A newly filed lawsuit claims that the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), whose information products support U.S. security objectives, revoked the clearance of a budget analyst because his wife works for a suspect Islamic charity — perhaps the first case of a federal entity taking such action in response to a spouse's Islamist ties. The man alleges discrimination.
According to the complaint, Mahmoud M. Hegab joined the agency in January 2010 and told the NGA that he had married Bushra Nusairat in the time between his security investigation and the start of his employment. Hegab mitigated some of the NGA's concerns about Nusairat, which included her graduation from Virginia's Islamic Saudi Academy — known for its hateful texts and a valedictorian who plotted to kill the president — and her affinity for protesting U.S. and Israeli policies. However, her job with Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA), America's biggest Muslim charity, seemingly was a deal breaker. Citing Nusairat's "current affiliation with one or more organizations which consist of groups who are organized largely around their non-United States origin," the NGA canceled Hegab's clearance and placed him on unpaid leave. He blames bias:
The revocation of plaintiff's security clearance … was based solely on plaintiff's wife's religion, Islam, her constitutionally protected speech, and her association with, and employment by, an Islamic faith-based organization.
Despite collaborating with federal agencies on humanitarian projects, IRUSA is less than wholly benign — not that either the complaint or the 800-word Washington Post piece on Hegab offers any hint of this. Most troubling is IRUSA's links to Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), which names IRUSA among its "fundraising partners." The Money Jihad blog notes that IRUSA "gave $9.4 million to IRW in 2009, $5.9 million in 2008, and $4.8 million in 2007." IRUSA declares that the two are "separate legal entities," but the cash flow suggests a close relationship.
This financial connection is problematic because IRW is steeped in radicalism: Senior members of Muslim Brotherhood groups have served as IRW officials. A NEFA analysis lists IRW as one of the "founding organizations" of the Union of Good, designated by the Treasury Department for having been "created by Hamas leadership to transfer funds to the terrorist organization." Israeli forces arrested an IRW operative for aiding Hamas in 2006; he had pictures of Nazis and jihadists on his computer. IRW also has been accused of bankrolling rebels in Chechnya.
"Lawyers said the Hegab case was the first they knew of where clearance was revoked because of a spouse's ties to Islamic organizations," the Post reports, though "intelligence agencies regularly denied clearances to individuals whose spouses were involved with communist or so-called fellow traveler organizations" during the Cold War. The parallels should be obvious.
Islamism, like communism, is a totalitarian ideology with the West in its crosshairs. Thus, it merits comparable concern on the part of sensitive agencies such as the NGA. In an era of government bodies obfuscating Islamism or even giving radicals access to restricted data, it is refreshing to find one that apparently puts national security before political correctness.