If you want proof that U.S. policy towards the Arab Spring is fatally flawed, look no further than William Taylor, the State Department’s Special Coordinator for Middle East Transitions and long associate of Muslim Brotherhood apologists. Taylor officially took charge on September 16 and oversees U.S. aid to countries affected by the Arab Spring, specifically Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.
Taylor’s office has been giving Egyptian Islamists training to prepare for the election contests that begin on November 28. He justified it by saying that the assistance is open to all parties and the U.S. wouldn’t pick sides. “Sometimes, Islamist parties show up, sometimes they don’t,” he said nonchalantly.
When asked how the U.S. would feel if the Muslim Brotherhood won Egypt’s elections, he said, “I think we will be satisfied, if it is a free and fair election. What we need to do is judge people and parties and movements on what they do, not what they’re called.” The answer seemed to infer that critics of the Brotherhood are needlessly alarmed by the name of the group.
It gets worse. Taylor compared the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to Tunisia’s Ennahda Party, as if that is a positive example to follow. “As long as parties, entities do not espouse or conduct violence, we’ll work with them.” He said there is undue fear of the Islamists. “This is something that we are used to, and should not be afraid of. We should deal with them.”
It is hard to imagine a statement more frightening and naïve coming from a senior official.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian affiliate is Hamas, which the Brotherhood still stands by and has never condemned. It says that Israel’s prisoner exchange deal that led to the release of Gilad Shalit proved that Hamas’ methods, which included kidnappings and targeting of civilians, were right. The senior Brotherhood theologian, Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, preaches the destruction of Israel, killing Jews and vocally supports terrorism, including suicide bombings. The leader of the Ennahda Party, Rachid Ghannouchi, likewise supports Hamas, terrorism and the killing of Israeli children. This certainly qualifies as espousing violence, to use the words of Taylor.
A look at Taylor’s background shows he is a long associate of individuals tied to the Muslim Brotherhood and apologists of the Islamist group. Before taking his State Department post, he was the vice president of the U.S. Institute for Peace (UIP). It has a close working relationship with John Esposito, arguably the most prominent non-Muslim apologist for the Muslim Brotherhood, foreign and domestic.
Esposito defends the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and Sami al-Arian. He served as an expert witness for the defense in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation, which was found guilty of being a front for Hamas set up by the Brotherhood. He also upholds Sheikh al-Qaradawi as a moderate who promotes a “reformist interpretation of Islam and its relationship to democracy, pluralism and human rights.”
Esposito is the vice chair of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID), the board of which has strong associations with the International Institute for Islamic Thought, another Brotherhood front. On April 28, 2010, Taylor’s UIP sponsored a CSID conference that the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report calls “perhaps the largest public gathering of global Muslim Brotherhood leaders and U.S. government officials to date.” Tariq Ramadan, the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, the original founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, was there, as was Brotherhood members from Bahrain and Jordan. In May 2011, CSID held an event with a senior leader of Ennahda.
Taylor joins several other Obama administration officials who take a benign view of the Muslim Brotherhood or are linked to its American fronts. The best example is the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, who displayed a remarkable level of ignorance during testimony to Congress in February, saying that the "term ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has described Al-Qaeda as a perversion of Islam.”
There’s Rashad Hussain, the envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, who attended the aforementioned CSID event featuring Brotherhood leaders. Then there’s Dalia Mogahed, one of the members of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnership. She is a close associate of John Esposito and is said to have been the "most influential person" advising President Obama on his speech to the Muslim world in Cairo.
Mogahed is also a defender of CAIR and ISNA. She accused the government of trying to oppress the Muslim community when the groups were labeled as “unindicted co-conspirators” in the Holy Land trial. She said “there is a concerted effort to silence, you know, institution-building among Muslims. And the way to do it is [to] malign these groups. And it’s kind of a witchhunt.”
The State Department has teamed up with CAIR to host an event with the Syrian opposition. In January 2010, members of ISNA, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and Muslim American Society, all tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, were given briefings by the Department of Homeland Security including Secretary Janet Napolitano. A member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Advisory Council, Mohamed Elibiary, has Brotherhood associations and is a defender of the Holy Land Foundation. He is being accused of leaking sensitive information to the press to damage presidential candidate and Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Obama’s chief terrorism advisor, John Brennan, speaks alongside the president of ISNA. Another senior advisor to the President, Valerie Jarrett, was the keynote speaker at ISNA’s 2009 convention. It has been reported that the Justice Department even blocked the prosecutions of at least two Brotherhood figures tied to Hamas. Meanwhile, the administration blocked the nomination of Zuhdi Jasser, a Muslim opponent of the Brotherhood, to an important State Department post.
Their influence on President Obama is clear. There appears to be no efforts to undermine the Brotherhood or its ideology. In an interview with Bill O’Reilly, the most Obama would concede is that there are “strains of their ideology that are anti-U.S.” Based on the stances of his advisors, Obama likely believes these “strains” are because of U.S. foreign policy errors, than because of the Islamist ideology itself.
It is simply shocking that the U.S. official overseeing the transition assistance in the Middle East doesn’t worry about the Muslim Brotherhood and even uses taxpayer money to help the Islamists. Members of Congress and presidential candidates should demand the immediate removal of William Taylor from his post.
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