A local media report contains the first known response of the U.S Muslim Brotherhood to the documents released in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial. As previous posts have detailed, these documents reveal an elaborate and covert structure of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S. that include memos discussing the destruction of Western society. The documents appear to link important leaders of the Muslim American Society (MAS) to this structure. The MAS had been a less well-known part of the Muslim Brotherhood network in the U.S. until the Chicago Tribune did a feature story on the group in September 2004 that identified the group as part of the Brotherhood. In the new media report, MAS leaders disavow the documents and appear to try and shift the onus onto unspecified and earlier “radicals” and immigrants, claiming that the MAS was formed as an alternative to the views expressed in the documents:
Esam Omeish, president of the Virginia-based Muslim American Society, or MAS, says the documents introduced in the Holy Land trial are full of “abhorrent statements and are in direct conflict of the very principles of our Islam.” “The Muslim community in America wishes to contribute positively to the continued success and greatness of our civilization,” Dr. Omeish said. “The ethics of tolerance and inclusion are the very tenets that MAS was based on from its inception.” His group, formed in 1993, is thought by many to be the Brotherhood’s current incarnation in the U.S., although he and other MAS leaders say their group formed as an alternative to radicalism. “MAS is not the Muslim Brotherhood,” Dr. Omeish said. The society “grew out of a history of Islamic activism in the U.S. when the Muslim Brotherhood once existed but has a different intellectual paradigm and outlook.”
Another MAS leader concurs, adding the common Brotherhood charge that criticism of the Brotherhood is led by “Islamaphobes”:
Mahdi Bray, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Muslim American Society’s Freedom Foundation, which promotes Muslim civil rights, called the Holy Land documents “a throwback.” He has attended portions of the Holy Land trial.”If those documents talk about the establishing of Shariah law in America, I’m saying that’s a lot of hype: wishful thinking from an immigrant perspective. … It doesn’t reflect genuine American perspective in terms of where we’re heading,” Mr. Bray said.He said members of MAS decided in 1993, when the organization was founded, that they would pursue political and nonviolent tactics.”I wouldn’t be candid if I didn’t say there weren’t some old-timers who want to hold onto the old way, who say that this is the way the Ikhwan did it, this should be our model,” he said. “We said ‘So what? It doesn’t work here.’ We’ve been very adamant about that.”…Mr. Bray says that although his politics are controversial, he’s not anti-American.”Those on the right and many of those who I would classify as Islamophobes, many of them have failed to realize that there is an authentic American Muslim organization here and movement in America that wants to integrate,” he said. “We believe the ballot is an appropriate place to be.”He said that he “liked the Bill of Rights” and didn’t want to see the Constitution replaced with Islamic law.”There’s a maturation that’s taken place in the American Muslim community that’s either not understood, or understood but viewed as a threat to other interest groups in this country.”
These denials are consistent with past Muslim Brotherhood reaction to exposure and criticism which has been to deny any connection to extremism, radicalism, or terrorism and then to attempt to place the blame on unspecified forces acting against them.