The Middle East Forum strongly supports H.Res.160, Expressing concern about the threat posed to democracy and human rights by theocratic groups operating in South Asia. This resolution, introduced by Congressman Jim Banks, Republican of Indiana, focuses on both the foreign and domestic threat posed by Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamist organization founded in South Asia with a long history of jihadi violence.
While Jamaat has little popular support in Bangladesh and Pakistan, it has been sadly effective at terrorizing and marginalizing religious minorities in South Asia, as well as imposing a powerful degree of influence over Muslim communities in the West.
H.Res. 160 calls on the Governments of Pakistan and Bangladesh to disrupt and dismantle Jamaat’s networks, names prominent Jamaat proxy groups in the United States, calls for USAID and the State Department to halt all partnerships with Jamaat organizations; and urges an investigation into American Jamaat funding of terrorists in Pakistan and Kashmir.
Middle East Forum research has shown that Jamaat front groups raise millions in the United States and employ lobbyists in Washington. Groups such as Helping Hand for Relief and Development openly partner with designated terrorist organizations. The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), the self-described “sister organization” of Helping Hands, was at one point led by Ashrafuzzaman Khan, the “chief executor” of a Jamaat killing squad during Bangladesh’s 1971 Liberation War.
“Jamaat-e-Islami commits many violent acts South Asia and is a key promotor of extremism,” said Sam Westrop, director of MEF’s Islamist Watch. “Its proxies in America are key components of Islamist radicalization. And yet they raise millions of dollars, including from Federal Government sources. Each taxpayer dollar affords this extremist movement political legitimacy — a blow for those moderate American Muslims fighting to free their communities from Islamist control.”
“It is important that Washington cease its head-in-the-sand approach to this dangerous movement,” adds Cliff Smith, director of MEF’s Washington Project. “For too long, Jamaat’s network has operated with shamelessness abroad and with impunity domestically. The Banks resolution will sound the alarm.”
H.Res.160 has been referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Middle East Forum, a Philadelphia-based think tank, is dedicated to defining American interests in the Middle East and protecting America from Islamist threats. It achieves its goals through intellectual, activist, and philanthropic efforts.