Islamist Groups Join Together to Lobby Congress
The U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), an umbrella group of “major national American Muslim organizations,” was officially launched in March 2014. This coalition was purportedly formed to “serve as a representative voice for Muslims as that faith community seeks to enhance its positive impact on society,” but a close look at its member organizations shows that many of them rank among the top Islamist and Muslim Brotherhood organizations in the U.S. and include:
Three of those entities, AMP, CAIR and MAS, have roots in the Muslim Brotherhood or in a former Hamas-support network in the United States called the Palestine Committee. That committee, internal records show, included branches aimed at supporting Hamas politically and financially in the United States. Much of that work, however, was intended to be kept from public view.
The USCMO has an overtly political objective, with an emphasis on lobbying policy makers.
In line with its stated mission to “empower the American Muslim community to amplify its voice and unify its efforts,” USCMO held its first National Muslim Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill April 13. “This event will connect national, regional and state Muslim organizations, community members and activists with over a third of the U.S. House of Representatives and a half of the Senate,” a press release announcing the event said. “USCMO will schedule face-to-face meetings between Muslim delegates and legislators that will focus on the domestic priorities of the American Muslim community. Prior to the event, a series of online training seminars will also be offered to registered participants on effective advocacy techniques and on the day’s advocacy issues.”
Advocacy Day offered “an invaluable opportunity to forge lasting relationships with members of Congress and policy makers“ and highlighted the role Muslim delegates could play “to develop good will within Congress for domestic issues that reflect the interests and needs of their community.”
The event drew 280 people from 20 states, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad claimed at last month’s annual MAS-ICNA conference in Baltimore. He also called USCMO’s first Advocacy Day “a major success because it was the first of its kind, it was a culmination of the unified efforts of all these national organizations that I mentioned their names. We hope that next year insha’allah [God willing] we will get at least 1,000 Muslim delegates to come to Washington, D.C. and lobby their elected representatives on issues they care about, whether domestic and beyond.”
Awad appears in a telephone list of Palestine Committee members, and participated in a secret 1993 meeting aimed at thwarting the U.S.-brokered Oslo Accords because of a perception it left the Islamist movement on the sidelines. CAIR’s formation in 1994 was a result of plans hatched during that meeting, an FBI agent testified in 2008, citing the Bureau’s recordings of the discussion.
Steven Emerson is the Executive Director the Investigative Project on Terrorism (www.investigativeproject.org) where this article first appeared.