It has been six months since Muslim cleric Kifah Mustapha was trained and certified by the Illinois State Police as the department's first and only Islamic chaplain.
In March, the I-Team reported on certain aspects of Mustapha's background that prompted state police officials to put a hold on his chaplain duties. Now, Mustapha has been told that he is permanently banned as a state police chaplain.
"Imam Kifah Mustafa is beyond reproach. His track record is not only clear it is transparent and omnipresent. He has been an Imam since 1994. He has served his community with dignity and honor," said Ahmed Rehab CAIR-Chicago executive director.
Despite strong backing Wednesday from Muslim leaders, Mustapha has been ordered to turn in his state police ID card and bulletproof vest and will no longer be on the roster of three dozen Illinois State Police chaplains, who many times ride-alongs with troopers and serve as the spiritual backbone of the force.
"Today we are filing a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Comission or EEOC on behalf of Imam Mustapha against the Illinois State Police," said Christina Abraham, CAIR-Chicago civil rights director.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations says it blames Steve Emerson for Mustapha's removal as a police chaplain. Early this year, Emerson's terrorism research project began posting videos and documents critical of Mustapha and questioning his appointment as a chaplain. Emerson, a national security expert who has testified before Congress, posted public justice department documents that cite Mustapha as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood's Palestine Committee, an organization that federal prosecutors say raises money for Hamas and is "committed to the globalization of Islam and violent jihad."
"At first I thought there was another Kifah Mustapha. I could not believe that it could have been the same Kifah Mustapha who was associated with a terrorist organization and who was listed a year just a year and a half ago and was an unindicted co-conspirator in a terrorist case that the government won," said Emerson.
State police officials say only that a further review of Mustapha's background resulted in his dismissal as a chaplain.
"It's disappointing that things should come to this, that the Illinois State Police has succumbed to the defamatory rantings of bigoted individuals who, while in the name of protecting American values, do nothing more than undermine and degrade the very principles this country was founded upon," said Abraham.
The Mustapha case highlights a bitter rift between Council on American-Islamic Relations and Steve Emerson's terrorism research project. CAIR claims Emerson is an islamophobe, fear monger and an Israeli lobbyist. In rebuttal, Emerson says that there is no truth to anything CAIR officials say. Emerson maintains that he merely highlighted information about Kifah Mustapha that Mustapha and CAIR wanted hidden and that the Illinois State Police then made its own decision.
Investigative Project on Terrorism:
Steve Emerson bio
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Ahmed Rehab essay on Steven Emerson
Illinois State Police
Holy Land Foundation indictment press release
Holy Land Foundation indictment
U.S. Justice Dept. unindicted co-conspirators list