Obama Eid Celebration Again
Empowers Islamists Over Reformers
July 21, 2016
The White House held a celebration
Thursday afternoon to honor Eid al Fitr, the end of the Muslim holy month of
Ramadan. While no guest list has been made public, the Investigative Project on
Terrorism (IPT) has learned that it includes a number of Islamist activists who
have espoused views in direct contrast with American policy.
Among them were several officials
from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and a former official who
remains close to the organization. In contrast, Muslim Americans who believe
CAIR and other Islamist groups are not representative of the community's diverse
viewpoints were not invited.
The White House declined to
comment to the IPT or release a complete list of invitees.
The inclusion of so many CAIR
officials shows that the United States government has wildly different views
about the organization.
policy since 2008 prohibits engagement with CAIR, which touts
itself as "a grassroots civil rights and advocacy group" and
the country's "largest Muslim civil liberties organization."
But the FBI cut off CAIR's access
after its agents uncovered CAIR's darker history. Internal
documents and eyewitness
accounts prove that CAIR was born into a network of Muslim
Brotherhood-created support groups in the United States. Each branch of that
network, known as the "Palestine Committee," shared a mission of
boosting the Islamist movement in general and Hamas
Until it determines "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," a
senior official explained
in writing in 2009. [Emphasis added]
CAIR has tried to ignore or
minimize these statements. But it has never acknowledged the connections to the
Hamas support network or ever tried to claim that it has evolved since then and
no longer pursues its original secret agenda. It has had only one executive
director in its history, and he was listed
in a roster of the network's members (see No. 25, Nihad Awad).
Despite this wealth of evidence,
Thursday's Eid celebration shows that the message to CAIR is a little different
at the Obama White House: Come on in!
At least four CAIR officials were
invited. Among them, a man who called the 2008 war between Israel and Hamas in
Gaza a "genocide" and who likens
the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to ISIS, and a man who accuses the FBI of
setting up innocent Muslims and of cold-blooded murder.
In addition, Ahmed
Bedier, a former CAIR official in Florida who continued to raise money for
the organization as recently as 2014, posted
links to videos from the event on Twitter Thursday afternoon.
Honoring a holiday celebrated by
several million Americans is fine. But the Obama administration's insistence on
inviting – thereby empowering – radical Islamist voices like the CAIR
officials included Thursday overlooks the work and conclusions of its own career
agents and prosecutors.
Once again, the White House guest
list omits any members of the fledgling Muslim
Reform Movement. That movement, representing more diverse opinions and
arguably a more representative face of American Muslims, published
a declaration that should be embraced by people of all stripes. It is
worth reading in its entirety, but its preamble says they are fighting for
"a respectful, merciful and inclusive interpretation of Islam" and
clearly rejects "interpretations of Islam that call for any violence,
social injustice and politicized Islam."
In addition to explaining what
they reject, the reformists articulate what they stand for. "We are for
secular governance, democracy and liberty. We are against political movements in
the name of religion. We separate mosque and state. We are loyal to the nations
in which we live."
Someone needs to explain why that
message can't get a seat at the table.
"The saddest thing is not
only the complete monopoly and dominance of American Islamist groups in the
[White House] Eid celebration invitation," Reform Movement member Zuhdi
Jasser told the Investigative Project on Terrorism, "... but
imagine how insulting it is that the [White House] also includes representatives
of all the 'petro-Islam' and [Organization
of Islamic Cooperation]'s 'neo-caliphate' tyrannies from Embassy Row. So the
nations like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, Afghanistan, and Pakistan who imprison,
torture, and assassinate Muslim reformers like us are honored and invited down
the red carpet along with their choir of American Islamist lobbyists (as Asra
Nomani calls them: the #HonorBrigade) and yet genuine, honest free-thinking
American Muslim reformers are completely ignored and blackballed. This has been
the SOP for the Obama administration for now over 7 years. Their 'Muslim'
related policies are dominated by the Islamist mafia at home and abroad. The
Obama administration and their friends on the Left claim to be about diversity
yet when it comes to diversity it's all about racial and ethnic diversity and no
ideological diversity within the House of Islam."
The ideology two CAIR officials
brought to the White House is inherently hostile toward U.S. policy.
In addition to comparing the IDF
to ISIS, CAIR Los Angeles Executive Director Hussam Ayloush repeatedly accused
Israel of committing genocide and a
holocaustagainst Palestinians in Gaza. These accusations seem to redefine
what constitutes a genocide or holocaust, since Gaza's population is increasing
Ayloush also reacts similarly to
most CAIR officials when asked about Hamas, the beneficiary of support from the
American "Palestine Committee" to which CAIR was born. He refuses to
acknowledge Hamas as a terrorist organization and quickly
grows angrily defensive.
Shibly, Ayloush's Florida counterpart, returns to the White House for at
least the second time since
December, when he was included in a discussion on religious discrimination.
Like Bedier, he posted video from the event on
his Facebook pageThursday afternoon, also showing Ayloush with him.
In the video, Shibly says the
White House event triggered debate, since U.S. military strikes in Syria killed
civilians. Ayloush, Shibly said, planned to deliver a letter "about the
atrocities in Syria" to Obama. "Right now U.S. drone strikes –
they're the biggest creators of terrorism in the Middle East," Shibly said.
presumably, means Shibly thinks drone strikes create more terrorism than ISIS.
Shibly said he and his colleagues
also planned to criticize "consistent abuse by the FBI" and Customs
and Border Protection "against the American Muslim community," saying
Muslim activists are harassed and accusing the FBI of "brainwash[ing]
mentally disturbed youth to plan terrorist plots so they can justify the
continued surveillance of the community."
The White House embrace comes
despite the fact that Shibly is helping a family sue
the FBI, for allegedly shooting a Muslim without cause. Agents shot and
killed Ibragim Todashev, a "skilled mixed-martial arts fighter," after
hours of questioning in 2013 tied to an unsolved triple murder. Todashev also
was a friend of Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. After reportedly
acknowledging some involvement in the murder case, agents say Todashev attacked.
CAIR asked for independent
investigations. But after two reviews found no wrongdoing, Shibly refused
to accept the outcome. He also accused FBI agents of shooting a Detroit
imam in 2010 after he had been "tied and bound." Separate independent
investigations and an actual video of the shooting showed this was not remotely
true, but Shibly repeated the smear anyway.
He also defended a
terror suspect who was arrested after loading what he thought was a bomb into
his car. Sami Osmakac repeatedly expressed interest in violent jihad and dreamed
of carrying out a "second 9/11."
"I want to do
something," he said.
"Something terrifying." Before his arrest, he made a martyrdom video
in which he called his attack "payback for Sheikh Osama Bin Laden."
Still, Shibly cast Osmakac as
a man who posed no threat to the public and blamed the FBI for setting him up.
He gets the White House invitation
– again, at least his second – but Jasser and his fellow reformists are shut
out. The imprimatur that accompanies an audience with the president of the
United States can be used for tremendous good. It can raise new voices to
prominence, and it can stimulate much-needed debate. The Reform Movement
declaration, for example, specifically emphasizes the rights of women to equal
Instead, President Obama and his
staffers continue to tip the scales to favor the most monolithic, pro-Islamist
voices and protect the monopoly they enjoy on public debate.
It is beyond shameful.