According to the website of the Center for the Study Of Islam and Democracy (CSID), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to give the keynote address at the organization’s 10th annual conference on May 5. Also scheduled to attend the conference as a panelist and//or moderator is Dr. Kemal Al-Helbawy, a leader in the global Muslim Brotherhood who has defended the terrorist targeting of Israeli children and who in 1996 was denied entrance into the U.S.
CSID was founded in 1998 largely by the efforts of Georgetown University academic Dr. Esposito who, during the 1990’s, had served in the State Department as a “foreign affairs analyst.” Many members of the early CSID board were associated with the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), the American Muslim Council, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). For example, past CSID board members included Jamal Barzinji and Taha Al-Alwani, both important Brotherhood leaders who are closely associated with the now defunct SAAR Foundation, still under investigation by the U.S. government. Both Barzinji and Al-Alwani helped to establish many of the most important U.S. Brotherhood organizations. The current CSID Vice-Chair, Antony Sullivan, has many ties to U.S. Brotherhood groups including the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS), the United Association for Studies and Research (USAR), and the Circle of Tradition and Progress (COTP), a group whose other founding members included Youssef Qaradawi, the most important leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood. From its inception, CSID has argued that the U.S. government should support Islamist movements in foreign countries and has received financial support from the National Endowment for Democracy and the United States Institute of Peace.
Dr. Esposito, who will also be attending the conference, has been a long-time supporter of the global Muslim Brotherhood and has espoused views consistent with Brotherhood doctrine. During the 1990’s was known for his claims that Islamic fundamentalism was, in fact, democratic and posed no threat to the U.S. Dr. Esposito has at least a dozen past or present affiliations with global Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas organizations including having served on the advisory boards of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought in the U.K. and the United Association for Studies and Research in the U.S. and has served with global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi on the Steering Committee of the Circle of Tradition and Progress. In 2005, Saudi prince Alaweed bin Talal, a financial supporter of the global Muslim Brotherhood donated $20 million to the Center for Muslim Christian Understanding at Georgetown, headed by Dr. Esposito.
According to his own CV, Dr. Al-Helbawy (aka Helbawi) was the past European spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood; one of the founders of the World Assembly For Muslim Youth (WAMY), a Saudi religious organization closely tied to the global Brotherhood; and also one of the founders of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), a leading U.K. Muslim Brotherhood group. He is currently the director of the London-based Center for the Study of Terrorism (CFSOT) which purports to be a think-tank. In October, El-Helbawy defended the terrorist targeting of Israeli children on the grounds that they were “future soldiers.” A previous post discussed speculation that Dr. Helbawy was currently under consideration as a replacement for the Supreme Guide of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. In October 2006, the U.S. government prevented Dr. Al-Helbawy from attending a New York University Law School conference on the Muslim Brotherhood.
Other prominent individuals scheduled to take part in the CSID conference include:
- Ambassador George Mitchell (U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East)
- Ambassador Richard Holbrooke (U.S. Special Envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan)
- Congressman Keith Ellison (First U.S Muslim Congressman)