The Shia imam of a Muslim congregation in California has suggested that the so-called Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL, of Daesh) “is the production of the Israeli intelligence.”
In a June 23 sermon, Dr. Sayed Moustafa al-Qazwini, founder and director of the Islamic Education Center of Orange County, spewed the conspiracy theory that Israel was responsible for propping up the Islamic State after he explained that the terrorist organization was “anti-Islamic.”
Al-Qazwini’s statements about Israel were delivered during a lecture he gave at the center titled, “Islamic Shari’ah Means Tolerance and Goodness to Others.” The sermon was translated into English by The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
“Most of you — all of you — know who established ISIS, Al Qaeda and all these terrorist organizations,” al-Qazwini said. “You know very well. You know who paid for them, who financed them, who helped them, who purchased weapons for them, who even trained them, who protected them. You know that.”
Al-Qazwini continued, “This is not the production of Islam. Islam is not responsible for ISIS. There are certain agencies and governments, who they put hand-in-hand to establish ISIS, to demolish Islam from within. This was the plan.”
“We knew the story from the beginning,” he said, before recalling a speech he gave in Iraq three years ago, when the Islamic State occupied Mosul. “ISIS is the production of the Israeli intelligence. Most of their officers were trained in Israel, including Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, who went to Jahannam [hell], I think, about two or three days ago.”
Al Baghdadi, the founder of the Islamic State, is believed to be in hiding in Syria. Several days before this video was created, Syrian state media and the Kremlin both claimed the leader of the terrorist organization was killed in an airstrike.
MEMRI’s deputy director, Elliot Zweig, told Fox News, “These types of conspiracy theories have been prevalent in the Muslim world, especially the Middle East, for decades as MEMRI has revealed. One would hope that in America, all communities, including the Muslim community, would be immunized from such ludicrous propaganda, let alone propagate it.”
The Islamic Education Center of Orange County issued a statement in response to public backlash against Imam al-Qazwini’s lecture, saying he had ben “misunderstood and mischaracterized.”
Statement Clarifying Imam Dr. Sayed Moustafa al-Qazwini's Comments on ISIS and Other Terrorist Groups pic.twitter.com/q3LCewqS7h
— IECOC (@IECOC) August 22, 2017
The center goes on to state that Imam al-Qazwini was merely “quoting information that was relayed to him directly by Iraqi government and military sources who have been leading efforts in the fight against ISIS… Imam al-Qazwini’s comments were not intended in any way, shape, or form to criticize the adherents of the Jewish faith.”
Imam al-Qazwini, whose interfaith work has earned him a good relationship with several prominent members of the Democratic Party, is not the first Muslim leader from the Golden State to come under fire for statements perceived as being anti-Israel or antisemitic.
— Dr S Mostafa Qazwini (@SMQazwini) March 9, 2017
— Dr S Mostafa Qazwini (@SMQazwini) August 6, 2016
Last month, Imam Ammar Shahin of the Islamic Center of Davis in California delivered a sermon in which he quoted an antisemitic hadith and prayed for Allah to “annihilate” Jews “down to the very last one. Do not spare any of them.”
Shahin apologized for his “hurtful” words. However, leaders of California’s Jewish community say they are “taking seriously” what they see as a threat.