On August 9, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Special Envoy for Mid-East Peace Martin Indyk met with Arab and Muslim groups about Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Included in this group were leaders from the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), another group with a sordid past.
The senior U.S. officials met with Jewish groups the day prior, but those organizations have been disclosed. On the other hand, the White House is refusing to release the names of the Muslim and Arab organizations that attended.
The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) boasted of its presence on its website. ISNA is a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity according to the internal Muslim Brotherhood documents, declassified FBI memos and the Justice Department. Still, a senior White House official said without embarrassment that ISNA is “his primary means of outreach to the American Muslim community.”
One ISNA official that met with Kerry, Rice and Indyk is Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi, the Director of Community Outreach. Last year, Elsanousi went to Mauritania for a conference run by the Muslim Brotherhood about minorities in the Muslim world. When the Islamist Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Erdoga, visited the U.S., he made sure to meet with Elsanousi and other ISNA officials.
One of the suggestions that ISNA had for the U.S. officials was to “seek a mechanism to involve faith-based groups.” ISNA’s press release then notes that it is a member of the National Inter-Religious Initiative for Peace in the Middle East. ISNA regularly teams up with Christian and Jewish allies to strengthen its activism. The ISNA official spearheading this interfaith effort is Sayyid Syeed, who was recorded in 2006 saying, “[O]ur job is to change the constitution of America.”
The Muslim Public Affairs Council confirms it was at the high-level meeting in an August 12 press release. Its representative was Haris Tarin, the director of MPAC’s office in Washington, D.C. Though MPAC congratulated the Egyptian people when the Islamist President Morsi was overthrown, it has a checkered past.
In March, President Obama was given policy "recommendations" from MPAC ahead of his trip to the Middle East. MPAC’s press release gave a glimpse of the position it took at the meeting. The article states, “U.S. tax payers have financed the military occupation of Palestinian territories and the blockade of Gaza. It is a moral obligation to end the Palestinians’ suffering with financial support from Washington.”
MPAC was founded by Muslim Brotherhood ideologues and promoted the Islamist ideology in the 1990s. It also legitimized Hezbollah’s attacks on Israeli soldiers. In 2000, MPAC co-founder Maher Hathout dropped his normally calm and likeable persona to give a fiery speech where he blasted Israel as an “apartheid state” and predicted that the Arab governments will be “flushed down in the cesspools of history of treason” by a “general intifada.”
The MPAC President’s immediate reaction to 9/11 was to publicly suspect Israel as the perpetrator. MPAC called Israel a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 2001, while opposing the designations of Hamas and Hezbollah as Foreign Terrorist Organizations in 2003. In December, MPAC’s President debated the Clarion Project and was challenged to take a strong stance against the Muslim Brotherhood. He called it a “ridiculous suggestion” and “it’s not worth our time.”
Another meeting attendee was the President of the American Task Force for Palestine, Ziad Asali. The group says it condemns all violence against civilians by all sides. His bio states that he has been a member of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s Chairman’s Council since 1982 and was the group’s president from 2001 to 2003.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee has a history of legitimizing Hezbollah and Hamas. Its founder believes that the 9/11 attacks were a Zionist conspiracy and unabashedly sided with Hezbollah during its war with Israel in 2006. The group also honored journalist Helen Thomas after she made widely-condemned anti-Semitic comments.
Why is the White House afraid to disclose who Kerry, Rice and Indyk met with? This shows that the White House is fully aware of the backgrounds of who they are engaging. Instead of ending that engagement, the Obama Administration chooses to hide it.
Ryan Mauro is the ClarionProject.org’s National Security Analyst, a fellow with the Clarion Project and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.