Organizers of a rally planned for Washington, D.C. on Saturday in support of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi deny being part of the Muslim Brotherhood, or being Brotherhood supporters. The rally, they said during a news conference Friday, is about justice in Egypt.
A long record, in many cases tested in court, says otherwise.
The recently-formed Egyptian Americans for Democracy and Human Rights (EADHR) news conference featured Abdul Mawgoud Dardery, a spokesman for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party.
Dardery and other speakers decried the "military coup" in Egypt and called for Morsi's release after more than a month in custody.
"This is not about the Muslim Brotherhood. It is not even about Dr. Morsi, said Shaker Elsayed said in response to an Investigative Project on Terrorism question about Muslim Brotherhood connections.. Dr. Morsi happened to be from the Brotherhood, but it could have been anybody else. If we allow the rule of law to be broken and the democratic rules to be violated, it will happen to anybody and Egypt will never have stability, progress, investment, or a future. So we have nothing to do with your claims."
Elsayed identified himself as part of the Universal Justice Foundation, which he said has "nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood or anybody else."
According to someone staffing the reception desk at the news conference, the rally does stand for something more. As the Investigative Project on Terrorism's researcher approached, she was asked if she was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. "This is a Muslim Brotherhood meeting," she was told. (Click below to hear the statement)
Inside, an official with the Muslim American Society (MAS), which is helping organize Saturday's rally, echoed Elsayed's denial about any Muslim Brotherhood connection.
"The Muslim American Society is a grass-roots American organization, said Oussama Jammal, chairman of Public Affairs and Civic Engagement for the Muslim American Society (MAS-PACE). "However, we are very proud, very, very proud of our friendship with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Christian Brotherhood, and the Jewish Voice for Justice and for Peace. There is nothing wrong to have a relationship, a friendly relationship, with other organizations across the world."
But the role Muslim Brotherhood members played in creating MAS is well established. It was founded in 1993 in Alexandria, Va., as the United States chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood. And Elsayed is a former MAS secretary general.
In fact, a 2004 Chicago Tribune report on the Brotherhood's secret movement in the United States quotes Elsayed saying, "Ikhwan [Brotherhood] members founded MAS..." Elsayed even acknowledged that about 45 percent of MAS's active members belong to the Brotherhood.
Elsayed is also imam at the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Va., which federal investigators have described as having "been under numerous investigations for financing and [providing] aid and comfort to bad orgs and members." Elsayed has justified Palestinian suicide bombings and advocated armed jihad.
More recently, Abdurahman Alamoudi, a senior Brotherhood figure in the United States told federal investigators last year that MAS was established as a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate in America. "Everyone knows that MAS is the Muslim Brotherhood," Alamoudi said.
He agreed to cooperate with federal investigators as part of a plea agreement for engaging in illegal transactions with Libya and for his role in a plot to kill a Saudi prince.
But MAS's history is not even the strongest connection to the Muslim Brotherhood in Saturday's rally.
The president of EADHR – the main event sponsor – is listed as a leader of the Brotherhood's establishment in North America in a 1992 telephone directory seized by federal investigators from the home of a senior Brotherhood official in Virginia. Hany Saqr (aka Hani Saker), ) is listed among the Brotherhood's "Members of the Executive Office."
The directory was found in the home of Ismail Elbarasse—whom prosecutors described as the archivist for the Muslim Brotherhood in America. He served as an assistant to Mousa Abu Marzook, a Hamas political leader, and the head of a Brotherhood-created Hamas-support network called the Palestine Committee.
Saqr (listed as Saker) is listed among "Members of the Executive Office" of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S. along with Marzook, Zaid Naman and Mohamed Akram.
In a conversation recorded by the FBI during the early 1980s, titled "Ikhwan in America," Naman details the structure of the Muslim Brotherhood in North America. Akram authored a May 1991 strategy memo for the Muslim Brotherhood's Shura Council that laid out the role of the Muslim brothers in North America:
The process of settlement is a "Civilization-Jihadist Process" with all the word means. The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and "sabotaging" its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions. Without this level of understanding, we are not up to this challenge and have not prepared ourselves for Jihad yet. It is a Muslim's destiny to perform Jihad and work wherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hour comes, and there is no escape from that destiny except for those who chose to slack. But, would the slackers and the Mujahedeen be equal.
Saker also served on the board of directors of Mercy International-USA, along with Ahmed Elkadi, who was a Brotherhood leader in the U.S. from 1984-1994, and is now deceased. Ahmed Elkadi, Jamal Badawi, and Omar Soubani—all three of whom are listed under the title "Members of the Board of Directors" in the 1992 phone directory were also the founding incorporators of MAS.
It its report, the Chicago Tribune said that Elkadi worked with Mohammed Mahdi Akef, who was head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt from 2004-2010, to help create MAS as a "more publicly active" U.S. front group for the secretive Islamist movement. The report said Akef "helped found MAS by lobbying for the change during trips to the U.S."
Akram Elzend, who co-founded EADHR along with Saker, is an official with the MAS-DC office.
Yet another person with MAS ties, Mahdi Bray, spoke at the news conference. Bray is the former executive director of the MAS Freedom Foundation and has a history of defending terrorists and their supporters. At a rally outside the White House in 2000, Bray shared the stage with Alamoudi, raising his arms skyward as Alamoudi declared his support for Hamas and Hizballah.
Inside the news conference, Dardery, the Brotherhood's political party official, denied persecution of Coptic Christian minorities under Morsi's rule, despite numerous reports to the contrary, and claimed the policies pursued under the Brotherhood-dominated government were fair and democratic. He blamed the former regime of Hosni Mubarak for the repression of press freedoms and the oppression of minorities.
Last month, we showed how a similar rally that made no mention of the Brotherhood, but emphasized support for democracy, was a façade to hide support in the U.S. for the Islamist movement. A look at the players behind Saturday's rally shows another Brotherhood "Grand Deception" is afoot, despite organizers' denials.