Last month, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and her senior staff privately metin Washington, D.C., with a select group of Muslim, Arab, and Sikh organizations. Among the mix were three organizations directly associated with an outlawed terrorist entity — the Muslim Brotherhood.
Secretary Napolitano spent an hour and a half briefing them on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) counter-radicalization and anti-terrorist programs. The intensive briefings spanned two days (January 27 and 28) and were called by the DHS.
Although there is no evidence of an exchange of classified information, this meeting was the beginning of an Obama administration program aimed at devising a new information-sharing framework with the Muslim organizations — some of them regarded as extremist because of their ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. The group is to meet regularly with DHS senior aides and with Napolitano. This program was imported from the United Kingdom. The Obama administration has decided to replicate the UK program to win over Muslims and to get them to collaborate with the federal government.
Although Matthew Chandler, deputy press secretary and spokesman for Secretary Napolitano, refused to comment on the meetings or identify the groups that attended the two-day session, Pajamas Media has learned the identities of a number of the participants and interviewed them — including those linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.
The program requires bringing in Muslim groups as "partners" in a two-way information sharing program.
Walid Phares, director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, criticized the partnership concept:
"Through the so-called 'partnership' between the Jihadi-sympathizer networks and U.S. bureaucracies, the U.S. government is invaded by militant groups." He warned that this policy embraced by the Obama administration "is how American national security policy has been influenced" by Muslim groups, who are duping administration officials.
A former U.S. intelligence officer told PJM:
The "counter-radicalization" program is something that the other side created for us. … It initially started in Britain. The Muslim Brotherhood groups suggested it. We went over there and got it. We thought it was a great idea and now we're using it. It's the enemy giving us a way to destroy ourselves.
The Muslim Brotherhood is the ideological foundation for today's terrorist organizations in the Islamic world. Founded in 1928, it is the oldest Islamic fundamentalist political group in modern times. Originally called the Society of the Muslim Brothers, today it is a hardcore supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah and considered the inspirational "father" of al-Qaeda itself.
In 1981, Islamic radicals connected with the Muslim Brotherhood assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat after he signed a peace treaty with Israel. Just this month, Egyptian authorities arrested 13 members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Since the early 1990s the Muslim Brotherhood has created a network of Muslim-American front groups that operate as "moderate" in the United States. At least three of the groups that met with Secretary Napolitano have been identified by intelligence officials and congressional sources as those that have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
One of the groups meeting with Secretary Napolitano was the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), which was created by members of the Muslim Brotherhood. ISNA was named in 2007 by the U.S. Department of Justice as an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal terror trial. The group was identified as a major financier of overseas Islamic terrorist organizations, particularly Hamas.
Ingrid Mattson, ISNA's president, attended the Napolitano meeting. Mattson has been described by the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) as a Muslim leader who "has an established pattern of minimizing the nature of extremist forms of Islam and rationalizing the actions of Islamist terrorist movements."
Another Muslim leader from the meeting was Salam al-Marayati, the executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). MPAC has a long history of defending terrorist acts. Al-Marayati repeatedly defended the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the Muslim "charity" which was convicted of nine federal criminal counts and in 2001 was identified by the U.S. Treasury Department as a "Specially Designated Terrorist."
In a 1999 PBS interview, al-Marayati called Hezbollah attacks on Israel "legitimate resistance."
The Muslim American Society, another participant in the DHS meeting, was founded in 1993 by Jamal Badawi, an Egyptian-born Muslim Brotherhood leader. The organization was founded in Chicago as an American chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood with the goal of introducing sharia law into Muslim-American communities in the United States.
Muslim Advocates, a Muslim civil rights organization, also attended the meeting. Although not connected with extremists, a current video on its website castigates current law enforcement measures to crack down on home-grown domestic terrorists. Encouraging its viewers to resist, the Muslim Advocates narrator says American "policing strategies have changed. Increasingly, law enforcement is casting a wide net reaching innocent people who have nothing to do with terrorism."
Reaction to the Napolitano meeting with the radical organizations was largely negative. Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC), a member of the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told Pajamas Media that while she applauded the administration's effort to address domestic radicalization, she was "appalled" at the meeting with the radicals:
It is clear government agencies and officials do not get it. … [The meeting] is a dangerous policy and weakens our national security.
A former intelligence officer for the U.S. government told Pajamas Media:
The fact that the government reaches out to these groups, more than any other factor shows you how broken our intelligence apparatus is.
Steve Emerson, an internationally regarded anti-terrorism expert and the founder of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, said:
[The meetings displayed] a fundamental naïveté and glaring lack of critical knowledge about the source of jihadism in the world today, which is the Muslim Brotherhood. … I'm not sure she understands what the Muslim Brotherhood is. It's the parent of al-Qaeda and all terrorist groups, and confirmed by all the intelligence chiefs.
Some of these groups DHS is involving in their meetings are presenting themselves as moderates, when in fact they are radical Islamists whose actions are part of the problem, and who will never be part of the solution. It is clear government agencies and officials do not get it.
The Napolitano meeting is not the only Obama administration effort to invite extremists into government programs. Last month, thirteen U.S. House members wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates expressing outrage that Louay Safi, a top ISNA official, had been invited to deliver lectures on Islam to U.S. troops stationed at Fort Hood after the November 5 killing of 13 and wounding of 30 by a radicalized Muslim-American.
According to the congressional letter to Gates, Safi was connected to the "Safa Group," which they alleged was "moving large sums of money to terrorist fronts." Safi also was caught on a 1995 FBI wiretap with Sami Al-Arian, who in April 2006 pled guilty to a charge of conspiring to provide services to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
In the past, Democrats have invited Muslim-American radicals to join U.S. anti-terrorism programs. After a public backlash, former House Democratic Leader Rep. Dick Gephardt in 1999 was forced to withdraw the nomination of MPAC's al-Marayati to serve on the National Commission on Terrorism.
Knowledge of the Napolitano meeting may complicate her relationship with Capitol Hill. Her meeting with the Arab groups occurred the day after the secretary had failed to appear at a scheduled January 27 congressional hearing by the House Committee on Homeland Security. Although she has privately met with House leaders to patch up her relationship, some congressional members continue to call for her resignation.
End of Part One
Richard Pollock is the Washington, D.C., editor for Pajamas Media and the Washington bureau chief of PJTV.