On the face of it, Cambridge politician Nadeem Mazen is a model citizen. He is an elected councilor, a graduate of MIT, an advocate for better education, and the founder of two successful companies.
Yet it also turns out that Mazen is a founding director of the Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, a Hamas front group blacklisted by the FBI because of its terrorist connections. The Cambridge councillor, just re-elected by Cambridge voters, is an aggressive anti-police activist and one of the most vocal critics of the Justice Department’s counter-terrorism efforts in New England. Mazen has also painted secular Muslims as traitors. So, what is he doing as a twice-elected councillor of Cambridge, the city where the Boston Marathon bombers were radicalized, and where they wreaked havoc during their getaway spree?
Mazen arrived in Cambridge in the fall of 2002 to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was elected president of the MIT Muslim Students Association, under the aegis of Suheil Laher, who, it turns out, is a former Al Qaeda fundraiser. On Laher’s own website, Laher advocated jihad and raised funds for the Chechen terrorists who, in 2004, massacred over 300 first graders, their teachers and their parents at a Russian school.
After graduating, Mazen seems to have kept his Islamist sympathies out of the public eye. In 2013, courting the hipster and student vote, the “man bun”-sporting Mazen was elected on a progressive platform to Cambridge City Council.
Over the past two years, Mazen increasingly began associating with other Islamist groups and preachers. Mazen runs a group named MassMuslims, for example, which has promoted events with Omar Suleiman, a radical Islamist preacher who describes homosexuality as a “disease” and a “repugnant shameless sin.”
In April, Mazen’s colleague at MassMuslims, Omar Khoshafa, invited the extremist preacher Yasir Qadhi to address students at Harvard. Qadhi has claimed that “Hitler never intended to mass-destroy the Jews,” and that the Holocaust is “false propaganda.” Despite these views, Mazen’s colleague, Khoshafa, describes Yasir Qadhi as “one of the foremost Muslim-American scholars and an amazing lecturer.”
Mazen’s willingness to speak out publicly against Israel made him a perfect recruitment prospect for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). In 2015, CAIR opened up a Massachusetts branch and listed Nadeem Mazen as one of its three founding directors.
CAIR is so toxic in American political circles that the Obama Justice Department has had a ban on working with CAIR in place since 2009. After the 2008 Holy Land Foundation terrorism trial established “at least a prima facie case as to CAIR’s involvement in a conspiracy to support Hamas,” the Obama Justice Department cut all ties with the group. In 2014, the UAE designated CAIR as a terrorist organization.
The voters of Cambridge have now reelected a man who holds a leadership position in an organization shunned by the Obama administration due to its terrorist connections. It is no surprise that, since first being elected into public office, Mazen has become one of the most hostile critics of counterterrorism efforts in Massachusetts in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings.
In May, Mazen voted in committee against the Cambridge Police Department budget, taking issue with the department’s “increased militarization” and demanding it get rid of its SWAT team, which he claimed was alienating the Muslim community. The Cambridge SWAT team was among several involved in apprehending Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after a night of gunfire and cooker-bomb explosions over a wide swath of Cambridge and nearby Watertown. Especially after the Paris attacks last week, calls to disarm police forces in the face of coordinated military-style operations by Islamic terrorists simply sound ludicrous.
To add insult to injury, an organizer who works for Mazen’s non-profit group MassMuslims recently told the Boston Globe that instead of Islamist terrorists, the whole city of Cambridge was to blame for the marathon bombings: “It’s not just Muslims, it’s everybody… There’s a collective sense of, ‘Where did we drop the ball?’”
By early 2015, with the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev under way and with ISIS claiming many American recruits (among them the son of prominent Boston Islamist activist Abdulbadi Abousamra), the Obama administration felt compelled to implement its so called “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE) initiative. With good cause, it named Boston as one of the pilot cities for this program.
Ever since, Mazen has spoken at anti-government rallies organized by CAIR and other Islamist groups in the Boston area to protest the CVE initiative, which, Mazen claimed, excluded “dissent from the conversation.” At the same time, CAIR published a briefing paper that claimed Boston’s counter-extremism initiative “targets American Muslims” and “undermines our national ideals.”
In reality, many Muslims in New England have been glad to assist the government’s counterterrorism efforts, knowing that the first and most numerous victims of Islamic terrorism have been Muslims themselves. They simply refuse to allow groups like Nadeem Mazen’s CAIR to get away with brainwashing their kids; and many New England Muslim leaders – such as highly respected Imam Talal Eid – have been speaking out directly against Mazen’s Islamist allies in Boston.
This is why some of Mazen and CAIR MA’s worst vitriol is now aimed directly at moderate Boston Muslims. At an event in May hosted by a socialist group, the Workmen’s Circle, Mazen expressed his distaste for counter-Islamist Muslim groups that “foist secular attitudes on Muslims:”
There’s actually like a Boston-based and now nationally-based program of: “Muslims should have a secular alternative”… So, you know, that project exists, and to the extent that that and projects like it are being projected, imperialist-style on to our population, I think people are going to be very hesitant to follow anything like that.
The CAIR Massachusetts branch, following in the footsteps of Mazen, recently issued a report denouncing moderate Islamic leader Ahmed Subhy Mansour and groups such as the Center for Islamic Pluralism as “Islamophobes.” (Disclosure: Sheikh Mansour is on the board of our organization, Americans for Peace and Tolerance.) For Mazen and CAIR, it seems that some Muslims are not Muslim enough.
Nadeem Mazen has surrounded himself with extremist operatives, and he has echoed the reasoning of radical Islam. He has found common cause with operatives connected to both the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.
In a city that suffered the violent effects of the Tsarnaev brothers, by attacking Cambridge police and national counterterrorist agencies, and by denouncing “secularism” as a tool of Muslim “imperialist” stooges, Mazen has shown that he is not a representative voice of moderate Muslims and his Cambridge constituents. Unfortunately, the city is now stuck with him for at least two more years.