The Investigative Project has reported on significant gaps in knowledge about the global Muslim Brotherhood on the part of Georgetown academic John Esposito, perhaps the best known U.S. academic supporter of the Brotherhood. According to the report Esposito, testifying in the retrial of the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing case, was unaware of the connections between the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Holy Land Foundations, and Hamas and was unable to recall his last meeting with CAIR even though it was only three months ago:
When officials at the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) spoke of jihad, or the need to support Palestinian mujahideen, they weren’t necessarily endorsing violence. And when they praised Hamas and brought in leaders of the designated terrorist group to speak at fundraisers, they weren’t necessarily providing support. That was the message John Esposito, a Georgetown University professor of Religion and International Affairs and director of the university’s Saudi-funded Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding told jurors in HLF’s terror support trial Monday. Esposito was called as an expert witness to explain that some of the strident language jurors have heard coming from Holy Land officials may have a different, more benign meaning. The men are accused of illegally providing millions of dollars to Hamas through a series of Palestinian charities. Donating to charity is sacred in Islam, one of the five pillars of the faith, Esposito said. But on cross examination, Esposito either didn’t remember or didn’t know about documented links between HLF and other groups he has worked with and Hamas. One of those groups is the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). When asked by defense attorney Nancy Hollander if he was familiar with CAIR, Esposito described it as a “religious-oriented mainstream group” that worked on issues of discrimination against Muslims. He confirmed he had over a period of time met with senior CAIR officials, including Nihad Awad, Ibrahim Hooper, and “another person based in California in the Bay area.” That person, he later said, turned out to be CAIR co-founder and chairman emeritus Omar Ahmad. CAIR is an unindicted co-conspirator in the HLF case. In his cross examination by federal prosecutor James Jacks, Esposito said that he had attended a handful of CAIR events in the past 15 years. But he struggled to identify the last time he attended a CAIR event. It was three months ago in Dallas, Jacks said. He’s also scheduled to speak at a CAIR fundraiser in Tampa later this month. Although Esposito was a featured speaker at the Dallas event in August, he said he was unaware that the funds raised at the event went to the Muslim Legal Defense Fund, a nonprofit group set up to raise money to pay defense attorney’s fees in the HLF trial. That wasn’t his only appearance at a Dallas CAIR event. A year earlier, Esposito offered his wholehearted support for CAIR and its wishes to see the defendants set free in the HLF case, “Let me begin by saying that CAIR is a phenomenal organization….The main reason I decided to come was because of how I see the situation with regard to both the Holy Land Fund and the way government recently handled the situation and also to show solidarity not only with the Holy Land Fund, but also with CAIR.”
CAIR is an important part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood that had its origins in the Hamas infrastructure in the U.S.
The report goes on to note that Esposito, despite describing himself as a “Muslim Brotherhood expert” could not identify the Egyptian Brotherhood’s motto and appeared to deny that global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi was antisemitic. Also, despite Esposito’s position on the board of the publication of the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR), he claimed to be unaware of the connection between the UASR director and Hamas even though those connections had been raised by the media since at least August 1995.
The report goes on to note Esposito’s lack of knowledge concerning the recently released memo of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood calling for the destruction of Western civilization
Esposito and Jacks differed significantly on the structure of the Muslim Brotherhood. Jacks asked if the Islamist movement had a defined hierarchical structure, with spiritual guides. Esposito said that the Muslim Brotherhood exists in a number of countries but is “not a centrally organized, top down organization” as claimed by Jacks. In response to Jacks’ question whether the global Islamist movement sought to establish a worldwide Islamic state, Esposito said that the Muslim Brotherhood aspires to establish Islamic law in “only those places where you have Muslim populations.” Jacks showed Esposito an internal Palestine Committee memo from 1991 outlining “the General Strategic Goal for the Group in America” and asked Esposito whether he was familiar with the document. Esposito said he had “read the document but had not done an analysis of it or studied it.” Jacks then read out the section on page 21, describing the Muslim Brotherhood’s role in America as a “Civilization-Jihadist process… eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” Esposito said he didn’t remember reading that section in the document. He then challenged the memo’s authenticity, saying “We do no know the source” but became silent when Jacks pointed out the author’s names appears on it. The author, Mohamed Akram was listed on the document and Akram was a member of UASR, Jacks said
Esposito, the head of Georgetown’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, has been a long-time supporter of the global Muslim Brotherhood and has espoused views consistent with Brotherhood doctrine. He has served on the advisory boards of Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas-linked organizations such as the Institute of Islamic Political Thought in the U.K, enjoyed a close relationship with 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.