BuzzFeed reported last month that shortly before the Trump inauguration, Jared Kushner the son-in-law and close adviser of President Trump met with a group of US Muslims that included the former President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and imam of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center . According to the report:
April 4, 2017 On a January day just before inauguration, a handful of Muslim activists and businessmen gathered in New York for a confidential meeting with Jared Kushner, the son-in-law and close adviser of President Donald Trump.
Though the transition team was based in Trump Tower, this meeting took place off site, away from the cameras. The goal was a candid talk about what kind of relationship the new administration might forge with American Muslims — a minefield of a topic given Trump’s anti-Muslim remarks during the campaign.
The meeting, which has not been previously reported, went smoothly, but any optimism Muslims left with that day vanished within a couple of weeks as Trump took office and immediately set about turning his anti-Muslim rhetoric into policy.
And so fizzled one of the few attempts at dialogue between Muslim representatives and Trump’s inner circle. Neither side has ever spoken publicly about the talks. This account comes from interviews with six people who have direct knowledge of the meeting and who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivities involved.
The Muslims in the room included a prominent imam, a civil rights attorney, the director of a nonprofit that studies violent extremism, and two venture capitalists — one of whom is a partner at Thrive Capital, the firm run by Kushner’s brother, Joshua. The shock of Trump’s win hadn’t worn off and some were skeptical about taking part, ultimately deciding it was worth it for the chance to argue against a Muslim registry or travel ban.
Kushner set a friendly tone, soliciting ideas for how to improve Trump’s relations with Muslims, urging them to think big and boldly. He assured them that American Muslims weren’t going to be in the crosshairs: The threat was overseas, he said, with ‘the cancer’ of radical Islam. Then Kushner surprised the delegates by asking them to recommend candidates for jobs in the administration, including the White House liaison to Muslim communities, a post many had assumed would be scrapped.
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The report goes on to identify Mohamed Magid as one of the meeting participants:
Mohamed Magid, former president of the Islamic Society of North America and imam of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center in Sterling, Virginia. He’d later catch flak from other Muslim activists for participating in an interfaith prayer service for Trump’s inauguration. In a phone interview, Magid said he didn’t recall discussing policy with Kushner and wouldn’t be pinned down on the specifics of the meeting. “If it was confidential, why are people talking about it?”
Mohamed Magid is a former President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and Executive Director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS), both organizations part of the US Muslim Brotherhood. Imam Magid can be seen as the new more moderate face that ISNA has been cultivating of late and he has taken part in frequent interfaith events including visits to concentration camp sites in Europe.
Other participants in the meeting were identified as follows:
- Farhana Khera (Muslim Advocates director and former counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on civil rights and constitutional issues.)
- Nabil Mallick (a partner at Thrive Capital, a venture capital firm founded by Joshua Kushner, a Democrat, who helped arrange the meeting)
- Mamoon Hamid (a founding partner at Social Capital, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm specializing in tech startup)
- Humera Khan (executive director of Muflehun, a think tank focused on preventing radicalization and with long record of advising the FBI, State Department, and other government agencies on countering violent extremism.)