By Andrew McCarthy
I was invited by the Center for Security Policy to give a speech at the National Press Club in Washington yesterday. The topic was our government’s relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and why concerns about Brotherhood infiltration, raised by five conservative House members, are very real. The speech ran nearly an hour, and there was a little over a half-hour of Q&A afterwards. The event was carried by CSPAN, and for those interested, the link is here.
Below is the prepared text of my speech:
Imagine, if you will, the following scenario.
A candidate for a high position in an executive branch agency — a position that entails a great deal of influence over public policy, a position that requires access to highly classified national security information — comes in for an interview by the FBI.
This is a routine background investigation. Even people being considered for low-level positions in the executive branch are subjected to them. It is not because we question their patriotism or suspect that they are bad people. It is just common sense — in addition to being the subject of a good deal of statutory law and federal regulation.
Naturally, as government positions get higher, more important, and more sensitive, the background investigations get more detailed — probing not only a candidate’s background, experiences, finances and associations, but those of the candidate’s close family members.
One matter that is of particular importance is connections to foreign countries, organizations, persons and movements. There’s an entire section devoted to these concerns in Form 86, the form that all candidates for national security positions in the federal government are required to complete.
Let’s assume that our candidate truthfully completes the form. What do you suppose our FBI agent is thinking as he flips through the form, asks some follow up questions, and gets the following story from the candidate:
“I’ve worked the last dozen years at an institute that was founded by a wealthy, influential Saudi who is intimately involved in the financing of terrorism.”
“Are you just speculating about that?” the candidate is asked.
“Speculating? Oh, no, no, I’m not speculating. You see, this Saudi guy actually started an ostensible ‘charity’ that the United States government has designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. It is a designated terrorist because it lavishly funded al Qaeda — you know, the jihadist network that we’re at war with. As a matter of fact, one of the men this Saudi guy brought in to help him run the specially designated terrorist organization, was so close to Osama bin Laden, that he actually helped bin Laden start al Qaeda.”
The agent figures, “You’ve got to be kidding me. I guess you didn’t know this Saudi guy who was funding al Qaeda, right?”
“Well,” our candidate responds, “as a matter of fact, we overlapped for seven years at that institute I worked at. Remember I told you that he’s the one who started it and I eventually worked there for twelve years? Well, turns out he stayed involved in it for decades — it was his baby … he gave the institution its mission and its vision. He was still there advising it and shaping it for my first seven years there. Then they took him off the masthead … right around the time he became a defendant in the civil lawsuit filed by the victims of the 9/11 attacks.”
The agent is stunned. All he can think to ask is: “Why did you leave the institute?”
“Oh,” our candidate replies, “I got offered a full-time job at the State Department, helping the secretary of State make U.S. foreign policy.”
I really wish that was a farfetched story.
Now let me back up for a moment. First, thank you all for coming here today.
I came to Washington at the suggestion of my friends at the Center for Security Policy. They asked me to address the controversy stirred by five conservative members of the House of Representatives who’ve raised concerns about Islamist influence on American policy — specifically, the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamist governments, organizations and affiliates with which it works.
I guess I was asked, in part, because I’ve been writing about this subject: I’ve been writing about the Muslim Brotherhood for a number of years. And for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been writing about the specific topic that we’re here to talk about this morning: the Brotherhood’s influence on our government, and the slings and arrows these five House members have been catching for having the temerity to notice it.
I was also asked to come here, I believe, because I worked in the Justice Department for about 25 years — first at the U.S. Marshals Service, where I worked as a deputy marshal in the Witness Protection Program; then as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. I was a prosecutor for almost 20 years, and during that time I handled or supervised a number of cases involving national security — meaning terrorism cases, all of which involved attacks plotted by violent jihadists. I was also involved in many other investigations of national and international organized crime groups, many of which were violent in nature.
Based on that experience, I have to confess that the controversy here baffles me. I don’t understand why more people in Washington, from both parties, have not rallied to the support of Congresswoman Bachmann and Congressmen Gohmert, Franks, Westmoreland and Rooney.
At a time when government policy is being radically harmonized with the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood — meaning, policy has shifted in the direction of avowed enemies of the United States — what ought to shock people is that there is any controversy over a commonsense request. The five House members are simply asking that the inspectors general in pertinent government agencies conduct internal inquiries and report back to Congress about potential Islamist influences at those agencies.
Now, let me be clear about what I said and what I didn’t say. I said Islamist influences, I did not say Muslims.
I don’t know how many Muslims work in the U.S. government, but I feel pretty safe saying there are thousands. As a federal prosecutor on terrorism cases, I had the privilege of working with several of them. These were patriotic American Muslims, and a number of Muslims who may not be Americans but who have embraced America and the West. Without them, we could not have infiltrated jihadist cells in New York and stopped terrorists from killing thousands of people.
Without them, we could not have translated, understood and processed our evidence so it could be presented to a jury as a compelling narrative. Pro-American Muslims serve honorably in government, in our military, in our intelligence services, and in our major institutions.
We are lucky to have them because they have embraced the culture of individual liberty that is the beating heart of Western civilization. They have accepted the premise of our society that everyone has a right to freedom of conscience and equality before the law. They have accepted our foundational principle that free people are at liberty to make law for themselves, irrespective of the rules of any belief system or ideology. They construe Islam’s spiritual elements and its laws as a matter of private conscience, not as a mandatory framework for society.
Those Muslims are not Islamists.
When we talk about the influence of Islamists, we are referring to Muslims who are beholden to Islamic supremacism. Islamic supremacism is an ideology, not a religion. It is a totalitarian social system that would govern every aspect of life down to the granular level — economic, financial, social, political, military, familial, dietary, issues of crime-and-punishment, even matters of hygiene.
That is the sharia system. As interpreted by many of Islam’s most influential thinkers — including organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood and academics like the faculty of ancient al-Azhar University in Cairo — classical sharia rejects basic principles of American constitutional democracy.
In fact, it rejects first and foremost our foundational premise that people are free to determine their own destiny and their own laws — regardless of what sharia holds. Classical sharia rejects freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, economic liberty, equality between men and women, equality between Muslims and non-Muslims, and Western notions of personal liberty and privacy.
It is the goal of all Islamists to impose sharia. That is why there is no such thing as a “moderate Islamist.” If you want to replace the American Constitution with sharia, and Western civilization with the Islam of the Middle East, you are not a moderate — however grateful we may be that you’re not looking to blow up a bridge in order to impose your desires.
Whether they are violent or non-violent, whether they work incrementally toward their goal or work at warp speed, the mission of Islamists is always and everywhere to impose sharia. In Islamist ideology, the implementation of the sharia system is the necessary precondition for turning non-Islamic societies into Islamic societies. And that is what Islamists believe they are under a divine injunction to do.
When I talk about Islamists and Islamist influences, that is what I mean.
It is essential to understand that Islamic supremacism is not a fringe ideology. And with due respect to the trendy, bipartisan diagnosis of it that has become so popular here in Washington, Islamic supremacism — and the extreme forms of behavior it inspires — are not a psychiatric problem.
We like to portray the lethal threat against us as “violent extremism.” But “violent extremism” does not combust spontaneously. It is caused by Islamic supremacist ideology. Violent extremism, as well as non-violent extremism, are effects — they are not causes. They are not irrational and wanton, there is a logic to them … I should say, an ideologic.
This ideology is based on a classical interpretation of Islam that has a rich history. We sound really ignorant to the people we’re trying to persuade when we pretend that this is not the case.
Islamic supremacism has been developed over the centuries by many of Islam’s most respected thinkers — thinkers who are better understood as “jurists” than “clerics.” Their specialty is sharia, which is a societal system, not a mere set of religious principles.
Islamic supremacism is the dynamic ideology of the Middle East at this moment in history. There have been times when it has been dormant, and when its worst tendencies have been cabined or suppressed by force, by law, or by cultural pressures. But at this historic moment, it is once again in its ascendancy.
That is a big problem for us. Islamic supremacists mean us grave harm. We are understandably preoccupied with the fact that violent jihadists are taking aim at our lives. But we should not let the immediacy and horror of that threat obscure the fact that the Islamist movement is taking aim at our way of life.
The movement’s intellectual leader is the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood is not a “largely secular” umbrella organization. It is not “moderate.” It is the vanguard of a ground-up, revolutionary, ideological mass movement. It is sophisticated, patient, and determined. It has spent almost 90 years building its reserves and biding its time.
Increasingly over the last half-century, its efforts have been opulently underwritten by oil wealth, especially from Saudi Arabia. The Saudis follow a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, called Wahhabism. That is a close cousin of the Brotherhood’s interpretation, which is called Salafism. For our purposes, the two streams merge into the supremacist ideology that threatens us today.
The threat is very real, very aggressive, and much broader than terrorism. That is because the underlying threat is not terrorism but the rationale for terrorism: which is the gradual imposition of classical sharia — by both violence and non-violence.
We hear a lot of chatter trying to separate the two — violent and non-violent jihad. But they are never mutually exclusive. The non-violent jihad is called dawa, the aggressive proselytism of Islam. Dawa is leveraged by the threat of violence. The atmosphere of intimidation is what makes non-violent jihad so effective. It is what allows Islamist organizations to exercise such outsize influence on our policymakers even though Muslims barely register one percent of our population.
Not long ago, I wrote a book called The Grand Jihad. The title is not something I came up with. It was drawn out of an internal Muslim Brotherhood document seized by the FBI from a top Brotherhood operative in Virginia. It was dated 1991 and called the “explanatory memorandum.” In it, leading Brothers stationed in the United States explained to their global leadership how the Brothers saw their mission. “Civilization jihad,” they called it. Then they elaborated:
The Ikhwan [i.e., the Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within, and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers, so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.
See, when Islamists speak among themselves, especially when they don’t expect that we’ll ever hear or see what they say, they are very clear about what they are trying to do. They are also very clear about whom they are doing it with. The explanatory memo actually listed 29 different organizations — many of the most influential Islamist groups in America. The Brotherhood identified those groups as the accomplices in their grand jihad.
And now that the Brotherhood is in the midst of a gradual triumph in Egypt and much of the Middle East, leading Brothers have become bolder in their public pronouncements.
For example, in October 2010, on the cusp of the revolt, the Brotherhood’s “supreme guide” in Egypt, a man named Mohammed Badi, gave a speech in which he expressly called for violent jihad against the United States.
Specifically, Badi urged his fellow Muslims to remember “Allah’s commandment to wage jihad for his sake with [their] money and lives, so that Allah’s word will reign supreme.”
Applying this injunction, Badi proclaimed that jihad “is the only solution” against what he called “the Zio-American arrogance and tyranny.” Not negotiation — jihad. Badi also took delight in noting that the United States had been badly wounded by jihadists in Iraq and Afghanistan. From that, he predicted that America “is now experiencing the beginning of its end, and is heading towards its demise.”
So, contrary to what increasingly seems to be popular belief here in Washington, Islamist influences are not benign. They are not something to yawn over. They are something we need to defend against.
We are talking about a very determined movement that pulls no punches in braying that it means to destroy our country. The most important sharia authority in the world, Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi — the Muslim Brotherhood’s chief jurist — proclaims that Islam will “conquer America” and “conquer Europe.” And by the way, you’ll want to remember Sheikh Qaradawi’s name — we’ll be coming back to him shortly.
Islamists not only tell us that they intend to destroy us. They tell us, straight out, how they intend to do it: Not only by the intimidating, constant potential of violence, but by “sabotage” — their word, not mine. The will, they say, “destroy” us “from within.” They intend to insinuate themselves into our major institutions, including into the policy-making bodies of our government. They intend to compromise us from the inside, as well as from the outside.
Where I come from, when serious, competent, threatening people tell you what they are going to do to you and how they indend to do it, that is not something to be ignored. It is something to be taken very seriously.
The main way to take it very seriously when it comes to our government is to police our agencies so they are not penetrated by pernicious influences. That is what these five members of Congress have tried to do. What is shocking and demoralizing, what ought to outrage the American people, is that the five of them are standing alone.
Read the rest at PJ Media
Additional background supplied by Center for Security Policy:
Articles on this issue by Andy McCarthy:
Huma Abedin Timeline: US Government Associations and Muslim Brotherhood Associations
Louay Safi Timeline: US Government Associations and Muslim Brotherhood Associations
Kifah Mustapha Timeline: US Government Associations and Muslim Brotherhood Association
Reports on Huma Abedin
Center Report Reveals Radical Islamist Views and Agenda of Senior State Department Official Huma Abedin’s Mother
Walid Shoebat: Proof: Huma has Ties to Muslim Brotherhood – Countless Documents Surface
Information on State Department security clearances
Executive Order: Presidential access to classified information
Further resources on Executive Orders regarding national security and background investigations
House Subcommittee on Intelligence Security Management: Security Clearance Reform — Upgrading the Gateway to the National Security Community
Original letters sent by 5 Members of Congress to Inspectors General of executive branch agencies regarding the Muslim Brotherhood
Letter from Rep. Michele Bachmann to Rep. Keith Ellison with extensive sourcing explaining Member’s concerns
Letter from prominent conservative leaders supporting the sending of the Inspectors General letters
Letter from National Security leaders supporting the Inspector General letters