Back in January, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson broke ranks with his predecessors in a fundamental and dramatic way during his confirmation hearings.
“The demise of ISIS would also allow us to increase our attention on other agents of radical Islam like al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and certain elements within Iran,” said Tillerson, who would be tasked with leading the historically progressive Foggy Bottom agency that had actively partnered with both the Muslim Brotherhood and mullah-controlled parties within Iran during the Obama years.
Calling the Muslim Brotherhood an “agent of radical Islam” and lumping it in with ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Shia jihadists in Iran during prepared remarks signaled the Trump administration’s commitment to defeating radical Islam. For in spite of its portrayal by the Obama administration and its media allies as a “moderate” organization, the Muslim Brotherhood is the tip of the Islamic supremacist spear.
Its credo, which it has never disavowed, reads: “Allah is our objective; the Koran is our law; the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”
It engages in activities both “peaceful” and violent, covert and overt, geared toward the goal of spreading Sharia over all the world.
As summarized in a recent piece for the Gatestone Institute, legislation re-upped by Senator Ted Cruz provides a wealth of evidence for designating the group as a foreign terrorist organization, including:
- The many countries that have declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization or barred it from operating
- The explicit calls for violent jihad, with the end goal of imposing Islamic law over all the world of the group’s founder and spiritual leader Hassan al-Banna, and the consistently violent Islamic supremacist content of the Brotherhood’s core membership texts
- The terrorist efforts of numerous jihadist groups explicitly tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, and the efforts of individual Muslim Brotherhood members designated as terrorists by the U.S. government themselves
- The litany of terrorist financing cases involving the Muslim Brotherhood, including the aforementioned Holy Land Foundation case, whereby Department of Justice officials successfully argued in court that the international Muslim Brotherhood and its United States affiliates had engaged in a widespread conspiracy to raise money and materially support the terrorist group Hamas …
Developments large and small are testing the administration’s commitment to countering Islamic supremacist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood — essential tests to pass if the president is to carry out his stated agenda to defeat radical Islam.
Mere months after Secretary Tillerson put the Muslim Brotherhood on notice, followed by news that the administration was indeed evaluating designating the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, recent reports indicate that the administration has now shelved this plan.
What changed within the first hundred days of the Trump presidency?
The Muslim Brotherhood and much of the foreign policy establishment carried out a concerted campaign to protect the organization from terrorist organization designation, producing a loud echo chamber that would make Ben Rhodes blush. As documented by the Middle East Media Research Institute, as early as November 2016, the Muslim Brotherhood undertook efforts to develop a lobby and execute an information operation geared toward dissuading the U.S. government from pursuing actions against it.
The Clarion Project revealed that a senior Muslim Brotherhood official let it be known through the Arab language press that the group was putting $5 million behind such a public relations effort. According to the Washington Times, officials from Arab governments like Jordan allegedly advised U.S. government officials against such a designation.
Meanwhile, fixtures of the foreign policy establishment took to publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post, and Foreign Policy, publishing and/or providing comments for a slew of pieces defending the Muslim Brotherhood, while arguing that terrorist designation was either wholly unmerited, impractical, or impracticable. The New York Times notably gave the Clinton Foundation-linked, Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad el-Haddad space on its editorial page to propagandize.
In early February, as these efforts were ramping up, Politico obtained a CIA memo signaling its aversion to Muslim Brotherhood terrorist designation, on grounds that it could “fuel extremism.” National security analyst Patrick Poole suggests that this was no coincidence. According to Poole, “the CIA and the U.S. intelligence community were directly involved in funding the experts who pushed the bogus ‘moderate Muslim Brotherhood’ narrative beginning in the latter end of the Bush administration.” More importantly, Poole suggests that this report is dubious in that it contradicts the recent intelligence assessments of several European nations and the CIA’s own prior analyses on the Muslim Brotherhood, which indicate the group’s continued devotion to its Islamist creed.
The State Department also apparently produced a memo advising against foreign terrorist organization designation, which may have been the decisive effort that caused the administration to drop the executive order.
Of course, as readers know, Obama administration officials continue to populate key positions in the State Department. They are likely supportive of his pro-Muslim Brotherhood posture. This leads to several questions. Among them: Who produced the Muslim Brotherhood memo at State? If it was not President Trump’s appointees, was the memo subjected to significant scrutiny?
Concurrent with the Muslim Brotherhood campaign, counter-jihadists in the Trump administration — and those most likely to support measures to neutralize the Brotherhood — such as Sebastian Gorka and Michael Anton were subjected to constant attacks. The targeting of these individuals came on the heels of the departures of counter-jihadists including Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and would-be Deputy National Security Advisor Monica Crowley, who themselves were in part victims of smear campaigns.
Last but not least, the president’s terror entry/immigration executive order, a lynchpin of his counter-jihadist policy, has fallen under siege, remaining mired in litigation.
In the face of this onslaught, did the president’s brain-trust deem an executive order aimed at designating the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization politically untenable? Or was it that their philosophical view on the issue shifted? These are critical questions demanding answers.
For what it’s worth, if the actions of its offshoots are any indication, it would appear that the Muslim Brotherhood believes it has won.
The Muslim Brotherhood-linked CAIR, an unindicted co-conspirator in the aforementioned Holy Land Foundation case, continues audaciously attempting to discredit and ultimately claim the scalps of national security officials who understand the jihadists’ threat doctrine.
Readers will recall that at the urging of groups including CAIR, under its “countering violent extremism” paradigm, the Obama administration engaged in a purge of the very training materials that would have provided national security officials with an understanding of the jihadist threat based upon the theopolitical Islamic supremacist ideology at its core. It also waged war on the officials best equipped to train national security officials in countering the jihadist threat.
Judicial Watch reports that one such expert, Patrick T. Dunleavy, is now being targeted by CAIR for removal from his role as counterterrorism instructor at the U.S. Air Force Special Operations School (USAFSOS) in Florida. According to CAIR, Mr. Dunleavy is an “anti-Muslim propaganda mouthpiece…[who] has made a number of false statements betraying a personal prejudice against Islam and Muslims.”
These attacks are self-evidently baseless and outrageous. Dunleavy’s real crime, apparently, is his willingness to confront the jihadist threat and dedicate his career to waking others up to it, as he has done through his book, The Fertile Soil of Jihad: Terrorism’s Prison Connection, congressional testimony, and roles briefing America’s national security officials at institutions like USAFSOS.
That CAIR would strive to bring down Dunleavy, a former New York State deputy inspector general for New York’s Department of Corrections who has investigated jihadist infiltration of our prison system, is telling. It means it believes the status quo is going to be maintained and it can continue to act with impunity. The status quo means continuing to seek to silence and thus chill anyone who speaks openly and honestly about the jihadist threat.
CAIR’s actions can be seen as a proxy for the Muslim Brotherhood’s view as to America’s willingness to counter it. The Trump administration can send a clear signal that it remains dedicated to defeating radical Islam by standing with Mr. Dunleavy.
Ben Weingarten is the founder and CEO of ChangeUp Media LLC, a media consulting and publication services firm, and a contributor to Conservative Review. A graduate of Columbia University, he regularly contributes to publications such as City Journal, The Federalist, Newsmax, and PJ Media on national security and defense, economics, and politics. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.