The Congressional Quarterly has reported on the internal controversy within the Jamestown Foundation over the past role of Mahan Abedin, an Iranian born academic who previously edited the foundation’s publication known as the Terrorism Monitor. Following his departure from Jamestown, described in the report as ‘amicable”, Abedin became the research director for the Centre for the Study of Terrorism (CFSOT) in London, headed by long-time Muslim brotherhood leader Kemal Helbawy. The report states that at least three members of the Jamestown board have raised concerns about Abedin’s former role at the foundation stating:
Jamestown board member Diana Denman found the Helbawy connection sinister enough to suspect that Abedin’s present affiliation with the Centre for the Study of Terrorism could mean the Jamestown Foundation had been infiltrated by Islamists. “Some of us on the board have been addressing our vetting process,” mindful of the “skilled influence the enemy can have over our leadership,” she explained in an e-mail. According to one knowledgeable observer, the speculative worry grows out of interviews and pieces published in the Terrorism Monitor expressing views hostile to Western-style democratic reforms. Denman’s fellow board member Alfred S. Regnery, publisher of the conservative American Spectator, says he’s likewise concerned that the foundation isn’t “hoodwinked into using a writer or editor who is not working for what we believe” given that “many Islamists” were “very sophisticated in their use of language and disinformation.”
The report goes on to say that the Jamestown president call the concerns “allegations” and cast doubt on their veracity by claiming:
if they were true, then Abedin would be the first ever Iranian Shia to be a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which by the way is primarily an Arab Sunni organization.
This comment fails to take into account instances where the Muslim Brotherhood has in fact cooperated with Shiite organizations and individuals such as the presence of Hassan Qazwini, a prominent American Shiite, who serves on the Fiqh Council of North America.
For his part, Abedin blames the controversy on “hysteria” and claims there is a “concerted campaign” against:
anyone who writes honestly about Islam-related issues since the early 1990s,’ he says, and he notes that recent talk of a tentative rapprochement with groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood is ‘one of the reasons for the hysteria.’