George Washington University academic Marc Lynch has written an article for Foreign Policy blog in which he appears to charge the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily report with writing a “hit piece” on Rashad Hussain as part of he calls a smear campaign against Rashad Hussain, the new U.S. envoy to the Organization of Islamic Conference. Mr Hussain has recently been at the center of a controversy involving remarks he made as a Yale law student in 2004 that accuse the U.S. of “politically-motivated persecutions” of Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Sami Al-Arian and other terrorists. According to Dr. Lynch’s article:
Rashad Hussain’s appointment as the Obama administration’s envoy to the Organization of Islamic Countries, part of the broader strategy of outreach to the Muslim world, was as welcome as it was overdue. Hussain, a lawyer who had been working in the White House counsel’s office and also working with the NSC on Muslim engagement, seemed an excellent pick. The announcement in Doha showed a renewed sense of urgency about delivering on the promise of Obama’s Cairo speech to the Muslim world. It is good to see a Muslim appointed to such a position. After the failed Christmas bombing most would agree that the task of combatting violent extremism is as urgent a national security priority as ever. But then, an all-too-familiar script began to play out. A paper-thin but insinuation-heavy hit piece laid out the template for a rapidly unfolding smear campaign: damning him by association for appearances at various events sponsored by Muslim organizations, for being on the “wrong” side of a number of controversial trials of Muslims (as if there were only one legitimate perspective on those hotly contested issues), and of allegedly doctoring the record of comments about Sami al-Arian.
Although the GMBDW is not identified by name, hindering any attempt by readers to verify the accuracy of Dr. Lynch’s characterization, we assume that the GMBDW is the publication in question as we were the first source to report on Mr. Hussain’s history of contact with U.S. Muslim Brotherhood organizations as well as his comments on the prosecution of Sami Al-Arian.
Dr. Lynch’s attack on the GMBR can be parsed into three components, that we “damned” Mr. Hussain:
1) By association
This was a charge also leveled at the GMBDW by another 2008 Foreign Policy piece in the case of Mazen Asbahi, then candidate Obama’s choice for Muslim outreach coordinator who was found by the GMBDW to have a number of ties to the U.S.Muslim Brotherhood. We responded at that time to the charge of “guilt by association” in a subsequent post which noted that given the essentially covert nature of the global Muslim Brotherhood:
Researchers and investigators relying mainly on open source information are required to employ a variety of techniques in order to ferret out the activities and structure of the global Muslim Brotherhood. One of the most useful of these techniques is cataloging the various organizations and their leaders and noting the interactions among them. In carrying out such analysis over time, it soon becomes clear that the Brotherhood networks are relatively closed and that such networks rarely include individuals who are not already known to be Brotherhood affiliated. Therefore, when vetting a given individual, their ties to known Brotherhood organizations are strongly presumptive of ties to the the Brotherhood itself. Of course, there is a great deal of other information to be considered and the presumption of Brotherhood affiliation becomes stronger given a greater number of links and the greater duration of those links.
With regard to Mr. Hussain, Dr. Lynch writes that were “damning him by association for appearances at various events sponsored by Muslim organizations.” On the contrary, these were not simply “Muslim organizations” but rather important U.S. Muslim Brotherhood organizations- the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS), the American Muslim Council (AMC), the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), and the May 2009 Leadership Summit sponsored and attended by numerous U.S. Brotherhood organizations and individuals and attended by Mr. Hussain after he became White House counsel. Noting multiple speaking appearances at Brotherhood-related events is one, but only one, means by which ties to or association with the U.S. Brotherhood can be aassessed.
2) For being on the wrong side of the Al-Arian Trial
Dr. Lynch writes that the GMBDW damned Mr. Hussain for “for being on the ‘wrong’ side of a number of controversial trials of Muslims.” In fact, we simply reported his comments on the Sami Al-Arian trial as documented in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (WRMEA) who said that Mr. Hussain had labeled Mr. Al-Arian’s trial as an example of “politically motivated persecution.” Since the defense of Mr. Al-Arian, a leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, is a cause celebre for the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood, we felt these statements should be included along with Mr. Hussain’s speaking appearances at U.S. Brotherhood events.
3) For allegedly doctoring the record of comments about Sami al-Arian.
We made no such allegation. We noted only that the offending sentences had been removed from the WRMEA sometime after October 2007. As later reported by other media, it turns out that Mr. Hussain did approach the WRMEA to complain about the “lack of context” in their article and that the WRMEA, probably around the time that Mr. Hussain was appointed to his White House position, removed the offending sentences attempting to blame the original author of the article for confusing Mr.Hussain with Laila Al-Arian, the daughter of Sami Al-Arian.
In further support of Mr. Hussain, Dr. Lynch also writes:
In a Brookings paper published in 2008, Hussain wrote that “[T]he terrorist ideology is advocated by small, fringe groups and rejected by a vast majority of Muslims . . . as American policymakers and leaders have recognized, Islam rejects terrorism.” He argued that “there exists a near-unanimous, overwhelmingly accepted view among Islamic scholars rejecting terrorism and the practice of takfir to justify terrorism.
This statement is inaccurate. It would be more correct to say that most Islamic scholars, at least the ones with the greatest visibility such as global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi, extol the doctrine of defensive jihad which holds that armed violence, including suicide bombings, is justified where Muslim lives, land, and/or honor are deemed to be under attack. Only yesterday Qaradawi, probably the most popular Islamic scholar in the world today and a leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood, reiterated his supported for suicide bombings in Israel.
We stand by the factual accuracy of our reporting on Mr. Hussain which we consider to be well within our mandate of monitoring the global Muslim Brotherhood and, in this case, its relationship to the U.S. government. At no time did we “insinuate” anything about him, only reporting his activities vis a vis the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. We accept no responsibility for how other media use our material or the conclusions they may draw from what we report. We emphatically repeat that we do not “target” or conduct campaigns against any individual or organization nor do we have any relationship with other media reporting on this subject.
We should note, however, that we have reported on Dr. Lynch’s seemingly sympathetic position toward the Muslim Brotherhood which includes extensive discussions with Brotherhood leaders in Egypt. Dr. Lynch’s visit was heavily promoted on the Egytpain Brotherhood web site.