In an opinion piece by its Editorial Board, the Washington Post has labeled as “despicable propaganda, spread by Saudi trolls and some U.S. conservatives” the efforts of all those who dared to suggest that Jamal Khashoggi, currently the subject of massive global attention, may not have been the exemplar of democracy as posited by the Post:
In the columns he published in The Post before his disappearance, Mr. Khashoggi offered a consistent message: Saudi Arabia desperately needed the liberalizing reforms being promised by Mohammed bin Salman, but they could not be combined with repression. “Replacing old tactics of intolerance with new ways of repression is not the answer,” he wrote in April .
He frequently aimed his commentaries at the crown prince, whom he was hoping to influence for the better. He wanted the regime’s governing program to succeed, and he argued that would be more likely if liberal advocates were free to speak. By “encouraging public debate and discussion by relaxing his grip on the country’s media, as well as releasing those jailed for expressing their views, [Mohammed bin Salman] would prove that he is indeed a true reformer,” Mr. Khashoggi wrote.
His columns belie the despicable propaganda, spread by Saudi trolls and some U.S. conservatives, that Mr. Khashoggi was himself an Islamist extremist. Though he joined the Muslim Brotherhood in his youth, believing it was the best vehicle for reform in the Arab world, he later came to the conviction that “democracy and freedom were the Arabs’ best hope of purging the corruption and misrule he despised,” as The Post’s David Ignatius put it.
In this piece, The Washington Post is continuing its long-standing pattern of shoddy and irresponsible reporting when it comes to the Global Muslim Brotherhood. As we posted yesterday:
The GMBDW reported earlier this week on Saudi national Jamal Khashoggi, the subject of massive global attention related to his seeming disappearance following a visit to the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul. As that post concluded, the evidence offered strongly suggests that Jamal Khashoggi was not only a long-time member of the Muslim Brotherhood and close to the Global Muslim Brotherhood but was, in fact, actively supporting Brotherhood-related projects as recently as April of this year. The post also raised the question of how such an individual came to be associated with the Washington Post and noted that this was by no means the only example of the Washington Post showing astonishingly bad judgment with respect to the Global Muslim Brotherhood
That post provide numerous examples of where the Post either failed to report accurately on the Brotherhood or even more shockingly, in one instance provided a forum for Global Muslim Brotherhood leaders to speak out and to actually interact with their readers.
In its latest screed, the Post exhibits a complete failure to understand the nature of the extremism represented by the Brotherhood, posing among other things a false dichotomy between “democracy and freedom”, at least the version espoused by much of the Global Muslim Brotherhood, and extremism. A full discussion of this topic is beyond the scope of a single post but GMBDW reporting has already identified reason to cast doubt on support for “Islamic Democracy” as sufficient evidence to refute the charge of extremism. For example, in a November 2015, we reported on comments by Rachid Ghannouchi, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Tunisia and widely praised for his views on Islamic Democracy. In those comments, Ghannouchi reportedly praised a recent election in Turkey as fairly held and:
…added that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan differs from many dictators in the Middle East because he was voted into power via an election, in August 2014. ‘ [Nov. 1] is also the day of Islam and democracy. It is significant for Turkey as well [as the]whole [Middle Eastern] region… When we compare President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to dictators who ruled [countries]in the Middle East, he differs due to the fact that he came to power [through an]election,’ said Ghannouchi.
Despite the fact that Ghannouchi had earlier said that “In an Islamic presidency, a state leader should not treat his people as [if he were an]emperor”, the report went on to note that Erdogan had built himself a luxurious palace which contains 1,150 rooms and has been widely criticized for his crackdowns on freedom of expression in Turkey and for unfair competition during the elections.
As for Jamal Khashoggi himself, the GMBDW reported earlier that he, together with Azzam Tamimi, a UK activist for Hamas and a leader in the UK Muslim Brotherhood, had been involved in setting up “pro-democracy” projects since 1992 including as recently as January when Khashoggi registered his newest organization in Delaware known as DAWN. As we also noted, while described as a “democracy advocacy group” in reality DAWN was in fact a stalking horse for the inclusion of Sunni Political Islam in Middle Eastern governments, presumably including Saudi Arabia. Another self-described Islamic Democracy group is the US-based Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) where Khashoggi gave the keynote address in April 2018. CSID, founded as a cooperative effort among the US Muslim Brotherhood, the US State Department and Georgetown University academic Dr. John Esposito, has long advocated for the inclusion of Islamists in Middle Eastern governments.
We also reported in that same post that Khashoggi instructed his fiancée to contact former Turkish MP and AK Party leader Yasin Aktay in case he failed to come out of the Saudi consulate. Aktay is known to be a close advisor to Muslim Brotherhood supporter and Turkish President Erdogan and the AK Party is an Islamist party close to the Global Muslim Brotherhood. A report authored by the GMBDW editor documents the attendance by Aktay at a September 2013 meeting of the Global Anti-Aggression Campaign (GAAC) where Aktay was identified as one of three deputies of a new organization registered in Istanbul and known as the “Global Coordinator To Support Rights And Freedoms.” The new organization was slated to have a board of ten other organizations including:
- Global Anti-Aggression Campaign (GAAC)
- Institute Of Strategic Thinking (headed by Aktay)
- Alkarama Foundation (founded by US designated terrorist, Al Qaeda supporter, and GAAC President Abd al-Rahman bin ‘Umayr al-Nu’aymi)
- Cordoba Foundation (headed by UK Muslim Brotherhood leader Anas Altikriti)
The report by the GMBDW editor describes the GAAC as follows:
- While claiming to be a “non-governmental, independent, peaceful, educational campaign of volunteers”, the GLOBAL ANTI-AGGRESSION CAMPAIGN (GAAC) is in reality a Salafi-led international umbrella organization that brings under its wings Salafi , Salafi-Jihadi, Global MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD and HAMAS leaders. The GAAC views the US as a key enemy of Islam and the purpose of the GAAC is to fight the US and its allies – a fight which has included close cooperation with the violent insurgency directed against Iraqi and Coalition forces in Iraq.
- While Salafists have always appeared to have been in control of the GAAC, individuals and organizations tied to the Global MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD have participated in its founding and re-launch – in one case serving as Vice-President of the organization – and/or have participated actively and extensively in international conferences either sponsored by GAAC or where GAAC was an organizer. Prominent among these Global MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD figures and organizations is the movement’s ‘spiritual leader’ YOUSSEF QARADAWI, UK fugitive and senior HAMAS commander MOHAMMAD SAWALHA, Yemeni MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD leader and US designated terrorist ABD-AL-MAJID AL-ZINDANI, Tunisian ENNAHDA Party leader RACHID GHANNOUCHI, and ANAS ALTIKRITI, the key spokesman and lobbyist for the Muslim BROTHERHOOD in Britain. Other GAAC figures have included leaders of the Jordanian and Egyptian MUSLIM BROTHERHOODs as well as individuals residing in Europe and the US.
- At least seven leading GAAC figures and/or their organizations have been designated as terrorists by the United States, the EU, and/or the United Nations for their support of AL-QAEDA and related groups – with some of these leaders known to have been close to OSAMA BIN LADEN himself. Those so designated have included both the GAAC President and an organization controlled by the GAAC Executive Director. Arabic media reports also identify at least three GAAC figures as funders of the so-called ISLAMIC STATE OF IRAQ AND THE LEVANT (ISIS).
As the GAAC report concludes:
The twelve-year close cooperation between the GAAC and the Global MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD points to the inadequacies of the conceptual categories used to describe today’s global Islamist movements. By its participation in the GAAC, the Global MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD appears to have set aside its theological differences with the Salafists and the Salafi/Jihadis in order to join together in a fight against the US and its allies. is should call into question the entire history of Western efforts to engage with the Global MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD – in a misguided attempt to find a reliable Islamic partner to help combat the very same groups with which the BROTHERHOOD has been cooperating.
So, we can see from the above that the concept of “Islamic Democracy” as advocated by Jamal Khashoggi essentially amounts to supporting electoral victories by Islamist parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood or the Turkish AK Party, whose leaders engage in a variety of illiberal practices such as severely suppressing the freedom of the press, interference in the electoral process, and use of public funds for private gain and egregious nepotism. In addition, Khashoggi was not only close to Turkish President Erdogan but also to AK Party leader Yasin Aktay who only five years ago joined in a coalition with the Global Anti-Aggression Campaign (GAAC), an organization that included at least seven designated terrorists, supported the violent Iraqi insurgency against the US, and which views the US and its allies as its key enemies.
None of the above is meant either as an exhaustive account of the Islamic extremism as represented by Jamal Khashoggi and his close associates nor as support for any form of violence that may or may not have been committed against him by any party. We do however, strenuously object to efforts by the Washington Post to do what they accuse others of doing which is to smear those of us who try to do the job that US journalists by and large are failing to do. For the record, the GMBDW is neither a Saudi Troll nor a US conservative. As our readers can see for themselves we not only have critiqued Saudi Arabia in the past, but also harshly criticized both the Republican and Democrats with respect to their recent positions on the Global Muslim Brotherhood.