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News Analysis

Islamist Ties of Top Aide to U.S. Sec. of State

Wed, July 25, 2012

by: 
Ryan Mauro

Rep. Michele Bachmann and four other members of Congress are getting dumped on by members of both political parties for their letter requesting information about the influence of Muslim Brotherhood-tied groups and individuals in the U.S. government. The case of Huma Abedin, Deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Clinton, has gotten almost all of the attention but their question about her is legitimate: Was her family’s close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood taken into account when granting her a security clearance?

The potential security concerns mentioned in the State Department’s published guidelines include:

  • “contact with a foreign family member… if that contact creates a heightened risk of foreign exploitation, inducement, manipulation, pressure or coercion.”
  • “connections to a foreign person, group, government, or country that create a potential conflict of interest between the individual’s obligation to protect sensitive information or technology and the individual’s desire to help a foreign person, group, or country by providing that information.
  • “performing or attempting to perform duties, or otherwise acting, so as to serve the interests of a foreign person, group, organization or government in conflict with the national security interest.”

Keep those criteria in mind as you consider the backgrounds of three of Abedin’s relatives.

Her mother, Dr. Saleha Abedin, is a member of the Muslim Sisterhood, the Brotherhood’s female counterpart. She serves in the Bureau with the wife of Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s new Brotherhood president.

She is also a member of the Muslim World League, which terrorism expert Andrew McCarthy describes as “the Muslim Brotherhood’s principal vehicle for the international propagation of Islamic supremacist ideology.” The organization she leads, the International Islamic Committee for Woman and Child, is part of the Muslim World League.

Her organization is not a moderate group that mistakenly got involved with the Muslim World League. Its charter is written by Brotherhood leaders including Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, an open supporter of Hamas. It is therefore unsurprising that the organization wants to get rid of laws against marital rape, permit marriage below the age of 18 and institute other elements of Sharia Law. She is also a board member of the International Islamic Council for Dawa and Relief (which the group she leads is part of), a group banned in Israel because it belongs to Qaradawi’s Union of Good, a network of “charities” set up to fund Hamas. The U.S. froze the Union of Good’s assets in November 2008.

If you have any remaining doubt that Dr. Saleha Abedin subscribes to Islamist ideology, look at a book she translated and published by her organization in 1999 titled, “Women in Islam.” It says that man-made laws enslave women, which is an undeniable call for Sharia Law. It calls for legislation based on Sharia Law, such as stoning adulterers and eliminating the death penalty for those who kill apostates. The Center for Security Policy has a 28-page analysis of it.

Huma Abedin’s late father, Dr. Syed Abedin, was also intimately involved with Islamists. He led the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs based in Saudi Arabia. It is backed by the Muslim World League and is an entity of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, a very extreme Islamist group. The Institute also published Mrs. Abedin’s book. Huma herself was an assistant editor of the Institute’s journal as far back as 1996 and as recently as 2008, which means she was there when it published her mother’s extremist book. This screenshot from September 2008 shows that Huma, her mother and brother were all simultaneously editors of the journal.

Huma Abedin’s brother, Hassan, had a fellowship with the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, an entity that is very cozy with the Muslim Brotherhood, at the same exact time as Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi served on the board.

One close associate of the Abedin family is Abdullah Omar Naseef. He is the former Secretary-General of the Muslim World League. He founded the Rabita Trust, which had its assets frozen  by the U.S. government in October 2001 for its support of terrorist groups.

Huma’s father met Naseef when he was a visiting professor at King Abdul Aziz University, where Naseef was the dean. There are mixed reports about whether Naseef or Huma’s father originally created the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, but it was clearly a joint endeavor and was backed by Naseef’s Muslim World League. Huma, her mother and her brother have worked for the IMMA’s journal.

Naseef’s Rabita Trust has been renamed as Rabita al-Alam al-Islami. Huma’s mother is a member of it. Naseef and Huma’s mother are also on the Presidency Staff Council of the International Islamic Council for Dawa and Relief together under the leadership of Qaradawi. Naseef was also on the board of the Oxford Centre for Islamic States alongside Qaradawi when Hassan Abedin had a fellowship there. Naseef remains the chairman of the board.

All of these ties are extensively documented and detailed by the Center for Security Policy, Andrew McCarthy, Nonie Darwish and former Islamist Walid Shoebat, who just wrote a 38-page paper on the topic. Top Republican leaders have harshly condemned the questions asked by Bachmann and her colleagues. Speaker of the House John Boehner, Rep. Jeff Flake, Sen. Scott Brown and Sen. Lindsey Graham (who now talks positively about the Brotherhood) all joined in. Sen. Marco Rubio went beyond the issue of Huma Abedin and said he didn't’t believe the information in the letters altogether. But the most vocal attacker is Sen. John McCain:

“[the letters have] few unspecified and unsubstantiated associations of members of Huma’s family, none of which have been shown to harm or threaten the United States in any way. These attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis and no merit. And they need to stop now,” McCain demanded.

The main criticism of Bachmann and her colleagues is that this is, in the words of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), “a six degrees of separation drinking game.” That’s a perception that the Brotherhood’s modus operandi creates.

For example, imagine you want to write about a mosque run by the Muslim Brotherhood through its affiliate, the North American Islamic Trust. You must prove that the mosque is owned by the Trust. You must then explain that the Trust is part of the Islamic Society of North America and that group is part of the Muslim Brotherhood. To someone unfamiliar with the Brotherhood, it can easily appear like an argument based on faulty guilt-by-association and multiple degrees of separation.

I was on Thom Hartmann’s radio show debating this topic and he dismissed the concerns because the security clearance vetting process is supposed to address them. In Part 4 of the MuslimBrotherhoodinAmerica.com course, Dr. J. Michael Waller explains two problems with the process today, partially because of the overwhelming amount of security checks that must be performed and daily quota requirements.

First, the reviewing personnel are focusing almost exclusively on evidence of illegal activity, such as that found in criminal records. Most Muslim Brotherhood operatives are going to avoid committing crimes. Secondly, the Muslim Brotherhood is a hostile foreign entity. During the Cold War, membership in the Communist Party meant that you were considered to be under the “operational control of a foreign entity.” The Muslim Brotherhood is not treated that way today.

The ridicule and outright dismissal of the letters’ overall concern about the Muslim Brotherhood-tied groups and individuals working with the U.S. government is more unsettling than the attacks on the specific Huma Abedin issue. The Muslim Brotherhood’s own documents state that it seeks to influence U.S. government proxy via front groups. Brotherhood operatives have claimed success in infiltrating the government as far back as 1988.

The letters’ concern about Brotherhood influence operations may sound like a fantasy, but such operations are to be expected. Foreign governments, companies, special interest groups, lobbyists and activists all try to influence the government. Why should we expect the Brotherhood to act any differently?

Huma Abedin isn’t being accused of being a terrorist or Brotherhood operative. She may very well be an anti-Islamist Muslim that has rejected the views of her family. If that is the case, she should tell her story and educate Americans about what she has learned about Islamism from her family members’ activities.

Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org's National Security Analyst and a fellow with the Clarion Fund. He is the founder of WorldThreats.com and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.