Rashad Hussain, Barack Obama’s special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, has run into a problem: He appears to be an Islamist. The evidence largely concerns a public statement he made six years ago, as Josh Gerstein reports in Politico:
Hussain, now a deputy associate White House counsel, was quoted back in 2004 decrying the prosecution of a Florida professor accused of ties to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Sami Al-Arian. However, the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report noted Sunday that the article quoting Hussain, published in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, was subsequently sanitized on the Web to remove the quotes and all other references to Hussain. The changes appear to have taken place in 2007 or later.
According to the original story, Hussain told a panel discussion at a Muslim Students Association conference in ‘04 that the criminal case against Al-Arian was one of a series of “politically motivated persecutions.” Hussain also reportedly asserted that Al-Arian was being “used politically to squash dissent.”
Of course, this was not at all the case: Sami Al-Arian was an accessory to terrorism by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and he now sits in a U.S. jail for his actions.
At this point, Hussain’s views hinge on the reliability of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Its news editor, Delinda Hanley, explained that his
quotes were taken down because the quotes attributed to him actually came from Al-Arian’s daughter, Laila Al-Arian, who took part in the same panel discussion. ”Laila Al-Arian said the things attributed to Rashad Hussain, and an intern who attended the event and wrote up the article made an error, which was corrected on our Web site by deleting the two quotes in their entirety,” Hanley wrote in an e-mail to POLITICO.
However, the author of the article, Shereen Kandil, said Tuesday that she stood by her original report. “When I worked as a reporter, I understood how important it was to quote the right person, and accurately,” Kandil wrote in response to an e-mailed query from POLITICO asking about the possibility of a misquotation.
As someone who has experienced first-hand the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs’s grossly inaccurate reporting, I would like to voice an opinion here.
In July 2001, the magazine reported on a panel I took part in at Lewis and Clark College in Oregon. It ascribed to me the statement that “The Palestinians are a miserable people . . . and they deserve to be.” I had not said this, and immediately responded to the article. The WRMEA (snidely) published my letter to the editor in its October 2001 issue. In the letter, I denied having made the statement, said it’s “not how I think, speak, or write,” and quoted from an article of mine published six days after the panel to show my actual views about Palestinians.
Now, the WRMEA, an obsessively anti-Zionist publication that believes Israel’s Mossad killed Kennedy, overthrew Nixon, and considered assassinating George H. W. Bush, clearly likes Hussain more than me, so his misquote eventually got pulled while mine, more than eight years later, still languishes on its website, and is still quoted against me.
But that should not divert attention from the WRMEA’s reliance on amateur ideologues to “report” on events for it and the publication’s lack of credibility. In an argument between Hussain and the WRMEA, therefore, I am inclined to believe the former.
– Daniel Pipes (www.DanielPipes.org) is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.