Islamophobia Monitor

Inner Core

Introduction

Date Founded: 2003

The American Islamic Forum for Democracy is a policy think tank founded and led by Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, who is also the Forum’s singular public face. Within AIFD there are three central projects that work toward its fundamental objective to confront the “ideology of political Islam.” AIFD also states that it seeks to counter the “common belief that the Muslim faith is inextricably rooted to the concept of the Islamic State (Islamism).”  AIFD believes that violent extremism is directly and singularly a result of political Islam, a false idea disabused by a number of experts and academics. Further, AFDI advocates for the surveillance and monitoring of free expression within the Muslim community.

Background

On its website, AIFD states that its mission is “to advocate for the preservation of the founding principles of our U.S. Constitution, liberty and freedom, through the separation of mosque and state.” It also ironically claims to “stand firmly” for the freedom of speech and expression, despite seeking to monitor that same right when it comes to those who practice Islam. In 2010, AIFD “applauded” an amendment to Oklahoma’s state Constitution which would have implemented state-sponsored discrimination against Islam. A federal district court ultimately struck the law down due to its blatant violations of the First Amendment.

Core Programs

AIFD has four core programs: the Public Engagement Project, the Muslim Liberty Project, the Muslim Reform Movement, and the American Islamic Leadership Coalition. Through the Public Engagement Project, AIFD uses media and other public forums to “engage in the war of ideas against the ideology of political Islam.” The Muslim Liberty Project, launched in 2011, aims to target and “inoculate” young Muslim adults against a nebulous and ill-defined “political Islam.” AIFD is the “convener and co-founder of the Muslim Reform Movement” which formed in December of 2015. MRM consists of a group of individuals who seek to together “liberate individuals from the scourge of oppression” that is political Islam. Lastly, the American Islamic Leadership Coalition seeks to “counter Islamist influence” and curtail criticism that is “resentful….towards the prevailing laws and culture of the West.”

Connections and Funding

AIFD is embedded within groups whose primary purpose is to spread false information, fear and hatred of Islam and Muslims. In 2008, Jasser accepted a “Defender of the Home Front” award from Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, an anti-Muslim organization. He continues to partner with Gaffney on a number of fronts and is also a board member of the Clarion Project, also an inner core Islamophobic group.

Moreover, the organization has welcomed financial gifts and contributions from groups who are known to promote Islamophobia. In 2011, AIFD received funding from the William Rosenwald Family Fund. In 2011 and 2012, it received a total of $150,000 from the Klarman Family Foundation[insert hyperlink]. In 2010, it accepted $10,000 from Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum. Between 2010 and 2012, AIFD accepted $45,000 in grants and contributions from the Abstraction Fund. Jasser has also admitted that his group received a one-time donation of $10,000 from the Clarion Project.

AIFD’s tax filings revealed its 2014 revenue to be $210,075.

Key Individuals

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser

Position: President and Founder

His full profile can be found here.

Samir Abdelkhalek

Position: Director

Arid Humayun

Position: Director

Humayun is a member of the American Islamic Leadership Coalition. He is also President and Co-Founder of Circle of Peace.

Vesna Stimac

Position: Executive Assistant

Courtney Lonergan

Position: Community Outreach Coordinator

Lonergan works as the facilitator of two AIFD’s programs: the Muslim Liberty Project and the American Islamic Leadership Coalition.

Websites by INTELLIPLANS.