EXCLUSIVE: New Obama Envoy Has History Of Engagement With U.S. Muslim Brotherhood; Called Al-Arian Case "Politically Motivated Persecution"By
Rashad Hussein, White House official and President Obama’s newly appointed Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Conference, has a history of participation in events connected with the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood as well as support for Brotherhood causes, once having called prosecution of the U.S. leader of a Palestinian terrorist organization one of many “politically motivated persecutions.” Mr. Hussain’s official biography states:
Rashad Hussain is presently Deputy Associate Counsel to President Obama. His work at the White House focuses on national security, new media, and science and technology issues. Mr. Hussain has also worked with the National Security Staff in pursuing the New Beginning that President Obama outlined in his June 2009 address in Cairo, Egypt. Mr. Hussain previously served as a Trial Attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice. Earlier in his career, Mr. Hussain was a legislative assistant on the House Judiciary Committee, where he focused on national security-related issues. Mr. Hussain received his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal. Upon graduation, he served as a Law Clerk to Damon J. Keith on the U.S. Court of Appeals. Mr. Hussain also earned his Master’s degrees in Public Administration (Kennedy School of Government) and Arabic and Islamic Studies from Harvard University. He attended college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
However, in October 2000 Mr. Hussain spoke at a conference sponsored by the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS) and the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University (CMCU). The conference was titled “Islam, Pluralism, and Demoracy and featured many leaders of the global Muslim Brotherhood including former German diplomat Murad Hoffman, and International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) leaders Louay Safi, Jamal Barzinji, Hisham Al-Talib, and AbdulHamid AbuSulayman. The AMSS was founded in 1972 as an outgrowth of the Muslim Student Association and has long been associated with the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.
In June 2002, Mr. Hussain was listed as part of a Congressional Staffers panel at the American Muslim Council’s (AMC) 11th annual convention. The AMC was headed at that time headed by Abdurahman Alamoudi, a leader in the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and currently imprisoned as part of a plot to assassinate the Saudi head of state, Crown Prince Abdullah. Other important leaders of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood such as Jamal Barzinji were also part of the AMC.
While at Yale Law School, Mr. Hussain was listed as part of the organizing committee for an April 2004 conference organized by a student organization known as the Critical Islamic Reflections (CIR) group. Among the CIR sponsors listed on the their web site was IIIT and the Fairfax Institute, the IIIT educational arm. IIIT is an important component of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and three of the key IIIT/Fairfax leaders Jamal Barzinji, Hisham Al-Talib, and Yaqub Mirza; were also associated with what has been called the SAAR network (Safa Group), a network of Islamic organizations located in Northern Virginia that was raided by the Federal government in March 2002 and which, until at least mid 2007, had been the subject of an ongoing investigation. Also listed as a CIR sponsor was ALIM, most likely referring to the American Learning Institute for Muslims and whose list of instructors includes some of the most important leaders of the U.S./global Muslim Brotherhood including Tariq Ramadan, Jamal Badawi, and Taha Al-Alwani.
In September 2004, while still a Yale law student, Mr. Hussain participated in a session at the annual conference of the Muslim Student’s Association (MSA) of the U.S. and Canada. The MSA has long been associated with the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and at the session, Mr. Hussain appeared along side the daughter of Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Sami Al-Arian and labeled Al-Arian’s prosecution “politically motivated persecution.” According to an archived notice in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs:
A session on civil rights called “Get up, Stand up; Stand up for your Rights: The State of Contemporary Civil Liberties” was held Sept. 5 at the annual conference for the Muslim Students Association of the United States and Canada, held alongside the Islamic Society of North America’s 41st annual convention in Chicago. Laila Al-Arian, daughter of civil and political rights activist and Muslim leader Sami Al-Arian, opened the session with her father’s story. She gave a heart-wrenching, emotional account of an innocent man targeted for free-speech activities, whose rights were stripped thanks in part to the PATRIOT Act. Al-Arian, who has not yet been to trial, has been held in a federal penitentiary for over a year and a half. Al-Arian’s situation is one of many “politically motivated persecutions,” claimed Rashad Hussain, a Yale law student. Such persecution, he stated, must be fought through hope, faith, and the Muslim vote…..Along with many others, said Yale’s Hussain, Dr. Sami Al-Arian has been “used politically to squash dissent.” The Muslim community must speak out against the injustices taking place in America, he emphasized. Otherwise, everyone’s rights will be in jeopardy.
In 2006, Al-Arian was sentenced to 57 months in prison for conspiring to violate a federal law that prohibits making or receiving contributions of funds, goods or services to, or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Defense of Al-Arian and accusations of politically-motivated prosecution has been a long-time U.S. Muslim Brotherhood cause.
In May 2009, Mr. Hussain was one of the speakers a Leadership Summit of the Council for Advancement of Muslim Professionals (CAMP). Many of the sponsoring organizations of that event are tied to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood including Islamic Relief, Amana Mutual Funds, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.
It should also be noted that in August 2008, Mr. Hussein published a paper titled “Reformulating the Battle of ideas: Understanding the Role of Islam in Counterterrorism Policy.” Although a full analysis of this paper is beyond the scope of this post, it should be noted that many of the recommendations match the agenda also being pushed by the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood including:
- “Policymakers should reject the use of language that provides a religious legitimization of terrorism such as ‘Islamic terrorism’ and ‘Islamic extremist.’ They should replace such terminology with more specific and descriptive terms such as “Al-Qaeda terrorism.” Controlling counter-terrorism language has been a long-standing effort of the U.S. Brotherhood.
- “The United States should welcome and encourage the further development of mainstream Muslim organizations and moderate institutions.” As an example, the paper references the work of the Fiqh Council of North America, a part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.
- “The primary cause of broad-based anger and anti-Americanism is not a clash of civilizations but the perceived effect of U.S. foreign policy in the Muslim world.” Linking terrorism to U.S. foreign policy and “legitimate grievances” has been another longtime goal of the U.S. Brotherhood.
In August 2008, the Obama campaign Muslim outreach adviser Mazen Asbahi resigned after the Wall Street Journal disclosed his U.S. Muslim Brotherhood ties based on information developed by the GMDR. Another post has discussed the background of Dalia Mogahed, one of two U.S. Muslims appointed to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Ms. Mogahed’s background also suggests ties to the global Muslim Brotherhood.
(Additional Source: “AMC’s 11th Annual Convention Set to Begin June 27th–Convention Program Included” accessed 7/21/2003 (no longer available)