The Sixth Annual U.S.-Islamic World Forum which concluded last week included many leaders of the global Muslim Brotherhood as well as important current and former members of the U.S. Government. Sponsored by the Qatari foreign ministry and the Brookings Institution’s Saban Centre for Middle East Policy, the annual gathering is described on its website as:
The U.S.-Islamic World Forum is designed to bring together key leaders in the fields of politics, business, media, academia, and civil society from across the Muslim world and the United States. It seeks to address the critical issues dividing the United States and the Muslim world by providing a unique platform for frank dialogue, learning, and the development of positive partnerships between key leaders and opinion shapers from both sides. Now in its fifth year, the Forum has become the foremost meeting for positive cross-cultural engagement among leaders from the United States and the Muslim world. It also provides the foundation for a range of complementary activities designed to enhance the effectiveness of the dialogue. These include task forces and initiative workshops of policymakers and experts, as well as associated outreach, research, and publications. The Forum serves as both a convening body and catalyst for positive action. Its focus is on a dialogue that leads to the development of actionable programs for government, civil society, and the private sector.The Brookings Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World also seeks to convene follow-up conferences within other Muslim regions to address, in greater depth and breadth, the challenges confronting the United States and the Muslim world as a whole. In 2008, the Project will convene a regional forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This meeting will help establish a collaborative framework for U.S., Southeast Asian, and wider Muslim-world leaders and thinkers to gather and address issues of mutual concern.
The conference attendance list identified the following individuals associated with the global Muslim Brotherhood:
- Anwar Ibrahim (Malaysian opposition leader, International Institute of Islamic Thought)
- Tariq Ramadan (European Muslim Brotherhood leader)
- Jamal Barzinji (International Institute of Islamic Thought)
- Ahmed Younis (formerly Muslim Public Affairs Council)
- Sayyid Syeed (Islamic Society of North America)
- William Dean Webb (Muslim American Society)
- Dalia Mogahed (various ties to U.S. Muslim Brotherhood)
- Anas Ali (probably International Institute of Islamic Thought U.K.)
- Amina Rasul (possibly tied to Muslim Brotherhood in the Phillipines)
Interestingly, Barzinji and Ali were not identified as U.S. or U.K. participants or with IIIT but rather as associated with Malaysia and Anwar Ibrahim. Younis was listed as associated with the Doha Conference Center. Also attending was a representative of the Alwaleed bin Talal Foundation of Saudi Arabia, a major donor to groups linked to the global Muslim Brotherhood.
U.S. government officials of interest included:
- Madeline Albright (former Secretary of State)
- David Patreaus (head of U.S. Central Command)
- Keith Ellison (Congressman D-MN)
- Congressman Brian Baird (Congressman D-WA)
Numerous other individuals attended who were identified as part of the U.S. Central Command.
Shortly following the conclusion of the conference, Congressmen Ellison and Baird were reported to have visited Gaza on a trip not sanctioned by the U.S. Government and the first by U.S. Congressmen in years. Ellison is the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress and has associations with the Muslim American Society (MAS), established as the representative of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S.
It should also be noted that Albright, Younis, and Mogahed are members of the Leadership Group of the U.S.-Muslim Engagement Project, an organization that includes prominent members of the Clinton administration as well as from the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. As discussed in previous posts , the Leadership Group recently released a report whose recommendations, if adopted, would represent a significant advancement of the Muslim Brotherhood agenda in the U.S.
Time Magazine reported that this year’s conference was notable for the lack of anti-American rhetoric. According to the Time report:
At this year’s U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar, speaker after Muslim speaker had nothing particularly awful to say about the United States. The Muslims were, in fact, hopeful about, and slightly amazed by, the new American President. Some even wondered aloud what they could do to help him succeed. Anwar Ibrahim, the Malaysian opposition leader, listed the significant gestures that Obama had made toward the Islamic world, from the President’s interview with al-Arabiya television network to the appointment of George Mitchell as Middle East negotiator. Obama had even made reference to “a hadith, which is something not many Islamic leaders do!” Ibrahim added, referring to the sayings of the Prophet that are not included in the Koran. Then Ibrahim went further: “But will the U.S. find credible partners in the Muslim world? … How do we expect the President of the United States to solve our problems when we do nothing?”
Amina Rasul, identified above as a possible Muslim Brotherhood leader in the Philippines, also spoke glowingly of the conference:
Former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright, who spoke at the Doha Forum, must have been just as happy. She spoke of a world where ideas are hard to contain, where the path of dialogue is the right path. She stressed the responsibility of groups (or countries) defending their legitimate group interests without depriving others of their rights. Even the talk of General David Petraeus, commander of the US Central Command, reflected the shift to dialogue as he spoke of the strengthening of international security by strengthening networks in pursuit of common goals. He mentioned a security architecture that would include a leaders network, information sharing and training networks (designed with multilateral inputs).
As a previous post reported, delegates at the 2008 U.S. Islamic World Forum voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama in a mock election while Hillary Clinton and Republican candidates won only a handful of votes. Global Muslim Brotherhood leaders were also in attendance.