DoJ Slams FBI for Ties with CAIR (Muslim Brotherhood)

It’s been a tough week for the Muslim Brotherhood in America. First came the plaintive wail of “Legislating Fear: Islamophobia and Its Impact in the United States,” a 162-page hit list from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) documenting groups and individuals it really wishes wouldn’t be quite so effective at pointing out how the doctrine and sacred texts of Islam form the legal basis for Islamic terrorism.

The report’s introductory letter from CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad leads off with a dismayed acknowledgement of the dramatic success of the American Laws for American Courts (ALAC) initiative, which has seen six state legislatures – Arizona, Kansas, South Dakota, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Louisiana – pass bills designed to “protect American citizens’ constitutional rights against the infiltration and incursion of foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines, especially Islamic Shariah Law.”

That CAIR even needed 162 pages to get through the impressive cadre of media outfits, non-profit organizations (among them the Clarion Project), publications, think tanks and their donors, is testament to the vibrancy of the counterjihad movement that strikes such foreboding into the U.S. Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood) establishment.

Then the next shoe dropped. On September 19, the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General released its “Review of FBI Interactions with the Council on American-Islamic Relations.” The report is sharply critical of the way the FBI implemented and managed its 2008 policy on curtailing contact with CAIR in the wake of overwhelming evidence about CAIR’s ties with HAMAS (the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch) which had been documented presented in 2007-2008 Holy Land Foundation (HLF) HAMAS terror funding trial.

CAIR was named by the Justice Department as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case. The FBI report demonstrated that, contrary to subsequent FBI policy which stipulated that non-investigative interactions between the FBI and CAIR  be significantly restricted, a number of FBI field offices (specifically the ones in New Haven, Connecticut; Chicago, Illinois; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) failed to obey this directive and continued to engage in contact with CAIR.

The DoJ report additionally critiques FBI Headquarters for failing to provide its field offices with clear and consistent guidance, as well as appropriate oversight.

The same day as the DoJ report was released, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), the influential Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (responsible for the FBI’s budget) fired off a sharply-worded letter to FBI Director James Comey, citing both conflicting guidance coming from the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs (with its emphasis on Muslim “outreach”) as well as “outright violations from several field offices.”

Wolf singled out the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) in the FBI’s Los Angeles field office for his blatantly “insubordinate behavior,” described in the report as actually instructing his subordinates “not to abide” by FBI Headquarters policy regarding contact with CAIR.

Moreover, as Wolf notes, given that the DoJ report focuses on only five incidents of continuing FBI field office contact with CAIR, there is no way to know whether, in fact, this is but the tip of an iceberg of policy violations inside the FBI. Wolf’s letter to Director Comey concludes with his expectation that people be fired.

Ikhwan scholar Shamim Siddiqi warned that there would be challenges to the process of dawa (proselytizing). Writing of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “settlement process” in his 1989 monograph, “The Methodology of Dawah,” Siddiqi noted that early gains did not mean “smooth sailing” would last: “In this initial stage there may not be any opposition to Dawah work. For some time the Islamic Movement of America may have some smooth sailing. But with the increase in Dawah efforts, in the number of activities and growth of the strength of the organization, the anti-Islamic forces will take notice of the multifarious activities of the Movement … the fight … may become a challenge for them … [a]larming signals will be raised by the so-called ‘free press.'”

The Brotherhood attempts to counter these “anti-Islamic forces” and America’s “free press” with a strategy of information dominance, as I described in a recent essay, History of the Muslim Brotherhood Penetration of the U.S. Government.

A key element used to achieve information dominance—that is, to control the official understanding of Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood—is the penetration into U.S. government intelligence and security agencies, such as the FBI.

Such tactics are straight out of the field manual on classic intelligence and counterintelligence tradecraft, but they are not only aimed at accessing sensitive information. Rather, such penetration is conducted for the purpose of exerting influence by inserting practiced, smooth-talking Ikhwan operatives into trusted advisory positions close to FBI and other national security leadership.

Indeed, that strategy has made startling progress (to the great detriment of U.S. national security), by significantly altering U.S. domestic (and foreign) policy on Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood.

As documented in Patrick Poole’s masterful June 2013 overview of U.S. “outreach” policy toward the Muslim Brotherhood, Blind to Terror: The U.S. Government’s Disastrous Muslim Outreach Efforts and the Impact on U.S. Middle East Policy, that “outreach” really goes in one direction only: From the Muslim community to the FBI, in order to communicate what the Muslim community wishes to tell the U.S. intelligence community, but never to be influenced or depended upon for genuine assistance in combating Islamic terrorism.

The only way for the FBI and the rest of the U.S. Intelligence Community to develop an accurate knowledge about CAIR, HAMAS, the Muslim Brotherhood and the jihadist ideology they all share is to expand and enforce the FBI’s policy of official distancing itself from CAIR.

Cutting off contact with CAIR, however, but continuing to conduct “outreach” on a regular basis with its fellow HLF case co-conspirators like ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) still leaves the FBI exposed to Ikhwan da’wa, especially in the absence of all the curriculum material and subject matter experts about Islam that have been purged and blacklisted from DoJ and other government training courses since 2012 under Brotherhood supervision.

And while they’re at it, reversing the absurdity set forth in the FBI’s “Touchstone” document would mark another step in the direction of a sane policy vis-à-vis the Brotherhood. The “Touchstone” document says that membership in an organization—like an Islamic terror group—that engages in violence mustn’t be taken as evidence of agreement with that violence, if the group also is engaged in some legitimate advocacy activity.

One week of rough sailing for the American Ikhwan is a good start, but there’s a long way to go to reverse the FBI and overall U.S. official culture of dependency on all the wrong sources.

Engaging in the war of ideas requires first studying the enemy’s ideas, not purging them from all consideration. Enemy jihadis whose terrorist-supporting activities, ideology and identities have been exposed in a court of law can never be suitable “outreach” partners for law enforcement agencies—especially agencies like the FBI that have been duped and penetrated for far too long by their Ikhwan comrades.

For an alternative list of potential partners that won’t lead them down a dawa detour, the FBI would do well to check out the new CAIR report.

About Clare M. Lopez

Clare M. Lopez is Vice President for Research & Analysis at the Center for Security Policy.  She previously was a Senior Fellow with the Center as well as with the London Center for Policy Research, member of Sen. Ted Cruz’ 2016 presidential campaign national security advisory team, Executive Director of the Iran Policy Committee, and a career operations officer with the CIA. Read her complete bio here. Follow Lopez on Twitter @ClareMLopez