If you’re wondering how the Obama administration has benefited from interest in the terrorist attack in Benghazi, abuses of power by IRS officials, or a defense contractor turned “transparency activist,” here’s one way: This dizzying array of scandals has provided a smoke screen for the administration’s dialog with a deeply anti-American, anti-Semitic global enterprise whose thought leaders have not only called for attacks on U.S. soldiers in places like Iraq, but more recently called for a jihad on America while urging their followers to overthrow the Mubarak regime in Egypt. Yet history tells us the administration’s pursuits in this vein are virtually destined for failure — while at the same time sure to strengthen the Muslim Brotherhood as it goes about its business of promoting values that are antithetical to America’s in a region which remains vital to our interests.
According to Global Muslim Brotherhood investigator Steve Merley, an associate of my firm Kronos who catalogs portions of his research on The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch, at some point during the past month senior administration officials and representatives of other government agencies quietly held a meeting in the White House with Abdallah bin Bayyah. Given his close ties with Brotherhood thought leaders like Yusuf al-Qaradawi (who is banned from entering the U.S.), not to mention bin Bayyah’s own influential role in the Brotherhood, it’s obvious this meeting was held to discuss U.S. support for the Brotherhood at a time when its popularity in Egypt is plummeting.
The irony of the U.S. supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, whose adherents have helped create some of the world’s most lethal terrorist organizations, is not lost on Egyptians. As The Wall Street Journal reported on June 28, during the past month criticism of the U.S. in Egypt has grown loudest not among the elements one might expect, but rather among secularist Egyptians. Meanwhile, the Obama administration’s volatile and ever-expanding policy experiments with the Brotherhood continue to receive little attention in the U.S. Still, history is begging for our concern.
Since 1950, the U.S. has made numerous attempts to partner with the Muslim Brotherhood. Although the reasons for such efforts have varied, in each case the results fell far short of policy makers’ intended outcomes. As Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ian Johnson has noted in his examinations of these policy blunders, “if we look to history, we can see a familiar pattern: each time, U.S. leaders have decided that the Brotherhood could be useful and tried to bend it to America’s goals, and each time, maybe not surprisingly, the only party that clearly has benefited has been the Brotherhood.”
Despite these experiences, for many decades the Brotherhood — like most Islamist organizations — remained an opaque entity for America’s national security managers. Only after a spate of terrorist attacks during the late 20th and early 21st centuries ignited federal concerns about Islamist groups’ activities in the U.S. did officials begin to seriously probe the Brotherhood’s North American spheres.
Aside from discovering prominent members and front groups were raising funds in the U.S. for Hamas, itself an offshoot of the Brotherhood, investigations unearthed volumes of data that shed light on the Brotherhood’s larger goals. As a 1991 document titled “An Exploratory Memorandum: On the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America” put it, members of the Brotherhood operating in the U.S. “must understand that their 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.”