Sen. Cory Booker’s (D., N.J.) guest of honor at tonight’s State of the Union address is an Islamic-American community leader who has publicly lashed out at Israel and once defended the Muslim Brotherhood organization as "misunderstood," according to various reports.
Booker has invited as his guest to the annual speech Ahmed Shedeed, president of the Islamic Center of Jersey City, a community center tied to the 1993 World Trade Center bombings.
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While Booker and others have long touted Shedeed as a moderate Muslim voice, the leader has gone on record in the past criticizing Israel and defending the Muslim Brotherhood, according to reports.
During a 2004 interview with the Associated Press about the similarities of the U.S. "occupation" in Iraq and Israel’s "occupation" of Palestinian lands, Shedeed noted the parallels between the two situations.
"An occupation is an occupation," he reportedly said.
In 2000, as violence raged in Israel, Shedeed reportedly criticized Israel for its "gruesome killings" of Palestinians.
"Shedeed told a Star-Ledger reporter during a protest in New Jersey against Israel. ‘When I watch these daily gruesome Israeli killings on satellite TV, I feel sick to my stomach.’"
Shedeed also reportedly went on the record to defend the Muslim Brotherhood as a misunderstood organization.
As Muslim Brotherhood-aligned protestors deposed former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarack, Shedeed and an associate reportedly watched the events unfold on television, according to a 2011 report in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
While discussing the potential rise of the Brotherhood in Egypt, "Shedeed, who is Muslim, tried to convince his Coptic Christian friend the Islamic opposition group is misunderstood," according to the report.
Meanwhile, before Shedeed became president of the Islamic Center of Jersey City, the institution gained a controversial reputation.
Prior to Shedeed becoming president of the Islamic Center of Jersey City, one of the alleged bombers of the World Trade Center in 1993 was reported to have had his bank statements mailed to the Islamic Center, according to a 1993 Newsday report on the money trail that federal prosecutors were following as part of their investigation into the terror attack.