Officials at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) offer swift and vehement denials when anyone publicly links them to the Muslim Brotherhood, an international movement that seeks the spread of Shariah, or Islamic law, throughout the world.
This week, someone has made that connection again. And CAIR's reaction will be interesting to watch. The source this time? Mohammed Habib, the second-in-command of the Muslim Brotherhood. In an interview published by Pajamas Media, the Brotherood's Deputy Supreme Guide acknowledges the connection between his organization and CAIR.
Habib spoke candidly about the Brotherhood's relationship with affiliates – or, "Muslim Brotherhood entities," as he termed them – outside of Egypt.
The interviewer, a dissident Egyptian blogger, wryly named "sandmonkey," said he recorded the interview at the Brotherhood's leadership office. He asked the simple question, "Is there a Muslim Brotherhood in the US?" Habib responded:
I would say yes. There are Muslim Brotherhood members there.
The interviewer pushed him about what these members were doing there, and Habib elaborated:
…there are already existing institutions; there are laws and a constitution that they operate under in order to have a role in serving the American society. They are part of the American society and they want to an active positive role in it, and a part of that is to spread a positive image of Islam along with its values, culture, history and teachings.
Habib responded evasively when asked who represents the Brotherhood in the United States:
Well, there are there those who do represent us, who do that role.
At that point, the interviewer bravely pushed for specifics, mentioning the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and asking if the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) represented the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States.
After another evasive answer in which Habib noted that this subject was "sensitive" and "kind of problematic, especially after 9/11," the interviewer pushed harder. At that point, Habib relented and admitted that it would be accurate to say that there is a "relationship" between CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood.
He never responded to the reference to ISNA.
The CAIR-Muslim Brotherhood relationship is well established, testified to by U.S. federal agents, prosecutors, and internal U.S. Brotherhood documents. But to hear confirmation of this relationship from the second-highest ranking Brotherhood official who is likely the next Supreme Guide is highly damning.
Habib's statements on CAIR will likely reverberate across the counter-terrorism community and will further empower the Department of Justice and the federal district court in Dallas to reject CAIR's vigorous lobbying and legal efforts to be removed from the list of unindicted co-conspirators and joint-venturers in the terrorism financing case against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF). Yet Habib's remarks on Hamas are equally, if not more, informative and interesting.
And they run counter to the Brotherhood's long-standing denials about relationships with any major U.S.-based Muslim organization, including this one just a few weeks ago:
In this regard, the MB confirmed that it absolutely has no organizational links, ties, or associations with any of the Islamic organizations in the U.S., including but not limited to: The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the Muslim Student Association (MSA), the Muslim American Society (MAS), and the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT).
Anyone who has dedicated their time to revealing the connections between CAIR (and ISNA, the Muslim American Society, etc.) and the Muslim Brotherhood, especially to those who are not versed in the subject matter, has faced the challenge of explaining that these connections are often not financial or otherwise so direct. The connections are more often ideological and it can be more difficult for people to grasp such intangible concepts, in comparison to a concrete action or document such as a wire transfer.
Directly after Habib gave his answer about CAIR, he responded to a question about the Brotherhood's relationship with Hamas. He stated:
Hamas, like any Muslim Brotherhood entity, is not related to the other entities. But we do support them. We support them with ideas. We support them with advice and vision. We incite the people in Egypt for example to donate money and care and understand about the Palestinian cause. Then the civil society institutions carry out the role of facilitators of our support.
Habib provides some substance to the concept of shared ideology. He explains the primary support any Brotherhood entity receives from the Muslim Brotherhood is composed of ideas, advice, and vision. From there, the "civil society" institutions, like CAIR and ISNA, take the ideas, advice, and vision and put them into action.
Habib's final answer will not be welcomed by Brotherhood "entities" throughout the West but it represents the most pointed challenge for them to come clean once and for all.