Washington, Nov 12 (ANI): An Al Qaeda leader, the head of a designated terror organization and a confessed jihadist-in-training are among a "Who's Who" of controversial figures who have participated in weekly prayer sessions on Capitol Hill since the 2001 terror attacks, according to a media probe.
According to Fox News, the Congressional Muslim Staff Association (CMSA) has held weekly Friday Jummah prayers for more than a decade, and guest preachers are often invited to lead the service.
The group reportedly held prayers informally for about eight years before gaining official status in 2006 under the sponsorship of Representative Keith Ellison, District of Minnesota, one of two Muslims currently serving in Congress. The second Muslim congressman, Representative Andre Carson, D-Ind., joined as co-sponsor after he was elected in 2008.
A FoxNews.com probe has revealed that among those who have been attending the prayer services during the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations include American Islamist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, Esam Omeish, the former president of the Muslim American Society, who was forced to resign from the Virginia Commission on Immigration in 2007 after calling for "the jihad way," among other remarks.
However, it still remains unclear as to who were the other prominent leaders who had attended these services, because there appears to be no public record of those CMSA has invited to Capitol Hill, the report said.
"The U.S. Capitol ought to be one of the most transparent and public bodies, yet they get some public criticism about who they're bringing in and they pull down their website," Patrick Poole, an anti-terrorism consultant to law enforcement and the U.S. military who has written about CMSA for the conservative blog Pajamas Media, said.
But a portrait of the Jummah prayer meetings can be gleaned through video footage, news reports, court records and social media posts. And what emerges is a "Who's Who" of controversial characters cycling through the doors of the Capitol on the invite of CMSA, the report added.
"There is a pattern of seriously bad actors not just being involved with, but leading this organization. There really needs to be some kind of investigation into who else CMSA is or has been bringing onto the Hill," Poole added.
According to CMSA Twitter feed, other guests on Capitol Hill are Johari Abdul Malik, the imam of Dar al-Hijrah, the Falls Church, Virginia, mosque where Awlaki was once imam, has made statements in support of members of his mosque convicted on terror-related charges, according to reports and documents. (ANI)