Sunday, July 6, 2008

Noor Center speaker Wagdi Ghoneim arrested and deported from South Africa

Hany Saqr’s HAMAS/Muslim Brotherhood buddy and previous speaker at Hilliard’s Noor Islamic Cultural Center, Wagdi Ghoneim, was arrested and deported from South Africa last week. This is yet another in a long string of expulsions for the Muslim Brotherhood cleric, who spoke at a Noor Center event in May 2004, just months before he was expelled and banned from the US for his open support of terrorism.

Here’s the announcement that circulated for Wagdi Ghoneim’s May 2004 Noor Center event:

Sh. Wagdy Ghoneim and Imam Siraj Wahhaj are visiting Columbus
Posted on Sunday, May 23 @ 11:19:02 EDT

Sh. Wagdy Ghoneim and Imam Siraj Wahhaj are visiting Columbus. Sh. Wagdy is invited by Masjid An-Noor to give a speech in the Fawcett Center on May 23rd at 6pm. Imam Siraj Wahhaj will be speaking on the topic “The Mood of the Nation” on Friday June 4th at 8pm in the Columbus Africentric Secondary School located at:

300 East Livingston Ave, Columbus, OH 43215

Tickets for both events are $10 per adult. Babysitting provided and refreshment served.
Of course, Siraj Wahhaj, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, is a Noor Center regular, appearing most recently as the mosque’s Eid keynote speaker in December 2007.

Wagdi Ghoneim’s May 2004 speaking engagement is not the only tie between the Noor Islamic Cultural Center and himself. In fact, Ghoneim and former Noor Center resident scholar Salah Sultan were both identified in a July 2007 LA Times article by name in an article outlining “controversial Sunni figures”, “glorifying holy war” and “sharing the outlook of Al-Qaeda” in Bahrain.

In fact, here's an image from that LA Times article identifying the pair:

At issue was a Bahraini TV program featuring Ghoneim and Sultan, which the government of Bahrain eventually cancelled after vocal protests from members of parliament, who also protested the speed with which their citizenship applications were considered (Sultan’s was approved; Ghoneim was deported).

Wagdi Ghoneim has been banned from the US since being expelled in December 2004. While he was deported on a visa violation, a US Customs and Immigration Enforcement was much more frank about Ghoneim’s terrorist connections:

The government alleges that Ghoneim, who came to the U.S. in 2001 from Egypt, participated in fundraising activities around the country that could have helped terrorist organizations, said Bill Odencrantz, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement director of field legal operations.

Ghoneim has not been charged with terrorist activity, however. Instead, he was arrested at his Anaheim home on Nov. 4 on suspicion of overstaying his religious-worker visa. he was charged with the immigration violation, Odencrantz said, “because it was the easiest charge to prove.”

“Frankly, our task is not to sit and wait around for people to blow up buildings,” Odencrantz said. “Our task is to look at situations and circumstances and take action against people.” (Kimi Yoshino, “To Avoid Visa Fight, Muslim Cleric to Leave”, LA Times, December 29, 2004, pg. B3)

Ghoneim was prevented from entering Canada in 1998 and subsequently banned for being a member of HAMAS and the Muslim Brotherhood (Ottawa Citizen, “Egyptian Religious Leader Denied Canadian Visa”, January 10, 1999).

In 2005, he was banned from entering Switzerland, which cited his fundraising for HAMAS (Islam Online, “Preacher Denied Entry, Swiss Muslims Furious,” September 19, 2005).

More recently, Ghoneim was expelled from Bahrain in November 2007, as reported by my friend and Bahraini blogger, Mahmood Al-Yousif of Mahmood’s Den.

Pipeline News has provided a very brief overview of Ghoneim’s documented racist views and support for terrorism:

  • He had also referred to Jews as “monkeys” and “pigs” during a Brooklyn College conference of the American Muslim Alliance on May 24, 1998.

  • Before leading the audience in anti-Jewish verse, Ghuneim said: “The Jews distort words from their meanings. . . . They killed the prophets and worshipped idols.

  • Speaking about suicide bombings that took place in Israel in 1996: “Those young people who explode themselves to kill the Jews were not committing suicide but jihad,” Ghuneim said, “They are mujahedeen because there is no way to struggle and fight the Jews except that way. Allah bless those martyrs.”

  • On May 24, 1998, for example, CAIR co-sponsored an incendiary rally at Brooklyn College that featured speakers spouting anti-Jewish rhetoric. One speaker was Wagdy Ghuneim, a radical cleric from Egypt. He told listeners, “Allah says he who equips a warrior of jihad is like the one makes jihad himself.” He led the audience in a song with the lyrics: “No to the Jews, descendants of the apes.”
The audio of Ghoneim leading a song depicting Jews as monkeys and apes can be found at the Investigative Project.

All of these incidents occurred and were public well before Ghoneim’s May 2004 appearance on behalf of the Noor Center. This raises the question of what other hate mongers and terror sheikhs are being featured at Noor (other than Siraj Wahhaj).

Another question that also remains concerns the connections of the Noor leadership to international terrorist organizations (more on that later).