Inaugural prayer leader tied to terrorist organization

Ingrid Mattson will help lead the inaugural prayer service on Wednesday for Barack Obama, the Muslim representative who will join Christian and Jewish leaders at the National Cathedral.  However, the group that Mattson leads — the Islamic Society of North America — has ties to Hamas, according to federal investigators.  Will the Obama administration allow the president of ISNA to participate in the prayer service with these ties to a terrorist group?  Unfortunately, the preceding administration has set some precedent with ISNA:

One of the religious leaders invited to address Barack Obama’s inaugural prayer service Wednesday heads an Islamic group named by federal prosecutors as a co-conspirator in a terrorism-fundraising trial in Texas.

Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America, is scheduled to join Christian ministers and Jewish rabbis offering prayers for the new president and his family during a service at the National Cathedral in Washington, organizers announced Friday.

Mattson’s group calls itself “the largest Muslim umbrella organization” in North America. However, in May 2007, federal prosecutors included ISNA on a list of nearly 300 co-conspirators filed in a criminal case charging that the Holy Land Foundation of Richardson, Texas, funneled more than $12 million to Hamas.

Mattson appeared at a similar prayer service at the Democratic Convention in August, but as Josh Gerstein points out for Politico, that came before the guilty verdicts in the Holy Land Foundation trial in Texas.  While the jury did not deliberate on ISNA’s connections to Hamas, the 108 guilty verdicts gave the federal investigation a clear endorsement.  The feds insist that the links between ISNA and Hamas are well-documented, while ISNA has protested the characterization of their organization as terrorist-linked.

To defend themselves, ISNA points out that its representatives met with several officials in the Bush administration during the last few years.  Politico checked out that argument and notes that none of the contacts came after the Holy Land indictments in May 2007.  Alberto Gonzales canceled a meeting with ISNA the next month.  Karen Hughes attended an ISNA event in June 2008, but Hughes had already left the administration by that time.  Still, federal investigators published their findings in May 2007, but had to have developed the evidence for ISNA-Hamas ties well before then.  The Bush administration apparently didn’t bother looking into ISNA while dealing with them as a representative of American Muslims, presumably in order to avoid dealing with CAIR.

Will Obama bounce Mattson?  That wouldn’t be very Hope-and-Changey, but he has little choice.  If Obama and his team keep ISNA on board for the prayer service, it will have a definite impact on the morale at Justice, at the very least.  How would these investigators feel about having their President hobnobbing with the woman who leads an organization tied to terrorism and exposed through their hard work?

Update: American Thinker had it first.