REPORT: Obama’s Muslim Brotherhood Strategy and the War on Jihadism, Part 1

photo Obama Putin2

by Gordon M. Hahn


Under a misguided illusion that Islamists can be regarded as moderates worthy of partnership with democracies and other civilized states in the war against jihadism, the Barack Obama administration has undertaken a series high-stakes, ideologically-driven and naive policy gambits driven by the U.S. president’s dangerous sympathy for Islam. In and of itself such a sympathy is not necessarily a problem if it is moderate and indirectly influences a few, non-strategic policies. However, when it becomes the ideological foundation for U.S. foreign policy and strategy across the Muslim world, it is downright dangerous and a potentially catastrophic miscalculation. The upshot of Obama’s miscalculation has been the simultaneous destabilization of whole regions of the world, the weakening of key allies, the alienation of potential ones, and the possibility that for the first time since World War Two the West and Eurasia will be riven by violence, terrorism and war.

The catastrophic failure of Obama’s pro-Islamic foreign policy is shaping the perceptions and calculus of friends, enemies, foes, and ‘frenemies’ alike. For great powers, his policies offer risks and opportunities but, more importantly, they demand a complete re-thinking of what U.S. foreign policy goals are and a rapid policy response to the picture that comes out of such re-thinking. This has become especially true when it comes to the single great power the expanse of which stretches along the most of the Muslim world’s northern periphery – Russia. Therefore, Moscow is in the grips of a major revamping and reinvigoration of its foreign policy activity along its southern periphery. In each case the need to do so can be reasonably argue to have been necessitated by American mistakes and failures–from South and Central Asia in the east to North Africa in the west.

Here I will focus on the most recent cases of the Arab Spring and demonstrate that the Obama administration has attempted to make alliances with Islamists as a buffer against global jihadism and a battering ram for destroying secular authoritarian regimes in the Muslim world despised by many liberals and the left, despite their use as a bulwark against radical political Islam. In three key cases of the so-called Arab Spring–Egypt, Libya, and Syria–the Obama administration has supported the radical global Islamist organization, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). The Egyptian case is well-known and will not be discussed here.

The pro-MB policy has been a fundamental miscalculation for several reasons. First, it assumed that democratic, moderately Islamic states led by the MB would follow secular authoritarian regimes. Instead, as the short-lived MB regime in Egypt demonstrated, an Islamist MB regime is no better and likely much worse than secular, even military-led regimes. The rise of Islamist authoritarianism after the fall of secular regimes is even better demonstrated by the upper hand that jihadist totalitarian groups have in the chaos of post-secular regimes across those parts of the Muslim world thrown into chaos with the help of U.S. policy.

Second, it assumed an impermeable line between the global Islamist revolutionary movement, led by groups such as the MB and Hizb ut-Tahrir Islami (HTI), and the global jihadi revolutionary movement, led by the Islamic State or IS (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) and Al Qa`ida (AQ). The former type of group is often a half-way house for radicalized Muslims heading towards the path of jihad. Like their jihadi counterparts, the MB and other radical Islamist revolutionary groups favor a global caliphate based on the rule of Shariah law. The difference lies in the strategies and tactics for getting there. By backing the MB, the U.S. facilitated jihadi agitation and propaganda, recruiting, and arms acquisition fueling the global jihadi revolutionary movement.

Part 1: The Obama Administration and the Muslim Brotherhood at Home

There is a logic President Obama’s policy bias in favor of the MB. President Obama’s biographical and radical leftist background lends him a great pro-Muslim feeling that often attains absurd proportions. After all, he spent many of his most formative childhood years in Indonesia, went to a madrassah school there, and stated in his autobiography that the most beautiful sound he ever heard is the Islamic azan or call to prayer. The president apparently believes that Islam and Muslims have been an instrumental part of America since its founding. In his 2009 Cairo speech, which the administration claimed sparked the MB-led Egyptian revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarak in September 2012, President Obama claimed to “know” that “Islam has always been a part of America’s story” ( In a 2010 speech marking the end of Ramadan, Obama asserted: “Islam has always been part of America” ( In February 2015 he stated: “Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding” ( In short, President Obama has a bias in favor of Islam–indeed, a hyper-empathy that goes over the line into fantasy. Given these realities, it might be expected that this sentiment would be reflected in the American President’s foreign policy. In fact, it is.

There is now a boat load of evidence that the Obama administration has brought in officials and advisors from radical Muslim circles–in particular those from groups fronting for, or tied to the MB–who espouse Islamist, anti-semitic, and anti-American points of view similar to those MB proposes. Until Hillary Clinton’s resignation as US Secretary of State, MB links connected two high-ranking Obama administration officials: Clinton’s chief of staff Huma Abedin and current special assistant to the National Security Council Chief of Staff for the military’s Islamic chaplain program Mehdi K. Alhassani. The specific link is the Muslim World League (MWL), indicted for financing Al Qa`ida (AQ) front groups. MWL successor groups have been officially designated terrorist organizations by both the State Department and the United Nations (Aaron Klein, “White House aide linked to al-Qaida funder,” Counter Jihad Report, 9 May 2014,

A link between these two and MB is the Muslim Student Association (MSA) with branches in hundreds of universities across America. The nationwide umbrella organization MSA has extensive proven ties to the MB (“The Muslim Students Association and and the Jihadi Network,” Terrorism Awareness Project, 2008 The MSA’s official anthem restates MB’s credo:

Allah is our objective

The Prophet is our leader

The Quran is our law

Jihad is our way

Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.

Abedin served on the board of the MSA at George Washington University in 1997 ( The GWU MSA was founded by Muslim Brotherhood activists with start-up funding provided by the Saudi Arabian charity the Muslim World League or MWL founded in Mecca in 1962. From 2005 to 2006 Alhassani was the GWU MSA’s president (Aaron Klein, “White House aide linked to al-Qaida funder,”  Counter Jihad Report, 9 May 2014, In 2001 AQ in the Arabian Peninsula’s American leader Anwar al-Awlaki, who inspired Fort Hood jihadist Nidal Malik Hasan, became the chaplain  for the GWU MSA chapter (

Huma worked with Abdullah Omar Naseef on the editorial board of her father’s Saudi-financed think tank, the Institute for Muslim Minority Affairs (IMMA). Huma was there from 2002-2008, and Naseef was there from December 2002 – December 2003. Naseef left the JMMA editorial board at a time when various charities led by Naseef’s MWL were declared illegal terrorism fronts worldwide, including by the U.S. and U.N. Naseef is still the MWL’s secretary-general. Huma’s mother, Saleha, is the editor of the IMMA’s Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs (JMMA), the publication of Syed’s institute ( Its latest issue (Vol. 35, Issue 4, 2015) features the lead article “Muslims in Western Media: New Zealand Newspapers’ Construction of 2006 Terror Plot at Heathrow Airport and Beyond,” a study of alleged Islamophobia, in which the institute specializes ( Saleha Abedin is also a MWL representative.

The MWL and its various offshoots, including the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) and Al Haramain, have been accused of having terrorist ties. Al Haramain was declared a terror-financing front organization by the U.S. and U.N. with direct ties to Osama bin Laden and banned both in the U.S. and worldwide. The Anti-Defamation League accuses the MWL of proselytizing a “fundamentalist interpretation of Islam around the world through a large network of charities and affiliated organizations” and notes that “several of its affiliated groups and individuals have been linked to terror-related activity.” In 2003, U.S. News and World Report documented “a blizzard of Wahhabist literature” accompanied MWL’s donations (

Both Abedin and Alhassani were links in the Obama’s administration’s strategic communications (propaganda) operation to pin the 11 September 2012 Bengazi attack that killed the US ambassador to Libya and three CIA operatives on an Internet film instead of an AQ affiliate’s attack. In an email obtained under a Judicial Watch lawsuit sent to Alhassani and other officials from Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communication sent an email to Alhassani and several other administration officials three days after the three days after the Benghazi attack indicating the need to “underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.” Another email indicates that US Ambassador to the UN Susana Rice was prepped on the Saturday before her Sunday tour of talk shows where she repeated the video story and other elements cantained in the email’s talking points (See p. 14 of the PDF of several documents at,

An Egyptian newspaper claimed in December 2012 that six Muslims in particular have direct ties to the MB or are even MB members. Four are adiminstration officials or semi-officials, and three of these deserve scrutiny: assistant secretary for policy development at the Homeland Security Department (HSD) Arif Alikhan; HSD Advisory Council member Mohammed Elibiary; and U.S. special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference Rashad Hussain ( and Ahmed Shawki, “A man and 6 of the Brotherhood in the White House!,” Rose El-Youssef, 22 December 2012, To be sure, the Egyptian article appears to be overstated in claiming these persons’ MB membership. The piece was likely part of a strategic communications operation carried out by opponents of the MB regime that overthrew Mubarak and backed the post-MB Egyptian government of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi counter-revolution. Nevertheless, the Obama administration’s appointment of these officials or plenipotentiaries as well as several other Muslim-American leaders—in particular, Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) president Imam Mohamed Magid and and Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) co-founder Salam al-Marayati—is disturbing given their indirect MB associations and MB-like Islamist political and theological views.

The biggest knock against DHS assistant secretary for policy development Arif Alikhan has been the endorsement by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) of his appointment. CAIR has defended terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah as liberation movements. It also was an unindicted co-conspirator in the Hamas terrorism funding case, and several of its former officials have been convicted of terrorism-related charges. A lesser rap is that Alikhan attended a fundraiser for the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) just days before his appointment. MPAC has a similar history of defending Hamas ( The Egyptian publication claimed that Alikhan is a founder of the World Islamic Organization (WIO), which it characterizes as a Brotherhood “subsidiary” ( These indictments of Alikhan seem less than convincing as evidence of MB ties.

Much more disturbing was the appointment in 2010 to the DHS Advisory Council (HSAC) member of Mohammed Elibiary, released from his position in September 2014 amidst reports of a coverup involving his misuse of secret documents ( Before his HSAC appointment Elibiary was known to have publicly praised the MB’s leading philosopher Sayyid Qutb, the leader of Iran’s Islamist revolution Ayatollah Khomeini, and a radical New York imam Siraj Wahhaj, who was an unindicted co-conspiratr in the World Trade bombing case and was a defense character witness for the jihadist ‘Blind Sheikh’ Omar Abdel Rahman ( and

While on the HSAC Elibiary was caught having tweeted that it is “onevitable that the caliphate returns” ( His tweets were later used by ISIL for propaganda and recruitment purposes ( Echoing his appointer, Pressident Obama, Elibiary claimed in November 2013 that America is “an Islamic country with an Islamically compliant constitution” and that the Muslim Brotherhood poses no threat to the U.S. (

The funding for Elibiary’s own community organizing activity has been shrouded in secrecy. He is co-founder, president and CEO of the Freedom and Justice Foundation (FJF), founded in November 2002 “to promote government relations and “interfaith community relations for the organized Texas Muslim community.” The IRS revoked the FJF’s nonprofit status in May 2010 for failure to file the requisite forms that would have revealed its source of funding. Moreover, his FJF has never filed a Texas Franchise Tax Public Information Report. He also has ties to CAIR. The North Texas Islamic Council (NTIC) or Texas Islamic Council (TIC) is a FJF affiliate, and Elibiary is a registered NTIV agent for the NTIC. One of the NTIC’s directors is H. Mustafaa Carroll, who is the executive director of CAIR’s Houston chapter. Elibiary has described the writings of Qutb, the chief ideologist of the MB and a major source for global Islamist and jihadist revolutionaries alike, as having ““the potential for a strong spiritual rebirth that’s truly ecumenical allowing all faiths practiced in America to enrich us and motivate us to serve God better by serving our fellow man more” (

According to an investigation by the Washington Free Beacon, Elibiary was at the center of a scandal involving the “inappropriate disclosure of sensitive law enforcement documents” resulting from his access to DHS’s secure HS-SLIC system, according to a DHS letter. The case has been “shrouded in mystery, with various officials providing unclear and at times contradictory answers about whether DHS ever properly investigated.” The allegation was that Elibiary “inappropriately accessed classified documents from a secure site and may have attempted to pass them to reporters.” As part of his role on the HSAC, Elibiary “was provided access to a network containing sensitive but unclassified information,” according to the July 2014 DHS letter U.S. congressman Louis Gohmert (Republican from Texas). DHS claimed that its 2011 investigation “found no credible information” that Elibiary “disclosed or sought to disclose ‘For Official Use Only’ information to members of the media.” Nor did DHS “find any indication that he sought to disclose any other internal OHS [Office of Homeland Security] information to anyone apart from official use of information within the scope of his role for the Homeland Security Advisory Council,” according to the letter states.

However, DHS’s denials are contradicted by documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Judicial Watch, which indicate that there was never a proper investigation into Elibiary’s actions. In a September 2013 letter DHS informed Judicial Watch in fact that it could not find investigation records connected to the matter. This conflicting information suggests a cover up of the fact that there was no investigation, as congressman Gohmert notes, and that Elibiary was let go from the HSAC to lock in the cover up. Terrorism expert Patrick Poole concluded that any DHS investigation that might have occurred was “phony,” since it failed to contact him and his source, which led to the first public allegations of Elibiary’s misuse of documents. “(W)hen DHS couldn’t provide a single email or document in response to the Judicial Watch FOIA to prove this investigation ever took place, the jig was up,” Poole noted (; see also

President Obama’s originally appointed Rashad Hussain as his special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). In February 2015 Hussain was promoted to the position of director of the U.S. State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications ( Hussain previously served on Critical Islamic Reflections program organizing committee with the founder of Zaytuna College, Imam Zaid Shakir ( Shakir’s co-founder is Hamza Yusuf, who has said that jihadist Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, convicted in the Al Qa`ida conspiracy to bomb New York landmarks in the 1990s, was tried unjustly (

Speaking at a MSA conference in 2004 Hussain condemned the U.S. Justice Department for “politically motivated persecutions” in prosecuting the soon-to-be convicted terrorism supporter Sami Al-Arian, a University of South Florida computer engineering professor. He also called the legal process “sad commentary on our legal system,” “a travesty of justice,” and “atrocious” ( One wonders what legal system Hussain would prefer to the American system of justice. In 2006 the good professor pleaded guilty to one count of “(c)onspiracy to make or receive contributions of funds, goods or services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian jihadist organization, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a U.S. State Department ‘Specially Designated Terrorist organization’” and was sentenced to 57 months in prison ( The judge in the case said there was evidence that Al-Arian served on PIJ’s governing board. Al-Arian successfully had lied about his ties to the terrorist group for ten years.   For his part, Hussain lied in 2006 about the fact that he made the noted 2004 remarks condemning the Justice Department for ‘persecutions’, only to be forced to admit he had lied after being subjected to media scrutiny in the wake of his appointment. (  According to the watchdog group Global Mulsim Brotherhood Watch, Hussain has a long record of attending MB-tied conferences, including a May 2009 conference organized by MB-tied groups like the MSA (

In addition such to appointments, Obama administration grant-giving has rewarded radical Muslims, including open anti-Semites. Director of the Michigan branch of MB front group CAIR, Dawud Walid, has traveled abroad at least twice on U.S State Department funds, using a 2010 trip to Mali to criticize America’s treatment of Muslims after 9/11. But it gets worse. In a 25 May 2012 sermon at the Islamic Organization of North America mosque in Warren, Michigan, Walid asked rhetorically: “Who are those who incurred the wrath of Allah?” Walid answered: “They are the Jews, they are the Jews.” He also has stated: “One of the greatest social ills facing American today is Islamophobia, and anti-Muslim bigotry. And if you trace the organizations and the main advocates and activists in Islamophobia in America, you will see that all those organizations are pro-Israeli occupation organizations and activists.” Walid’s anti-American bias is reflected in his view that the 2009 shooting death of a Detroit imam was unjust, despite the imam’s refusal of police orders to lay down his weapon and surrender and his fire at police first (

Obama’s ties to Muslims with anti-American and radical leanings predate his election to the presidency. The Obama campaign’s Muslim outreach adviser Mazen Asbahi was forced to resign in August 2008 after Wall Street Journal article unmasked his indirect radical and MB ties. In 2000, Asbahi served on the board of the Islamic investment fund Allied Assets Advisors Fund (AAAF), a Delaware-registered trust. Asbahi also has been a frequent speaker before several U.S.-based groups that scholars associate with the MB. AAAF is a subsidiary of the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), which receives funding from the government of Saudi Arabia and holds the title to many U.S. mosques in the U.S. NAIT promotes fundamentalist Islam compatible with both the ideology of MB and Saudi Arabian Wahhabism. Other AAAF board members at the time included one Jamal Sayid, the imam at a fundamentalist mosque in Illinois the Bridgeview Mosque in Bridgeview, Ill., outside Chicago. Sayid served on the AAAF board until 2005. The Justice Department designated the imam an unindicted co-conspirator in a 2007 racketeering trial of several alleged Hamas fund-raisers, which ended in a mistrial. Sayid has been identified as a leading Hamas member in numerous news reports since 1993. ( and Asbahi reportedly has connections to two other MB-linked organizations, the Institute For Social Policy And Understanding and SA Consulting. One of the latter’s three managers is Omer Totonji, the apparent son of Iraqi-born U.S. Muslim Brotherhood founder Ahmed Totonji (

The White House’s ‘go to’ imam is Mahomed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), to which Asbahi also has ties ( Although Magid has been involved in outreach to Jews at the US Holocaust Museum and the gay community, he has also awarded an American Muslim who has verbally attacked Jews on an Islamist ideo-theological basis. Magid is often invited to attend administration speeches on US Middle East policy at the State Department, has advised the FBI and the Justice Department to criminalize defamation of Islam, and is a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Violent Extremism Working Group. He also advises other federal agencies. In 2012 Magid’s ISNA organized a “Diversity Forum” at which Magid gave a diversity award to CAIR Michigan branch director Dawud Walid, just weeks after Walid’s sermon at the Islamic Organization of America (IOA) mosque in Warren, Michigan, in which he claimed Jews had incurred the wrath of Allah ( and

Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) co-founder and director Salam al-Marayati is a frequent White House visitor and administration consultant ( Marayati has said that Israel should have been added to the “suspect list” for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks ( MPAC has stated Muslims should be “confronting a nation of cowards,” speaking of the United States in the words of former U.S. Attorney General ( Marayati’s MPAC spokeswoman in 2007, one Edina Lekovic, was editor of Al-Talib: The Muslim News Magazine at UCLA, for its July 1999 issue which praised Osama bin Laden as a “glorious mujahed” and in 2007 lied on national television about it, for which she was later fully exposed by Investigative Project director Stephen Emerson ( By the early 2000s, if not much during Ms Lekovic’s years at UCLA, the UCLA MSA was engaged in Islamist and anti-Semitic propaganda and agitation, including support for the publication ( CAIR was affiliated with the university paper, with its southern California chapter’s director sitting on Al-Talib’s editorial board ( The UCLA MSA was also intimately involved with the newspaper’s publishing and protest activity attacking Jews ( and

Given all of the above, it is certainly not unreasonable to suspect that President Obama’s Cairo speech was intended to lend support to the world’s most powerful MB branch—that in Egypt. The Obama administration’s warm support for Egypt’s MB-led revolution and short-lived regime and cold shoulder to Gen. Sisi’s government is well-known and speaks for itself.

‘PART 2: The Obama Administration and the MB Abroad’ – forthcoming in March


Gordon M. Hahn is an Analyst and Advisory Board Member of the Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation, Chicago, Illinois; a Senior Researcher, Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, San Jose, California; a Contributor for Russia Direct,; and an Analyst/Consultant, Russia Other Points of View – Russia Media Watch, Dr Hahn is author of three well-received books, Russia’s Revolution From Above (Transaction, 2002), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), which was named an outstanding title of 2007 by Choice magazine, and The ‘Caucasus Emirate’ Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland Publishers, 2014). He also has authored hundreds of articles in scholarly journals and other publications on Russian, Eurasian and international politics. Dr. Hahn has taught Russian politics and other courses at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, St. Petersburg State (Russia), and San Francisco State Universities as well as the Middlebury Institute for International Studies at Monterey, California. He also has been a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (2011-2013) and a Visiting Scholar at both the Hoover Institution and the Kennan Institute.


  1. Obama has NOT been happy to support the al-Sisi government, and indeed has met with Egyptian MB officials on several occasions since Mursi was deposed. And domestically Obama had continued to meet with, “partner” with, solicit advice from, and even hire activists from assorted MB front organizations. His ill-conceived “Countering Violent Extremism” strategy, which downplays the importance of ideology (at least in the case of Islamism) and foolishly denies that the actions of jihadists have anything to do with Islam, was influenced by the input of those same MB activists. What does it suggest when he and so many other deluded Western leaders prefer to rely on MB activists as their interlocutors with the Muslim community rather than anti-Islamist Muslims? It suggests that they are living in an ideological fantasy world.

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