As the world fixates on Egypt and aftershocks in the Arab and Muslim world, Congress is now turning its attention to the Muslim Brotherhood and its global reach. And not a second too soon, as people are waking up to the insidious penetration of the MB and its affiliates all across the world, including here in Michigan. While many in Congress have danced around the Muslim Brotherhood, House Foreign Affairs Chairwoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen (R-FL) urged:
the unequivocal rejection of any involvement by the Muslim Brotherhood and other extremists who may seek to exploit and hijack these events to gain power, oppress the Egyptian people, and do great harm to Egypt's relationship with the United States, Israel, and other free nations"
Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers, new chair of the House Permanenet Select Committee on Intelligence, convened his first committee hearing on the subject, with a heavy-hitting lineup of the Beltway's intel experts
What FBI Director Robert Mueller testified at the hearing should jar all Americans out of a fog of delusion and denial. Mueller told members of the Intel Committee that "elements of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group whose ideology has inspired terrorists such as Osama bin Laden, are in the United States and have supported terrorism here and overseas."
Yet the A-Team was disgraced by the glaring gaffe of James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, who testified, contrary to our own US State Department, that the Brotherhood was largely a secular group. Clapper's comments provoked quite a stir.
Here are just two reports on reactions from one of our go-to sites on foreign policy, The Cable, and the authoritative Investigative Project on Terrorism.
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) is only one of the many people in Washington who are scratching their heads today after the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was mostly a "secular" group.
"The term ‘Muslim Brotherhood' is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam," Clapper told the first ever hearing of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence under new chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI).
ABC News was quick to point out that he U.S. State Department's Background Note on Egypt describes the Muslim Brotherhood as a "potent political and religious force."
Clapper's public affairs chief Jamie Smith "clarified" the remarks, telling ABC that Clapper really meant to say that "in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood makes efforts to work through a political system that has been, under Mubarak's rule, one that is largely secular in its orientation - he is well aware that the Muslim Brotherhood is not a secular organization."
But the gaffe was enough to invoke the ire of many in Congress, who are warning about the risks of the Muslim Brotherhood coming to power. Kirk, who was a Naval intelligence officer, issued a statement criticizing Clapper Thursday afternoon.
"I am concerned that the DNI's assessment does not agree with recent public statements by senior leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood nor does it agree with the organization's publicly stated goals," Kirk's statement read. "As the world watches these historic events unfolding in Egypt, the United States should support an orderly transition to democracy that prevents the radical Muslim Brotherhood from grabbing power."
The debate over the real identity and role of the Brotherhood is just starting in Congress, and was at the top of lawmakers' concerns at Wednesday's hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
"Now the White House is reportedly making matters worse by apparently re-examining its position on dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood, but also stating that a new Egyptian government should include a whole host of important nonsecular actors," Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) said at the hearing. "The Muslim Brotherhood had nothing to do with driving these protests, and they and other extremists must not be allowed to hijack the movement toward democracy and freedom in Egypt."
FBI Chief: Muslim Brotherhood Supports Terrorism
February 10, 2011
February 10, 2011
Elements of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group whose ideology has inspired terrorists such as Osama bin Laden, are in the United States and have supported terrorism here and overseas, FBI Director Robert Mueller told a House committee Thursday.
Mueller joined seven other Obama administration intelligence and law enforcement officials at a hearing of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. They spoke of the Brotherhood's U.S. ties as word spread in Egypt that President Hosni Mubarak was prepared to resign. Mubarak has repeatedly said his administration, in place since 1981, is the one thing keeping an Islamic state led by the Brotherhood from taking over Egypt.
While Mueller, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and other witnesses spelled out a variety of threats, they and some committee members highlighted the Brotherhood's ties in the United States. It was a significant departure from earlier hearings, which focused on groups more directly involved with terrorism.
"I'm concerned that the Muslim Brotherhood is using peaceful protests in Egypt for a power grab, and our government doesn't seem to grasp their threat," Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., told the committee and the witnesses. "The Muslim Brotherhood isn't a danger because they are terrorists, but because they push an extremist ideology that causes others to commit acts of terrorism."
Clapper agreed that "there are entities associated with the Muslim Brotherhood here in the United States." Mueller told Myrick that he would provide the committee with greater detail on the Brotherhood's activities in closed session.
However, Clapper also characterized the Brotherhood in Egypt as a mostly secular umbrella organization. "The term 'Muslim Brotherhood'...is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam," Clapper said in response to a question from Myrick. "They have pursued social ends, a betterment of the political order in Egypt, et cetera.....In other countries, there are also chapters or franchises of the Muslim Brotherhood, but there is no overarching agenda, particularly in pursuit of violence, at least internationally."
Clapper's "secular" reference is odd, given the Brotherhood's motto is "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope."
In a statement issued after the hearing, Myrick expressed astonishment at Clapper's assessment. ""Either the Administration doesn't know who the Muslim Brotherhood is, which shows incompetence," she said, "or they are apologizing for them, which is inappropriate for those in charge of protecting the American people. Let's be clear – the Muslim Brotherhood is NOT secular."
During the hearing, Myrick said she was also concerned about the Brotherhood's attitudes toward government. "The danger of the Muslim Brotherhood is not just encouraging terrorism through their ideology, but also trying to take over government, so everyone has to succumb and live under their ideology," Myrick said.
The scope of the Brotherhood's vision for the United States was spelled out in a 1991 document called the "Explanatory Memorandum." In that memo, which federal prosecutors introduced as evidence in two trials of the now-defunct Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, Brotherhood leaders said they planned to create an Islamic state in the United States.
In that document, the Brotherhood's stated goal was "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."
The memo also listed 29 organizations working in the United States to further the Brotherhood's goals. They include the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim Students Association (MSA), the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) and the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP). The IAP and the Holy Land Foundation shared many members and directors, including those who founded the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Clapper told the committee the U.S. government has no relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood in America. However, In response to a question from Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., Mueller said "we do not have a relationship with CAIR," although some FBI officials have attended the same events as CAIR representatives. The FBI suspended formal ties with CAIR in 2009, citing CAIR's ties with Hamas, the Middle Eastern terrorist group that controls the government in Gaza, and the ties of some CAIR leaders with Hamas front groups.
Much of the evidence tying CAIR to Hamas, another offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, was presented during the two trials of the Holy Land Foundation. Five HLF officials were convicted in 2008 of illegally sending millions of dollars to Hamas.
Much of the hearing testimony focused on the threat still posed by al-Qaida, the Islamist terrorist group responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born cleric who now leads al-Qaida unit based in Yemen, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), has become perhaps the greatest threat, Clapper said.
While AQAP has primarily focused on attacks in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, Clapper said, "it is increasingly devoted to directing and inspiring attacks on the U.S. Homeland and other targets in the West, as well as Western interests in Yemen."
Other witnesses were CIA Director Leon Panetta, Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center; Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency; Caryn A. Wagner, under secretary for intelligence and analysis, Department of Homeland Security; Thomas A. Ferguson, principal deputy under secretary of Defense for intelligence; and Philip S. Goldberg, assistant secretary of State, Bureau of Intelligence and Research.
Over at the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), one of Israel's strongest Congressional supporters, also called hearings to address the Muslim Brotherhood and ongoing aid to Egypt.
Both Ros-Lehtinen and her Democratic counterpart, former Committee Chair Howard Berman (D-CA) issued tough warnings about the MB.
In a statement issued after news of Mubarak's resignation, Ros-Lehtinen said:
Now that the immediate demands of the Egyptian people have been met, steps must be taken for the prompt commencement of a calm and orderly transition process towards freedom and democracy in Egypt. This transition must include constitutional and administrative reforms, starting with the repeal of the emergency laws. These are necessary for legitimate, democratic, internationally recognized elections to take place with peaceful, responsible actors who will not only advance the aspirations of the Egyptian people, but will continue to enforce Egypt's international obligations.
The Egyptian military can continue to play a constructive role in providing for security and stability during this transformational period. The U.S. and our allies must focus our efforts on helping to create the necessary conditions for such a transition to take place. We must also urge the unequivocal rejection of any involvement by the Muslim Brotherhood and other extremists who may seek to exploit and hijack these events to gain power, oppress the Egyptian people, and do great harm to Egypt's relationship with the United States, Israel, and other free nations.
Said Berman: "Like many I am skeptical about the Muslim Brotherhood's commitment to democracy. The Brotherhood wants Egypt to be governed by religious law rather than man-made law, a problematic position for a democrat. It has a bloody history," he said. "Even in the best-case scenario where the Brotherhood proves itself fully committed to democracy, there is every reason to believe it will try to influence the Egyptian government in ways that undermine U.S. interests and that will make Egypt a regressive, less-tolerant place."
For more reaction from the Hill to Mubarak's departure and the fear of the MB, check out Boomberg's reporting here
Posted by MT Beadle