Association of Indian Muslims of America (AIM)

The Association of Indian Muslims of America (AIM) claims in its website that it “…is a non-profit, non-political, IRS tax-exempt, social service, Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) of Muslims from India who live in North America.”[1] It is based in Maryland. According to the site, the organization seems to have been started in 1985, though the website came into existence only on July 1, 2002 as per WhoIs.net[2], roughly four months after the 2002 Gujarat riots.

While the organization claims to be incorporated in Washington, D.C., the following screenshot, from Washington, D.C.’s website shows that the organization’s status has been revoked there:

AIM Status Revoked

 

Source:  The District of Columbia – DCRA’s Corporations Division’s CorpOnline Portal

Thus, it is unclear what the organization’s true incorporation status is.

Section 6.01    Some Activities of AIM (and Questioning its Apolitical Claims)

AIM claims to be an apolitical NGO that works on advocacy work related to the causes of Indian Muslims.  However, the information below highlights AIM’s open political advocacy in addition to the dangerous views of some of the political personalities that it has hosted at its events.

In the February 1-15 Issue of The Millie Gazette, AIM carried out an advertisement openly urging India’s Muslims to vote for the Aam Admi Party (AAP) of India.  Implying that Muslims of India are subjected to more abuses than other citizens of India, the advertisement stated:

An Appeal to Indian Muslim citizens and voters to support Aam Aadmi Party [emphasis added] to remove the ills of: corruption, influence peddling, abuse of religion and caste, money power, denial of justice, police brutality, from the society at large in the country. These ills have resulted from gross abuses by most political parties. The majority of Muslims being deprived people are hurt more than others from these ills. Hence, Muslims in large numbers should support AAP that is comprised of good people, and that is trying to cleanse the national political and governance system. We appeal to all to campaign for AAP, raise funds for them and vote for AAP candidates in the upcoming parliamentary elections [emphasis added].[5]

In a Press Release, Kaleem Kawaja, the founder and Executive Director of AIM, clearly appealed to India’s Muslims to support AAP with “with funds, volunteers and votes…”[6]  In addition, Kawaja admitted: “Several of [AIM’s members] in US who hold Indian passport are planning to visit India at election time to campaign for AAP and to raise funds for them in India.”[7]

The above statements, along with a copy of the advertisement below, challenges AIM’s claim that it is apolitical organization.  In fact, the Internal Revenue Service 501(c)(3) rules prohibit non-profit charities from engaging in political activities.  According to the IRS:

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity.  Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.[8]

By publishing an advertisement urging Muslim voters to support and raise funds for a political party, AIM cannot claim to be an apolitical organization and may therefore be in violation of US laws.

Source: The Indian Express: http://images.indianexpress.com/2014/02/aapadd_4751.jpg.

AIM AAP Appeal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2008, AIM hosted Uttar Pradesh Congress politician Amaresh Mishra at a meeting at the Northern Virginia Muslim Community Center in Springfield, VA, “to address the upsurge of terrorism in India and the police harassment of Muslims in that context.” [9] Mishra is described as a “prominent Indian journalist and historian.”[10] Mishra is known for his visceral hatred of Hindus and has gone on record in the tech world (Twitter, YouTube, Web articles, etc.) to show his abusive and disturbing language. For example, blogging site Aam Janata discussed how Mishra launched a tirade against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi after his speech at India Today’s Conclave 13 on March 17, 2013. Aam Janata states: “[Mishra] began with bitter criticism over the Gujarat riots that rapidly devolved into outright abuse, rape threats and death threats.”[11] In the video posted on the link at Aam Janata, Mishra is giving death threats, rape threats (to @shilpitewari) as well as a threat to shoot Mr. Modi. Mishra’s abnormal and violent behavior is also acknowledged by Teesta Setalvad, who calls him a “dangerous individual” and complained about him to the Editor-in-Chief of Rashtriya Sahara newspaper Mr. Aziz Burney.[12]

But, perhaps the most bizarre claim of Mishra is that the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks were a conspiracy of the RSS, Mosaad and the Indian Intelligence Bureau! On March 28, 2010, Mishra wrote an article in the Milli Gazette, a popular Indian Muslim newspaper, calling India’s Intelligence Bureau anti-India and anti-Muslim. He then went on to say “[David Headley, the Pakistani American who worked with Lashkar-e-Taiba to plot the Mumbai attacks] holds the key to the fact that 26/11 was not just a mere Lashkar operation – that it was a joint Mossad-CIA operation, conducted with possible ISI and RSS help.”[13] Further, Mishra’s Congress roots and bizarre claims come out yet again when he says:

…if the NIA [National Security Agency of India] gets access to Headley, the latter’s links with Hindutva organizations – and the whole RSS-Mossad-CIA-ISI-IB nexus – will be exposed. This nexus is working overtime to destabilize the Congress government and undo the commendable work done by the party under the secular leadership of Sonia Gandhi.[14]

Amazingly, ISI of Pakistan is ready to work with the RSS, the Indian Intelligence Bureau and Mossad to plot attacks in India!

One wonders what AIM’s agenda and stances are when they honor and invite such colorful personalities to their events and organization.

Similarly, in 2010, AIM supported Omar Khalidi’s MIT Workshop, discussed here earlier. AIM’s website describes the workshop as “…a prominent conference on ‘Challenges to Secularism and Rule of Law in India’”[15] and “…that it was attended by several distinguished academics and journalists from India and US.”[16]

Section 6.02    Kaleem Kawaja

Kaleem Kawaja is currently the Executive Director of AIM, has been associated with AIM since its founding days and has played an extremely important role in shaping the organization and its views. Kawaja is also the usual spokesperson for AIM on many of the campaigns that the CAG runs.  Similarly, a biographic introduction of Kawaja on United Muslims of America describes him as the founder and president of AIM.[17]  Similarly, Kawaja has been in various roles on the Board, switching from Secretary to Treasurer in different years.[18]

Kawaja’s prejudiced and warped views on Hindus and India have been well known for many years. In Kawaja’s opinion, Indian Muslims are perpetual hostages of the Hindu majority and the Indian state and that there is a sinister agenda of the former to continue repressing Muslims.  In fact, he also believes that the Western world and countries such as the US are enemies of Muslims. Kawaja also holds particular sympathy for the Taliban and their “attempts” to reform Afghanistan and lauds Iran for its reform by using Islamic methods.

In 2002, Kawaja wrote an article titled “Brother, can you spare a tear for Taliban?” (The Milli Gazette, Vol.3, No. 5).[19] Written after the US defeated the Taliban regime in 2001, the article is generally sympathetic toward and sorry for the Taliban. Kawaja describes the defeat of the Taliban as an end to “another bold attempt of Muslims to assert themselves and the Islamic values in their own country.”[20] Painting Western countries as enemies of Muslims, he laments that “[it] was foolhardy naiveté that made [the Taliban] ignore the many plans of the enemies of Muslims who were looking for an opportunity to exploit any loophole to ransack the global Muslim community, especially the recent remarkable growth of Muslim communities in Western countries.”[21] Similarly, Kawaja again paints Western countries such as the US as enemies of the Muslim community and concludes that “[even] at the last minute [the Taliban] had an opportunity to take actions that could have averted the punitive confrontation that Western countries were trying to impose on the global Muslim community.”[22] The fight against Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan is somehow considered a plan to punish the global Muslim community.

Further in the article, Kawaja admires Iran, considering it “…a country that has made major Islamic reforms using Islamic methods…”[23]

Speaking at a 2002 panel discussion on Indian Muslims in Washington, Kawaja exaggerated the “large-scale violence” against Muslims and the “the connivance of the government machinery with the Hindu fanatic marauders, in the last 50 years.”[24] During the panel discussion, he appealed to Muslims in America “…to urge their senators and congressmen to pay attention to the 50-year-long, continued oppression of Muslims in India [emphasis added].”[25] Thus, throughout India’s independence, Muslims have only been oppressed and killed by a government run by Hindu fanatics!

The theory that Indian Muslims have always been victims of discrimination by the Indian government and the Hindu majority seems to be the overarching ideology of people such as Kawaja, Ubaid, Khalidi and many others in the CAG. They never seem to look inward at the religious and social problems of their own community and instead blame the “other” (i.e. Hindus) for these problems. According to them, Muslims are always the victims in an ongoing “war” against the community. Interestingly, Dr. Mohammad Ahmadullah Siddiqui, the founder of the now-banned terrorist outfit the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), made a different observation in a 2003 interview on Rediff. When asked for his opinion on the perception that India’s Muslims are marginalized, Siddiqui remarked:

I personally am not very comfortable (with this) because that is the general impression that people have about the Muslims in India. When somebody goes there to write or report, in three days of tour from one part of the country to the other that is the kind of story they get. I do not think Muslims are at all marginalised. They cannot be marginalised (sic).

Many people have this impression that there may be a couple of millions of Muslims in India, but they do not have the idea that there are more than 120 million Muslims in India. Such a large population cannot be marginalised (sic).[26]

In 2009, Kawaja wrote a post “Why India is not a Secular State?” supporting Omar Khalidi’s article questioning India’s secular fabric on Indian Muslims blog. The post is yet another example of Kawaja’s erroneous and absurd views about India and Hindus. For example, he gives five reasons for why Muslims are victims of “oppression by Hindus”. One of the reasons, he says, is the lack of – and he calls for it – intervention “…from 53 Muslim countries (other than Pakistan) to say even one word against any of the worst oppression and harassment of masses of Muslims and their institutions in 60 years.”[27] Thus, he claims that “Indian Hindus are quite sure that Indian Muslims have no international sympathizers.”[28] Kawaja thus declares the entire Indian Hindu population as savages and fascists hell-bent on cleansing India of its Muslim population. His inflammatory statements and claims indeed mislead a lot of well-meaning Muslims who have been maintaining cordial relations with Hindus and also further aggravate those Muslims who already view Hindus with suspicion.

Another reason for the situation, Kawaja declares, is that since the 1980s, thanks to the resurgence of the BJP and its “religion-based politics”,[29] other groups and political parties picked up on that and “…a sort of competition began among them to become more aggressive against Muslims.”[30] Now, the entire political establishment in India is the enemy of Muslims. Thus, there is no hope for Muslims, but to fight for their rights.

Another supposed reason given for Muslim victimization is the September 2001 attacks in the US and the “international Islamophobic environment”[31] following the attacks. Kawaja maintains that this has given “…an opportunity to the anti-Muslim elements in the Indian government to develop discriminatory policies against Muslims.”[32] He completely sidelines all attacks by Islamic terrorists around the world, including India. He seems to conveniently forget the insurgency in Kashmir (actually, he blames that on the Hindus and the Indian government), the 1993 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai (which were coordinated with the help of Muslim terrorists in India) and other numerous attacks, riots and anti-national activities of some of the Muslims in India. And, it is especially disturbing that this article was written in 2009 – Kawaja ignores the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament, the 2002 terrorist attack on the Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar, the 2006 attacks on the Hindu holy city of Varanasi and the 2005 attack on the Hindu holy city of Ayodhya, etc. – all of which happened before the article was published. These attacks happened as a result of close coordination between some Indian Muslims and terrorists from outside, a fact Kawaja simply omits. And, he forgets that Hindus did not come out en mass and butcher Muslims following attacks on their holy sites. Had this been an attack on the Mecca or any of the holy sites of Muslims in other countries, there would have been massive protests, attacks and butchering of people from other communities – if it was established that a Christian, Jew or a Hindu was responsible for such attacks. It would not matter if these communities claim that extremist elements were involved in such an attack.

In conclusion, AIM, its activities and guiding leaders clearly show a highly skewed stance against Hindus and the Indian state. Claiming constant victimization of Muslims at the hands of Hindus and the Indian state, they work in close cooperation with other partners in various coalitions to paint Hindus and India in a negative light. This ensures that the international community and even Muslims continue to view Hindus and India with suspicion and hatred.  Furthermore, while AIM claims to be an apolitical organization, it is clearly involved in political advocacy in India.

[1] http://www.aimamerica.org/. Accessed January 7, 2014

[2] http://www.whois.net/whois/aimamerica.org. Accessed January 7, 2014

[3] http://www.afmi.org/final%20souvenir%20minus%20program%20for%20web.pdf. Accessed December 5, 2013.  The link has been disabled as of January 7, 2014

[4] See the link to “Dr. Kaleem Kawaja” at http://www.zoominfo.com/CachedPage/?archive_id=0&page_id=1776846150&page_url=//www.umanet.org/cms.cfm?fuseaction=articles.viewThisArticle&articleID=122&pageID=159&page_last_updated=2013-02-01T06:31:52&firstName=Kaleem&lastName=Kawaja. Accessed January 7, 2014

[5] Shivani Vig, “US NGO puts AAP in a spot: Ad urging Muslim voters to support Kejriwal’s party creates buzz on Facebook”, February 5, 2014, The Indian Express, http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/us-ngo-puts-aap-in-a-spot-ad-urging-muslim-voters-to-support-kejriwals-party-creates-buzz-on-facebook/.  Accessed March 3, 2014

[6] “Indian American Muslim Group Endorses AAP”, January 17, 2014, Caravan, http://caravandaily.com/portal/indian-american-muslim-group-endorses-aap/.  Accessed March 4, 2014

[7] Ibid

[8] “The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations”, Internal Revenue Service, http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Charitable-Organizations/The-Restriction-of-Political-Campaign-Intervention-by-Section-501%28c%29%283%29-Tax-Exempt-Organizations.  Accessed March 4, 2014

[9] See 2008 entry under “Advocacy and Information” on AIM’s website at http://www.aimamerica.org/advocacy_and_information.html. Accessed January 7, 2014

[10] Ibid

[11] Vidyut, “Congress Politician Amaresh Misra makes rape threats and death threats on Twitter”, http://aamjanata.com/congress-politician-amaresh-misra-makes-rape-threats-and-death-threats-on-twitter/. Accessed January 7, 2014

[12] Teesta Setalvad, “Amaresh Mishra’s web of lies”, Communalism Watch, December 15, 2008, http://communalism.blogspot.in/2008/12/amaresh-mishras-web-of-lies.html. Accessed January 7, 2014

[13] Amaresh Mishra, “Headley Saga: Mumbai attack was a joint IB-CIA-Mossad-RSS project”, March 28, 2010, The Milli Gazette, http://www.milligazette.com/dailyupdate/2010/20100328_003_Headley-Saga-Mumbai-attack-was-joint-IB-CIA-Mossad-RSS-project.htm. Accessed January 7, 2014

[14] Mishra, ibid

[15] See 2010 entry under “Advocacy and Information” on AIM’s website at http://www.aimamerica.org/advocacy_and_information.html. Accessed January 7, 2014

[16] Ibid

[17] See the link to “Dr. Kaleem Kawaja” at http://www.zoominfo.com/CachedPage/?archive_id=0&page_id=1776846150&page_url=//www.umanet.org/cms.cfm?fuseaction=articles.viewThisArticle&articleID=122&pageID=159&page_last_updated=2013-02-01T06:31:52&firstName=Kaleem&lastName=Kawaja. Accessed January 7, 2014

[18] For example, in the 2002 Tax Filing, Kawaja is both Secretary and Treasurer. See link here: http://pdfs.citizenaudit.org/2003_10_EO/52-1416611_990EZ_200212.pdf. Similarly, in the 2012 Tax Filing, Kawaja is AIM’s Treasurer. See link here http://pdfs.citizenaudit.org/2013_07_EO/52-1416611_990EZ_201212.pdf. Accessed January 7, 2014

[19] Kaleem Kawaja, “Brother, can you spare a tear for Taliban”, March 3, 2002, The Milli Gazette, http://www.milligazette.com/Archives/01032002/0103200254.htm. Accessed on January 7, 2014

[20] Kawaja, ibid

[21] Kawaja, ibid

[22]Kawaja, ibid

[23] Kawaja, ibid

[24] Kaleem Kawaja, “Panel discussion on Indian Muslims in Washington”, The Milli Gazette, July 15, 2002, http://www.milligazette.com/Archives/15072002/1507200233.htm. Accessed on January 7, 2014

[25]Kawaja, ibid

[26] Suman Guha Mozumder, “The Rediff Interview/SIMI founder Dr Mohammad Ahmadullah Siddiqi”, September 2, 2003, Rediff India Abroad, http://www.rediff.com/news/2003/sep/02inter.htm. Accessed January 7, 2014

[27] Kaleem Kawaja, “Is India Really A Secular State?”, February 1, 2009, Indian Muslims, http://indianmuslims.in/is-india-really-a-secular-state/. Accessed January 7, 2014

[28] Kawaja, ibid

[29] Kawaja, ibid

[30] Kawaja, ibid

[31] Kawaja, ibid

[32] Kawaja, ibid