Based in Jackson Heights, New York, the Islamic Thinkers Society (ITS) – sometimes known as the Intellectual Thinkers Society – describes itself as a group of “like-minded Muslims” who “give public da’wah [proselytization] to society, where we invite the society to [convert to] Islam.” Emphasizing that this “struggle” is pursued exclusively by “non-violent” means, ITS carries out its da’wah activities mainly in the streets of Jackson Heights and in Manhattan’s Times Square area. There, ITS members – who are mostly young, second-generation Muslim immigrants of Arab, Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani descent – distribute leaflets and hold banners conveying their group’s religious message. “This methodology,” says ITS, “was adopted from the [life] of the prophet Muhammad [and his companions who] would constantly … exhaust all their efforts to give da’wah to the Makkan [Meccan] society to invite them to the [reverence] of Allah.”
Embracing the ideological tenets of the Muslim Brotherhood, ITS is an offshoot of the now-defunct Al-Muhajiroun. ITS also has ties to the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), and it openly supports the agendas of al Qaeda.
ITS’s chief objective is “to bring back” the Islamic caliphate that was dismantled in the early 1920s, and to thereby restore a united “Muslim Ummah [community] under one flag, one land, one border, and one leader.” This Islamic kingdom would be ruled strictly by Sharia law and would encompass every nation on earth, including the United States. On March 3, 2011, ITS demonstrators gathered outside the White House and staged a rally calling for the implementation of Sharia in the U.S. That same month, an ITS webpage featured a doctored photo of a Muslim flag flying atop the White House, with the caption:
ISLAM: THE FUTURE OF AMERICA
COMMUNISM IS DEAD
CAPITALISM IS DYING
ISLAM=THE ONLY SOLUTION
DEMOCRACY IS HYPOCRISY
RULE BY DIVINE LAW
NOT MAN-MADE LAW
By ITS’s reading of history, the original Muslim caliphate was destroyed by the Western “army of Shaitan [Satan],” which “infiltrat[ed] Muslim lands and sprea[d] kufr [non-belief] concepts of nationalism, freedom, and capitalism,” thereby deceiving Muslims into “believing that we are independent nations and identities” rather than a united people. The Muslim nations (and the corresponding national identities) created by this process, says ITS, are uniformly “illegitimate.” According to ITS, the West has exploited Muslim nations ever since by “installing [rulers] who speak their language and look like them, but only have the interests of the West at heart.”
In 2005, ITS garnered nationwide publicity when a group of its members publicly desecrated an American flag on a New York City street, “just to show … our loyalty does not belong to this flag, our loyalty belongs to Allah.” The ITS website subsequently condemned two journalists who gave negative publicity to the flag-desecration incident, characterizing them as “enemies of Islam & Muslims” and asking Allah to smite them with “painful torment” as retribution for their “dirty schemes.”
Also in 2005, ITS joined ICNA in defending two Muslim girls who had been arrested on suspicion that they were planning suicide bombings.
On March 19, 2005, ITS protested an intergender Muslim service held at the Synod House of New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Irate that a woman was being permitted to lead the ceremony, ITS members stood outside the church and displayed a sign which read: “Mixed gender prayer today: Hellfire tomorrow.”
On May 6, 2005, ITS joined Neturei Karta, New Jersey Solidarity, and the International Action Center in staging a protest outside the Israeli mission to the United Nations, in commemoration of “Al Nakba” – “The Catastrophe” of Israel’s creation as an independent state 57 years earlier. ITS demonstrators held placards equating Nazi and Israeli symbols; other signs bore the insignia of the Hamas terrorist group and proclaimed that “Palestine is Islamic Land.”
On February 18, 2006, ITS participated in a demonstration condemning a series of cartoons that had recently appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, portraying the Prophet Muhammad as a terrorist. The following month, ITS co-organized — with ICNA and the Muslim American Society — yet another protest in front of the Danish embassy.
At an April 2006 demonstration in front of the Israeli embassy in New York, ITS called for genocide against the Jews and for jihad against America and the West. Protesters displayed signs stating that “Islam Will Dominate” and showing a picture of an Islamic flag flying over the White House. Moreover, they chanted such slogans as:
At another demonstration that same month, an ITS speaker said: “Let the FBI burn in hell. Let the CIA burn in hell. May the Mossad burn in hell. May Homeland Security burn in hell…. Islam is the only solution. Islam will dominate the world.”
In June 2006, ITS organized yet another anti-Israel protest whose overall tenor was expressed by a poster bearing the slogan, “Exterminate the Zionist Roaches.”
A Muslim convert named Yousef al Khattab was once the chief ideologue of ITS. Khattab detests capitalism and Judaism, and he currently maintains a website urging its readers to find out who are the leaders of local Jewish organizations and to “deal with them directly at their homes.”
According to a CNN documentary titled “American Al Qaeda,” ITS helped radicalize Bryant Neal Vinas, a Hispanic Catholic convert to Islam, who was later convicted of participating in and supporting al Qaeda plots in Afghanistan and the U.S.