WASHINGTON – Staff investigators with the House and Senate intelligence committees say they are probing the domestic security threat posed by the radical Muslim Brotherhood and, specifically, whether Brotherhood operatives have penetrated the U.S. government.
The true nature, ambitions and global reach of the Cairo-based Muslim Brotherhood suddenly have become the focus of debate in Washington, following unrest in Egypt and other parts of the Middle East.
As the Muslim Brotherhood threatens to effectively replace Egypt’s secular, pro-Western regime, the tentacles of its worldwide jihadist movement have reached deep into the Muslim community in America. Shockingly, federal court documents reveal that virtually every major Muslim organization in America is a front group for the Brotherhood. They also show that its U.S. network has raised millions of dollars for Hamas, al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.
“The most prominent Islamic organizations in the United States are all controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood,” said FBI veteran John Guandolo, who worked several Brotherhood-related terror cases out of the bureau’s Washington field office as a special agent after 9/11.
While the FBI has cut off ties to some of the well-established organizations, many others continue to participate in outreach programs with the Homeland Security and Justice departments, the former special agent says. Some of their leaders are even advising the government on how to respond to events in Egypt and elsewhere.
Al Gore, top Muslim Brotherhood leader Abdurahman Alamoudi and Bill Clinton
American Muslim activists deny the Muslim Brotherhood operates inside America. Even Muslims who have attached themselves to the Republican Party have pooh-poohed the internal threat.
“There’s no Muslim Brotherhood in the United States,” former Bush administration official Suhail A. Khan insisted earlier this month at the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference meeting in Washington.
However, the U.S. Justice Department has identified no fewer than 61 Muslim Brotherhood figures and entities operating within the U.S. They include:
- The Islamic Society of North America, or ISNA, the umbrella organization for most of the Muslim groups in the U.S. and Canada;
- The North American Islamic Trust, or NAIT, which holds title to most of the major mosques in America, including one in the Washington suburbs attended by both the Fort Hood terrorist and some of the 9/11 hijackers; and,
- The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, the largest Muslim-rights group in the country.
All are heavily funded by wealthy patrons in Saudi Arabia and other Mideast nations, according to sensitive embassy cables, tax records, bank wire transfers and other documents cited in the book, “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America,” an expose of the Muslim Brotherhood and its American front groups.
Their names were entered into evidence as “co-conspirators” during a federal trial which ended in 2008 with the convictions of several Muslim Brotherhood leaders on terrorism charges. The “list of unindicted co-conspirators” implicated these otherwise mainstream Muslim groups in a criminal scheme to funnel millions of dollars to Palestinian terrorists under the guise of charity.
The 11-page document, submitted by federal prosecutors as “Attachment A” in court filings, has not been widely distributed or reported by the national media. Surprisingly few members of Congress are familiar with the list, Hill sources say.
The largest Muslim charity in America – the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, or HLF – was at the center of the Muslim Brotherhood’s terror-fundraising network. The government shut down HLF after 9/11 and recently convicted the organization on charges of laundering more than $12 million in donations for Hamas suicide bombers and their families. HLF was formerly known as the Occupied Land Fund, or OLF, where it operated under ISNA and shared checking accounts with the group.
“ISNA and NAIT, in fact, shared more with HLF than just a parent organization [the Muslim Brotherhood]. They were intimately connected with the HLF and its assigned task of providing financial support to Hamas,”
federal prosecutors said in a 2008 memo to a U.S. District Court in Dallas, HLF’s national headquarters.
“Shortly after Hamas was founded in 1987, as an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood, the International Muslim Brotherhood ordered the Muslim Brotherhood chapters throughout the world to create Palestine Committees, whose job it was to support Hamas with ‘media, money and men,'” the memo continued. “The U.S.-Muslim Brotherhood created the U.S. Palestine Committee, which documents reflect was initially comprised of three
organizations: the OLF (HLF), the IAP [Islamic Association for Palestine], and the UASR [United Association for Studies and Research]. CAIR was later added to these organizations.”
Prosecutors concluded: “The mandate of these organizations, per the International Muslim Brotherhood, was to support Hamas.”
Fairfax County Nexus
The Muslim Brotherhood’s origins in America go back more than four decades.
In the 1960s, radical Muslim immigrants began organizing in America and developing a criminal underworld that largely escaped federal law enforcement scrutiny. They eventually incorporated nonprofit organizations with benign-sounding names, and told anybody who asked they were simply forming a social network or “cultural society” for Muslims.
Top Muslim Brotherhood leader Abdurahman Alamoudi and George Bush
But in the wake of 9/11, Washington allowed case agents to start connecting the dots, and they began to see a lot of overlap in the operations of the Muslim groups and their leaders – along with a lot of Saudi money and suspicious activity. This confirmed the hunches of veteran counterterrorism investigators, who believed the groups were connected in an international conspiracy against America and its key Mideast ally, Israel.
Although the groups appear independent of one another, many of them co-mingle funds and even share the same staff and office space.
For example, some 40 active Muslim charities and businesses have operated at one time or another out of the same office building in Herndon, Va. And several others have been headquartered out of the same non-descript office park in Alexandria, Va., in the shadow of the nation’s capital, as first reported in the book, “Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington.”
After 9/11, federal and local authorities identified more than 110 suspected shell companies, cut-outs and other fronts associated with the Muslim Brotherhood and its hub in Northern Virginia, known collectively as the “Safa Group.” Their ongoing investigation of the Herndon-based Safa Group, which allegedly funneled money to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups, generated a separate list of suspected Brotherhood entities. The
13-page document, submitted by federal investigators as “Attachment C” among court filings, includes known al-Qaida charitable fronts as well.
Both the Herndon and Alexandria nexuses are located within Fairfax County, Va., across the Potomac from the nation’s capital.
“There’s only three degrees of separation between international terrorism and what happens in Fairfax County,” observed a senior Fairfax County Police Department detective, as quoted in “Muslim Mafia.” “Our society here is totally infiltrated by the bad guys.”
Investigators also discovered the groups have interlocking boards of directors. One top Brotherhood leader, Abdurahman Alamoudi, sat on the boards of no fewer than 16 Islamic organizations, including CAIR. Many of the leaders live next door to each other on private, secluded streets.
“When we started to really look at this thing, we found it’s all the same people. It’s all the same guys,” noted an FBI official in Washington.
Investigators also confirmed that many of the groups were laundering terrorist-bound funds through a maze of business conduits. They even used religious charities and think tanks as cover to carry out their illicit activities.
Soon, case agents and the assistant U.S. attorneys they worked with realized they were dealing with a vast criminal conspiracy, and began to look for ways to roll up the entire network, including using the RICO statute commonly aimed at the mafia.
Their first big break came several years ago with the search of one of the Brotherhood leaders’ homes in Annandale, Va., following his arrest on suspicion he had cased the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and other bridges for possible terrorist attack. There, in a sub-basement of suspect Ismail Elbarasse’s basement, FBI agents uncovered a stash of secret manifestos, charters and other documents revealing the depth of the conspiracy.
After translating the Arabic-written papers into English, investigators realized they had seized the archives of the U.S. branch of the militant International Muslim Brotherhood.
The trove of papers exposes the jihadist inner workings of the U.S.
Brotherhood, and outlines its broader conspiracy of infiltrating and destroying the American government “from within.”
One secret document found during the raid of Elbarasse’s home lays bare the Brotherhood’s ambitious plans for a U.S. takeover, replacing the U.S. Constitution with Shariah, or Islamic law.
Written in 1991 by another U.S. Brotherhood agent, Mohammed Akram Adlouni, the strategy paper describes the group’s long-term goal of “sabotaging” the U.S. system. It’s a blueprint for a stealth “grand jihad.” Under the heading, “The role of the Muslim Brother in North America,” it states:
The Ikhwan 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 the hands of the believers, so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.
“It is a genuine conspiracy to overthrow the government,” the FBI official said, “and they have organizations to do it, and they have written doctrines outlining their plan.”
The same document also lists 29 organizations working in the U.S. to further the Brotherhood’s goals. In addition to ISNA, NAIT and CAIR’s forerunner IAP, they include:
- The International Institute for Islamic Thought, or IIIT, the largest Islamic think tank in America;
- The Muslims Students Association, or MSA, which actively recruits on college campuses across the country;
- The Fiqh Council of North America, which renders religious rulings, or fatwahs, based on Islamic law for Muslim-Americans; and,
- The Islamic Circle of North America, or ICNA, which recently merged with the Muslim American Society, or MAS, another Brotherhood front organization based in the Washington suburbs.
(See image below for list of top Muslim Brotherhood fronts in
For years, politicians and journalists have described these organizations as “mainstream” and “moderate.” Investigators now warn they are U.S. franchises of the radical Brotherhood, established with a markedly different purpose than what they publicly claim.
Their secret manifesto is “a clear threat statement of hostile intent,” says Pentagon consultant Maj. Stephen Coughlin, “with stated objectives that overlap with al-Qaida’s.”
The U.S. Brotherhood privately refers to its own organizations as “fronts.”
“The Brothers in Egypt don’t have fronts in the same broad way we have in America,” Zeid al-Noman, a Brotherhood leader confides in one document seized by authorities.
Though the movement has been banned in Egypt, it still has popular support and operates relatively openly in that Muslim nation — something the Brotherhood is loath to do here, especially after 9/11, investigators say.
The U.S. Brotherhood even set up a committee to study the legal aspects of establishing charities in America. The charities are critical because the Brothers have used them as a “side” or “facade,” as they put it in their writings, to launder illegal payments to terrorists.
U.S. prosecutors entered the secret documents as evidence in the Holy Land Foundation terror trial. The chilling courtroom exhibits were unopposed by the defense, further attesting to their authenticity.
Terrorists in suits
The government put away several Brotherhood leaders on conspiracy charges in the case. Shukri Abu Baker, Mohammad El Mezain, and CAIR founding director Ghassan Elashi were sentenced to, in effect, life terms for funneling millions of dollars to Palestinian terrorists. Three other Brothers caught up in the investigation have also been imprisoned.
Omar Ahmad, founding chairman of CAIR, was identified at trial as an unindicted co-conspirator in the terror-fundraising scheme. Ahmad, a key Brotherhood leader, has privately told Muslim audiences the Quran should replace the Constitution as “the highest authority in America.”
“The only difference between the guys in the suits and the guys with the AK-47s is timing and tactics,” an FBI official in Washington was quoted as saying in “Muslim Mafia.”
Indeed, the former head of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s shura council was one of al-Qaida’s top fundraisers in America, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. Abdurahman Alamoudi, who infiltrated both the Clinton and Bush administrations, is now serving 23 years in federal prison for plotting terrorism.
In 1996, Alamoudi told a Muslim audience in Illinois: “Either we do it now or we do it after a hundred years, but this country will become a Muslim country.”
Alamoudi also set up the Pentagon’s Muslim chaplains program, training and certifying most of the Islamic clerics and lay leaders serving in the U.S.
Sami al-Arian, a former Tampa professor, is another Muslim Brotherhood leader convicted of terrorism. One of his alleged collaborators is senior ISNA official Louay Safi, whom prosecutors named an unindicted co-conspirator in the terror case.
Unwittingly, the Pentagon invited Safi to Fort Hood to counsel troops about Islam after a Muslim officer gunned down dozens of soldiers who were preparing to deploy to Afghanistan from the Army base. Safi and ISNA continue to certify Muslim chaplains for the military.
Ret. Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, former deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence in the Pentagon, says the Muslim Brotherhood is a terror-supporting Fifth Column.
“The Muslim Brotherhood is very much alive. It is very real,” Boykin said in a recent speech. “And we need to be very concerned about it.”
‘Jihad is Our Way’
The Muslim Brotherhood proudly raises the banner of jihad. Its crest features a Quran with crossed swords. Its credo: “Allah is our goal; the Prophet is our guide; the Quran is our constitution; Jihad is our way; and death for the glory of Allah is our greatest ambition.”
Established 80 years ago in Cairo, where the “mother group” is based, the Brotherhood remains a largely secretive society which gave birth to the entire terrorist juggernaut threatening the West and Israel today. In addition to Hamas, its offspring include Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which merged with al-Qaida.
“They all share the same roots – The Muslim Brotherhood,” said Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a Muslim reformer and director of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.
Before joining al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden, his deputy Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed were all adherents of the transnational Muslim Brotherhood – or Ikhwan al-Muslimi, as it is known in Arabic.
The former Supreme Guide of the International Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Akef, recently was asked: “Regarding resistance and jihad, do you consider Osama bin Laden a terrorist or an Islamic mujahid (freedom fighter)?”
Akef replied, “In all certainty, a mujahid, and I have no doubt in his sincerity in resisting the occupation, close to Allah on high.”
Exiled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak outlawed the Brotherhood after it plotted to assassinate him, following its successful assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who signed the country’s historic peace treaty with Israel.
The Brotherhood now claims to eschew violence. But it still clandestinely supports violent jihad, while reportedly maintaining a well-armed wing of thousands of trained fighters. It seeks to free dozens of its terrorist members from Egyptian prisons.
“Elements of the Muslim Brotherhood here and overseas have supported terrorism,” FBI Director Robert Mueller confirmed earlier this month during a House intelligence committee hearing.
According to covert FBI recordings cited in “Muslim Mafia,” Brotherhood leaders in America have described suicide bombings and other mass murders in the name of jihad as “beautiful.”
“The Muslim Brotherhood has figured that they can be successful promoting radical change from within the U.S. while supporting the armed struggle outside the U.S., primarily through fundraising and closely associated Palestinian terrorist organizations,” says former FBI special agent George Sadler, who after 9/11 investigated the Brotherhood from the bureau’s Washington field office.
While its secret writings call for conquering the U.S. through political infiltration, mass conversion and immigration, it does not rule out violent jihad when the time is right and all its “infrastructure” is in place and strong, Guandolo says. To that end, the Brotherhood has set up jihad training camps inside America where its foot soldiers conduct paramilitary exercises, including firearms and other weapons training.
After 9/11, a top CAIR official in Washington led a group of young Muslim men in Northern Virginia in jihadi weapons training here and in Pakistan.
Court records reveal the group chauffeured the 9/11 hijackers’ spiritual counselor, Anwar Awlaki, to their Falls Church, Va., meetings, before Awlaki fled to Yemen, where he now directs al-Qaida terrorist attacks against America.
Earlier this month, the leader of a North Carolina terrorist ring influenced by the Brotherhood pleaded guilty to charges of waging violent jihad.
The FBI recorded Daniel Patrick Boyd, a Muslim convert, saying he would “make jihad right here in America.” Boyd allegedly cased the U.S. Marine Corps headquarters in Quantico, Va., for terrorist attack. Agents found 24 guns and more than 27,000 rounds of ammunition during a raid of his home.
They also found a copy of “In the Shade of the Quran,” a book written by the late Muslim Brotherhood leader Sayyid Qutb of Egypt, bin Laden’s spiritual mentor.
Despite public claims to the contrary, the Brotherhood is still a dangerous organization, investigators and prosecutors agree. It has stated clearly in its recently declassified U.S. charter that it considers the United States to be its enemy.
Ultimately, “the Muslim Brotherhood is in America to destroy our Constitution and replace it with Shariah,” warns a group of former military and law enforcement officials writing in “Shariah: The Threat to America,” a book published by the Washington-based Center for Security Policy. The officials are using the book to help brief lawmakers and other government officials about the threat, warning them that they are prime targets of ongoing Brotherhood influence and espionage operations.
Inside the wire
Still, the Obama administration has actively courted the Brotherhood.
During the Cairo rioting, which was organized in part by the Brotherhood, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs urged Mubarak to open elections to “important non-secular actors” such as the Brotherhood.
In a stunning policy reversal, the administration in early 2009 lifted the ban preventing Egyptian Muslim activist Tariq Ramadan from entering the U.S.
Ramadan, the grandson of Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, was barred in
2004 after allegedly raising money for terrorists.
Under the advisement of a Muslim White House aide tied to the Brotherhood, Obama invited the Muslim Brotherhood to his 2009 Cairo speech to Muslims worldwide, in spite of the group’s ban.
Currently, “many Muslim advisers to the U.S. government are Muslim Brothers or sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood cause,” Guandolo said. And they are “advising the U.S. national leadership and our national security apparatus on how to respond to the events in Egypt and elsewhere.”
Republican Rep. Sue Myrick of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence accused the administration of “watering down the stated goals and ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood so they could create space to engage the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt,” as well as at home.
Democrats aren’t the only ones downplaying the threat.
Khan, an American Conservative Union board member, asserts that ISNA and CAIR are not fronts for the Muslim Brotherhood, and have not conspired to raise money inside the U.S. for terrorists.
He says they never should have been designated unindicted co-conspirators by the government.
“The federal government has looked into these accusations [and] found they’re completely baseless,” Khan claimed.
In fact, the FBI has cut off ties to CAIR’s national office and its 30 chapters across the country pending further investigation of its ties to Hamas.
“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,” said assistant FBI Director Richard Powers in a 2009 letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee. “The FBI has suspended all formal outreach activities with CAIR.”
Mueller earlier this month reiterated the ban remains in effect: “We do not have a relationship with CAIR.”
U.S. District Judge Jorge A. Solis, moreover, has refused ISNA’s and CAIR’s requests to strike their names from court documents listing them as unindicted co-conspirators in the HLF trial, the largest terror-financing case in U.S. history.
His 20-page ruling, written in July 2009 and recently unsealed, cites “ample evidence” that ISNA, NAIT and CAIR participated in a “criminal conspiracy”
to support Hamas terrorists. (An appellate court in Denver said in a recent opinion that the list, which was attached to the government’s pre-trial brief, should not have been published, since unindicted co-conspirator lists are not ordinarily made public. It did not, however, grant the groups’
request for a court pronouncement that they were not connected to
As it turns out, Khan’s late father, Mahboob Khan, helped found ISNA. Each year, ISNA bestows an annual Muslim “community service” award in his memory.
Mahboob Khan also established a mosque – MCA of Santa Clara, Calif. – which the U.S. Brotherhood lists as one of “our organizations” in its secret manifesto seized by the FBI and recently declassified.
What’s more, Khan’s mother, Malika Khan, serves on the executive committee of CAIR’s San Francisco chapter. CAIR-SFBA recently posted a flyer on its website urging Muslims not to cooperate with the FBI in terrorism investigations.
Suhail Khan himself has served on ISNA and CAIR committees and panels and spoken at their conferences and other events.