Senior Obama administration officials met with radical Muslim preacher at White House

Jamie Weinstein Senior Writer
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An Islamic scholar who serves as vice president of an organization that supports the terrorist group Hamas and whose president sanctioned the killing of American soldiers in Iraq met with senior Obama administration officials at the White House earlier this month.

In a posting on his website, brought to The Daily Caller’s attention by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah revealed that he met at the White House on June 13 with Gayle Smith, senior director of the National Security Council, and Rashad Hussain, President Obama’s special envoy Organization of the Islamic Conference, among other officials.

The posting also initially stated that the “national security adviser” was at the meeting, without naming him directly, though that part of the post was removed shortly after TheDC contacted the White House to see if  National Security Adviser Tom Donilon was in fact at the meeting. According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism, the Arabic version of the post was also changed to say that the deputy national security adviser attended, not the national security adviser.

Among the topics the post says Bin Bayyah addressed at the meeting was how to “lift the injustices from vulnerable peoples such as the Syrian people, the Palestinians, and the Muslims in Myanmar” and for the U.S. to do more to aid the Syrian revolution.

According to Bin Bayyah’s website’s account of the meeting, it was the White House who asked for an audience with him.

A senior Obama administration official confirmed to TheDC that the meeting took place, but declined to confirm whether all the officials listed by Bin Bayyah’s website, including the American “national security adviser,” were in attendance. The official claimed that the meeting was set up to learn about Bin Bayyah’s efforts to “counter the al Qaeda narrative.”

“Senior Director for Development and Democracy Gayle Smith and members of the National Security Staff met with Shaykh Bin Bayyah to discuss a wide range of issues including poverty,  global health efforts and Bin Bayyah’s efforts to counter the al Qaeda narrative,” the official told TheDC. “Ms. Smith stated that she looked forward to working with him and with other faith leaders on issues of mutual interest.”

Bin Bayyah, who was ranked in one survey as the 30th most influential Muslim in the world in 2009, is a Islamic scholar from Mauritania currently teaching at King Abdul Aziz University in Saudi Arabia.

He is also a vice president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), an organization founded and led by  Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a radical Muslim preacher banned from entering the U.S. since 1999 who has praised the Holocaust, publicly prayed that Allah would allow Muslims to commit the next Holocaust of  the Jews and legitimized the killing of American soldiers in Iraq.

In a statement posted on IUMS’ website on the occasion of welcoming Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh into the organization in February 2012, the organization declared that “the Union will spare no effort in the service of the Palestinian cause, praising the jihad of the Palestinian people and led by Hamas to resistance,” according to a translation by the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

For his part, Haniyeh declared during his induction, “Resistance is the way and the strategic option for the Liberation of Palestine and the restoration of the land.  The people have tried negotiations and did not achieve anything, which cemented our conviction that Jihad is the most effective way of liberation,” according to a translation by the Investigative Project.

While Bin Bayyah says he opposes terrorism, he has at the same time sought to distinguish between Palestinian terrorism and terrorism perpetrated by groups like al Qaeda.

“[P]lacing  the Palestinian resistance, which defends internationally recognized rights, on an equal footing with intercontinental terrorist organizations not based on any moral principle, would be detrimental to the cause of the fight against terrorism and mix the cards,” Bin Bayyah declared on his website, according to a translation by the Investigative Project.

Bin Bayyah has also said that Muslims should only enter into dialogue with the “small group of Jews in the world who have a humanistic approach” and who oppose the existence of the State of Israel, or as he put it, the “Zionist project in the region.”

“The Muslims have to distinguish between dialogue with the Jews transgressing on our land and holy places, and the Jews opposing this occupation,” he has said. “That is, there is a small group of Jews in the world who have a humanistic approach. This group stands strongly against the Israeli occupation and the Zionist project in the region. Hence, there is no harm in opening a channel of constructive dialogue with them to the interest of the Muslims.”


Steve Emerson, executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, told TheDC that he was “shocked … at the discovery of this meeting.”

“It is simply outrageous and politically scandalous that Obama Administration officials would invite to the US and secretly meet with a known leader of a group which has issued proclamations and fatwas calling for the killing of Jews and Americans,” he said. “To legitimize such a radical Islamic leader and his militant Islamist group is the equivalent of recognizing Al Qaeda.”

Muslim reformer Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, lashed out to TheDC about the meeting.

“It is incredulous that while our American Islamic Leadership coalition, a diverse group of anti-Islamist Muslim organizations in North America on the front lines of defending liberty against global Islamism, cannot get a meeting with the White House, radical Islamist ideologues at the center of the global Islamist movement are welcomed into the White House and communicate readily with the President’s advisors,” Jasser said in an email.

“For a White house which peddles a counterterrorism strategy that cannot even identify the word Islamism or jihad in describing the threat to then meet with one of the world’s leading scholars who peddles jihadism and an extreme form of Shariah law for Islamist supremacism, this demonstrates a hypocrisy and tone-deafness at best and at worst a facilitation of America’s enemies in the war of ideas against Islamism,” he said.

John Esposito, director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, argued to TheDC that the White House was right to have met with Bin Bayyah.

“Bin Bayyah is … a prominent, informed, and influential scholar and that is why the White House meeting with him occurred as it should have,” Esposito said in an email. “Where relevant, the same occurs … with prominent Catholic, Protestant and Jewish religious leaders (as well as others). He is not Qaradawi, who was not a participant or the subject of this meeting.”

While Bin Bayyah is not Qaradawi — who is president of IUMS while Bin Bayyah serves as a vice president — he has praised  the Holocaust-longing preacher in the past.

“[H]e is a mountain upon whose peak there is light,” Bin Bayyah has written of Qaradawi.

“In summary, indeed the Shaykh, the erudite scholar, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, is one of the Imams of the Muslims in this age, and a Shaykh al-Islam in this time,” he added.  “You may agree with him and be convinced of his argument and his proof, or you may differ with him and respect his opinion, because it is the opinion of a God-fearing scholar, that does not arise from ignorance, nor from caprice — and these two are conditions that are indispensible if a fatwa is to have its sanctity, and a word its value. These two conditions have been combined, in my reckoning, by this Imam.”

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