Valley Ranch Islamic Center's Lesser Known Side

On the surface, Valley Ranch Islamic Center appears to be a liberal, modern Islamic center in Irving, Texas. Their website has a slick minimalist design. Their logo is an elegant series of colorful rounded squares meant “to capture the essence of a dignified and unified resource for Muslims in the Valley Ranch area.” On the home page, a photograph of their masjid members shows a smiling, prosperous-looking community, male members posing in the front, covered female members positioned in the back.

Their resident scholar Omar Suleiman bills himself on his Twitter page as a “Muslim for Humanity. Lover of Justice. Bridge Builder. Scholar. Activist.” In December 2018, he and 32 others were arrested at the Tijuana -- San Diego Border as part of the “Love Knows No Borders” movement in support of immigrants and asylum seekers. On February 1, 2017, D Magazine wrote a glowing profile of Imam Suleiman titled, “Omar Suleiman is the Religious Leader Dallas Needs Right Now.”  

But is he really?

While popular in the press, particularly while working to promote progressive causes, there is a lesser known side to the popular shaykh. For example, Suleiman has posted without any explanation an image of the Rabia, a four-finger hand gesture used to demonstrate support for the Muslim Brotherhood. And while it was covered by the online publication The Algemeiner, there was little media coverage on Suleiman when he repeatedly called for another Palestinian “intifada.”

For example, on July 24, 2014, Suleiman posted the following message on Twitter and Facebook:

How befitting that the third Intifada starts on the 27th night of Ramadan as worshippers are denied prayer in Masjid Al Aqsa… May Allah help us overcome this monster, protect the innocent of the world, and accept the murdered as martyrs. ameen

As Algemeiner author Petra Marquadt Bigman notes, Suleiman support of the Third Intifada is quite disturbing when one thinks that the Second Intifada in 2004 resulted not only in 138 suicide attacks on Israelis but also in more than 1,000 dead.

But beyond the questionable politics of their resident scholar, an equally unsettling aspect of Valley Ranch Islamic Center is its ownership by North America Islamic Trust (NAIT).

Based in Plainville, Indiana, NAIT was founded in 1973 in by members of the Muslim Student Association of the United States and Canada. Evidence submitted into the record during the Holy Land Foundation trial in the early 2000s showed that NAIT shared a bank account with the Holy Land Foundation, deposited checks made payable to “the Palestinian Mujahedeen”, and provided funds to Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzook. This led Federal Judge Jorge Jolis to write that the U.S. government provided “ample evidence” to associate NAIT with Hamas.

Despite its role in the Holy Land Foundation case, NAIT was never charged and remains a tax-exempt non-profit endowment that subsidizes the construction of new mosques in the United States. This financial control allows it to exercise authority over the teachings and activities at the various Islamic institutions that it owns.

According to The Investigative Project on Terrorism, a recently declassified FBI memo from 1988 “advised that the IIIT, NAIT (North American Islamic Trust) and all the subsidiary and sponsoring Muslim organizations under the control of the IIIT and the SAAR Foundation are in fact IKHWAN organizations,” “Ikhwan” being another name for the Muslim Brotherhood.  NAIT was also named in a May 1991 Muslim Brotherhood document, called “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America,” as an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood. That document was entered into evidence during the Holy Land Foundation Trial as “Elbarasse Search-3”.

Other organizations named in that memo as affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood include Muslim Student Association (MAS), Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). Omar Suleiman’s connections to these three organizations are also easy to find. Suleiman is a member of ICNA’s Shura Council. He is a confirmed speaker at this year’s ICNA-MAS Convention in Washington D.C. on April 19-21, 2019, Easter weekend. He was a speaker at the 40th annual ICNA-MAS Convention along with CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad and known-Islamist Siraj Wahhaj. Omar Suleiman also studied under two Salafist clerics who now head the radical Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America, Salah As-Sawy and Dr. Hatem Al Haj. That organization has called on Muslims in America not to participate in America’s legal system and to “hate it in their hearts.”

Its ownership by NAIT, its Islamist resident scholar, and its tight connections to other Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated organizations such as MAS and ISNA make the Valley Ranch Islamic Center more than just a Potemkin Village, for a Potemkin Village has nothing behind it, but Valley Ranch has its global and national connections, its Salafi-Muslim Brotherhood ideology, and its title deed, which makes it the property of North American Islamic Trust. Despite the facade of peace, brotherhood and justice, Valley Ranch Islamic Center cannot properly cover up what it truly is.