On January 19, 2023, Raymond McGovern, a former senior CIA Analyst and Chair of the US Intelligence Estimate turned political activist, participated in a webinar about the “US Empire and the Future of the World Order” that was hosted by the Istanbul Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). The event was moderated by CIGA director Sami Al-Arian, a convicted terrorism supporter. According to introductory remarks to the live-streamed conversation:
Hello, As-salamu alaykum, and welcome to CIGA – the Center for Islam and Global Affairs at Istanbul’s Sabahattin Zaim University. Today, we are joined with [sic] a very esteemed guest along with our friends of the center and students and staff online for a 57th webinar.
Watch the webinar here.
The webinar also featured questions and contributions by CIGA Senior Research Associate Üveys Han.
Joining the Central Intelligence Agency in 1963, Raymond McGovern served as an analyst for 27 years. He advised US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and, during the Reagan administration, became Chair of the US Intelligence Estimate and prepared the President’s Daily Brief. After retiring from the CIA in 1990, McGovern became a commentator on intelligence-related and anti-war issues. He has become known for his harsh criticism of CIA methods, including its use of torture and the agency’s role in the lead-up to the Iraq War. McGovern was among the passengers of a 2012 Gaza flotilla seeking to break the Israeli blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza that beforehand was forced to turn around by the Greek authorities. In 2018, McGovern was one of a number of protesters who interrupted the Senate confirmation hearing of designated CIA leader Gina Haspel. McGovern was forcibly removed by Capitol Police and charged with disruption and resisting arrest. McGovern has embraced a pro-Russian position and, in recent years, has appeared as a contributor to the Russian state broadcaster RT. A 2022 report by the Ukrainian government listed him as a “speaker who promotes narratives consonant with Russian propaganda.”
CIGA head Sami Al-Arian pleaded guilty in 2006 to conspiring to make or receive contributions of funds, goods, or services to or for the benefit of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. In 2015, he was deported to Turkey as part of his plea agreement.
CIGA has partnered with several European Islamist and fundamentalist groups in sponsoring a critical report on the US War on Terror that was co-edited by Al-Arian. CIGA also co-sponsored an “International Witness Campaign” commemorating the 20th anniversary of the War on Terror, whose partner associations included a host of Islamist organizations from several European countries. In August 2021, the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reported that CIGA had organized an academic conference in Turkey named “Challenging Apartheid in Palestine” that featured prominent Islamist and Turkish figures as well as US academics with close ties to the GMB as speakers. CIGA also has a history of hosting debates with current or former members of the US government critical of counterterrorism policies in order to assist in delegitimizing US counterterrorism efforts. In October 2021, the GIOR reported that Col. (Retired) Lawrence B. Wilkerson, the former Chief of Staff of the late US Secretary Of State Colin Powell, had participated in a virtual CIGA discussion about US foreign policy and the War on Terror.