John Guandolo is the author of Raising a Jihadi Generation: Understanding the Muslim Brotherhood Movement in America. He is also the founder of UnderstandingTheThreat.com.
In 1996, Guandolo left the Marines to join the FBI’s Washington Field Office, focusing mostly on narcotics investigations until 2000. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, he began an assignment to the Counterterrorism Division.
In 2006, Guandolo created and implemented the FBI’s first Counterterrorism Training/Education Program focusing on the Muslim Brotherhood. He was designated a “Subject Matter Expert” by the FBI and his program was praised by the FBI Executive Assistant Director in a brief to the Vice President’s National Security Staff.
The following is Clarion Project National Security Analyst Ryan Mauro’s interview with John Guandolo:
Ryan Mauro: In your new book, you estimate that about 2,000 non-profits in the U.S. are linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. How did you come up with this estimate?
John Guandolo: First, we must begin by remembering that the Islamic community in America continues to be led by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) here. The first national Islamic organization in the U.S., the Muslim Students Association (MSA), was created by the Brotherhood in 1962-1963.
When the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development was indicted in November 2001, it was the largest Islamic charity in America, and it was a MB/Hamas entity. Hamas is the MB in Palestine.
In 2004, the FBI raided the residence of a senior Hamas/MB operative, Ismail Elbarasse, in Annandale, Virginia. In his home, the FBI discovered the archives of the Muslim Brotherhood in America. Much of the evidence, as you know, was entered into the U.S. v. HLF trial—the largest terrorism-financing trial ever successfully prosecuted in U.S. history.
Of the many documents, records and other items that were discovered, one was a recording of a senior MB leader—Zeid al-Noman—speaking to a group of Brothers in Missouri in 1981. This tape and the corresponding transcript were entered into evidence at the HLF trial and stipulated to by the defense.
While there are numerous documents discovered that make my point, this recorded discussion is, in my opinion, one of three pivotal finds at the Elbarasse residence. Al-Noman tells the entire story of how the Muslim Brotherhood came to America.
They first settled in Indiana, Michigan and Illinois, which explains why the MB’s largest organization, the Islamic Society of North America, is headquartered in Plainfield, Indiana. It explains why Detroit and Dearborn are points for significant jihadi activity, and why Chicago is the hub for Hamas in the U.S.
The MB set up “Usras” about 150 miles apart across the U.S. An Usra consisted of a few men. Each Usra would grow and establish itself in an area and as Muslims came from overseas, the Muslims already there would incorporate them into what was already going on.
As these small pockets of activity grew, the MB did exactly what their By-Laws said they would do. They established schools, mosques, clinics, shelters and the like to expand their influence in the community. By the early 1980s, nearly all of the Islamic organizations in America were established by the MB. A powerful beginning.
In 1983, the MB established the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) to be the “nucleus” of their movement and, within the year, about 100 “Islamic Societies” were established across the U.S. In 1991, the Brotherhood published an “Explanatory Memorandum”—the strategic plan for North America. Following that, they approved and published the “Implementation Manual” which put into action the strategic plan.
When you track the number of Islamic non-profits created against the years in which they were created, there is a direct correlation between the MB strategic actions and the creation of Islamic non-profits.
Prior to 1983, very few Islamic non-profits were created except those that were created by the MB. In 1983, there is a spike of about 100, all of which are subsidiaries of ISNA. In 1992, after the publication of the strategic plan and Implementation Manual, there is a large spike in the creation of Islamic non-profits that never comes down again.
From that time to today, between 60 and 120 Islamic non-profits are created each year. A large number of those organizations match the organizations that the MB said it would create.
Here is an easy snapshop: There are over 2,100 Islamic Centers in the U.S. today. From investigation and research, we know a large portion of them are controlled by the MB. Through land ownership by the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT)—the bank for the MB—or through known MB leaders at these Centers, we know that a large percentage of the Islamic Centers belong to MB.
Today, there are over 600 MSAs on nearly every college and university campus. There are over 320 Islamic Societies and several hundred chapters of the Muslim American Society (MAS), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim Communities Associations, Islamic Teaching Centers and professional organizations like Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers and Association of Muslim Social Scientists.
You see, “2,000” is an extremely conservative number.
Mauro: How much decentralization is there in the American Islamist networks? For example, could a CAIR or MAS chapter leader be a non-Islamist who agrees with the groups’ humanitarian and political work?
Guandolo: No. While there are people employed by these organizations who have varying levels of enthusiasm for the MB movement, the leadership of all of these organizations does not suffer from that problem.
Colleagues of mine have worked/studied at various military institutions, the National War College for instance. On several occasions, officers from Islamic countries have remarked on the significant and overtly-noticeable control the MB has here in the U.S. over the Muslim community.
The State Department has a program where they pay for imams to fly from overseas to the U.S. to meet with “Islamic leaders” here—almost all of whom are MB. One imam from Indonesia who is not supportive of the MB movement reported back to the U.S. Ambassador that this program should be shut down because the U.S. government, in this imam’s opinion, was paying for jihadis overseas to meet with jihadis here in America that have “control” over the Islamic community.
In my professional opinion, this aspect of the threat cannot be overstated. Prominent Muslim Dr. Zuhdi Jasser commented a few years ago that the MB controlled the access to the Iftar dinners at the White House and kept him out for several years.
Mauro: Is it possible that the Brotherhood-linked groups have evolved and become moderate over time? Some of their officials have admitted that Brotherhood ideologues set them up, but claim that they have since gone their own way.
Guandolo: This is utter rubbish. There is not one shred of evidence that they have slowed down their movement at all. All of the evidence points to a rapid acceleration of their plans. The influence of easily identifiable MB leaders inside our national security apparatus is evidence enough of their massive influence.
Men like Sayyid Syeed, Muzammil Siddiqi, Ishan Bagby, Mohammed al-Hanooti, Iqbal Unus, Ahmad Totonji, Hisham al-Talib, Yaqub Mirza and the children of the first-generation MB leaders (e.g. Suhail Khan and Zainab Alwani) are all heavily involved in the most prominent Islamic organizations in North America.
The U.S. Muslim Brotherhood is more powerful today than it has ever been.
Read more at Clarion Project