U.S. media is reporting that Ghassan Hitto, known to have been a leader in several U.S. Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas support organizations, has been elected by the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) as head of an interim government in Syria. According to an AP report:
ISTANBUL – Syria’s opposition coalition early Tuesday elected a little-known American-educated IT manager and Islamic activist to head an interim government to administer areas seized by rebel forces from President Bashar Assad’s troops. Ghassan Hitto received 35 votes out of 48 ballots cast by the opposition Syrian National Coalition’s 63 active members during a meeting in Istanbul. The results were read aloud by coalition member Hisham Marwa to applause from a few dozen of his colleagues who had waited until after 1 a.m. to hear the results. ‘I miss my wife and children and I look forward to seeing them soon,’ said Hitto, who has lived in the United States for decades and recently moved from Texas to Turkey to help coordinate aid to rebel-held areas. When asked what his interim government’s first priority would be, Hitto said he planned to give a speech later Tuesday outlining his plans……Hitto’s election follows two failed attempts to form interim governments due to opposition infighting. Coalition members also say they received insufficient international support to allow them to project their authority to groups inside Syria. …..Hitto did not receive a resounding mandate from the coalition, of which he is not a member. Of the group’s 63 active members, only 48 voted. Four cast blank ballots and Hitto received 35 of the remaining votes. Hitto was born in Damascus, the Syrian capital, in 1963, according to his official resume provided by the coalition. Little known in Syria, he has lived in the United States for more than two decades, most recently in Texas. He has academic degrees from Purdue University in Indiana and Indiana Wesleyan University. He worked for a number of different technology companies and helped run a Muslim private school called the Brighter Horizons Academy. He is also a founding member of the Muslim Legal Fund of America, which was founded to give legal aid to Muslims following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He is married with four children.
At least half of the Board of Directors of the Muslim Legal Fund (MFLA) is comprised of individuals who are leaders in U.S. Muslim Brotherhood organizations including the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Association of North Texas (IANT) which operates the Dallas Central Mosque that has been known to be tied to Hamas support. Perhaps the most notable of the MFLA board members is Hatem Bazian, President of the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) and also part of the U.S. Hamas support infrastructure,
Mr. Hitto has also been a leader in several other U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas support organizations:
- According to investigative research posted on the GMBDW, Mr. Hitto was a Secretary-Treasurer of the American Middle Eastern League for Palestine (AMELP), another name by which the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP) operated and that shared the same office and officers. The IAP was known to have been part of the Hamas infrastructure in the U.S.
- In 2002, U.S. media also identified Mr. Hitto as a “friend of the Elashi family” and who appeared to be acting as their spokesperson. In 2009, Ghassan Elashi was sentenced to 65 years in prison for his role in financing Hamas as part of the Holy Land Foundation.
- In 2002, U.S. media identified Mr. Hitto as the Vice-President of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Dallas Fort-Worth Chapter (see Note 1). A Hudson Institute report identifies CAIR as part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas support infrastructure in the U.S.
- According to the Texas Secretary of State, Mr. Hitto is a director of the Muslim American Society (MAS) Youth Center of Dallas. He has also been listed in the past as the contact person for the Dallas chapter of the MAS. The Hudson Institute report also identifies the MAS as part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and close to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
So far, U.S. media has completely failed to identify any of these positions held by Mr. Hitto who has now become the fourth U.S. Muslim Brotherhood figure to be identified as part of the Syrian National Council. According to an Al-Jazeera report, Hitto founded the Coalition of Free Syria activist group in 2011, and become a national board member of the Syrian American Council the following year. The same report says he is a member of the recently formed National Coalition.
A post from November reported on the formation of the new, broader-based National Coalition that included members from the Syrian National Council (SNC). A MEMRI report on the the National Coalition discusses the failure of the group to weaken the Muslim Brotherhood influence in the opposition. The NYT had earlier reported on efforts by the Syrian National Council (SNC), a group with heavy Muslim Brotherhood participation, to resist the unification initiative. A post from late August reported that a third individual was identified who is tied to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and who is also a part of the SNC. Previous posts had noted that the SNC includes at least two other known members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood- Louay Safi, a leader in the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and Najib Ghadbian, a board member of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID). The relationship between the SNC and Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi should also be noted. In addition, a Carnegie Middle East Center report indicates that Moaz Khatib, who heads the National Coalition, is himself quite close to the Muslim Brotherhood:
In ideological terms, al-Hasani is close to the moderate Islamist profile of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, although he is not formally affiliated with the group. He more closely identifies with the Islamism of the Brotherhood’s Damascene branch, which is associated with Issam al-Attar, a former spiritual guide of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria who was exiled by the Baathist regime in the 1970s, than with its current, more hard-line leadership from the Hama branch.
Issam Al-Attar has been known for many year as head of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood in Germany and his son is married to Youssef Nada, the infamous Muslim Brotherhood banker who formerly ran the now-defunct Al-Taqwa bank. The Syrian Brotherhood in Germany is also known to have close relations with their Egyptian counterparts in that country.
A post from earlier this month reported that the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had appeared to confirm that the U.S. is training Syrian rebels. A post from last month reported that Kerry has pledged an additional $60 million in aid to Syrian opposition forces that include heavy representation by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Hassan Hassan, an editorial writer for the United Arab Emirates-based National, has written an article titled “How the Muslim Brotherhood Hijacked Syria’s Revolution.”
(Note 1: Fort Worth Star-Telegram May 15, 2002, Wednesday FINAL EDITION “Woman tells of detention”)