U.S. Government Collaboration with Jihad

By Martin Witkerk
Volume 27, Number 3 (Spring 2017)
Issue theme: "A new era for immigration enforcement"

Book review:

‘Countering Violent Extremism’ and the
Disarming of America’s First Line of Defense
By Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. and Clare M. Lopez
Center for Security Policy Press, 2016
273 pp., $12.00 softcover, $2.99 kindle

See No Sharia is an account of how, since the 9/11 attacks, the United States Government has gradually shifted its focus from protecting Americans from Islamic terrorism to protecting the civil rights and possible hurt feelings of Muslims. This shift was made possible by the success of the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies in gaining access to and directly influencing the highest levels of our government.

Organized Muslim Brotherhood activity in the U.S. goes back to the establishment, in 1963, of the Muslim Students’ Association. Still active today, the MSA went on to organize the North American Islamic Trust (NAIC; founded 1973) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA; founded 1981). These organizations attracted little public attention before the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Less than two months after those attacks, the U.S. Treasury Department designated a Muslim charity called the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) as a terrorist organization, charging it with having “provided millions of dollars of material and logistical support to another designated terrorist organization, Hamas.” In 2004, the HLF and five of its directors were indicted and charged in what became the largest terrorism-financing trial in U.S. history. NAIC and ISNA were among the organizations named as co-conspirators in this trial.

The HLF trial was noteworthy for the explosive revelations made in the course of the prosecution. These included 1) a secret document written by a top Muslim Brotherhood operative laying bare the organization’s strategy for “destroying Western civilization from within”; and 2) details of a 1993 meeting of the Palestine Committee of the Muslim Brotherhood in Philadelphia, where participants discussed the possibility of supporting Hamas in its mission of creating an Islamic state throughout Palestine (including the present-day state of Israel) under the pretext of apolitical humanitarian activity.

On November 24, 2008, with Barack Obama already the president-elect, the Department of Justice obtained 108 guilty verdicts against all five defendants in the HLF trial. In a press release following the verdicts, Assistant Attorney General Patrick Rowan said: “This prosecution demonstrates our resolve to ensure that humanitarian relief efforts are not used as a mechanism to disguise and enable support for terrorist groups.” As the authors note, “such resolve would presumably have next put in the dock some—if not all—of the large number of individuals and organizations with proven ties to the Muslim Brotherhood who were identified in the HLF trial as unindicted co-conspirators.” Besides NAIC and ISNA, this included the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR; founded 1994).

No such prosecutions have ever occurred. On April 15, 2011, Rep. Peter King wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder with the following concerns:

I have been reliably informed that the decision not to seek indictments of CAIR, ISNA and NAIT, was usurped by high-ranking officials at the Department of Justice headquarters over the vehement and stated objections of special agents and supervisors of the FBI. Their opposition raises serious doubts that the decision not to prosecute was a valid exercise of prosecutorial discretion. It raises the most serious questions for the Justice Department to decline to even attempt to prosecute individuals and organizations found by a federal judge to have a nexus with fundraising for an organization which conducts terror attacks upon civilians. I believe that in order to maintain the credibility of the Department, there should be full transparency into the Department’s decision. Please respond to this letter by April 25, 2011.

Rep. King never did get a response. Neither did the House Judiciary Committee when it filed a similar request in June of 2013. Attorney General Holder twice faced tough public questioning on the issue from Rep. Louis Gohmert, but was able to avoid giving a straight answer both times.

Muslim activists have also achieved notable success in getting Muslim blasphemy laws accepted in the non-Muslim world under the banner of fighting “Islamophobia” and “defamation of religion.” In 2007, the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers designated Islamophobia the “worst form of terrorism.” The following year, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) established an Islamophobia Observatory. More recently, the OIC has launched the so-called Istanbul Process “to build consensus on confronting Islamophobia,” a consensus intended to include “criminalizing denigration.” As the authors observe, OIC countries themselves already have laws against blasphemy, so the international consensus they aim to build can only refer to getting similar laws accepted in non-Muslim lands.

In 1998, Pakistan urged the United Nations to pass a “Defamation of Islam” resolution based on its own blasphemy laws. The resolution was passed once the wording was changed to embrace all religions. Between 1999 and 2010, several versions of the resolution were passed. In December, 2015, this movement reached American shores when Democratic Congressmen introduced House Resolution 569 condemning “violence, bigotry and hateful rhetoric towards Muslims in the United States.” This resolution pointedly ignores the distinction between violent behavior against Muslims (already illegal) and “hateful” or “bigoted” talk, which can only be determined subjectively.

Moreover, Muslim groups routinely denounce all criticism of Islam as bigoted and hateful. Under Islamic law, any opposition to the advance of Islam—even purely verbal opposition—is fitnah, an illegal and provocative rebellion against God; the Koran specifically authorizes the use of violence wherever fitnah is encountered. In accepting the concept of “defamation of religion,” non-Muslim countries are in effect abdicating their own sovereignty to act as agents of Islam to suppress fitnah outside the Muslim world.

The OIC has cynically warned of the “dangerousness of this issue” with reference to the more than two hundred persons killed in the riots which followed the Danish cartoon controversy. In fact, according to the authors, the OIC itself had a hand in orchestrating those riots.

Even where governments have declined to criminalize “defamation of religion,” publishers and social media platforms have begun censoring critics of Islam in an effort to avoid trouble.

Already under President George W. Bush, the government began a program of “outreach” and “dialogue” with so-called Muslim community leaders on the grounds that they could help identify jihadists. From the beginning, some of these leaders have had terrorist connections. For example, a certain Nihad Awad, known to have been directly involved in financing Hamas, was invited to a meeting with the director of the FBI just five months after 9/11. Another participant in this meeting was arrested the following year and is currently serving a 17-year sentence on multiple terrorism-related charges.

Such outreach efforts were greatly strengthened under President Barack Obama, who once called it “part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam.” On his watch, Muslim Brotherhood representatives, including persons named as co-conspirators in the HLF trial, were allowed a role in shaping U.S. security policy. The practical effect of their influence has been to obscure and protect the activities of radical Muslims in our midst and to cripple America’s ability to defend itself against jihad.

During the Obama administration, the government dropped all references to the “War on Terror” in favor of a new label: “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE). The CVE strategy avoids any references to the role of Islamic doctrine, law and scripture in inspiring violent jihad against America. It also rationalizes the diversion of resources from confronting jihad to focusing on other groups said to be equally if not more dangerous, including “Constitutionalists,” veterans, Tea Party activists, opponents of legalized abortion, and gun owners.

Muslim Brotherhood front groups have formed with leftist organizations such as the ACLU and SPLC what the authors term a “Red-Green Axis” to pressure the government, partly through lawsuits, into suspending investigations and ending the surveillance of mosques with known and suspected terrorist ties—all in the name of protecting Muslims’ civil rights. They have also publicly lobbied the Department of Justice for cutbacks in anti-terror funding and a legal declaration that U.S. citizens’ criticism of Islam constitutes “racial discrimination.” It is hard not to agree with the authors’ conclusion that “hostile foreign nationals and their enablers here [are using] our Civil Rights and Civil Liberties to try to destroy our country.”

Partly at the insistence of this Red-Green Axis, the Obama administration instituted a purge of government trainers, training materials, and other information deemed “offensive to Muslims” from the curricula of every major security-related agency in the U.S. government in 2011. The FBI, for example, dropped 876 pages and 392 presentations. Whether the allegedly offensive material was factually correct or not appears to have played no role in the decision to remove it. Muslim groups have even demanded the punishment of those responsible for such material.

Government agents are now taught that “no investigative or intelligence collection activity may be based solely on national origin or religious affiliation,” and that “religious expression and the espousing of political or ideological beliefs are constitutionally protected activities.” But as the authors note, two of the more obvious warning signs of Islamic terrorism are “adherence to Shariah and interest in the jihad it commands.” If attention to such signs is forbidden, there may be no way for agents to take action at the ideological stage of jihad, that is, before violent attacks occur. In a similar vein, rules now require government agents to establish probable cause before beginning any investigation into possible jihadist/terrorist activity — whereas historically the information needed to establish probable cause has often been obtained only through an initial investigative contact.

People have already died from such folly. Following the San Bernardino massacre, neighbors of the attackers told authorities they had long been concerned about the couple’s behavior, but had refrained from warning anybody for fear of being accused of “profiling.”

About the author

Martin Witkerk writes from the mid-Atlantic region and has a Ph.D. in philosophy from Tulane University.