On May 11th, we released a mini-documentary on Breitbart.com chronicling how Suheil Laher, MIT’s Muslim Chaplain for sixteen years, raised money for Al Qaeda affiliates around the world, incited Boston Muslims against Jews and Christians, and called on all Muslims to join in a violent Jihad against non-Muslims. Despite these serious charges, two religious leaders at MIT, a Jew and a Christian, are defending Laher.
MIT’s Head Chaplain Robert Randolph wrote a defense of Laher to MIT President Rafael Reif on May 20th. MIT has been sending this letter to people who have written to President Reif with concerns about Laher.
In his letter, Randolph claims that our investigation of Laher “is a mash up of speculation, innuendo and poorly researched details about Suheil’s work with the Muslim community.” He writes: “The video speaks to fears shared by many, but does not describe the man I have known and worked with.” Randolph repeats this line of ad hominem argument throughout the letter, but he fails to address or refute a single factual assertion that we have made in our reports on Laher.
Likewise, MIT Hillel Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder called Suheil Laher an “upstander” on MIT Hillel’s official Facebook page and insisted that, “my experience of him is nothing like what is presented in this ‘expose.’” He then accused us of “lashon ha’ra,” or slanderous talk that is considered a sin against G-d, for making the film. Like his boss, Chaplain Randolph, Goldfeder fails to address a single statement of fact in our investigation of Laher, choosing instead to attack us as sinners in religious terms.
One of the reasons Goldfeder and Randolph are unwilling to address the facts that prove Laher was involved in jihadist fundraising is because these facts are simple and incontrovertible:
- The Justice Department has described Boston-based Islamic charity Care International as a front that raised funds and recruited for jihadist causes in Boston.
- Laher is listed as Care International’s president in official Care International filings with the Massachusetts Secretary of State that were signed under penalty of perjury by Laher himself.
- Laher’s own sermons posted by him on his own website are full of hatred toward Jews and Christians, as well as of incitement to violent Jihad.
Randolph and Goldfeder’s ad hominem attacks on our motivations and quality of research are belied by the fact that we are not the only, or even the first, people to report on Laher’s jihadist past. In a 2006 article in Worcester’s 150 year-old Telegram and Gazette, staff journalist Kevin Keenan wrote that “Mr. Laher wrote and distributed material advocating the global jihad in Care International’s name.” In a 2008 Der Spiegel article, “The Most Dangerous Woman in the World,” Juliane von Mittelstaedt described how MIT-student-turned-Al Qaeda-operative Aafia Siddiqui got radicalized at MIT:
She met several committed Islamists through the Muslim student group at MIT. One was Suheil Laher, the group’s imam, an open advocate of Islamization and jihad before Sept. 11. For a short time, Laher was also the head of the Islamic charity Care International.
Writing in Vogue Magazine in 2005, and later in her 2012 book, Wanted Women, award winning investigative journalist Deborah Scroggins specifically focused on MIT’s Muslim student group as the incubator for Aafia Siddiqui’s radicalization:
As I pieced her story together from interviews, court documents, and published reports, I came to believe that if Aafia was drawn into the world of terrorism, it may have been through the contacts and friendships she made in the early 1990s working for MIT’s Muslim Student Association. … At MIT, several of the MSA’s most active members had fallen under the spell of Abdullah Azzam, a Muslim Brother who was Osama bin Laden’s mentor. … In the eighties, he had established the al-Kifah (“The Struggle”) Refugee Services Center [Care International’s original name]. It would become the nucleus of the al-Qaeda organization. At least two contemporaries of Aafia’s at MIT’s MSA, Suheil Laher and Mohamad Akra, were al-Kifah volunteers. Aafia soon took up the cause too.
Our research was meticulously cited with all this evidence, yet this didn’t matter to Chaplain Randolph and Rabbi Goldfeder. Our guess that they didn’t even look at the facts as cited. In his letter, Chaplain Randolph claimed that, despite all the reporting to the contrary over the past decade, “at no time has the community described [to me] efforts to radicalize our campus.” Rabbi Goldfeder refused to meet with us when we reached out to him and offered to go over our claims and the evidence for them in person.
This is bizarre behavior– a Hillel rabbi is speaking out in support of an anti-Semitic Islamic extremist who raised money for Al Qaeda causes. Rabbi Goldfeder’s response to us reveals another reason why he and Chaplain Randolph are unwilling to address the ample and wide-ranging evidence in this case. Their judgement of whether Suheil Laher fundraised for Al Qaeda causes and/or is a jihadist is not informed by a rational analysis of the facts at hand, but rather by deeply emotional dynamics: It is hard to admit to yourself that you’ve been deceived. Moreover, Goldfeder and Randolph seem to be driven by a politically correct knee-jerk impulse to side with someone perceived as a member of a vulnerable minority.
These are by now familiar moral failures to those who observe the leftist ideology prevalent on contemporary campuses. They form the basis of the liberal abandonment of oppressed Christian minorities, women, gays, and secularists in the Muslim world, all of whom are victimized by Islamists.
Our investigative video highlights the aftermath of a terrorist attack on a Russian school by a Chechen terrorist outfit funded and lionized by Laher’s Care International. The jihadists took all the children in the school hostage, held them without food or water for three days in a hot school gymnasium, and surrounded the kids with homemade bombs. They then set off the bombs and shot the surviving children in the back as they ran for their lives. Over 300 people were killed, more than half of them elementary school kids.
It takes a special type of callousness to watch the graphic scenes of an Islamic terrorist attack on a school full of schoolchildren, and then defend the man who help fund and promote the terror group that carried out that attack. But because they seem to be true believers in today’s morally-inverted campus orthodoxy, Chaplain Randolph and Rabbi Goldfeder also truly believe that they are doing the right thing; that it’s the jihadist who needs the Rabbi and the Chaplain on his side, not the jihadist’s victims.
Randolph and Goldfeder bring shame on MIT by defending Suheil Laher. It is even more shameful that so far there has been no public response to the revelations about Laher by the MIT administration. There is something clearly awry with MIT’s “Religious Life” division headed by Chaplain Randolph when even the non-Muslim officials in charge look the other way and insist that all is well. When MIT Police Officer Sean Collier was murdered by the Islamic extremists who carried out the Boston Marathon bombing, Suheil Laher was still in place as the Muslim chaplain. It is clear from the support he’s getting that his legacy still remains on campus. MIT President Rafael Reif must investigate MIT’s Religious Life division and clean house.
Ilya Feoktistov is Research Director and Charles Jacobs is President of Americans for Peace and Tolerance.