Washington Post and David Cole Try to Bury History of Muslim Brotherhood in America
The Washington Post published a brief letter to the editor from me on Friday, addressing some false and misleading statements Georgetown University law professor David Cole made in a recent book review. See my letter here.
The Post limits such letters to 350 words, far too few to fully respond to the mischaracterizations Cole made in reviewing David K. Shipler’s book, Freedom of Speech. In one chapter, Shipler devotes considerable effort to trying to debunk a key document outlining the Muslim Brotherhood’s long-range ambitions in America.
The Brotherhood should engage in “a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within,” the 1991 memorandum said.
In his review, Cole accuses me and others of using documents like this to make “a business of issuing impassioned, McCarthy-like warnings about Islamist conspiracies to take over the United States” and minimizes the memo as “nothing more than a thought piece drafted by a single individual in the early 1990s.”
But this position glosses over significant evidence showing that the memo’s author played a prominent role in the Brotherhood’s North American power structure. And it ignores the Brotherhood’s own global ambitions, as defined clearly by its leading ideologues Hassan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb.
Each envisioned a long-range process in order to spread Islam until it controlled society globally.
“It is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its law on all nations and to extend its power to the entire planet,” al-Banna said. [Emphasis added]
Qutb believed Islam would free mankind of servitude: “Islam … is the religion of God and is for the whole world.”
These words remain the guiding doctrine for the Brotherhood. And this context is vital when examining the activities of Muslim Brotherhood leaders in the United States, including the “Explanatory Memorandum” that Shipler and Cole want to discredit. By “sabotaging” the West from within, the memo says, Islam’s believers can help eliminate it “and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”
If the 1991 memo were as irrelevant as Cole and Shipler argue, it likely would have been discarded long ago. But that’s not what happened. FBI agents found it in 2004 while searching the home of the Brotherhood’s archivist in America, Ismael Elbarasse.
Other internal documents admitted into evidence provide further details about the Brotherhood’s plans in the United States, which are consistent with author Mohamed Akram’s vision:
- This 1991 report refers to the “substance of the long term plan” and summarizes the Brotherhood’s development in the United States and identifies the Muslim Students Association (MSA), Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) as branches.
- This Palestine Committee report from 1990 details recent activities, including rallies and events, and publications of periodicals and books. It concludes by requesting more support since the committee “represents its strong arm and the one which is specialized in defending the Islamic cause in Palestine and support for the emerging movement, the Hamas Movement.”
- This 1991-92 implementation plan details goals for a vast operation of Brotherhood activities, ranging from politics and media to education, family programming, coalition building, and Dawa – or “Delivering the message of Islam to non-Muslims.” Among the Palestine Committee’s tasks was finding ten “brothers to become political and media symbols in the American arena.”
They may not use Akram’s language of a “grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization,” but the successful outcome of these plans would make this a fundamentally different country politically.
And Akram, the memo’s author, was no fringe kook loitering within the U.S. Brotherhood’s roster. Internal records admitted into evidence during the prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) and five former officials – the largest terror-financing trial in U.S. history – place Akram on the Brotherhood’s “Central Committee.” He is listed just below Mousa Abu Marzook – who essentially was the chairman of the board for MB/Hamas activities in the United States at the time. Today, Marzook is a senior Hamas political official.
Akram also is identified as the Central Committee secretary. In fact, the document includes the note, “DONE April 6, 1991 by M.A.” [Mohamed Akram] in the FBI translation.
Akram also is listed just below Marzook on an internal telephone list for the Brotherhood’s “Palestine Committee” in the United States. And he appears in a 1992 telephone book, taken from Ismael Elbarasse’s home, which prosecutors describe as a Brotherhood directory.
In 1990, Akram reported on media projects to the Majlis Shura, essentially the U.S. Brotherhood’s board of directors.
Illinois corporate records show that Akram was a founding director of another Palestine Committee branch, the United Association for Studies and Research, created by Marzook.
David Cole is a respected law professor who knows his way around a docket. He knows these documents exist, but didn’t see the need to inform Post readers.
Don’t take my word for the significance of these internal Brotherhood documents. In my 2012 documentary, “The Grand Deception,” former Federal prosecutor Nathan Garrett stated that these documents “absolutely blew the doors open on our understanding of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in the United States.”
Other internal records prove that the Palestine Committee’s branches in America included HLF, the Islamic Association for Palestine, and later, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
The exhibits establish the existence of this Muslim Brotherhood-created network, primarily because its participants created the documentation. Yet in his Post book review, Cole calls these internal records “supposed evidence of the grand Islamic conspiracy [which] is similarly speculative.” Worse, according to Cole, emphasis on these documents by me and others poses “a real threat to the political freedoms of others, as they tar with unjustified suspicion Muslim civic organizations that are engaged in the promotion of civil liberties, religious freedom and Muslim identity, not terrorism.”
The bulk of our reporting on these records has focused on CAIR. Its founders were Palestine Committee members, placed there in documents and secret FBI surveillance recordings; and, coinciding with its founding in 1994, CAIR is listed among the committee’s branches.
The FBI examined the same records in 2008 and broke off outreach with CAIR, writing that, “until we can resolve whether there continues to be a connection between CAIR or its executives and HAMAS, the FBI does not view CAIR as an appropriate liaison partner.” That policy remains in effect.
None of this is to say that everything advocated in the Akram memo was pursued or neared fruition. But to pretend that the Brotherhood did not have grand ambitions to fundamentally change the United States, or that it did nothing to lay the foundation for such change, ignores the real-time scheming recorded by the participants and saved for years to come.
Cole makes a point of saying he is not out to silence me or the other “conspiracy theorists” he smears as McCarthy-like people out to tar innocent Muslims. Instead, he offers name calling and an incomplete recitation of the facts in record, proclaiming that tactic a step toward “freedom of speech at its best.”
Steven Emerson is executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, author of six books on terrorism and national security and executive producer of the award winning 2013 documentary “Jihad in America: The Grand Deception” (www.granddeception.com)