Johari Abdul-Malik was born as Winslow Seale Jr. on August 19, 1956 in Brooklyn, New York. He earned a BS in chemistry and an MS in genetics at Howard University, and completed a clinical postgraduate training program in bioethics at Georgetown University’s Kennedy Center for Ethics.
Raised in the Episcopal faith, Abdul-Malik converted to Islam when he was a graduate student in the early 1980s. After completing his formal education, he worked as a biomedical researcher at Howard University Hospital. He also served as president of the Howard University Muslim Students Association, and in 1998 he began a six-year stint as the school’s Muslim chaplain.
At a 2001 conference for the now-defunct Islamic Association for Palestine, Abdul-Malik called for Muslims to wage jihad attacks against Israeli infrastructure targets: “I am gonna teach you now. You can blow up bridges, but you cannot kill people who are innocent on their way to work. You can blow up power supplies … the water supply, you can do all forms of sabotage and let the world know that we are doing it like this because they [we] have a respect for the lives of innocent people.”
In June 2002, Abdul-Malik became the community outreach director at Dar Al-Hijrah, a Falls Church, Virginia mosque that, according to the U.S. Treasury Department, has functioned “as a front for Hamas operatives in U.S.”; “is associated with Islamic extremists”; “has been under numerous investigations for financing and providing aid and comfort to bad [organizations] and members”; and has been “linked to numerous individuals linked to terrorism financing.”
Among those who have worshipped at Dar Al-Hijrah were the infamous “Fort Hood shooter” Nidal Hasan, terrorist fundraiser Abdurahman Alamoudi, Hamas political leader Mousa Abu Marzook, Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi, and three of the 9/11 hijackers.
Abdul-Malik also became an Imam, or prayer leader, at Dar Al-Hijrah. In a November 2004 sermon, he predicted that Islam would one day become dominant in the United States: “[T]he deen [religion] of Islam is growing because people see even within all of this struggle, it is better to be a Muslim under these conditions than to be a kaffir [infidel] under any conditions…. [B]efore Allah closes our eyes for the last time you will see Islam move from being the second largest religion in America—that’s where we are now—to being the first religion in America.”
In a September 2004 discussion about the impact of 9/11 on the Muslim community, Abdul-Malik lauded another of his Dar Al-Hijrah congregants, Ismael Selim Elbarasse, a high-ranking Hamas operative who had recently been arrested for suspected terrorist activity, and who held a joint bank account with Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook.
Similarly, in 2005 Abdul-Malik defended Dar Al-Hijrah congregant Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, who was subsequently sentenced to 30 years in prison for plotting with members of al-Qaeda to assassinate President George W. Bush. Abdul-Malik denounced the charges against Ali as “a frontal attack” on “our whole Muslim community,” which he said was “under siege.”
Abdul-Malik and Dar Al-Hijrah have also lent their support to suspected terrorists with no direct ties to the mosque. For example, they were active in raising money for the legal defense of Ali Al-Timimi, who in 2005 was convicted for having urged Muslim Americans to travel to Afghanistan and wage jihad against the U.S. troops stationed there. Abdul-Malik later lamented that Al-Timimi’s conviction was “like being convicted of murder, even though you haven’t killed anyone.” American Muslims, he added, “have discovered they are not free to speak their minds” if their “opinions are out of vogue in the current climate.”
Some additional noteworthy facts about Abdul-Malik’s mosque:
Abdul-Malik once stated, falsely, that al-Awlaki had not been an extremist during his time at Dar Al-Hijrah: “Let’s be clear when Anwar al-Awlaki was at Dar Al-Hijrah, he was articulating the same message that I articulate today in Dar Al-Hijrah, a very open, a very engaging, a very community wise and contemporary understanding of the faith within the framework of its traditionalism.” But in fact, while al-Awlaki was a prayer leader at Dar Al-Hijrah, he had characterized Palestinian jihadists who killed Israeli civilians as freedom fighters, claimed that the 9/11 terrorists were actually “victims not hijackers,” and accused the FBI of wrongly blaming Muslims for the 9/11 attacks.
Abdul-Malik also has ties to Suhaib Webb, the former Imam/Resident Islamic Scholar of the terrorist-tied Islamic Society of Boston. Webb appeared at a fundraiser with Anwar al-Awlaki two days before 9/11.
In 2008, Abdul-Malik attempted to establish a nationwide movement of Muslim men to lobby for a new interpretation of Chapter 4, Verse 34 of the Koran, which had long been seen as giving husbands permission to admonish and physically beat their wives. “That is the linchpin, the fulcrum that justifies domestic violence in the Muslim context,” said Abdul-Malik.
During the presidency of Barack Obama, Abdul-Malik served as a consultant on policy matters for the Administration.
In 2014, Abdul-Malik encouraged Muslims not to take any special pains to publicly condemn the Islamic State terrorist organization for its brutal activities, because in doing so, they “sounded like they were apologizing for something they haven’t done.”
In June 2017 — two weeks after Dar Al-Hijrah‘s senior Imam, Shaker Elsayed, had endorsed partial female genital mutilation as “the honorable thing to do” — Abdul-Malik announced that he was leaving the mosque in protest, noting that this was only the latest in a series of “reprehensible statements” made by Elsayed.
In addition to his work with Dar Al-Hijrah, Abdul-Malik has also served as the chair of government relations for the Muslim Alliance in North America, president of the Muslim Society of Washington, and director of the National Association of Muslim Chaplains.