Middle East studies in the News
The Obama Administration Opens Formal Contacts With the Muslim Brotherhood [incl. Rashid Khalidi & Ingrid Mattson]
by Andrew McCarthy
Don't say I didn't warn you. Besides explaining what the Muslim Brotherhood is and has always been, the major point of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the West Sabotage America was to warn that this day was coming. And so it has come: Reuters reports that the Obama administration has established a policy of formal contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood is the world's most important Islamist organization. It is openly, unabashedly committed to the destruction of the United States and the West. In typical Obama fashion, this disastrous decision to engage America's avowed enemies has been couched as the mere continuation of prior policy: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is reported to have confirmed that the U.S. would "resume" contacts which had "occurred in recent years." But make no mistake about it, this is a new policy.
The contacts that have occurred in recent years have been outside of U.S. policy — at the urging of leftists in the State Department, the intelligence community, the commentariat, and, in particular, the Obama White House. They have long campaigned for a policy of "engagement" with the Muslim Brotherhood (including Hamas, the terrorist organization that is the Brotherhood's Palestinian branch). They've needed to do this campaigning because it was American policy not to deal with the Brotherhood — dealing with the Brothers empowers them, bolstering their status as leaders of mainstream Islam and legitimizing their agenda, which calls for Islamicizing societies, ultimately establishing a global caliphate, destroying Israel, and incrementally expanding sharia throughout the West.
This day has been coming since President Obama's first day in office. In 2007-08, the Brotherhood was proved by the Justice Department to be engaged in what the Brotherhood itself describes as a "grand jihad" aimed at the "elimination and destruction of Western civilization from within" by "sabotage." The title of my book was not my words but theirs — taken from their internal memoranda, seized by the FBI from the home of a Brotherhood official. The Brotherhood's anti-U.S. strategy was not news to anyone who follows Islamist movements, but the proof for all to see came during the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trial, during which several defendants were convicted of funneling millions of dollars to Hamas. Supporting Hamas's terrorist war against Israel has been the Brotherhood's highest priority in the U.S. since Hamas was formed, and trial evidence showed unmistakably that the leading Islamist organizations in the U.S. — almost all either formed by or having ties to the Brotherhood — were complicit.
Among the most important of these is the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), which was designated as an unindicted coconspirator by the Justice Department and shown by prosecutors to have housed the HLF in its offices and to have helped it transfer money to Hamas fronts overseas. Yet, only a few months after the convictions, the Obama administration dispatched Valerie Jarrett, the president's close friend and top political adviser, to give the keynote address at ISNA's 2009 convention. This was only the most notorious of the administration's outreach episodes involving groups (such as CAIR) which were shown to be Brotherhood affiliates and Islamist apologists. Indeed, by the time of Ms. Jarrett's appearance at the ISNA convention, ISNA president Ingrid Mattson had been chosen to speak at Obama's inauguration ceremonies, and Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Arif Alikhan (who has referred to Hezbollah as a "liberation movement") was named assistant secretary for policy development at Obama's Homeland Security Department.
At around the same time, at his 2009 Cairo speech — which was one big "outreach" to Islamists — the administration infuriated the Mubarak regime by inviting Brotherhood members to attend, even though the Brotherhood was then a formally banned organization under Egyptian law. Ultimately, of course, the administration pushed Mubarak aside even though it was clear by then that his fall would usher the Brotherhood into power. That will happen in the upcoming fall elections, the Brothers having successfully lobbied for a rapid election schedule that will prevent the formation of any meaningful secular opposition.
In the meantime, the administration has worked feverishly to whitewash the Brotherhood's extremism and support of terrorism. As I have argued, Obama officials were preparing the ground for the Brotherhood's ascendancy. They understand the political consequences of this catastrophe for the president … if the American people come to recognize what the Brotherhood is and how deeply it despises America and the West.
Thus, as the uprising in Egypt intensified, Obama adviser Bruce Reidel was quick to pen an essay called "Don't fear Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood" (to which I responded here on NRO). James Clapper, Obama's director of national intelligence, then proceeded to insult Congress's intelligence — and badly damage his reputation for seriousness — by branding the Brotherhood as a moderate, "largely secular" organization. (Besides being known as the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization's motto remains, "Allah is our objective, the Prophet is our leader, the Koran is our law, Jihad is our way, and dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope — Allahu Akbar!")
Only a few months before Clapper's testimony, the Brotherhood's Supreme Guide, Muhammad Badi, called for "jihad and sacrifice" in confronting the United States and Israel. He proclaimed that America is "experiencing the beginning of its end and is heading toward its demise." The enthusiastic endorsement of violence, particularly against Israel, would be surprising only to those who drink the Obama Kool-Aid that claims the Brotherhood has renounced violence.
As I have repeatedly pointed out — and as Barry Rubin argues in this excellent analysis of the new Obama policy — the Brotherhood has always favored violence where it would advance the Islamist cause; it tactically renounced violence against the Egyptian regime because it would have prompted ruinous retaliation from Mubarak and because the Brotherhood was making progress through the political process and influence over Egyptian institutions.
Quite apart from its long history of violence, the Brotherhood has long endorsed terrorism (which it calls "resistance") against Israel and against Western forces operating in Islamic countries. The Brothers also favor an inside/outside strategy against the U.S. and Europe — exploiting the atmosphere of intimidation created by Islamist terrorists like al Qaeda to exercise outsize influence over American and Western policy-makers while advancing the sharia agenda through "peaceful" political means. It was not surprising, then, that the Brotherhood's former Supreme Guide, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, praised Osama bin Laden as a "mujahid" (a jihad warrior) in a 2008 interview — adding that, though the Brotherhood objected to al Qaeda's targeting of civilians, "I support its activities against the occupiers," and concluding that bin Laden deserved praise for his "sincerity in resisting the occupation," a point on which the al Qaeda leader was said to be "close to Allah on high."
The Brotherhood's approach is popular in Egypt and throughout the Islamic Middle East. Indeed, shortly after Mubarak fell, the Brotherhood's leading jurisprudent, Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, was given a hero's welcome in Tahrir Square, where he had been banned from inciting Islamist revolutionaries for 30 years. The sheikh is the most influential Islamic cleric in the world. Drawing on classical sharia teaching, he instructs that Islam and secularlism cannot co-exist. Moreover, Qaradawi has promised that Islam will "conquer" America and Europe, he calls for the annihilation of Israel by violent jihad, he incited the murderous rioting over the Danish cartoon depictions of Mohammed, and he has issued fatwas approving suicide bombings and the terrorist murder of American troops and support personnel in Iraq. I'm sure you'll be shocked to learn that the State Department has nevertheless long regarded Qaradawi as an "intelligent and thoughtful voice from the region" who is "an important figure that deserves our attention" (to quote Alberto Fernandez, State's director of public diplomacy in the Middle East during the Bush years).
Since Mubarak's fall, the Brotherhood has worked toward formally reestablishing Egypt's ties with Iran and for ending the peace agreement with Israel. The Brotherhood is also behind the "Peace Flotilla" expeditions in which Islamists and Leftists join together in efforts to break Israel's blockade against Hamas in Gaza — the American part of the effort is being spearheaded by such old Obama friends former PLO spokesman Rashid Khalidi, Code Pink founder Jodi Evans, and Weather Underground terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn — and the planned U.S. ship is called, yes,The Audacity of Hope.
Meanwhile, the Obama Justice Department has pulled the plug on further prosecution of the Muslim Brotherhood affiliates identified as coconspirators in the Holy Land Foundation case. And now we'll be formally engaged with the Brotherhood overseas just as we've been formally embracing its operatives in our own country. The Grand Jihad is right on schedule.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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