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memri
March 14, 2012 No.
4571

Bassem Khafagi, Former Community Relations Director of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and A Founder of Islamic Assembly of North America (IANA) - Who In 2003 Was Convicted In U.S. and Deported - Says In His Presidential Campaign in Egypt: I Pledge To 'Complete Implementation of Islamic Law'

In statements televised on March 12, 2012 on the Egyptian Al-Nas TV, Egyptian presidential candidate Bassem Khafagi said: "[A]s a Muslim Egyptian, I am convinced of [the need to] complete the implementation of Islamic law in Egypt. I do not hide this truth in any way, because it is in keeping with the inclination of the Egyptian people." He added, "As president, I will personally assist in the completion of the correct implementation of the shari'a, by consulting the experts [in Islamic law]."

Khafagi was sentenced in September 2003 in the U.S. to 10 months in prison and deported to Egypt, after pleading guilty to two counts of bank fraud and one count of visa fraud.[1] He had been charged with funneling money to promote terrorist activities through the Islamic Assembly of North America (IANA). At the time of his arrest, Khafagi was also community affairs director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).[2]

According to the FBI, Khafagi was a founding member and former head of the IANA.[3] Federal prosecutors said that the group's objective was the "dissemination of radical Islamic ideology, the purpose of which was indoctrination, recruitment of members and the instigation of acts of violence and terrorism." Federal investigators said the IANA has funneled money to activities supporting terrorism and has published material advocating suicide attacks on the United States. The IANA said it was formed to promote Islam.[4]

Khafagi was one of four former or current students at the University of Idaho at Moscow, ID and at Washington State University at Pullman, WA who were arrested in 2003 during an investigation of a suspected terrorist-related network in the Moscow-Pullman area.[5]

According to school records, Khafagi earned a master's degree in civil engineering in August 1988 at the University of Idaho. After working as a teaching assistant and taking postgraduate classes there, he enrolled at Michigan State University, earning a doctorate in civil engineering in 1993. He later lived in Ann Arbor, Mich., operating a business called International Media Group from his home, court documents showed; according to the documents, it was not clear what kind of business it was.[6]

Following are excerpts from statements by Egyptian presidential candidate Khafagi that aired on Al-Nas TV on March 7, 2012:


Bassem Khafagi: "Let me tell you, in all honesty, that as a Muslim Egyptian, I am convinced of [the need to] complete the implementation of Islamic law in Egypt. I do not hide this truth in any way, because it is in keeping with the inclination of the Egyptian people.

"We Egyptians – both Muslims and non-Muslims – refer to the shari'a in many things. I often ask people: How did you get married? Wasn't it according to the shari'a, regardless of whether you are Muslim or not?

"Weren't you married in accordance with your religion? When somebody in our family dies, how do we inherit him? Not in accordance with the shari'a?"

"No [candidate] should say that he is coming to implement the shari'a, because part of it has already been implemented. What the Egyptian people want is to complete this implementation.

"As president, I will personally assist in the completion of the correct implementation of the shari'a, by consulting the experts [in Islamic law]."

Endnotes:

[1] The Seattle Times, September 10, 2003.

[2] The Washington Times, July 23, 2004.

[3] The Seattle Times, September 10, 2003.

[4] Washington Times, July 23, 2004.

[5] The Seattle Times, September 10, 2003.

[6] The Seattle Times, March 14, 2003.