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US Muslim Brotherhood Groups Commend Biden For Appointing Former White House Counsel To Senior State Department Position; Rashad Hussain Has Problematic Past

August 6th, 2021 11:15

Promi­nent US faith advo­ca­cy groups, includ­ing lead­ing Mus­lim Broth­er­hood orga­ni­za­tions, have com­mend­ed Pres­i­dent Biden for appoint­ing Indi­an-Amer­i­can diplo­mat Rashad Hus­sain to the post of Unit­ed States Ambas­sador-at-Large for Inter­na­tion­al Reli­gious Free­dom at the State Depart­ment. Accord­ing to a post on the Unit­ed States Coun­cil of Mus­lim Orga­ni­za­tions (USCMO) website:

August 1, 2021 USCMO com­mends Pres­i­dent Biden for these his­toric appoint­ments. Rashad Hus­sain is a high­ly qual­i­fied and wide­ly respect­ed pub­lic ser­vant and Khizr Khan has also been an out­spo­ken defend­er of civ­il rights and reli­gious lib­er­ty in the Unit­ed States. We expect both Mr. Hus­sain and Mr. Khan to play an impor­tant role in defend­ing reli­gious free­dom around the world, includ­ing the many coun­tries where Mus­lims and oth­er reli­gious minori­ties are fac­ing every­thing from dis­crim­i­na­tion to genocide.

Read the rest here.

Dur­ing the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion, Hus­sain served as Deputy Asso­ciate Coun­sel to the Pres­i­dent, focus­ing on nation­al secu­ri­ty and new media. Begin­ning in 2010, Hus­sain also act­ed as the US Spe­cial Envoy of the Orga­ni­za­tion of Islam­ic Coop­er­a­tion (OIC) and lat­er as US Spe­cial Envoy and Coor­di­na­tor for Strate­gic Coun­tert­er­ror­ism Com­mu­ni­ca­tions. In his role as OIC Envoy, Hus­sain advised the admin­is­tra­tion on pol­i­cy issues relat­ed to the Mid­dle East. In 2009, Hus­sain worked with the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil in devel­op­ing new Mid­dle East poli­cies that Pres­i­dent Oba­ma out­lined in his address to the Mus­lim World in Cairo, Egypt.

In 2010, the Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood Dai­ly Watch, our pre­de­ces­sor pub­li­ca­tion, was the first to report on Rashad Hussain’s long his­to­ry of engage­ment with the Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood (GMB) in the US as well as sup­port for Broth­er­hood caus­es, once hav­ing called the pros­e­cu­tion of Sami Al-Ari­an, the US leader of the ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion Pales­tin­ian Islam­ic Jihad (PIJ) one of many “polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed per­se­cu­tions.” In 2006, Al-Ari­an was sen­tenced to 57 months in prison for con­spir­ing to con­tribute funds, goods, or ser­vices to or for the ben­e­fit of the PIJ. Defense of Al-Ari­an and accu­sa­tions of polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed pros­e­cu­tion has been a long-time US Mus­lim Broth­er­hood cause.

Mr. Hus­sain at first denied remem­ber­ing that he had made these remarks, but lat­er, after an audio­tape sur­faced doc­u­ment­ing the com­ments, he acknowl­edged them, say­ing that they had been “ill-con­ceived.” In a 2010 inter­view with Sau­di media, Hus­sain expressed a num­ber of oth­er opin­ions and view­points con­sis­tent with those of the GMB, includ­ing rais­ing the issue of the Al-Aqsa mosque and stat­ing that is “up to the US to under­stand that Mus­lims reject issues like ter­ror­ism and extrem­ism, and this is some­thing that must be addressed polit­i­cal­ly and socially.”

Dur­ing and after that time, Hus­sain also reg­u­lar­ly appeared at speak­ing events and con­fer­ences of key US Mus­lim Broth­er­hood groups, includ­ing the following:

  • Asso­ci­a­tion of Mus­lim Social Sci­en­tists, part of the GMB net­work in the US.
  • Amer­i­can Mus­lim Coun­cil, a now-defunct US MB orga­ni­za­tion whose co-founder Abdu­rah­man Alam­ou­di in 2004 was con­vict­ed for his role in a Libyan plot to assas­si­nate King Abdul­lah of Sau­di Ara­bia and was also among the founders of sev­er­al ear­ly orga­ni­za­tions of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood in the US.

While Hus­sain, who holds a master’s degree in Ara­bic and Islam­ic stud­ies from Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty and a degree from Yale Law School, in recent years appears to have toned down his pub­lic engage­ment with Broth­er­hood groups, he has con­tin­ued to speak at their events until the end of his term in senior gov­ern­men­tal posi­tions dur­ing the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion, notably appear­ing at a 2016 annu­al con­ven­tion of the Islam­ic Soci­ety Of North Amer­i­ca (ISNA) in Rose­mont, Illinois.

It should be not­ed that not only USCMO and the Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Islam­ic Rela­tions (CAIR), but also promi­nent US Jew­ish advo­ca­cy groups have applaud­ed Hussain’s appoint­ment to the posi­tion as US Ambas­sador-at-Large for Inter­na­tion­al Reli­gious Free­dom, call­ing him an “impres­sive advo­cate of free­dom of reli­gion or belief in chal­leng­ing diplo­mat­ic con­texts” and laud­ing his “glob­al fight against antisemitism.”

In Sep­tem­ber 2020, the GMBDW report­ed that Biden, as part of his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, addressed an annu­al con­ven­tion of ISNA, promis­ing that his admin­is­tra­tion would have “Mus­lim Amer­i­cans serv­ing at every lev­el.” Hussain’s appoint­ment can be seen as a first major step towards ful­fill­ing that promise, yet at the same time demon­strat­ing a con­tin­u­a­tion of the seem­ing inabil­i­ty or unwill­ing­ness to vet appointees for ties to the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood that we have seen in pri­or admin­is­tra­tions.

Pri­or Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ing about the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and US pol­i­tics has also included:

  • In Novem­ber 2020, the GIOR report­ed that CAIR had issued a state­ment con­grat­u­lat­ing Pres­i­dent-elect Biden on his vic­to­ry, vow­ing to hold the forth­com­ing admin­is­tra­tion account­able on Mus­lim inclu­sion and civ­il rights issues.
  • A May 2021 report that a main US MB umbrel­la had pub­lished an open let­ter call­ing on Pres­i­dent Joe Biden to appoint a State Depart­ment spe­cial envoy to mon­i­tor and com­bat Islamophobia.
  • A May 2021 report that CAIR had joined oth­er GMB groups in boy­cotting a planned vir­tu­al White House Eid cel­e­bra­tion to be host­ed by Pres­i­dent Biden in con­nec­tion with his stance on the vio­lence in Israel and Gaza.
  • A July 2021 report 2021 that a Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­gress­woman joined a con­gres­sion­al advo­ca­cy event host­ed by a US Mus­lim Broth­er­hood group.