Yes, you read that correctly: Somehow, the Muslim Public Affairs Council has been given space in the Cannon Office Building on Capitol Hill this evening to welcome Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of the Ennahda, the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate that recently won the election in Tunisia.
MPAC is an Islamist group whose founders included disciples of Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna as well as admirers of Hezbollah — some of whom referred to the Shiite terrorist organization that is an arm of Iran as a “liberation movement,” rationalizing its 1983 bombing of the U.S. marine barracks in Beirut as a “military operation” rather than a terrorist attack. After 9/11, MPAC’s current director, Salam al-Marayati, immediately pronounced that Israel should be on top of the list of suspects. (More background on MPAC from the Investigative Project on Terrorism, here.)
Rachid Ghannouchi is a longtime Islamist who was actually banned from the U.S. during the nineties — when he was invited here by Sami al-Arian, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative who has since been convicted on a terrorism charge. Consistent with the Brotherhood’s wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing marketing makeover, which is a perfect strategy for winning over Westerners desperate to be convinced, he and Ennahda are putting on their moderate airs. They purport to have committed to refrain from implanting sharia, to protect women’s rights, etc.
But Islamists have trouble maintaining this charade, especially when they think credulous English ears are not listening. As the Investigative Project on Terrorism reports in its story about tonight’s festivities, only a few months ago, in an interview with an Arab-language website, Ghannouchi called for the destruction of Israel and expressed optimism that the Jewish state would soon disappear:
The Arab Spring “will achieve positive results on the path to the Palestinian cause and threaten the extinction of Israel,” Ghannouchi said. “I give you the good news that the Arab region will get rid of the bacillus of Israel. Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the leader of Hamas, said that Israel will disappear by the year 2027. I say that this date may be too far away, and Israel may disappear before this.”
The IPT report elaborates that Ghannouchi is a cheerleader for Hamas (the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch), calling for Muslims to support the terrorist organization and excusing jihadist attacks against Israeli civilians as necessary “martyrdom operations.” His Ennahda group refers to Israel as an “alien entity planted in the heart of the homeland, which constitutes an obstacle to unity and reflects the image of the conflict between our civilization and its enemies.”
No wonder MPAC describes Ghannouchi as “one of the most important figures in modern Islamic political thought and theory.” MPAC, by the way, brags that President Obama personally calls its Washington office to thank the organization for its important work. By contrast, the White House sometimes seems less than proud of the relationship — inviting MPAC’s Washington director to its annual Iftar dinner but omitting his appearance from the published list of guests. But then again, the Obama/Holder Justice Department did rush to purge FBI training materials of information about Islamist ideology when Marayati took to the pages of the LA Times to complain.
Good to know who’s calling the tune in Washington these days. Happy Arab Spring!