Now that the furor has died down over the resignation of Mazen Asbahi, the former Obama campaign Muslim outreach coordinator, it may be instructive to take an overall view of the question of his ties to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. Unfortunately, the larger question of these ties has gotten lost in the media focus only on his membership on the board of a Brotherhood organization where an imam of a mosque implicated in Brotherhood/Hamas support activities also served. Further confusing this issue is the spin pushed by the U.S. Brotherhood itself which has claimed that Asbahi’s service on the board of Allied Asset Advisers is being used to “smear” Mr. Asbahi. What then is actually know about Mr Asbahi himself?
According to a local media account, Mr. Asbahi, the son of immigrants from Syria, grew up in Northville Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. He attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1996, graduating with a degree in political science and Islamic studies, followed by Northwestern University law school and then became an attorney in Chicago. Left out of this account is Mr. Asbahi’s role as a leader of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at the University of Michigan as discussed in an earlier post. In 2000, probably while still in law school or shortly after graduation, he joined the board of Allied Asset Advisers as a trustee. As the original post on Mr. Asbahi detailed, Allied Assets Advisers is a subsidiary of the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), in turn a part of the U.S Muslim Brotherhood and associated with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). NAIT was instrumental in the early development of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and is the current title holder to a very large number of U.S. mosques and Islamic facilities. As this post also observed, the other five Allied trustees were all important leaders of the U.S Muslim Brotherhood including not only Jamal Said, the imam in question, but also four others, two of which have been identified in court documents and internal Brotherhood documents as part of the U.S. Brotherhood.
Mr. Asbahi has been widely quoted as stating that he resigned from the Allied board when learning about the allegations against Mr. Said whose mosque was later implicated by a Chicago Tribune investigation in activities related to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. While no documentation has been produced to support his stated reasons for resignation, even taking Mr. Asbahi’s explanation at face value raises an even more important question which no journalist has yet thought to raise. How does a 24/25 year old law student or newly-minted lawyer come to be awarded fiduciary responsibility for a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood financial organization along with five other nationally known U.S. Brotherhood leaders? While part of the answer may lie in Mr. Asbahi’s leadership in the Muslim Student Association, experience with the Brotherhood suggest that family connections could also be a fruitful area for investigation.
It should also be repeated that Mr Asbahi went on to join four other organizations with connections to the U.S. Brotherhood. Three of these have been discussed in earlier posts to which a fourth, can be added– the Nawawi Foundation, an Illinois organization that also has Ingrid Mattson, the current ISNA president on its board. Mr Asbahi’s history of service to U.S. Brotherhood linked organizations and his close proximity to U.S. Brotherhood leaders along with his fiduciary responsibility for a Brotherhood financial organization strongly suggest that the question of Mr. Asbahi’s ties to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood was and remains an important issue to examine in connection with an adviser to a U.S. Presidential candidate.