A financial subsidiary and “constituent organization” of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) was founded in 1973 in Indiana by members of the Muslim Students Association of the U.S. & Canada. NAIT is a tax-exempt nonprofit endowment that not only subsidizes the construction of new mosques in the United States, but presently claims to hold the mortgages on more than 325 existing mosques, Islamic centers, and Islamic schools in 42 states. Some sources indicate that NAIT holds the mortgages to about 27% of all U.S. mosques, which is roughly consistent with the Trust’s own claim; other sources place the figure much higher, at somewhere between 50% and 79%.
Because NAIT controls the purse strings of these many properties, it can exercise ultimate authority over what they teach and what activities they conduct. Specifically, the Trust seeks to ensure that the institutions under its financial influence promote the principles of Sharia Law and Wahhabism.
A recently declassified FBI memo from December 1987 stated that NAIT’s “support of Jihad (a holy war) in the U.S. has been evidenced by the financial and organizational support provided through NAIT from Middle East countries to Muslims residing in the U.S. and Canada.” That support, added the memo, “includes planning, organizing and funding anti-U.S. and anti-Israel demonstrations, pro-PLO demonstrations, and the distribution of political propaganda against U.S. policies in the Middle East and in support of the Islamic Revolution as advocated by the (Government of Iran).”
Another FBI memo from the late eighties indicated that “within the organizational structure of NAIT, there have been numerous groups and individuals identified as being a part of a covert network of revolutionaries who have clearly indicated there (sic) support for the Islamic Revolution as advocated by the Ayatollah Khomeini and his government as well as other fanatical Islamic Shiite fundamentalist leaders in the Middle East.” “This faction of Muslims have declared war on the United States, Israel and any other country they deem as an enemy of Islam,” the memo stated, “… the underlying common goal being to further the holy war (Islamic Jihad).”
A third FBI memo, dated 1988, identified NAIT as one of many “Ikhwan organizations”—i.e., Muslim Brotherhood fronts—that “are involved in organizing political support” for a long-term plan seeking “to institute the Islamic Revolution in the United States” and “establish political control of all non-Islamic governments in the world.”
NAIT was also named in a May 1991 Muslim Brotherhood document—titled “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America”—as one of the Brotherhood’s 29 likeminded allies dedicated to waging a “grand Jihad” aimed at “eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within.” To view a complete list of the organizations named in that document, click here.
In 2002, NAIT’s offices were raided as part of “Operation Green Quest” (OGQ), a federal initiative to seize the assets of U.S.-based terrorist organizations and terrorism funders posing as legitimate businesses or charities. NAIT also served as an adviser group to the Amana Mutual Funds Trust, whose founder, Yacqub Mirza, was likewise targeted in the OGQ raids.
At the 2007 trial investigating allegations that the now-defunct Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development had engaged in the illegal financing of terrorism, both NAIT and ISNA were named as “unindicted co-conspirators” and as “entities who are and/or were members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.” Prosecutors presented copious evidence that ISNA had used NAIT to divert funds to leading Hamas officials like Mousa Abu Marzook, and to a number of Hamas-run institutions (such as the Islamic University of Gaza and the Islamic Center of Gaza, the latter of which was founded by the late Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin).
The designation of NAIT as an “unindicted co-conspirator” was upheld in 2009 by a federal judge, though that judge ruled against the previous public disclosure of the designation. Many media outlets have repeatedly mischaracterized this as a lifting of the designation.
Today NAIT owns the Islamic Academy of Florida, which was described as “a criminal enterprise” in a February 2007 federal indictment handed down against the school’s founder, Sami al-Arian, and other suspected Hamas fundraisers.
For additional information on NAIT, click here.