Dalia Mogahed, a member of President Obama’s faith advisory council, once declared Osama bin Laden is like “any revolutionary,” while comparing the al-Qaida chieftain to the liberal icon Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
Mogahed further argued bin Laden is not primarily motivated by religion but by “perceptions of imperialism and oppression and humiliation.”
Along with her role on the White House Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Mogahed is on the advisory council of the Department of Homeland Security. She testified before the Senate on engagement with the Muslim community.
Mogahed is senior analyst and executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, where she led major surveys of Muslims worldwide that routinely concluded the vast majority of Muslims are moderate.
One 2007 poll of Canadian Muslims conducted by Mogahed, for example, found that while 57 percent of non-Muslim Canadians believed Muslims in their country want to remain distinct from everyone else, only 23 percent of Muslim Canadians actually said they felt that way. A full 55 percent, Mogahed’s poll found, said they want to fit in.
Discussing that Canadian poll in a May 2008 interview with the Winnipeg Free Press, Mogahed was asked whether bin Laden is motivated by Islam.
She replied: “In a bin Laden speech, if you take out the introduction where he blesses the Prophet, and the end where he says ‘As-salaam aleikum,’ you’ve got Che; you’ve got any revolutionary.”
“The rhetoric is about perceptions of imperialism and oppression and humiliation,” she said.
Analysis of bin Laden’s rhetoric, she added, shows few Quranic verses.
“They’re evident mostly in their relative absence,” she stated.
Bin Laden’s rhetoric, however, is ripe with Quranic references and attempts to justify his actions using the Quran and Muslim law.
Al-Qaida’s own defining statement urges jihad in the name of Allah.
On Feb. 23, 1998, bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, a leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, along with three other Islamist leaders, co-signed and issued a fatwa, or binding religious edict, that defined the Islamic goals of al-Qaida, calling on Muslims to kill Americans and their allies where they can, when they can.
“This is in accordance with the words of Almighty Allah, ‘and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together,’ and ‘fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah,'” read the statement, which was written under the banner of the World Islamic Front for Combat Against the Jews and Crusaders.
Scrubbing radical Islam
A review of Mogahed’s interviews and work on Islam finds she regularly portrays radical Islam in a moderate light.
Speaking to the Pittsburgh City Paper in January 2004, Mogahed told an interviewer that fatwas calling for the death of accused apostates such as Salman Rushdie are nothing more than the “equivalent to a doctor’s medical opinion”: Muslims are free to get a second opinion if they like.
She said that even the phrase “Muslim religious leaders” can be misleading. Since Islam is nothing more or less than what is in the Quran, Mogahed said, “We don’t have a clergy. What we have are scholars, just like professors at a university. There isn’t a body that decides a correct opinion.”
Mogahed was a leading voice in the Leadership Group on U.S.-Muslim Engagement, which issued a 153-page recommendation paper, obtained and reviewed by WND, that calls for dialogue with Hamas.
The consensus focused on improving America’s relationship with Muslims globally, with many of the recommendations later reportedly being adopted by the Obama administration. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Dennis Ross, Obama’s Mideast envoy, also served on the Leadership Group that released the recommendation paper.
The paper called on the U.S. to engage opposition parties in Egypt, including the Muslim Brotherhood. It set the boundaries for dialogue with Hamas if the Islamist terror group renounced violence. Also, the paper called on the U.S. to immediately engage Hamas using intermediaries in an attempt to moderate the group.
In her position at Gallup, she has led what has been described as an unprecedented survey of Muslims worldwide, including in the U.S. and Europe.
The survey was the basis for a 2008 book she co-authored, “Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think.”
Mogahed’s biggest Gallup survey concluded only 7 percent of the world’s Muslims are political radicals and that the majority support democracy.
Other Gallup findings under Mogahed concluded that Muslims and Americans are equally likely to reject attacks on civilians as morally unjustifiable. Large majorities of Muslims would guarantee free speech if it were up to them to write a new constitution, the survey claimed.
Helped craft ‘perfect Islamic state’
WND reported earlier this week Mogahed was a partner in an Islamic project whose stated goal was to “define, interpret and implement the concept of the Islamic State in modern times.”
The project was founded and directed by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the controversial Muslim leader behind the proposed 13-story, $100 million Islamic cultural center and mosque two blocks from Ground Zero in New York City.
Mogahed and the Gallup survey provided key data for Rauf’s “Shariah Index Project,” which sought, according to its mission statement, to “define, interpret and implement the concept of the Islamic State in modern times.”
The project at one time was featured on the website of Rauf’s Cordoba Initiative, the group behind the so-called Ground Zero mosque. However, after the mosque issue was highlighted in the news media, the Shariah Index Project, a sister project of Cordoba, was scrubbed from Rauf’s website.
The website BigPeace.com previously uncovered the scrubbed section of the Cordoba website that detailed the Shariah Index Project.
“Imagine: a Perfectly Islamic State,” said the deleted section of Cordoba’s website.
The website described how Mogahed’s Gallup division helped to refine the principals of the Shariah Index, which was to serve as the basis for the “perfect Islamic state.” The website stated representatives from Gallup also joined in a phone conversation to help craft the principles.
Further, Jasser Auda, a Qatari professor who is one of the personalities behind the Shariah Index Project with Rauf, described Mogahed’s involvement in providing key data that helped formulate the Shariah Index plan to map out an Islamic state, even referring to Obama’s faith adviser as “sister Mogahed.”
In an interview about the Shariah Index Project with OnIslam.com, an Islamic news portal associated with Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi, Auda stated, “Our sister Dalia Mogahed – at that time she was the head of the Muslim societies branch, now she is in Abu Dhabi leading the same project on Muslim societies in a different project.”
Continued Auda, “At that time in Washington she was leading the Muslim societies index, and she gave us according to an agreement between Gallup, Cordoba and the Prime Minister of Malaysia office, gave us (Shariah Index Project) the data for three years, through which we came up with some conclusions based on asking people.”
With research by Brenda J. Elliott