In the latest and most egregious example of Democratic politicians legitimizing US Muslim Brotherhood groups, US media is reporting that Presidential hopeful Joe Biden spoke last week before a virtual conference which included two important US Muslim Brotherhood leaders as well as their allies. According to an NPR report:
July 20, 2020 Joe Biden spoke to a notable Muslim American advocacy organization on Monday. Just his presence — albeit virtually, due to the pandemic, from his home in Delaware — was rather historic for Muslim leaders, who can’t recall another presidential nominee speaking directly to such a large group of Muslims. The group, Emgage Action, says 3,000 people RSVP’d for its livestreamed event. Biden didn’t introduce any new policy priorities, but his tone marked a noticeable departure from how many politicians have addressed Muslims in recent years.
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Speaking extensively before Biden’s appearance was Nihad Awad, the long-time head of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). The GMBDW has described the problematic aspects of CAIR as follows:
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) describes itself as “a grassroots civil rights and advocacy group and as “America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group.” CAIR was founded in 1994 by three officers of the Islamic Association of Palestine, part of the US Hamas infrastructure at that time. Documents discovered in the course of the the terrorism trial of the Holy Land Foundation confirmed that the founders and current leaders of CAIR were part of the Palestine Committee of the Muslim Brotherhood and that CAIR itself is part of the US Muslim Brotherhood. In 2008, the then Deputy leader of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood acknowledged a relationship between the Egyptian Brotherhood and CAIR. 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.” CAIR and its leaders have had a long history of defending individuals accused of terrorism by the US government, often labeling such prosecutions a “war on Islam”, and have also been associated with Islamic fundamentalism and antisemitism. The organization is led by Nihad Awad, its longstanding Executive Director and one of the three original founders.
Following Awad, the conference was addressed by Salman Al-Marayati, the long-time leader of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). Similarly to CAIR, the GMBDW has described the troubling aspects of MPAC:
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) was established originally in 1986 as the Political Action Committee of the Islamic Center of Southern California whose leaders had backgrounds suggesting they were associated with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. A 1989 US Muslim Brotherhood document introduced as evidence in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial refers to the last name of one of the MPAC leaders, Mather Hathout, in a list of “Islamic Centers and Groups in the field.” MPAC has since developed into the political lobby arm of the US Muslim Brotherhood and has opposed almost every counterterrorism action proposed or carried out by the US government, often suggesting that the efforts were aimed at the US Muslim community. MPAC has also acted to support a variety of Palestinian terrorist organizations as well as facilitating a wider range of terrorism by defending or justifying violence carried out by Islamic groups. Nevertheless, MPAC has developed particularly extensive relationships with agencies of the US government including meetings with the Department of Justice and the FBI. MPAC and its leaders have made anti-Semitic statements that assert or imply an organized Jewish effort to defame and exclude US Muslims from US political life and has engaged in frequent and virulent demonization of Israel including describing Israeli actions at the Al-Aqsa Mosque as a “rape of the soul of the Islamic people”, asserting that the objective of Israeli actions in Gaza was “gross killings of Palestinian civilians, including women and children”, and accusing supporters of Israel of using tactics similar to Hitler’s. In December 2009, MPAC reported that “Israeli doctors had extracted human organs from dead Palestinians during the 1988 intifada and into the 1990s.” MPAC leader Salman Al-Marayati suggested on a talk radio show on September 11, 2001 that Israel might have been behind the 911 attacks.
Another notable conference participant was activist Linda Sarsour. The Washington Post reported in September that Linda Sarsour and two others had resigned as co-chairs of the Women’s March following accusations of anti-Semitism, infighting, and financial mismanagement. In August 2012, GMBDW was the first to report on Linda Sarsour’s family ties to Hamas. Other conference participant included:
- Ilhan Omar (US Congresswoman from Minnesota and former advisory board member for CAIR Minnesota)
- Abdul El-Sayed (former Michigan gubernatorial candidate and former VP of the Muslim Student Association at the University of Michigan)
Emgage Action, the conference sponsor, is the Political Action Campaign (PAC) associated with Emgage USA describing itself on its website as follows:
Today there is a blue wave. There’s a progressive wave that’s trying to align the American values with policies. We see the squad in the Congress saying to all of us that justice is indivisible. If we care about justice at home, we have to also care about justice abroad, especially countries and states that we support like the state of Israel. Where does the Biden campaign stand on conditioning the aid to Israel if Israel is planning to annex the West Bank. We care also about the Muslims in China, what’s happening to them. We hear that the Trump administration gave the green light for concentration camps against Muslims. The people in Kashmir, Myanmar population, all of them, they need our support and American Muslims are very concerned about this. We look forward to hearing concrete policies so that we excite the community for a change in the next administration. Thank you.
Some of the board members of Emgage USA have links to US Muslim Brotherhood organizations. For example, as noted above, Co-Chairman Khurrum Wahid was at one time a legal advisor to CAIR as well as an officer of the CAIR-Florida branch while AJ Duranni is associated with a subsidiary of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, in turn with ties to the North American Islamic Trust. Durrani also has relationships with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and with MPAC. That said, neither individual appears to play a major role as a leader with the USMB structure.
However, EMGAGE does engage in coalitions with US Brotherhood groups. Most importantly, EMGAGE is a member of the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) established in 2014 by eight organizations, seven of which are part of the Muslim Brotherhood in the US The inaugural conference for the USCMO was held two years later. and was attended by a wide variety of European Muslim Brotherhood leaders as well as US government officials, Since its founding, the USCMO has grown to include 35 member organizations, almost half known to be part of the USMB and including almost every important component if the USMB:
- American Muslims for Palestine
- Council on American-Islamic Relations
- Islamic Circle of North America
- Muslim Alliance in North America
- Muslim American Society
- Muslim Legal Fund of America
- Muslim Ummah of North America
- Islamic Shura Council of Southern California
- Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago
- ICNA Relief (Islamic Circle of North America)
- Helping Hand for Relief & Development
- Mosque Foundation
- Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center
- Dar Al-Hijrah
- International Institute of Islamic Thought
- American Muslim Alliance
USCMO Secretary-General Oussama Jammal has long been a leader of the Bridgeview Mosque and its Mosque Foundation, the focus of a 2004 Chicago Tribune investigation which revealed that as much as $1 million a year had been raised from mosque members which was then sent to overseas Muslim charities, principally in support of Hamas. The article also detailed the mosque’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
The ties of the EMGAGE leaders along with its membership in the USCMO should be enough reason for concern given Biden’s presence at the conference. Further aggravating this situation is EMGAGE former Executive Director and board member Farooq Mitha who serves as Biden’s senior advisor on Muslim American engagement. Mitha, an attorney and former Defense Department employee, was also the Director of Muslim Outreach for the Hillary Clinton Campaign and has claimed to be an “advisor to the Democratic Party” since at least July 2008. As with the two EMGAGE co-chairmen, there is no evidence that Mitha plays a role as a leader within the USMB structure.
Unfortunately, the history of the Democratic Party and its leaders with respect to the US Muslim Brotherhood has not been good, beginning in 1995 when Hillary Clinton initiated what would become a growing relationship between the Clinton Administration and MPAC. According to unpublished GMBDW research:
The relationship with the Clinton White House in December began in 1995 when MPAC leader Mather Hathout was invited to the White House to discuss the Bosnia peace agreement with senior administration officials. The relationship drew national attention in May 1996 when Hillary Clinton attended a lunch hosted by MPAC. Then, in January 1998 Ms. Clinton invited MPAC and the Muslim Women’s League, an MPAC-affiliated organization, to organize an Eid al-Fitr celebration for 100 persons at the White House. The relationship continued through 2000 when MPAC director Salam Al-Marayati was included in a group of Arab-American leaders who met with President Clinton and again in April 2000 when MPAC representatives attended a White House briefing that included President Clinton, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Secretary of State Madeline Albright and Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Mousa.
A complete review of the relationship between the Democratic Party and the USMB is beyond the scope of this report but notable examples include President Obama’s appointment of Dahlia Mogahed as his Faith Advisor and the DNC’s consideration of Keith Ellison for the Post of Democratic National Chair. It should be noted, however, that the Republican Party has not been free of USMB influence. Examples include Abdurahman Alamoudi, a USMB leader currently imprisoned in connection with a plot to kill a Saudi prince, who appeared alongside Present Bush at a 2001 rally and, more recently, the meeting of the USCMO at the US State Department under the Trump administration.
Vice-President Biden’s appearance alongside major USMB leaders at a conference sponsored by an organization that is part of a USMB coalition and whose former Director serves as his Muslim Outreach advisor raises the likelihood that a Biden Administration will see the US Brotherhood accorded easy access to the White House along with the possibility that more individuals tied to the US Brotherhood being appointed to government positions. The GMBDW has no special insight into the reasons why successive Democratic administrations have seen fit to allow USMB influence inside the government. One likely explanation is that US Muslims are an important constituency for Democrats even though polling data suggests that the USMB groups have no real standing within that community. (A more comprehensive look at why the influence of the US Brotherhood on government is of concern will be covered in a future post.)
(NOTE: The above should not be taken as commentary on the US Presidential campaign per se and certainly not as an endorsement of any candidate. While our remit is to cover the implications of the Global Muslim Brotherhood, the US is facing a multiplicity of critical issues and US voters are urged to vote for the candidate who, overall, represents the best choice given the entirety of those issues.)