You can say that the Russians, Saudis and Chinese run influence operations in the U.S. You can also say it about Pakistan—but if you it about the Muslim Brotherhood, then you’re an “Islamophobe.” The nonsense of this is illuminated when you look at Pakistan’s massive influence campaign; a campaign that grew out of the Muslim Brotherhood’s own campaign and remains intertwined with it.
The Pakistani press recently erupted when author Ayesha Siddiqa tweeted that a Pakistani diplomat told her in 2007 that the Pakistani ISI intelligence service had “finally” infiltrated think-tanks in Washington D.C. to influence U.S. policy.
One of the errors the ISI was making, according to Siddiqa, is that its agents lacked doctorates and credentials to compete with Indians. As evidence of the campaign’s success, she pointed to Moeed Yusuf, an expert on Pakistan at the U.S.Institute of Peace and Arif Rafique, adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute.
Another Pakistani pointed out by the Times of India is Shuja Nawaz, the director of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center. His brother is a former chief of the Pakistani army.
The Times of India buttresses Siddiqa’s claim, observing the “perceptible increase in Pakistani experts in U.S. think tanks and universities over the past decade.” The experts include several former Pakistani diplomats. The Pakistani consulate is also helping to raise money for the Charlie Wilson Chair in Pakistan Studies at the University of Texas in Austin.
The Pakistani government is spending a fortune on lobbyists and is deploying the ISI to influence U.S. policy and public opinion. Siddiqa’s report is just a reiteration of what is already known.
The smoking gun is the case of Ghulam Nabi Fai, leader of the Kashmiri-American Council, as best detailed by Patrick Poole. Fai was also secretly directing the Justice Foundation Kashmir Centre in the United Kingdom and the Kashmir Centre-European Union in Brussels, Belgium.
He first joined the Islamist group in Kashmir, Jamaat-e-Islami; essentially the Pakistani branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. He had to flee to Saudi Arabia, where the Saudi government paid for him to be educated at Temple University (which has received Iranian regime financing).
At Temple University, Fai began entering the revolving doors of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. He led the chapter of the Muslim Students Association there and was taught by a future founder of the International Institute of Islamic Thought. He then joined the Shura Council of the Islamic Society of North America. Fai was then recruited by the ISI.
Fai and the wife of ISNA Secretary-General Sayyid Syeed incorporated the Kashmiri-American Council in 1990. Syeed now leads ISNA’s Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances. He was recorded in 2006 stating, “Our job is to change the constitution of America.” The Pakistani ISI front began with a $20,000 loan from the North American Islamic Trust, yet another U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity.
Fai was paid about $4 million by the ISI over 20 years. The FBI says eight out of 10 of his public statements were written by the ISI and the remaining were pre-approved.
His partner, an American named Zaheer Ahmad, solicited donors for the Council who were reimbursed when they visited Pakistan. Ahmad mysteriously died in 2001 immediately after a report was published disclosing his meeting with Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri and a Pakistani nuclear scientist.
The ISI reportedly allocated an annual budget of $100,000 for campaign donations in order to buy access through organizations like the Kashmiri American Council.
The Center for Responsive Politics says Fai personally donated almost $30,000 since 1990. Other components of the Pakistan lobby, not necessarily funded by the ISI, have also made major contributions donations to political campaigns.
According to the FBI, there is no evidence that the following recipients of these donations knew their original source:
|Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA)||$50,000 from the chairman of the Council on Pakistan Relations and his wife.|
|Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN)||$10,900 between 1990 and 2010 from Fai. He also held at least one fundraiser for Burton at his home in Fairfax.|
Ahmad donated $2,000 in 2008 and $2,000 in 2010.
$4,800 from the chairman of the Council on Pakistan Relations and his wife.
|National Republican Senatorial Committee||$9,500 from Fai; $1,300 from the Kashmiri American Council (2001).|
|Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)||$9,600 from the chairman of the Council on Pakistan Relations and his wife.|
|Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA)||$2,000 from Fai; $2,000 from Ahmad.|
|Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA)||$2,000 from Fai.|
|Sen. Bob Kasten (R-WI)||$1,000 from Fai in 1992.|
|Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)||$500 from Fai.|
|Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)||$500 from Fai.|
|Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WA)||$500 from Fai.|
|Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)||$500 from Fai.|
|Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY)||$500 from Fai.|
|Former Vice President Al Gore (D)||$250 from Fai.|
|Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY)||$250 from Fai.|
|Sen. John Sununu (R-NH)||$250 from Fai.|
|Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL)||$250 from Fai in 2008.|
|Democratic National Committee||$250 from Fai.|
|Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee||$250 from Fai.|
The money has been well-spent. Rep. Burton has described himself as a “champion of Pakistan.” In 2007 alone, the Kashmiri American Council had 33 meetings with members of Congress and their staff and officials from the National Security Council and the State Department. Fai also led congressional delegations to Kashmir while he was on the ISI’s payroll.
Fai’s 10th annual Kashmir Peace Conference has featured almost three dozen members of Congress as speakers or attendees. In 2009, his ISI handler actually attended the Conference, as did Reps. Kucinich, Pitts, Moran, Clarke and Burton.
The Council on Pakistan Relations has spent at least $160,000 on advocacy since 2009.
The Pakistani-American Leadership Center played a key role in the birth of the Congressional Pakistan Caucus in 2004 that now includes over 50 members of Congress. Its director says that the Islamic Circle of North America, another U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity, is a “very influential” ally in the case. ICNA has links to Jamaat-e-Islami, the Pakistani Islamist group that Fai once belonged to.
All of this is pennies compared to the Pakistani embassy’s budget for influencing U.S. policy. In 2010, it paid $1.04 million to hire six lobbyists from Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell LLP and $60,000 for three lobbyists from Cassidy Associates. It also hired Clark & Weinstock and K-Global, a subsidiary of National Strategies.
Locke Lord has been paid over $2.7 million by the Pakistani embassy since May 2008. Locke Lord and five other lobbyists sprung into action on Pakistan’s behalf immediately after Osama Bin Laden was killed there in 2011. The advocates held influential positions in both political parties. One is Harriet Miers, who President Bush nominated to the Supreme Court.
The success of these Pakistani efforts is apparent when you look at the special treatment Fai received. The FBI’s plans to arrest him were repeatedly vetoed by the State Department and CIA.
The FBI interviewed him in March 2007 about his links to the ISI, tipping him off that he was under investigation and giving him an opportunity to change course. He lied to the FBI, as most Islamists would since it’s justified by their doctrine.
The Indian press reported that Fai is an ISI agent, prompting the FBI to again confront him. The agency told him that everything would be fine if he registered as a foreign agent, as required by the Foreign Agents Registration Act. He didn’t.
The U.S. Muslim Brotherhood network immediately came to Fai’s defense, and stood by him even after he pled guilty and confessed to being a foreign agent of influence.
The fact that Pakistan is trying to influence U.S. policy and public opinion wouldn’t be surprising to most Americans, although the extent of its success probably would be. But remember, the Pakistani government has done this with the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood network.
Talk of a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood network is often dismissed as paranoia or, more commonly, “Islamophobia,” but we should not be surprised by the fact that an international organization would do the same thing that foreign governments and movements have done for decades. In fact, it would be surprising if the Brotherhood didn’t try to influence U.S. policy and opinion.
The Pakistani influence operations should not be seen in isolation, but as one wave in the Islamist ocean of influence-peddling.
Ryan Mauro is the ClarionProject.org’s National Security Analyst, a fellow with the Clarion Project and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.