Brookings’ US-Islamic World Forum Stacked with Muslim Brotherhood Associates

Brookings Institute launched its 12th annual US-Islamic World Forum yesterday, streaming live from Doha, Qatar. Unlikely last year, where Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch reported that attendance of individuals linked to the Muslim Brotherhood was reportedly down from previous years, this year featured numerous participants with direct and explicit Brotherhood connections as well as many other individuals tied to American Brotherhood front groups.

Those with open ties to Muslim Brotherhood entities included:

  1. Ahmad Akayleh, whose bio describes his membership in the Islamic Action Front of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood
  2. Falah Al Ajmi, of Kuwait’s Islamic Constitutional Movement, tied to the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood.
  3. Mohammed Amakraz of Morocco’s Justice and Development Party, which the Muslim Brotherhood describes as the “Brotherhood offshoot” there.
  4. Zied Boumakhla, of Tunisia’s Ennahada Party, an Islamist party led by Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Rachid Ghannouchi. Boumakhla is also a member of the executive office of the International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations (IIFSO), a global federation of Muslim Brotherhood linked student groups.
  5. Saida Ounissi who is also of Tunisia’s Ennahada party.
  6. Amr Darrag, described openly as the head of the Political Office of the Muslim Brotherhood, and a Freedom and Justice Party minister during the rule Mohammed Morsi.
  7. Mustafa Elnemr, youth committee member for the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party.
  8. Anwar Ishi of the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), an organization founded out of the Saudi World Muslim League (WML). IIRO has been repeatedly linked to terrorism finance, and connections to the Muslim Brotherhood.
  9. Ammar Fayed, whom Brookings euphemistically refers to as an “independent researcher” for the organization “Ikhwanweb“, which is the official English language website of the Muslim Brotherhood. Fayed was also a political activist with the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party.
  10. Omar Iharchane, a member of the Justice and Charity Movement, an Islamist organization in Morocco closely aligned with the Brotherhood.
  11. Mehrezia Labidi, identified as a member of Tunisia’s Ennahada party.
  12. Asmaa Shokr, identified as a member of the Brotherhood’s  Freedom and Justice Party.

In addition to the Muslim Brotherhood representatives from the Middle East, the U.S. delegation also featured numerous U.S. residents with links to MB including:

  1. Salam Al-Marayati, head of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, founded out of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, whose founders including Hassan and Maher Hathout, Dr. Mahboob Khan, and Muslim Brotherhood cleric Wadi Ghoneim. Al Marayati has been a crucial player in the White House’s Countering Violent Extremism effort, despite his own record of extremist statements.
  2. Junaid Afeef, is identified as the former executive director of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC), which is an umbrella organization made up of multiple chicago area Muslim Brotherhood-linked organizations including the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago), American Muslim for Palestine (AMP), Helping Hands for Relief and Development, Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Islamic Relief-USA, The Mosque Foundation, Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA) , Muslim American Society (MAS), Muslim Legal Fund of America, SoundVision, and the Zakat Foundation.
  3. Aljeandro Beutel, who is identified as a researcher at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) but is also identified as a member of MPAC.
  4. Zaher Sahloul, is a member of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, and past president of the Mosque Foundation.
  5. Hanaa Soltan is the daughter of Saleh Soltan, member of the Fiqh Council of North America, and openly identified Muslim Brotherhood preacher currently facing a possible death sentence in Egypt for inciting violence which led to multiple murders. Her brother, Mohammed Soltan was also convicted, but recently released to the United States after a hunger strike.
  6. Haris Tarin, is also a member of MPAC and one of the few MB-linked individuals who had attended the 2014 US-Islamic World Forum according to Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch.
  7. Mohammed Elsanousi, was the Director of Community Outreach and Government Affairs for the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) for more than a decade. ISNA is a known Muslim Brotherhood front described as the “nucleus of the Islamic Movement” in the United States according to Brotherhood documents submitted at the Holy Land Foundation Trial.
  8.  Manal Fakhoury, is the chairman of United Voices for America, a Florida area organization created by former CAIR member Ahmed Bedier.

While in the past Brookings’ U.S.-Islamic World Forum has hosted far higher level Muslim Brotherhood leaders, such as Tariq Ramdan and Rachid Ghannouchi, the sheer numbers of this years conference (21 of the 80 or so Non-Brookings participants), raises eyebrows.

The attendance of multiple Muslim Brotherhood associates to the Brookings event comes at a time when the Brotherhood’s role in violence has never been more public. In January of this year, the Muslim Brotherhood website Ikhwanonline, published an open declaration of jihad and in May issued a statement declaration its dedication to a “revolutionary” response to the Egyptian government. While their motivations maybe suspect, the Egyptian government announced as recently as today, that it had uncovered a plot by Muslim Brotherhood operatives to conduct surveillance and gather intelligence in preparation for terror attacks to be carried out by MB proxies.

Despite that the Brotherhood has never been more closely associated with participation in violence since its founder Hassan Al Banna created its armed “Secret Apparatus” in the 1940s, Brookings appears unapologetic about associating with both open and clandestine Brotherhood figures. That in and of itself may be unsurprising, as there has long been questions raised about Brookings’ fondness for Islamist organizations, likely due to the Millions of dollars the organization has received from the nation of Qatar, which maintains an open alliance with the Brotherhood has part of its foreign policy. Former Brookings scholars have warned that Brookings has carried an institutional bias against criticism of the island nation’s policies:

“[T]here was a no-go zone when it came to criticizing the Qatari government,” Saleem Ali, who served as a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar in 2009, told the New York Times.

“If a member of Congress is using the Brookings reports, they should be aware — they are not getting the full story. They may not be getting a false story, but they are not getting the full story.” Ali noted that he had been told during his job interview that taking positions critical of the Qatari government in papers would not be allowed, a claim Brookings vigorously denies.

There’s plenty Qatar would prefer not have highlighted about its behavior, including its tarnished reputation for funding and enabling the financing of terrorism, something noted by several states, including the U.S., German, Iraqi and Israeli officials.

The Muslim Brotherhood is not a trustworthy or useful interlocutor for U.S. interaction in the Arab or Muslim world, but an organization known to be committed to supporting violent jihad against the West. Brookings should not allow a once august institution to be used to wage “Civilization-Jihad” against the United States, sabotaging its miserable houseby their hands, and the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood.

About Kyle Shideler

Kyle Shideler is the Director of the Threat Information Office (TIO) at the Center for Security Policy. Kyle works to inject serious research and analysis on the subject of Islamic terrorism and Shariah law into the beltway policy discussion, by challenging false assumptions and providing fully documented resources, primary research and influential talking points to policymakers, journalists, and foreign relations professionals. Kyle has previously served as a Director of Research and Communications, Senior Researcher, and Public Information Officer for several organizations in the field of Middle East and terrorism policy since 2006. He is a contributing author to “Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network: America and the West’s Fatal Embrace,” and has written for numerous publications as well as briefed legislative aides, intelligence and law enforcement officials, and the general public on the threat posed by Islamist influence and penetration operations.