It is not out of ignorance that President Obama and Secretary Kerry are denying the Islamic roots of the Islamic State jihadists. As I argued in a column here last week, we should stop scoffing as if this were a blunder and understand the destructive strategy behind it. The Obama administration is quite intentionally promoting the progressive illusion that “moderate Islamists” are the solution to the woes of the Middle East, and thus that working cooperatively with “moderate Islamists” is the solution to America’s security challenges.
I wrote a book a few years ago called The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America that addressed this partnership between Islamists and progressives. The terms “grand jihad” and “sabotage” are lifted from an internal Muslim Brotherhood memorandum that lays bare the Brotherhood’s overarching plan to destroy the West from within by having their component organizations collude with credulous Western governments and opinion elites.
The plan is going well.
As long as the news media and even conservative commentators continue to let them get away with it, the term “moderate Islamist” will remain useful to transnational progressives. It enables them to avoid admitting that the Muslim Brotherhood is what they have in mind.
As my recent column explained, the term “moderate Islamist” is an oxymoron. An Islamist is a Muslim who wants repressive sharia imposed. There is nothing moderate about sharia even if the Muslim in question does not advocate imposing it by violence.
Most people do not know what the term “Islamist” means, so the contradiction is not apparent to them. If they think about it at all, they figure “moderate Islamist” must be just another way of saying “moderate Muslim,” and since everyone acknowledges that there are millions of moderate Muslims, it seems logical enough. Yet, all Muslims are not Islamists. In particular, all Muslims who support the Western principles of liberty and reason are not Islamists.
If you want to say that some Islamists are not violent, that is certainly true. But that does not make them moderate. There is, moreover, less to their nonviolence than meets the eye. Many Islamists who do not personally participate in jihadist aggression support violent jihadists financially and morally — often while feigning objection to their methods or playing semantic games (e.g., “I oppose terrorism but I support resistance,” or “I oppose the killing of innocent people . . . but don’t press me on who is an innocent”).
Understandably, the public is inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to people the government describes as “moderates” and portrays as our “allies.” If transnational progressives were grilled on these vaporous terms, though, and forced to concede, say, that the Muslim Brotherhood was the purportedly “moderate opposition” our government wants to support in Syria, the public would object. While not expert in the subject, many Americans are generally aware that the Brotherhood supports terrorism, that its ideology leads young Muslims to graduate to notorious terrorist organizations, and that it endorses oppressive Islamic law while opposing the West. Better for progressives to avoid all that by one of their dizzying, internally nonsensical word games — hence, “moderate Islamist.”
I rehearse all that because last week, right on cue, representatives of Brotherhood-tied Islamist organizations appeared with Obama-administration officials and other apologists for Islamic supremacism to ostentatiously “condemn” the Islamic State as “not Islamic.”
As I recount with numerous examples in The Grand Jihad, this is the manipulative double game the Brotherhood has mastered in the West, aided and abetted by progressives of both parties. While speaking to credulous Western audiences desperate to believe Islam is innately moderate, the Brothers pretend to abhor terrorism, claim that terrorism is actually “anti-Islamic,” and threaten to brand you as an “Islamophobe” racist — to demagogue you in the media, ban you from the campus, and bankrupt you in court — if you dare to notice the nexus between Islamic doctrine and systematic terrorism committed by Muslims. Then, on their Arabic sites and in the privacy of their mosques and community centers, they go back to preaching jihad, championing Hamas, calling for Israel’s destruction, damning America, inveighing against Muslim assimilation in the West, and calling for society’s acceptance of sharia mores.
The Investigative Project’s John Rossomando reports on last Wednesday’s shenanigans at the National Press Club. The Islamist leaders who “urged the public to ignore [the Islamic State’s] theological motivations,” included “former Council on American-Islamic Affairs (CAIR) Tampa director Ahmed Bedier, [who] later wrote on Twitter that IS [the Islamic State] ‘is not a product of Islam,’ and blamed the United States for its emergence.”
Also on hand were moderate moderator Haris Tarin, Washington director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC); Imam Mohamed Magid, former president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA); and Johari Abdul-Malik, an imam at the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va. All of these Islamists are consultants to the Obama administration on policy matters; Magid is actually a member Obama’s Homeland Security Advisory Council.
Where to begin? CAIR, as I’ve repeatedly pointed out, is a Muslim Brotherhood creation conceived to be a Western-media-savvy shill for Islamic supremacism in general, and Hamas in particular. At the 2007–08 terrorism-financing prosecution of Hamas operatives in the Holy Land Foundation case — involving a Brotherhood conspiracy that funneled millions of dollars to Palestinian jihadists — CAIR was proven to be a co-conspirator, albeit unindicted. Mr. Bedier, who is profiled by the Investigative Project here, is a notorious apologist for Hamas — the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch, which is formally designated as a terrorist organization under U.S. law. He also vigorously championed such terrorists as Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Sami al-Arian (who pled guilty in 2006 to conspiring to provide material support to terrorism).
I’ve profiled MPAC here. It was founded by disciples of Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna and champions of both Hezbollah and the Sudanese Islamists who gave safe-haven to al-Qaeda during the mid Nineties. After the atrocities of September 11, 2001, MPAC’s executive director, Salam al-Marayati, immediately urged that “we should put the state of Israel on the suspect list.” Without a hint of irony, MPAC’s main business is condemning irrational suspicion . . . the “Islamophobia” it claims Muslims are systematically subjected to. Like many CAIR operatives and other purveyors of victim politics, MPAC officials tend to double as Democratic-party activists.
Magid’s organization, ISNA, is the most important Muslim Brotherhood organization in the United States. I have profiled it in these pages a number of times. As detailed in The Grand Jihad, it is the Islamist umbrella organization that traces its origins to the Muslim Students Association, the foundation of the Brotherhood’s American infrastructure.
The MSA, which indoctrinates students in the jihadist-lauding works of Banna and Sayid Qutb, has not surprisingly been the launch point for several prominent terrorists — Patrick Poole provides the scorecard here, which includes al-Qaeda founder Wael Julaidan; al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki; al Qaeda financier and Hamas/Hezbollah champion Abdurrahman Alamoudi; and Aafia Siddiqui, the notorious “Lady al-Qaeda” who was captured apparently plotting a terror rampage targeting New York City, who attempted to murder as U.S. Army captain while in custody, and whose release the Islamic State has been demanding. (Other MSA alumni include ousted Egyptian president and Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, and top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin.)
I profiled the Dar al-Hijrah mosque and Johari Abdul-Malik, one of its very interesting imams, in both The Grand Jihad and a 2010 column. At a 2001 conference hosted by the Islamic Association of Palestine — an organization the Muslim Brotherhood established to promote Hamas in the United States — Abdul Malik advised that Muslims could “blow up bridges” and “do all forms of sabotage” as long as they avoided “kill[ing] people who are innocent on their way to work.” As he works to make Islam “the dominant way of life” in America (as he put it in a Friday “sermon” in 2004), he shrugs off the mosque’s history of praising violent jihad, comparing jihadist “martyrs” to the United States Marines.
One of the founders of Dar al-Hijrah was Ismail Elbarasse, a Muslim Brotherhood operative who was a friend and business partner of Mousa abu Marzook — a high Hamas official who, before being deported, actually ran that terrorist organization from his Virginia home. It was from Elbarasse’s home that the FBI seized the 1991 Brotherhood memo from which I derived the title of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America — a document in which the Brotherhood described its “work in America” as
a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers, so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.
Dar al-Hijrah’s imams and board members have included a who’s who of the jihad:
‐Anwar al-Awlaki, the aforementioned al-Qaeda operative;
‐Mohammed al-Hanooti, a former Islamic Association of Palestine leader and major Hamas fundraiser;
‐Mohammed Adam El-Sheikh, a founder of the Muslim American Society (the Brotherhood’s quasi-official presence in the U.S.) who ran the Baltimore office of the Islamic American Relief Agency until that charity was shut down by the Treasury Department for supporting al-Qaeda;
‐Abdelhaleem Asquar, serving a federal prison sentence for obstructing an investigation of Hamas’s American support network;
‐Samir Salah, who helped Osama bin Laden’s nephew set up another charity (Taiba International Aid Association) that was shut down for bankrolling terrorism;
‐Esam Omeish, a Democrat who was forced to resign from a state-government immigration panel after the emergence of videos showing his praise for “the jihad way” against Israel.
With such a cast of characters, the mosque has predictably attracted some notorious attendees, including the aforementioned terrorists Marzook and Alamoudi; Nidal Hasan, the jihadist who murdered 13 American soldiers at Fort Hood; Omar Abu Ali, the one-time valedictorian at Virginia’s Islamic Saudi Academy who is now serving a life sentence after joining al-Qaeda and conspiring to murder President George W. Bush; and 9/11 suicide hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Hani Hanjour — Awlaki’s ofttimes companions whose presence cannot be all that surprising since an al-Hijrah Islamic Center phone number was found in the Hamburg apartment shared by 9/11 ringleaders Mohammed Atta and Ramzi bin al-Shibh.
By appearing with leaders of Dar al-Hijrah, ISNA, MPAC, and CAIR, the Obama administration and its allies are telling us that these purportedly “moderate Islamists” are the allies America needs to defeat the Islamic State.
— 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.