In perhaps its biggest success towards legitimization to date, Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden has addressed the 57th annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a long-time component of the Muslim Brotherhood in the US. ISNA boasts that this is the first time a Presidential nominee has spoken before the event and Biden was introduced by Zaki Barzinji, the grandson of Jamal Albarzinji who was one of the founders of the USMB. According to video of his remarks, candidate Biden made three key points:
- He thanked ISNA for “supporting and engaging Muslim America” although the only available polling data reported that when a sample of Muslims was asked if ISNA represented their interests, the affirmative responses by both men and women were in the single digits.
- Biden claimed that there had been a startling rise of Islamophobia during the Trump administration, a claim made by USMB groups constantly over many years, although the only hard numbers in this regard are FBI hate crime statistics which reported in 2019 that 270 crimes were reported against Muslims and Arab-Americans, the fewest since 2014. It is hard to imagine that a vast rise in Islamophobia could be accompanied by a record decrease in hate crimes.
- Most ominously. Biden said that his administration would have “Muslim Americans serving at every level” despite, as discussed below, his campaign’s and former Obama administration’s seeming inability or unwillingness to vet appointees for ties to the US Brotherhood.
Biden’s relationship with the ISNA appears to date from at least 2013 when he met as US Vice-President with ISNA President Imam Mohamed Magid met n and other religious leaders to discuss gun violence prevention. ISNA had already scored a major in 2019 when Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Julian Castro attended the ISNA annual conference that year.
The GMBDW reported at the end of July that Biden had spoken last week before a virtual conference that included two important US Muslim Brotherhood leaders as well as their allies and which was sponsored by a Muslim advocacy group that is part of an important coalition of USMB groups. We reported at the end of August on a virtual Democratic National Committee (DNC) Muslim delegate meeting that included numerous individuals tied to the USMB including Farooq Mitha, Senior Muslim Engagement Advisor to the DNC. The Biden campaign later issued a disavowal of the views Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian activist who participated in the delegate meeting and who is known as a harsh critic of Israel.
In 2016, the GMBDW reported that Zaki Barzinji (aka Zakaria Albarzinji had been appointed the new Obama Administration liaison to the Muslim American community under the White House Office of Public Engagement. As we discussed in that post Zaki Barzinji is the grandson of the late Jamal Barzinji, one of the most important founders of the US Brotherhood.
Zaki Barzinji himself has participated actively with US Muslim Brotherhood organizations including as noted above the Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA) associated with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and, as the GMBDW reported in 2008, appearing as a MYNA representative alongside important leaders of the US Muslim Brotherhood.
Since that time, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) announced in 2017 that Zaki Barzinji had joined the organization and would be
….consulting and advising our policy team in the MPAC DC office as a Senior Policy Advisor. Zaki will assist in developing a succinct policy agenda for federal and state issues, broadening MPAC’s network of advocacy partners, and establishing relationships with key policymakers.
MPAC is another part of the USMB that 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 that since developed into the political lobby arm of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood MPAC has a long history of supporting a Palestinian terrorist organization as well as facilitating a wider range of terrorism by defending or justifying violence carried out by Islamic groups as well as a history of virulent antisemitism. Other GMBDW reporting on the relationship of former Democrat administrations to individuals and organizations linked to the US and Global Muslim Brotherhood has included:
- In 2013, we reported that a top Muslim Brotherhood advisor had worked for the Bill Clinton Foundation in Egypt.
- In 2012 we reported that former President Bill Clinton hosted then Egyptian President and MB leader Mohammed Morsi at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative.
- In 2010, we reported on the family ties of Hillary Clinton Chief of Staff Huma Abedin to the Global Muslim Brotherhood.
- In 2010 we reported on the relationship with the US Muslim Brotherhood of President Obama’s newly appointed Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Conference.
- In 2009, we reported on the family ties of an Obama Faith Advisor to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
- In 2009, we reported that several Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood members had been invited to attend President Obama’s speech to the Muslim world in Cairo.
- In August 2008, we reported that the Obama campaign Muslim-outreach coordinator was part of multiple organizations tied to the US Muslim Brotherhood.
The GMBDW has also documented numerous White House meetings involving the US Muslim Brotherhood during the Obama Administration. The relationship of Democratic Administrations with the US Muslim Brotherhood appears to have begun in 1996 when Hillary Clinton first invited USMB leaders to a White House Iftar dinner. The GMDW judges that given the already strong relationship of Joe Biden with the USMB during the campaign, a Biden administration will likely see an unprecedented level of participation and influence by the USMB in the federal government.
The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) describes itself as “an independent, open and transparent membership organization that strives to be an exemplary and unifying Islamic organization in North America by contributing to the betterment of the Muslim community and society at large. ISNA emerged out of the early U.S. Muslim Brotherhood infrastructure and documents discovered in the course of the terrorism trial of the Holy Land Foundation confirmed that the organization was part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. ISNA was named as a Holy Land unindicted co-conspirator as a result of what the US Justice Department called the organization’s ” intimate relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestine Committee, and the defendants in this case.” 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.” ISNA has had a long history of fundamentalism, anti-semitism, and support for terrorism. Clearly considered to be “rehabilitated” by the Obama administration, ISNA has more recently issued robust condemnations of terrorism beginning with a 2008 ISNA statement that although denying culpability in the Holy Land terrorism financing case, for the first time condemned terrorism while identifying Hamas and Hezbollah by name. ISNA has also been engaged in an active program of interfaith cooperation that has included partnerships with Jewish organizations and visits to concentration camp sites in Europe. Yet despite these new efforts, ISNA continues to maintain strong ties to both the US and Global Muslim Brotherhood and has failed to date to acknowledge any aspect of its actual origins or its problematic history. The current ISNA President and Vice-President are long-time leaders USMB leaders who can in no way be said to represent any kind of reform within ISNA. For these reasons, the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch concludes that ISNA remains, as it always has been, an integral part of the US Muslim Brotherhood.
For a dated but still relevant detailed analysis of ISNA and its recent history, go here.
(NOTE: Once again, the GMBDW notes that we have no political affiliation and urge US voters to make their Presidential choice on the totality of the issues facing the country).