Founded in 1992, the Muslim American Society (MAS) describes itself as “a charitable, religious, social, cultural and educational, not-for-profit … Islamic organization.” In 2004, MAS secretary-general Shaker Elsayed said that his organization had been founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood. One of those founders was the Sudanese native and longtime Brotherhood member Mohamad Adam El-Sheikh, who served two stints as Imam of the Islamic Society of Baltimore (from 1983-89 and 1994-2003). During his tenure with ISB, El-Sheikh was also a regional director for the Islamic American Relief Agency (IARA), an organization that was later (in 2004) shut down by the U.S. Treasury Department because of its support for Islamic terrorism. IARA’s parent organization, the Islamic African Relief Agency, likewise funneled money to Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Hamas, and other terrorist entities.
MAS’s mission is to promote “Islam as a total way of life”; to “encourage the participation of Muslims in building a virtuous and moral society”; to “offer a viable Islamic alternative to many of our society’s prevailing problems”; to “promote family values in accordance with Islamic teaching”; to “promote the human values that Islam emphasizes: brotherhood, equality, justice, mercy, compassion, and peace”; and to “foster unity among Muslims and Muslim organizations and encourage cooperation and coordination amongst them.” MAS identifies the Islamic Society of North America and the Muslim Students Association as Muslim organizations that are rooted in the same “Islamic revival movement” as MAS.
In May 2005, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross reported in The Weekly Standard that MAS is a U.S. front group for the Muslim Brotherhood — a claim supported by a September 19, 2004 Chicago Tribune story that stated: “In recent years, the U.S. Brotherhood operated under the name Muslim American Society, according to documents and interviews. One of the nation’s major Islamic groups, it was incorporated in Illinois in 1993 after a contentious debate among Brotherhood members.” This Tribune article was later reproduced on the Muslim Brotherhood’s English-language website, Ikhwanweb.
MAS, like the Muslim Brotherhood, wishes to see the United States governed by sharia, or Islamic law. “The message that all countries should be ruled by Islamic law,” writes Gartenstein-Ross, “is echoed throughout MAS’s membership curriculum. For example, MAS requires all its adjunct members to read Fathi Yakun’s book To Be a Muslim. In that volume, Yakun spells out his expansive agenda: ‘Until the nations of the world have functionally Islamic governments, every individual who is careless or lazy in working for Islam is sinful.'”
MAS’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood were confirmed on August 14, 2007, as The Investigative Project on Terrorism reported: “As the terror-support trial of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) continued today, FBI agent Lara Burns testified that a phonebook found at the home of Ismail Elbarrasse — un-indicted co-conspirator and former assistant to HAMAS leader Musa Abu Marzook — listed the names and numbers of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership in the United States. On the first page of the phonebook under the title ‘Members of the Board of Directors’ were fifteen names. Among those names are Ahmad Elkadi, Jamal Badawi, and Omar Soubani: the founding incorporators of the Muslim American Society (MAS).”
The Investigative Project continued:
“This evidence confirms … Matthew Levitt’s expert testimony that MAS is the representative of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States, and is substantiated by a  Chicago Tribune article that outlined the history of MAS.
“Ahmad Elkadi, who told the Chicago Tribune that he was the leader of the Brotherhood in the U.S. from 1984-1994, worked with Mohammed Mahdi Akef, head of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood since 2003, to advocate for the founding of MAS. According to the Tribune report, Akef and Elkadi pushed for more openness for the Muslim Brotherhood through MAS. Akef himself ‘says he helped found MAS by lobbying for the change during trips to the U.S.’
“In fact, MAS does not deny its Muslim Brotherhood foundations. In 2004, then-Secretary General of MAS Shaker Elsayed stated to the Tribune that ‘Ikhwan [Brotherhood] members founded MAS…’ Elsayed even went so far as to admit that about 45 percent of MAS’s active members belong to the Brotherhood. Federal officials have confirmed this, noting continued ties between MAS and the Muslim Brotherhood.”
MAS is described by Stephen Schwartz, author of The Two Faces of Islam, as “a major component” of the “Wahhabi Lobby” that channels money from and advances the policies of Muslim-fundamentalist Saudi Arabia.
MAS publishes The American Muslim magazine. In a July 2003 article titled “Reaching the Roots of Terrorism,” author Omer bin Abdullah blames America’s “forceful” foreign policy for having provoked the 9/11 attacks. “Terrorism enables the weak to confront the strong,” he writes, “and thus has an enduring appeal to those who are dissatisfied with the status quo. … Its causes usually can be traced to political oppression, cultural domination, economic exploitation, ethnic discrimination, and religious persecution. … The U.S. has placed itself in a corner: It insists that other governments stop, prevent, and even help it to fight terrorism, and yet arms such practitioners of state terrorism as Tel Aviv. Today, terrorism refers to those whom the U.S. dislikes, especially Muslims.”
In 2002 Randall Royer was the Communications Director of MAS. The following year, federal agents arrested Royer and charged him with conspiring with a Pakistani Wahhabist group — Lashkar-I-Taibi, or “Army of the Righteous” — to commit terrorism in Kashmir, Chechnya and elsewhere.
Closely linked to MAS is the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, whose Executive Director is Mahdi Bray, a former Students for a Democratic Society activist now affiliated with International ANSWER, an anti-war front group for the Communist World Workers Party. “Our mission,” Bray has written, “is to build an integrated empowerment process for the American Muslim community.” Toward this end, Bray and MAS have been involved in a voter-registration drive and an effort to train 1,000 “activists” in the “skills necessary for effective activism.”
MAS also has close ties to Islamic American University, an unaccredited university in the Detroit suburb of Southfield, which teaches Islamic law and other subjects. (One IAU faculty member is Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, who until at least June 2003 was also the Chairman — in abstentia — of the university’s Board of Trustees. )
MAS was a signatory to a February 20, 2002 document condemning military tribunals and the detention of immigrants apprehended in connection with post-9/11 terrorism investigations.
MAS strongly opposes the Patriot Act, which it says “strips away the fundamental checks and balances that safeguard many of our basic civil liberties,” and has “drastically infringed upon every American’s rights by giving the government expanded powers to invade privacy, imprison and deport people without due process, and punish political dissent.”
In September 2007, MAS President Esam S. Omeish, who was also a member of Virginia’s Commission of Immigration, resigned in disgrace from his MAS post after it was revealed that he had been videotaped at a December 22, 2000 rally in Washington, DC, telling a Muslim audience: “… we are here today … to tell our brothers and sisters in Palestine that you have learned the way; that you have known that the jihad way is the way to liberate your land. And we, by standing here today … we are telling them that ‘we are with you, we are supporting you, and we will do everything that we can … to help your cause.'” (Click here for this December 2000 video.) Another damning video showed Omeish, at an August 12, 2006 rally in Washington, denouncing an invasion of Lebanon by the “Israeli war machine”; accusing Israel of genocide and massacres against Palestinians; and claiming that the “Israeli agenda” controls the U.S. Congress.
On October 19, 2011, MAS was one of 57 organizations to co-sign a letter that Farhana Khera, executive director of an Islamic organization called Muslim Advocates, wrote to Barack Obama’s then-Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (and later CIA director) John Brennan. The letter demanded that Obama officials “purge all federal government training materials of biased materials”—that is, materials that they claimed were biased against Islam—and “implement a mandatory re-training program for FBI agents, U.S. Army officers, and all federal, state and local law enforcement who have been subjected to biased training.” Joing MAS as signatories were such groups as the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Circle of North America, Islamic Relief USA, the Islamic Society of North America, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
The Obama Administration immediately complied with the letter’s demands. Dwight C. Holton, former U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, emphasized that same day that training materials for the FBI would be purged of everything that Islamic supremacists deemed offensive: “I want to be perfectly clear about this: training materials that portray Islam as a religion of violence or with a tendency towards violence are wrong, they are offensive, and they are contrary to everything that this president, this attorney general and Department of Justice stands for. They will not be tolerated.”
In mid-November 2014, the government of the United Arab Emirates designated MAS, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and 81 groups from other countries as terrorist organizations. Others on the list included ISIS; al Qaeda and its various branches; the Muslim Brotherhood and its branches; Britain’s Cordoba Foundation; the Muslim Association of Britain; and numerous European Muslim groups based in Italy, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Finland.
In a 2010 email to fellow Islamic and leftist activists, Muslim scholar Al-Husein Madhany wrote: “When I said that I believe MAS halaqas [religious meetings] to be a national security threat, it was only part in jest. My caution comes from what I have personally heard said at MAS halaqas during my time in graduate school and based on what I know about their ideological (but financial) ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.”