The Bridgeview, Illinois-based Mosque Foundation was formed in 1954 by 30 immigrant families from the Palestinian town of Beitunia, with the goal of someday building a mosque in the area. Nearly 20 years later, the Foundation acquired a plot of land for this purpose in Bridgeview, which is located just southwest of Chicago. The Mosque’s construction was completed in 1981, and the deed to the building was signed over to the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), a Saudi-related extremist organization that actively seeks to take ownership of American mosques. (NAIT owns approximately 300 mosques across the United States.)
The Bridgeview Mosque’s leadership is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood — the organization that spawned al Qaeda, Hamas, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. According to Mosque Director Bassam Jody, most of the Mosque’s 24 directors belong to the Muslim American Society — a group with strong ties to the Brotherhood.
The Bridgeview Mosque attracts some 10,000 worshippers each week — most of them Palestinian Americans — by promoting a strict version of Islam and offering pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel sermons. The Saudi Arabian government pays part of the salary of prayer leader Sheik Jamal Said, a West Bank-raised disciple of the Muslim Brotherhood who preaches that America is a land of infidels and sin. A most effective fundraiser, Said has transformed the Mosque into a multimillion-dollar operation — having once collected nearly $2 million during a month of Ramadan alone. Most of the money was then funneled to Muslim charities, which in turn sent it overseas, often to terror-related entities.
Members of the Bridgeview Mosque’s congregation are eager to contribute to Palestinian causes, largely as a result of their feeling that America gives too much support to Israel while ignoring the plight of Palestinians. On occasion, the Mosque Foundation has raised money specifically “in memory” of dead suicide bombers. In a report put out by the Chicago Tribune, leaders of the Foundation have openly “praised Palestinian suicide bombers” and “condemned Western culture.”
One of Sheik Said’s fellow Mosque leaders, Muhammad Salah, has also been a major fundraiser for radical Palestinian causes. In 1995, while he served on the Mosque’s Executive Committee, Salah pled guilty to sending $650,000 to fund Hamas military operations and was sentenced to five years in an Israeli prison. Salah was the first American citizen to appear on the FBI’s list of “most wanted” Islamic terrorists.
The Mosque Foundation was once visited in the mid-1980s by Osama bin Laden‘s spiritual mentor Abdullah Azzam, as part of his national tour to recruit supporters for the Afghan war against the Soviet Union; at least three Bridgeview Mosque members enlisted in his effort.
In early 2004, Khaled Smaili — the onetime President and CEO of the now-defunct, terror-linked charity KindHearts — presented the “Mosque of the Year” award to Mosque Foundation President Ousama Jammal during a KindHearts fundraising dinner. That same year, the Mosque Foundation raised $50,000 for the defense of Sami al-Arian, the North American leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
The Bridgeview Mosque’s official spokesman is Rafeeq Jaber, who once served as the National President of the Islamic Association for Palestine, which was established in 1981 by Hamas operative Mousa Abu Marzook, and was shut down by the U.S. government in December 2004 on grounds that it was funding terrorism.
One Bridgeview Mosque worshipper, Nabil Al Marabh, was a suspected planner of the 9/11 hijackings.
The Mosque Foundation was also linked to the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, an Islamic charity shut down by U.S. authorities in 2001 on suspicion of its having funded the terrorist group Hamas.