Established in 2005 by UC Berkeley lecturer Hatem Bazian, American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) is a major supporter of the pro-Hamas campus group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). Several of AMP’s current board members and key officials were previously members of, and worked closely with, now-defunct Islamic extremist groups that funded terrorist activities. These groups included the Islamic Association for Palestine (which, until its dissolution in 2004, served as the chief U.S. propaganda arm of Hamas); the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (which from 1995-2001 contributed approximately $12.4 million in money, goods, and services to Hamas); and KindHearts for Charitable Humanitarian Development (whose assets were frozen in 2006 by the U.S. Treasury Department because of its fundraising activities on behalf of Hamas). AMP is also very active on American college campuses and is one of the major driving forces of the Hamas-inspired Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel. Writes Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD): “AMP is arguably the most important sponsor and organizer for Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which is the most visible arm of the BDS campaign on campuses in the United States. AMP provides speakers, training, printed materials, a so-called ‘Apartheid Wall,’ and [financial] grants to SJP activists. AMP even has a campus coordinator on staff whose job is to work directly with SJP and other pro-BDS campus groups across the country. According to an email it sent to subscribers, AMP spent $100,000 on campus activities in 2014 alone. AMP partners with a wide range of BDS organizations, and openly calls for Congress to embrace BDS.”
In March 2014, AMP was one of six “major national” American Islamic groups that collaborated to form a coalition called the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), whose stated purpose was to “serve as a representative voice for Muslims as that faith community seeks to enhance its positive impact on society.” The other five USCMO members were the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim American Society (MAS), the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), the Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA), and the Mosque Foundation. According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT): “Three of [USCMO’s members], AMP, CAIR and MAS, have roots in the Muslim Brotherhood or in … the Palestine Committee,” which, as noted above, wasestablished by the Brotherhood to advance Hamas’s agendas in the U.S. In 2015, IPT identified six AMP officials and speakers who had formerly worked for the Palestine Committee. They were:
(1) Osama Abu-Irshaid (current AMP board member): Prior to joining AMP, Abu-Irshaid served as: (a) editor of IAP’s Arabic periodical, Al-Zaitounah, which not only promoted the goals of Hamas but also published advertisements by terrorist-affiliated charities like the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the Global Relief Foundation, and theBenevolence International Foundation; (b) a board member of the American Muslim Society (AMS), which was essentially IAP under another name; and (c) a “research fellow” at the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR), a pro-Hamas organization. In a 1999 article published in UASR’s Middle East Affairs Journal, Abu-Irshaid denounced all Palestinian peace agreements with the “Zionists”—including the 1993 Oslo Accords—as despicable betrayals of “Palestinian historic and religious rights.” And in a December 2014 Facebook post in Arabic, he praised the violent jihadist tactics of Hamas while deriding Mahmoud Abbas‘s Fatah party as a collection of “lackeys” and “compromise[rs]” who had “conspired with Israel” and “deviat[ed] from the creed of liberation and resistance upon which [Fatah] was established.”
(2) Salah Sarsour (current AMP board member): In the mid-1990s, Sarsour was arrested by Israeli authoritiesand sentenced to eight months in prison for raising funds on behalf of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development(HLF). “While in prison,” reports IPT, Sarsour “became ‘very good friends’ with Adel Awdallah, a former leader of Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades … He also sent money to Awdallah ‘several times’ through his brother Jamil Sarsour, who pleaded guilty to aiding Hamas and served a multiple year sentence in Israel before being deported to the U.S. in 2002.”
(3) Sufyan Nabhan (current AMP board member): During a May 2010 event commemorating the Palestinian “Al-Nakba”—i.e., “Day of Catastrophe,” in reference to the creation of Israel on May 14, 1948—Nabhancondemned Israel’s “occupation of Palestine,” saying: “Occupation is apartheid, occupation is segregation. Massacres are going on daily.”
(4) Yousef Shahin (current AMP board member): This onetime president of theIslamic Association for Palestine‘s New Jersey branch has defended former British MPGeorge Galloway, founder of Viva Palestina, against well-founded charges that the latter raised funds on behalf of Hamas. Even after Galloway himself had proudly announced in 2009 that he was giving—for purposes of “politics” and “not charity”—”three cars and £25,000 cash to [Hamas] Prime MinisterIsmail Haniyeh,” Shahin maintained: “He’s not taking money for terrorists. He’s buying medical supplies for the hospital. He’s not dealing with a terrorist organization. We were assured by him; he’s going to give everything to the hospital.” Shahin was also listed as a contact person for an AMP banquet at which Galloway was a guest speaker.
(5) Abdelbaset Hamayel: This former Islamic Association for Palestine executive director and secretary general also served as arepresentative of the Illinois and Wisconsin offices of KindHerarts for Charitable Humanitarian Development.
In April 2016, Jonathan Schanzer confirmed and expanded upon IPT’s revelations when he reported that seven current AMP officials and/or affiliates were former members of groups that had been shut down or held civilly liable by the U.S. government for funneling money to Hamas. These included: (a) three individuals—Hossein Khatib, Jamal Said, and the aforementioned Salah Sarsour—who had previously belonged to the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF); and (b) four individuals—Rafeeq Jaber, Sufian Nabhan, Abdelbasset Hamayel, and Osama Abu Irshaid—who had gravitated to AMP from the Islamic Association for Palestine and (in Hamayel’s case) KindHearts. (Nabhan, Hamayel, and Abu Irshaid had also been named in the 2015 IPT report)