Osama Abu-Irshaid (National Director of American Muslims for Palestine, AMP, a founding member of the USCMO), USCMO Secretary General Oussama Jammal (center) and Naeem Baig (President of the Islamic Center of North America, ICNA, a founding member of the USCMO) outside AK Party Headquarters in Ankara, Turkey, during an August 2014 visit
During the 2016 U.S presidential campaign, senior leadership figures of the United States Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) began strategic planning to ensure the advancement and protection of the group’s objectives, no matter who won the White House. USCMO Secretary General Oussama Jammal and HAMAS dba Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Executive Director Nihad Awad set plans in motion to defend the Muslim Brotherhood’s Civilization Jihad inside the U.S. Those objectives were first exposed and described in the Center’s 2015 publication, in Star Spangled Shariah: The Rise of America’s First Muslim Brotherhood Party.
Joining directly in those efforts then and now is the pro-HAMAS Turkish government, under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP). The groundwork for what is now a close working relationship began well before the March 2014 announcement of the USCMO’s formation, but it is known that on 15 May 2013, a visiting President Erdoğan placed a ceremonial stone on the 16-acre construction site that would become the Turkish Diyanet Center of America in Lanham, Maryland. The following year, in August 2014, a USCMO delegation led by Secretary General Oussama Jammal traveled to Ankara to meet with President Erdoğan and AK Party leaders. And then, on 29 December 2014, in a recorded video message, Dr. Mehmet Görmez, President of the Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), addressed the 13th Annual MAS-ICNA (Muslim American Society-Islamic Circle of North America) Conference in Chicago, Illinois and discussed a gift for all Muslims: the Turkish Diyanet Center of America. Of note for the future of the US Muslim Brotherhood-Turkish relationship, this conference was sponsored by the Turkish-backed American Zakat Foundation and included the first-ever attendance of a Turkish-American group at a MAS-ICNA conference.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan shaking hands with USCMO Secretary General Oussama Jammal during the USCMO delegation reception with Erdoğan in NYC in September 2016
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addressing an assembly of US Muslim Brotherhood leadership during the week of the September 2016 UN General Assembly meeting. USCMO Secretary General Oussama Jammal is in the front row at the far right, Mazen Mokhtar, Executive Director of the Muslim American Society (MAS), can be seen in the middle, and Nihad Awad, CAIR Executive Director, is seated at the far left. Awad also welcomed the Turkish government delegation to CAIR’s WDC headquarters that same week.
It will be recalled that Erdoğan himself joined U.S. President Barack Obama on 2 April 2016 at the opening ceremonies for the Diyanet Center of America, located on a large 16-acre site in Lanham, Maryland. The Diyanet Center, also known as the Turkish American Cultural Center (TACC), is a wholly-owned facility of The Presidency of Religious Affairs, an official state institution of the Turkish government.
Under the Trump administration, the USCMO is especially concerned with legal issues, as calls were heard during the 2016 campaign urging that the 2008 Holy Land Foundation (HLF) HAMAS terror funding trial be re-opened to pursue possible cases against the more-than-200 unindicted co-conspirators named by the Department of Justice. Apparently concerned over possible vulnerability should the books of mosques, Islamic Centers and Muslim Brotherhood front groups come under renewed official scrutiny, CAIR and other members of the USCMO therefore engaged the services of the Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA), itself a founding member of the USCMO.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the first major event to be co-sponsored by the USCMO, TACC and the MLFA in the Trump era will be a 13 May 2017 Muslim Non-Profit Leadership Conference, to be held at the Diyanet Center of America. Among the program topics are Safeguarding 501(c)3 status; Board fiduciary responsibilities; record keeping and disclosure requirements; Fundraising regulations, state registrations, unrelated business income; and Banking regulations, FDIC, DOJ, Watchlists, international charitable giving.
One of the MLFA’s top legal representatives, now working openly with the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood, is U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander (ret.) Charles Swift, formerly of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Swift, a 1984 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, who was recognized by the Muslim Brotherhood for his legal role advocating for client Salim Ahmed Hamdan in the U.S. Supreme Court case Hamdan v. Rumsfield 548 US 557 (2006). This role doubtless contributed to the choice of Swift as Director and Counsel for the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America (CLCMA), a project of the Muslim Legal Fund of America led by Executive Director Khahil Meek.
The MLFA’s CLCMA project presents itself as dedicated to two primary missions:
- “Challenging governmental security measures affecting Muslim communities which encroach upon the constitutional liberties guaranteed to all.”
- “Protecting the rights of Muslim individuals and organizations in the United States to exercise their constitutionally and statutorily protected rights to worship.”
Pictured left to right: “Jihadis in Suits” Nihad Awad, Khalil Meek, Oussama Jammal
In apparent pursuance of these missions, the MLFA continues actively to seek the release from federal prison of defendants in the HLF trial, which concluded in late 2008 with a unanimous guilty verdict on all 108 counts. The MLFA also engages in lawfare, using lawsuits as an offensive means of shutting down opposition to its civilization jihad operations. For example, as noted by the Thomas More Law Center in the 2009 case of Joe KAUFMAN, Appellant, v. ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF ARLINGTON, Texas, Islamic Center of Irving, DFW Islamic Educational Center, Inc., Dar Elsalam Islamic Center, Al Hedayah Islamic Center, Islamic Association of Tarrant County, and Muslim American Society of Dallas, Appellees, No. 2-09-023-CV: “The head of that organization [MLFA], Khalil Meek, admitted on a Muslim radio show that lawsuits were being filed against Kaufman and others to set an example. Indeed, for the last several years, Muslim groups in the U.S. have engaged in the tactic of filing meritless lawsuits to silence any public discussion of Islamic terrorist threats.”
More recently, in response to U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s early March 2017 revised executive order to restrict immigration from six Muslim-majority nations, the MLFA working in conjunction with the USCMO, is referring all Muslims to its “advisory prepared by Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America.” The MLFA may cloak itself in the colors of Star Spangled Shariah as a “constitutional rights organization” but Executive Director Khalil Meek still whines that “We continue to be troubled by this administration’s ongoing attempts to single out Muslims for adverse actions. Such blatant discrimination is a violation of our nation’s constitutional freedoms of speech, expression and religion.”
Finally, it is worth taking note of the following guidance. The Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA) provides the authoritative juridical backup on Islamic Law (shariah) for the American Muslim community and U.S. Islamic legal organizations such as the MLFA. Addressing the U.S. Muslim community on 28 November 2016, shortly after Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election, AMJA issued the following bracing statement:
“No one could possibly be unaware of the political storm that has recently overtaken this country…For this reason, the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America is addressing the Imams, Islamic workers and the entire Muslim community with permanent values that must be emphasized during this stage as well as a number of principles to be used in dealing with these events, what has happened as well as what is expected to happen…Islam, with respect to its belief and legal foundations, is unalterably fixed. It does not accept any replacement for change.” (emphasis added)
While the Center for Security Policy has followed the activities of the USCMO, MLFA and AMJA, the realization of just how closely the Turkish government at the highest level is working in collusion with these Muslim Brotherhood-associated groups to thwart any legal measures that may be directed their way by the new Trump administration and Department of Justice led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions still comes as something of a shock. The U.S. Brotherhood and its international partners were way ahead of the Trump team in foreseeing a possible renewal of legal risk and liability under this new management and began taking steps to confront it. They bring significant financial and legal resources to the fight, plus, as we now see, state-level backing from NATO member Turkey whose pro-HAMAS stance has long been known.
But given that an official organization of the Ankara regime is now operating a large Center (with numerous associated centers and mosques) barely thirteen miles from the U.S. Capitol and working there in collaboration with the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood to thwart possible legal actions by the U.S. government is certainly noteworthy. As the international as well as U.S. Muslim Brotherhood gear up for coming confrontations, so must U.S. national security leadership as well.