I mentioned yesterday that Hezbollah members were in a firefight with an Islamic charity, and three ended up killed - two on Hezbollah's side.
It turns out that the so-called charity is known as al-Ahbash or the AICP- Association of Islamic Charitable Projects. It espouses a controversial view of Islam, and it claims to be moderate while it tends to be pro-Syrian.
This "moderation" apparently allows one to walk around with RPGs and machine guns.
It turns out that the AICP is not only a Lebanese group, but it also has a number of branches in the US, as well as the UK, Canada, France, Australia and Switzerland.
From a quick look at a number of their websites I cannot determine exactly what "charities" this association comprises of, or gives money to. They solicit donations, of course, but they are very light on how exactly those donations get spent, outside of proselytizing Islam.
So while some Sufi-oriented Muslims might consider gifts to the AICP to be considered part of their Zakat (charity) obligation, to call it a "charity" seems a bit of a stretch.
To call it "moderate" seems a bit of a joke.
UPDATE: Zvi finds out much more:
More details about al-Ahbash from a 2008 postby Daoud Ibrahim:
The name al-Ahbash, recently mentioned in the media in connection to the UN investigation into the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, refers to The Association of Islamic Charitable Projects in Lebanon which was founded by A Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn Yusuf al Hirari, nicknamed “al Habashi”, referring to his Ethiopian origin. Born in the city of al Hirara , near Somalia , al Hirari settled in Lebanon in 1950 where he taught religious studies and cultivated a personal following.
Maintaining strong relations with the Syrian government, the groups leader, Nizar al Halabi was killed in 1995 by Ahmad Abdul Karim al Saaid, known as Abu Mihjin, who headed “Asbat al Ansar”or the League of Partisans. The latter was sentenced to death in absentia for his crime.
In April 2001, al Ahbash organized a series of public rallies to counter demonstrations called by those opposed to Syria's presence in Lebanon on the anniversary of the civil war. Members took to the streets dressed in black and wearing face paint and masks, the al-Ahbash members chanted pro-Syrian slogans before the TV cameras while waving nail-encrusted broomsticks, kitchen knives, brass knuckles, chains, axes, old rusted swords and hammers.
Released on Friday, the UN report into the assassination of Hariri featured the name of three brothers, Ahmad Abd al Al, an active member of al Ahbash currently in Lebanese custody, Walid, a member of the Presidential Guard, and Mahmud, also member of al Ahbash who, according to the investigation telephoned Lebanese President Emile Lahoud moments before the bombing which targeted Hariri’s convoy on February 14 th 2005. Mahmud was arrested on Sunday on a warrant issued by Magistrate Judge Sai Mirza. Police in Beirut also raised a sweet shop in Tariq al Jadidah neighbourhood owned by Hashem Mahmud Alian, allegedly a member of al Ahbash where hand grenades were found and confiscates and Alian arrested.
On violence and terrorism, the group says the following. I wish they included some indication that non-Muslim civilians - e.g. Jews - are innocent and must not be harmed. But they don't:
“The Association rejects the Takfir ideology and opposes the use of violence against the ruling authorities and the killing of the elderly, women, and children. It does not depend on any government for financial support and rejects the takfir ideologies that denounce Muslims as infidels”.
Read the rest.
The group itself says,
Unlike the followers of Sayyid Qutub [ Muslim Brotherhood - Zvi ] who deviated from the right path by following an erroneous idea that sprung fifty years ago, and unlike the followers of Muhammad ibn ^adbil-Wahhab [ the Wahhabis - Zvi ] who deviated from the right path by following an erroneous idea that sprung two hundred years ago, unlike them we are following the right path of the prophet, his companions and their followers.
The group runs The Islamic Education School, several colleges, a couple of radio stations, etc.
The Michigan chapter says,
The A.I.C.P goes counter any form of extremism that allows the killing of innocents, and it is clear of any connections to any form of deviations or extremism that considers the mere fact of visiting the tomb of Prophet Muhammad or celebrating his birth as a type of heresy. Rather, the association warns against extremism and labors to prevent its spreading. The association considers the deviated and extremist practices of certain groups in the name of religion as a form of treason to the people and a cause for fracture among the unity of the nation.
Their Australian branch recently held a Ramadan dinner that attracted a lot ofgovernment officials as well as foreign Muslim dignitaries, including both the premier and the opposition leader of New South Wales, several MPs and ministers, and consuls general from Iraq and Bangladesh, plus the Syrian ambassador.
The al-Ahbash organization in Sydney had a long-running feud with the infamous Sheikh Hilaly (of "uncovered meat" fame). They probably are moderate when compared with psychopaths like Hilali.
On the other hand, there is this claimed quotation from "one al-Ahbash leader": “As Muslims, we must never support and encourage false religions”! (i.e. no assisting Vietnamese Buddhists).
What I can verify is that I was unable to find any instance at all in which the AICP participated in any inter-faith event.