A Shia Imam in California, who stated during a sermon that “ISIS is the production of the Israeli intelligence” and that Israel “finances, arms and trains” the so-called “Islamic State,” has apologized for his statements.
Dr. Sayed Moustafa al-Qazwini, founder and director of the Islamic Education Center of Orange County in Costa Mesa, said: “After careful reflection on the reliability of these sources and on the realization of the extent to which these comments have offended and hurt members of the Jewish community, I have decided to rescind my comments.”
“I appreciate the importance of engaging in genuine interfaith relations and solidarity with members of all faith traditions, based on mutual respect and trust,” al-Qazwini said. “I pray that all communities can come together in peace and solidarity to overcome the challenges of our time.”
Al-Qazwini had made the conspiracy theory claims about Israel during a June 23 sermon that was translated into English by The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), after he explained that the terrorist organization was “anti-Islamic.”
During that sermon, he said, “Most of you — all of you — know who established ISIS, Al Qaeda and all these terrorist organizations.” He added, “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 … 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-Qazwini said Iraqi government officials made these claims to him during a trip to Mosul in 2014.
Al-Baghdadi, the founder of the Islamic State, is believed to be in hiding in Syria. Several days before Al-Qazwini’s video was created, Syrian state media and the Kremlin both claimed the leader of the terrorist organization had been killed in an airstrike.
The Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh) was also behind the deadly August 17 terrorist attack in Barcelona that left 13 dead and more than 100 injured.
Al-Qazwini’s initial statement drew backlash from prominent members of California’s Jewish community, including Rabbi David Wolpe:
Muslim leaders have to denounce this man. https://t.co/prtdJW0d0O
— David Wolpe (@RabbiWolpe) August 25, 2017
In an interview with Algemeiner after Al-Qazwini issued his retraction and apology, Rabbi Wolpe said, “I’m glad he retracted his remarks, and if he continues by actively combatting antisemitic statements by his colleagues, I’ll be impressed.”
However, Rabbi Wolpe added, “If he merely disavows hateful statements without actively seeking to combat hatred, his retraction is half-hearted.”