Born in northern Sudan in 1965, Mohamed Magid studied Islam under African Sunni scholars, one of whom was his own father, the Grand Mufti of Sudan. In 1987 Magid immigrated to the United States, where he took college courses in psychology and family counseling, and he taught classes on the Koran at Howard University in Washington, DC. In 1997 Magid became imam of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS), a mosque located in Sterling, Virginia. Soon thereafter, he became affiliated with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), first as its East Zone representative, then as vice president, and finally as president (a post to which he was elected in September 2010). He continues to head both ISNA and ADAMS to this day.
Ten days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Magid, angered by what he
perceived to be a growing anti-Muslim sentiment among the American people,
belligerently told journalists:
"We cannot be apologetic about being Muslims in this country ... We have a
â€¨right to be Muslim."
In March 2002, federal agents raided
the offices of many northern-Virginia-based Muslim organizations, including
ADAMS, on suspicion that they were providing material support to terrorists.
This initiative, known as "Operation Green
Quest," was the largest investigation of terror-financing ever conducted
anywhere in the world. Soon after the raids had been completed, Magid held a
public meeting in the town of Sterling, where he encouraged "community
building" among the groups that were being investigated. To this meeting, he
such notables as Kit Gage of the
National Coalition to Protect Political
Freedom; Mahdi Bray,
political advisor for the Muslim Public
Affairs Council; and Nihad
Awad, the pro-Hamas executive
director of the Council on
American-Islamic Relations. Awad told the outraged crowd: "This is a war
against Islam and Muslims. Our administration [i.e., the Bush administration]
has the burden of proving otherwise."
Notwithstanding his combative track
record, Magid has cultivated, in media and political circles, an image as a
moderate Muslim. The Huffington
Post, for one, has dubbed him “America’s
Imam.” In 2005 Time magazine published a lengthy profile of Magid,
likewise depicting him as a voice of moderation who
"work[s] closely with the FBI," "regularly opens doors for [FBI] agents trying
to cultivate contacts in his Muslim community," and "alerts the bureau when
suspicious persons approach his congregation." The Time report,
however, angered many of Magid's Muslim constituents who viewed the FBI as their
enemy. Consequently, Magid felt compelled to issue a "clarifying statement"
explaining that his meetings with FBI personnel were intended mainly to "convey
... that our Muslim community needs to be treated as partners, not as suspects,"
and to "work with law enforcement to preserve our civil liberties and civil
rights." Further, Magid emphasized that he and his fellow Muslim leaders did
"not use these monthly meetings to report upon the activities of our community
Also in 2005, the ADAMS website displayed a list of speakers who had
recently appeared at the mosque. Among these individuals were ADAMS chairmam Ahmed Tontonji, who was indicted in
Operation Green Quest and was named as a defendant in a $1 trillion lawsuit
filed by more than 600 surviving relatives of victims who had died in the 9/11
attacks, and Johari Abdul Malik,
an Imam who had defended numerous Islamic radical and terrorist
In 2011 President Barack Obama appointed Magid to serve
on the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Countering Violent Extremism
Working Group. In this position, Magid was authorized to train and advise
personnel affiliated with the FBI and other federal agencies. He soon became a
regular visitor to the White House, and merged as perhaps the most influential
and sought-after Muslim authority in the United States.
In his new DHS
role, Magid, claiming that
media references to jihad as “holy war” constituted a “misuse” of the
Assistant Attorney General Thomas
Perez to: arrange for Magid to meet regularly with top Justice Department
officials; allow Magid to reeducate FBI agents vis a vis Islam and its
practitioners; and carefully avoid criticism of Islam, which Magid characterized
as “religious bigotry and hate.” Magid and other Muslim lobbyists also persuaded
government officials to ban the practice, at airports, of conducting the extra
security checks on passengers traveling from a number of Islamic countries --
checks that had been instituted after a Nigerian Muslim tried to blow up a
passenger plane on Christmas Day 2009.
to pressure from Magid and his fellow lobbyists, DHS carefully erased from its
Violent Extremism" curriculum any suggestion that Muslim terrorism drew its
inspiration from the laws and doctrines of Islam. In 2012, the FBI purged
some 700 documents and 300 presentations from its training materials and lesson
In addition to his DHS work, Magid has also served
with the National Security Council and has been a member of the FBI's
Muslim, Sikh, and Arab Advisory Board.
For additional information on
Mohamed Magid, click here.