'soft power' and personal charm to cover his intentions."
Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesmen have emphasized that their organization does not engage in terrorism. They claim the U.S. and Pakistani governments seek to suppress the group because they fear its advocacy of "justice" for Muslims.
Critics say the argument is a sham. "The freedom and justice HT seeks by overthrowing democracy can often only be attained through violence," said Zeyno Baran, senior fellow and director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Eurasian Policy in July 2008 testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
In her testimony, Baran added: "HT is not likely to take up terrorism itself. Terrorist acts are simply not part of its mission. HT exists to serve as an ideological and political training ground for Islamists. And I have called them a 'conveyer belt to terrorism.' "
Terrorists who have been members of Hizb ut-Tahrir include Al Qaeda's Mohammed; Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, who was originally a member in Jordan; Hambali, head of the East Asian-based terror group Jemaa Islamiya, and Asif Muhammad Hanif and Omar Khan Sharif, who were recruited by Hamas to carry out suicide bombings at a Tel Aviv seafront bar. Read more about HT's record as a "conveyor belt" for producing terrorists here.
In a June 2001 article in its publication Al-Waie, Hizb-Ut-Tahrir issued a fatwa on suicide attacks which said that "all ways and means which a Muslim uses to kill unbelievers is [sic] permitted as long as the enemy unbeliever is killed." It is acceptable to "blow yourself up amongst their military encampments or blow yourself and them up with a belt of explosives."
HT has been banned in Turkey and Germany for distributing literature that includes incitement to hatred and violence against Jews. In a paper for the Manhattan Institute, Gruen pointed to one leaflet distributed by the group titled: "And Kill Them Whenever You Find Them, and Turn Them Out From Where They Have Turned You Out." It stated that:
"Jews are a people of slander. They are treacherous people who violate oaths and covenants. They lie and change words from the right places. They take the rights of the people unjustly, and kill the Prophets and the innocent."
The leaflet then encouraged martyrdom operations against Jews.
Despite the incendiary message, law enforcement's hands are tied when it comes to a group like Hizb ut-Tahrir, said Bob Blitzer, who formerly headed the FBI's counterterrorism efforts. "Preaching violence is not enough reason to arrest anyone," he said. "Law enforcement is probably aware of this group and is checking them out" to the extent that it can under the law.
The danger is that as a result of exposure to HT's extremism "someone on the edge gets radicalized and takes it to heart and commits a violent act," Blitzer said.
That doesn't mean the government is powerless. Given that Hizb ut-Tahrir conferences typically include sympathizers from numerous countries, federal homeland security officials should expect supporters of the group to try to enter the United States in order to attend the Khalifa Conference, Gruen said. The United States Code bars from the United States any alien who "endorses or espouses terrorist activity or persuades others to endorse or espouse terrorist activity or support a terrorist organization."
But in the past the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (the federal agency chiefly responsible for stopping foreign supporters of extremist groups from entering the United States) has been asleep at the switch when it comes to HT. In 2007, Hizb ut-Tahrir had a booth right next to the Department of Homeland Security at a conference sponsored by the Islamic Society of North America – a Muslim Brotherhood-linked organization that was an unindicted co-conspirator in the federal government's successful prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.
Dan Vara, a former attorney for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Florida, has been at the forefront of many key enforcement matters involving counterterrorism and counterintelligence. He says ICE has ample legal authority to prevent Hizb ut-Tahrir's foreign supporters from entering the United States.
"I would rake them over the coals on these issues" related to HT's support for the Taliban and advocacy of Hamas violence, Vara said in an interview.
For example, Section 1182 of the United States Code allows consular officers or the attorney general to bar from the United States "any alien who endorses or espouses terrorist activity or support of a terrorist organization." That section also provides that "Any alien whose entry or proposed activities in the United States the Secretary of State has reasonable ground to believe would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States is inadmissible."
Hizb ut-Tahrir has a right to peacefully assemble and discuss whatever ideology it chooses. U.S. law enforcement, however, has a right to invoke the law and prevent foreign Islamists seeking to attend the conference from entering the United States.