A local media article defending the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) provides an opportunity to examine how the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood manipulates the media in its own interests. According to an article carried on the Indianapolis Star website:
But ISNA isn’t without its detractors. It has been a frequent target of attacks from bloggers and authors who specialize in criticizing Muslim groups. Last month, author and frequent ISNA critic Steven Emerson testified before a House subcommittee that FBI investigations in the 1980s linked ISNA to members of the Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist group with a violent past. Last year, federal prosecutors in a Texas terrorism case referred to ISNA in court documents as an unindicted co-conspirator. ISNA has long denied any involvement with covert or illegal activity. It says it is not part of the Muslim Brotherhood and is suing to get the co-conspirator reference expunged from court documents. It has signed off on declarations calling terrorism un-Islamic, built partnerships with Jewish groups and worked with the State Department, Homeland Security and the FBI as they seek to get Muslim help in fighting terrorism. ISNA representatives have even visited the White House and received visits from top administration officials, including former Bush adviser Karen Hughes. Mattson said the lingering criticism of ISNA is similar to the campaign of innuendo about Obama’s Muslim roots. She and other Muslims have long been convinced that Obama is not a Muslim and never has been. But that hasn’t stopped the rumors. “They use this same kind of guilt by association and remote linking to individuals through others, raising questions that have no basis in fact,” she said. “It shows, unfortunately, how deeply embedded fear of Muslims is in much of society.”
The article opens by repeating a ubiquitous U.S. Muslim Brotherhood theme- that is is a “target” of individuals and groups who “specialize in criticizing Muslim groups.” Since this is a claim also levied against the GMBDW, we can answer with authority that this publication in no way specializes in criticizing “Muslim Groups.” Rather, we specialize in criticizing U.S. Muslim Brotherhood groups and, as any reader can verify for themselves, have never even once mentioned any other Muslim organizations. By conflating the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood groups with all Muslims organizations, the journalist promotes one of the most important efforts of the U.S. Brotherhood, that it is the sole legitimate representatives of U.S. Muslims. This is not to deny that Muslims and their representatives are sometimes the subject of racist attacks in some quarters but, by and large, the criticism directed at ISNA centers on its connections to the Brotherhood rather than in its Islamic character per se.
Next the author argues that ISNA has “signed off on declarations calling terrorism un-Islamic, built partnerships with Jewish groups” and worked with a variety of U.S. government agencies- all true. However, ISNA appears to have pursued these activities not out of ethical principles but rather as tactical devices designed to enhance its credibility. The terrorism declaration was likely the fatwa developed by its own Fatwa Council (FCNA) that made no statement about terrorism whatsoever until well after 911. The fatwa that FCNA issued was many years late, vague, and left important terms undefined. Also, many FCNA members including its most important members, have a problematic relationship with terrorism with a record of providing ideological, organization, and fundraising support, mainly for Palestinian terrorism. It should also be noted that technical contact for the FCNA domain at one time was listed as Bayan Elashi of InfoCom, both convicted of funding Hamas. FCNA has also acknowledged its relation to its European counterpart, the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), headed by global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi who issued theological rulings supporting terrorism in Israel and attacks on coalition forces in Iraq.
Previous posts have discussed the relationship between ISNA and a large Reform Jewish organization. Only the representatives of that organization can speak to their reasons for such a partnership, but it should be noted that the global Muslim Brotherhood has a long history of interfaith activities which has never precluded their support for anti-semitism and for Hamas and other terrorism in Israel. As for the relationship between ISNA and the U.S. government agencies, this effort has been led by the State Department which appears to have made the decision to ignore ISNA’s record in an effort enlist support overseas in the fight against Al Qaeda. Senate hearings have recently been held in an effort to stop the State Department program.ISNA and other U.S. Brotherhood organizations frequently trumpet their interactions with the U.s. government as proof of their “moderation” while at the same time complaining that they are “shut out” of government.
Finally, the newspaper article cites ISNA President Mattson’s statements about ” guilt by association and remote linking to individuals.” This charge was extensively discussed in a recent post that explained the necessity of “linking” as a way of establishing the Muslim Brotherhood affiliation of groups which are part of a covert network that never acknowledges ties to the global Brotherhood. The fact that Mattson attributes this analysis to “fear of Muslims” reveals that she either is not aware of the nature of the global Muslim Brotherhood or has chosen to be complicit in this disingenuous defense.
ISNA has a long and documented history of support for fundamentalism, anti-Semitism, and terrorism that has continued until recent times and which has never been acknowledged by any of its leaders including Ingrid Mattson. It is that record which its the root of the criticism directed at the organization which has enlisted the aid of journalists, academics, and others who often employ the themes discussed above.