U.S. Representative Keith Ellison doesn’t mince words about the Islamic State group.
In an interview with VOA’s Afghan service, Ellison, a Muslim American whom IS threatened recently with death, lashed out at the group, its message and its methods.
“Daesh, they are neither Islamic nor a state,” Ellison said, using the Arabic acronym for IS. “The whole movement is premised upon a lie, which is that they are going to establish some sort of Islamic paradise on Earth."
“They are liars,” he said. “They are rapists. They torture people. In Islam, it is prohibited to mutilate corpses. They do this. They burn people. Nothing they do is supportable in Islamic tradition or Quran.” He added that many people once aligned with IS were fleeing from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Ellison's name was on a list of people whom IS called “politically active apostates” in the United States, Australia, Britain and Canada. IS posted the hit list online, along with a picture of a bloodstained knife and remarks from leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He said those on the list "will receive amnesty” if they “surrender themselves to the Islamic State.”
In response to the IS death threat, Ellison said he did not fear the terror group and vowed to fight the IS ideology.
“You are evil, wicked, and I would like to destroy your whole ideology,” he said, addressing IS.
Ellison, a Democrat, is from Minnesota, where IS has tried to recruit Somali youths for its fight in Syria and Iraq. Since 2014, the FBI has arrested nine young men in Minnesota for allegedly planning to join IS in Syria. Six of them entered guilty pleas, but the others are now standing trial on charges that include conspiring to support Islamic State and to commit murder abroad.
The trial has put a spotlight on how IS recruiters have worked to radicalize young Somali-American men. The suspects told a judge that IS propaganda videos and social media inspired them to seek out the group.
Ellison called upon young people to be vigilant and not to fall into IS’s propaganda trap. He continued to address IS: "I ask all young people who you are lying to, to closely examine the lies that you are telling, and to abandon you and to never support anything Daesh is saying."
Ellison also called upon Muslim Americans to take an active role in the upcoming U.S. presidential election.
“If you are a person whose belief system is informed by Quran … then you must also believe that you have a moral obligation to make society better,” he said. "This is the way to elevate the lives of the people who are Muslims, not through the Daesh way of murder, mayhem and killing.”