Summary: The reaction in America to Hamas’s barbaric terrorist attacks in Israel exposes a sobering reality: Unlike al-Qaeda and ISIS, Hamas—a wing of the Muslim Brotherhood—has substantial popularity in the United States and a large network of diverse organizations that openly or implicitly supports it. These organizations include, among others, the Council on American Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America, and the North American Islamic Trust. All three deny having any connection to the Muslim Brotherhood or Hamas. In public, they typically take the tack of condemning terrorism generally, saying nothing about Hamas, and justifying liberation movements in Palestine.
The reaction in America to Hamas’s barbaric terrorist attacks in Israel exposes a sobering reality in our country: Unlike al-Qaeda and ISIS, Hamas has substantial popularity and a large network of diverse organizations that openly or implicitly supports it.
Hamas first established a network in the U.S. through its Islamist parent organization in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood. Article 2 of Hamas’s 1988 covenant states that Hamas “is one of the wings of Moslem Brotherhood in Palestine. Moslem Brotherhood Movement is a universal organization which constitutes the largest Islamic movement in modern times.”
Hamas revised the charter in 2017 to make it more palpable to the masses. It removed the reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as some of the most explicitly anti-Semitic content. However, Hamas has never issued any disaffiliation or renunciation of the 1988 charter’s content. Hamas remains a section of the Brotherhood, though it gets support from Islamist and non-Islamist extremists outside of the Brotherhood.
The U.S. Muslim Brotherhood Network
The Muslim Brotherhood secretly set up its U.S.-based wing in the early 1960s, operating under names like “the Cultural Society” and hiding their Brotherhood membership, even from fellow Muslims. In 1963, Brotherhood supporters established the Muslim Students Association, as well as other major Muslim American organizations.
Immediately after the Brotherhood created Hamas in December 1987, it set up a subunit called the Palestine Committee to oversee its pro-Hamas fronts in the U.S.
In 1991, a member of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s Executive Council and Shura Council wrote a revealing strategy memo that was never meant to be seen by outside eyes. It stated that the Brotherhood’s “work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within.” It ended with a list of “our organizations and the organizations of our friends” that the author hoped would “all march according to one plan.”
Some Brotherhood apologists have tried to dismiss the significance of the memo, but its credibility cannot be reasonably disputed. It is substantiated by various other internal Brotherhood documents. The author, Mohamed Akram Adlouni, was and remains a senior Brotherhood operative involved in financing Hamas.
In 1993, 20 of the top Hamas/Brotherhood leaders met in Philadelphia to discuss their strategy to promote the Hamas agenda. The FBI wiretapped the meeting. The transcripts show that the participants agreed to use deception to hide their Hamas links and to use language palpable to the American public.
One of the conclusions from the meeting was that they needed a new “neutral” organization to act as one of their public faces. Months later, the meeting participants formed the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).
CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad publicly identified himself as a Hamas supporter in 1994. CAIR’s response to that fact is that Awad expressed support for Hamas before it began suicide bombings in 1994 and before the U.S. designated Hamas as a foreign terrorist organization in 1995. The group says Awad no longer supports Hamas and that CAIR has “consistently denounced violence by Hamas.”
However, in an Arabic interview with Al-Jazeera in 2004, Awad struck a different tone. He was asked whether he supports Hamas. He said, “We do not and will not condemn any liberation movement inside Palestine or Lebanon,” clearly referring to Hamas and Hezbollah.
In addition, CAIR officials and chapter leaders have a history of legitimizing Hamas’ acts of terrorism, framing Hamas as a resistance group, calling for the elimination of the state of Israel, and engaging in anti-Semitism. Based on these facts and CAIR officials’ recorded discussions about deploying deception, the sincerity of the organization’s rare condemnations of Hamas’ violence should be in question.
Another part of the Brotherhood-founded network is knowable from the prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation, a Brotherhood front that financed Hamas. The Justice Department released a list of unindicted co-conspirators and identified three major Muslim American organizations as “entities who are and/or were members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood”: CAIR, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and the North American Islamic Trust. All three deny having any connection to the Brotherhood or Hamas.
Another Brotherhood-founded organization is the Muslim American Society (MAS). A 2004 expose detailed the Brotherhood’s formation of MAS in 1993. MAS memos explained how to dodge questions about their Brotherhood affiliations. The memos advised condemning terrorism in general with the understanding that the violent jihads they support do not meet the definition of terrorism.
The reporters interviewed a senior Brotherhood official in Egypt who admitted, “I don’t want to say that MAS is an Ikhwan [Brotherhood] entity. This causes some security inconveniences for them in a post–September 11 world.”
Federal prosecutors confirmed MAS’ Brotherhood origins in a filing in a terrorism-related case in 2008. They wrote that MAS was “founded as the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States.”
MAS denies any affiliation with the Brotherhood. However, in its denial, it speaks highly of the Brotherhood and seems to concede that Brotherhood members were involved in its founding.
Notably, MAS’s statement about the current Israeli-Hamas fighting only expresses concern for Palestinian casualties. There is no mention, much less a denunciation, of Hamas.
MAS points readers to a statement by another pro-Brotherhood group, American Muslims for Palestine (AMP). AMP has been described as “arguably the most important sponsor and organizer for Students for Justice in Palestine.”
Like MAS, AMP omits mention of Hamas and fails to condemn its attacks.
In a different AMP statement, the group frames Hamas’ terrorism as legitimate acts of resistance against oppression: “First of all, this was not an attack, it was a response. Expecting a besieged, occupied, brutalized, and colonized people to remain docile in the face of nearly a century of brutal oppression and colonial subjugation is inhumane and unjust.” It further states, “the onus rests with the Israel apartheid regime to end the brutal siege on Gaza, or else the Palestinians will find themselves compelled to end it themselves as we’ve seen in the past 48 hours.”
In another statement, AMP referred to the acts of terrorism as only “the acts of Palestinian armed groups.”
Numerous AMP officials have directly expressed support for Hamas and the Brotherhood. According to congressional testimony, there is a “significant overlap between AMP and people who worked for or on behalf of organizations that were designated, dissolved, or held civilly liable by federal authorities for supporting Hamas.”
The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) is another Brotherhood-founded organization. It has been the subject of federal investigation due to its ties to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
IIIT and the Fiqh Council of North America, an affiliate of ISNA, endorse an authoritative manual on Sharia Law named Reliance of the Traveler. The book instructs Muslims that if they can’t tell the truth, they can “employ words to give a misleading impression” and, if that is insufficient, it is “obligatory to lie if the goal is obligatory.” Examples of justified lying include deceiving an “oppressor” of Muslims.
Sam Westrop, director of Islamist Watch, tells Capital Research Center that Hamas’s network of Islamist allies in the U.S. is much broader than just the organizations established by Brotherhood supporters:
Nonprofit tax return data, as just one example, shows hundreds of millions of dollars raised every year by Muslim Brotherhood, Jammat-e-Islami and other Islamist movements for Islamist aid charities working in Gaza with Hamas authorities and their charitable fronts.
In the next installment, a wide range of Muslim organizations have carefully avoided mentioning Hamas.