On 26 May 2022, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced the appointment of Muslim community organizer Yusufi Vali as her Deputy Chief of Staff. According to the City of Boston’s press release:
Vali will support Mayor Wu and Chief of Staff Tiffany Chu in leading the Mayor’s Cabinet and implementing Mayor Wu’s transformative vision of a Boston that works for all residents. Vali will play a key role in advancing Mayor Wu’s priorities, strengthening City government to be responsive to residents’ needs and voices, and ensuring strong collaboration among City departments, local organizations outside City Hall, and other levels of government to effectively deliver programs and services.
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According to the statement, since 2019, Vali has been the Director of the Boston Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement, supporting the Mayor’s legislative agenda on immigration and working to strengthen legal infrastructure for pathways to status.
Before joining the city administration, Vali was a field organizer for the 2008 Obama presidential campaign and later served as the Executive Director of the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) Cultural Center, a mosque and community center catering to 1,500 congregants of various ethnicities, the majority with immigrant backgrounds.
The ISB also has a history of inviting extremist speakers and mosque attendees and officials have been implicated in terrorist activity:
- In 2003, the Boston Herald reported on ties between the ISB and Global Muslim Brotherhood leaders Youssef Qaradawi as well as ISB founder Abdurahman Alamoudi, who was later imprisoned by the US in connection with a Libyan plot to assassinate then-Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.
- In 2013, the ISB gained national attention after it emerged that the two Boston Marathon bombers had attended the ISB mosque.
- In 2016, Vali oversaw the appointment of ISB associate imam Abdul-Malik Merchant, who has disseminated anti-Semitic posts via social media and also displayed hostility against homosexuals, saying that, according to the Shariah, they were “dirty and unclean.” Merchant later apologized for his anti-Semitic statements, claiming they were made to improve his translation skills.
- The ISB regularly hosts radical preacher Abdullah Faaruuq, who in the past gave anti-Semitic sermons and has advocated violence, urging Muslims to “grab onto the gun and the sword” in response to the arrests of local Islamic extremist Aafia Siddiqui and terror suspect Tarek Mehanna. Faaruuq has also accused police of “murdering” another Islamist terrorism suspect who was killed during his 2015 arrest. In 2022, he gave a sermon at the ISB, calling same-sex marriage a “perversity.”
For many years, the ISB flagship mosque was overseen by the Boston branch of the Muslim American Society, identified in a report authored by the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) editor as a part of the GMB in the US and closely tied to the Egyptian organization. According to a Chicago Tribune investigation, the MAS chose to conceal its Brotherhood affiliation early in its history, fearing that the US would crack down on Hamas members. Former ISB imam William Suhaib Webb, a regular guest speaker at GMB events in the US, has also long been involved with the MAS. Prior GIOR coverage of the MAS has included:
- A February 2021 report that associates of the late Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, including former MAS leaders, had launched a think tank and watchdog monitoring human rights violations by US allies in the Middle East and North Africa.
- A June 2022 report that MAS Director Oussama Jammal had called on American Muslims to vote to influence foreign policy and suggested the US intentionally sowed chaos in the Middle East.