Politics & Policy

Obama’s Go-To ‘Moderate Islamist’

Mohamed Elibiary
His appointment to a Department of Homeland Security council has been dropped.

On Monday, I had a follow-up to last week’s column on why members of the Obama administration and other transnational progressives deny that the Islamic State is Islamic — viz., because they want to ally with what they call “moderate Islamists.” If Americans grasp that “moderate Islamists” and violent jihadists share the same basic ideology, such an alliance becomes politically untenable.

Case in point: The curious tale of Mohamed Elibiary, the Obama administration’s go-to “moderate Islamist” for counterterrorism advice.

The “moderate Islamist” folly has both domestic and international components, and the Obama administration is far from alone in it. On the foreign-policy side of the equation, see David French’s excellent post on Monday highlighting how the administration (echoed by the GOP’s McCain wing) is again calling for the arming of the purportedly “moderate Syrian rebels” — and don’t miss continuing coverage of these U.S.-backed “moderates” as they collude with terrorists from al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. When that same strategy was applied in Libya, it gave us the Benghazi Massacre, contributed to the rise of the Islamic State, and left the country in jihadist clutches.

My Monday follow-up column dealt with the domestic side of our government’s “moderate Islamist” charade: the appearance last week of several administration officials with a number of their Islamist advisers — leaders of enterprises linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. These organizations and institutions continue to have Obama’s ear even though some were proved in court to have conspired in the Brotherhood’s conspiracy to provide material support to Hamas, its Palestinian terrorist branch, through a “charity” known as the Holy Land Foundation.

Now the Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo reports on Mr. Elibiary, Obama’s appointee to the Department of Homeland Security’s Advisory Council . . . though not for long. The administration has quietly announced that Elibiary is about to be cashiered.

Obama and then–DHS secretary Janet Napolitano made Elibiary a key counterterrorism adviser even though he had been a regular contributor to the very Holy Land Foundation charity the Justice Department had prosecuted. The HLF, it turns out, was established by Elibiary’s longtime friend Shukri Abu Baker. The latter was among the defendants convicted of using the “charity” to finance Hamas — he is serving a 65-year sentence from the prosecution that Elibiary dismisses as Islamophobic persecution.

Elibiary’s intriguing credentials also include his appearance at a 2004 conference in Dallas that paid “Tribute to the Great Islamic Visionary” Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In addition, he has publicly praised the Islamic-supremacist writings of Muslim Brotherhood theorist Sayyid Qutb, so inspirational to Osama bin Laden, Omar Abdel Rahman (the Blind Sheikh), and other infamous terrorists.

As I’ve previously recounted, Elibiary was tapped by the Obama Homeland Security Department for its expert working group on “Violent Extremism” (because we wouldn’t want to call it “Jihadist Terrorism”). It was this panel that formulated the president’s vaunted counterterrorism strategy, which envisions having law-enforcement agents pare back their intelligence-gathering activities and take their marching orders from “community partners” (i.e., local Islamist organizations).

Elibiary’s star has fallen because even this Islamist-friendly administration is embarrassed over his commentary about the “inevitable” return of the Muslim “caliphate.” Islamic-supremacist rhetoric is not out of the ordinary for this, shall we say, nuanced counterterrorism expert, but it was a tad untimely: Elibiary’s tweets are being praised by Islamic State affiliates, potentially facilitating their recruitment of young Muslims into the anti-American jihad.

That’s not all. There are also allegations, broken by investigative journalist Patrick Poole in 2011, that Elibiary used the access to sensitive information afforded by his DHS position to obtain documents that he is said to have peddled to the media for purposes of manufacturing a claim of “Islamophobia” (what else?) against Texas governor Rick Perry.

Congressman Louie Gohmert (R., Texas), among others, has been pressing the administration for an explanation regarding both the leak allegations and how Elibiary managed to get a security clearance. Representative Gohmert, you may recall, is also one of the five House conservatives who asked how Hillary Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin, managed to get a security clearance despite her extensive (and not very moderate) Islamist connections. For their trouble, the five were vigorously attacked by Senator McCain, who took time out from calling for arming the “moderate Islamists” in Libya — or was it in Syria? — to defend Ms. Abedin on the Senate floor.

Obama’s DHS denied any wrongdoing by Elibiary after what it claimed was a full investigation. Nevertheless, Mr. Kredo reports that when Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act claim for details about this investigation, DHS said it did not have any. After the usual Obama-administration foot-dragging, DHS finally acknowledged in a 2013 letter that it could not find any “investigative records regarding the alleged mishandling” of sensitive information by Elibiary.

Was there a real investigation by the Obama administration of its Islamist counterterrorism adviser? We don’t know. We just know it has suddenly been announced that Elibiary won’t be reappointed.

By the way, the Obama administration also consulted with Muslim “experts” when it purged information about Islamic-supremacist ideology from the materials used to train our law-enforcement, intelligence, and military personnel. I know you’ll be shocked to hear this, but the administration refuses to identify its expert consultants — in fact, the administration took the astonishing step of classifying their identities when Congress started asking questions.

But don’t worry: We can rest assured that the experts Obama put in charge of what our national-security agents get to learn about our enemies are very “moderate Islamists.”

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book is Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.

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