Influence: The Muslim Brotherhood in America
WaPo Fact Checker Misleads on Huma Abedin & the Muslim Brotherhood: What’s the Truth?
The Journal openly endorsed the positions of Brotherhood theoreticians and called for the imposition of sharia law among Muslim minorities in the West.
BY Kyle Shideler · @ShidelerK | August 25, 2016
Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post conducted a particularly inept attempt at “fact checking” reports that Clinton chief of Staff Huma Abedin has “ties” to the Muslim Brotherhood. Kessler’s attempt rests on essentially four claims:
1. That Huma Abedin held a position as Associate Editor for the Journal for Muslim Minority Affairs for twelve years, but never did any actual work.
2. The Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs is not regarded as “radical” by its own board of advisors and selected “experts.”
3. That the Journal’s founder Abdullah Omar Naseef’s ties to World Muslim League is irrelevant.
4. That the World Muslim League could not have been a Saudi-funded operation and a Muslim Brotherhood-led organization at the same time.
To take Kessler’s objections in order:
Point 1 is simply a restatement of the Clinton campaign’s position, and Kessler does nothing to examine it critically. It is an undisputed fact that Huma Abedin was an employee of the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs (IMMA) for 12 years, and appeared on the masthead of the organization’s journal, the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs (JMMA) right up until the time she began to work at the State Department for Secretary Clinton.
As noted by former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy:
The journal was the IMMA’s raison d’etre. Abedin held the position of assistant editor from 1996 through 2008 — from when she began working as an intern in the Clinton White House until shortly before she took her current position as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff.
Whether one finds it plausible that an individual might be listed as an “associate editor” for a period of 12 years, yet never be called upon to perform the task which their position suggests (i.e. editing) is not a question of fact. The readers, (Kessler’s and ours) will need to determine for themselves whether such an excuse holds water, but a reasonable person might look upon their own life’s experience and wonder whether they ever approached a decade or longer in a position without even having seen the work ostensibly produced there during their tenure.
Kessler’s Point 2 is that the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs was not “radical” as defined by certain hand-picked academics who agreed with Kessler’s position and members of the journal’s own advisory board (who can safely be said to have a dog in the fight.)
To begin with, one should understand what is meant by “Muslim Minority” affairs. Kessler infantilizes this fascinating and complex area of Islamic studies, noting only that the journal’s interest in minority affairs, “continues to be demonstrated in the recent issue, with five articles on Muslim life in Australia.”
In fact “Muslim minority affairs” is principally concerned with questions of the Fiqh (jurisprudence) of Minorities, the area of Sharia law jurisprudence concerned with the role and status of Muslims who have immigrated to non-Muslim states. As Uriya Shavit notes in his work, Islamism and the West: From “Cultural Attack” to “Missionary Migrant”, this form of jurisprudence was created by prominent Muslim Brotherhood associated scholars, notably Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, and Taha Jaber Alwani, who were principally concerned with how to transform Muslim migrants living in the West into “missionaries” for the cause of Islam in order to overcome a perceived civilizational/cultural conflict between the West and the Islamic world.
As a result it is entirely unsurprising to find that the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs contains repeated, and approving citations to prominent Muslim Brotherhood thinkers, including Qaradawi, and Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb. Far from being “cherry-picked”, as Kessler asserts, one should be surprised if there were NOT Islamist thinkers approvingly cited in a journal dedicated to an area of modern Islamist thought.
Understood in this way, it is impossible to understand the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs as anything other than a journal concerned with Sharia, particularly jurisprudence on Sharia as it relates to Muslim Minority Affairs. Kessler’s attempt to claim otherwise only serves to confirm that he is ignorant of Sharia or the scholarship and jurisprudence surrounding it.
The question than is only whether such Islamist thinkers are rightly deserving of the pejorative “radical.” Kessler’s academics say no, but who can blame the New York Post for thinking that approving citations to Qaradawi, who issued the fatwas permitting Hamas suicide bombings, or Sayyid Qutb, whom the 9/11 Commission described as inspiration for Osama Bin Laden, ought to earn the moniker.
Indeed can’t readers decide for themselves whether it was “radical” for Huma Abedin’s mother, JMMA Editor Saleha Abedin to blame 9/11 on U.S. perpetrated “injustices and sanctions” as she did in a 2002 issue of the journal?
This is a subjective question, which can not be fact-checked. It can however be quoted, and individuals can make the decision for themselves. Abedin the elder wrote:
“The spiral of violence having continued unabated worldwide, and widely seen to be allowed to continue, was building up intense anger and hostility within the pressure cooker that was kept on a vigorous flame while the lid was weighted down with various kinds of injustices and sanctions . . . It was a time bomb that had to explode and explode it did on September 11, changing in its wake the life and times of the very community and the people it aimed to serve.”
Rather than allowing readers to make up their own minds as to how much support for terrorism might be considered “radical,” Kessler chooses to rely only upon those who would be predisposed to defend the journal’s contents anyway, most notably Harvard scholar Noah Feldman, who is after all on record describing the Hamas-supporting Qaradawi as an “Islamic democrat.”
That’s good enough for Kessler. Move along folks, nothing to see here.
Point #3 for Kessler’s apologetic is poo-pooing the fact IMMA was founded by Abdullah Omar Naseef, an influential Saudi leader, with the help of Abedin’s father Syed Abedin in the late 1970s. While Kessler attempts to paint Naseef’s position as having been essentially too long ago to be worth examining, the reality is that Nassef and Huma Abedin overlapped at IMMA for a period of seven years.
The heart of the controversy is Naseef’s ties to the Muslim World League. Kessler attempts to distance Naseef by reflecting that the Saudi leader held the position of Secretary General of MWL for a decade, from 1983-1993, while the Muslim World League offices in Herdon, VA weren’t raided by Law enforcement until after 9/11.
Never mind that The Muslim World League was specifically mentioned by Osama bin Laden as a source of funding or that MWL’s subsidiary, the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) had two of its branches named as specially designated global terrorist entities, Kessler does not see fit to mention these facts.
Another WML subsidiary founded by Nassef, the Rabita Trust, is also a specially designated global terrorist entity according to the U.S. Treasury Department. While Kessler acknowledges the Rabita Trust connection, he attempts to downplay it by noting that it wasn’t until years later that the United States would get around to designating the Rabita Trust for supporting AL Qaeda.
But what Kessler choose not to tell you, is that when the U.S. Treasury Department did so, they designated Rabita Trust’s Director General Wael Hamza Julaidan, a close associate of Osama Bin Laden. Who appointed Julaidan to the post?
None other than Abdullah Omar Nassef.
As National security analyst David Reaboi put this all in context when the allegations first surfaced in 2012:
In other words, many of the people and groups with whom a man like Naseef surrounds himself (at minimum) tend to be what you’d call “problematic,” and a locus of these links should (again, at the very minimum) give a background investigator pause–or, more sensibly, ring the alarm bells–if he finds not one but several links to Naseef or people like him.
The last, and perhaps most inept arrow in Kessler’s quiver is his pointing out that the Saudi government, for which Naseef worked and which funded the World Muslim League, designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group in 2014. Ipso facto, he suggests, they could not possibly have coordinated to stand up a journal of Islamist thought.
Of course every student of the history of Islamist movements knows full well that the Saudi government cooperated with the Muslim Brotherhood in standing up the Muslim World League, and in many other projects besides. This is why the Muslim World League’s founding intellectuals included Said Ramadan (son-in-law of Brotherhood founder Hassan Al-Banna) and the aforementioned Taha Jaber Alwani.
As Shavit notes in his previously mentioned work, “while Islamists provided expertise in theorizing and proselytizing, Saudi Arabia provided generous funding that promoted publications, conventions and missions dedicate to da’wa around the world.”
In other words, the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs discusses the very kinds of issues that Muslim Brotherhood thinkers were working on at the time of its founding, supported by an organization founded by the Muslim Brotherhood intellectuals who were examining these issues, and was established, funded and supported by the Saudi government,including Abdullah Omar Naseef, in exactly the manner one would expect, if one had any serious inclination to the study the issue at all.
Kessler could have openly made the argument that these ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi proselytizing organs exist, that there is nothing wrong with them, and that Huma Abedin should not be held to account for these associations. That would be a weak argument but would accept all of the known facts. Still Kessler cannot quite bring himself to do that. Instead he stakes out the more expansive, and ultimately indefensible position, that none of these organizations have any Muslim Brotherhood connections whatsoever.
As a result Kessler’s fact-check goes from not just subjective to aggressively counter-factual.
Kyle Shideler is the Director of the Threat Information Office at the Center for Security Policy.
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In 2007, Federal prosecutors brought charges of terrorism financing against the Holy Land Foundation, the largest Islamic charity in America, which funneled $12.4 million to Hamas.
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