JERUSALEM – President Obama and top administration officials have an extended history of reaching out to the organization representing the main opposition now in Egypt’s unrest, quietly building ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and its worldwide allies.
Even today, as throngs are flooding the streets of Egyptian cities targeting the regime of President Hosni Mubarak, a key U.S. ally in the Middle East, the White House seemingly has been championing the protests.
The Muslim Brotherhood seeks to spread Islam around the world, in large part using nonviolent means. Hamas and al-Qaida are violent Brotherhood offshoots.
Muslim Brotherhood members reportedly were invited to attend President Obama’s 2009 address to the Muslim world from Cairo. Khaled Hamza, editor of the Muslim Brotherhood website, confirmed at the time that 10 members of the Brotherhood’s parliamentary bloc received official invitations to attend Obama’s historic speech.
Also in 2009, the Egyptian daily newspaper Almasry Alyoum ran a report claiming Obama had met with U.S. and European-based representatives of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood that year
According to the report, the Brotherhood members requested that news of the meeting not be publicized. They expressed to Obama their support for democracy and the war on terror.
The newspaper also reported Brotherhood members communicated to Obama their position that the Muslim Brotherhood would abide by all agreements Egypt has signed with foreign countries, implying that if they took power in Egypt they would continue that country’s peace treaty with Israel.
Besides contact with the Muslim Brotherhood itself, there have been multiple reports the past two years of behind-the-scenes contact with Hamas, which was founded as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas maintains a close alliance with the Brotherhood; in fact, the Brotherhood’s new leader, Muhammad Badi, serves as a de facto lead spiritual guide for Hamas.
Multiple top leaders of Hamas in Gaza claimed to WND several times they passed messages to Obama through dignitaries who visited the Gaza Strip, including Jimmy Carter and Sen. John Kerry – both of whom have a close relationship with the White House.
Kerry, for example, reportedly accepted a letter for Obama from Hamas leaders in Gaza during a February 2009 visit to U.N. installations in the coastal territory.
Karen Abu Zayd, the U.N. relief agency chief in Gaza, told the BBC the Hamas letter had been received by his agency and passed on to an unnamed American official.
In November 2008, WND first quoted Hamas officials stating they would be sending a letter to Obama.
Immediately after that month’s elections, Ahmed Yousef , Hamas’ chief political adviser in Gaza, called Obama’s win a “historic victory” for the world and told WND that Hamas was sending a letter of congratulations to the president-elect.
Obama ties to Brotherhood’s U.S. allies
It is not just Obama’s reported contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood and the group’s allies in the Middle East that have raised questions.
The Obama administration also has evidenced a working relationship with several U.S.-based Islamist organizations that are listed by the Brotherhood as “likeminded” organizations.
One such group is the Islamic Society of North America, or ISNA, a radical Muslim group that was an unindicted co-conspirator in a scheme to raise money for Hamas.
ISNA was named in a May 1991 Muslim Brotherhood document – “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America” – as one of the Brotherhood’s likeminded “organizations of our friends” who shared the common goal of transforming countries into Muslim nations.
The White House relationship with the ISNA began even before Obama took office. One week before the presidential inauguration, Sayyid Syeed, national director of the ISNA Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances, was part of a delegation that met with the directors of Obama’s transition team. The delegation discussed a request for an executive order ending “torture.”
ISNA President Ingrid Mattson represented American Muslims at Obama’s inauguration, where she offered a prayer during the televised event.
Mattson also has represented ISNA at Obama’s annual Ramadan dinners, including the last such event in which Obama announced support for the rights of Muslims to build an Islamic cultural center and mosque two blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks.
In June 2009, Obama’s top aide, Valerie Jarrett, invited Mattson to work on the White House Council on Women and Girls, which Jarrett leads.
Also that month, Jarrett addressed ISNA’s 46th annual convention. According to the White House, Jarrett attended as part of Obama’s outreach to Muslims.
It was an ISNA-sponsored event that held a February 2010 question and answer session with Obama’s top adviser on counter-terrorism, John Brennan, who came under fire for controversial remarks he made at that session, which was addressed to Muslim law students at New York University.
Another Muslim Brotherhood “likeminded” organization that was welcome at the White House was the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR.
Egypt blames White House for fomenting uprising
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Egyptian protesters today thronged Cairo’s Tahrir Square ahead of a “million man march” protest due to take place later in the day to mark seven days of anti-government demonstrations in the country.
WND quoted a senior Egyptian diplomat stating the Egyptian government suspects elements of the current uprising there, particularly political aspects, are being coordinated with the U.S. State Department and Obama administration.
The senior Egyptian diplomat told WND the Mubarak regime suspects the U.S. has been aiding protest planning by Mohamed ElBaradei, who is seen as one of the main opposition leaders in Cairo.
ElBaradei, former International Atomic Energy Agency chief, has reinvented himself as a campaigner for “reform” in Egypt. He is a candidate for this year’s scheduled presidential elections.
ElBaradei arrived in Cairo just after last week’s protests began and is reportedly being confined to his home by Egyptian security forces.
He is seen as an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood.
This past weekend, the London Telegraph reported the U.S. Embassy in Cairo in 2008 helped a young dissident attend a U.S.-sponsored summit for activists in New York, while working to keep his identity secret from Egyptian state police.
The Telegraph would not identify the dissident, but said he was involved in helping to stir the current protests. The report claimed the dissident told the U.S. Embassy in Cairo that an alliance of opposition groups had a plan to topple Mubarak’sgovernment.
The disclosures, contained in U.S. diplomatic dispatches released by the WikiLeaks website, show American officials pressed the Egyptian government to release other dissidents who had been detained by the police.
The White House has been almost openly championing the unrest in Egypt.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Obama both reportedly voiced support for an “orderly transition” in Egypt that is responsive to the aspirations of Egyptians.
Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough, speaking in a White House webcast, also urged the government and protesters in Egypt to refrain from violence.
Egyptian officials speaking to WND, however, warned the Muslim Brotherhood has the most to gain from any political reform.
Worldwide Islamist revolution
The Obama administration’s support for the unrest is strikingly reminiscent of Jimmy Carter’s support of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, which marked the birth of modern Islamist expansion now seemingly sweeping the Mideast.
In fact, some Muslim clerics already are calling the riots in Egypt simply an extension of 1979’s Islamist conquests.
“Thirty-one years after the victory of the Islamic Republic, we are faced with the obvious fact that these movements are the aftershocks of the Islamic Revolution,” said Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, as reported by Iran’s Radio Zamaneh. “The fate of those who challenge [our] religion is destruction.”
Speaking of media and government leaders, Khatami added, “They want to highlight the labor, liberal and democratic issues, but the most important issue, which is the religious streak of these protests, [is] being denied.”
The leader of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, Hammam Saeed, warned that the unrest in Egypt will spread across the Mideast until Arabs succeed at toppling leaders allied with the United States.
“The Americans and Obama must be losing sleep over the popular revolt in Egypt,” Saeed said at a sympathy protest held outside the Egyptian Embassy in Amman. “Now, Obama must understand that the people have woken up and are ready to unseat the tyrant leaders who remained in power because of U.S. backing.”
And on the Internet, the Middle East Media Research Institute reports, prominent Salafi cleric Abu Mundhir Al-Shinqiti issued a fatwa in the website Minbar Al-Tawhid Wal Jihad encouraging the protests in Egypt, claiming Islamist jihadis are now on the verge of a historic moment in the history of the Islamic nation, an “earthquake” he likened to the Sept. 11 attacks in New York City.
Brotherhood declares war on U.S.
Multiple prominent U.S. commentators also have been claiming the Muslim Brotherhood is a moderate organization and denying any Islamist plot to seize power.
In November, the Brotherhood’s new supreme guide, Muhammad Badi, delivered a sermon entitled, “How Islam Confronts the Oppression and Tyranny.”
“Resistance is the only solution,” stated Badi. “The United States cannot impose an agreement upon the Palestinians, despite all the power at its disposal. [Today] it is withdrawing from Iraq, defeated and wounded, and is also on the verge of withdrawing from Afghanistan because it has been defeated by Islamist warriors.”
Badi went on to declare the U.S. is easy to defeat through violence, since it is “experiencing the beginning of its end and is heading toward its demise.”