A few weeks ago hard-Left “journalist” Zack Beauchamp published a long, windy piece in Vox bemoaning the influence of counter-jihadists upon President Trump. (Be afraid, Zack. Be very afraid.) The centerpiece of his argument is that the captured internal document of the Muslim Brotherhood laying out its strategy in the U.S., and its goal of “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within, and sabotaging its miserable house,” is just one man’s fantasy, and has never been the actual program of the Brotherhood itself. Here is the salient portion of his article, which was accompanied by this wonderful illustration of Brigitte Gabriel, Frank Gaffney and me looming menacingly over President Trump and his team:
“Trump’s counter-jihad: How the anti-Muslim fringe conquered the White House,” by Zack Beauchamp, Vox, February 13, 2017:
…The foremost theorist of civilization jihad is a writer named Robert Spencer. “He’s author of so many books, and one of the top two or three experts in the world on this great war we’re fighting against fundamental Islam,” Bannon said, when hosting Spencer on Breitbart Daily News on August 9, 2016. “Trump is listening to people like you,” he told Spencer later in the interview.
Spencer, like Gabriel and Gaffney, has no formal training in Quranic scholarship. He received an MA in 1986 in religious studies from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and wrote his master’s thesis on Catholic history.
In reality, I took courses on Islam while in that master’s program, but have never made any secret of the fact that I studied it mostly on my own. Leftists only dismiss the possibility of this when it interferes with their narrative; Karen Armstrong, for example, has no “formal training in Quranic scholarship,” but an establishment “reporter” like Beauchamp would hail her as an expert because her fanciful statements about Islam fit his preconceptions.
He’s run the blog Jihad Watch, a near-obsessive tracker of Islamist activity, since 2003. He is also the author of 16 books, with titles like The Complete Infidels’ Guide to the Koran. Many of his books have been published by Regnery, the conservative publishing giant that also put out both Trump’s and Mitt Romney’s most recent books. Two of Spencer’s tomes made the New York Times best-seller list; there’s a decent chance you’ve seen him on Fox News in the wake of a terrorist attack.
In person, Spencer is short and portly, with a neatly trimmed black beard. He’s exceptionally confrontational, constantly trumpeting his willingness to debate all comers on Twitter and on Jihad Watch.
Yes, one can get that way when one has the facts on one’s side and yet are routinely dismissed as ignorant.
When I contacted him for this story, his reply attacked the media — like most counter-jihadists, he sees journalists as some of jihad’s most powerful enablers.
“There you go again, Zack,” he wrote in response to one of my questions. “I know you’re a reporter, and a reporter for Vox, so I know where you stand.”
Here is the full exchange, so you can see how dishonest Leftist reporters like Beauchamp operate. He gave me a question that assumed that I, not the U.S. government, had labeled Hamas-linked CAIR and other Muslim groups as Muslim Brotherhood fronts:
5) Even if we end Muslim immigration, groups you label MB fronts — like CAIR, ISNA, and the various MSAs — are still operative in the United States. What’s the solution to that?
There you go again, Zack. I know you’re a reporter, and a reporter for Vox, so I know where you stand, but even you should grant that it was not I, but the United States Justice Department, that established CAIR, ISNA, and the MSA as MB fronts. Skeptical? See these, and follow the internal links: http://www.investigativeproject.org/1854/doj-cairs-unindicted-co-conspirator-status-legit. http://www.investigativeproject.org/732/isna-admits-hamas-ties https://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/misc/31.pdf You probably disdain the Investigative Project, but I would like to see you refute the evidence at those links establishing all three organizations as closely tied to the Muslim Brotherhood.
In any case, the solution is this: enforce existing laws regarding sedition and subversion. And these organizations and others should be called upon to back up their pro-forma condemnations of al-Qaeda and ISIS with transparent, inspectable, honest programs teaching young Muslims why they should reject the understanding of Islam offered by jihad terror groups. No such programs exist today. Why not?
Beauchamp actually characterized this later in his article in this way: “These ideas, ideas which when taken to their logical conclusion end in a mass campaign of persecution targeting Muslim Americans.” Yes, that’s right: it doesn’t matter what you say, he sees what he wants to see.
Spencer’s 2008 book, Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam Is Subverting America Without Guns or Bombs, developed one of the most important ideas of the counter-jihad. Its arguments were cited repeatedly and amplified in the Team B II report and also appear, in a simplified form, in speeches delivered by people like Gabriel in towns around the country. Spencer also regularly gives “counterterrorism” seminars based on these arguments to law enforcement agencies.
The central idea is that terrorists aren’t America’s real Muslim problem.
“Distracted by foreign wars and the prospect of domestic terror attacks, Americans pay little heed to the true agents of intolerance in their midst,” Spencer writes. “The stealth jihad advances largely unopposed because it is largely unrecognized.”
The “agents of intolerance” at the heart of this stealth jihad, Spencer explains, are the Muslim Brotherhood.
It’s a group you’re probably at least passingly familiar with. Founded in Egypt in 1928, the Brotherhood is one of the oldest and most influential Islamist groups in history. The group’s goal has long been the toppling of the Egyptian government and its replacement with a Sunni theocracy.
Its tactics have varied over time, from promoting grassroots social change to fielding candidates for parliament, and some individuals and groups associated with the Brotherhood in the past have advocated violent revolution. The Brotherhood even managed to gain control over the Egyptian government briefly, when Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi won in the country’s first democratic election following the Arab Spring uprising in 2011.
Today, the group’s influence is relatively limited — Egypt’s military dictator, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, overthrew Morsi in 2013 and since then has viciously suppressed Brotherhood activity. According to Human Rights Watch, he has killed more than 1,000 individuals linked to the Brotherhood and arrested many, many more.
In Spencer’s telling, though, the Brotherhood is not defined by its founding chapter in Egypt, or even its various open branches and offshoots (like the Palestinian militant group Hamas or the moderate Islamist Ennahda party in Tunisia). The hidden history of the 20th century, according to Spencer, is a history of the Brotherhood’s stealth penetration of the West.
“Of course the MB still has the resources to act in the US and Europe,” Spencer tells me. “Its organizations here were well-established and handsomely funded before Sisi came along.”
In Stealth Jihad, Spencer rests this claim on a 1991 memo, written by a Muslim Brother named Mohamed Akram. The memo outlines a plan to establish a “global Islamic state,” starting in the United States. This begins, according to Akram, through a “shift from the collision mentality to the absorption mentality” — to move away from open conflict with Western authorities to suborning them from within.
This might seem like a pathetically impossible task, given the minuscule number of Muslim Brothers in the US. But — and this is the absolutely critical part — Akram thinks the Brotherhood has powerful allies who might successfully and quietly mainstream its radical agenda. In the memo, he writes out “a list of our organizations and the organizations of our friends.”
It reads like a who’s who of Muslim civic organizations in the United States, including the Islamic Society of North America (the continent’s largest Muslim civic group) and the Muslim Students’ Association (the organization that represents Muslim students on virtually every college campus in the United States). This one memo, for Spencer and Gaffney, is solid proof that these organizations are Brotherhood fronts.
“The Brotherhood, and its present-day allies and friends, [are] really working to forward the ‘grand jihad,’” Spencer writes. “When we scratch the ‘moderate’ surface of groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), we find links to terrorist organizations and exhortations to Islamic supremacism.”
The Team B II report, two years later, put the point even more clearly.
“The majority of Islamic organizations in America are affiliates of or associated with the Muslim Brotherhood in some way,” its authors explain. “Any organization that does not embrace sharia and the MB line has not been able to gain broad recognition as a Muslim-American force.”
The evidentiary basis for this claim is extremely thin. For one thing, scholars of the Brotherhood have found no evidence that Akram’s memo was an accurate representation of the Brotherhood’s reach.
“Nobody has ever produced any evidence that the document was more than something produced by the daydream of one enthusiast,” Nathan Brown, a George Washington University professor who studies the Brotherhood, told Religion Dispatches’ Sarah Posner in 2011. “Nothing in anything that I have heard has ever struck me as similar in tone or content to the ‘master plan.’”
Beyond that, the organizations themselves flatly deny being agents of the Muslim Brotherhood. Of course, as Spencer and his ilk would say, this could just be taqiyya. Except that the groups don’t just deny these affiliations — they openly advocate policies and interpretations of Islam that directly contradict this supposed grand Muslim Brotherhood plot against American values.
That does not stop Spencer, Team B II, and the rest of the counter-jihadists from citing Akram’s memo as gospel. Gaffney still tells audiences to download it (it’s available for free on CSP’s site)….
There is just one problem with Beauchamp’s dismissal of the Muslim Brotherhood Explanatory Memorandum: Beauchamp is ignoring key salient facts that establish the authenticity and importance of the Memorandum. And he is not alone: the establishment propaganda media is currently engaged in a full-court press designed to head off the Trump administration designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror organization, and to do so, establishment “journalists” like Beauchamp are doing everything they can to discredit the Memorandum. John Rossomando of the Investigative Project takes them down here:
“‘Explanatory Memorandum’ Detractors Ignore Evidence About MB in America,” by John Rossomando, IPT News, March 1, 2017:
Some supposedly very smart, well-informed people are making ignorant and misleading claims in the debate over designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group.
The Trump administration is considering designating the nearly 90-year-old Brotherhood, which seeks a global Islamic state governed by religious law known as shariah.
Reasonable people can debate the merits. But a recent Washington Post column by Arjun Singh Sethi, an adjunct Georgetown University law professor, illustrates the way false information is being pushed by some opponents.
Designation would be “exploited and manipulated for political gain” and used to target otherwise innocent Muslim American groups, Sethi argues. It would be all the more outrageous because, “The Brotherhood doesn’t have a known presence in the U.S., most Muslim Americans know very little about it and no organization active in the U.S. has been shown to have any connection to it.”
This is entirely wrong, and there are Muslim Brotherhood documents in the public domain to prove it.
Sethi takes aim at one of those documents, a 1991 “Explanatory Memorandum” which calls for a “Civilization-Jihadist Process” whereby Brotherhood members in America work toward “destroying the Western civilization from within.” The memorandum also suggests that Islam represents a “civilization alternative.”
“This memorandum, of which there is only one known copy, has been widely discredited and called a fantasy,” Sethi writes.
That one copy, however, was seized by FBI agents from the home of Ismail Elbarasse, whom prosecutors describe as the “archivist” for the Muslim Brotherhood in America. If it was a fantasy, it was deemed sufficiently exciting to preserve. In addition, its author played a prominent role in the Brotherhood’s U.S. network.
Sethi mentions none of these facts. Neither do the Southern Poverty Law Center or the left-leaning commentary website Alternet, which cited Sethi’s column to dismiss those who point to Muslim Brotherhood fronts in the United States as “conspiracy theorists.”
Sethi further claims there is no evidence to show that “three of the largest Muslim organizations in the country — the Islamic Society of North America [ISNA], the Council on American Islamic Relations [CAIR] and the North American Islamic Trust [NAIT] — are affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood” except for the explanatory memo.
This statement also is objectively, demonstrably false.
The explanatory memo, like most of the information known about a Muslim Brotherhood network in the United States, became public during the 2007 and 2008 Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) Hamas-financing trials held in Dallas. FBI agents seized a trove of internal documents – meeting minutes, reports and proposals – written by Muslim Brotherhood members in the United States. In addition, electronic surveillance picked up hundreds of conversations among Brotherhood conspirators.
Their task at the time was to run a series of political groups with the aim of benefiting Hamas – the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch – politically and financially. They united under the umbrella of the “Palestine Committee.”
In court papers, federal prosecutors noted that the Holy Land trial included “numerous exhibits … establishing both ISNA’s and NAIT’s intimate relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestine Committee, and the defendants in this case.”
NAIT, a subsidiary of ISNA, served as a banking outlet for HLF’s fundraising.
“HLF raised money and supported HAMAS through a bank account it held with ISNA at NAIT…,” prosecutors wrote in 2008, citing financial records admitted into evidence. “ISNA checks deposited into the ISNA/NAIT account for the HLF were often made payable to ‘the Palestinian Mujahadeen,’ the original name for the HAMAS military wing.”
CAIR, meanwhile, is listed among the Palestine Committee’s own entities. CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad is included on a committee roster and participated in at least one significant Palestine Committee meeting.
Other groups attracted law enforcement scrutiny due to their Muslim Brotherhood ties. The International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT), for example, emerged from a 1977 meeting of Muslim Brotherhood luminaries from the U.S., Europe and the Middle East, according to Growth of Islamic Thought in North America: Focus on Ism’ail Raji al Faruqi, written by IIIT chair of Interfaith Studies at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York, Muhammad Shafiq.
A 1988 FBI report, obtained by the Investigative Project through a Freedom of Information Act request, identifies ISNA, NAIT and IIIT officials as “members and leaders of the Ikhwan [Brotherhood].”
The FBI document summarizes an interview with an unnamed source who notes that “all Muslim organizations founded under the direction of the IIIT leadership have been organized … in ‘the Ikhwan model,'” with the aim of recruiting support for an Islamic revolution in the U.S.
“… [H]istoricaIIy members of the MSA and subsequently NAIT, ISNA and the IIIT have been IKHWAN members,” the FBI document says.
In sum, FBI investigations and internal Muslim Brotherhood documents establish that, despite Sethi’s assertion to the contrary, there is ample evidence linking ISNA, NAIT and CAIR to the Muslim Brotherhood.
His dismissal of the explanatory memo is similarly misguided.
Its author, Mohamed Akram, played a prominent role on the Palestine Committee, identified in an internal 1991 document as the Central Committee secretary. He sat on the group’s “Central Committee” with Hamas political leader Mousa abu Marzook.
Akram’s name also appears immediately following Marzook’s name on the Palestine Committee’s internal telephone. In 1990, Akram reported on projects for the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s board of directors known as the Majlis al-Shura. The Shura councils in various countries all “report directly to the IMB [international Muslim Brotherhood]’s leadership,” a 2010 Department of Justice affidavit filed in a deportation case said.
Meanwhile, the Brotherhood maintains supporters in the United States. The IPT documented the connections between old Palestine Committee entities and the anti-Israel group American Muslims for Palestine.
And members of Egyptian Americans for Freedom and Justice (EAFJ) and Egyptian Americans for Democracy and Human Rights (EADHR) openly display their Brotherhood loyalties on Facebook. EAFJ founding board member Hani Elkadi posted a cartoon of a man holding a sign with the Brotherhood logo and the words which translate to, “I am [Muslim] Brotherhood and I’m not threatened.”
Memo’s Ambitions Weren’t New
Sethi is not the first to try to discredit the explanatory memo., The Bridge Initiative, an arm of Georgetown University’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, argued a year ago that the document was merely “one man’s utopian vision.”
“If it occupied a central place in a Muslim movement to take over America, one would think his supporters would have taken up his idea and spread it in popular and academic circles. But that’s not so,” the Bridge Initiative Team wrote.
It’s a sweeping assertion. And it’s not true. The Brotherhood has a multi-generational plan for establishing a global Islamic state. Its U.S.-based followers have repeatedly detailed their ideas for making it so.
The 1988 FBI FOIA document describes a “six phase … plan to institute Islamic Revolution in the United States” to be executed in part by the IIIT.
The scheme was rooted in a 1983 book called “The Muslim Brotherhood.” Like the “Explanatory Memorandum,” the book emphasizes institution building and Muslim evangelization (dawah) as a prelude for jihad.
“We want to make the whole world bow before the word of Allah, author Saeed Hawwa wrote. “The command of Allah is: ‘And fight with them till no mischief remains, and the religion is all for Allah.'”
Coincidentally, Akram mentions “six elements” of a general strategic plan adopted by the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s Shura council in 1987 in the “Explanatory Memorandum.” The memorandum likewise aimed to unify and direct Muslim efforts to present Islam as a “civilization alternative.”
IIIT publications still denigrate Western civilization in the name of Islam.
The “problems and challenges faced by Western civilization in the contemporary era no longer find solutions on the social and economic levels of Western civilization,” Adel Husein wrote in a 2013 IIIT paper. He suggests that Islam offers the solution: “Great revolutions are usually fueled by a solid doctrine, and Islam, in particular, embodies such a doctrine.”
Officials with other American Islamist groups advocate ideas similar to Akram’s.
Shamim Siddiqi, a past dawah director for the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) similarly offered Islam as the solution. (Siddiqi remains recommended reading for ICNA members.)
In his 1989 book, The Methodology of Dawah, Siddiqi argues that Islam should be made “dominant in the USA” through the work of Muslim organizations. Muslims should help Americans view Islam as “an alternate way of life” for the problems of the day, Siddiqi wrote in his 1996 book, The Revival. Evangelizing the American intelligentsia will result in a “demand for an Islamic society and state,” he wrote….