American Muslims for Palestine (AMP)

American Muslims for Palestine (AMP)


* A major promoter of the Hamas-inspired Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions (BDS) movement
* Several of AMP’s leading board members and officials were formerly members and/or supporters of Islamic extremist groups that promoted and funded the agendas of Hamas.
* Principal sponsor and organizer of Students for Justice in Palestine, which is the most visible arm of the BDS campaign on college campuses in the United States

Established in 2005 by UC Berkeley lecturer Hatem Bazian, American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) is a major supporter of the pro-Hamas campus group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). Several of AMP’s recent board members and key officials were previously members of, and worked closely with, now-defunct Islamic extremist groups that funded terrorist activities. These groups included:

AMP is also very active on American college campuses and is one of the major driving forces of the Hamas-inspired Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel. Writes Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD): “AMP is arguably the most important sponsor and organizer for Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which is the most visible arm of the BDS campaign on campuses in the United States. AMP provides speakers, training, printed materials, a so-called ‘Apartheid Wall,’ and [financial] grants to SJP activists. AMP even has a campus coordinator on staff whose job is to work directly with SJP and other pro-BDS campus groups across the country. According to an email it sent to subscribers, AMP spent $100,000 on campus activities in 2014 alone. AMP partners with a wide range of BDS organizations, and openly calls for Congress to embrace BDS.”

In its early years, AMP disseminated its ideology to young people through the Aqsa Club, an afterschool program aimed at “educating high-school students about Palestine, its history, and current affairs,” so they could acquire “the necessary tools and information needed to go out and become advocates for the just cause of Palestine.” Viewing Israel’s creation in 1948 as Al Nakba (Arabic for “The Catastrophe”), the Aqsa Club hosted annual camping trips and sent “hundreds of young adults from all over the nation to Palestine to strengthen the sense of solidarity with the youth in Palestine.”

In addition to its afterschool club, AMP also funded two conferences each year for high-school students.

In March 2014, AMP was one of six “major national” American Islamic groups that collaborated to form a coalition called the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), whose stated purpose was to “serve as a representative voice for Muslims as that faith community seeks to enhance its positive impact on society.” The other five USCMO members were the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim American Society (MAS), the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), the Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA), and the Mosque Foundation. According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT): “Three of [USCMO’s members], AMP, CAIR and MAS, have roots in the Muslim Brotherhood or in … the Palestine Committee,” which, as noted above, was established by the Brotherhood to advance Hamas’s agendas in the U.S.  In a 2015 report, IPT identified six AMP officials and speakers who had formerly worked for the Palestine Committee. They were:

(1) Osama Abu-Irshaid (current AMP board member): Prior to joining AMP, Abu-Irshaid served as: (a) editor of IAP’s Arabic periodical, Al-Zaitounah, which not only promoted the goals of Hamas but also published advertisements by terrorist-affiliated charities like the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the Global Relief Foundation, and the Benevolence International Foundation; (b) a board member of the American Muslim Society (AMS), which was essentially IAP under another name; and (c) a “research fellow” at the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR), a pro-Hamas organization. In a 1999 article published in UASR’s Middle East Affairs Journal, Abu-Irshaid denounced all Palestinian peace agreements with the “Zionists”—including the 1993 Oslo Accords—as despicable betrayals of “Palestinian historic and religious rights.” And in a December 2014 Facebook post in Arabic, he praised the violent jihadist tactics of Hamas while deriding Mahmoud Abbas‘s Fatah party as a collection of “lackeys” and “compromise[rs]” who had “conspired with Israel” and “deviat[ed] from the creed of liberation and resistance upon which [Fatah] was established.”

(2) Salah Sarsour (current AMP board member): In the mid-1990s, Sarsour was arrested by Israeli authorities and sentenced to eight months in prison for raising funds on behalf of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF). “While in prison,” reports IPT, Sarsour “became ‘very good friends’ with Adel Awdallah, a former leader of Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades … He also sent money to Awdallah ‘several times’ through his brother Jamil Sarsour, who pleaded guilty to aiding Hamas and served a multiple year sentence in Israel before being deported to the U.S. in 2002.”

(3) Sufyan Nabhan (current AMP board member): During a May 2010 event commemorating the Palestinian “Al-Nakba”—i.e., “Day of Catastrophe,” in reference to the creation of Israel on May 14, 1948—Nabhan condemned Israel’s “occupation of Palestine,” saying: “Occupation is apartheid, occupation is segregation. Massacres are going on daily.”

(4) Yousef Shahin (current AMP board member): This onetime president of the Islamic Association for Palestine‘s New Jersey branch has defended former British MP George Galloway, founder of Viva Palestina, against well-founded charges that the latter raised funds on behalf of Hamas. Even after Galloway himself had proudly announced in 2009 that he was giving—for purposes of “politics” and “not charity”—”three cars and £25,000 cash to [Hamas] Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh,” Shahin maintained: “He’s not taking money for terrorists. He’s buying medical supplies for the hospital. He’s not dealing with a terrorist organization. We were assured by him; he’s going to give everything to the hospital.” Shahin was also listed as a contact person for an AMP banquet at which Galloway was a guest speaker.

(5) Abdelbaset Hamayel: This former Islamic Association for Palestine executive director and secretary general also served as a representative of the Illinois and Wisconsin offices of KindHerarts for Charitable Humanitarian Development.

(6) Hatem Bazian: For a comprehensive profile of Bazian and his ties to Islamic extremism, click here.

In April 2016, Jonathan Schanzer confirmed and expanded upon IPT’s revelations when he reported that seven AMP officials and/or affiliates at that time were former members of groups that had been shut down or held civilly liable by the U.S. government for funneling money to Hamas. These included: (a) three individuals—Hossein Khatib, Jamal Said, and the aforementioned Salah Sarsour—who had previously belonged to the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF); and (b) four individuals—Rafeeq Jaber, Sufian Nabhan, Abdelbasset Hamayel, and Osama Abu Irshaid—who had gravitated to AMP from the Islamic Association for Palestine and (in Hamayel’s case) KindHearts. (Nabhan, Hamayel, and Abu Irshaid had also been named in the 2015 IPT report)

FDD’s research further shows that AMP’s donor list includes groups and entities whose members, affiliates, or associates maintained ties to various terrorist groups including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Qassam Brigades (Hamas’s military arm), and al-Qaeda.

Notable AMP Events

* In October 2009, AMP worked alongside the Muslim American Society to boycott and protest a speech by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the University of Chicago.

* On February 6, 2010, in collaboration with the Middle East Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, AMP presented a “Palestine, Remembered!” exhibition and screened the propaganda film, Occupation 101: Voices of the Silenced Majority. Using the scurrilous Goldstone Report as a basis, organizers of this event sought to commemorate the late Rachel Corrie and other “victims of the Israeli occupation.”

* In 2010 as well, AMP rallied behind a campaign to press the University of California to divest all its assets from Israel in retribution for that nation’s alleged war crimes. That same year, an AMP fundraiser in Chicago featured speeches by such Jew-haters as British Member of Parliament George Galloway, Hamas and al-Qaeda defender Zaid Shakir, and Sheikh Jamal Said, the Imam and director of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Mosque Foundation of Chicago. (In the 2007 Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development trial, Said was named as an unindicted co-conspirator.)

* At AMP’s 2011 annual conference on Palestinian activism (which was held in Chicago):

  • Jamal Said lauded “the activists and freedom fighters who gave up their personal ambitions and their own lives so our cause may live.”
  • Archbishop Atallah Hanna of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem expressed his support for the “honorable strugglers” resisting “the racist [Israeli] Occupation.”
  • Islamic Society of Milwaukee executive director Othman Atta claimed that “when the PLO … Hamas, Hizballah and other groups [are] designated as terrorist groups, it is a political decision” made in deference to Israel.
  • Council on American-Islamic Relations founding board member Rafeeq Jaber passionately defended the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) as well as the convicted terrorist Sami Al-Arian, Hamas supporter Abdelhaleem Ashqar, and Hamas member Muhammad Salah.
  • Sarah Mufid Abdulqader, the daughter of a convicted HLF member and fundraiser, prayed that Allah would “free all political prisoners of Palestine in Palestine and in the United States.”

* At AMP’s 2013 annual conference, the guest speakers included such notables as Hatem Bazian, Max Blumenthal, Rafeeq Jaber, Rashid Khalidi, and Ilan Pappe.

* In April 2014, AMP sponsored a conference in Chicago where former IAP chairman Sabri Samirah—who had previously served as a spokesman for the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood’s political party, the Islamic Action Front—told those in attendance: “We are ready to sacrifice all we have for Palestine. Long Live Palestine. We have a mission here [in the U.S.] also to support the struggle of our people back there in order to achieve a free land in the Muslim world, without dictators and without corruption.” At the same AMP event, Palestinian terrorist Rasmieh Odeh, who had participated in a 1969 terrorist bombing that killed two university students in Jerusalem, was lauded as “a great community member, a great member of the Palestinian cause, a great activist for the Palestinian cause.”

* On April 8, 2018, Rep. Rashida Tlaib spoke to AMP and stated that she feels “more Palestinian” when she is in Congress, than anywhere else. Moreover, AMP’s New Jersey chapter posted a photograph of Tlaib outside of her Capitol Hill congressional office with some of its members during the AMP event. One of those members was Joe Catron, described by the Daily Caller as: (a) “a long-time extreme anti-Israel activist” who “has openly supported terrorist organizations,” and (b) “the U.S. coordinator of Samidoun, the Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network [which is] an affiliate arm of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).” Added the Daily Caller in April 2019: “Catron’s cover photo on both of his personal Twitter and Facebook accounts is a montage of a PFLP fighter donned in the organization’s official logo, as well as rockets and soldiers pointed towards a target over the state of Israel. It also displays the Arabic phrase ‘If you do [more attacks on Gaza] we will do [as well], hell is waiting for you.’ The phrase is attributed to Mohammad Deif, the supreme military commander of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing…. Catron has voiced his support and admiration for Hezbollah … [and has] urged Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Islamic-terrorist organization, to fire rockets at Israel.”

More About AMP

AMP was a strictly volunteer organization until August 2008, at which time it opened its national office in Palos Heights, Ilinois. Today it consists of more than a dozen chapters in several U.S. states, and claims to be “not affiliated with any mosque or other Islamic organization.”

AMP’s literature and propaganda suggests that the organization seeks nothing less than Israel’s total and permanent destruction. As the Investigative Project on Terrorism notes: “AMP routinely engages in anti-Israeli rhetoric, sponsors conferences that serve as a platform for Israel bashers, and openly approves ‘resistance’ against the ‘Zionist state.’ One AMP official acknowledged the goal is to ‘to challenge the legitimacy of the State of Israel.’”  In a similar spirit, an Arabic-language poster on display in its Chicago headquarters in 2016 included the phrase, “No Jew will live among them in Jerusalem.”

Notwithstanding its numerous ties to jihadist organizations and its countenance of their eliminationist rhetoric, AMP—claiming that Islam and the Quran passionately celebrate “the tenets of justice and equality” as well as “the vast and rich diversity that exists among the global human family”—professes to “firmly stan[d] against all forms of bigotry and racism.”

AMP’s stated mission is to educate the public about: “the just cause of Palestine and the rights of self-determination, liberty and justice”; “how the people of Palestine have been living … for decades” under an Israeili “occupation” characterized by “flagrant and continual violations of international law and human rights abuses”; how American “tax dollars support the longest-lasting … military occupation in modern history”; and how Israel’s construction of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem not only “violate[s] international law,” but serves “as a vehicle for ethnic cleansing” whereby the Jewish state can “annex more Palestinian land illegally and … isolate Palestinian communities into cantons and Bantustans, much like Apartheid South Africa.” To address these grievances, AMP demands that Congress “change [American] foreign policy in the Middle East to one that is more balanced and just for everyone living in the Holy Land.”

AMP currently administers 4 major ongoing campaigns:

1) The Public Library Project seeks to place books that “shed light on the history, culture and politics of Palestine” into the permanent collections of libraries across the United States. Among the anti-Israel authors whose works are promoted by this initiative are Ghada Karmi, Rashid Khalidi, John Mearsheimer, Ilan Pappe, Edward Said, and Stephen M. Walt.

2) The Al-Nakba Campaign, which seeks to draw public attention to Israel’s alleged historical transgressions, is rooted in AMP’s belief that May 14, 1948—the day on which the state of Israel was created—was “the beginning of al-Nakba,” or “the Catastrophe,” for the Palestinian people. Proceeding from that premise, AMP explains that the Palestinian Intifadas of 1987 and 2000—whose hallmarks were relentless waves of murderous terrorism—were legitimate “uprisings against Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.” Moreover, AMP’s Al-Nakba Campaign “unequivocally supports” the Palestinian “Right of Return” to Israel—not only for the relatively few remaining survivors who were among the 725,000 original Arab refugees who fled Israel during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, but also for their 5 million-plus descendants. To AMP, this is an “individual right enshrined in international law.”

3) The Gaza campaign aims to “raise awareness” of, and “build a grassroots movement” against, Israel’s unprovoked “massacre” of innocent Palestinian “martyrs” in the Gaza Strip.

4) The Boycott Israeli Occupation Dates campaign, which allies itself with the Hams-funded, Hamas-inspired Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement, has organized boycotts against the sale of dates that are “grown in illegal Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land and harvested through unfair labor practices.”

Hatem Bazian is the current chairman of AMP’s national board. For a comprehensive list of the organization’s board members, click here.

AMP’s fiscal sponsor is the Americans for Justice in Palestine Educational Foundation.

On October 31, 2023, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares announced that his office’s Consumer Protection Section was investigating AMP for potential violations of the state’s charitable solicitation laws. “The Attorney General’s Office has reason to believe that the organization may be soliciting contributions in the Commonwealth without first having registered with the Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture,” said Miyares. “In addition, the Attorney General will investigate allegations that the organization may have used funds raised for impermissible purposes under state law, including benefitting or providing support to terrorist organizations.”

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