Senator John McCain’s claim that concerns about Huma Abedin are a smear based on “a few unspecified and unsubstantiated associations” proves more embarrassing by the day. In fact, to the extent it addressed Ms. Abedin, the letter sent to the State Department’s inspector general by five House conservatives actually understated the case.
The letter averred that Abedin “has three family members — her late
father, her mother and her brother — connected to Muslim Brotherhood
operatives and/or organizations.” It turns out, however, that Abedin herself
is directly connected to Abdullah Omar Naseef, a major Muslim
Brotherhood figure involved in the financing of al-Qaeda. Abedin worked
for a number of years at the Institute for Muslim Minority Affairs as
assistant editor of its journal. The IMMA was founded by Naseef, who
remained active in it for decades, overlapping for several years with
Abedin. Naseef was also secretary general of the Muslim World League in
Saudi Arabia, perhaps the most significant Muslim Brotherhood
organization in the world. In that connection, he founded the Rabita
Trust, which is formally designated as a foreign terrorist organization
under American law due to its support of al-Qaeda.
You ought to be able to stop right there.
A person is not required to have done anything wrong to be denied a
high-ranking government position, or more immediately, the security
clearance allowing access to classified information that is necessary to
function in such a job. There simply need be associations, allegiances,
or interests that establish a potential conflict of interest.
Government jobs and access to the nation’s secrets are privileges,
not rights. That is why the potential conflict needn’t stem from one’s
own associations with hostile foreign countries, organizations, or
persons. Vicarious associations, such as one’s parents’ connections to
troublesome persons and organizations, are sufficient to create a
In this instance, however, before you even start probing the
extensive, disturbing Brotherhood ties of her family members, Huma
Abedin should have been ineligible for any significant government
position based on her own personal and longstanding connection to
Specifically, Ms. Abedeen was affiliated with the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, where she was assistant editor of the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. The journal was the IMMA’s raison d’etre.
Abedin held the position of assistant editor from 1996 through 2008 —
from when she began working as an intern in the Clinton White House
until shortly before she took her current position as Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff.
The IMMA was founded in the late 1970s by Abdullah Omar Naseef, who
was then the vice president of the prestigious King Abdulaziz University
in Saudi Arabia. The IMMA’s chief product was to be its journal. For
the important position of managing editor, Naseef recruited his fellow
academic Zyed Abedin, who had been a visiting professor at the
university in the early 1970s.
To join the IMMA, Dr. Abedin moved his family, including infant
daughter Huma (born in 1976), to Saudi Arabia from Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Zyed’s wife, Saleha Mahmood Abedin (Huma’s mother), is also an academic
and worked for the journal from its inception. She would eventually take
it over after her husband died in 1993, and she remains its editor to
this day. Huma Abedin’s brother Hassan, another academic, is an
associate editor at the journal.
The journal began publishing in 1979. For its initial edition,
Abdullah Omar Naseef — identified in the masthead as “Chairman,
Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs” — penned a brief introduction
relating the IMMA’s vision for the journal. Zyed Abedin appeared as
managing editor in the journal’s second edition in 1979, proclaiming in a
short introduction his “deep appreciation to H.E. Dr. Abdullah O.
Naseef, President, King Abdulaziz University, for his continued
guidance, support, and encouragement.” (I am indebted to the Center for
Security Policy, which obtained some copies of the journal, going back
Not long after the journal started, Naseef became the secretary
general of the Muslim World League, the Saudi-financed global
propagation enterprise by which the Muslim Brotherhood’s virulently
anti-Western brand of Islamist ideology is seeded throughout the world,
very much including in the United States.
We are not talking here about some random imam in the dizzying
alphabet soup of Islamist entities. In the pantheon of Islamic
supremacism, there are few positions more critical than secretary
general of the Muslim World League. In fact, one of the MWL’s founders
was Sa’id Ramadan, the right-hand and son-in-law of Hassan al-Banna, the Brotherhood’s legendary founder.
The MWL manages the “civilization jihad” — the Brotherhood’s
commitment to destroy the West from within, and to “conquer” it by
sharia proselytism (or dawa), as Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, the Brotherhood’s top sharia jurist, puts it.
Nevertheless, the MWL has a long history of deep involvement in violent jihad as well.
It was under MWL auspices in 1988 that Naseef created a “charity”
called the Rabita Trust. The scare-quotes around “charity” are
intentional. To direct the Rabita Trust, Naseef selected Wael Hamza Jalaidan. A few years earlier, Jalaidan had joined with Osama bin Laden to form al-Qaeda.
This would surprise you only if you waste your time listening to John
McCain, Version 2012 — as opposed to John McCain, Version 2011, who professed himself “unalterably opposed” to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Under the Brotherhood’s interpretation of sharia, which is explained in such works as Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law, all Muslims are supposed to donate a portion of their income. This obligation, known as zakat, is usually referred to as “charity” by Islamists and their Western pom-pom waivers. But it is not charity; it is fortification of the ummah – the notional global community of Muslims.
As Reliance instructs, zakat can only be given to
Muslims, and one-eighth of it is supposed to be donated to “those
fighting for Allah, meaning people engaged in Islamic military
operations for whom no salary has been allotted in the army roster.”
Remember that the next time you hear the ubiquitous claim that Muslim
charities are being misused as “fronts” for terrorism. This is not a
“misuse” and they are not “fronts.” Under sharia, the streaming of
donations to violent jihadists is quite intentional.
A month after the 9/11 attacks, Naseef’s Rabitah Trust was formally
designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States
government. Ultimately, branches of the al-Haramain Islamic Foundation and the International Islamic Relief Organization –
other “charities” with roots in the MWL — were also designated as
foreign terrorist organizations under federal law. This, too, should
have not been a surprise. In 2003, in connection with a terrorism
prosecution in Chicago, the Justice Department proffered
that Osama bin Laden had told his aide Jamal al-Fadl that the Muslim
World League was one of al-Qaeda’s three top funding sources. (Fadl
later renounced al-Qaeda and cooperated with federal prosecutors.)
Throughout the time that he ran the MWL and the Rabita Trust, Naseef
kept his hand in at the IMMA. In fact, he continued to be listed on the
masthead as a member of the “advisory editorial board” at the IMMA’s
journal until 2003. We might hazard a guess why his name disappeared
after that: in 2004, he was named as a defendant in the civil case
brought by victims of the 9/11 atrocities. (In 2010, a federal court
dropped him from the suit — not because he was found uninvolved, but
because a judge reasoned the American court lacked personal jurisdiction
Huma Abedin was affiliated with the IMMA’s journal for a dozen years,
from 1996 through 2008. She overlapped with its founder, Naseef, for at least seven years
— it could be more, but I am assuming for argument’s sake that Naseef
had no further involvement in his institute once his name was removed
from the masthead.
The case against Ms. Abedin’s suitability for a high-level position
with access to the nation’s secrets gets much worse if you add in her
To summarize what I’ve already outlined
here at Ordered Liberty: her parents were recruited by Naseef to head
up the IMMA; her mother is an active member of Muslim Brotherhood
organizations — including the Muslim Sisterhood and two entities that
are part of Sheikh Qaradawi’s Union of Good, another designated
terrorist organization; there is persuasive evidence that her father was
a member of the Brotherhood — e.g., the intimate tie to Naseef and his
widow’s membership in the Muslim Sisterhood (which is substantially
comprised of wives and female relatives of prominent Muslim Brothers);
her mother is a tireless advocate of sharia law as preached by Qaradawi
and the Brotherhood; and her brother, who is also affiliated with the
IMMA’s journal, was a fellow at an Islamist institute (the Oxford Center
for Islamic Studies) on whose board sat both Naseef and Qaradawi.
Nevertheless, the family ties to the Brotherhood only further
elucidate what is already patent: Huma Abedin’s connection to Abdullah
Omar Naseef, by itself, would have been more than enough justification
to deny her a security clearance. That would have made it inconceivable
that she could serve as deputy chief of staff to the secretary of state.
Ms. Abedin has very disturbing connections to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Though she is not a policymaker, she is an important adviser, and
during her three-year tenure, federal government policy has radically
shifted in the Brotherhood’s favor, to the point that the Obama
administration is not only embracing the previously shunned Brotherhood
but issuing visas to members of formally designated terrorist
The question is not whether the five House conservatives were
off-base in asking for an investigation into ties between administration
officials and Islamist organizations. The question is why the other 430
members of the House haven’t joined them — and why John McCain, John
Boehner, and other Republican establishment luminaries are championing
the Muslim Brotherhood’s side of the dispute.