* Former Executive Director of the now-defunct Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation
* Has served as advisory board member for numerous Muslim organizations
* Has worked in concert with International ANSWER
* Described himself and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist Sami al-Arian as “kindred spirits” on the issue of Muslim political activism
On one occasion in 1981, Bray seemed to deny his Muslim faith when – during a pre-sentencing investigation related to 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.
For some time during the 1980s, Bray was the political director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), an organization whose mission is to “promote and strengthen American pluralism by increasing understanding and improving policies that impact American Muslims.”
Over the years, Bray has been convicted more than 20 times for operating vehicles that were either uninspected or improperly registered or tagged, and for repeatedly driving with a suspended license. More seriously, during the 1980s he was convicted and sentenced on three felonies:
Following his release from prison in 1991, Bray became an activist best known for his work as executive director of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, the official public policy division of MAS.
On October 28, 2000, Bray shared a stage with terrorist fundraiser Abdurahman Alamoudi, cheering while Alamoudi proudly and publicly declared his support for the Islamic terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah during an exchange with the crowd that went as follows:
Alamoudi: Anybody supports Hamas here?
Crowd cheers: “Yes!”
Alamoudi: Anybody is a supporter of Hamas here?
Crowd cheers: “Yes!” [Mahdi Bray on stage nods and raises his arms in approval.]
Alamoudi: Anybody is a supporter of Hamas here?
Crowd cheers: “Yes!”
Alamoudi: Hear that, Bill Clinton, we are all supporters of Hamas, Allahu Akbar. [“Allah is the greatest”]
Alamoudi: I wish they added that I am also a supporter of Hizballah. Anybody supports Hizballah here?
Crowd cheers: “Yes!”
Alamoudi: Anybody supports Hizballah here?
Crowd cheers: “Yes!”
Crowd: “Allahu Ahkbar!”
Crowd: “Allahu Ahkbar!”
Bray subsequently defended Alamoudi when the latter was denied bail by a court in December 2003. “Justice is turned on its head when alleged murderers, rapists, and pedophiles can get bail and sail,” Bray argued, “and respected Muslim leaders, smeared as terrorists without any charges, get jail and legal hell.”
In the February 2004 edition of The American Muslim magazine, Bray was quoted as claiming that Alamoudi and other Muslims in the U.S. were being unfairly targeted in a “witch hunt” spearheaded by the pro-Israel lobby and the Christian Right. “It is not uncharacteristic for America to go through these stages,” said Bray. “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.” “These arrests,” Bray added, “are an attempt to marginalize the tremendous potential the Muslim community has, especially since we’re growing [in number] every day in this country.”
At an MAS conference in May 2004 – five months before Alamoudi would plead guilty to terrorism-related charges – Bray presented him with an MAS Freedom Foundation award in absentia. The award recognized Alamoudi as 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 [Alamoudi] and the other detainees … and we are gonna continue to fight back. Let our people go! Let our people go!”
Alamoudi was just one of numerous individuals with ties to Islamic terrorist organizations whom Bray defended during the 2000s. Among those others were such notables as:
Ghassan Elashi: This founder and chairman of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) was also a founding Board of Directors member of the Texas branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). In December 2002, Elashi was arrested for conspiracy, money laundering, and dealing in the property of a designated terrorist. Twenty-eight months later, he was convicted on all 21 federal counts against him, and was sentenced to 80 months in prison.
Ali al-Timimi: In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001, this Virginia imam, who served as the spiritual leader of the Virginia Paintball Jihad group, urged a group of Muslim-American men to travel to Afghanistan to fight a “holy war” against the U.S. troops who had gone there to overthrow the Taliban regime. In 2005, al-Timimi was convicted of: (a) inducing others to conspire to use firearms to levy war against the United States, and (b) attempting to contribute services to the Taliban. Bray, in turn, questioned the legitimacy of those convictions, saying: “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?”
Ahmed Omar Abu Ali: In March 2006, this Houston, Texas native was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his conviction on such charges as: providing material support to a terrorist organization (al Qaeda); receiving services from al Qaeda; conspiring to assassinate President George W. Bush; and conspiring to hijack and destroy aircraft.
Sami Al-Arian: Al-Arian headed the Islamic terrorist organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad during the 1990s. At an August 12, 2008 civil rights forum titled “The Case of Dr. Sami Al-Arian,” Bray 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.”
Aafia Siddiqui: In September 2010, Bray condemned the conviction of Islamic terrorist Aafia Siddiqui — a.k.a. “Lady Al-Qaeda.” Bray wrote that Siddiqui’s 86-year prison sentence was “seriously flawed,” and that “her kidnapping and detention [was] a grave violation of human rights and international law.”
In 2001, Bray hosted a morning radio show called Islamic Perspectives, aired by WWRL Radio and sponsored by the Islamic Foundation of America.
Bray has an extensive history of making disparaging remarks against the United States, Israel, and Jews. Some examples:
After Virginia Democrat Jim Webb’s narrow election victory in his 2006 run for a U.S. Senate seat, Bray and MAS claimed credit for having registered 65,000 new voters between November 2005 and November 2006. “The Democrats’ win hinged on the Muslim vote,” Bray later boasted in September 2007.
In March 2009, The Investigative Project on Terrorism reported: “[Bray] has been at the forefront of MAS efforts to increase Muslim voter participation. Under his leadership, MAS even taps Girl and Boy Scout troops it sponsors for get-out-the-vote telephone banks.”
In December 2006, Bray spoke at a conference entitled “Islamophobia: Its Rising Threat and Policy Challenges,” hosted by the Brookings Institution‘s Saban Center for Middle East Policy. In the course of his talk, he stated: “There 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. This is, I think, the underpinning, in terms of when we start talking about Islamophobia.”
In 2008, Bray continued his efforts to mobilize voter turnout – this time to support the campaign of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama. Along with officials from CAIR, Bray was among a select group of Muslim leaders who met in secret with representatives of the Obama campaign.
At a pro-Gaza rally in Washington, D.C. on January 10, 2009, Bray declared: “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.”
On March 21, 2009, Bray told a crowd of demonstrators attending a “March on the Pentagon” in Washington, D.C.: “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 one point during the proceedings, Bray led the crowd in an anti-war chant: “We’re the people. We, the people, and the people united can never be defeated.”
In late March 2009, Bray spoke at a fundraiser for the newspaper Muslim Link with British Member of Parliament George Galloway, who, during a recent trip to Gaza, had gifted 100 vehicles loaded with supplies and cash directly to Hamas officials.
On March 27, 2009, 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 Bray on his second trip to Egypt to stand in solidarity with members of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
In April 2009, Bray alleged that “members of the American Muslim community” were the “real targets” of Department of the Homeland Security fusion centers that had been set up in several states to share information and intelligence. The information collected by those centers, Bray claimed, was “particularly about Muslims” and was being obtained from “Islamophobes, neo-cons and self-appointed right-wing terrorist experts.” Moreover, in response to reports that the FBI had deployed undercover informants to infiltrate a mosque in Irvine, California, Bray accused the U.S. government of sending “criminal agent provocateurs to incite violence and unlawful conduct” in mosques.
In May 2009, Bray spoke with Khalil Meeks of the Muslim Legal Fund of America on Bray’s radio program, Crescent Report, during which the pair discussed the tactic of filing lawsuits to silence their critics. Said Bray at one point in the interview:
“In order to deal with these, these, these haters, these bashers, these Islamophobes, we’ve got to be willing to spend our money in a court of law, you know, and not necessarily because we’re going to look for money, but we need to make, we need to be able to say we’re going to spend our money and make you spend your money and you’re going to stop doing this to us, I mean, I think we need to set the example. I think the situation with Joe Kaufman was an excellent example but we need to set that example all around, you know, for all of them. All of those Islamophobes – the [Robert] Spencers, the, uh, [Daniel] Pipes, you know, and the [Steven] Emersons and all that whole group. We need to make sure that we lawyer up and if they cross the line, then we need to go ahead on and take them in to, uh, legal proceedings. I think this is one way to stop this type of harassment and intimidation that goes on under the guise of protecting America, looking out, making sure that we’re not infiltrated by the Fifth Column, better known as the Muslims — is crazy. Absolutely insane, and we need to put an end to it.”
In September 2010, Bray advocated in favor of the proposed Park 51 Mosque and Islamic Center to be built very close to Ground Zero in Manhattan, the site of the infamous terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Bray claimed that the mosque would serve as “a symbol of reconciliation, a symbol of unity, and a symbol of mutual respect.”
Bray suffered a massive stroke in December 2010, but he was able to eventually recover.
Bray’s work with MAS officially ended in June 2011, when the MAS Freedom Foundation closed its doors permanently because it was “not having the resources that would allow us to continue our advocacy and organizing work.”
In 2013, Johari Abdul-Malik, who was then the outreach director of the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center in northern Virginia, posted a YouTube video in which Bray and Nation Of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan greeted each other with a warm embrace at an event attended by a number of Muslim activists.
Bray was a signatory to a January 2015 letter on “American Muslim Solidarity Against Police Brutality.” Circulated just a few months after the August 2014 police shooting of a black teenaged criminal named Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the letter sought to promote “solidarity in the struggle and call for justice concerning the tragic and unnecessary police and federal law enforcement killings of Black men, women, and children in the United States.”
In 2017, Bray was listed as a “convener” of the “People’s Congress of Resistance” (PCR). “We must create a Congress of communities under attack by the reactionary Trump agenda and [fight] back against it,” said PCR in its “Call to Action.” Dismayed by President Trump and the existing “Congress of the millionaires,” PCR sought to usher in “radical change and the reorganization of political and economic power, and the building of a new power.” Other notable conveners of PCR included Cindy Sheehan, Gloria La Riva of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and Brian Becker of the ANSWER Coalition.
Days after the infamous death of George Floyd during an altercation with a white police officer in May 2020, Bray denounced the incident as part of the greater, ongoing struggle of blacks and Muslims in the United States:
“What’s happening in the US is what has happened for many years. We are suffering from systemic racism and violence. What happened to George Floyd has happened to many African American Black men who have basically experienced death and lethal violence by law enforcement.”
In June 2020, Bray said that when he thinks of terrorism, he does not focus on the events of 9/11. Rather, he remembers the time his grandfather’s home was allegedly burned by the Ku Klux Klan in 1956.
On November 30, 2022, Bray celebrated the appointment of Rep. Hakeem Jeffries to serve as leader of the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives. “You got the historical leadership position @RepJeffries,” Bray tweeted. “now work with it and make it happen and continue the fight for justice ! for All !”
In addition to his aforementioned organizational affiliations, Bray has also served on the Board of Directors of the Interfaith Alliance and the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice. Moreover, he was a national co-convener of Religions for Peace-USA.
Muslim American Society
Dossier by The Investigative Project on Terrorism