Canada’s most infamous terrorist, Ahmed Sayed Khadr, was radicalized while a part of the Muslim Student Association at the University of Ottawa. Calgary suicide bomber Salma Ashrafi was the President of his Muslim Student Association. Others such as Awso Peshdary, John Maguire, Khadar Khalib, Chiheb Esseghaier, Youssef Sakhir, Samir Halilovic, Zakria Habibi and Ferid Imam all had ties to the Muslim Student Association in Canada. The list of individuals who have been a part of the Muslim Student Association and then gone on to be suicide bombers, jihadist fighters, propagandists or to have leadership role in the Muslim Brotherhood is extensive.
What is the Muslim Student Association? Where did it come from? Who founded it? Is it just a coincidence that so many extremist have come from its alumni? Or is something going on?
The Muslim Students Association (MSA) of the United States and Canada was established in January 1963 by members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign campus. Its creation was the result of Saudi Arabia-backed efforts to create a network of international Islamic organizations in order to spread its Wahhabist ideology. It was essentially “an arm of the Saudi-funded, Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Muslim World League.” Since its inception, the MSA has emerged as the leading and most influential Islamic student organization in North America. Today, there are nearly six hundred MSA chapters in the United States and Canada. This report will investigate the key principles the MSA is founded upon to gain a greater understanding of its current activities. This requires establishing its clear nexus to the MB and its adherent organizations. The MSA will be further scrutinized with respect to its rampant anti-US, anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric both on and off campus. Within that framework, a greater perspective of its radical Islamist ideology, and the methods it is transmitted, can be gained. This report will also analyze the manner in which the MSA provides material support to terrorism travel. Through the introduction of specific case studies, it will be evident that current and former members of the MSA account for a significant share of individuals who have left home to join in terror related activities abroad.
The Muslim Brotherhood Connection
The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna. It is an Egyptian based organization that is both staunchly conservative and highly secretive. It is dedicated to true Islamic governance based on Sharia law. The motto of the MB is, “God is our objective, the Quran is our constitution, the prophet is our leader, jihad is our way, and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations.” Further emphasizing the mindset of its leader, al-Banna, in addressing MB members, said, “We must prepare ourselves, our wives, our sons, our daughters, and those who follow in our path for a lengthy, uncompromising jihad, in which we seek [to gain] the status of martyrs.”
The MSA promotes al-Banna’s MB ideology openly. In a speech in Missouri in the 1980’s Zaid Naman, a US Muslim Brotherhood official, made the relationship between the MSA and the MB clear. He stated that, “as for recruitment in the ranks of the Movement [the MB], its main condition was that a brother must be active in the general activism in the MSA.” Furthermore, Naman went on to say, “the most important resolution the Group [MB] might have taken was who was going to be a member of the MSA’s executive committee.”
One of the core MB principles to be transmitted to, and adopted by the MSA, is the notion of ‘Civilization Jihad.’ In a 1991 memorandum, Mohamed Akram, a MB operative, explained this process, that members of the MB “must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” The MSA was specifically named in the 1991 memorandum as one of the MB’s “likeminded organizations of our friends” that shared the common goal of creating a Muslim nation in the West.
To achieve their goals of spreading radical Wahhabi Islam, the MB and the MSA pay specific attention to the concept of da’wah (a core issue for al-Banna). It can be defined as the calling for the practice or policy of conveying the message of Islam to non-Muslims. Taken within the mission of the MB and its adherent organizations, da’wah can be better understood as a means of proselytizing Islam. In 1995, for example, at a Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA) conference in Toledo, Ohio, the world’s most influential Sunni scholar and unofficial spiritual leader of the MB and a life-long adherent, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, explained the importance of da’wah, converting people to Islam, as a means of spreading the global Islamic movement. He said, “conquest through da’wah, that is what we hope for. We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America! Not through the sword but through da’wah.” Qaradawi himself is currently wanted by Interpol on charges of agreement, incitement and assistance to commit intentional murder, helping prisoners escape, arson and vandalism.
The MSA’s da’wah campaign is of course largely composed of benign and righteous religious work protected by Free Speech. However, its true Islamist nature is frequently promoted by MSA members and guests. At the 2005 MSA West Conference, president of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) MSA, Ahmed Shama, discussed the ultimate goal of establishing Islamic governance through da’wah. In his speech he said “the only justification – the only justification – that Muslims have to live in this country is da’wah. I say it again. It might be controversial… the only obligation that we have living in this country is da’wah… and if we are not doing something to invite people to Islam, Muslims and non-Muslims, then we are missing the point of what [the] Islamic Movement is about.” This rhetoric is not isolated to small radical cells within the North American MSA network. The MSA National website posted a document entitled, “Dawa: Time to Come Out of Our Boxes,” which advised its members to strategically adapt their da’wah to the particular cultural sensibilities of North Americans. It suggested for example, that, “instead of using ‘Holy War’ to translate the word Jihad, use a more comprehensive and proper term like ‘struggle’ or ‘striving’… Try to use language that is more appealing to North Americans.”
In Canada, a disturbing matter came to light this year upon the announcement of the investigation into Hussein Hamdani. Hamdani is a lawyer who, in 2005, was appointed to the Roundtable that “provides advice and perspective to the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Justice, concerning matters of national security.” He held this position for ten years despite the fact that his affiliation with Muslim Brotherhood entities dates back to 1995, at least, when he was the Muslim Students Association’s treasurer at McMaster University where he studied political science from 1991-1995. He continued to work with the MSA at the University of Toronto while he was doing his Masters in International relations from 1995-1996. In 1998 and in 1999, the University of Western Ontario’s student newspaper identified Hamdani as MSA Western’s president. He was then studying Law (1997-2000). In 1996, Hamdani published the text “The Islamicization of Campus Politics and the politicization of the MSA.” In it he discusses how Muslim student leaders in North America ought to take control of their respective student unions, and by extension the union’s finances. He claims that in doing so, Muslim students would be ideally positioned to redirect funds towards their own Muslim associations on campus. Furthermore, Hamdani encourages Muslim student activists to try to control their student union’s key committees, those “where the real politics lies.” An excerpt from the text says “It should be the long-term goal of every MSA to Islamicize the politics of their respective university.”
Between 2005 and 2009, two charities Hamdani worked with, the Halton Islamic Association and the Hamdani Foundation, gave more than $25,000 to IRFAN-Canada, a charity that transferred some $15 million to Hamas, a designated terrorist organization. IRFAN-Canada also lost its official charity status in 2011 after a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) audit exposed the organization as an “integral part” in Hamas’ global financing infrastructure. This is particularly worrying as it is a clear example that the goals and extremist rhetoric of the MB that is transmitted through the MSA does not only manifest itself among the student body. These messages of Islamicist ideology are carried by its adherents to the highest levels of society and government. On May 1, 2015, Hamdani was suspended from his position on the cross-cultural roundtable on national security by Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney. While Hamdani holds that his dismissal was politically motivated due to his opposition to Bill C-51 and his support of Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party, Minister Blaney alleges “This individual’s membership on the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on National Security has been suspended immediately pending a review of the facts. While questions surrounding this individual’s links to radical ideology have circulated for some time, it was hoped that he could be a positive influence to promote Canadian values. It is now becoming clear this may not have been the case.”
Anti-Western, Anti-Israel, Anti-Semitic Rhetoric
Another aspect of the MSA’s ideology is the promotion of anti-western, anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric. Despite presenting themselves as an apolitical, religious and cultural organization, the MSA engages in radical lobbying, accusing America of being an imperialist power and Israel an oppressive, apartheid nation, if they will acknowledge it’s status as a state at all. Alex Alexiev of The Center of Security Policy stated “The majority of Muslim Student Associations at US colleges are dominated by Islamist and anti-American agendas, as are most of the numerous Islamic centers and schools financed by the Saudis.” On October 22, 2000 at the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles, MSA-UCLA members Arif Shaikh and Ahmed Shama (who was then president of the chapter), led a demonstration protesting ‘Israeli aggression against Palestinians.’ At the rally, chants of ‘death to Israel,’ and ‘death to Jews,’ were repeated amongst the crowd. Shama stated “Our solution is simple, our solution is the establishment of justice by Islamic means. This is the only solution to this Israeli apartheid.” At a San Francisco State University rally on April 9, 2002, Imam Amir Abdul Malik Ali, in discussing the Israel-Palestinian conflict, was cheered by the student crowd when he exclaimed, “stop calling them suicide bombers. When a person commits suicide, they are depressed… these brother, and sisters, before they go out on their martyr missions are doing videotapes and they are saying ‘yah! I’m doing this! I’m doing this! And their mothers are right next to them saying, ‘go ahead and go!’” These are but a token few examples of the pervasive and ongoing violent Islamist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic messages that the MSA transmits.
Furthermore, the MSA and many of its campus affiliates have organized or participated in ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ (IAW). Beginning in Toronto in 2005, and since becoming an annual event worldwide, the organization claims “the aim of IAW is to educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system and to build Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns as part of a growing global BDS movement.” It has at this point become a foregone conclusion that these annual events will descend into anti-Semitic diatribes, largely maintaining international support as legitimate freedom of expression. For example, a text that appeared at the top of the IAW campaign’s website this year accuses Israel of “’fresh war crimes and crimes against humanity’ and an ‘incremental genocide’ of Palestinians. It describes the Jewish state as ‘the world’s dangerous pariah.’” Examples of IAW themes include accusations against Israel of ‘pinkwashing,’ a term used to accuse Israel of leveraging its tolerant and progressive record on LGBT issues as a means of whitewashing its policies towards Palestinians.
Additionally, at the Yale 2011 IAW, Mazin Qumsiyeh, a Palestinian former Professor who had recently moved back to the West Bank “described Israel as the ‘worst colonial venture in history’ and defended the right of Palestinians to resist ‘by any means,’ including violent resistance.” He went on to accuse Israel of having an “apartheid system” worse than it was in South Africa and expressed support for boycott campaigns against Israel and companies that do business with Israel.
At the University of Manitoba in 2009, the MSA put up posters that depicted Israeli fighter planes targeting baby strollers. Others featured a caricature of a hooked-nosed Hasidic Jew with a Star of David, pointing a bazooka at the nose of an Arab carrying a slingshot. Another showed an Israeli helicopter with a swastika on top, dropping a bomb on a baby bottle. These annual conferences not only propagate the most vitriolic falsehoods, often not distinguishing between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, but IAW events allow for no discourse or debate on the facts. Rather than use University forums for open dialogue and the free expression of facts and opinions, the IAW events continue to nurture and spread hateful messages, and prevent any real progress from being made.
Mechanisms for Radical Ideological Dissemination
With an understanding of the true nature of the MSA and its radical ideology, it is important to enumerate the various mechanisms it uses to publicize its messages to college campuses and beyond. As was previously noted, the MSA regularly holds conferences, or engages guest lecturers with radical Islamist themes. Some of the MSA’s past guest speakers have included: Abu Ali (Abdul-Alim) Musa, the Imam if the Masjid al-Islam in Washington D.C. Musa is known for justifying the use of suicide bombers, saying in a July 2002 rally in DC, “When they go out and strike at the heart of Zionism, they are not suicide bombers they are heroes, isn’t that right? That’s a part of our deen, that’s a part of our religion, lets not become weak bones and apologetic, and run around trying to appease this government and that government.”
Another notable figure engaged by the MSA as a guest speaker is Mohammed al-Hanooti. In November 2001, he was designated by FBI special agent Dale Watson, Assistant Director of the FBI Counterterrorism Division, as a significant and active supporter of Hamas. The report went on to say that al-Hanooti purportedly held fund-raising activities for Hamas, and supporting visitors to the US from Israel and Jordon to speak on behalf of Hamas.
Lastly, another guest on the MSA roster was Omar Ahmed, who founded the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in 1994. He was also an official of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP). The IAP was mentioned in a memorandum opinion in the case of Holy Land Foundation v. Ashcroft, in which the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) unsuccessfully sued then-Attourney General John Ashcroft, challenging its designation as a Specially Designated Terrorist Entity. US District Judge Gladys Kessler found that “at the same time Hamas was funding HLF, it was also funding a network of organizations connected to HLF. There is evidence that at least one of these organizations, Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), has acted in support of Hamas.” While again, this is hardly an exhaustive list of the radical Islamist guest list the MSA has hosted over the years, it is a compelling indicator of the kind of message being transmitted to students across the continent.
The MSA equally lends it support to a multitude of Islamic organizations, many of which have been identified as having terrorist ties. One such example is the Global Relief Foundation (GRF), based in Chicago Illinois, which grew into one of the largest Islamic charities in the US. The GRF described itself as a non-profit, non-governmental organization established to provide humanitarian assistance and charitable relief to Muslims, especially in conflict zones. Aside from their charitable work however, the US government has also alleged that GRF funded violent jihadism. By the end of the 1990’s, GRF was reporting more than five million dollars in annual contributions, with tax filings indicating that ninety percent of the money donated between 1994 and 2000 was sent abroad. An FBI memorandum notes that “some materials distributed by GRF glorify ‘martyrdom through jihad’ and state that donations will be used to buy ammunition, equip ‘the raiders’ and support the mujahedin.” The MSA provided a link to GRF until March 2003.
Another notable of MSA affiliated charities linked to terrorism, is the case of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF). As discussed above, HLF’s assets were frozen by the FBI and Treasury Department in December 2001 based on charges that it raised money for Hamas. The 2007 trial led to the conviction of HLF’s founders on charges of supporting a terrorist organization. The MSA provided a link to HLF until March 2003. In anticipation of the 2007 verdict in the HLF case, Farhad Noorzay, the president of MSA West, released a message requesting people, “make du’a and supplicate to Allah, the Almighty, asking Him to confirm the innocence of these men, that justice prevail, and that they be returned safely to their families.”
The MSA also releases several publications on various campuses, which maintain its radical position and respect of jihadist activity. UCLA’s MSA newspaper al-Talib, for example, distributes approximately twenty thousand copies per issue to campuses, mosques and community centers. UC-Irvine’s MSA newspaper Alkalima circulates to roughly fifteen thousand people, with some of the publications available online. In a July 1999 Issue of al-Talib, an editorial by MSA staff called “The Sprit of Jihad” included a portion stating “When we hear someone refer to the great Mujahid Osama Bin Laden as a ‘terrorist,’ we should defend our brother and refer to him as a freedom fighter.” The edition featured a photo of Bin Laden on the cover. In their June 2004 issue, Alkalima published a piece praising Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hizballah. In it, it was written “Arab countries have come to realize that the only group able to liberate land from the Zionists was Hizb’Allah. Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, who only had control of his tongue, stuck to his correct legitimate ideology and was assassinated as a hero of the Palestinian people and Muslims worldwide.” Lastly, in a special report entitled “Zionism: The Forgotten Apartheid,” both al-Talib and Alkalima staff joined to release a heavily anti-Semitic piece. The report stated, “As the Zionists continue to colonize, torture and ethinically-cleanse in the name of the ‘peace process’ and the Americans continue to fund them, the respective staffs of Al-Talib and Alkalima feel it to be their basic duty to expose Zionism, its evil and its effects. Zionist controlled world media has been purposefully distorting and misconstruing world events too long.”
The MSA and Terror Travel
Unfortunately, the successful promotion and indoctrination of radical Islamist ideology by the MSA in the ways previously discussed, sometimes results in individuals undertaking jihadist missions from and within North America. The final section of this report will look at the manner in which the MSA contributes to the radicalization of young people, providing material support to terrorism travel. In 2007, a New York Police Department report noted that the MSA acts as an “incubator” for Islamic radicalism. The report went on to say that,
“Among social networks of the local university population, there appears to be a growing trend of Salafi-based radicalization that has permeated some Muslim Students Associations (MSA’s). Extremists have used these university-based organizations as forums for the development and recruitment of likeminded individuals.”
One of the most notable Canadian examples of terrorism travel influenced by the MSA is the case of Ahmed Said Khadr. While he was an engineering student at the University of Ottawa, he joined the MSA, agreeing with their notions of Sharia law, and he became a vocal advocate for Islamic rule in his native Egypt. After his graduation, Khadr moved to Pakistan to run the office of Human Concern International, another Muslim Brotherhood affiliated organization. Through his work with multiple charitable NGO’s serving Afghan refugees, Khadr was tied to multiple militant and Mujahedeen leaders in Afghanistan, including Osama Bin Laden and Aymen al-Zawahiri. He was accused of being a senior associate and financier of al-Qaeda. Khadr was killed on October 2, 2003, along with al-Qaeda and Taliban members, in a shootout by Pakistani security forces near the Afghanistan border. An al-Qaeda website profiling “120 Martyrs of Afghanistan” described him as a leader of Bin Laden’s organization and praised him for “tossing his little child [Omar] in the furnace of the battle.”
Most recently, a report by the QMI Agency compiled a report of eleven individuals topping Canada’s lists of Jihadi extremists, who all share ties to the MSA. While extended profiles of all the individuals on the list are discussed in the biographical data of MSA-linked terrorists section below, several of the cases bear mentioning here. Awso Peshdary, Khadar Khalib and John “Yahya” Maguire, all students and members of the Algonquin College MSA, got connected and engaged in terrorist activities together. Khalib was apparently radicalized by Peshdary, and travelled to Syria in 2014 with Peshdary and Maguire’s assistance. He was charged in abstentia in February 2015, as he is currently believed to be in Syria fighting with the Islamic State (IS). Peshdary himself is accused of helping bankroll prospective homegrown jihadis seeking to join IS. He was described by CSIS as being a recruiter and talent spotter for a convicted terrorist when he was first arrested in 2010. Maguire joined IS in 2012, travelling to Syria on a one-way ticket, and posted a propaganda video in 2014. He was charged in abstentia with participating in a terrorist group in Syria, Iraq and Turkey, and conspiring with a terrorist network in Ottawa. He was reportedly killed in battle, but no official agency has confirmed his death. What is most alarming is how these individuals allegedly did not show signs of extremist views prior to their time in the MSA. According to Awso Peshdary’s father, Awso was not raised in a religious, much less radical, home. Similarly, colleagues of Khalib at Algonquin College expressed their shock at the discovery of his radicalization, expressing that there were no prior signs of his extremist views. Friends of Maguire similarly stated that he had a normal upbringing and, “had a pet horse. He played guitar in a punk band called the Shackles, which held concerts in church basements. He also played hockey.” What this shows is that young people who are raised far from repressive regimes and Islamist ideology, may still find their way to it. The MSA has developed and refined an effective method of identifying and recruiting the type of individuals susceptible to radicalization, and it is operating almost unimpeded.
The MSA has had over fifty years to expand across campuses in North America, and in that time they have solidified their role in influencing both academic and political circles. They have remained true to their original purpose as an arm of the global Muslim Brotherhood Movement, and have been successful in implementing its policies and agendas. The MSA cultivates individuals, some who go on to hold important positions in mainstream society, to carry the radical ideology espoused by the organization with them, beyond the campus. This has created the situation we are confronted with today. The rate of extremist rhetoric from university MSA’s is increasing, namely with the IAW and BDS movements gaining global momentum, while it has equally cultivated a vast network of likeminded organizations and people to accommodate its radical ideology through a stealth jihad.
CANADA: Biographies of MSA Alumni with Terrorism Connections
Awso Peshdary: Ottawa born accused terrorist Awso Peshdary was arrested in February 2015 as part of operation ‘Project Servant’ by the RCMP Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET). He was charged with participation in the activity of a terrorist group (Sec. 83.18). He is accused of helping bankroll prospective homegrown jihadis seeking to join the Islamic State (IS), and was connected to Canadian jihadi John Maguire. He was described by CSIS as being a recruiter and talent spotter for a convicted terrorist when he was first arrested in 2010. Peshdary was active within the Algonquin College Muslim Students Association (MSA), and conditions of his arrest prevent him from communicating with several members of the organization, including MSA executives Adballrahman Naddaf and Mohammed Tulul. Peshdary was most recently employed at the Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre as a youth services worker. Peshdary was hired to serve youth aged 13-17, an age range particularly vulnerable to radicalization.
Khadar Khalib (aka AbdulBaqi Hanif): Grew up in Ottawa and later moved with his family to Calgary. Khalib was a member of the Algonquin College MSA. It is believed he was radicalized by Awso Peshdary. According to the RCMP, Khalib travelled to Syria in late March 2014 with the alleged assistance of Peshdary and former University of Ottawa business student John Maguire, who was already in Syria at the time. Khalib is now believed to be in Syria fighting with the Islamic State, therefore he was charged by the RCMP in abstentia in February 2015. Weeks before Khalib left for Syria, both he and Peshdary took part in Islam Awareness Week on Algonquin College’s Woodroffe Avenue campus, which was sponsored by the MSA.
John “Yahya” Maguire: Grew up in Kemptville, ON. He received a scholarship to study in Los Angeles in 2010 and returned to Canada enrolling at the University of Ottawa in 2011, at which point friends claimed he had already begun making extremist claims, and became involved with the university’s MSA. He joined IS in 2012, travelling to Syria on a one-way ticket, and posted a propaganda video in 2014. He was charged in abstentia with participating in a terrorist group in Syria, Iraq and Turkey, and conspiring with a terrorist network in Ottawa. He was reportedly killed in battle, but no official agency has confirmed his death. He has made multiple comments online supporting the ideology of IS and extolling the virtues of Jihad. He wrote on twitter for example that “in this situation the son is to go for jihad regardless of what his parents say.” To please God “one should sacrifice what he has in the West and make hijrah [migration] to a land of jihad.”
Ahmed Said Khadr: Born in Egypt, Khadr moved with his family to Montreal in 1975, and then to Toronto several months later. He enrolled at the University of Ottawa, studying engineering. While there he joined the MSA, agreeing with their notions of Sharia law, and became a vocal advocate for Islamic rule in his native Egypt. After his graduation, Khadr went to Pakistan to run the office of Human Concern International, another Muslim Brotherhood affiliated organization. Through his work with multiple charitable NGO’s serving Afghan refugees, Khadr was tied to multiple militant and Mujahedeen leaders in Afghanistan, including Osama Bin Laden and Aymen al-Zawahiri. He was accused of being a senior associate and financier of al-Qaeda. Khadr was killed on October 2, 2003, along with al-Qaeda and Taliban members, in a shootout by Pakistani security forces near the Afghanistan border. An al-Qaeda website profiling “120 Martyrs of Afghanistan” described him as a leader of Bin Laden’s organization and praised him for “tossing his little child [Omar] in the furnace of the battle.”
Qutbi al-Mahdi: Involved with the Islamic movement in Sudan from a young age. While studying for his PhD in Islamic Studies at McGill University, Qutbi was active with MSA and then ISNA, where he served as President from 1984-1986. Immediately after receiving his PhD in 1989, he served as Director General of the Muslim World League in NY for two years. Returning to Sudan, Qutbi became involved with the newly formed Islamic government. He has served in many posts since the early 1990’s: Ambassador to Tehran, Director General of Political Affairs in the ministry of Foreign Relations, Minister of Hajj, Minister of Social Planning, and Political Advisor to the President. He also served as the head of external intelligence in Sudan in the 1990s under President Omar al-Bashir, who faces an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Darfur crisis.
Salman Ashrafi: Originally from Pakistan but raised in Calgary, Ashrafi was enrolled at the University of Lethbridge, where he completed a bachelor degree in management. During his university years, Ashrafi started to practice Islam in a more serious manner and became heavily involved with Islamic activism in the campus, serving as president of the MSA. Following graduation, he worked at Calgary’s Talisman energy for one year before quitting in 2012, and flying to the Persian Gulf. He blew himself up in November 2013 in a double suicide bombing at an Iraqi military base, reportedly killing 46 people on behalf of ISIS, using the nom de guerre Abu Abdullah al-Khorasani.
Chiheb Esseghaier: A Tunisian national and scientist, who was a doctoral student with a research arm at the Université du Québec at the time of his arrest. Esseghaier admitted to “La Presse” in an interview to only becoming immersed in religion after arriving at the University of Sherbrooke, when he read books and websites about Islam and joined the local chapter of the MSA, and began attending a local Mosque. He was charged with plotting an attack on a VIA rail train in the Niagara region, and did not deny the charges, stressing that there is “no shortage of reasons” to launch a terrorist attack on North America. He is currently on trial in Toronto for the failed 2013 Via Rail bomb plot, the first known al-Qaida plot against Canada. He refused to be judged under the Criminal Code of Canada, deeming it a human-created law that was subordinate to the divine law of the Koran.
Youssef Sakhir, Samir Halilovic and Zakria Habibi: All three are from Sherbrooke QC, and became friends through a local Muslim association in the Eastern Townships. They were Facebook friends with the University of Sherbrooke MSA. They vanished from Quebec last year at around the same time and are currently being sought by RCMP and CSIS. They are believed to be travelling overseas, possibly joining forces with local Islamist forces in Syria or elsewhere in the Middle East.
Ferid Imam: University of Manitoba student who served as the local chapter of the MSA’s president. He is wanted by the RCMP on terrorism related charges following a four-year investigation. He was completing a degree in biochemistry when he disappeared. He travelled to Pakistan in March 2007 to participate as an insurgent in the war in Afghanistan. He became involved as a weapons instructor at a terrorist training camp aligned with Al Qaeda. According to RCMP interviews, Imam was positively identified as an Al Qaeda weapons instructor using the alias “Yousef.” An RCMP witness interview showed that Imam’s goal was to fight and kill NATO soldiers in Afghanistan. He was charged in abstentia with instructing to carry out terrorism activities and conspiracy to participate in the activities of a terrorist group. He is also accused of training others for terrorist activities. According to an indictment that was unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., Imam has also been charged in the foiled al-Qaeda plot against New York City subways. The court documents allege Imam, who also went by the name Yousef, was part of a conspiracy to attack the subways with suicide bombers in September 2009. Canada’s Anti-terrorism Act, passed shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, allows police to charge people suspected of committing terrorist offences outside Canada’s borders. The case against Imam is the first time RCMP have charged someone with acts taking place entirely overseas, according to the Globe and Mail. 
Dr. Wael Haddara (aka Al-Muraqqash Al-Akbar): Born in Egypt and raised in Kuwait, he is also the son of Mahmoud Haddara who played an important role in the various Muslim Brotherhood (MB) organizations in Newfoundland before moving to London, ON. He is the medical director of the surgical intensive care unit at University Hospital, teaches at the Western University department of medicine and sits on the board of a mosque. Separately, in his native Egypt, he was a trusted advisor to ousted president Mohamed Morsi during his election campaign and year in office. He has been associated to Muslim Brotherhood adherent organizations for 23 years, and was one of the few listed as “alternative representative“ for the government of Egypt. Dr. Haddara has been active with Muslim Brotherhood organizations since at least 1991 when he was listed as the contact person for the Memorial University Muslim Students Association. He sat on the Muslim Association of Canada’s (MAC) board from 2002 to 2005, and again from 2007-2012. During that time, in March 2004, MAC released a statement in support of Hamas, over a year after it was added to the list of terror groups by the Canadian government in November 2002. He sat on the board of CAIR-CAN from 2003-2012. He sat on IRFAN’s board from 1999-2003. The group had its charity status revoked in 2011 after it was found that from 2005-2009 alone, it transferred $14.6 million to Hamas. He has also been involved with MSA national, which was mentioned in a 2011 MAC newsletter. Dr. Haddara was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood delegation that was sent to meet with, but refused by, the US State Department, to advocate against the current Egyptian government. The MB announced a new violent path in January 2015 after its representative met with State Department officials. Brotherhood media outlets are calling for acts of violence in Egypt and against countries that are friendly towards President El-Sisi.
Dr. Jamal Badawi: Egyptian born Canadian, and possibly the most influential member of the North American Muslim Brotherhood. He is a former professor who taught at the Sobey School of Business and Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he taught in the Departments of Religious Studies and Management. He is a well-known author, activist, preacher and speaker on Islam. He has been serving as a volunteer imam of the local Muslim community in the Halifax Regional Municipality since 1970. He cites Hassan al-Banna and the Muslim Brotherhood as his source for inspiration. He has been identified by the MB of North America has being on its board of directors (Shura Council). He is active in the North American ISNA and sat on their board in 2005, was on the board of CAIR-CAN for every year they have had a published list of members (2000-2012), and was on the board of MAC from at least 2002-2006. He is a member of the Islamic Juridical (Fiqh) Council of North America, The European Council of Fatwa and Research and the International Union of Muslim Scholars. Badawi has made repeated comments over the years holding Islam as superior to democracy and defending violent jihad, including suicide bombings, as a form of martyrdom. During a February 2009 speech on “Understanding Jihad and Martyrdom,” at the Chebucto Mosque in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Badawi explained that Gaza-based terrorists were fighting a jihad and that those who were killed were martyrs. In July 2007 Dr. Badawi was a featured speaker at a conference in Qatar honoring Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yousef al-Qaradawi, where Badawi shared the speaker’s podium with Khaled Mashal, the head of Hamas and a designated terrorist by both the U.S. and Canada. Badawi’s remarks were posted on Qaradawi’s website (now since removed). Badawi also sits on the board of directors of Qaradawi’s International Association of Muslim Scholars (IAMS), which just a few months after its founding in 2004 issued a fatwa authorizing the killing of American troops in Iraq. The Iraqi resistance even published the news of the IAMS fatwa on their own English website.
Dr. Mohammed Bekkari: Dr. Mohamed Bekkari was born in Morocco in 1947 and currently resides in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a registered child clinical and school psychologist employed by Timiskaming Child and Family Services. Dr. Bekkari has served for more than thirty years on various ISNA committees, as ISNA Vice President-Canada, on MSA boards, and as the current President of ISNA Canada.
He was President when an ISNA charitable organization lost its charitable status (for cause) as a resulting of using the charity’s money to fund a terrorist organization. A Canada Revenue Agency audit found that ISNA distributed funds to an agency linked to a terrorist organization in Pakistan. Dr. Bekkari is also involved in a lawsuit with a former ISNA member (Mohammad Ashraf) over allegations of the mismanagement of funds. The problems were noted in the Toronto Star article “Muslim charity squandered money for poor.” He also sits on the board of the Canadian Islamic Trust Foundation, a subsidiary of the ISNA that is part of the broader global Muslim Brotherhood network.
Dr. Rida Beshir: According to his own website, Dr. Mohamed Rida Beshir has over 35 years of experience in da’wah work [the concept of the proselytizing of Islam forwarded by the Muslim Brotherhood] in North America, and is a regular speaker at ISNA, ICNA, MSA, MAC, and MAS conventions. He received the Ottawa Muslim Association and Ottawa Muslim Community Circle appreciation awards in 1993 and 1999 for his volunteer Islamic work in the National Capital region. Currently he is advising the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) and the Muslim American Society (MAS) departments on Tarbiyah matters. He is also a member of the advisory board of SIFCA “Shura of Islamic Family Counselors of America.” He was listed in a 1992 directory of the Muslim Brotherhood in North America as being as being on its board of directors (Shura Council) as well as being the “Masul” (Leader) of the Educational Committee for the same organization.
Dr. El-Tantawy Attia: Dr. El-Tantawy Attia is very active within the Muslim community and organizations affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. He sits on the board of directors of Islamic Relief Canada, and has previously served as President of the Muslim Investment Group and the Canadian Islamic Trust Foundation. He also currently serves as the Executive Director of Toronto Masjid. Recently Dr Attia was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by the Governor General of Canada for his lifetime of achievements and services to Canada. Dr. Attia is also a leading figure in the Muslim Association of Canada. In 2011, he told the press that: “Here [the Toronto Masjid] we follow the teachings of the Muslim Brotherhood.” Dr. Attia’s son in law is currently in jail in Egypt. Khaled al-Qazzaz was the Foreign Secretary for the Muslim Brotherhood’s government of Egypt when Dr. Morsi was President. His daughter, Sarah, was a leading figure in the Muslim Student Association and left Canada to go to Egypt with Mr. Qazzaz.
Sarah Attia: Sarah Attia is the daughter of Dr. El-Tantawy Attia. She is the former Vice President of the Muslim Students Association and was a speaker at May 18-19 2002, 28th Annual Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Canada Convention in Toronto. She is a graduate of the Faculty of Engineering, University of Toronto, with a master’s degree in chemical engineering. Sarah Attia is the wife of Khaled Aa-Qazzaz.
Khaled al-Qazzaz: Khaled al-Qazzaz was born on July 3, 1979 in Cairo, Egypt. He moved to Toronto in 2000 to do a Masters in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Toronto, where he met his wife, Sarah Attia. He served as the UTSG MSA President in 2002-2003. In 2005, al-Qazzaz returned to Egypt. In 2011, and according to his own Twitter account, al-Qazzaz was working in Egypt as “Secretary on Foreign Relations, Office of the President Politics: Freedom & Justice Party.” This refers to Dr. Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt in 2012 and 2013. The Freedom and Justice Party is the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. He was taken in a wave of arrests alongside several other top Muslim Brotherhood aides after a military coup toppled the government on July 3, 2013. After spending 18 months in prison, he was released by Egyptian authorities in January 2015.
Khadija Haffajee: Khadija Haffajee is originally from South Africa, and according to her biography on the Women’s Islamic Initiative on Spirituality and Equality website, is an educator and community activist in Ottawa, Canada. Ms. Haffajee is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Council on American-Islamic Relations – Canada (CAIR- CAN). For more than 30 years Ms. Haffajee has held leadership positions in local, national and international Muslim associations. In 1997 she was the first female elected to the Majlis ash Shura of the Islamic Society of North America and continued there until 2008.  She is on the board of the newly formed National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), the new name for CAIR-CAN. She is one of the few to have been there every year along with Dr. Wael Haddara (left at the end of 2012) and Dr. Jamal Badawi (still on the board).
Ms. Haffajee has also held various positions with the ISNA, and joined its board of directors in 1997. She won additional terms in 2001 and 2004. During that time, she was on the editorial advisory board of ISNA’s Islamic Horizons magazine. A 1999 issue released under her supervision put Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna on the cover with the heading, “A Martyr of Our Times.”
Hisham al-Talib: One of the most significant founders of the MSA of the United States and Canada, which was formed in January 1963. He is a founding member and the current vice president of finance of the Herndon, VA based International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), an organization the FBI believes was part of a terrorist financing network. He was a founding member and Director of the SAAR Foundation from 1983-1995. A U.S. Government investigation found that the SAAR Foundation is part of a network, known as the Safa Group, of up to 100 non-profit and for-profit organizations, inter-related through corporate officers and holding companies, which facilitate terrorist funding. In November 1992, IIIT wrote a letter to Sami al-Arian supporting the funding of WISE, a Tampa, Florida think-tank that housed four members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s (PIJ) governing board, including al- Arian. The PIJ is a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization. The IIIT letter named the IIIT officials who supported WISE, including al-Talib.
Maiwand Yar: Born in Pakistan in 1983, Yar is a former student of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Manitoba, and was the local MSA chapter’s treasurer. According to the RCMP, in 2007, it is believed that Yar departed Canada with accomplice Ferid Ahmed Imam for Pakistan. According to witnesses, Yar advised that he and Imam were going to ally themselves with the Taliban and attend a terrorist training camp in order to receive instruction on firearms, explosives and guerilla warfare. Their specific objective for joining the Taliban was to fight and kill NATO soldiers in Afghanistan. In a letter sent in 2009, Yar stated that he had in fact spent time in both the Taliban and Al Qaida. Yar is being sought on charges of conspiracy to participate in the activities of a terrorist group and participation in the activities of a terrorist group.
Muhannad al-Farekh: Born in Texas, al-Farekh grew up in the United Arab Emirates and was educated in Jordan. In Canada he lived with his grandmother in Winnipeg. He is a former business student at the University of Manitoba, who served as the office manager of that chapter’s MSA from 2005-2006. On April 2, 2015, an arrest warrant for Muhannad al-Farekh was unsealed after an RCMP investigation. The allegations against al-Farekh date back to 2007. It was then that he disappeared to Pakistan along with University of Manitoba colleagues Farid Imam and Maiwand Yar. Though both Imam and Yar were charged in 2011 with terrorism offences following an RCMP national security investigation called Project Darken, al-Farekh was only indicted in April 2015. The criminal complaint accused him of travelling “to Pakistan to join al-Qaida” and helping a terrorist group targeting American citizens and military personnel.
Abdalrahman Naddaf and Mohammad Tulul: President and event coordinator at Algonquin college MSA respectively (as of 2014). Both were part of a group of Muslim students who claimed they were not being given fair use of their school’s spirituality centre. Naddaf and Tulul are both currently on a court-ordered no contact list for Awso Peshdary, among others with college ties such as Thair Hafez, Samr Farhat, Mohammad Ali Farhat, Ayyub Arab, and Ibrahim Soukary.
Omar Kalair: President and CEO of United Muslims (UM) Financial, Kalair is wanted by the RCMP with respect to a sharia banking fraud investigation. Videos of previous RIS (Reviving the Islamic Spirit) conventions available on YouTube show that UM Financial sponsored the Toronto Islamist convention in 2005 and 2006. A profile of Omar Kalair posted on a Wilfrid Laurier University alumni’s website indicates that, during his years as an Economics student, “Kalair founded the Muslim Students’ Association [MSA] and remained its President for four years.” Furthermore, the alumni website goes on to say that Kalair founded UM in 2004, initially with eight regional branches to service Canada’s over one-million Muslims. It is now Canada’s premier Islamic financial institution, profiled in over 200 print, TV and radio interviews. Partnering with other institutions UM has launched many Islamic financial products including: Home financing, UM Investment, Islamic ETF, Sukuks (Islamic bonds), and an interest-free MasterCard. Kalair has become the face of the Islamic finance industry in Canada, being invited by governments and royalty, presenting papers at international conferences, and was selected to accompany Prime Minister Jean Chrétien’s business trade delegation to Saudi Arabia, among other missions. Kalair’s honours include: Entrepreneur of the Year Award by the Islamic Canadian Chamber of Commerce, top 20 Pioneer Muslim Business Leadership Award at the Canadian Parliament and World Finance’s Islamic Finance Business Leader Award – North America.
Hussein Hamdani: Hussein Hamdani is/was an advisor to the Canadian government on public safety matters since 2005. He was appointed that year to the Roundtable that “provides advice and perspective to the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Justice, concerning matters of national security.” His affiliation with Muslim Brotherhood entities dates back to 1995, at least, when he was the Muslim Students Association’s treasurer at McMaster University where he studied political science from 1991-1995. He continued to work with the MSA at the University of Toronto while he was doing his Masters in International relations from 1995-1996. In 1998 and in 1999, the University of Western Ontario’s student newspaper identified Hamdani as MSA Western’s president. He was then studying Law (1997-2000). In 1996, Hamdani published the text “The Islamicization of Campus Politics and the politicization of the MSA.” In it he discusses how Muslim student leaders in North America ought to take control of their respective student unions, and by extension the union’s finances. He claims that in doing so, Muslim students would be ideally positioned to redirect funds towards their own Muslim associations on campus. Furthermore, Hamdani encourages Muslim student activists to try to control their student union’s key committees, those “where the real politics lies.” An excerpt from the text says “It should be the long-term goal of every MSA to Islamicize the politics of their respective university.” In addition to his roles at the MSA, Hamdani has held roles in several other Islamic organizations. He was board chair at the Settlement and Integration Services Organization (SISO shut down after its CEO and its finance director were convicted of defrauding the federal government for millions of dollars). He’s been listed as: a Senior Advisor of Muslim Youth of North America Organization (MYNA), Vice-Chair of North American Spiritual Revival (NASR), and was founding member of the Ihya Foundation (Ihya launched the Muslim Brotherhood-linked RIS Conventions in 2003), among others. On May 1, 2015, Hamdani was suspended from his position on the cross-cultural roundtable on national security by Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney. While Hamdani holds that his dismissal was politically motivated due to his opposition to Bill C-51 and his support of Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party, Minister Blaney alleges “This individual’s membership on the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on National Security has been suspended immediately pending a review of the facts. While questions surrounding this individual’s links to radical ideology have circulated for some time, it was hoped that he could be a positive influence to promote Canadian values. It is now becoming clear this may not have been the case.”