Islamic rally on Capitol clouded by organizer's terror ties

As 50,000 Muslims prepare for D.C., leader's history called into question

Posted: September 21, 2009
9:24 pm Eastern
By Drew Zahn
© 2009 WorldNetDaily

Hassen Abdellah

As an anticipated 50,000 Muslims prepare to descend on Capitol Hill for "A Day of Islamic Unity" this Friday, several blogs and online news sources have spotlighted the history of the movement's leader and his ties to terrorists in the U.S.

As WND reported, one of the key organizers is Hassen Abdellah, an attorney from Elizabeth, N.J. Abdellah formed part of the legal team that defended four men in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, including Mahmud Abouhalim, who was convicted and sentenced to prison.

During the trial, the New York Times described Abdellah as "by far the most aggressively combative of the lawyers in the case."

The case, as well as Abdellah's other legal associations, has raised eyebrows online.

"Who's behind 'Islam on Capitol Hill?'" asked popular blogger and frequent TV talk show guest, Michelle Malkin.

Malkin then quoted Andrew Walden of FrontPageMagazine.com, who published an extensive look at the Muslim rally's organizers, including a reminder that Abdellah also defended Numan Maflahi, a man who in 2004 was accused by prosecutors of being tied to al-Qaida and sentenced to five years for lying to investigators during an investigation of terrorism financing.

"Of course, everyone is entitled to legal representation," commented Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, "but Abdellah's choice of clients is … interesting."

Spencer also pointed out Abdellah represented Mahmud Faruq Brent, a Muslim cabdriver in Baltimore who pled guilty in April 2007 to attending a jihad terrorist training camp in Pakistan and conspiring to provide material support to the Lashkar-e-Taiba foreign terrorist organization.

Building on the Islamic interest in Obama's inauguration, when Muslims claimed in a magazine that "It's our time," the event planners are calling for 50,000 Muslims to attend the event on the National Mall on Friday.

Repeated on each page of the rally's website is the phrase "Our time has come."

According to New Jersey's Star-Ledger, Abdellah confirmed the idea of the event germinated after Obama's inaugural speech, then was reinforced by the president's address in Cairo, Egypt, months later.

In Cairo, Obama carried a greeting from "Muslim communities" in America, complained how Muslims had been "denied rights and opportunities," and stated, "I also know civilization's debt to Islam. It was Islam at places like Al-Azhar that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe's renaissance and enlightenment."

Besides crediting Islam with significant responsibility for the development of civilization in Europe, Obama also said Muslims have served similarly in America.

"And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States," Obama said. "They have fought in our wars. They have served in our government. They have stood for civil rights. They have started businesses. They have taught at our universities. They've excelled in our sports arenas. They've won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building and lit the Olympic torch. And when the first Muslim American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same holy Quran that one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, kept in his personal library."

"For the first time in my lifetime," Abdellah told the Star-Ledger. "I heard someone of his stature speaking about Islam and Muslims not in an adversarial sense, but in the sense of being welcome and acknowledging we are integral citizens in the society – that we're gainfully employed, we're educated.

"He said he had his hand open to the Islamic world," Abdellah said. "The Islamic world wants to open their hand and shake it."

Now, the D.C. rally's website proclaims its objective is to "invite the Muslim communities and friends of Islam to express and illustrate the wonderful diversity of Islam. We intend to manifest Islam's majestic spiritual principals as revealed by Allah to our beloved prophet Muhammad (PEACE BE UPON HIM) of Arabia. Likewise, we intend to inspire a new generation of Muslim to work for the greater good of all people. We shall serve all people, regardless of race, religion or national origin."

Scheduled events during the rally include offering Muslim youth tours of the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court and chanting the Athan on Capitol Hill.

The Athan, a Muslim call to prayer, contains several repeated refrains such as (loosely translated) "Allah is the greatest," "I bear witness that there is no deity except Allah" and "I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah."