The Illinois State Police has revoked the appointment of a prominent Chicago-area cleric to be its first Muslim chaplain after questions about his connection to a charity with ties to the militant Palestinian group Hamas.
In a statement, state police officials said Sheikh Kifah Mustapha, the associate director of the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, could not serve as a volunteer chaplain “due to information revealed during the background investigation.” State police declined to be more specific.
In December, Mustapha was one of seven religious leaders trained in Springfield to become volunteer state police chaplains. State police said they discovered after all seven volunteers completed the training that detailed background checks had not been done.
Shortly after Mustapha’s appointment, Steve Emerson, executive director of the Washington-based Investigative Project on Terrorism, criticized Illinois law enforcement for ignoring Mustapha’s history as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the case against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, once the nation’s largest Muslim charity.
The foundation’s two founding members were sentenced last year to 65 years in prison each for funneling millions of dollars to Hamas, which the U.S. has labeled as a terrorist organization.
Mustapha helped raise money for the group in Chicago but was never charged with any crime.
On Wednesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations will hold a news conference to protest the revocation of Mustapha’s appointment.
Copyright © 2010, Chicago Tribune