ANALYSIS: Vanity Fair Massacres Huma Abedin Story; Author Fails To Do Even Minimum Due Diligence


In one of the most egrecious examples of poor reporting on the Global Muslim Brotherhood to date, Vanity Fair has published an article on Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton that was first identified by the GMBDW as having ties to Saudi Arabian Islamists. The portion of the article by Jacquelyn Martin that deals with those ties is as follows:

Abedin was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her mother, Saleha Mahmood Abedin, is Pakistani; her late father, Syed Zainul Abedin, was Indian. Both were intellectuals. When Abedin was two years old, the family moved to Jidda, Saudi Arabia, where, with the backing of Abdullah Omar Nasseef, then the president of King Abdulaziz University, her father founded the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, a think tank, and became the first editor of its Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, which stated its mission as “shedding light” on minority Muslim communities around the world in the hope of “securing the legitimate rights of these communities.”

After Syed died, in 1993, his wife succeeded him as director of the institute and editor of the Journal, positions she still holds. She has also been active in the International Islamic Council for Da’wa and Relief, which is now headed by Nasseef and was banned in Israel on account of its ties to the Union of Good, a pro-Hamas fund-raising network, run by Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

Google Abdullah Omar Nasseef, the man who set up the Abedins in Jidda, and a host of right-wing screeds pop up. Though he is a high-ranking insider in the Saudi government and sits on the king’s Shura Council, there are claims that Nasseef once had ties to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda—a charge that he has denied through a spokesman—and that he remains a “major” figure in the Muslim Brotherhood. In his early years as the patron of the Abedins’ journal, Nasseef was the secretary-general of the Muslim World League, which Andrew McCarthy, the former assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the “Blind Sheik,” Omar Abdel Rahman, in the wake of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, claims “has long been the Muslim Brotherhood’s principal vehicle for the international propagation of Islamic supremacist ideology.”

Google Yusuf al-Qaradawi and you’ll find even more right-wing hysteria. Says McCarthy, who has conducted something of a personal crusade on the question of the Abedin family’s purported connections, “The Union of Good is a designated terrorist organization and Qaradawi is the leading global jurisprudent”—a term McCarthy prefers to “cleric”—“of the Muslim Brotherhood, who has issued fatwas calling for suicide bombings in the Palestinian territories and in Israel and has called for the killings of American soldiers in Iraq.”

It turns out the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs is an Abedin family business. Huma was an assistant editor there between 1996 and 2008. Her brother, Hassan, 45, is a book-review editor at the Journal and was a fellow at the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies, where Nasseef is chairman of the board of trustees. Huma’s sister, Heba, 26, is an assistant editor at the Journal.

In June 2012, then congresswoman Michele Bachmann and four conservative congressmen wrote to the State Department warning that the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated the highest levels of the U.S. government. The letter specifically cited Abedin: “Huma Abedin has three family members—her late father, her mother and her brother—connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations,” they wrote. But a month later Senator John McCain, no friend of the Clintons, took to the Senate floor to denounce Bachmann’s letter as an “unwarranted and unfounded attack” on Abedin. “I know Huma to be an intelligent, upstanding, hard-working, and loyal servant of our country and our government.”

“There are few things that President Obama and John McCain agree on. One is that … Bachmann’s lies about Huma are baseless and bigoted fear-mongering,” says Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill.

Read the entire article here.

Where to begin? First of all, it is appalling that Martin apparently has no background in the subject she is writing about, confirmed by her admission that in order to learn about Youssef Qaradawi, arguably the most famous individual that is part of the subject, she had to “Google” his name. (If we are correct in the identification, her background does include prolonged close contact with Hillary Clinton). So what does Martin learn during her apparently all too brief Google explorations? She does manage to repeat the information first reported by the GMBDW in 2010, long before the same information became a centerpiece for other reporting without any attribution to us:

 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.

However Instead of a serious exploration of Huma Abedin’s ties,, Ms. Martin simply dismisses them as “right-wing screeds” or “more right-wing hysteria.” While it is undeniable that there is a vast collection of irresponsible reporting on the subject, as we ourselves complained about in 2014, that does not excuse the failure of a “mainstream” journalist such as Ms. Martin to do anything resembling their due diligence on the subject. For example, Ms. Martin cites Andrew McCarthy’s comments on Youssef Qaradawi as an example of “rightwing hysteria” yet his characterization of Qaradawi is, on the contrary, scrupulously accurate. Qaradawi is indeed as McCarthy notes the leading luminary of the Global Muslim Brotherhood, the author of the original fatwas providing religious justification for suicide bombings in Israel, and the founder of the Union of Good (UOG) that is designated by the US as a terrorist organization. Furthermore, as the GMBDW has frequently reported, Qaradawi is also the source of vile antisemitic statements such as calling Hitler a divine punishment for the “misdeeds of the Jews” and that the Holocaust was exaggerated or calling on Allah to “kill them [Jews], down to the very last one.” Qaradawi has also famously signed a statement along with Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hizbullah calling for attacks on US troops and civilians in Iraq. Rightwing hysteria Ms. Martin, really?

Then there is the matter of Abdullah Omar Nasseef whom Martin correctly identifies as a Secretary-General of the Muslim World League (MWL) although she fails to note the Abdein family’s own ties to the MWL through the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs. Although we would not, as McCarthy does, characterize the MWL as “Muslim Brotherhood’s principal vehicle for the international propagation of Islamic supremacist ideology”, it is undeniable that Muslim Brothers played an important role in its founding and the MWL has always been strongly associated with the Brotherhood. US government officials have also testified that MWL has been linked to supporting Islamic terrorist organizations globally and the organization has a long history of anti-Semitism. Martin also rightly identifies Naseef as “active” in the International Islamic Council for Da’wa and Relief (IICDR) (Naseef is actually the IICDR Secretary-General.) Martin mentions that the IICDR is banned in Israel over it ties to Hamas, but fails to examine the IICDR member organizations many of which are associated with the global Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas fundraising, or support for Al Qaeda, associations which, despite Naseem’s denials, support his associations with the Muslim Brotherhood and even Al Qaeda. A rightwing screed Ms. Martin, really?

Finally, Martin writes about the charges by Michele Bachmann and four conservative congressmen that the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated the highest levels of the U.S. government. The GMBDW is already on record as decrying:

 …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.

As we went on to explain, 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. That said, however, we agree with McCarthy when he writes:

In light of Ms. Abedin’s family history, is she someone who ought to have a security clearance, particularly one that would give her access to top-secret information about the Brotherhood? Is she, furthermore, someone who may be sympathetic to aspects of the Brotherhood’s agenda, such that Americans ought to be concerned that she is helping shape American foreign policy?….The State Department is particularly wary when it comes to the category of “foreign influence” — yes, it is a significant enough concern to warrant its own extensive category in background investigations. No criminal behavior need be shown to deny a security clearance; access to classified information is not a right, and reasonable fear of “divided loyalties” is more than sufficient for a clearance to be denied.

We therefore cannot agree with the Clinton campaign spokesman, obviously supported by Martin, that what Bachman and the congressmen were claiming was “baseless and bigoted fear-mongering,” While we must emphasize that we are aware of no evidence concerning any improper activity on the part of Huma Abedin, nor her actual influence on Hillary Clinton regarding Middle Eastern or terrorist issues, we do believe that Andrew McCarthy has raised valid and important issues regarding her security clearances.

It is scurrilous reporting such as this article that makes the GMBDW long for the days when courageous reporters writing for major US newspapers such as Ian Johnson, Doug Farah, and Rod Dreher covered these topics in an in-depth and responsible manner, actually conducting investigations rather than the apparent 5 minute Google searching done by Jacquelyn Martin in the above Vanity Fair piece (note: Johnson and Farah were former colleagues of the GMBDW editor). It is the abandonment of such serious investigative reporting by mainstream publications that has left the field wide-open for both the kind of irresponsible polemics so decried by Martin herself as well as her own superficial attempts at covering the same.

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