WASHINGTON – Prof. Ingrid Mattson, who heads a Muslim organization which federal prosecutors in the United States say has ties to a Hamas fund, has been invited to take part in a prayer service which will be held in Washington as part of US President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration, and at his presence.
Mattson, a Catholic Canadian who converted to Islam after volunteering in Afghanistan, serves as president of the Islamic Society of North America and is one of six religious leaders set to speak at the national prayer service.
Mattson has already been invited in the past to the State Department as a guest of honor, and has even met with senior Pentagon and Bush administration officials.
However, the name of the organization she heads has been mentioned as having ties with Hamas' Holy Land Foundation in documents presented by federal prosecutors against the foundation in July.
No claim has been filed against the Islamic Society of North America, but documents presented against the Holy Land Foundation mention the Islamic association as one of the 300 organizations linked to the Hamas foundation.
The Holy Land Foundation was established in the 1980s in California by Hamas' deputy politburo chief Moussa Abu Marzouk. The foundation then moved to Texas, where it worked to raise funds for Hamas.
Federal prosecutors accused the Holy Land Foundation of transferring $12 million raised in donations to the terror organization.
American media raised questions Sunday over Mattson's invitation to the traditional national prayer for the new president as a guest of honor. Although the professor and the organization she heads have not been accused officially, prosecutors claim they have documents linking the Islamic Society of North America to Hamas and other extreme organizations.
Linda Douglass, a spokeswoman for Obama's transit team, refused to address the claim but noted that Mattson has a reputation of a star in the religious community.