- Cheikh Ahmed Mbareck (Executive Director, The Majlis ash-Shura Islamic, Leadership Council, Metropolitan New York)
- Imam Johari Abdul-Malik (Director of Governmental Affairs, Muslim Alliance of North America, and Director of Outreach at the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center, Falls Church, Virginia)
- Kristin Szremski (Director of Media and Communications, American Muslims for Palestine)
- Imam Mahdi Bray (National Director, American Muslim Alliance)
- Oussama Jammal (Secretary General, United States Council of Muslim Organizations)
- Zahid Bukhari (past president, Islamic Circle of North America)
- Roula Allouch (national board chair, Council on American Islamic Relations)
- Rabiah Ahmed (Media and Communications Director, Muslim Public Affairs Council)
- Nihad Awad (National Executive Director, Council on American Islamic Relations)
- Altaf Hussain (Vice President, Islamic Society of North America)
Key members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood gathered on 21 December 2015 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. under the auspices of the Brotherhood’s political action group, the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) to announce a “One America” theme for the 2016 political season. The press conference followed closely on the Brotherhood’s 20 December 2015 emergency summit near the nation’s capital in Northern Virginia to discuss how to package Muslim Brotherhood messaging in response to recent jihadist attacks in Paris, France and San Bernardino, California. Among Muslim Brotherhood front groups and other affiliates represented at the summit were CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations), ICNA (Islamic Circle of North America), and ISNA (Islamic Society of North America), each of which (or its predecessor) was named by the Department of Justice in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation HAMAS terror funding trial.
The U.S. Muslim Brotherhood recently has been challenged on multiple fronts with the reality of violent jihad, from the Islamic State in the Middle East to killers in Paris and San Bernardino who declared their allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. As the country heads into the 2016 presidential election year, USCMO leadership is acutely aware that its carefully-constructed image of benign civic engagement is not holding up very well in the eyes of the American electorate. Hence, a multi-pronged approach was rolled out for the cameras and microphones as USCMO Secretary General Oussama Jammal outlined a series of proposed USCMO initiatives: 1) Register one million new voters prior to the 2016 election cycle, 2) Build a bridge between the Muslim Brotherhood and non-Muslim Americans to enhance their understanding of American Muslims and Islam through a “One American Campaign”, 3) Establish a “National Open Mosque Day”, 4) Form new and strengthen existing alliances with interfaith partners, social justice groups, and other minority communities, and 5) Address the rising number of [alleged] hate crimes by increasing emergency preparedness for Islamic institutions and individuals in the community.
Jammal noted that a key segment of the emergency summit, comprising some 100+ Muslim leaders and representatives of the Islamic community from across the U.S., was devoted to discussion of plans for implementing “major educational outreach” and “civic empowerment” initiatives necessary to “address growing Islamophobia in America and to enhance national security through promotion of freedom and justice.” (“Freedom and Justice” are watchwords of the Muslim Brotherhood that figure often in the names of Brotherhood political parties, including the Egyptian party of the now-ousted former President Mohamed Morsi.)
In contrast to past USCMO press conferences, Muslim women took a more prominent, proactive speaking role at this one. This development is notable given the exhortation of Tariq Ramadan, grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna, for the Brotherhood to be more inclusive of Muslim women in leadership. Since his return to the U.S. after the lifting of a visa ban by the Obama administration in January 2010, Ramadan—ever the astute political activist—has stated repeatedly at national leadership Brotherhood conventions in the U.S. that the voices of Muslim sisters should be heard, including in positions of action and influence in their community.
Following a string of horrific jihadist attacks against Western targets, the USCMO and its Brotherhood membership clearly realize that national security issues have taken center stage in the U.S. political arena and that Americans increasingly are becoming aware that the jihadist agenda of Islamic supremacism is taking aim at the homeland in a violent way no longer confined to mere dawah – or call to Islam. Americans are learning the hard way that there is no dawah without jihad. In an attempt to hold back this gathering awareness, the USCMO is gearing up to push back, apparently hoping to salvage an image fast shredding under the drumbeat of Islamic terror attacks.
It is important to note that in addition to rallying its base to civic activism under the USCMO political banner, the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood also is working hand-in-glove with the international ummah representative, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), whose 10-Year Programme of Action concludes in 2015 with an intensified focus on curtailing free speech rights through efforts to criminalize criticism of Islam. Playing on manufactured grievances to prop up its “Islamophobia” industry, the USCMO echoed Obama White House rhetoric related to the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) campaign. And to shore up its beachhead within the interfaith dialogue movement, the USCMO announced plans (as noted above) to strengthen alliances and create new ones with its “interfaith partners.”
In terms of political messaging and alliances, while ISNA is not yet listed as an official member of the USCMO, there is an indirect connection, as ISNA President Azhar Azeez, who also heads the North Texas Islamic Council, works closely with USCMO member organization, the Muslim Legal Fund of America, directed by J. Khalil Meek. Although Azeez was not at the WDC press conference, Altaf Hussain, ISNA Vice President, was—and he took the microphone to deliver a blunt warning: “If you as a political candidate choose to spew hatred, bigotry, and to vilify Muslim Americans, you do so at your own political risk. We will use every democratic, small d, democratic means and political strategies to ensure you, your candidacy never succeeds.”
Touching on another key emerging issue for the USCMO, Hussain openly indicated Muslim Brotherhood support for the Black Lives Matter movement when he stated, “our children already stand side by side with the Black Lives Matter Movement.” The Brotherhood/USCMO move to co-opt the aura of the African-American community’s civil rights movement by adopting a narrative of oppression and victimization increasingly features in their election year messaging. National Director for the American Muslim Alliance (AMA) Mahdi Bray added, “As a past civil rights activist who marched with King in Washington, D.C. and in Selma…we have learned one thing, is that [sic] if you are demonized as a community, if you are denied your rights, if you are become [sic] a victim of political bigotry, the best answer, the best response is to take your soul to polls.”
As noted in Star Spangled Shariah: The Rise of America’s First Muslim Brotherhood Party, the launch of an ambitious voter mobilization program marks the USCMO’s developing political agenda to create a unified voting bloc among the U.S. Muslim population. Indeed, in response to a question from the press about USCMO political engagement and the “One American Campaign,” Secretary General Jammal explained: “This is going to be a grass root, a massive grass root effort by all the member organizations [USCMO] and the Muslim community that is…throughout the country…We do recognize that the Muslim community alone cannot do a change or cannot…make a difference in one election or the other. And, we understand that also applies to other minorities. We are going to be doing alliances and we are going to be doing coalitions…we are going to be reaching out. All politics are local.”
Underlining Jammal’s comments is the line-up of USCMO members that now includes a number of significant new names: The Majlis ash-Shura Islamic Leadership Council (Metropolitan New York), the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center (Falls Church, Virginia), the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISSBC), and the Turkish American Cultural Society (TACS).
As the Center for Security Policy highlighted in its seminal expose of the USCMO, Star Spangled Shariah, published earlier in 2015, the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood strategy in America pursues its Islamic supremacist agenda in stealth, cloaking itself in the red, white, and blue of American patriotism even while pursuing a ‘civilizational jihad.’ Its own words are always the giveaway, though: for even as the USCMO takes to the microphones near Capitol Hill, it shows its true colors with declarations about ‘promotion of freedom and justice’ – which, of course, is not-very-cleverly-disguised code for the international Muslim Brotherhood’s commitment to freedom (from man-made law) and justice (under shariah or Islamic Law).