Robert Malley, the controversial “ISIS czar” to former President Barack Obama – whose critics have labeled him an apologist for Islamic terror groups – has attended National Security Council meetings on the grounds of the Trump White House, sources with direct knowledge of the situation confirmed to Conservative Review.
Malley was at one point too controversial even for the Obama White House. He was dropped early on from the 2008 Obama campaign after information surfaced that he had been meeting with members of Hamas, the U.S.-designated terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip.
After President Obama thoroughly burned his bridges with Israel, Malley resurfaced in the administration as a key player in the former president’s campaign against the Islamic State. Malley was tagged in the media as Obama’s “ISIS czar.” He would also work in the administration as a Middle East director on the National Security Council.
So who is bringing Malley into these National Security Council meetings? Sources close to the situation say that much of the NSC professional staff still consists of holdovers from the Obama administration and that some of these holdovers served directly under Malley when he was a senior director at the NSC for the Middle East region.
Since the turn of the 21st century, Malley has solidified himself as a fringe figure in national security circles.
He has in the past argued that the U.S. should directly engage in talks with U.S.-designated terrorist groups and state sponsors of terrorism.
“Today the US does not talk to Iran, Syria, Hamas, the elected Palestinian government or Hezbollah,” Malley said in a 2006 Time magazine article. “The result has been a policy with all the appeal of a moral principle and all the effectiveness of a tired harangue.”
Malley did not merely want to negotiate with Hamas. That same year, he wrote a piece in the Baltimore Sun advocating for international funds to boost the coffers of the terror group.
One year later, Malley penned an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times urging the United States to engage in negotiations with the Assad regime in Syria. Continuing his usual anti-Israel rhetoric, Malley scoffed: “Israel spurns Assad's calls to renew unconditional peace talks, claiming that the Syrian regime has no intention of concluding a peace deal.”
Additionally, Malley has co-written several articles with Hussein Agha, a former adviser to former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. A common theme among his articles is that Israel is to blame for the lack of peace between the Israeli government and the Palestinians. Malley often portrayed Arafat has a victim, when in reality, the Palestinian despot was igniting a murderous intifada against Israeli Jews.
Right-leaning and pro-Israel organizations have long expressed their disdain for the fringe former Obama adviser.
When he was brought back to chair Obama’s ISIS team, Hudson Institute scholar Ronald Radosh referred to Malley as a “Hamas apologist.”
Judicial Watch, a conservative legal watchdog, described Malley as a “terrorist sympathizer,” adding that “he consistently exonerates Palestinians and condemns Israel.”
"Malley comes from a worldview that sees Israel as a transgressor, as an occupier and that Palestinians are the victims," a senior congressional aide told the Washington Free Beacon in 2015. "He sees freedom fighters where the rest of the world sees terrorists."
Even as he has continued to attend NSC meetings behind the scenes, Malley has targeted Trump’s policies against terrorism. In March, he wrote an op-ed in the New York Times slamming Trump for allegedly overhyping the threat posed by radical Islam. “Mr. Trump successfully exploited America’s obsession with terrorism,” Malley wrote, dismissing the bare idea that Islamic terrorism should be a chief concern to Americans.
The Trump administration has been notoriously slow in staffing senior positions in the federal government. Personnel is policy, and Malley’s presence in NSC policy planning circles gives credence to concerns that rogue Obama holdovers are continuing to pursue policies independent of the current president’s national security objectives.
Requests for comment to the White House and National Security Council were not returned.
Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.
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