Wichita Islamic Society nixes Hamas-linked speaker after congressman objects

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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) -- Nearly 10,000 people in Wichita pray to Allah. The Muslim congregation invited Shiekh Monzer Taleb to speak at a fundraiser, but that decision quickly turned controversial.

"It was poor judgement, in my view, on the part of the Islamic Society of Wichita," said Rep. Mike Pompeo. "I'm glad that they have now changed their minds."

Congressman Pompeo, a member of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee says Sheikh Taleb pledged his allegiance to a terrorist organization. "Sheikh Taleb has been very clear personally in the things that he has said that he was a part of Hamas," said Pompeo. "That the destruction of Israel is something that he would like to see happen and he has made no bones about it."

We asked Hussam Madi, spokesman for the Islamic Society of Wichita, if he had any knowledge of Taleb being linked to Hamas. "We don't have any knowledge of any connections as of such," he said.

Madi canceled the event Friday afternoon. "We just took it in best consideration for the safety of our congregation and members," said Madi. "As well as our next door neighbors, which is the church."

Madi says they were worried about reports of planned protests outside the mosque by "heavily armed" individuals. "That's fine, anybody can protest and it's anybody's right to say what they want to say," said Madi. "But I think now we are infringed on to have our event and say what we want to say to our people and congregation on the same token."

But Pompeo says the Islamic Society of Wichita's actions are inconsistent with its words. "We often have Islamic leaders who will say they're against violence but their acts betray that," said Pompeo. "They play footsie with, they hang out with, they're affiliated with folks who are bad actors and that's what this was."

Madi says he wishes Congressman Pompeo would have called them directly to have the conversation instead of pushing it out through the media for his "political agenda."

Eyewitness News called Sheikh Taleb to ask him questions about his background and ties to Hamas, but he has not returned our calls yet.

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