A New Chicago Muslim College’s Islamist Ties

Sunday, September 15, 2019
By Paul Martin

By Hesham Shehab
September 15, 2019

The Prayer Center of Orland Park (OPPC), Illinois, recently declared the establishment of an Islamic university at its premises, the Universal Islamic College of Chicago (UICC) that will provide “higher Islamic education to the American Muslim community as well as serve as a seminary that would prepare imams for mosques” in North America.

The foundation of this four-year university is a joint effort between the OPPC and the Universal School in Bridgeview, Illinois.

The identities of the founders and faculty of the university are deeply concerning and suggest the seminary will be promoting an Islamist ideology to Muslim students in Illinois and throughout the United States.

In the video announcing the college’s founding, Universal School is represented by its Superintendent Safaa Zarzour.

Zarzour has extensive ties to Islamist groups linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, including serving as a board member and president of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), and currently vice-president and formerly Secretary General of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Zarzour also served as operations officer for the Zakat Foundation.

CAIR has its origins in the Muslim Brotherhood’s establishment of infrastructure to support Hamas, according to documents released as evidence during the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trial, in 2008, when HLF, the largest Islamic charity in the U.S. at the time, was blacklisted by Washington for supporting Hamas in 2001, and eventually convicted of financing the terrorist group in 2008.

ISNA itself has a long history of fundamentalism, anti-Semitism, and support for terrorism. Named as an unindicted co-conspirator during the HLF trial, evidence presented against ISNA led federal judge Jorge Solis to write, “the Government has produced ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR, ISNA and NAIT with HLF, the Islamic Association for Palestine (“IAP”), and with Hamas.”

The Zakat Foundation has been accused of working alongside charity groups affiliated with Hamas, and whose executive director was tied to an Al Qaeda funder.

Also closely associated with the Universal School is Bassam Osman, Former ISNA Shura council member and chairman of NAIT. Osman was described as the “representative of NAIT” on the Universal School board, according to older versions of the school’s website. Osman was also listed as a member of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council, according to a copy of a phone directory submitted as evidence during the Holy Land Foundation Trial.

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