US media reported last September that associates of the late Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi had launched a think tank and watchdog monitoring human rights violations by US allies in the Middle East and North Africa. According to the New York Times report:
September 28, 2020 On Tuesday, two years after his death, Mr. Khashoggi’s friends and colleagues will launch (…) Democracy for the Arab World Now, or DAWN. DAWN is a Washington-based human rights watchdog that plans to focus on violations by the United States’ closest Arab allies and publish articles by political exiles from across the Middle East to carry on Mr. Khashoggi’s legacy.
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The NYT article also reports that Khashoggi himself came up with the idea to form DAWN in the months leading up to his 2018 killing in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by Saudi operatives. In 2018, our predecessor publication was the first Western publication to report that Khashoggi was working together with US Muslim Brotherhood leader Nihad Awad on DAWN, described at that time as an “Islamic Democracy” project. DAWN is led by former Human Rights Watch Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson who is known for making seriously misleading statements about the Muslim Brotherhood such as the following:
…the Egyptian government plays politics with the facts, attempting to connect the Muslim Brotherhood to the violence of the Islamic State and other extremist groups, with no evidence whatsoever.
Aside from the massive evidence concerning the extremist nature of the Brotherhood itself, which will not be reviewed here, in 2017, our companion research site published a report which detailed the role played by Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders in the Global Anti-Aggression Campaign (GAAC), a Salafi-led international umbrella organization that brings under its wings Salafi, Salafi-Jihadi, Global Muslim Brotherhood, and Hamas leaders.
DAWN board members also include multiple individuals tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood (GMB), a transnational Islamist network covered by the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR):
- Nihad Awad, co-founder and leader of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an important part of the US Muslim Brotherhood with extensive ties to the GMB.
- Esam Omeish, a long-time friend of Khashoggi and chairman of CAIR’s Waqf Washington Trust. Omeish is also a former president of the Muslim American Society, a part of the US Muslim Brotherhood close to the Egyptian organization.
- Asim Ghafoor, a former Congressional staffer who in 2001 was a spokesman for the Global Relief Foundation, designated by the US Treasury in 2002 as a terrorist entity in connection with support for Al Qaeda. Ghafoor was associated with the American Muslim Council, whose former head Abdul Rahman Alamoudi was an important leader in the US Muslim Brotherhood and who was convicted in a plot to murder Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah on behalf of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi.
- Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkol Karman, formerly a member of the Yemeni Al-Islah Party, the local branch of the GMB.
DAWN’s Research Director is Abdullah Alaoudh, son of extremist scholar and former Osama bin Laden mentor Salman Alodah (aka Salman Al-Oudah), who has since moderated his views but has remained a regular feature at GMB events. One of DAWN’s inaugural publications has notably described Salman Alodah as a “popular scholar educating for reform” without mentioning his extremist and anti-Semitic views.
Although Jamal Khashoggi had a record of praising democracy and human rights as the only viable solution for stability in the Middle East, US media has pointed out that part of his approach was to also include political Islamists in what he saw as democracy building as well as his friendship with Azzam Tamimi, a UK spokesman for Hamas and close to the UK Muslim Brotherhood. Khashoggi also denounced crackdowns on Sunni Islamists by the region’s governments, and the Washington Post, has acknowledged that Khashoggi’s columns and stories were at times “shaped” by a top official of the Qatar Foundation, close to the Qatari royal family.
Reporting on Khashoggi by our predecessor publication included:
- An October 2018 analysis of Khashoggi’s GMB ties.
- An October 2018 report about Khashoggi’s anonymous work for Middle East Eye, an Islamist media house tied to the GMB.
- A November 2018 report that GMB spiritual guide Youssef Qaradawi had referred to and praised Khashoggi in a speech.
- A January 2019 report about how in 1993, Khashoggi acknowledged and explained the US Muslim Brotherhood.