by Ryan Mauro
The following article appeared on the Family Security Matters website and was posted with permission.
Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators protest a trial of their members in Egypt. Congress members have called for an investigation for the Muslim Brotherhood’s domestic influence. (Photo Credit: Reuters)
In what could prove to be a watershed moment in the fight against radical Islam, five prominent members of Congress wrote letters on June 13 to the Inspector Generals of the Departments of State, Justice, Defense, Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence requesting investigations into the influence of Muslim Brotherhood-tied groups and individuals.
The letters were signed by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL) and Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) of the House Armed Services Committee and Rep. Louie Gohmert, the Vice Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.
The letters refers to a 10-part, freely-available online course created by the Center for Security Policy titled, “Muslim Brotherhood in America,” narrated by Frank Gaffney, who served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy under the Reagan Administration. Each letter mentions incidents where the respective departments worked with entities or individuals tied to the Muslim Brotherhood.
A secret document by the American branch of the Muslim Brotherhood from 1991 states that its “work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within.” The Brotherhood’s documents also identify many of its fronts in the U.S., such as the Islamic Society of North America, the Islamic Circle of North America, the North American Islamic Trust, the Muslim Students Association, the International Institute of Islamic Thought, and the Islamic Association for Palestine, from which the Council on American-Islamic Relations was birthed.
Overseas, the Muslim Brotherhood strategy of “civilization jihad” is referred to as “gradualism,” a doctrine I discussed at length here. “Gradualism,” often called “stealth jihad” in the West, refers to an incremental, phased approach towards advancing the Islamist cause that includes a cost-benefit analysis. Western observers often misinterpret the Muslim Brotherhood’s restraint as proof that it is moderate. In reality, this judgment is an intelligence failure. Israeli officials say the Muslim Brotherhood leadership in Egypt ordered Hamas to fire rockets at Israel just this past weekend. Hamas’ founding charter says it is a wing of the Brotherhood and the terrorist group changed its official name in December to reflect this.
There is a wealth of information showing why the investigations called for by the members of Congress is necessary. The impact of the Muslim Brotherhood-tied groups and other Islamists on the current and past administrations, both political parties and the law enforcement and intelligence communities is disturbing. Their agendas are aided by a media eager to defame their critics and businesses, officials and religious organizations embracing them in the name of interfaith relations.
The Center for Security Policy’s course calls out several serving members of the current administration for having close ties to Muslim Brotherhood affiliates. These include:
- Rashad Hussain, the current Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. He previously was a Deputy Associate Council in the White House involved in national security policy and Muslim outreach.
- Dalia Mogahed, a close associate of John Esposito, one of the foremost defenders of the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates. She is in the White House’s Office of Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships and is credited as the person who most influenced President Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo. She is a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Violent Extremism Working Group.
- Huma Abedein, Deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and wife of former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY). Several of her relatives have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, especially her mother who belongs to the Muslim Sisterhood.
- Mohamed Elibiary, who serves on the Homeland Security Advisory Committee and reportedly tried to leak documents to the press to paint Texas Governor Rick Perry as having an anti-Muslim bias. He is a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Violent Extremism Working Group.
- Imam Mohamed Magid, President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), who has close ties with administration officials and is a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Violent Extremism Working Group.
The letter sent to the DHS says that, in addition to the aforementioned three members of the Countering Violent Extremism Working Group, “five other members…appear to share their sympathy for Islamist causes in addition to sharing some of their associations with organizers that are advancing such agendas in the U.S.”
Azizah al-Hibri, who stated that “Islamic fiqh is deeper and better than Western codes of law” and has relations with Brotherhood-tied groups, serves on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. In April 2010, the CEO of Islamic Relief USA, another group with with Hamas/Brotherhood ties, was appointed to the U.S. Agency for International Development Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid. In November 2011, he was appointed to the State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group. Sahar Aziz, who served in the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties from 2008 to 2009, spoke at the annual fundraiser for CAIR-Michigan on March 25. She shared the stage with Siraj Wahhaj, an anti-American Islamist preacher.
Recently, the White House’s new Director for Community Partnerships said that there have been “hundreds” of meetings between departments and agencies with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), despite the fact that the FBI ended outreach efforts with CAIR after the government labeled it an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the Holy Land Foundation trial. This designation was subsequently upheld by a federal judge. A 2007 federal court filing also calls CAIR a Muslim Brotherhood front that uses deception to support terrorists. ISNA and the North American Islamic Trust were also labeled “unindicted co-conspirators.” It has been reported that the Justice Department actually blocked the planned prosecution of a CAIR co-founder and others on the list of “unindicted co-conspirators.”
The Executive-Director of CAIR’s Greater Los Angeles chapter, Hussam Ayloush, was just elected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. In August 2010, Bill Aossey, a prominent member of the radical Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids, went to the White House and sat at President Obama’s table for an Iftar celebration. In 2008, then-presidential candidate Obama’s Muslim outreach director, Mazen Asbahi, resigned after his associations with Brotherhood-tied groups were exposed.
The administration’s interfaith efforts involve the same individuals and groups that the five members of Congress are concerned about. Then-President of ISNA, Ingrid Mattson, took part in President Obama’s inaugural prayer services. The President’s top counter-terrorism advisor, John Brennan, spoke alongside her at New York University. Senior presidential advisor Valerie Jarrett was the keynote speaker at ISNA’s annual convention in 2009. After President Obama’s famous speech in Cairo in 2009, Secretary of State Clinton invited Esam Omeish, a supporter of Hamas involved with the Brotherhood, to take part in a conference call.
The “Muslim Brotherhood in America” course reveals that in 2010, the U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, Hannah Rosenthal, took an interfaith trip to Auschwitz alongside eight individuals with strong Muslim Brotherhood ties. After the Fort Hood terrorist attack, an official from ISNA was approved to come to the base for a lecture about Islam. In February, a top Pentagon official apologized for the accidental burning of a Koran in Afghanistan at the mosque led by ISNA’s president. In March 2011, Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough spoke at the mosque and praised Magid.
Individuals and organizations like these are responsible for the administration’s belief that the Muslim Brotherhood is genuinely moderate, non-violent and a force we can work with. This opinion was on full display when Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified before Congress that the Muslim Brotherhood is “secular.” He portrayed the Brotherhood in a positive light and continues to do so to this day. A National Security Council spokesperson did the same when asked about the White House’s meetings with Brotherhood officials from Egypt. The director of the State Department’s Special Coordinator of the Office of Middle East Transitions, William Taylor, is similarly positive towards the Brotherhood. His office even gave election training to Islamists in Egypt.
The relationships between these groups and law enforcement and intelligence agencies are particularly alarming. Administration officials, including Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder, have met with the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), over two dozen times. MPAC was founded by Muslim Brotherhood supporters and works in tandem with the other mentioned groups. On January 27-28, 2010, ISNA and a known Brotherhood front called the Muslim American Society joined MPAC in meeting with Napolitano and other DHS officials.
The influence of these groups became much greater after the controversy over the content of counter-terrorism training materials started. A complete review of the materials began with outside help and indeed, some of it was inappropriate. The desire to tame Muslim outrage led to an embrace of some of these Islamist groups who consistently misrepresent counter-terrorism practices, defame their critics as bigots and feed off of feelings of victimization and persecution.
In October 2011, the DHS and the National Counterterrorism center distributed guidelines on Countering Violent Extremism for law enforcement agencies to follow. It was cleansed of references to the Islamist ideology. An MPAC paper was one of only two non-governmental sources cited. The website of Sheriff Lee Baca, a prominent ally of CAIR and similar groups, was also used. This is to be expected considering who is in the DHS Countering Violent Extremism Working Group.
On February 8, FBI Director Robert Mueller met with an interfaith group that included ISNA and MPAC. The FBI confirmed afterwards that it would consider a proposal by the attendees to establish a committee to oversee the review of counter-terrorism training materials. Even now, the FBI will not say who the three experts on Islam guiding the review are.
The Chicago Police Superintendent, Garry McCarthy, spoke at a CAIR fundraiser in March. As mentioned before, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca is a huge supporter of the Brotherhood-tied groups and was honored by CAIR. The Los Angeles Police Department’s Commanding Officer of the Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau, Deputy Chief Michael Downing, even outrageously said at an event with MPAC that “the message is not to demonize the Brotherhood” because it has “evolved and changed.”
The case of Kifah Mustapha highlights how bad things are. He was personally designated by the federal government as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the Holy Land trial because he is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s secret “Palestine Committee” set up in the U.S. to covertly assist Hamas. The documentation of his extremism is irrefutable. Still, he was able to go on a six-week tour of sensitive FBI facilities where he, as you probably assumed, asked tons of questions about counter-terrorism procedures.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. The “Muslim Brotherhood in America” course spends an enormous amount of time on how this is a bi-partisan problem that became much worse under the Bush Administration. Today, Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (see here and here) and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham serve as good examples. The problem extends to state and local governments, such as the Illinois Governor’s Muslim American Advisory Council that includes officials from Brotherhood groups.
It also goes beyond the government. Islamist influence, facilitated by political correctness, is present in our education system. Those concerned about this issue are often mocked, dismissed, misquoted and misrepresented in the media. One stunning example of Hollywood’s role is how the producer of the hit films, The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings, brought onboard Shiekh Yousef al-Qaradawi, a top terrorism-supporting cleric, as an advisor for his film about Mohammed.
The laudable desire to reach out to the Muslim community too often results in an overlooking of backgrounds. Best Buy, for example, is being boycotted by over 12,000 people for its donations to CAIR. ISNA sponsors interfaith events with Boy Scouts. Interfaith groups like Shoulder-to-Shoulder team up with these same groups. One group whose extremism is far less muted, called Muslims of the Americas, has set up a front called the United Muslim Christian Forum that has won endorsements from Christian preachers and officials like the mayors of Binghamton, NY and Owego, NY.
This type of outreach is bound to fail because these Islamist groups thrive off of telling Muslims that they are persecuted and should be in a state of fear and they don’t counter the ideology of Political Islam. The British government concluded that its own outreach efforts failed miserably because of the liaisons they chose. These Brotherhood derivatives claim to be the representatives of the American-Muslim community, but a Gallup poll found that that most Muslims think differently. We shouldn’t feel that we need these groups’ approval in order to successfully work with the Muslim community.
The five members of Congress who wrote these letters are going to be vilified, cast as “Islamophobes” buying into a wild conspiracy theory. The Islamists’ allies in the media and government will repeat their talking points, ever so eager to pride themselves as the defenders of an attacked minority. I personally experienced this when I tried to speak out at a planning board hearing about a pro-Hamas imam in my area and a local reporter said I wanted to “make comments about Muslims” even though she had no way of knowing what my intention was because I wasn’t permitted to speak and she never talked to me before writing her report.
These investigations must happen. The information in this article and in the “Muslim Brotherhood in America” course only comes from publicly-available information. What is happening behind closed doors in a comforting atmosphere of secrecy?