ANALYSIS: Once More Into The Breach; Has The Muslim Brotherhood Infiltrated The US Government?


DreamShotThe GMBDW has been publishing for over seven years. Prior to this, following 9/11, the GMBDW editor was already gathering information on the networks, leadership, ideology, funding, and other salient facts about the global network later named the Global Muslim Brotherhood (GMB). From the outset, our greatest challenge has been gaining acceptance for the notion that there even is such a phenomena as a Global Muslim Brotherhood as we have defined it. Some 3700 posts later, that challenge still exists due to a regrettable combination of ideology, political correctness, and willful blindness to the factual evidence presented on these pages. On any reasonable view, these facts speak for themselves.

More recently, an additional challenge has emerged, namely the use of GMBDW research to spin unsubstantiated and fanciful stories about the same networks we have so carefully tried to document. The most egregious example is the claim, since gone viral, that the Muslim Brotherhood has “infiltrated” the Obama administration. Stories based on this alleged infiltration typically feature rogues galleries of “Muslim Brotherhood operatives” said to be whispering in the ear of the Obama administration and aimed at causing the downfall of the United States. In most cases, the stories include high-profile individuals first identified by the GMBDW as tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood using criteria we have long since publicly explained. These high-profile individuals are:

1. Mazen Asbahi- On August 1 2008, the GMBDW (then known as the GMBDR) ran a post identifying Chicago lawyer Mazen Asbahi as an adviser to the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) and NAIT as part of the US Muslim Brotherhood and which was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terrorist trial, as was NAIT board member Jamal Said. The post also listed Mr. Asbahi’s connection to the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). The GMBDW ran a second post on the same day that identified Asbahi’s ties to two further US Muslim Brotherhood organizations- the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding and an Illinois LLC called SA Consulting. At this time the GMBDR was private and the post received very little attention until August 6th when the Wall Street Journal published an article revealing that Mr. Asbahi had resigned from the Obama campaign after the Journal had queried him about his USMB ties. The Journal credited the GMBDR for breaking the story.

2. Dahlia Mogahed- On April 12 2009, the GMBDW reported that one of the two Muslim members appointed to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships was Dahlia Mogahed, a protege of John Espositio, perhaps the best known academic supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and with strong ties to Saudi Arabia. Although the report on the appointment was not exclusive to the GMBDW, we were the only publication to note that Ms. Mogahed is the daughter of Elsayed Mogahed, an Egyptian immigrant who is a former engineering scientist at the University of Wisconsin and director of the Islamic Center of Madison (ICM). The website of the ICM links mainly to U.S. Muslim Brotherhood organizations and Souheil Ghannouchi, the President of the Muslim American Society (MAS), was ICM Imam and President for several years. The MAS is part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and closest to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

3. Huma Abedin– On February 7 2010, the GMBDW reported that that then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had addressed students at the Dar El-Hekma women’s college in Saudi Arabia, known to have been co-founded and patronized by an individual designated as a terrorist by the U.S as well as by important Saudi bankers and members of the Bin Laden family. As part of that story, we noted that the Vice Dean of institutional advancement at Dar El-Hekma is Saleha M. Abedin who was one of the founders of the College, as well being the mother of Huma Abedin, a Deputy Chief of Staff to Hillary Clinton. We also reported that Saleha Abedin, along with her late husband Syed Z. Abedin, were founders of the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, a London organization that is known to have been close to the Saudi Muslim World League. We subsequently reported that Saleha Abedin was serving as a board member of the International Islamic Council for Dawa and Relief (IICDR), an umbrella group for 86 Islamic organizations, many of which are associated with the global Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas fundraising, or support for Al Qaeda. We also delved into the ties of Huma Abedin’s brother Hasan Abedin who was an officer of the Oxford Center of Islamic Studies,  chaired by Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef, a Saudi with his own extensive ties to Islamist organizations. A variety of other actors later claimed credit for unearthing the information about Human Abedin’s parents that was first reported by the GMBDW.

4. Rashad HussainOn February 14 2010, the GMBDW reported on the US Muslim Brotherhood connections of Rashad Hussain, a White House attorney who was President Obama’s newly appointed envoy to the OIC. Those connections including ties to the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), the Muslim Student Association (MSA), and the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS). The post also revealed that an annual MSA conference, Mr. Hussein appeared along side the daughter of Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Sami Al-Arian and labeled Al-Arian’s prosecution “politically motivated persecution.” The post further noted that the sentences pertaining to Mr. Hussein statement had been removed from the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (WRMEA) report on the MSA conference but were still available at the Internet Archive. The story was subsequently “appropriated” by another media outlet who only belatedly and partially credited the GMBDW as the original source of the story.

5. Mohamed Elibiary– On October 30 2010, the GMBDW reported that the Department of Homeland Security had sworn in three new members of the Homeland Security Advisory Council one of whom was Mohamed Elibiary, who we exclusively identified as the President and CEO of the Freedom and Justice Foundation, an organization with ties to the US Muslim Brotherhood and the US Hamas infrastructure. Since that time, Mr. Elibiary has been widely discussed in a variety of venues and described as a “noted Islamist” though he was virtually unknown until the GMBDW highlighted his background.

Reasonable observers will agree that these individuals would make very odd choices indeed as “infiltrators”, since the very notion of infiltration implies the necessity of concealing at all costs one’s true background, activities, and affiliations and since the information gathered by the GMBDW was entirely public and accessible to any party had they chosen to look. (We won’t bother posing the obvious questions about how the alleged infiltration was supposed to have been planned, sponsored, executed and controlled.)

Occam’s Razor, crudely put, suggests that all things being equal the simplest explanation is to be preferred. As evidenced by President Obama’s June 2009 “New Beginning” speech in Cairo, it is clear that he entered office with the desire to “repair” relations with the Islamic world following the events of the Bush Administration. It also seems clear that the Obama administration gives no credence to the notion of a Global Muslim Brotherhood and thus would have no reason to explore further any such ties of their appointees nor assign any adverse significance to them if discovered. Thus, as part of this new beginning, ties to Islamist organizations would seemingly no longer be considered a bar to public office under an Obama administration and, in fact, would likely be considered a positive factor, as in the case of Rashad Hussain who would be charged with managing the US relationship with the countries of the Islamic world. In short, the GMBDW judges that the three Obama appointees were selected, at least in part, precisely because of their ties to the Global Muslim Brotherhood and not in spite of them. (Huma Abedin is discussed below.)

That said, there remains the pertinent issue of what influence, malign or otherwise, these individuals may have had on Obama Administration policy toward the Middle East or in other relevant policy arenas. Clearly Mr. Asbahi could have had only marginal impact since he did not survive the presidential campaign to become part of the Obama Administration. Human Abedin is a somewhat different case requiring more lengthy analysis but we will note that her family ties are mainly to Saudi Islamist organizations that although close to the Brotherhood are not the same. (There was an attempt to concoct a “Muslim Sisterhood” to try and shoehorn the Abedin family into the Muslim Brotherhood category). While her family ties should obviously have been an issue for her security clearance, there is no evidence to suggest that Ms. Abedin was herself either an Islamist or that she played any significant role in US policy making. As far as the Clintons and their apparent receptivity to the the Muslim Brotherhood, first exposed by the GMBDW in May 2013, their interaction with the GMB dates back to December 1995, prior to when Abedin could have had significant influence and when Muslim Public Affairs Council leader Mather Hathout was invited to the Clinton White House to discuss the Bosnia peace agreement with senior administration officials.

As part of President Obama’s “Spiritual Cabinet”, it does seem that Dahlia Mogahed and Rashad Hussain did play a role in the Administration’s outreach to the Muslim world and to development of its counter-terrorism policy as did Department of Homeland Security (DHS) advisor Mohamed Elibiary who along with Ms. Mogahed was a member of the DHS Countering Violent Extremism Working Group. However, far more important was Dr. Quintan Wiktorowicz, originally an obscure academic best known for his unproven theory that increased religiosity actually deters terrorism. As the GMBDW reported in May 2013, Dr. Wiktorowicz was originally posted to the US embassy in London where he initiated a pilot program to partner with unidentified local Muslim communities in an attempt at countering “violent extremism” that was later expanded to other countries. It was during this time that an official of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), part of the US Muslim Brotherhood, was invited to the UK to meet with young British Muslims. Dr. Wiktorowicz was later promoted to the US National Security Council as Senior Director for Global Engagement and later as Senior Director for Community Partnerships. As a White House official, Dr. Wiktorowicz helped to devise the Administration’s strategy for countering radicalization titled “Empowering Local Partners To Prevent Violent Extremism In The United States” and revealed in August 2011. As we noted, Dr. Wiktorowicz’s theories, history, and statements suggest his strong support for having included the US Muslim Brotherhood as part of the new strategy.

Despite our reporting on Dr. Wiktorowicz and his key role in US counter-terrorism policy, he is never mentioned by the infiltration theorists who seem remarkably uninterested in how US policy was actually made nor the historical context in which it is embedded.  As former Wall Street Journal journalist Ian Johnson has observed:

Most—including the Obama administration —seem to think that [the Muslim Brotherhood]is a movement the West can do business with, even if the White House denies formal contacts. If this discussion evokes a sense of déjà vu, this is because over the past sixty years we have had it many times before, with almost identical outcomes. Since the 1950s, the United States has secretly struck up alliances with the Brotherhood or its offshoots on issues as diverse as fighting communism and calming tensions among European Muslims. And if we look to history, we can see a familiar pattern: each time, US leaders have decided that the Brotherhood could be useful and tried to bend it to America’s goals, and each time, maybe not surprisingly, the only party that clearly has benefited has been the Brotherhood.

The GMBDW does not consider itself either naive or sanguine about anything to do with the Global Muslim Brotherhood and we like to think that we have played a role in exposing the world to the nature of the phenomenon. Readers will attest to our many warnings about the threats we see posed by the Brotherhood networks and we have long argued against providing the GMB with a stamp of legitimacy. Bringing Islamists, or those sympathetic to Islamists, into government roles has also demonstrably not improved the relationship of the US to the Islamic world. As the Pew Research Foundation reported in 2012:

In a number of strategically important Muslim nations, America’s image has not improved during the Obama presidency. In fact, America’s already low 2008 ratings have slipped even further in Jordan and Pakistan.

We originally reported on the Obama appointments in order to provide useful information on how the administration would be developing its policy toward the Global Muslim Brotherhood. We have watched in dismay as this same information has increasingly been distorted and misinterpreted and as a whole new cast of characters have been added with only the most marginal of ties to the GMB, or no ties at all, or whose importance as been inflated to fantastical proportions. At one time, an individual was offering for purchase what he said was a database of over 10,000 “Muslim Brotherhood operatives” located in the US while a radio host has called for brigades of local citizens to conduct surveillance on local mosques for “signs of Muslim Brotherhood activity.” The label “Muslim Brotherhood” has also been appended by opponents to virtually any Muslim figure or organization with whom there is a political disagreement, Feisal Rauf being perhaps the most well known example. (Whatever else Mr. Rauf may be, the GMBDW found no meaningful ties to the GMB.)

In order to combat the pernicious influence of the Global Muslim Brotherhood, it is vital for there to be a realistic understanding of the network that is based on actual evidence about who or what is involved and how it actually functions. While we are fully aware of and since 2008 have posted about GMB deception strategies, fanciful and exaggerated claims about legions of Muslim Brotherhood “infiltrators” with narratives that are constructed for the benefit of ideological communities do nothing to further this understanding and do a disservice to this important cause. They also run the risk of serious damage to the civil fabric in the US by promoting suspicion and hatred among fellow Americans. The GMBDW very much regrets any misuse of the information we have provided that is being used for unsavory ends.

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