Sunday, January 18, 2009


A Muslim scholar chosen to speak at President-elect Barack Obama’s inaugural prayer service Wednesday is the leader of a group that federal prosecutors say has ties to terrorists.

Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America since 2006, is one of many religious leaders scheduled to speak at the prayer service at Washington’s National Cathedral. Ms. Mattson has been the guest of honor at State Department dinners and spoke at a prayer service at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

But in 2007 and as recently as July, federal prosecutors in Dallas filed court documents linking the Plainfield, Ind.-based Islamic society to the group Hamas, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization.

Neither Ms. Mattson nor her organization has been charged. But prosecutors wrote in July that they had “a wide array of testimonial and documentary evidence expressly linking” the group to Hamas and other radical groups.

Linda Douglass, a spokeswoman for Mr. Obama’s inaugural committee, would not discuss the case or say whether the committee knew about it.

“She has a stellar reputation in the faith community,” she said Saturday night.

The Islamic Society of North America, which describes itself as “the nation’s largest mainstream Muslim community-based organization,” was included on a list of unindicted co-conspirators in the Dallas terrorism case against the Holy Land Foundation.

That foundation and five of its former leaders were convicted at a retrial in November of funneling millions of dollars to Hamas.

Attorneys for Ms. Mattson’s group wrote in court documents that it is not a subject or target of the Holy Land investigation and fought its inclusion on the co-conspirators list.

“That ISNA … appeared in these documents and [shares] a common history with these defendants is a reflection of the evidence, not any attempt to ‘disparage’ or ‘vilify,’ ” federal prosecutor James Jacks said in the July filing.

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