In a Washington Times op-ed, right-wing pundit Frank Gaffney claimed that President Obama's "record suggests he must be seen as a 'friend of Shariah.'" In fact, Gaffney bases this claim, in part, on the administration's support for an initiative that began under President Bush, as well as the Obama administration's ties to an American Muslim group that the Bush administration also promoted.
Gaffney Uses ISNA, Project GO To Claim Obama Is "A Friend Of Shariah"
Gaffney Uses ISNA Guest At WH Dinner To Bolster Claims Of Obama's "Affinity For Shariah." In a February 7 Washington Times op-ed, Gaffney, a Fox News contributor and former Assistant Secretary of Defense, claimed that "[t]he record suggests [Obama] must be seen as a 'friend of Shariah.'" Gaffney claimed that the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), which sent a representative to an August 2010 dinner at the White House, is "the largest Muslim Brotherhood front organization in the United States." From the op-ed:
Like ordinary folks, presidents of the United States are known by the company they keep. It is a test of their character. Often it shapes their policies. In the case of Barack Obama, it may blight his legacy and our nation's security interests.
At the moment, though, we must be concerned not only with whom Mr. Obama considers his friends, but with those who deem him to be one of theirs: The record suggests he must be seen as a "friend of Shariah."
How else can we explain the seeming inconsistency between, on the one hand, the president's indifference to demonstrations in Iran last year that were vastly larger and more sustained than those to date in Egypt and, on the other hand, his insistence after a week's worth of protests in the latter that there be nothing less than complete "regime change," starting immediately?
The only obvious common denominator is that in both cases, Mr. Obama is pursuing policies favored by those who adhere to the repressive, supremacist and virulently anti-American Islamic political-military-legal program its adherents call Shariah. In Iran, Shariah already is the law of the land, ruthlessly enforced by the Shiite theocrats of Tehran. In Egypt, the Mubarak regime's failure to enforce Shariah faithfully is one of the principal impetuses behind the Iranian mullahs' Sunni wannabe counterparts in the Muslim Brotherhood.
Mr. Obama nonetheless expressed his support for the Ground Zero Mosque. He did so to the delight of people like Ingrid Mattson in his audience [at an August 2010 White House dinner]. At the time, she was the figurehead leader of the largest Muslim Brotherhood front organization in the United States, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).
Yes, that would be the same Muslim Brotherhood Mr. Obama is helping come to power in Egypt. And yes, ISNA was an unindicted co-conspirator in the biggest terrorism-financing trial in U.S. history. Under the Obama administration, though, ISNA remains the vehicle of choice for official "outreach" to the Muslim-American community and the parent organization responsible for certifying chaplains for the U.S. military and prison system. [The Washington Times, 2/7/11]
Gaffney Claims Defense Department's Project GO Is Part Of "Propagandizing" Taking Place At VMI. Later in the article, Gaffney referred to an upcoming "East Meets West" conference at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in order to attack Project GO, an initiative of the Defense Department. Gaffney said the conference is "the latest symptom of submissive behavior on the part of Mr. Obama" and his administration and attacked Project GO's funding of the conference as "propagandizing." From the op-ed:
Then there is the latest symptom of submissive behavior on the part of Mr. Obama and what appear to be other "friends of Shariah" in his administration. As my colleagues Patrick S. Poole and Christine Brim have illuminated at BigPeace.com, we now have the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) preparing to "celebrate" the 1,300th anniversary of "Tariq ibn Ziyad's crossing of the Straits of Gibraltar," ushering in about 800 years of Moorish conquest and occupation of Spain and, in VMI's words, "setting into motion the fusion between two worlds."
It turns out that this new act of submission to Islamist triumphalism is a byproduct of a transnationalist program funded by the Defense Department and known as Project GO, in which GO stands for global officers. It is administered for the Pentagon by the Institute for International Education, which is, in turn, advised by "dedicated internationalists" from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and, as it happens, the Chinese Communist Politburo. It is obscene that such propagandizing is taking place at what has long been one of America's pre-eminent military academies. But it is, as the Politburo's Li Yuanchao might say, "no accident, comrade." [The Washington Times, 2/7/11]
But ISNA Is A Mainstream Organization That Met With Bush Administration
Bush Met With ISNA leader After 9-11 Attacks. As Media Matters has previously documented, ISNA is a mainstream Muslim group that was promoted by the Bush administration. On September 14, 2001, then-ISNA president Muzammil Siddiqi read a prayer - reportedly at the invitation of the Bush White House -- at the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance, which was attended by then-President Bush and several former presidents. Siddiqi was also among a group of Muslim leaders invited to a gathering at the White House on September 26, 2001. [Media Matters, 7/27/10]
"Unindicted Co-Conspirator" Designation Criticized By Jewish and Christian Groups. The claim that ISNA is an "unindicted co-conspirator" refers to the case of the Holy Land Foundation, the leaders of which were convicted in 2008 on charges of supporting terrorism and tax fraud after being accused of funneling money to Hamas. ISNA was on a list of nearly 300 "unindicted co-conspirators" linked to the case, but as Media Matters has documented, groups criticized the designation as "a legal tactic" and noted that ISNA was "not a target or subject of any criminal investigation." [Media Matters, 7/27/10]
Project GO Is A DoD Project Started By Bush Admin. To Improve Critical Language Skills In Military
Project GO Began In 2007 Under Bush Administration. Project GO, originally called the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Language and Culture project, was launched by the Bush administration Department of Defense in May 2007. According to a press release issued by the Department of Defense on May 8, 2007:
The Department of Defense announced today the award of four grants totaling $2 million to Indiana University, San Diego State University, the University of Mississippi and the University of Texas at Austin as part of the new Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Language and Culture Project.
"The department's goal is to expose ROTC cadets and midshipmen to the study of languages and cultures of the world critical to national security," said David S.C. Chu, under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness. "Through this innovative effort we hope ROTC cadets and midshipmen will have the opportunity to learn a foreign language which will prepare them for future duties as commissioned officers."
As part of this project, Indiana University will offer scholarships for study at their prestigious summer institute in languages including: Arabic, Russian, Azeri, Kazakh, Pashto, Tajik, Turkmen, Uyghur and Uzbek. San Diego State University plans to re-shape their military science minor while drawing on the resources of the community around them to teach different dialects of Arabic as well as Farsi and Russian. The University of Mississippi will offer opportunites [sic] for study of Chinese including summers of study abroad. The University of Texas at Austin will invest in material and curriculum to expand their programs in Arabic and Farsi. [Department of Defense, 5/8/07]
Project GO Bolsters Critical Language Programs For ROTC Students. As Project GO's website explains, the grants provided through the program help increase the number of cadets able to study languages that are high-need for the military. From the program's website:
Project GO directly addresses two of the four goals identified in the Defense Language Transformation Roadmap:
1. Creating foundational language and cultural expertise in the officer ranks and
2. Establishing a cadre of language specialists.
Project GO continues to be one of the only sources, and perhaps the most easily accessible and available source, of funding for summer domestic language study and full-summer study abroad. Project GO also provides ROTC students with the most flexible source of funding for study abroad and critical language study. [Project GO, accessed 2/8/11]
Gaffney Has A History Of Baseless Fearmongering About Muslims, Sharia In The U.S.
Gaffney Often Launches Incendiary And Islamophobic Attacks. As Media Matters has previously documented, Gaffney has a history of promoting Islamophobic conspiracy theories about what he believes is the growing influence of Sharia in the U.S. On the August 23, 2010, edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck, Gaffney told Beck that "the left" and "the Islamists" were "working in concert ... [to] advance[e] the takedown of America." Also during the show, he told Beck, "I think [the Obama] administration has exhibited a sympathy ... for the agenda of folks who are ... seeking to promote Sharia in America." [Media Matters, 1/31/11]