Documents disclosed by US media reveal that the US Department of Homeland Security has relied upon Saudi-funded Georgetown University professor John Esposito for advice on counterterrorism training for law enforcement. The Daily Caller has published a checklist from the DHS that provides a set of “Do’s and Dont’s for law enforcement counterterrorism trainers. According to the Daily Caller report:
May 17th 2013 The Department of Homeland Security, which under Secretary Janet Napolitano has shown a keen interest in monitoring and warning about outspoken conservatives, takes a very different approach in monitoring political Islamists, according to a 2011 memo on protecting the free speech rights of pro-Shariah Muslim supremacists.
In a checklist obtained by The Daily Caller entitled ‘Countering Violent Extremism Dos and Don’ts’ the DHS’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties notifies local and national law enforcement officials that it is Obama administration policy to consider specifically Islamic criticism of the American system of government legitimate.
This policy stands in stark contrast to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis’ 2009 memo ‘Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment’ [pdf], which warned of the dangers posed by pro-life advocates, critics of same-sex marriage and groups concerned with abiding by the U.S. Constitution, among others.
The advice of the Dos and Don’ts list is far more conciliatory. ‘Don’t use training that equates radical thought, religious expression, freedom to protest, or other constitutionally-protected activity, including disliking the U.S. government without being violent,’ the manual’s authors write in a section on training being ‘sensitive to constitutional values.’ The manual, which was produced by an inter-agency working group from DHS and the National Counterterrorism Center, advises, ‘Trainers who equate the desire for Sharia law with criminal activity violate basic tenets of the First Amendment.’
Read the rest here.
Don’t use training that relies on fear or conspiracies to motivate law enforcement. Don’t use training premised on theories with little or no evidence to support them. Examples (from the report “Manufacturing the Muslim Menace”) of unsubstantiated theories include:
a. Many mainstream Muslim organizations have terrorist ties. b. Mainstream Muslim organizations are fronts for Islamic political organizations whose true desire is to establish Sharia law in America. Muslim Americans are using democratic processes, like litigation and free speech, to subvert democracy and install Sharia law.
Islamophobic counterterrorism trainers routinely categorize such civil rights groups as the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and Council on American- Islamic Relations (CAIR) as a support network for terrorists. For this charge they lean heavily on guilt by association, citing a few instances of members or former members with troublesome associations as evidence of organizational complicity.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) are all important part of the US Muslim Brotherhood and the PRA makes it quite clear who they relied upon for their assessment of the Brotherhood by thanking Professor Ziad Munson and Dr. [John] Esposito for “sharing expertise on the Muslim Brotherhood.” The PRA report also makes clear the result of relying upon these academics for their view of the Brotherhood. For example, the report states:
Private counterterror firms routinely label the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. “While there are many terrorist groups in the Middle East and elsewhere,” writes John Esposito, “it is misleading to refer to the Muslim Brotherhood today as a terrorist group.” There is no evidence which supports the proposition that the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S. has been or is involved in terrorist or violent activity, says Esposito.
On the contrary, there is substantial evidence that the US Muslim Brotherhood been involved in both a robust rhetorical defense of terrorism as well as being actively involved in helping to finance Hamas. Yet, the PRA does not appear to count Hamas nor Hezbollah as terrorist organizations and suggests that DHS agrees:
Islamophobic counterterrorism trainers lean heavily on the use of guilt by association. They routinely categorize civil rights groups such as the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) as a support net- work for terrorists. None of these organizations has been convicted of terrorism or formally charged with providing material support to terrorists, but they are frequently impugned due to their alleged sympathy for Hamas and Hezbollah. To varying degrees, Muslim civil rights groups are led by individuals who oppose the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, and the use of U.S. military operations in predominantly Muslim countries. It has become a norm to simply define Hezbollah and Hamas as terrorists without recognizing that these groups have become conventional political players in recent years, leading some to distinguish between their military and political branches. Even Homeland Security officials recognize that while Hamas and Hezbollah are both listed as terrorist organizations by the U.S. government and have targeted civilians with bombings, they are distinct from al Qaeda in methods and motivations.
The PRA report also takes issue with the idea that organizations such as CAIR and ISNA can be held to account for their role as unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing case calling CAIR for example “a legitimate lobbying group for the rights and civil liberties of Muslims in America, who need protection from McCarthyistic witch hunts.” However, even before the Holy Land trial, investigative research had determined that both CAIR and ISNA had extensive ties to the US Hamas infrastructure. In 2009, a US federal judge ruled “The Government has produced ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR, ISNA and NAIT with HLF, the Islamic Association for Palestine (“IAP”), and with Hamas.” Dr. Munson makes his contribution to the report by attempting to discredit the existence of a Global Muslim Brotherhood, calling it a “Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy”:
The Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy theory fails on at least two counts. First, experts on the Muslim Brotherhood stress that it does not function as a central body for a monolithic global movement. Using the Cold War analogy, Egypt is not Moscow. Lehigh University Professor Ziad Munson concludes, “There are simply too many ideological, religious, and historical barriers for this to be a realistic plot.”
The GMBDW has extensively refuted these comic book conceptions of the Global Muslim Brotherhood, never once suggesting that its either a “central body” nor that it is a “monolithic global movement.” Dr. Munson goes to display an astonishing lack of familiarity with the Muslim Brotherhood in the US by claiming that ” it makes little sense that the Muslim Brotherhood would use front organizations in the United States. As the report states:
The Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy theory fails, secondly, because it makes little sense that the Muslim Brotherhood would use front organizations in the United States. Not only does the organization have “little or no organizational capacity here,” according to Munson, but building front organizations “is not in the Muslim Brotherhood’s repertoire.” To Munson, a secret infiltration by the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States “does not pass the sniff test.” Historically, the Muslim Brotherhood runs candidates openly in all cases when permitted by law, even where its supporters and candidates are arrested and harassed. It has formed front groups only out of necessity in predominantly Muslim countries that specifically outlaw religious parties. However, reli- gious parties are not outlawed in the United States.
On the contrary, a Hudson Institute report extensively documents the creation of US Muslim Brotherhood front organizations concluding ” Since the early 1960s, the Brotherhood has constructed an elaborate covert organizational infrastructure on which was built a set of public or “front” organizations. The GMBDW is not familiar with Dr. Munson or his work but the above views are not surprising given the reliance upon Dr. Esposito for conclusions about the US Muslim Brotherhood. Dr. John Esposito is a professor of International Affairs and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University. He is also the director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University. Esposito, a former U.S. State Department advisor, has espoused views consistent with Brotherhood doctrine and 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 board of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought in the U.K. headed by Azzam Tamimi, a leader in the U.K. Muslim Brotherhood and often described as a Hamas spokesman. Dr. Esposito has also served with global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi on the Steering Committee of the Circle of Tradition and Progress and enjoyed a close relationship with the United Association For Studies and Research (USAR), part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee and part of the Hamas support infrastructure. 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.
There is solid evidence evidence to suggest that the US Muslim Brotherhood has had substantial influence over the change in DHS counterterrorism language. A January 2008 DHS memo urged employees not to use terms including ‘jihad,’ ‘jihadist’ or ‘Islamic terrorist’ in describing Islamic terrorists. The DHS memo stated that it is based on “recommendations from a wide variety of American Muslim leaders” and originated in a meeting with “influential Muslim Americans” and a June 2007 article in a San Francisco newspaper appears to identify the four Muslims Americans leaders as
- Akbar Ahmed, former ambassador from Pakistan
- Reza Aslan, author
- M.J. Kahn, Houston City Councilman
- Shahed Amanullah, Austin Texas blogger
The key influence here is likely Akbar Ahmed, known to have been a board member of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID), an organization with many links to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. A post from last week reported that Dr. Akbar served as First Distinguished Chair for Middle East/Islamic Studies at the US Naval Academy from 2008-2009. Shahed Amanullah has gone on to become the Senior Advisor for Technology at Department of State. It should also be noted that since 2004, DHS has enjoyed seemingly cordial relations with the Muslim Public Affair Council (MPAC), a part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. Since its inception, MPAC has has taken the lead role among the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood organizations in attempting to control the use of language along the lines proposed in the DHS report. The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) also has long pushed for such language changes. The 2008 DHS memo also indicated that the engagement of the U.S. government with the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood would continue to increase:
There is a good level of engagement between the Federal government and Muslim American communities, and it will continue to increase over the upcoming months and years. Indeed, we have the hope of seeing levels of engagement between the USG and Arab and Muslim Americans that have never been reached in the history of this country. For example, leading Arab, Muslim, and South Asian American groups have met multiple times with the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Attorney General, the Director of the FBI, the Secretary of the Treasury, and senior officials at the State Department.
For part 2 of this story, go here.