A Look at the Resignation of Obama Advisor Mazen Asbahi and the Muslim Brotherhood

by DOUGLAS FARAH August 12, 2008

 

In the week since the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report (free registration required) revealed the ties of Mazen Asbahi to Muslim Brotherhood (MB) legacy groups and his immediate resignation as an adviser to the Obama campaign, it has been fascinating to watch the Brotherhood response, particularly that of CAIR and the Muslim Student Association.
 
This is relevant because of the MB’s historical ties to radical Islamist terrorism and the ties of members of legacy groups in the United States to multiple terrorist cases, investigations and convictions. The line of inquiry would have been just as valid had Mr. Asbahi surfaced in the McCain camp, or any major political campaign.
 
(For a more complete look at these groups and their history in the United States, see this report I co-authored for the NEFA Foundation during the Holy Land Foundation trial).
 
The tactics have been familiar to any who follow these groups: “attack the messenger,” - despite the fact that the postings simply laid out Mr. Ashbahi’s multiple ties to MB groups, based on SEC filings and public records, and made no allegations of any illegality or impropriety; attack the Wall Street Journal and Glenn Simpson for following up on the report, and for having the nerve to call Mr. Asbahi for comment. All of which is now described as a ‘right-wing expose-in-the-making’ - as if belonging to FOUR, not one, MB groups (as has been widely repeated) - was not worthy of comment or a story when the resignation happened; blame the media et al for Mr. Asbahi’s resignation, as if an e-mailed question about the relationship from a journalist were somehow an unacceptable practice in seeking information; and, finally, paint the entire thing as anti-Muslim bash-fest by the far right (see this wildly inaccurate and deceptive piece by James Zogby in the Huffington Post; and, finally, fail to address ANY of the substantive issues such associations raise.
 
For a good critique of the Zogby piece and its factual misrepresentations of the original piece, go here.
 
One of the favorite tactics is to paint those pushing back against CAIR and other MB groups as right-wing zealots and “Islamophobes’. Fortunately, that is not true, although it resonates among many in the Obama camp because it paints the issue, falsely, as one of civil rights.
 
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), who recently invited Steve Emerson to testify at a hearing where I was also a witness, refused to buckle to the the groups’ pressure tactics and protests aimed at silencing Emerson. See this Action Alert for a taste of their language.
 
Sens. Charles Schumer, Barbara Boxer and Richard Durbin-hardly the Right-wing fringe of American politics - have distanced themselves from CAIR and other MB groups, and noted the ties to terrorism and HAMAS. So, another lie, but one that lives on.
 
Most disappointing is that many of the major outlets that picked up the story were too lazy to read the original GMBDR, and simply quoted those attacking the story. One of the prices we pay, great and small, for having newsrooms slashed and veteran, inquisitive reporters now doing other things, or with no time to actually read materials. Simpson, one of the few who did take the time, got the story right.
 
The GMBDR has responded with a complete, dispassionate and factual recap of the matter. As for allegations that it is a shady, Right-wing hit machine, one needs only read the two years of archives that simply chronicle the MB in ways the MB finds uncomfortable.
 
The rest of the us might find it useful to monitor the public record of a group whose publicly-stated view of its work in America is “a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”
 
Here is the GMBR recap, worth reading:
 
Some Last Thoughts On Mazen Asbahi And The Muslim Brotherhood
Posted By GlobalMB On August 9, 2008 @ 5:57 pm In Daily | No Comments
 
Now that the furor has died down over the [1] resignation of Mazen Asbahi, the former Obama campaign Muslim outreach coordinator, it may be instructive to take an overall view of the question of his ties to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. Unfortunately, the larger question of these ties has gotten lost in the media focus only on his membership on the board of a Brotherhood organization where an imam of a mosque implicated in Brotherhood/Hamas support activities also served. Further confusing this issue is the [2] spin pushed by the U.S. Brotherhood itself which has claimed that Asbahi’s service on the board of Allied Asset Advisers is being used to “smear” Mr. Asbahi. What then is actually known about Mr. Asbahi himself?
 
According to a local media [3] account, Mr. Asbahi, the son of immigrants from Syria, grew up in Northville Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. He attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1996, graduating with a degree in political science and Islamic studies, followed by Northwestern University law school and then became an attorney in Chicago. Left out of this account is Mr. Asbahi’s role as a leader of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at the University of Michigan as discussed in an earlier [4] post. In 2000, probably while still in law school or shortly after graduation, he joined the board of Allied Asset Advisers as a trustee. As the original [5] post on Mr. Asbahi detailed, Allied Assets Advisers is a subsidiary of the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), in turn a part of the U.S Muslim Brotherhood and associated with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). NAIT was instrumental in the early development of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and is the current title holder to a very large number of U.S. mosques and Islamic facilities. As this post also observed, the other five Allied trustees were all important leaders of the U.S Muslim Brotherhood including not only Jamal Said, the imam in question, but also four others, two of which have been identified in court documents and internal Brotherhood documents as part of the U.S. Brotherhood.
 
Mr. Asbahi has been widely quoted as stating that he resigned from the Allied board when learning about the allegations against Mr. Said whose mosque was later implicated by a Chicago Tribune [6] investigation in activities related to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. While no documentation has been produced to support his stated reasons for resignation, even taking Mr. Asbahi’s explanation at face value raises an even more important question which no journalist has yet thought to raise. How does a 24/25 year old law student or newly-minted lawyer come to be awarded fiduciary responsibility for a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood financial organization along with five other nationally known U.S. Brotherhood leaders? While part of the answer may lie in Mr. Asbahi’s leadership in the Muslim Student Association, experience with the Brotherhood suggest that family connections could also be a fruitful area for investigation.
 
It should also be repeated that Mr Asbahi went on to join four other organizations with connections to the U.S. Brotherhood. Three of these have been discussed in earlier [4] posts to which a fourth, can be added– the Nawawi Foundation, an Illinois organization that also has Ingrid Mattson, the current ISNA president on its [7] board. Mr Asbahi’s history of service to U.S. Brotherhood linked organizations and his close proximity to U.S. Brotherhood leaders along with his fiduciary responsibility for a Brotherhood financial organization strongly suggest that the question of Mr. Asbahi’s ties to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood was and remains an important issue to examine in connection with an adviser to a U.S. Presidential candidate.
 
 
URLs in this post:

[1] resignation
[2] spin
[3] account
[4] post
[5] post
[6] investigation
[7] board
 
My position has always been that one can make a rational choice to dialogue with the MB. The only condition should be that the MB be recognized for what it really is and that those like CAIR, ISNA, MSA et al, be recognized for what they really are - organizations tied to and founded by the global MB. Then see if there is anything left to talk about.
 
 
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Douglas Farah is an award-winning investigative journalist and Senior Fellow in Financial Investigations and Transparency at the International Assessment and Strategy Center. E-mail him at doug@douglasfarah.com.
 

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