The White House has released the names of senior American Muslim leaders that President Obama met with personally last week. The list of names was included on the transcript of the White House daily press briefing on Thursday, despite journalists having requested the information much sooner. Prior to that, the White House had refused to name the leaders.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with the President meeting with representatives from any faith community and with the Muslim community in particular. Yet some of the individuals who met with the President have alarming links to the Muslim Brotherhood and organizations that have funded terrorism.
Azhar Azeez represented the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in the talks with Obama. Declassified FBI documents show that ISNA was identified as a Muslim Brotherhood front group as early as 1987 and its past leaders include Abdurrahman Alamoudi, who was convicted on terrorism related charges in 2004.
In 2007, ISNA was designated as an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation, a charity shut down by the U.S. government for financing Hamas. The U.S. Department of Justice listed ISNA as one of the “individuals/entities who are and/or were members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.”
Mr. Azeez is also the senior National Director of Islamic Relief USA, the American branch of Islamic Relief worldwide. The United Arab Emirates lists Islamic Relief Worldwide as a terrorist organization. Israel also banned Islamic Relief from operating in the disputed territories it administers, accusing it of funding Hamas.
According to the Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs “The IRW provides support and assistance to Hamas’s infrastructure. The IRW’s activities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip are carried out by social welfare organizations controlled and staffed by Hamas operatives. The intensive activities of these associations are designed to further Hamas’s ideology among the Palestinian population.”
Five senior members of Islamic Relief USA were named in a list of 30 Muslim Brotherhood operatives in America by the leading Egyptian newspaper El-Watan.
Azeez’s bio also says he is a founder and past president of the Dallas/Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), another U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity and unindicted co-conspirator. CAIR is also listed as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates.
Imam Mohamed Magid is the President of the Islamic Society of North America and head of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society ( ADAMS) Center, in which capacity he met with the President. The ADAMS Center was investigated by the FBI for connections to terrorism funding and was raided in 2004 by federal agents.
Mohamed Magid signed a letter in September 2014 alongside other Islamist leaders which condemned the Islamic State while asserting the need for an Islamic Caliphate and supporting the hudud punishments of sharia law, which include amputation, flogging and the execution of apostates. The letter said that a person could only be regarded as an apostate if the person “openly declares disbelief.”
Azhar Azeez also signed the aforementioned letter. Among the other signatories to that letter was terrorist supporting Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah, who in the past endorsed a fatwa that authorized the killing of US soldiers. He also said that giving donations to jihadists who fight Israel count as zakat and said as recently as 2013 that Muslim leaders should give Hamas financial and military assistance to fight Israel. Bin Bayyah was cited by Obama in an address to the UN in September 2014 as a Muslim leader who supports peace.
Hoda Hawa is National Policy Advisor of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). MPAC was founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, one of which, Mather Hathout, served jail time in Egypt for his membership in the group.
In 2001 the then President of MPAC said that Israel should be included on the suspect list of those who might have perpetrated 9/11. MPAC cooperated with other Muslim-Brotherhood aligned groups to oppose the appointment of Muslim anti-Islamist activist Dr. Zudhi Jasser to the U.S. Commission on International Freedom.
MPAC co-founder Mather Hathout has also made statements in the past in support of Lebanese Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah.
They also have a very limited following. A 2011 Gallup poll found that only 6% of Muslim-American males and 1% of females chose MPAC as the organization that most represents their interests, even though MPAC has large resources and has been around since 1988.
Also present was Rahat Hussain, president of the Universal Muslim Association of America (UMAA) . The UMAA received thousands of dollars from the Alavi Foundation, an Iranian propaganda front group, from 2005 onwards. Clarion Project discovered that they received at least $138,000 from the Alavi Foundation between 2005 and 2012. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office investigations chief, Adam Kaufmann, said “We found evidence that the government of Iran really controlled everything about the foundation.”
The British Government is set this week to launch a major clampdown on Muslim Brotherhood front groups and the funding of terrorism after lengthy investigations found multiple Muslim Brotherhood entities operating within the country.
Yet in America the State Department received a delegation from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The meetings were described as “fruitful” by one of the delegates. The State Department, after facing criticism for the meeting, then doubled down on their decision to do so in a later press briefing.
This is while Brotherhood representatives in Turkey are calling for violence on the streets in Egypt, saying “we are now in the retaliation phase.” At the same time, a Brotherhood TV station based in Turkey broadcast a threat to all foreigners in Egypt that they must flee the country or face being targeted by terrorist attacks, while another Muslim Brotherhood figure said “It is time to begin armed insurrection.”
Given that these American Muslim leaders have highly problematic connections to Muslim Brotherhood front groups, why are they being given access to meet the President personally, especially when one takes into account the presence of genuine anti-Islamist Muslim leaders like Dr. Zudhi Jasser who are denied such opportunities?
Is it any wonder then, as Khaled Abu Toameh wrote for the Gatestone Institute, that the USA is currently viewed in the Middle East as an ally of terrorism?
Elliot Friedland is a research fellow for the Clarion Project.