Established on February 22, 2006 by Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca and a group of Southern California Islamic leaders, the Muslim American Homeland Security Congress (MAHSC) describes itself as a “non-political, non-governmental, non-religious, non-profit” organization. Its mission, as outlined by one of its leading members, Shakeel Syed, is to “enhance the partnership and cooperation between the Muslim-American community and law enforcement, as well as local and national elected officials, civic and inter-faith groups.”
Syed—formerly the Shura Council of Southern California’s executive director, and currently an American Muslims for Palestine board member—is a friend and supporter of Abdel Jabbar Hamdan, former spokesman and fundraiser for the (now-defunct) Hamas-affiliated Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. Syed has also expressed support for the anti-Semitic, pro-jihad Egyptian cleric Wagdy Ghoneim, who is affiliated with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2004, both Hamdan and Ghoneim were arrested for suspected ties to terrorism.
Another MAHSC official, Saadiq Saafir—who founded a Los Angeles mosque known as Masjid Ibaadillah—also defended Hamdan and Ghoneim in 2004. “When it comes down to any religion being demonized, we have to stand against it,” he said at the time. Saafir, who is black, considers himself a victim of both racial and religious prejudices: “Before 9/11, I had been used to being scrutinized, profiled. I had been used to being guilty before proven innocent. Now I have a double whammy—an African American in Muslim clothes.”
Yet another of MAHSC’s leading figures is board member Hussam Ayloush, who also serves as executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Southern California chapter. Like Syed and Saafir, Ayloush defended Wagdy Ghoneim when the latter was arrested in 2004. “The whole Muslim community today is under a microscope of scrutiny,” said Ayloush at the time, complaining that Muslims were being deported for minor transgressions that “would invite [only] a slap on the wrist for anyone else.” In May 2004, Ayloush complained that America’s war on terror had become a “war on Muslims,” and that the U.S. government had transformed itself into the “new Saddam”—an entity whose “hate-mongers want to tell us that it is OK to target someone because of his race, his color, or the religion he or she follows.” In December 2004, Ayloush lamented the “high level of fear” that Muslims allegedly felt because of the “selective application of the laws and unfair targeting of Muslims” by the Department of Homeland Security, whose tactics he likened to the old Soviet intelligence agency, the KGB.
MAHSC’s chairman is Dafer Dakhil, former director of external affairs at the Omar Ibn Khattab Foundation. In 2001 that foundation donated 300 copies of The Meaning of the Holy Quran, a volume consisting of the Quran itself along with accompanying commentary, to the Los Angeles public school system. In early 2002, however, it was reported that these books contained anti-Semitic references describing Jews as “arrogant,” “illiterate,” and “men without faith.”
Islamic Society of North America co-founder Muzammil Siddiqi, who chaired the Department of Religious Affairs at the Muslim World League Office to the United Nations from 1976-80, also serves as an MAHSC official.
A notable former leader of MAHSC was Sireen Sawaf, hate-crime prevention coordinator for the Muslim Public Affairs Council. According to Sawaf, who objected to the 2003 arrest and prosecution of Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Sami Al-Arian, the PATRIOT Act has “cast suspicion on minority communities and send[s] the message to society that these communities cannot be trusted,” which in turn leads to “subtle hate incidents and even hate crimes.”
 Dakhil also served on the advisory board of Project Islamic HOPE, which co-sponsored—along with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Association for Palestine, and the Muslim American Society—an October 15, 2000 “rally and vigil to protest the ongoing Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people.”
 “The ‘war on terror,’ is a war, really, on a community that is being connected to the [9/11] hijackers,” said Sawaf, decrying the “interrogations, investigations, deportations, [and] detentions” of Islamic terror suspects as “very negative” developments.