- THE INVESTIGATIVE PROJECT ON TERRORISM - SEP 17, 2021 - Abha Shankar -
Just days before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, American Islamists hosted a memorial ceremony for a hardline Kashmiri separatist leader who had reportedly sympathized with the attacks' mastermind Osama bin Laden and called him a "martyr."
Soon after U.S. Navy SEALS killed the al-Qaida leader in a 2011 raid on his Abbottabad compound in Pakistan, Syed Ali Shah Geelani called on Islamic clerics to pray for the slain terrorist.
"Muslim clergy should organize funeral prayers in their mosques for peace to the soul of Osama bin Laden," Geelani said. "Osama [bin Laden] was not just a person but also an ideology against the occupation of Muslim lands by foreigners. Western countries must realise that suppression of Muslims in their lands will result in resistance."
Geelani, who spearheaded the Kashmir separatist movement for over three decades, died Sept. 1.
He was closely affiliated with the Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir (JI J&K), and his mentor was Jamaat-e-Islamic (JI) founder and Islamist ideologue Syed Abu Ala Maududi.
In addition to holding different leadership positions with JI J&K, Geelani, 91, also served as the organization's "Amir-e-Jehad (Head of Jihad)."
India banned JI J&K in March 2019 on charges it provided "ideological" and "logistical support" to Kashmiri terrorists and extremists to engage in anti-Indian activities. The ban followed the Pulwama terror attack that claimed the lives of 40 Indian Central Reserve Force soldiers. Indian news reports have tied JI J&K to Pakistan's powerful intelligence services.
These connections were all well known. But they didn't give the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA)'s social justice arm pause about co-sponsoring the Geelani memorial. ICNA founders support JI's ideology and seek to establish Iqamat Deen, or the Islamic system of life, in North America with the ultimate goal of founding a global Islamic state or Caliphate.
ICNA described Geelani's death as "a great loss to this Ummah [global Muslim community]" and called him "a symbol of determination and courage against illegal Indian rule in Kashmir."
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