Written by Robert Spencer
When the State Department announced early in October that it was cutting hundreds of millions in military and other aid to Egypt, it was yet another manifestation of Barack Obama’s unstinting support for the Muslim Brotherhood, a support that has already thrown Egypt back into the Russian orbit. The aid cut was essentially giving the Egyptian people a choice between Muslim Brotherhood rule and economic collapse. Nothing else could have been expected from Obama, who has been a Brotherhood man from the beginning.
Obama’s support for the Brotherhood goes back to the beginning of his presidency. He even invited Ingrid Mattson, then-president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), to offer a prayer at the National Cathedral on his first Inauguration Day – despite the fact that ISNA has admitted its ties to the Brotherhood. The previous summer, federal prosecutors rejected a request from ISNA to remove its unindicted co-conspirator status. Obama didn’t ask Mattson to explain ISNA’s links to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. On the contrary: he sent his Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett to be the keynote speaker at ISNA’s national convention in 2009.
Even worse, in April 2009, Obama appointed Arif Alikhan, the deputy mayor of Los Angeles, as Assistant Secretary for Policy Development at the Department of Homeland Security. Just two weeks before he received this appointment, Alikhan (who once called the jihad terror group Hizballah a “liberation movement”) participated in a fundraiser for the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). Like ISNA, MPAC has links to the Muslim Brotherhood. In a book entitled In Fraternity: A Message to Muslims in America, coauthor Hassan Hathout, a former MPAC president, is identified as “a close disciple of the late Hassan al-Banna of Egypt.” The MPAC-linked magazine The Minaret spoke of Hassan Hathout’s closeness to al-Banna in a 1997 article: “My father would tell me that Hassan Hathout was a companion of Hassan al-Banna….Hassan Hathout would speak of al-Banna with such love and adoration; he would speak of a relationship not guided by politics or law but by a basic sense of human decency.”
Al-Banna, of course, was the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, an admirer of Hitler and a leader of the movement to (in his words) “push the Jews into the sea.”
Terror researcher Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project has documented MPAC’s indefatigable and consistent opposition to virtually every domestic anti-terror initiative; its magazine The Minaret has dismissed key counterterror operations as part of “[t]he American crusade against Islam and Muslims.” For his part, while Alikhan was deputy mayor of Los Angeles, he blocked a Los Angeles Police Department project to assemble data about the ethnic makeup of mosques in the Los Angeles area. This was not an attempt to conduct surveillance of the mosques or monitor them in any way. LAPD Deputy Chief Michael P. Downing explained that it was actually an outreach program: “We want to know where the Pakistanis, Iranians and Chechens are so we can reach out to those communities.” But Alikhan and other Muslim leaders claimed that the project manifested racism and “Islamophobia,” and the LAPD ultimately discarded all plans to study the mosques.
And early in 2009, when the Muslim Brotherhood was still outlawed in Egypt, Obama met with its leaders. He made sure to invite Brotherhood leaders to attend his notorious speech to the Islamic world in Cairo in June 4, 2009, making it impossible for then-President Hosni Mubarak to attend the speech, since he would not appear with the leaders of the outlawed group.
Then on January 31, 2011, when the Mubarak regime was on the verge of falling in the Arab Spring uprising, a former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, Frank Wisner, met secretly in Cairo with Issam El-Erian, a senior Brotherhood leader. That meeting came a week after a Mubarak government official announced the regime’s suspicions that Brotherhood and other opposition leaders were coordinating the Egyptian uprising with the Obama State Department.
Early in February, Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, tried to allay concerns about a Muslim Brotherhood takeover in Egypt by claiming, preposterously, that the group was “largely secular.” Although the subsequent torrent of ridicule compelled the Obama camp to issue a correction, the subtext of Clapper’s statement was clear: the Obama Administration had no problem with Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt, and was not only going to do nothing to stop it, but was going actively to enable it.
And so in June 2011, the Administration announced that it was going to establish formal ties with the Brotherhood. The U.S.’s special coordinator for transitions in the Middle East, William Taylor, announced in November 2011 that the U.S. would be “satisfied” with a Muslim Brotherhood victory in the Egyptian elections. In January 2012, Obama announced that he was speeding up the delivery of aid to Egypt, just as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns held talks with Brotherhood leaders – a move apparently calculated to demoralize the Brotherhood’s opposition in the Egyptian elections.
Not surprisingly, when Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi was declared the winner of Egypt’s 2012 presidential election, Obama immediately called Morsi to congratulate him. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hurried to Cairo to meet with Morsi in July 2012, as anti-Brotherhood protesters gathered outside the U.S. Embassy complex there. The Obama administration’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt had been so glaringly obvious that foes of the Brotherhood regime pelted her motorcade with tomatoes and shoes for delivering that country up to the rule of the Brotherhood. Protestors held signs reading “Message to Hillary: Egypt will never be Pakistan”; “To Hillary: Hamas will never rule Egypt” and “If you like the Ikhwan [Brotherhood], take them with you!”
Obama invited Morsi to visit the U.S., although by September 2012, when Morsi had called for the release of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the 1993 World Trade Center jihad attack plotter, as well as for restrictions on the freedom of speech, and persecution of Egyptian Christians had increased dramatically, Obama quietly canceled the proposed meeting.
Meanwhile, Obama’s foreign policy displayed a decided pro-Brotherhood orientation. Former U.S. prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy has listed a great many strange collaborations between Obama’s State Department and Muslim Brotherhood organizations, 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, prominently including its co-chair, Turkey — which now finances Hamas and avidly supports the flotillas that seek to break Israel’s blockade of Hamas. 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 $1.5 billion dollars in aid to Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood’s victory in the parliamentary elections.
• 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.
• The State Department and the administration hosted a contingent from Egypt’s newly elected parliament that included not only Muslim Brotherhood members but a member of the Islamic Group (Gamaa al-Islamiyya), which is formally designated as a foreign terrorist organization. The State Department refused to provide Americans with information about the process by which it issued a visa to a member of a designated terrorist organization, about how the members of the Egyptian delegation were selected, or about what security procedures were followed before the delegation was allowed to enter our country.
Once in power in Egypt, the Brotherhood government drafted a new constitution, enshrining Islamic law as the highest law of the land, restricting the freedom of speech and denying equality of rights for women. The Associated Press reported that the constitution reflected the “vision of the Islamists, with articles that rights activists, liberals and Christians fear will lead to restrictions on the rights of women and minorities and civil liberties in general.”
AP reported that the constitution’s wording gave the Muslim Brotherhood “the tool for insisting on stricter implementation of rulings of Shariah,” and that “a new article states that Egypt’s most respected Islamic institution, Al-Azhar, must be consulted on any matters related to Shariah, a measure critics fear will lead to oversight of legislation by clerics.”
Cairo’s Al-Azhar is the foremost exponent of Sunni orthodoxy. Its characterization of what constitutes that orthodoxy carries immense weight in the Islamic world. It hews to age-old formulations of Islamic law mandating second-class dhimmi status for non-Muslims, institutionalized discrimination against women, and sharp restrictions on the freedom of speech, particularly in regard to Islam. Al-Azhar’s having a role in the government of Egypt and its administration of Sharia meant the end of any remaining freedom in Egyptian society.
While forcing this constitution on Egyptians, the Morsi regime became increasingly brutal toward dissenters. In a move reminiscent of Communist governments, the Brotherhood regime had opposition leaders investigated for high treason. Morsi even tried to arrogate dictatorial powers for himself, although he backed off after protests. Huge crowds came out to protest against the Morsi regime – a clear indication that if Obama had backed the Brotherhood because he thought it represented the popular will of the vast majority of Egyptians, he was dead wrong. Yet as all this was happening, Hillary Clinton demonstrated how out of touch the Obama Administration was with what was really happening in Egypt when she said, according to Fox News, that “the U.S. must work with the international community and the people in Egypt to ensure that the revolution isn’t hijacked by extremists.”
The Arab Spring “revolution” was “hijacked by extremists” as soon as the Muslim Brotherhood regime took power. Yet as the turmoil in Egypt increased, Obama responded not by admonishing the Muslim Brotherhood regime to respect the human rights of all its citizens, but by shipping over twenty F-16 fighter jets to Egypt, as part of an aid package amounting to over a billion dollars. A Republican congressional aide noted at the time that “the Morsi-led Muslim Brotherhood government has not proven to be a partner for democracy as they had promised, given the recent attempted power grab.” The Obama Administration responded by downplaying the significance of the Brotherhood’s increasing authoritarianism, speaking blandly about “Egypt’s democratic transition and the need to move forward with a peaceful and inclusive transition that respects the rights of all Egyptians.”
It was no surprise last summer, then, when millions of Egyptians took to the streets to protest against the Brotherhood regime and it was suddenly and unexpectedly toppled from power, that numerous anti-Brotherhood protesters held signs accusing Obama of supporting terrorists. One foe of the Brotherhood made a music video including the lyrics: “Hey Obama, support the terrorism/Traitor like the Brotherhood members/Obama say it’s a coup/That’s not your business dirty man.” A protestor in Tahrir Square held up a sign saying, “Obama you jerk, Muslim Brotherhoods are killing the Egyptians.” Signs like that one became commonplace at anti-Morsi protests; another read, “Hey Obama, your bitch is our dictator.”
Yet as the anti-Muslim Brotherhood riots reached their peak, Obama responded by sending a group of American soldiers to Egypt to help with riot control.
As an Egyptian newspaper crowed about the influence of Muslim Brotherhood operatives within the Obama Administration, it was no surprise that Obama would want them in power in Egypt as well. By cutting off aid in October 2013, he was strong-arming the Egyptians until they would have no choice but to agree – or turn to the Russians, as Egypt’s military regime has recently said it might do. Egypt has been an American ally, but is now returning to the sphere of influence of a resurgent Russia – thanks to Barack Obama’s uncritical support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Egypt, albeit imperfect, was a reliable and pivotal ally of the U.S. in the Middle East for three decades. With the Camp David Accords it kept an uneasy but unmistakable peace with Israel, while the Sadat and Mubarak regimes kept a lid on the Brotherhood and Salafist forces that were clamoring for Egypt to declare a new jihad against the Jewish State. Egypt’s unwillingness to go to war with Israel during that period stymied the anti-Israel bloodlust in neighboring Muslim countries as well, for Egypt’s size, position, and history give it a unique stature in the Islamic world.
All that is gone now. Egypt is on the way to renewing its alliance with Russia, which led it to mount two wars against Israel, in 1967 and 1973. Obama has alienated America’s allies and emboldened her enemies, all in a vain attempt to appease a group that was never going to be a friend of the U.S. in the first place. If he didn’t have so many other blots on his record, this could be the most dangerous aspect of his legacy.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book, Did Muhammad Exist?, is now available.