Group Issues Report On Changing Relations With Muslim World

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A press release from the Leadership Group of the U.S.-Muslim Engagement Project has announced the release of its report entitled ” entitled Changing Course: A New Direction for U.S. Relations with the Muslim World. ” According to the announcement:

Today at the National Press Club, the bipartisan Leadership Group of the U.S.-Muslim Engagement Project released its report entitled Changing Course: A New Direction for U.S. Relations with the Muslim World. The report argues that the Global War on Terror has been an inadequate framework for improving our security and preventing future 9/11s. It proposes a comprehensive strategy with concrete actions to reverse extremism, increase U.S. and international security and improve U.S. relations with Muslim countries and communities. The report also calls upon Muslim leaders to take reciprocal steps to improve relations….The report asserts that the much-publicized debate between the United States and the Muslim world is not as deep or irreconcilable as many believe. Policies and actions — not a clash of civilizations — are at the root of these tensions….At the core of the strategy is a “four pillar approach.” Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright explained, “The key to moderating extremism is a comprehensive policy that addresses the main sources of tension. Together with partners in the Muslim world, we should employ diplomacy to reduce conflict, technical assistance to improve governance, economic help to create jobs, and dialogue to build mutual respect and understanding.”

Some of the more prominent/significant members of the Leadership Group include:

  • Madeleine Albright (former Secretary of State)
  • Richard Armitage (former Deputy Secretary of State)
  • Dennis Ross (former Mideast negotiator)
  • Ingrid Mattson (President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA))
  • Dalia Mogahed (Executive Director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies)
  • Ahmed Younis (Gallup Center and former official of the Muslim Public Affairs Council)

The report issued by the Leadership group contains the following statement sub-titled “The Drivers of Extremism”:

Only a tiny minority of Muslims is involved in violence against the U.S. and its allies. The extremists’ ability to recruit, operate, and inflict harm depends on a more widespread set of active and passive supporters. In many Muslim majority countries, that support is driven by deep-seated frustration with poor governance, constraints on political activity, and lack of economic opportunity. The United States is not directly responsible for those conditions and frustrations, but many Muslims see the U.S. as complicit, believing that is has supported ineffective and corrupt governments in their countries as a way to meet U.S. geopolitical and economic interests. Their anger is compounded by their sense that U.S. has favored Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians, and has exercised a “double standard” on democracy, calling for reforms in the Muslim world while continuing to support repressive governments in allied Muslim countries. Since the invasion of Iraq, many Muslims have also come to believe that the U.S. seeks to dominate Muslim countries by force. Efforts by the U.S government, private leaders and organizations to change those perceptions have had limited effect.

The announcement of the report cites one of the Leadership Group’s members who says that the report will “help to reverse the widespread perception among Muslims around the world that the United States is engaged in a ‘war on Islam.”

However the presence of Mattson, Mogahed, and Younis in the Leadership group raises questions about the this analysis. All three are linked to the global Muslim Brotherhood and/or Saudi Arabia whose leaders, organizations, and media have contributed greatly to the perceptions in Muslim countries described above. Ahmed Younis was previously a National Director for the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), a U.S. organization whose founders likely had origins in the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Founded in 1988, MPAC has acted in concert and in coalitions with the other organizations comprising the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and has consistently portrayed the U.S. counter-terrorism effort as directed against Muslims and claimed that U.S. Muslims are the victims or organized campaigns of hate and discrimination, often identifying the U.S. Jewish community as responsible.

Dalia Mogahed is the executive director of Muslim studies for the Gallup Organization. She was identified in 2004 as the Outreach Coordinator for the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh (ICP), an organization which preliminary research indicates may have a relationship with the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. In addition, there are also indications that ICP is under scrutiny by federal authorities. The ICP cofounder recently lost a DOE security clearance in a case still under investigation and the ICP Imam will probably be deported on immigration violations. Ms. Mogahed is also the co-author of a book with called “who Speaks for Islam” with Georgetown academic John Esposito who has has served on the advisory boards of Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas-linked organizations such as the Institute of Islamic Political Thought in the U.K. and the United Association for Studies and Research in the U.S. and has defended global Muslim Brotherhood leaders such as Youssef Qaradawi. Saudi prince Alaweed bin Talal donated $20 million to the Center for Muslim Christian Understanding at Georgetown, headed by Dr. Esposito.

Ingrid Mattson is the President of the ISNA is part of the U.S. Brotherhood and which has a long history of support for fundamentalism, antisemitism, and terrorism.

While a full analysis of the Leadership Group report would be necessary to draw definitive conclusions, the presence of these three individuals as part of the Leadership Group raises the strong possibility that the effort is yet another stalking horse for redirecting U.S. support to the political Islamists represented by the global Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters as a means to fight Al Qaeda. This wisdom of this approach was questioned in a previous post.

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