- Executive Director of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation
- Advisory board member for numerous Muslim organizations
- Has worked in concert with International ANSWER
- Declared that he and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist fundraiser Sami al-Arian are “kindred spirits” on the issue of Muslim political activism
Born in 1950, Mahdi Bray is a former Baptist who converted to Islam sometime in the mid- to late 1970s.
Over the years, Bray has been convicted more than 20 times for operating improperly registered, tagged or inspected vehicles, and for repeatedly driving with a suspended license. More seriously, during the 1980s he was convicted and sentenced on three felonies:
- Marijuana and Cocaine Possession: In 1981 he was convicted and sentenced to 30 days in jail for the marijuana charge, and a year in jail for the cocaine charge (with 10 of those 12 months suspended).
- Grand Larceny: In 1981 Bray pled guilty to cashing bad checks in various stores, and he was sentenced to three years in prison (with two years suspended).
- Mail Fraud and Receipt of Stolen U.S. Securities: When Bray's grandfather, Wrighty Bray, died in December 1975, the monthly workers' compensation checks which he had been receiving should have been stopped. But Mahdi Bray signed and submitted a fraudulent form declaring that Wrighty Bray was still alive and still unemployed, thus the workers' compensation checks continued to come for more than a decade; by the mid-1980s Mahdi Bray had illegally pocketed more than $71,000 as a result of this scam. Investigators finally caught up with him around 1986-87, and in June 1988 Bray was indicted on 64 counts of mail fraud and receipt of stolen U.S. Securities. He was subsequently sentenced to 36 months in prison and was ordered to make full restitution. For additional details about Bray's duplicity in this matter, click here.
On one occasion in 1981, Bray seemed to deny his Muslim faith when – during a pre-sentencing investigation related to the drug charges that had been filed against him – he told his probation officer that he was a member of the Central Avenue Baptist Church in Norfolk (Virginia), and that he wanted to eventually become a Baptist minister.
Following his release from prison in 1991, Bray went on to become a public figure and activist. He is best known as the former executive director of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation (MASFF), the political arm of the Muslim American Society (MAS). Despite MAS's well-documented ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, Bray claimed that the Society was “not an overt or covert arm” of that organization. Notably, Bray once praised the late Hassan Al-Banna for being “the founder and the leader of a great Islamic movement, the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Also during his activist career, Bray has served as political director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council; a founding board member of the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom; national mobilization chairman for the Imam Jamil Defense Fund (which provided legal aid for the convicted cop-killer Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (aka H. Rap Brown); director of the National Islamic Prison Foundation; president of the Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations; a board-of-directors member of the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice; and an advisory board member of the American Muslim Council, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and the Interfaith Alliance Foundation.
Moreover, Bray has been a major consultant and political adviser to such entities as Bonner & Associates (Washington’s largest grassroots lobbying firm), the National Center for Housing Management, the Alexandria City Redevelopment & Housing Authority, and the Independent Voter League. He has also served as a political adviser and strategist for several national, state, and local political campaigns; a liaison between the President’s White House Faith-Based Initiative Program and congressional affairs on behalf of the Muslim community; and a leading organizer of the “No War on Iraq” movement. In addition, Bray hosted a weekly Muslim-oriented radio talk show, The Crescent Report, in suburban Washington, DC.
Bray describes himself as “just a country Muslim from Norfolk, Virginia” whose worldview was shaped during his days as “an active participant in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, working in coalitions with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and other activist groups.” That worldview includes a belief that the United States is a nation with a long and enduring racist tradition. “As a Black man, I didn’t wake up on September 11 and discover terrorism,” Bray was quoted as saying in the February/March 2002 issue of Multiracial Activist. “I discovered terrorism in 1955 when my grandmother threw herself over my body trying to protect me from the bullets and the glass flying and the fire the Klan set because my grandfather was registering people to vote in the South. I knew terrorism in 1957 when they took my great uncle in North Carolina and laid him out on the railroad tracks and bled him to death simply because he was trying to organize for the NAACP.”
In the fall of 2000, Bray coordinated and led an anti-Israel rally where some 2,000 demonstrators convened in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC. At one point during the proceedings, Bray played the tambourine while one of the guest speakers sang (and the crowd repeated) the following words: “Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is calling us, let’s all go into jihad, and throw stones at the face of the Jews.”
In October 2000 Bray appeared at a “Worldwide Day for Jerusalem” rally in Washington, celebrating the start of the Second Palestinian Intifada. As American Muslim Council founder Abdurahman Alamoudi publicly announced his support for the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah, Bray, who was on stage with him, approvingly pumped his fist in the air and cheered.
Bray firmly opposed the post-9/11 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. In 2002-03 Bray worked in concert with International ANSWER, a front group for Ramsey Clark’s International Action Center and the Communist Workers World Party, in an effort to discredit America's then-impending invasion. For example:
- Bray spoke at an April 20, 2002 ANSWER rally that demanded support for the creation of a Palestinian state, condemned the Bush administration for its support for Israel, and protested the treatment of Muslims at home and abroad.
- In June 2002, Bray and MASFF collaborated with the ANSWER coalition to launch a National Campaign to Defend Civil Rights. “Our community is uniting with other civil rights and anti-war organizations to mobilize for the June 29 demonstration protesting the attacks on civil rights and civil liberties,” said Bray.
At a 2002 University of Michigan event, Bray smeared Israel as an “oppressive, apartheid and racist system.”
In 2003 Bray denounced what he called America’s “barbaric and illegal invasion of Iraq”; he declared the War on Terror to be a “war against Islam”; he characterized President George W. Bush as “the little Pharaoh”; he depicted the United States as the world's “greatest purveyor of discrimination against Muslims”; and he stated that “the war on terrorism is really becoming a war on Muslims.”
In 2003-04, Bray and MASFF worked on “Campaign V.I.P.: Voting Is Power,” a voter-registration drive launched in conjunction with the NAACP, the Rainbow-Push Coalition, the Interfaith Alliance, and other leftist groups.
In March 2003 Bray testified at the bond hearing of Sami Al-Arian, who had recently been indicted as a leader of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Claiming responsibility for “mentoring [Al-Arian] about the civil rights movement” in America, Bray declared that he and Al-Arian were “kindred spirits” on the issue of Muslim political activism. Bray denounced Al-Arian’s February 2003 arrest as part of a “pattern of political intimidation by an Attorney General [John Ashcroft] who seems to be targeting the American Muslim community’s leaders and institutions….” Nor did Bray's commitment to Al-Arian diminish over time. At an American Muslim Alliance “Civil Rights Forum” on August 12, 2008, he said: “Let us fight and with every ounce of our being to secure that liberty and the justice for our brother – Dr. Sami Al-Arian, a freedom fighter.” At that time, Al-Arian was still serving prison time for terrorism-related charges.
Bray also came to the defense of the aforementioned Abdurahman Alamoudi, the longtime Hamas and Hezbollah supporter:
- Bray became incensed when Alamoudi was indicted on terrorism-related charges in September 2003. -When Alamoudi was denied bail three months later, Bray said, “Justice is turned on its head when alleged murderers, rapists, and pedophiles can get bail and sail, and respected Muslim leaders, smeared as terrorists without any charges, get jail and legal hell.”
- In the February 2004 edition of American Muslim, eight months before Alamoudi's conviction and sentencing (to 23 years in prison), Bray was quoted as saying: “It is not uncharacteristic for America to go through these stages. We have to understand that the arrest of people like Abdurahman Alamoudi and the arrest of other activists is also an attempt to stifle dissent, and that this is not the first time that America has betrayed its lofty principles and values in times of hysteria.” By Bray's telling, the “current witch-hunt” was being orchestrated by the pro-Israeli lobby and the Christian Right, in “an attempt to marginalize the tremendous potential the Muslim community has.”
- At an MASFF conference in May 2004, Bray presented Alamoudi with a Freedom Foundation award (in absentia) for being an “outstanding American Muslim who has courageously stood in defense of freedom and justice.” “I don't care what they say,” Bray told those in attendance, “we're gonna continue to work with him, and the other detainees … and we are gonna continue to fight back. Let our people go! Let our people go!”
In March 2004, Bray characterized the Israeli assassination of Hamas spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin as “an unlawful, cowardly and dangerous act of state-sponsored terrorism.”
Bray spoke at a March 20, 2004 Global Day of Action rally in New York, protesting Pentagon wars and occupations. The event was initiated by the International ANSWER Coalition and United for Peace and Justice.
In July 2004 Bray called the detention (in a Saudi jail) of American-born citizen Ahmed Abu-Ali, who was in prison because of his involvement in a conspiracy to assassinate President Bush, a “national disgrace and tragedy.” When Abu-Ali was subsequently transferred to U.S. custody in February 2005, Bray was not mollified: “We’re deeply grateful to the Almighty for the return of Abu-Ali to the United States of America. However, I am still greatly troubled and concerned about the manner in which our government has dealt with Abu-Ali and his family. Nothing short of his release and return to his family is acceptable to us.”
Abu-Ali was eventually tried in court in September/October 2005. Documents which were unsealed on September 20, 2005 revealed that during his Saudi interrogation Abu-Ali had: (a) acknowledged his desire to join al Qaeda, and (b) claimed that the conspiracy to kill President Bush was merely a fantasy, not an actual objective. On November 22, 2005, the jury rendered a guilty verdict. Four months later, Abu-Ali was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
In 2005, Bray came to the defense of yet another accused terrorist, Imam Ali Al-Timimi, spiritual leader of the so-called Virginia Paintball Jihad group. As the Investigative Project on Terrorism reports, Al-Timimi “was convicted of inducing others to conspire to use firearms, soliciting others to levy war against the United States, inducing others to levy war against the United States, and attempting to contribute services to the Taliban.” In response to the conviction, Bray said: “What he [Al-Timimi] said was perhaps repugnant and inflammatory, but was it really his intent to have people go and take his words and translate that into going and killing other human beings, specifically Americans?” Bray added that Timimi's conviction “bodes ill” for the First Amendment.
In September 2006 the Congressional Black Caucus honored Bray at a Middle East Briefing & Pre-Ramadan Brunch event at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, DC.
In December 2006 Bray spoke at a conference titled “Islamophobia: Its Rising Threat and Policy Challenges,” hosted by the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy. “[T]here are certain interest groups, in and outside of America, that have long used bigoted distortions of Islam, portraying particularly the Muslims in America as seditious, dangerous, disloyal, or a fifth column, totally incompatible with democracy,” Bray said at the event. “This is, I think, the underpinning, in terms of when we start talking about Islamophobia."
Also in 2006, Bray spearheaded MAS efforts to increase Muslim voter participation in political elections. One strategy was to enlist children from various Girl and Boy Scout troops that MAS sponsored, to work on get-out-the-vote telephone banks. “There's nothing wrong with having kids, nine, ten years old on the phones,” said Bray, “like we did for our last youth and our last Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts making phone calls and saying, 'Go to the polls and vote. There's nothing wrong with having young people, 13 and 14 years old, to go from place to place to pass out canvassing information.”
In 2007 Bray traveled repeatedly to Dallas in support of five defendants in the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) trial who were accused of aiding and abetting the terrorist organization Hamas. The trial ended in a hung jury, but in a subsequent retrial the five were convicted on 108 counts.
In September 2008, Bray and numerous other Islamist leaders (including representatives of the Council on American-Islamic Relations) met secretly with an outreach coordinator for Barack Obama's presidential campaign.
A 2009 Investigative Project on Terrorism report stated that “perhaps his [Bray's] closest and most powerful political ally is U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), who has appeared on Bray's radio talk show, and has spoken at MAS fundraisers.”
Bray has made his pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel and anti-American views quite plain on many occasions. Some examples:
- At a December 30, 2008, pro-Gaza rally in Washington, DC, Bray said: “We're here to tell [President George W.] Bush and the Crime Minister of Israel, and [Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak, and all of them that we are determined that Palestine WILL BE FREE!”
- At a March 21, 2009 March on the Pentagon, Bray declared: “We say 'no more!' I hope your stocks plummet to the ground. I hope it goes in the toilet. I hope your stock just goes to hell. The justice, and the peace, and the humanity and the solidarity that we have with the Palestinian people, the solidarity we have with the people of Iraq, and Afghanistan, Pakistan.”
- At a January 10, 2009 pro-Gaza rally in Washington, DC, Bray stated: “We say to the people of the Gaza: You are not alone. Allah is on your side, and the people of Allah are on your side, and the people around the world are on your side.”
In March 2009 Bray spoke at a fundraiser for the newspaper Muslim Link. A fellow speaker at this event was British Member of Parliament George Galloway, who had recently traveled to Gaza to deliver large quantities of supplies and cash directly to Hamas officials.
In March 2009 as well, the Investigative Project on Terrorism reported: “Bray has made at least two trips to Cairo to stand in solidarity with Muslim Brotherhood members facing military tribunals for membership in a banned organization. Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan accompanied on his second trip to Egypt to stand in solidarity with members of the Muslim Brotherhood.” In response to this report, Bray penned an article maintaining that his most recent visit to Cairo was more about his opposition to military tribunals than his support for the Brotherhood.
Bray's tenure as executive director of MASFF ended when he suffered a stroke in late 2010. His Foundation subsequently closed its doors for good in June 2011.
In September 2013, Johari Abdul-Malik, the Outreach Director of the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Virginia, posted a YouTube video that showed Mahdi Bray and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan hugging and professing their love for one another.
In December 2013, Bray attended an event sponsored by a group advocating for the restoration of the fallen regime of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi in Egypt.
On August 2, 2014 in Washington, Bray spoke a “Rally Against Israeli Violence in Gaza.”
 Earlier in that same event, another guest speaker, Mauri Salaakhan, had said: “We consider Hamas in occupied Palestine, and Hezbollah in Lebanon, to be legitimate political liberation organization[s] as opposed to western media's consistent depiction of them as terrorist organizations.” Another speaker, Imam Mohammed al-Asi, stated: “Now, all our khatibs [speakers], our imams, our public speakers, should be concentrating on militarizing the Muslim public. This is not a time to make a speaking issue out of this … Muslims have to familiarize themselves with every means possible … Rhetoric is not going to liberate Al Quds and Al Aqsa. Only carrying arms will do this task. And it’s not going to be someone else who is going to carry arms for you and for me. It is you and me who are going to have to carry these arms.”