The newly-formed U.S. Muslim Brotherhood political party, the U.S. Council of the Muslim Organizations (USCMO), has lost no time diving into the American political scene this election year, surrounded by well-known individuals and groups that sport long histories of Brotherhood associations. On 6 September 2014, USCMO member organizations gathered in Rosemont, Illinois for a fundraising event hosted by Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) and a dinner sponsored by the Chicago Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIGOC). As the largest Muslim charity in this country, IRUSA was incorporated in California in 1993 as a 501c3 tax exempt charity. IRUSA has a troubling history that includes providing financial assistance to the Florida branch of CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations). CAIR, of course, is well-known for its own Brotherhood and HAMAS pedigree. In 2008, CAIR was named an unindicted co-conspirator by the Department of Justice in the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) HAMAS terror funding trial. Following a 108-count unanimous guilty verdict, the HLF was put out of business; its Muslim Brotherhood leadership was sentenced to lengthy terms in federal prison. IRUSA’s United Kingdom-based parent organization, Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), was established in 1984 and also has Muslim Brotherhood connections.
The IRUSA fundraiser was held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, a site used for a number of years to hold international conventions organized by prominent Muslim Brotherhood groups including the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). Keynote addresses were delivered that evening by Karen Koning Abuzayd, Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and Sheikh Imam Jamal Said from the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, Illinois. Jamal Said is listed as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood off-shoot called the Palestine Section in the 1993 By-Laws of the Palestine Committee, parent organization of the Islamic Association for Palestine (itself the parent organization of CAIR). Said also appeared on the Department of Justice (DOJ) Attachment A list of unindicted co-conspirators in a section for Palestine Committee members as part of the evidence presented at the United States of America vs. Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development HAMAS terror funding trial of 2008. His name also appears on an internal Palestine Committee telephone list obtained by the DOJ prosecutors. As shown in the screenshot below, IRUSA promoted this event as a “Fundraising Dinner for Palestine” on its website.
Participation by American Muslim Brotherhood leadership at the Islamic Relief USA fundraiser on 6 September 2014 included USCMO Secretary General Oussama Jammal’s Mosque Foundation and USCMO members Muslim American Society (MAS), American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Islamic Circle of North America, and the Islamic Center of Wheaton. The following advertisement for this IRUSA fundraiser appeared on the website for the Chicago Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago.
The IRUSA has also been able to promote itself as the recipient of a presidential endorsement: during the National Prayer Breakfast on 2 February 2012, President Barack Obama openly praised the work of IRUSA. In the following screenshot from its website, the IRUSA posts that “During his speech at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast, President Barak Obama cited IRUSA as one of the faith-based organizations helping bring hope to those suffering around the world.”
Less than 4 months before that National Prayer Breakfast, IRUSA was one of 57 organizations joined by CAIR, ICNA, and MAS (all current USCMO members) to co-sign a letter on 19 October 2011 authored by Farhana Khera, Executive Director for Muslim Advocates. Khera wrote to President Barack Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (and future Central Intelligence Agency Director) John Brennan, urging him to take action over US government training materials alleged to demonstrate a prejudice against Islam. Subsequently, in August 2014, not satisfied with the ensuing government-wide purge of all curriculum materials that taught the inspirational linkage between Islamic doctrine and Islamic terrorism, signatories of the October 2011 letter (but not including IRUSA) sent a new letter to Lisa Monaco, Brennan’s successor, urging the Obama administration to “Implement a mandatory retraining program for all federal, state and local law enforcement officials who have been subjected to biased and discriminatory trainings provided by the federal government.”