This is the third article in a series. Part two can be read here.
The details about why someone very high up in the George W. Bush administration intentionally snatched defeat from the jaws of victory barely six months after 9/11 are not entirely known. What is known is that someone high up in the administration made that call and no fewer than two Muslim American leaders aggressively lobbied for that defeat – Talat Othman and Khaled Saffuri. The outcome – regardless of causation – appeared to be in line with their efforts.
Coincidental or not, Othman had connections to both George H.W. and George W. dating back more than a decade and in 2000, Saffuri was named by Karl Rove as the Bush campaign’s point man for Muslim outreach.
Yes, George W. – through Karl Rove and Grover Norquist – embraced Muslim leaders both before and after the 2000 election but what about the first Bush administration?
According to a 2004 article by respected writer Kenneth Timmerman, Saffuri revealed some potentially very relevant details in this regard. In talking about Abdurahman Alamoudi, a Muslim who would later be convicted on terrorism charges, and Jamal Barzinji, an early founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S. who is connected to multiple groups with ties to terror financing, Saffuri was quoted as saying:
“In 1990 and 1991, George Bush Senior was meeting with them, and he was taking advice from them on how to deal with Iraq. You know, when I looked from the outside, I saw them meeting with the president and said, ‘Wow, that’s impressive.’ Seeing those people going inside and outside the White House, that gave them legitimacy. So for me to come and work with them five years later, I should not be suspicious of anything they do.”
Othman, a Palestinian-born Muslim American, began meeting with George H.W. Bush in 1990 (August, to be exact) according to a 1991 Wall Street Journal article. At that time, he had a history that included serving on the Board of Harken Energy with George W. for approximately three years (he would one day deliver a Muslim prayer at the 2000 Republican National Convention).
In 1992, during the George H.W. Bush administration, Alamoudi would begin a years-long stint as a State Department emissary to Muslim lands. Two years earlier Alamoudi founded the American Muslim Council (AMC), a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization.
Saffuri would work for Alamoudi at the latter’s AMC from 1993-98, breaking from Alamoudi at about the same time he co-founded the Islamic Free Market Institute (Islamic Institute) with Grover Norquist.
In 2000, just outside the White House and just days prior to George W. being elected, Alamoudi – with microphone in hand – pledged his support to Hamas and Hezbollah while shouting, ‘Allahu Akbar’:
Less than one year later, a line was seared in American history on September 11, 2001.
If ever there was a moment of truth for the George W. Bush administration, it was then. What would he do, distance himself from the Muslim Brotherhood front groups and leaders he had for years associated with or continue to embrace them?
Though the answer to that question seemed to come within days, its significance was not processed adequately by the American people, who were all desperately trying to come to grips with what had just happened. Those who seek to excuse the administration based on hindsight should read the diary of William Murray, written days after 9/11 by a man who had access to far less information than did the White House.
On September 14th, Bush attended a memorial service at the National Cathedral and spoke. Unfortunately, a man who shared the pulpit with him was none other than the President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the largest Muslim Brotherhood front group in the U.S. Three days after that, Bush spoke at the Islamic Center of Washington. Standing behind him was none other than Khaled Saffuri and Nihad Awad, Executive Director of another organization deeply connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.
On September 26th, Bush welcomed many of these same leaders into the White House. The decision about how the administration would deal with the internal Muslim Brotherhood threat may have been best revealed by an extremely disturbing response by Rove to a question about why the administration would meet with people who had such backgrounds. Rove reportedly feigned ignorance, saying:
“I wish I had known before the event took place.”
The decision had clearly been made to continue the relationships.
The following month, Operation Green Quest (OGQ) was launched. Its mission? To turn over all the stones in the U.S. under which Muslim terrorist financiers were operating – and to prosecute them.
In March of 2002, the offices of several Saudi-backed, Muslim Brotherhood-linked organizations in Virginia were raided in a huge dragnet operation conducted by OGQ. Alamoudi’s AMC was smack dab in the middle of it. Within two weeks, Othman and Saffuri, both part of a cadre of Muslim leaders concerned about ‘civil-rights violations’ connected to the raid, attended a luncheon to address those concerns with Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, who headed the entity conducting the investigation. Something counter to America’s interests appeared to have been set in motion soon after that April 4th luncheon.
The intention of the meeting – from the perspective of Othman and Saffuri – was to get the heat off their Muslim colleagues in the name of civil-rights concerns. Less than three months later, FBI Director Robert Mueller appeared to be offering at least suggestive assistance in that department, when he spoke at an AMC event.
According to a Fox News report published soon after that luncheon, FBI leadership was already playing down AMC’s bonafides as a terrorist financing operation:
The interesting question is not what FBI Director Robert Mueller said when he appeared before the annual convention of the American Muslim Council Friday.
The interesting question is why he appeared at all.
Though an FBI spokesman described the AMC last week as “the most mainstream Muslim group in the country,” the bureau’s counterintelligence operatives, field agents and other specialists know the real truth about the AMC: namely, that it has long been associated with, endorsed and otherwise supported radicals of various stripes who share a common, usually virulent antipathy towards the United States.
Those field agents were right. Alamoudi would be arrested on charges related to terrorism one year later and sentenced to more than two decades in prison in 2004. However, the charges associated with the financing of terrorism out of those Virginia offices were conspicuously absent.
In 1981, Alamoudi founded the Islamic Society of Boston Mosque in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For the next 19 years, the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual kingpin Yusuf al-Qaradawi served as a Trustee of the Mosque. This was the same mosque attended by at least one of the Boston Marathon bombers. In a heated exchange between Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and FBI Director Robert Mueller weeks after the bombing, Gohmert asked Mueller if he knew that Alamoudi founded the ISB. Mueller, who inexplicably elevated Alamoudi and the AMC to a position of respectability in June of 2002, said he did not. Among the individuals the OGQ raids would have ultimately led to, al-Qaradawi may have been at or near the top of the list.
Al-Qaradawi was banned from the U.S. in 1999, 18 years after becoming a Trustee of ISB and three years before the FBI would sing the praises of a group founded by the founder of the ISB.
Question: How could Mueller state in 2002 that Alamoudi headed ‘the most mainstream Muslim group’ in America and then in 2013 say he didn’t know that Alamoudi founded the ISB more than 30 years earlier or that the top Spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood served as a trustee for nearly twenty years?
The FBI’s assertion that the AMC was ‘the most mainstream Muslim group’ in America was clearly wrong. Again, why? Incompetence? Cover-up? Something else?
Mueller became the Director of the FBI one week before the 9/11 attacks, headed the FBI at the time of both Alamoudi’s arrest and conviction, and said he was unaware that Alamoudi founded the mosque attended by the Boston Marathon bombers, who were responsible for the murder of three spectators and two police officers as well as nearly 300 injured:
Part four of this series is forthcoming and will be linked to here once published.