NEW YORK – Television and radio personality Glenn Beck has stormed into a controversy with a more than 15-year history, accusing tax activist Grover Norquist of being a secret sympathizer and promoter of radical jihadist agents associated with the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States.
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Beck announced on his radio show Friday that after an hour-long telephone discussion with National Rifle Association vice president Wayne La Pierre, the NRA has decided to open an ethics investigation into Norquist, who is currently running for re-election to the NRA board of directors.
"Many of the reasons why we're on the wrong track now in the Middle East is because of the influence of Grover Norquist, " Beck said, charging that Norquist is secretly "an agent of influence" for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Beck said Norquist, president of the Washington-based Americans for Tax Reform, "is a guy that the left used to say was the all mighty and powerful Oz during the Bush administration."
"I used to mock that," Beck said, "[but] we heard it so many times that we started doing our own homework on it. … And I'm sorry, he is Oz.
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"My opinion is, he's a very dangerous man, whether knowingly or unknowingly," Beck concluded. "And if he remains on the board of the NRA, I will to have resign my membership. And that comes at great pain for me, because I love these people. I really love them and I believe in them. "
After Beck's charges, listeners bombarded the NRA switchboard with hundreds of phone calls demanding Norquist be removed from the NRA board.
Norquist responded to Beck's charges in an interview with WND, noting the allegations were first made in 1998 by conservative foreign policy expert Frank Gaffney, president of the Washington-based Center for Security Policy.
"It looks like Frank Gaffney found in Glenn Beck someone in the conservative movement with a large megaphone for whom these allegations are new," Norquist said.
"I've defended myself successfully against these allegations every time Frank has tried to get me thrown out of a conservative group for a decade and a half, and now I guess I will have to do it again."
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Norquist said he welcomes the NRA's ethics probe.
"Maybe this investigation will be the one to put an end once and for all to Gaffney's attacks on me," he said.
Despite several phone calls and emails to the NRA executive offices, WND received no response from Wayne La Pierre.
David Keene, president of the ACU in 2011 and president of the NRA from 2011 to 2013 also did not return WND requests for comment.
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Keene, a regular attendee at Norquist's weekly "Wednesday Meeting" roundtable, is currently opinion editor for the Washington Times.
WND also received no response from emails sent to Glenn Beck spokesmen asking for comment for this story.
Gaffney's allegations began when his shared office space in Washington, D.C., with Norquist's Islamic Free Market Institute Foundation.
In 1999, Gaffney noted Norquist's group received a contribution or a loan of at least $20,000 from "a top Muslim Brother and al-Qaida financier," Abdurahman Alamoudi. Meanwhile, Alamoudi's "long-time and trusted deputy," Khaled Saffuri, was the founding executive director and subsequent chairman of Norquist's organization.
In October 2004, Alamoudi was sentenced to 23 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to participating in the financing of at least $1 million in al-Qaida-related terror activities.
Gaffney laid out his case against Norquist in a book now in its fourth edition, titled "Agent of Influence: Grover Norquist and the Right – Targeting the NRA," available as a free download on Gaffney's Center for Security Policy website
In the book he explained:
Shortly after we moved into those suites, a colleague asked if I knew that there was an Islamist front group on the other side of our common Xerox room. I did not at the time. But over the next seven, biblically long years, I had ample opportunity to establish that the Islamic Institute was closely tied to the Muslim Brotherhood. It also became clear that, with considerable help from Grover Norquist, the Islamic Institute and its associates – including an officer of the Institute, Suhail Khan – were conducting successful Islamist influence operations against the conservative movement, the Republican Party and the George W. Bush team. Their efforts to influence Mr. Bush began with the run-up to his 2000 presidential campaign, continued through that campaign's successful conclusion and subsequently were pursued during the Bush '43 presidency.
Gaffney argues that Norquist got Khaled Saffuri placed in the Bush 2000 presidential campaign and Suhail Kahn placed in the White House after George W. Bush's election to the presidency to perform outreach to the Muslim community. He further alleges Norquist helped orchestrate various events after 9/11 to bring together Bush administration officials and Muslim leaders.
"In the intervening years since these discoveries," Gaffney wrote in "Agent of Influence," I have tried to warn those on the Right – and anyone else who would listen – about: the seditious designs of the Muslim Brotherhood; its stealthy 'civilization jihad' and the associated subversion aimed at our nation's civil society institutions and governing agencies."
In a telephone interview with WND, Gaffney defended his accusations against Norquist.
"I'm saying Grover Norquist has for 17 years been working with enemies of this country whose mission is to destroy us from within," Gaffney told WND. "Norquist's activities have extended beyond just trying to support the Muslim Brotherhood and other Muslim supremacists in their promotion of their specific objective to run an influence operation to get us to accept their demands for concessions and to be witless about the threat they represent, specifically in trying to bring Shariah law here."
Gaffney charged that Norquist has sought for years to undermine the conservative agenda not only regarding issues related to Islamic radicalism but also domestic issues.
"I believe it's unmistakable," he continued, "just as Norquist has been running influence operations among conservatives for those folks – Islamic supremacists, some of them being Muslim Brotherhood, Iranian lobbyists and various other assorted jihadists – I think readers of WND should be aware this guy has also been doing similar damage to conservatives on things like immigration and a serious campaign on his part to hollow out our military in the United States, including by cutting the core out of the civilian workforce in the defense department.
"Even on taxes, the subject that is supposed to be his expertise, it really just depends on where his client is, whether he is willing to screw the taxpayer or not, " Gaffney insisted. "This is a bigger problem now from the conservative movement's perspective than just that of the Islamists, and unfortunately it's the exception rather than the rule that the people in that movement understand Norquist for what he is."
In a FrontPage Magazine column, Jihad Watch Director Robert Spencer applauded Beck's stand, saying it has now been over 11 years since FrontPage Magazine first published revelations about what David Horowitz described as Norquist's "alliances with prominent Islamic radicals who have ties to the Saudis and to Libya and to Palestine Islamic Jihad, and who are now under indictment by U.S. authorities.”
Spencer wrote: "Nothing has changed in the intervening years. Norquist has dismissed concerns about his ties to Islamic supremacists as 'bigotry' and 'hatred,' and this has apparently satisfied the Republican establishment and prominent conservative spokesmen – until now, with Beck breaking ranks."
'There's never going to be an end to this'
Well-known conservative Washington-based attorney Cleta Mitchell played a central role in the American Conservative Union's 2011 investigation of Gaffney's allegations. The ACU cleared Norquist of the charges and allowing him to remain on the ACU board, a position he holds today.
"There's never going to be an end to this as long as Frank Gaffney is breathing," Mitchell told WND. "Gaffney will never give up. Frank Gaffney is obsessed with Grover Norquist, and I do not believe that kind of upset comes from a policy or issues difference. There's something personal going back many years. I don't know what it is. Gaffney's attacks are irrational, not based on fact on anything I've been able to discern. "
Gaffney's book "Agent of Influence" opens with criticism of a memorandum Mitchell wrote to the ACU board Sept. 21, 2011, recommending the ACU should not remove Norquist from the board. The memo led the ACU to pass a resolution rejecting Gaffney's charges while proclaiming the board had "complete confidence" in Norquist's loyalty to the United States.
Mitchell, who more recently has represented conservative groups targeted by the IRS, explained in her memo that she had read materials provided by Gaffney and reviewed various videos, DVDs and a Power Point presentation that Gaffney produced alleging Norquist supported Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated radicals.
Mitchell's said she failed to find convincing evidence.
"After a while, listening to the complex the web of affiliations and innuendos that Gaffney weaves, you ask yourself if Gaffney doesn't have anything better to do than attack Grover," Mitchell said.
"Gaffney organizes this massive effort at Grover and then he turns on anybody like me who isn't convinced by his allegations. Gaffney now charges that I must be part of the conspiracy," she said. "And then Frank goes and gets other people, probably like Glenn Beck that haven't heard the allegations before, and they get all spun out believing Frank is right."
Mitchell thinks Gaffney's persistence over 15 years has damaged his own credibility in the conservative movement.
"I told Gaffney that I had always looked to him as someone who knew what was going on in the Middle East, and that I could rely on your information," she said. "But I told Gaffney his obsession with Grover was making me doubt the legitimacy of the other things you talk about on foreign policy. But Frank just won't stop. "
Morton Blackwell, founder and president of the Leadership Institute, supported Mitchell.
"I have heard Frank Gaffney's presentation against Grover Norquist for many years and have not found the presentation persuasive," Blackwell told WND. "A few years ago, top conservative attorney Cleta Mitchell carefully investigated and debunked Gaffney's claims."
WND asked Gaffney if he was accusing Norquist of treason in his allegation that Norquist is pursuing a hidden agenda against national security interests by introducing Muslim supremacists to the GOP leadership on favorable terms.
"No, treason is a term that has a certain legal definition," he replied. "I'm not sure I know what that legal definition is. All I'm saying is what is demonstrably the case, namely, that Norquist in working with Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic supremacists for years, promoting them and their agenda, which in the case of the Muslim Brotherhood, we know is to destroy Western civilization from within. Now, you connect the dots. Is that treason? Or is that aiding and abetting enemies that falls short of treason, although it provides material support for terrorism? I'm not a lawyer or prosecutor.
"What I'm saying is the facts are that Grover Norquist has since 1998, at least, worked with self-described Muslim supremacists, people who have been identified in federal court as jihadists, people who have been convicted in a couple of cases of terrorism, or raising funds for al-Qaida, or otherwise providing material support to designated terrorist organizations."
He said he doesn't "find anyone who disagrees with me on the facts."
"What I find are people like Cleta Mitchell who disagree with me that there are any facts, and that's just preposterous."
WND asked Gaffney how Norquist could have known Alamoudi was a terrorist before Alamoudi was convicted of the crime in federal court.
"Anyone who did any due diligence on Alamoudi before he was convicted would have known he was actively involved with Muslim Brotherhood-front organizations with a record as long as your arm," Gaffney responded.
"The evidence of what the Muslim Brotherhood's mission was clear, ever since Hassan al-Banna founded the organization in Egypt in 1928, was to create an organization to impose Shariah worldwide re-establish the caliphate by violence or any other means to achieve that goal."
Gaffney implied that Norquist should have known the Muslim Brotherhood was a radical Islamic organization in 1998, when Norquist used his influence with the leadership of the GOP to introduce Alamoudi, Kahn and Saffuri to the GOP on favorable terms.
"I don't think that Grover Norquist, or Karl Rove or Ralph Reid, on any of the other people involved in the play to get Muslim votes into the Republican Party and into George W. Bush's 2000 presidential campaign did any due diligence," Gaffney said.
"I don't think they had the capabilities to understand national security, and at the time, I think they were more interested in getting the votes as a political play than they were in national security. I'm just telling you the facts."
WND asked Gaffney if it were possible Norquist or the GOP leaders in 1999 could have come to a different conclusion about the risk involved with the Muslim Brotherhood, given what was know about the Brotherhood in the United States at that time.
"The facts are unmistakable," he answered. "I don't believe you could come to any other conclusion than I came to looking at the facts."
'Harm to the movement'
Noted investigative journalist Kenneth Timmerman, an expert on Middle Eastern politics, joins with Gaffney in arguing Norquist did a disservice by supporting Alamoudi and other Muslims associated with the Muslim Brotherhood when George W. Bush was running for president in 1999 and through the early days of the Bush administration in an attempt to gain credibility with leadership with the top levels of the GOP.
"Grover Norquist has done as much harm to the conservative movement as Jesse Jackson has to the black community," Timmerman wrote in an email to WND.
Timmerman said that by "working as a lobbyist for corporate interests all the while calling himself an advocate for smaller government, he has shown himself to be a craven hypocrite."
"Worse, as an apologist for political Islam and its agents in the United States, he has demonstrated, at best, a total ignorance of U.S. National security interests," Timmerman said.