US Department of State Recruited at Muslim Brotherhood Convention

The United States Muslim Brotherhood political party, the United States Council of the Muslim Organizations (USCMO), was established in March 2014, but its top leadership, including USCMO Secretary General Oussama Jammal, had launched into political activism long before then. As this report will demonstrate, that political activism by Muslim Brotherhood-linked operatives has the open support of the U.S. Department of State.

One earlier event that now stands out more in retrospect than it might have at the time was the 11th annual Muslim American Society-Islamic Circle of North America Muslim Brotherhood convention that was held in Chicago in December 2012. The convention’s theme, “Toward a Renaissance: Believe, Act, & Engage,” foreshadowed the political activism to come. Today the USCMO Secretary General, Jammal at the time of the 2012 MAS-ICNA convention already was a national-level leader of the Brotherhood-linked MAS as well as the Bridgeview, Illinois-based Mosque Foundation and played an active role as speaker and discussion moderator at the event.

In addition to his current leadership role overseeing the operations of the USCMO, Oussama Jammal is the vice president of the Mosque Foundation, where he was once the president. Two among the Mosque Foundation’s current leaders, Sheikh Jamal Said and Sheik Kifah Mustapha, were named as unindicted, coconspirators in the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) Hamas financing trial in Texas, which concluded in late 2008 with a unanimous guilty verdict on 108 counts. Additionally, Jammal serves on the MAS National Executive Council; he is also the Executive Director for Illinois MAS Public Affairs and Civic Engagement (PACE). The MAS presents itself as “a non-profit 501(C)(3) organization,” and “a dynamic charitable, religious, social, cultural, and educational, organization” with a mission “to move people to strive for God consciousness, liberty, and justice, and to convey Islam with utmost clarity.”

In fact, however, the MAS was established in 1993 by the Muslim Brotherhood “whose goal is the “introduction of the Islamic Shari`ah as the basis controlling the affairs of state and society.” The MAS also happens to be a founding member of the USCMO. Positive references to so-called ‘martyrdom operations’ have featured in the MAS magazine The American Muslim, which contains fatwas issued by various Islamic scholars including Yusuf al-Qaradawi (senior jurist of the Muslim Brotherhood) and Muhammad al-Hanooti. A 2001 FBI memorandum stated that al-Hanooti, who attended the 1993 Philadelphia meeting of U.S.-based HAMAS members and supporters that led to the establishment of CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations), raised over $6 million for HAMAS.

So, this was the political milieu for the December 2012 MAS-ICNA conference. The speakers list below reads like a Who’s Who of notables from the U.S. Muslim activist scene with long-established links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

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Photo copy of the speaker’s list from the 11th Annual MAS-ICNA Convention, held in Chicago, IL in December 2012

One whose presence among such a gathering fairly begs for explanation is Mark S. Ward, the Deputy Special Coordinator in the Office of Middle East Transition, Office of the Deputy Secretary. Not only was Ward a featured speaker at this Muslim Brotherhood event, as can be seen from the official speakers list above, but he used the podium that day to solicit recruits from among the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated audience for employment with the State Department Foreign Service and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Following are photocopies of sections from page 10 of the MAS-ICNA convention program booklet that show Mark Ward’s presentation slot (which he shared with Ayman Hammous and Oussama Jammal) and a short description of his topic about encouraging Muslim youth to pursue careers with the State Department.

Engage: Muslims Youth Career Opportunities in the US Foreign Service

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At this session, Ward and Ayman Hammous (current MAS Board of Trustee member) were introduced by Oussama Jammal. Ayman Hammous spoke first, emphasizing that Islam is a message to humanity and stressing the importance of building bridges between the East and West. He spoke about how it is the mission of American Muslims to fulfill the message of Qur’an, so that a Muslim one day could become Secretary of State or even U.S. President. When Ward began his presentation, he told the audience that even though they may be at odds with U.S. foreign policy in the Islamic world, the way to change that is by joining the government to help change things from the inside.

He told the audience the best way to address problems Muslims may have with US foreign policy was to have Muslims work from the inside to change it, telling them that he wanted them in the Foreign Service for the languages, culture, and skill sets they possessed and assuring his Muslim Brotherhood audience that they would not be treated any differently in terms of the required security clearances than any other applicants. He added that as it is now, the U.S. government looked too much like him and not enough like them. He next spoke about his career and deep friendship with slain U.S. Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, with whom he worked directly for several months. Ward concluded with an overview of the work of the Department of State and USAID and explained the role of Foreign Service officers. Throughout the course of the presentation by Ward, Oussama Jammal fielded questions from the audience in addition to posing a number of his own questions.

Judicial Watch (JW), the non-profit watchdog group, has been seeking State Department records related to that speech by Mark Ward since first filing an initial Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in January 2013. On 4 April 2013, JW filed a follow-up lawsuit, Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:13-cv-00593), to obtain the documents. A month later, JW noted that although required by law to respond by 7 March 2013, as of 2 May 2013 “the department has failed to produce any records responsive to the request, indicate when any responsive records will be produced, or demonstrated that responsive records are exempt from production.” Given that Ward was surrounded at this event by other speakers known for links to the jihadist Muslim Brotherhood, itself the parent organization of both al-Qa’eda and HAMAS, the State Department’s reluctance to admit to a targeted recruitment operation among such a potential employee pool is understandable. Its refusal to comply with legal requirements to do so will be adjudicated by a judge.

The next program section below shows Ward’s second presentation topic, “U.S.-Muslim Relations in the Wake of the Arab Spring,” for which he shared the time slot with Hatem Bazian, a former student leader of the Brotherhood’s Muslim Students Association (MSA) at his U.C. Berkeley campus and an outspoken antisemitic, anti-Israel supporter of Palestinian statehood.

US Muslim Relations in the Wake of the Arab Spring

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The MAS-ICNA convention held at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers from 21-25 December 2012 wasn’t the first such event to which the State Department sent Mark Ward, however. In fact, two weeks following the deadly attacks on the American mission in Benghazi, Libya, the MAS PACE held its First American Muslim Leadership Conference from 24-26 September 2012 at a Marriott hotel in Teaneck, New Jersey—and Mark S. Ward was a guest speaker. His biography was included on the MAS website alongside nationally and internationally recognized members of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership. The theme, “Charting the Way Ahead,” addressed U.S. and Muslim World Relations.

The MAS Chicago Chapter posted the photo below of Mark S. Ward at the MAS PACE leadership conference in New Jersey. Pictured from left to right are Hussein Ata (President, Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview), Karen Danielson (MAS PACE), Mark S. Ward, and Oussama Jammal (Chairman MAS PACE). As the December 2012 MAS-ICNA convention would do in Chicago just three months later, this event likewise featured key Muslim Brotherhood operatives preparing their top leadership figures for the political activism that the USCMO shortly would take up as the first Brotherhood political party in U.S. history. And the State Department’s Office of Middle East Transition, then in the midst of championing the rise to power of Egypt’s first Muslim Brotherhood president (Mohamed Morsi), didn’t want to miss a chance to encourage a similar agenda for the U.S. political scene.

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The Zakat Foundation of America (ZFA) was the sponsor for this first MAS PACE leadership conference. ZFA, founded in 2001, is headquartered in Worth, Illinois. Its billboard below is prominently displayed in a highly-trafficked area in the western suburbs of Chicago, as shown in the following photo:

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It seems relevant to note that during his “A New Beginning” speech in Cairo in June 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama stated, “In the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That is why I am committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.” Unfortunately, the President conveniently glossed right over the key fact that ‘zakat’ is not merely ‘charity,’ but rather an obligatory annual tax on all Muslim individuals and firms, a fixed percentage of whose proceeds Islamic Law requires be donated to jihad.

Andrew McCarthy, former Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney in New York, best known for leading the Justice Department prosecution against the Blind Sheik, Omar Abdel Rahman, points out that only Muslims can be the recipients of zakat. He also notes the Qur’anic-based explanation that “Muslims are taught that charity means Muslims aiding Muslims, for the purpose of fortifying and extending the ummah [Muslim community] until all the world is Islam’s domain.”

Nearly seven months before the December 2012 MAS-ICNA convention, on 13 June 2012, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ), Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FL), and Congressman Westmoreland (R-GA) sent letters to the Inspectors General of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Justice (DoJ), and the Department of State (DoS) seeking to obtain answers to pressing national security questions about the extent of the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities within the U.S. government. Copies of the letters are available here: Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the Department of State.

In their communication with Ambassador Harold W. Geisel at the U.S Department of State, these five members of Congress, known as the “National Security Five,” presented their concerns about potential threats to U.S. security as a result of influence operations being run by the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates in the United States. This is how the letter began:

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The “National Security Five” included in their letter citations from Brotherhood documents that had been presented as evidence by the DoJ prosecutors in federal court in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation HAMAS terror funding trial that established the mission of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West as one of Civilization Jihad:

“The process of settlement is a ‘Civilization-Jihadist Process’ with all the word means. The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ’sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

When the U.S. State Department reaches out pro-actively to recruit Muslim Brotherhood supporters for the Foreign Service and a career path, complete with Top Secret security clearance, that could lead eventually to top positions in U.S. policymaking circles, but refuses to admit publicly what it is doing, alarm bells should sound. After the Inspectors General of both the State Department and Intelligence Community were warned explicitly by Congressional members concerned for the nation’s vulnerability to Muslim Brotherhood infiltration and influence operations, there can be no excuse that they just didn’t know.

As of November 2014, the Department of State website still lists Mark S. Ward as the Deputy Special Coordinator in the Office of Middle East Transition, Office of the Deputy Secretary.

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