JERUSALEM – Charges made in a 16-page letter by Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., against longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin miss what may be one of the most troubling radical connections – Abedin’s family is directly tied to the Muslim World League.
The Muslim World League is an Islamic charity known to have spawned terrorist groups, including one declared by the U.S. government to be an official al-Qaida front.
In her now well-publicized letter, Bachmann noted that Huma’s father, Professor Syed Abiden, was the founder of the Institute for Minority Affairs, a Saudi group that “had the quiet but active support” of Umar Abdallah Nasif, the secretary general of the Muslim World League.
However, WND was first to report an even more direct connection to the terror-stained charity – Huma’s mother, Saleha Abedin, was the official representative of the Muslim World League in the 1990s.
Saleha Abedin has been quoted in numerous press accounts as both representing the MWL and serving as a delegate for the charity.
In 1995, for example, the Washington Times reported on a United Nations-arranged women’s conference in Beijing that called on governments throughout the world to give women statistical equality with men in the workplace.
The report quoted Saleha Abedin, who attended the conference as a delegate, as “also representing the Muslim World League based in Saudi Arabia and the Muslim NGO Caucus.”
The U.N.’s website references a report in the run-up to the Beijing conference that also lists Abedin as representing the MWL at the event.
The website posted an article from the now defunct United States Information Agency quoting Abedin and reporting she attended the Beijing conference as “a delegate of the Muslim World League and member of the Muslim Women’s NGO caucus.”
In the article, Abedin was listed under a shorter name, “Dr. Saleha Mahmoud, director of the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs.”
WND has confirmed the individual listed is Huma Abedin’s mother. The reports misspelled part of Abedin’s name. Her full professional name is at times listed as Saleha Mahmood Abedin S.
The MWL was founded in Mecca in 1962 and bills itself as one of the largest Islamic non-governmental organizations.
But according to U.S. government documents and testimony from the charity’s own officials, it is heavily financed by the Saudi government.
The MWL has been accused of terrorist ties, as have its various offshoots, including the International Islamic Relief Organization, or IIRO, and Al Haramain, which was declared by the U.S. and U.N. as a terror financing front.
Indeed, the Treasury Department, in a September 2004 press release, alleged Al Haramain had “direct links” with Osama bin Laden. The group is now banned worldwide by United Nations Security Council Committee 1267.
There long have been accusations that the IIRO and MWL also repeatedly funded al-Qaida.
In 1993, bin Laden reportedly told an associate that the MWL was one of his three most important charity fronts.
An Anti-Defamation League profile of the MWL accuses the group of promulgating a “fundamentalist interpretation of Islam around the world through a large network of charities and affiliated organizations.”
“Its ideological backbone is based on an extremist interpretation of Islam,” the profile states, “and several of its affiliated groups and individuals have been linked to terror-related activity.”
In 2003, U.S. News and World Report documented that accompanying the MWL’s donations, invariably, are “a blizzard of Wahhabist literature.”
“Critics argue that Wahhabism’s more extreme preachings – mistrust of infidels, branding of rival sects as apostates and emphasis on violent jihad –laid the groundwork for terrorist groups around the world,” the report continued.
An Egyptian-American cab driver, Ihab Mohamed Ali Nawawi, was arrested in Florida in 1990 on accusations he was an al-Qaida sleeper agent and a former personal pilot to bin Laden. At the time he was accused of serving bin Laden, he also reportedly worked for the Pakistani branch of the MWL.
The MWL in 1988 founded the Al Haramain Islamic Foundation, developing chapters in about 50 countries, including for a time in Oregon until it was designated a terrorist organization.
In the early 1990s, evidence began to grow that the foundation was funding Islamist militants in Somalia and Bosnia, and a 1996 CIA report detailed its Bosnian militant ties.
The U.S. Treasury designated Al Haramain’s offices in Kenya and Tanzania as sponsors of terrorism for their role in planning and funding the 1998 bombings of two American embassies in East Africa. The Comoros Islands office was also designated because it “was used as a staging area and exfiltration route for the perpetrators of the 1998 bombings.”
The New York Times reported in 2003 that Al Haramain had provided funds to the Indonesian terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, which was responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people. The Indonesia office was later designated a terrorist entity by the Treasury.
In February 2004, the U.S. Treasury Department froze all Al Haramain’s financial assets pending an investigation, leading the Saudi government to disband the charity and fold it into another group, the Saudi National Commission for Relief and Charity Work Abroad.
In September 2004, the U.S. designated Al-Haramain a terrorist organization.
In June 2008, the Treasury Department applied the terrorist designation to the entire Al-Haramain organization worldwide
Bin Laden’s brother-in-law
In August 2006, the Treasury Department also designated the Philippine and Indonesian branch offices of the MWL-founded IIRO as terrorist entities “for facilitating fundraising for al-Qaida and affiliated terrorist groups.”
The Treasury Department added: “Abd Al Hamid Sulaiman Al-Mujil, a high-ranking IIRO official [executive director of its Eastern Province Branch] in Saudi Arabia, has used his position to bankroll the al-Qaida network in Southeast Asia. Al-Mujil has a long record of supporting Islamic militant groups, and he has maintained a cell of regular financial donors in the Middle East who support extremist causes.”
In the 1980s, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law, ran the Philippines offices of the IIRO. Khalifa has been linked to Manila-based plots to target the pope and U.S. airlines.
The IIRO has also been accused of funding Hamas, Algerian radicals, Afghanistan militant bases and the Egyptian terror group Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya.
The New York Post reported the families of the 9/11 victims filed a lawsuit against IIRO and other Muslim organizations for having “played key roles in laundering of funds to the terrorists in the 1998 African embassy bombings” and for having been involved in the “financing and ‘aiding and abetting’ of terrorists in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.”
‘Saudi government front’
In a court case in Canada, Arafat El-Asahi, the Canadian director of both the IIRO and the MWL, admitted the charities are near entities of the Saudi government.
Stated El-Asahi: “The Muslim World League, which is the mother of IIRO, is a fully government-funded organization. In other words, I work for the Government of Saudi Arabia. I am an employee of that government.
“Second, the IIRO is the relief branch of that organization, which means that we are controlled in all our activities and plans by the Government of Saudi Arabia. Keep that in mind, please,” he said.
Despite its offshoots being implicated in terror financing, the U.S. government never designated the MWL itself as a terror-financing charity. Many have speculated the U.S. has been trying to not embarrass the Saudi government.
Tied to Egypt’s new Muslim Brotherhood president
Last month, author Walid Shoebat reported that while she acted as one of 63 leaders of the Muslim Sisterhood, the de facto female version of the Muslim Brotherhood, Saleha Abedin served alongside Najla Ali Mahmoud, the wife of Mohammed Mursi, Egypt’s new president.
Clinton met with Mursi last Sunday.
Saleha Abedin and Mursi’s wife both were members of the Sisterhood’s Guidance Bureau, Shoebat found.
Saleha Mahmood Abedin is an associate professor of sociology at Dar Al-Hekma College in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, which she helped to create. She formerly directed the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs in the U.K. and served as a delegate for the Muslim World League, an Islamic fundamentalist group Osama bin Laden reportedly told an associate was one of his most important charity fronts.
In February 2010, Clinton spoke at Abedin’s college, where she was first introduced by Abedin and then praised the work of the terror-tied professor:
“I have to say a special word about Dr. Saleha Abedin,” Clinton said. “You heard her present the very exciting partnerships that have been pioneered between colleges and universities in the United States and this college. And it is pioneering work to create these kinds of relationships.
“But I have to confess something that Dr. Abedin did not,” Clinton continued, “and that is that I have almost a familial bond with this college. Dr. Abedin’s daughter, one of her three daughters, is my deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin, who started to work for me when she was a student at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.”
With additional research by Brenda J. Elliott