Islamist Infiltration of the Conservative Movement

Islamist Infiltration of the Conservative Movement


Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., founder and president of the Center for Security Policy (CSP), is the individual most responsible for first exposing how radical Islamists — most notably Muslim Brotherhood (MB) operatives — have infiltrated the conservative movement since the 1990s. It was 1999 when Gaffney first discovered how MB intended to destroy that movement from within, as part of what the Brotherhood’s strategic plan calls “civilization jihad.” That year, the CSP sublet some office space from Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), whose founder and president, Grover Norquist, was also a board member of the American Conservative Union (ACU). Shortly after the CSP had begun subletting that office space, a colleague brought to Gaffney’s attention numerous ties between an organization housed within ATR’s suite — the Islamic Free Market Institute (better known as the Islamic Institute) — and its founder, Abdurahman Alamoudi.

Even then, Alamoudi was known in law-enforcement circles as one of the most prominent and influential Muslim Brothers in the United States. In October 2004, he would be convicted and sentenced to 23 years in federal prison on terrorism-related charges.

In the early 1990s, however, the Clinton administration saw fit to assign Alamoudi the responsibility for identifying, training, and credentialing Muslim chaplains for the U.S. military and prison system. As the Nineties drew to a close and Clinton prepared to leave office, Alamoudi sought to ensure that, in the event that Al Gore were to lose the upcoming 2000 presidential election as Clinton’s successor, Alamoudi’s own access and influence at senior levels of the U.S. government would be undiminished. Alamoudi accomplished this when he succeeded in establishing and staffing the Islamic Institute with Grover Norquist as its first president and Suhail Khan as a member of its board of directors.

Alamoudi’s longtime and trusted deputy, Khaled Saffuri, became the Islamic Institute’s first executive director. Saffuri was also appointed as the Muslim Outreach Coordinator for the Bush 2000 campaign. In the course of the campaign, candidate Bush met with both Alamoudi and Sami al-Arian, another prominent Muslim Brotherhood figure who was subsequently convicted of running Palestinian Islamic Jihad out of his professorship at South Florida University.

After Bush won the 2000 election, Khan became a staff member in the Office of Public Liaison in the White House with responsibility for selecting, among others, which Muslims would be allowed access to the President and his team. By that time, Alamoudi had become politically radioactive for his public professions (in 2000) of support for two terrorist organizations, Hamas and Hezbollah. But many of his fellow MB members and close associates in the Brotherhood’s American fronts were still afforded access to the Bush White House — a practice that continued throughout the Bush presidency and into the Obama administration.

Alamoudi officiated at a June 2001 American Muslim Council (AMC) convention where Suhail Khan was presented with an award. In his welcoming remarks, the MB leader praised Khan, with great affection, as “the son of a dear, dear brother [Mahboob Khan] who was a pioneer of Islam work himself.” This statement made plain a longstanding personal connection between not only Alamoudi and the younger Khan, but also between the MB operative and Suhail Khan’s late father. The latter was himself a senior figure in the Muslim Brotherhood who worked for many years with Alamoudi.

The elder Khan was an early founder not only of the Muslim Students Association in the 1960s, but also of three shariah-adherent mosques in California. One of these, the Islamic Society of Orange County, was the site of a fundraising visit in December 1992 by Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, better known as “the blind Sheikh.” The visit preceded by two months the first attack on the World Trade Center, which was masterminded by Rahman. Then, according to a lengthy investigative report in the San Francisco Chronicle published in October 2001, two self-professed members of a terrorist cell recounted how, in 1995, they had brought Ayman al-Zawahiri, a top Muslim Brotherhood figure who went on to become Osama bin Laden’s Number 2 in al Qaeda, to Mahboob Khan’s al-Noor mosque in Santa Clara.

Suhail’s mother, Malika Khan, has also been active with a prominent Muslim Brotherhood front, serving on the board of directors of the California chapter of the Council on America Islamic Relations.

The years-long and prominent involvement of both of Suhail Khan’s parents with the Muslim Brotherhood is significant because Khan has neither acknowledged the truth about the nature of his parents’ roles in MB’s civilization jihad nor disavowed them. To the contrary, in response to Abdurahman Alamoudi’s warm introduction at the 2001 AMC convention, Khan said, in part: “Abdulrahman Alamoudi [was among those who] have been very supportive of me and I want to give them thanks.”

In another address to the annual Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) convention in September 2001 — shortly before 9/11 — Suhail Khan took evident pride in the leadership role his mother had played in a number of Muslim Brotherhood organizations: “She worked with her husband to establish organizations like the MSA, ISNA, CAIR, American Muslims for Global Peace and Justice. She worked hard to establish an Islamic center in Orange County. She worked hard to establish an Islamic center and MCA in Santa Clara, and she still works hard today.”

An insight into Suhail Khan’s view of the work he has done for his mother and the like-minded in ISNA can be found in his speech to the Islamic Society of North America convention in 1999: “This is our determination. This is the fierce determination we must resolve to bear in every facet of our lives. This is the mark of the Muslim. The earliest defenders of Islam would defend their more numerous and better equipped oppressors, because the early Muslims loved death, dying for the sake of almighty Allah more than the oppressors of Muslims loved life. This must be the case where we — when we are fighting life’s other battles….”

Throughout the late 1990s, Khan and the Muslim Brotherhood’s leadership in America called for a prohibition on the government’s use of secret evidence in terrorism-related investigations, particularly in deportation proceedings. In a speech at the ISNA conference in 1999 decrying the use of secret evidence by “the federal authorities,” Khan exhorted his audience not to cooperate with law enforcement. He declared: A Muslim is a brother to a Muslim. Neither he harms him nor does he hand him to another for harm.” He went on to urge his co-religionists to be “protectors of one another.”

During the same time period, Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Sami al-Arian had also been working to accomplish this goal through legislation sponsored by then-Democratic Representative David Bonior of Michigan and then-Republican Representative Tom Campbell of California, for whom Suhail Khan had worked prior to joining the White House staff.

After failing to secure this legislative objective, al-Arian extracted — thanks to Grover Norquist, Khaled Saffuri, and Suhail Khan — a commitment in the course of the 2000 campaign from then-candidate Bush as the quid pro quo for support from the “Muslim-American community”: In the second debate with Al Gore, Mr. Bush pledged that, if elected, he would order such a prohibition.

Al-Arian’s remarks at the ISNA convention in 2001 provide a keen insight into this particular influence operation:

“There has been a lot of talk about the endorsement of President Bush. We did not—the brothers did not endorse him because of Palestine or Iraq. There was a single issue. That was the issue of civil rights to us. There isn’t any ethnic group in this United States that was empowered politically before they won their civil rights battles. Whether we like it or not, that civil rights battle has been defined to us in the issue of secret evidence. We wanted to raise that issue to the full front of the national debate….

“So far the president did not deliver on his promise. We must hold him accountable…. Our hope is to generate thousands of calls to the White House asking them to support HR 1266. Secret Evidence Repeal Act…. Secondly, please visit your congressman…. Thirdly, please visit your editorial boards in the major newspaper in your town or city and let them know about this issue….”

Unspoken was the immediate and time-sensitive reason why Sami al-Arian and his MB team were so determined to deny law enforcement the ability to make use of secret evidence: al-Arian’s brother-in-law, Mazen Al-Najjar, was being held in a federal detention center awaiting deportation on the basis of secret evidence that showed him to be a co-conspirator in running Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Al-Arian’s pressure campaign was clearly designed to strengthen the hand of the man who had taken this MB agenda item with him from Capitol Hill to the White House: Suhail Khan. Evidently, it worked. President Bush was scheduled to fulfill this promise in a meeting attended by Grover Norquist and representatives of the various MB fronts. (Sami al-Arian could not attend in person, but was supposed to call in.) As it happened, the chosen day was September 11, 2001.

After the attacks that morning, the White House complex was closed and the invited MB representatives decamped to the conference room which the Center for Security Policy shared at the time with ATR — a meeting attended by Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan. Shortly thereafter, President Bush began repeating the Muslim Brotherhood line: “Islam is a religion of peace”; “terrorists are trying to hijack Islam”; “jihad is a personal struggle, not holy war”; etc.

President Bush was also induced in the days that followed to receive a Koran in a private meeting with a senior Muslim Brother, Muzzamil Siddiqi, who had taken over Mahboob Khan’s mosque in Orange County. Siddiqi was subsequently invited to be the Muslim imam at the ecumenical national 9/11 memorial service on September 14, 2001. President Bush also paid a highly publicized visit to the Saudi mosque in Washington where he was photographed while surrounded by prominent Muslim Brotherhood operatives, including Nihad Awad of CAIR and Khaled Saffuri.

One thing George Bush did not do on 9/11, however, was prohibit the use of secret evidence in deportation and criminal proceedings — a tool that became all the more necessary to law enforcement in the wake of that day’s murderous attacks.

Shortly thereafter, Suhail Khan left the White House and was given a political appointment in the office of the Secretary of Transportation. His relocation followed the San Francisco Chronicle report tying al-Zawahiri to Mahboob Khan’s al-Noor mosque in Santa Clara.

Suhail Khan spent the rest of the Bush administration in the Department of Transportation, ultimately serving as the Assistant to the Secretary for Policy. In that capacity, he had access to classified information. Given the Department’s portfolio and his responsibilities, that would presumably have included secrets concerning: the policies and operations governing the Transportation Security Administration; port, rail, waterway and highway security; the movement of nuclear weapons and other hazardous materials; etc.

The background investigations and vetting processes for individuals whom political superiors wish to have cleared cannot always be relied upon to screen out all those who should not have access to sensitive information and facilities. That is particularly true for individuals who were granted meetings with President Bush and other senior officials at the behest of a gatekeeper like Suhail Khan. Indeed, the Secret Service was publicly rebuked by President Bush after it had Sami al-Arian’s son, Abdullah, removed from a White House meeting on 28 June 2001, evidently over security concerns arising from his father’s ties to terrorism. President Bush personally called the mother of the young man and promised that nothing like that “would ever happen again.” Thus a chilling message was sent to the intelligence and homeland-security communities.

In subsequent years, Suhail Khan and his patron, Grover Norquist, sought to influence conservative groups and meetings in ways that serve to fracture, in the name of “unity,” the conservative movement. Illustrative examples include:

  • While a member of the Bush administration, Khan was elected to the Board of Directors of the American Conservative Union.
  • Khan’s ACU credentials enabled him to “burrow in” and lay claim to more and more prominent roles in conservative circles. For example, he was cast as the “moderator” on several CPAC panels, including a program in 2007 in which he precluded one of the nation’s foremost non-Muslim experts on Islam, Robert Spencer, from having equal time and his fair say in a debate with Dinesh D’Souzah.
  • In 2009, Khan presided over a panel on what defines a “conservative foreign policy.”

Thanks largely to Grover Norquist’s sponsorship, Khan was also able to infiltrate other conservative circles. For example, for years he attended Norquist’s “Wednesday Group” meetings, weekly gatherings of conservative movement activists and libertarians. He was treated as a “conservative leader” by dint of his chairmanship of something called “the Conservative Inclusion Coalition,” which met at the Americans for Tax Reform offices. And he took to convening periodic meetings with young congressional staff members, some of whom worked for legislators in positions of leadership.

After departing the Bush administration, Suhail also tapped into the Brotherhood’s highly successful “interfaith dialogue” strategem for coopting and influencing the clerical leaders of other faiths. He had an affiliation with the increasingly Saudi-funded Institute for Global Engagement, on whose board served John Esposito. Esposito is a prominent apologist for the Islamists, a stance that was rewarded with his installation as the founding director of the $20 million-plus MB dawa (proselytizing) operation known as the “Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding” at Georgetown University. As Khan noted in his e-mail to the ACU Board, this tie-in afforded him an opportunity to cultivate relations with prominent and well-meaning evangelicals and clerics of other denominations, as well as one or more wealthy conservative philanthropists. One such occasion entailed an excursion that Khan led to Auschwitz and Dachau in which Jewish and Christian clergy were accompanied by an assortment of Muslim Brotherhood operatives, including notably Muzzamil Siddiqi. Khan claims that the purpose of the trip was to bring attention to the scourge of Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.

As there are few more assiduous practitioners of anti-Semitic behavior and Holocaust-denying than shariah-adherent Muslims, it is clear to all but the most naïve that this exercise — like the rest of the MB’s “bridge-building” — is actually about dawa and more effective influence operations, and not about weaning Suhail’s “cohort” from their immoderate views and toxic shariah practices. In fact, the Brotherhood’s revered spiritual guide, Sayyid Qutb, wrote in Milestones that “the chasm between Islam and [the unbelievers] is great and a bridge is not to be built across it so the people on the two sides may mix with each other but only so that [the unbelievers] may come over to Islam.” (Emphasis added.)

In late 2010 and early 2011, Khan was also permitted to attend weekly lunches previously chaired by the late Paul Weyrich. Frank Gaffney personally observed him use one such occasion for an influence operation on a staffer of a senior Republican congressman. After Gaffney had showed an ad describing the history of triumphalist mosques built over the sacred ground of conquered peoples and the explicit ambition of the imam (Faisal Abdul Rauf) who was seeking to build a mosque near Ground Zero, Khan quietly told the staffer that he knew Rauf personally, that the imam was actually a moderate, and that Gaffney was falsely characterizing him and his agenda.

The foregoing litany comprises but a partial rendering of the problem conservatives confront — the penetration of their movement by Suhail Khan and his enablers such as Grover Norquist. Yet it illustrates what a sophisticated, sustained influence operation looks like in an open society.

Khan and his cohorts became increasingly brazen in their aggressive pursuit of the Muslim Brotherhood’s overarching goal — eliminating and defeating American civilization (and conservatism) from within. Such a divide-and-conquer strategy has been evident in, and advanced by, campaigns which these so-called “conservatives” have mounted on behalf of initiatives that are anathema to most bona fide conservatives. For example, Khan, Norquist, and their allies have sought to:

  • close Guantanamo Bay and bring its detainees to the United States;
  • bring Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to civilian trial in New York;
  • repeal the Patriot Act;
  • repeal the ban on homosexuals in the military;
  • build the Ground Zero mosque;
  • leave America’s borders insecure and promote amnesty for illegal aliens;
  • cut U.S. defense spending; and
  • bring American troops home from Afghanistan forthwith, and without regard for conditions on the ground.

The text above is adapted from “Memorandum for Members of the Board of Directors of the American Conservative Union,” by Frank Gaffney (January 14, 2011).

Additional Resources:

Memorandum for Members of the Board of Directors of the American Conservative Union
By Frank J. Gaffney Jr.
January 14, 2011

Who Is Suhail Khan?
By Paul Sperry
January 11, 2011

Khan Job
By Frank J Gaffney Jr.
February 20, 2007

A Troubling Influence
By Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
December 9, 2003

Is CPAC Really Tied to Terror?
By Brian Fitzpatrick
January 18, 2011

Odd Connections of Some GOP Backers of Ground Zero Mosque
By J. Michael Waller
August 23, 2010

Is Grover Norquist an Islamist?
By Daniel Pipes
April 14, 2005


Khan, Suhail

Norquist, Grover

Mohamed Elibiary


Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives have Penetrated Washington
By Paul Sperry

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