In 2018, Robert Spencer published a remarkable book, called “The History of Jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS.” In one of the chapters (chapter 10), he discussed the matter of how the Western world caved into Islam’s demands. In this series, we look at some highlights from this chapter.
THE WEST LOSES THE
WILL TO LIVE
Obama in Cairo
It is no surprise that when President Barack Obama made his outreach speech to the Muslim world from Cairo on June 4, 2009, he included fulsome praise of Islam that played fast and loose with the historical record:
“As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam…, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.
I also know that Islam has always been a part of America’s story… American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, they have served in our government, they have stood for civil rights, they have started businesses, they have taught at our universities, they’ve excelled in our sports arenas, they’ve won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch. And when the first Muslim American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers—Thomas Jefferson—kept in his personal library…
So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”
Where this executive duty to defend Islam appeared in the Constitution, he did not explain.
In September 2012 at the United Nations, in the wake of the jihad massacre of four Americans by al-Qaeda operatives in Benghazi in Libya, which key members of his administration falsely and repeatedly attributed to a spontaneous demonstration arising over a video criticizing Muhammad on YouTube, Obama went even farther, saying: “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” The specter of the leader of the free world vowing to enforce Islamic blasphemy laws was not just rhetoric. The idea that Islam in America was beset by negative stereotypes that same year helped to defeat an attempt to investigate Muslim Brotherhood influence within the United States government.
Efforts to Investigate Infiltration
In 2012, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) tried to call attention to this influence, asking for an investigation into Muslim Brotherhood infiltration into the U.S. government. She accused the first Muslim member of Congress, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) of having a “long record of being associated” with CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood.
In response, Ellison accused Bachmann of religious bigotry. Yet he really did have a “long record of being associated” with Hamas-linked CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood. As long ago as 2006, Ellison’s closeness to CAIR’s cofounder and National Executive Director Nihad Awad was a matter of public record. Awad, who notoriously said in 1994 that he was “in support of the Hamas movement,” spoke at fundraisers for Ellison, raising considerable sums for his first congressional race. Ellison has appeared frequently at CAIR events since then.
Multiple statements made by federal prosecutors identify Awad as one of the attendees at a 1993 meeting of US Muslim Brotherhood Palestine Committee leaders in Philadelphia that was wiretapped by the FBI under a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant. The topic of discussion during that 1993 meeting was how to help Hamas by working in the U.S. to help sabotage the Oslo Peace Accords. But none of that fazed Ellison. Nor has he ever expressed any concern over the fact that CAIR is also linked to the Muslim Brotherhood through its parent group, the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP).
Ellison’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood were also more direct. In 2008, Ellison accepted 13,350 dollars from the Muslim American Society (MAS) to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca. As we have seen, the Muslim American Society is the principal arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States.
Egypt’s Rose El-Youssef magazine asserted in a December 2012 article that six highly placed Muslim Brotherhood infiltrators within the Obama Administration had transformed the United States “from a position hostile to Islamic groups and organizations in the world to the largest and most important supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The article said that “the six named people include: Arif Alikhan, assistant secretary of Homeland Security for policy development; Mohammed Elibiary, a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council; Rashad Hussain, the U.S. special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference [OIC]; Salam al-Marayati, co-founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC); Imam Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA); and Eboo Patel, a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships.”75
And so the Egyptian article stood as vindication of Bachmann’s concerns, and showed that her request for an investigation to be opened of the Muslim Brotherhood’s infiltration was entirely reasonable and not a manifestation of “bigotry,” “racism,” or “McCarthyism”—contrary to the hysterical (and formulaic) claims of her leftist detractors. Bachmann’s concerns were justified, as the Muslim Brotherhood had indeed penetrated the highest levels of the U.S. government.
Gehad El-Haddad, a top Muslim Brotherhood official in Egypt, was for five years employed with the Clinton Foundation. The Clinton Foundation, of course, is not a government agency, but his involvement with it afforded El-Haddad access to a former president of the United States and his associates, including present and former government officials. In September 2013, Egypt’s military government arrested El-Haddad for his Muslim Brotherhood activities.
For all of the furor over Bachmann’s call for an investigation of Muslim Brotherhood influence in Washington, nothing caused as much controversy as her naming Huma Abedin, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s closest personal assistant and adviser. Abedin is an observant Muslim who lived in Saudi Arabia as a child; her brother Hassan works “as a fellow and partner with a number of Muslim Brotherhood members.” Her mother, Saleha Mahmoud Abedin, is a professor in Saudi Arabia and a member of the Brotherhood’s woman’s division, the Muslim Sisterhood.80 Her father, Syed Z. Abedin, was a professor in Saudi Arabia who founded the Institute for Muslim Minority Affairs, an organization supported by the Muslim World League, a Brotherhood organization.81
Despite this evidence, there was no investigation. Yet, former U.S. prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy listed a great many strange collaborations between the State Department of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and Muslim Brotherhood organizations, of which some including:
- Secretary Clinton personally intervened to reverse a Bush-administration ruling that barred Tariq Ramadan, grandson of the Brotherhood’s founder and son of one of its most influential early leaders, from entering the United States.
- The State Department collaborated with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a bloc of governments heavily influenced by the Brotherhood, in seeking to restrict American free-speech rights in deference to Sharia proscriptions against negative criticism of Islam.
- The State Department excluded Israel, the world’s leading target of terrorism, from its “Global Counterterrorism Forum,” a group that brings the United States together with several Islamist governments. At the forum’s kickoff, Secretary Clinton decried various terrorist attacks and groups, but she did not mention Hamas or attacks against Israel—in transparent deference to the Islamist governments, which echo the Brotherhood’s position that Hamas is not a terrorist organization and that attacks against Israel are not terrorism.
- The State Department and the Obama administration waived congressional restrictions in order to transfer millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian territories, notwithstanding that Gaza is ruled by the terrorist organization Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch.
During the Bush and Obama administrations, it became socially and politically unacceptable even to raise questions about Muslim Brotherhood influence, or to express any skepticism about the politically correct dogmas regarding Islam and jihad. For in Abedin’s case, it certainly was not that the evidence was lacking. It was that the political elites had forbidden any examination or discussion of it.
Stigmatizing Resistance to Jihad
The crowning victory in the effort to stigmatize resistance to jihad terror and Islamic supremacism came in February 2012, when the Obama administration purged more than a thousand documents and presentations from counterterror training materials for the FBI and other agencies. This material was discarded at the demand of Muslim groups, which had deemed it inaccurate (by their own account) or offensive to Muslims.
This triumph was several years in the making. The movement towards it began in earnest in August 2010, when a presentation on Islam and jihad was given to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. The far-left journalist Spencer Ackerman took the FBI to task for training material that spoke forthrightly and truthfully about the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat. Ackerman reported that “the FBI is teaching its counterterrorism agents that ‘main stream’ [sic] American Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers; that the Prophet Mohammed was a ‘cult leader’; and that the Islamic practice of giving charity is no more than a ‘funding mechanism for combat.’
Unfortunately for Ackerman, there was considerable evidence that what this FBI training material asserted was true. Nonetheless, in the face of Ackerman’s reports, the FBI went into full retreat: in September 2011, it announced that it was dropping one of the programs that Ackerman had zeroed in on.
The Islamic supremacists didn’t rest on their laurels. On October 19, 2011, Salam al-Marayati of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) took this campaign to the mainstream media, writing in the Los Angeles Times that “a disturbing string of training material used by the FBI and a U.S. attorney’s office came to light beginning in late July that reveals a deep anti-Muslim sentiment within the U.S. government.” Al-Marayati warned that “if this matter is not immediately addressed, it will undermine the relationship between law enforcement and the Muslim American community.”
The same day that al-Marayati’s op-ed was published, Farhana Khera of Muslim Advocates, who had complained for years about supposed Muslim profiling and entrapment, wrote a letter to John Brennan, who was then the assistant to the president on national security for homeland security and counterterrorism. The letter was signed not just by Khera but by the leaders of virtually all the significant Islamic groups in the United States: fifty-seven Muslim, Arab, and South Asian organizations, including many with ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, including CAIR, ISNA, MAS, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Islamic Relief USA, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).
The letter denounced what it characterized as U.S. government agencies’ “use of biased, false and highly offensive training materials about Muslims and Islam,” and emphasized that they regarded this as an issue of the utmost importance: “The seriousness of this issue cannot be overstated, and we request that the White House immediately create an interagency task force to address this problem, with a fair and transparent mechanism for input from the Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities, including civil rights lawyers, religious leaders, and law enforcement experts.”
This was needed because “while recent news reports have highlighted the FBI’s use of biased experts and training materials, we have learned that this problem extends far beyond the FBI and has infected other government agencies, including the U.S. Attorney’s Anti-Terrorism Advisory Councils, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Army. Furthermore, by the FBI’s own admission, the use of bigoted and distorted materials in its trainings has not been an isolated occurrence. Since last year, reports have surfaced that the FBI, and other federal agencies, are using or supporting the use of biased trainers and materials in presentations to law enforcement officials.”
In a November 3, 2011, response to Khera, that was written on White House stationery, John O. Brennan, assistant to the president for Homeland Security accepted Khera’s criticisms without a murmur of protest and assured her of his readiness to comply.
Brennan assured Khera that all her demands would be met: “Your letter requests that ‘the White House immediately create an interagency task force to address this problem,’ and we agree that this is necessary.” He then detailed the specific actions being undertaken to ensure this, including “collecting all training materials that contain cultural or religious content, including information related to Islam or Muslims.”93 This material wouldn’t just be “collected”; it would be purged of anything that Farhana Khera and others like her found offensive—that is, any honest discussion of how Islamic jihadists used Islamic teachings to justify violence.
Not only were numerous books and presentations that presented a perfectly accurate view of Islam and jihad purged, but Brennan was complying with demands from quarters that could hardly be considered authentically moderate. America was going to war against jihadists while forbidding itself to understand jihad.
Brennan also attempted to distance Islam and the concept of jihad from contemporary Islamic terrorism long before he told Farhana Khera that he would give her everything she wanted. On May 26, 2010, in an address at the Center for Strategic and International Studies he said: “Nor do we describe our enemies as jihadists or Islamists because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam meaning to purify oneself or one’s community.” In a press release the next day, CAIR “expressed appreciation” for Brennan’s remarks.
Brennan was instrumental in the Obama administration’s recasting of the defense against terror as a localized struggle against al-Qaeda.