Understanding the Muslim Brotherhood
I’m a big fan of the 1 percent. No, not the dastardly 1 percent of Occupy Wall Street myth; I’m partial, instead, to the 1 percent of Congress that takes seriously the threat of Islamic-supremacist influence operations against our government.
The people have 435 representatives serving in the House and another hundred in the Senate. Of these 535, a total of 288 are Republicans — 241 and 47 in the lower and upper chambers, respectively. Of these, only five House conservatives — five — have had the fortitude to raise concerns about the Islamist connections of government officials entrusted with positions enabling them to shape U.S. policy.
Think about that. Republicans purport to be the national-security party. For decades this claim was well founded, starting with Ronald Reagan’s clarity in seeing the Soviets as enemies to be defeated, not accommodated. President Reagan’s plan for the Cold War was, “We win, they lose,” and he pulled it off because he was not under any illusions about who “they” were.
But something happened to the GOP in the Bush years. For all the welcome understanding that Bill Clinton was wrong — that the jihad could not be indicted into submission — the Bush administration never learned a fundamental truth that Reagan knew only too well: You cannot defeat your enemies unless you understand them, and you cannot even begin to understand them if you are too craven to name them.
As they gather in Tampa for their quadrennial showcase, Republicans, but for the 1 percent, remain timorous on the subject of America’s enemies. Oh, they’ll tell you that we must confront “terrorism” and crack down on the “terrorists.” But that’s not much different from claiming to be against “burglary” and “burglars.” Terrorism is a vicious crime, but it becomes a national-security threat only when it is an instrument of an ideology that aims to destroy our country. What made the terrorist organizations armed and trained by the Soviets in the Sixties and Seventies a threat was the Soviets, not the terrorism.
America’s enemies are Islamic supremacists: Muslims adherent to a totalitarian interpretation of Islam who, like Soviet Communists, seek to impose their ideology throughout the world, very much including the United States. Terrorism is an offensive strategy they use, but it is only one arrow in the quiver. Its chief utility, moreover, is not that it will coerce surrender on its own; it is the atmosphere of intimidation it creates. That dramatically increases the effectiveness of the enemy’s several other offensive strategies — legal demands for concessions, media campaigns, infiltration of society’s major institutions, and influence operations against government.
The most disheartening thing about the modern Republican party’s dereliction — about its accommodation and empowerment of our enemies under the delusional guise of “Muslim outreach” — is that it flies in the face of the Bush Justice Department’s signal counterterrorism achievement.
That was the 2007–08 Holy Land Foundation case. For once, political correctness and the fear of being smeared as “Islamophobic” were shelved. In the course of convicting several Hamas operatives, prosecutors proved that the Muslim Brotherhood is engaged in a far-flung enterprise aimed, in the Brothers’ own words, at “eliminating and destroying” our way of life “from within” by means of “sabotage.” The Bush Justice Department not only showed that what the Brotherhood calls its “grand jihad” (or “civilization jihad”) is real; Justice shed light on the ideology that fuels this enterprise, and expressly identified many of the global Brotherhood’s accomplices.
Alas, this achievement is one today’s Republicans prefer to ignore. The party of Ronald Reagan would have worn it like a badge of honor. Today’s GOP would rather engage our enemies and call them our friends — not understand them, call them what they are, and defeat them. Today’s Beltway Republicans save their wrath for the occasional conservative — the messengers who embarrass them by illustrating how small the big time has made them.
Did you know, for example, that when the Republican establishment had its hissy fit over the inconvenient 1 percent — when John McCain and John Boehner led the shrieking over their five conservative colleagues’ purported scaremongering over Islamist influence-peddling — the fact that this influence-peddling effort exists had just been proved in court?
As Patrick Poole, one of few to cover the case, has observed, it is the biggest spy scandal you’ve never heard about. Right around the time McCain and Boehner were dressing down the 1 percent last month, Ghulam Nabi Fai was finally heading off to prison. He had pled guilty last December to acting as a secret foreign agent against our government.
In sum, Fai was paid millions of dollars over two decades by the Pakistani intelligence service to push its agenda through a D.C.-based front, the Kashmiri American Council. You haven’t heard much about it because it is a Muslim Brotherhood operation through and through, one that demonstrates exactly what the 1 percent is warning about.
Fai grew up in Kashmir, the disputed territory Islamists have sought to wrest from India, often by terrorism, for over half a century. His story would be typical of Muslim Brotherhood operatives if we actually spoke about Muslim Brotherhood operatives. He became a member of Jama’at-e-Islami, which maintains close relations with the Brotherhood and is, for Pakistanis, what the Brotherhood is for Arabs — the vanguard of global Islamic supremacism.
The force that globalizes this movement is Saudi money and commitment. During one of the many Indian crackdowns on Kashmiri Islamists, Fai did exactly what Muslim Brothers in Egypt frequently did during regime crackdowns: He fled to Saudi Arabia. While studying at one of the kingdom’s Wahhabist universities, he made himself useful to a highly influential imam who incited Kashmiri jihadists. Impressed by Fai’s devotion to the cause, the Saudi government agreed to pay for his education in the United States.
The Saudis steered Fai to Temple University, where Islamists had a beachhead. Fai studied under a Palestinian sharia specialist, Ismail Raji al-Faruqi, who led the Saudi-funded “Islamization of knowledge” program. Ismail would later join Muslim Brotherhood operatives to found the International Institute of Islamic Thought — a think tank dedicated to the “Islamization of knowledge” project, and one that worked so closely with Sami al-Arian, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad emir, that its leadership was listed among the unindicted co-conspirators cited by the Bush Justice Department at al-Arian’s terrorism trial.
At Temple, Fai became the president of the Muslim Students Association — the national organization. Established in the early sixties, the MSA is the original foundation of the Muslim Brotherhood’s American infrastructure. It now has hundreds of chapters grooming Islamists across the United States and Canada. Patrick Poole has recounted the numerous MSA leaders who have graduated to violent jihadism. They include — and this is just to name a few of many — Wael Jalaidan, a founder of al-Qaeda; Abdurahman Alamoudi, a leading financier of al-Qaeda who was eventually convicted in a murder plot; and Anwar al-Awlaki, the al-Qaeda leader who counseled the 9/11 hijackers and, before finally being killed in Yemen last year, was implicated in sundry jihadist plots, including the Fort Hood massacre and the attempt to bomb a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. Like Fai, both Alamoudi and Awlaki were once admired in Washington as model moderates thanks to the magic of “Muslim outreach.” (So was al-Arian.)
From the MSA, Fai seamlessly moved on to the “shura council” (i.e., the advisory board) of the Islamic Society of North America. ISNA evolved out of the MSA and the two organizations consider themselves as one. ISNA has become the largest and, perhaps, the most influential Brotherhood affiliate in the United States — see its president, Mohamed Magid, pictured here with State Department official Huma Abedin at the Iftar (end-of-Ramadan) dinner hosted by President Obama just a few weeks ago.
Fai joined ISNA in the late Eighties. That is when the Brotherhood formed Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organization whose funding during and after the Intifada was the Brotherhood’s top American priority. It was to route money to the jihad against Israel that the Brotherhood established the Holy Land Foundation — the subject of the Bush Justice Department’s aforementioned terrorism prosecution. Ostensibly a charity, HLF was housed in the headquarters ISNA shared with another Brotherhood entity, the North American Islamic Trust. NAIT was formed with Saudi funding to buy up real estate throughout the U.S. for the construction of mosques and Islamic community centers — which Brotherhood ideology considers the “axis” of Islamic supremacism in each city and town. In the HLF plot, bank accounts controlled by ISNA and NAIT were used to funnel funds to Palestinian jihadists.
This Saudi and Brotherhood pedigree made Fai an ideal recruit for the Pakistani intelligence service — creators of the Taliban and longtime supporters of al-Qaeda. He was thus tabbed in the late Eighties to begin conducting influence operations against the United States. His front organization, the Kashmiri American Council, was incorporated in 1990 by Fai, along with the wife of Sayyid Syeed, ISNA’s longtime secretary-general and currently its director of (what else?) “interfaith outreach.” The venture, which opened with an office just a few blocks from the White House, got a boost from a $20,000 start-up loan from NAIT.
In the 20 years that followed, Fai received approximately $4 million in funding from Pakistani intelligence. He used it to buy access — scores of meetings with top federal officials, a ballyhooed annual conference on Capitol Hill, and international credibility as a prominent Muslim who had Washington’s ear. The lion’s share of his political contributions were targeted at Republicans, particularly Representative Dan Burton, the chief congressional supporter of Fai’s Kashmiri American Council, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Fai, however, opportunistically courted members of both parties, and the executive branch as well as Congress. In fact, when President Obama was elected, Pakistani intelligence directed Fai to build relationships in the State Department, the National Security Council, and the Pentagon. Nor did they leave it at government officials; Fai was instructed to court specific members of the media and particular Washington think tanks.
Fai had a partner in the scheme: an American named Zaheer Ahmad, who lived in Pakistan and orchestrated the scheme by which Pakistani funds were transferred to Fai. Ahmad, mysteriously, is no longer among the living. Turns out that in the weeks before the 9/11 attacks, he and a Pakistani nuclear scientist had a meeting with Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawhiri about getting mass-destruction weapons for al-Qaeda. That meeting was reported by the Hindustan Times in fall 2011, and two days later Ahmad was found dead in Pakistan — of a cerebral hemorrhage, they say.
It was in 2011 that the FBI concluded it had plenty of evidence to justify arresting Fai. For years he had illegally failed to reveal his status as a Pakistani agent, and he had lied about it in FBI interviews, another felony. But in moving on Fai, the Bureau was stalled by the State Department and the CIA. As Poole suggests, this may be explained by a desire not to exacerbate the growing tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan after American special forces raided bin Laden’s Pakistani compound and killed the al-Qaeda leader that spring. That may also explain why Fai got a sweetheart plea deal — requiring only a two-year prison term — despite the fact that the FBI told the court Fai had refused to cooperate regarding “his involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood, and Pakistani terrorist groups.”
Here’s the most alarming thing — the thing about our enemy being an enemy: Even after Fai pled guilty and was sentenced, the Muslim Brotherhood’s American infrastructure continued to support him ardently. As Poole reports, fundraising dinners in his honor were held by ISNA, the Muslim American Society (which is the Brotherhood’s quasi-official presence in the United States), and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR – which originated out of the Brotherhood’s now-defunct Islamic Association for Palestine and serves as an Islamist public-relations and lawfare arm). Mind you, Fai’s guilt is not in doubt; he pled guilty and agreed to a 26-page statement of facts detailing his operations against our country. Yet the Brothers stand by their man.
When the five House Republicans rose up to call for scrutiny of enemy efforts to influence our government, they were not speaking hypothetically. The effort is very real. And the enemy is now so brazen, so confident about the inroads it has made, that it publicly closes ranks around its operatives even after their treachery has been laid bare.
Republicans have had ample opportunity to stand with their intrepid 1 percent. Most of them are in hiding, though. The few who’ve spoken up have, like their Democratic counterparts, calculated that it’s more expedient to stand with the Muslim Brotherhood’s network than with those trying to expose the Muslim Brotherhood’s network.
Twenty-eight years ago this week, the Reagan Republicans gathered in Dallas for their convention, rightly anticipating a landslide electoral victory. They understood the enemy and they had no reluctance about calling it exactly what it was. But that was then.
Andrew C. McCarthy is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.