The Council on American-Islamic Relations, Muslim American Society (CAIR) and Islamic Relief Worldwide, the parent organization of Islamic Relief USA, are protesting the United Arab Emirates after the Muslim-majority country banned them alongside 80 other groups including the Muslim Brotherhood.
The United Arab Emirates banned the Muslim Brotherhood, as Egypt and Saudi Arabia have done, but went several steps further by listing Brotherhood entities in Europe and the U.S. In taking this step, the UAE made a conscious decision to expose these groups as Brotherhood affiliates.
“Ideally, the UAE’s move would cause individuals associated with these groups and broader American society at large to see these organizations for what they really are: purveyors of Islamist apologetics and the malignancy of supremacism. Unfortunately, however, this list will do no such thing. Rather, it places CAIR in exactly the position they most enjoy: that of the victim.”
The AIFD says bans do not undermine the Islamist ideology, especially because governments like those in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar “just want a single tribe to control the Islamist government rather than a populist movement.”
These are valid points worth considering, however, the Muslim Brotherhood qualifies as a terrorist organization. Hamas, the Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, is officially branded a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department.
In America, the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood set up a section called the Palestine Committee with the specific objective of financing Hamas. This was accomplished by the Holy Land Foundation, an entity of the Palestine Committee, until it was shut down. CAIR is another entity of the Palestine Committee according to the U.S. Justice Department.
These Brotherhood-linked groups are now responding to the press attention by asking the UAE for explanations. One group, the Muslim American Society (MAS), said it would try to get help from the U.S. government.
Another group banned by the UAE is the Muslim American Society (MAS). This organization was “founded as the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America,” according to federal prosecutors in a 2008 court filing. The Clarion Project has documented MAS’ history of extremism, including its Brotherhood links and its leadership’s affection for Hamas.
MAS issued a press release says it is “shocked” and “perplexed” by the news and wants an official UAE explanation. It describes itself as a “religious community service organization” without a presence in the UAE.
MAS boasted earlier this year about its involvement with the U.S. government and interfaith groups. The MAS statement says, “We would also like to seek the help of our government to address this issue.”
The listed media contact for MAS is Oussama Jamal, the Secretary-General of a new Islamist political coalition consisting of at least seven radical groups. Jamal is also a senior official with the Hamas-tied Mosque Foundation, has questioned whether Arabs were involved in 9/11 and says the U.S. government’s counter-terrorism investigations are part of a “Zionist agenda.”
Jamal also endorsed a letter this year that protests the Islamic State terrorist group but endorses sharia law and its brutal hudud punishments and the rebuilding of a caliphate. Its language also exempts Hamas from its condemnation of terrorists.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) had a similar reaction and said the UAE’s action is “bizarre” and “shocking” and demanded that the UAE removed its name, as well as that of MAS and other “civil society” groups.
“There is absolutely no factual basis for the inclusion CAIR and other American and European civil rights and advocacy groups on this list. Like the rest of the mainstream institutions representing the American Muslim community, CAIR’s advocacy model is the antithesis of the narrative of violent extremists,” CAIR says.
CAIR then defends itself by mentioning that it endorsed the aforementioned letter against the Islamic State that supposedly proves it is moderate. However, the letter, as mentioned above, endorses sharia law and its brutal hudud punishments and the rebuilding of a caliphate. Its language also exempts Hamas from its condemnation of terrorists.
CAIR was labeled an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial of another U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity named the Holy Land Foundation for financing Hamas. The Justice Department listed it as an entity of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee; a secret body established to support Hamas.
In a statement to the Clarion Project, Islamic Relief Worldwide said:
“On November 15, the United Arab Emirates designated over 80 groups as ‘terrorist organizations,’ including Islamic Relief. Islamic Relief is a purely humanitarian organization and categorically denies links with terrorism. We will be engaging with the UAE authorities to seek the removal of this wrongful decision.”
The Clarion Project has documented Islamic Relief USA’s history of extremist links. For example, Islamic Relief USA’s Director of Fund Development and Senior National Director, Azhar Azeez, is now the President of the Islamic Society of North America, a group that the U.S. Justice Department designated as an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas-financing trial along with CAIR.
The Justice Department also listed Azeez’s group as a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity. Azeez also signed the aforementioned letter that endorses sharia governance and the rebuilding of the Caliphate.
The Israeli government banned Islamic Relief Worldwide this summer due to alleged Hamas links. In 2006, Israel arrested and deported IRW’s Gaza project director for financing Hamas. The Israelis said he admitted to working with Hamas entities in the region.
At least three IRW offices have a working relationship with a Hamas affiliate in Turkey named the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, more commonly known by the acronym of IHH. There are very strong indications that Islamic Relief USA also does. IHH is banned as a terrorist organization in Israel, Germany and the Netherlands and a bi-partisan majority of the U.S. Congress wants to do the same.
Altogether, the Clarion Project has identified nine current or former senior Islamic Relief USA officials with links to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and/or the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. Several have expressed support for Hamas or Muslim Brotherhood leaders that support Hamas like former Egyptian President Morsi and Brotherhood spiritual leader Yousef al-Qaradawi.
By labeling these American organizations such as CAIR, MAS and IRW as terrorists along with the Muslim Brotherhood, the UAE has thrown down the gauntlet. The UAE wants the world to know that the Brotherhood operates legally in the West through front groups.
The UAE had to know the backlash this move would cause. It decided it was worth it. That is a testament to how concerned the UAE is about the Muslim Brotherhood in America and Europe.
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio.