The struggle against the Islamic Center and mosque near the ruins of the World Trade Center seems over. The owners of the building, whoever they are, have the legal right to build whatever they want, and will exercise that right. The opposition, however, did not lose the fight. It exposed those behind the project and their motives; as a result, many people woke up to the danger of Islamism. Efforts to insist on openness and transparency must continue – but in a different, and more important direction.
The proposed Islamic Center is only a building. A far greater threat to American security and values is the Muslim Brotherhood, a worldwide Islamist organization that is behind this project, and many others, that seeks to expand the influence of radical political Islam.
Founded in Egypt, in 1928, the Brotherhood is the source of modern radical Islamic movements. With branches in 70 countries and linked to major Islamic organizations, it has an extensive and well-financed network of educational, social and cultural institutions that promote a strategic plan for Islamic dominance – not through violence, but integration, becoming part of the national social and political life, and promoting Sharia law. These connections give it access to political power, and explain why it and the organizations it supports are courted by governments and NGOs.
Adapting to local conditions, the Brotherhood provides educational, social and religious services to Muslim communities, and, because of a lack of local leadership, assumes an advocacy role to non-Muslim political leaders and institutions. Except for its support of terrorism de-legitimization against Israel, and opposition to wars in Muslim countries, it is non-violent, although it distributes radical Islamist literature and is affiliated with radical clerics.
As Lorenzo Vidino observes in his book, The New Muslim Brotherhood in the West, the Brotherhood is "a global ideological movement" that uses a "sophisticated international network" to spread Islam and achieve world domination. Jihad, a uniquely Islamist combination of religious and political/military agendas, seeks to eradicate the "moral bankruptcy of Western culture," and establish Islamic rule via a Caliphate, under Sharia – strict Islamic law.
Through a network of educational, social, professional and cultural organizations – which, in the West, do not reveal their Muslim Brotherhood connection – they exert political influence and promote a mix of religious and political ideologies associated with the extremist Wahhabi form of Islam. Supported by Saudi Arabia, Gulf States, and wealthy Muslims, they espouse a global strategy for Islamic hegemony.
Ian Johnson’s A mosque in Munich; Nazis, CIA and the rise of the MB in the West, explains: the Brotherhood "does more than target Jews. It creates a mental preconditioning for terrorism." Not only do they oppose a "peace process" with Israel, they oppose Israel's existence altogether. Critical of Western and particularly American values, culture and interests, yet part of the system, they have established a vast network of organizations to advance their agenda.
The North American Connection
The Muslim Student Association (MSA,) the largest Muslim campus organization, with more than 250 chapters, was initiated by the Muslim Brotherhood. Although its current involvement is unclear, the agendas are similar. Engaged in protests against Israel and disrupting pro-Israel speakers and forums, assisted by left-wing student organizations, and, of course, tolerated by administrators, this explains the upsurge of hostility towards Israel, opposition to America's involvement in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and "American imperialism."
Steven Merley's comprehensive study of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States, published by the Hudson Institute, concludes: "(The Muslim Brotherhood’s) extensive history of support for Islamic fundamentalism, anti-Semitism, and support for terrorism … includes ideological, financial, and legal support, particularly for Hamas and other Palestinian terror organizations."
Brotherhood organizations, like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which grew out of the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP), a front group fundraising for Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorist organizations, are not outgrowths of popular, or communal expressions, like other religious organizations, but are self-appointed representatives, combining a volatile mix of religion and politics.
With over 30 branches in North America, CAIR presents itself as the "largest Muslim civil rights organization," seeking to "enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding." A few years ago, CAIR was included in a list of unindicted co-conspirators alleged by prosecutors to have participated in a conspiracy to illegally funnel money to Hamas through the Holy Land Foundation.
Daniel Pipes and Sharon Chadha write: "Perhaps the most obvious problem with CAIR is the fact that at least five of its employees and board members have been arrested, convicted, deported, or otherwise linked to terrorism-related charges and activities … CAIR has a key role in the "Wahhabi lobby"—the network of organizations, usually supported by donations from Saudi Arabia, whose aim is to propagate the especially extreme version of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia … CAIR has consistently shown itself to be on the wrong side of the war on terrorism, protecting, defending, and supporting both accused and even convicted radical Islamic terrorists."
Rebuilding trust a 2-way street
In the early 1990s, following the Oslo Accords, the Brotherhood formed several organizations that opposed any peace agreement. The Muslim American Society (MAS) describes itself as a civic group, involved in "religious, charitable, social, cultural, and educational" affairs, working to improve "family, and society," and “move people to strive for God consciousness, liberty and justice and to convey Islam with utmost clarity. Our vision is a “virtuous and just American society.”
MAS actively recruits voters, which gives it political clout. Lacking any other leadership available, MAS presents itself as the representative of the Muslim community, although many Muslims disagree and are most are not affiliated.
The group publishes a magazine, The American Muslim, which supports suicide bombings as "martyr operations" sanctioned by the Koran, and portrays Asian Muslim terrorists as "freedom fighters."
With all of this information, one would think that US government officials would be concerned about the activities of Brotherhood-supported organizations. Instead, they are feted by the White House, and supported by the State Department, CIA, and even the FBI, according to www.globalmbreport.com – which systematically tracks the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the first modern pan-Arab, transnational Islamic movement in the world, is well-organized and financed, politically savvy and connected. Offering an extremist form of Islam, Wahhabism, linked to a political agenda, Jihad, and world domination, the organization is inconsistent with American values.
The struggle, therefore, must shift from the Islamic center to the Muslim Brotherhood, its message, its mission, and its role in American society. Just as bigotry and prejudice have no place in America, so do misrepresentation and lack of transparency. Such accountability is essential in an open, democratic society, and we are all responsible for protecting that heritage.
By hiding, or deliberately camouflaging their sources of funding, alliances and intentions, some Muslim leaders have contaminated any basis of trust. Rebuilding that trust is a two-way street, a dialogue of respect based on truthfulness. To be accepted, Muslims must nurture an Islam that is consistent with American values, laws and shared ethos.
The author is a writer and journalist living in Israel
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