New Muslim Brotherhood-linked Think Tank Tries to Launder Credentials, Fails

The Center for Global Policy (CGP) appears to be another newly created and slickly designed Washington D.C. think tank that sprouts routinely in America’s capital, like mushrooms after the rain. At least according to their website. CGP identifies itself as “the first independent, non-partisan American think tank working exclusively on issues at the intersection of U.S. foreign policy and Muslim geopolitics.”

But not all is as it seems. The Levant News recently reported that despite the organization’s outward appearance, in fact the CGP was merely a trade name for the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), one of the earliest founded U.S. Muslim Brotherhood organizations, which was linked to a post-9/11 federal investigation into terrorism fundraising, and which has supplied much of the ideological material for U.S. Islamist groups since its founding in the early 1980s.

Center for Security Policy Senior Fellow David Reaboi spotted the news noting, “Turns out, “new” think tank Center for Global Policy is really the Muslim Brotherhood’s International Institute for Islamic Thought—one of the most dangerous and subversive groups around.”

CGP’s deputy director Faysal Itani responded claiming that the current CGP had nothing to do with IIIT, and that the record cited by Levant News referred to another Center for Global Policy which had been dissolved but maintained the trademark. Itani also added that his CGP is affiliated with Fairfax University, not IIIT.

So perhaps a case of mistaken identity? Easy enough mistake to make especially for a foreign news outlet, unfamiliar with the confusing ins and outs of American non-profit registration.

Only Fairfax University also has connections to IIIT. Fairfax University’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees is Hisham Al-Talib, one of IIIT’s founding members. Fairfax University President is Ahmed Alwani, Vice President of IIIT, and the son of IIIT founder Taha Jabir Alwani. Another board member Anas S. Al-Shaikh-Ali also describes himself as being affiliated with IIIT in his Fairfax University biography.

David North of the Center for Immigration Studies had previously been tracking Fairfax University’s prior incarnation, the Virginia International University due to accreditation problems and questions regarding the large number of student visas the university was issuing. North noted that VIU sold its campus to the Mar Jac Foundation. Mar Jac Foundation’s directors include Hisham Al-Talib and Ahmed Alwani, according to Form 990 information from 2018.

Mar Jac Foundation contributes the majority of the International Institute of Islamic Thought’s budget and contributes funds to a number of other known Muslim Brotherhood affiliates including the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Mar Jac Foundation’s primary contributor is Mar Jac Poultry in Gainesville, GA. Mar Jac Poultry was one of several organizations, together with IIIT, which made up what was alternatively known as the SAAR Network of Brotherhood organizations.

It would certainly be a strange coincidence for there to be two Center for Global Policy organizations, both with ties to the exact same Muslim Brotherhood organization.

CGP appears to have other IIIT connections as well. According to the group’s 2016 and 2017 Form 990s, its board members included Dr. Abubaker Al-Shingieti, who was also previously affiliated with IIIT. Shingieti has ties to CGP advisory board member Douglas M. Johnson, as both served together at the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy.

Another board member listed on the 2016 tax form is Professor John Esposito, of Georgetown University with a long history of affiliation with Muslim Brotherhood linked groups. Both men appear to have been removed for the board at some point, according to the most recently available form 990 from 2018.

CGP’s connections to a well-known Muslim Brotherhood network certainly does not imply that every scholar working there is an Islamist, or that they are even necessarily aware of the connection. But CGP’s vitriolic reaction to the news, along with the flimsy attempt to deceive people regarding the nature of CGP’s relationship with IIIT certainly raises questions, and casts a cloud over all the group’s future endeavors.

About Kyle Shideler

Kyle Shideler is the Director and Senior Analyst for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism at the Center for Security Policy. Mr. Shideler specializes in Islamist groups operating in the United States, having spent over a decade researching and writing on their history, doctrine, and impact. Read his complete bio here. Follow Shideler on Twitter at @ShidelerK.