EXCLUSIVE: Deputy of banned cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi who endorses Palestinian suicide bombers had White House meeting with National Security Council staff
- The UK and U.S. have banned Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who leads the anti-Israel International Union of Muslim Scholars.
- The Obama administration invited that group’s VP, Abdallah bin Bayyah, to a private meeting on the day it announced support for Syria’s rebels
- The organization ended its December 2012 board meeting by calling for the end of Israel and the return of its lands to the Palestinians
- Hours after MailOnline began inquiring with the National Security Council about its meeting with bin Bayyah, the cleric’s website was edited to remove the claim that National Security Adviser Tom Donilon attended
PUBLISHED: 23:03 EST, 25 June 2013 | UPDATED: 01:54 EST, 26 June 2013
The meeting occurred on the same day the Obama administration announced plans to arm Syria’s rebel factions, in the wake of a determination that President Bashar al-Assad had used chemical weapons against his own people.
The Investigative Project on Terrorism, which released a report Late Tuesday covering the circumstances of the meeting, wrote that bin Bayyah has referred to the anti-Semitic Islamist al-Qaradawi ‘as “a mountain upon whose peak there is light” and as “a great reformer” who “spreads knowledge and wisdom.”‘
MailOnline saw a late draft of that report.
‘Like many in the global Muslim Brotherhood movement who pose as moderates to the press and to liberal intellectuals by issuing condemnations of al-Qaida,’ it read in part, ‘Bin Bayyah refuses to label the acts of groups such as Hamas, Hizballah or Palestinian Islamic Jihad as terrorism.’
He has also issued ‘an endorsement of the push by Muslim intellectuals to criminalize blasphemy against the Muslim prophet Muhammad and Islam,’ the group reported.
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Bin Bayyah wrote on his website in the days following that meeting that he ‘visited the White House where he met with Ms. Gayle Smith, a senior aide to President Barack Obama, and Mr. Rashad Hussain, U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of the Islamic Conference.’
‘He also met with a number of experts,’ that claim continued, ‘including the director of public relations in the White House, the national security adviser, and representatives from seven government agencies.’
Smith is Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Development and Democracy at the National Security Council. Hussain is the lawyer tapped to implement the ‘new beginning with Muslims around the world’ which President Obama promised during a June 4, 2009 speech in Cairo, Egypt.
Bin Bayyah cultivates an image as a Muslim moderate despite his views. Al-Qaradawi, meanwhile, is a more vocal proponent of Muslim suicide bombers killing Jews, especially in portions of Israel that Palestinians claim as their territory.
Al-Qaradawi is generally considered the leading Islamic scholar affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. He has called openly for the destruction of Israel and the deaths of all Jews, called Adolf Hitler a divine punishment for the ‘misdeeds of the Jews’ and claimed the Nazi Holocaust has been popularly exaggerated.
Al-Qaradawi has also said he wants to die ‘in the service of jihad’ by blowing himself up in Israel and killing Jews in the process.
‘I have supported [suicide bombings] for the past 20 years,’ he said in 2008.
‘I do not automatically support martyrdom operations,’ he continued. “I permit them under specific constraints, when necessary, like in the case of our Palestinian brothers who are forced to defend themselves by turning themselves into bombs.’
The two clerics’ close association has caused reputational trouble for bin Bayyah among Western governments, and the U.S. State Department has denied al-Qaradawi entry into the country since 1999. But the Obama administration welcomed bin Bayyah into the White House.
Bin Bayyah’s own views about Palestinian terror attacks on Israeli targets may have made inviting him to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue a difficult call.
‘That the Obama Administration would invite to the United States a radical Muslim cleric whose organization supports terrorism and whose leaders have issued fatwas calling for the killing of Americans and Jews is beyond comprehension.,’ Investigative Project on Terrorism executive director Steve Emerson told MailOnline.
Emerson called on Congress to investigate ‘immediately.’
‘In my 30 years of covering terrorism, I have never in my life been so appalled and outraged at what can only be called criminal behavior by this administration,’ he said.
NSC communications director Caitlin Hayden told MailOnline in an email that she was ‘unfamiliar with this meeting,’ but later allowed that she was ‘not disputing it.’
Separately, a senior administration official confirmed to MailOnline that ‘Gayle Smith and members of the National Security Staff met with Shaykh Bin Bayyah to discuss a wide range of issues including poverty, global health efforts, and Bin Bayyah’s efforts to counter the al Qaeda narrative.’
‘Ms. Smith stated that she looked forward to working with him,’ the official added, ‘and with other faith leaders on issues of mutual interest.’
Yusuf al-Qaradawi claimed in 2009 that the Nazi Holocaust was a ‘divine punishment’ directed at Jews. Abdallah bin Bayyah, who met with National Security Council staff in the White House, is al-Qaradawi’s deputy as vice president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, which al-Qaradawi leads
The account of the meeting on bin Bayyah’s website also mentions that he ‘called for the protection of the Syrian people and the Muslim minority in Myanmar.’
But less than 12 hours after MailOnline made inquiries with the NSC, that account was altered to remove any reference to National Security Adviser Tom Donilon having attended the meeting. The site still claims ‘the director of public relations in the White House’ – likely a reference to communications director Jennifer Palmieri – did attend.
There has been no confirmation from the White House or from bin Bayyah that either Palmieri or Donilon participated in the June 13 meeting.
A second web page on bin Bayyah’s site was also changed within hours of MailOnline’s inquiries.
According to translations provided by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, an Arabic language account of the June 13 meeting originally mentioned the ‘Director of Public Relations in the White House’ and ‘the National Security Adviser.’ It was changed to refer to ‘Deputy Director of Public Relations in the White House’ and ‘Deputy National Security Adviser.’
The National Security Council would not confirm the attendance of any specific West Wing deputy.
During an April 2013 TV interview, prominent International Union of Muslim Scholars member Tareq Hawwas wished openly of Europe’s Jews that ‘Hitler had finished them off, thus relieving humanity of them’
Any connection with the International Union of Muslim Scholars could be problematic for the Obama administration, since that organization ended its December 2012 board meeting by calling for all of Israel to be returned to Palestinians, and for the return of those Palestinians who were exiled after the Israeli War of Independence in 1948.
Its most prominent members have also expressed openly anti-Semitic views.
Lebanese Islamic scholar Tareq Hawwas, for instance, said in April on Al-Quds TV that Jews ‘are cowards’ and ‘the most miserly of all peoples … If only Hitler had finished them off, thus relieving humanity of them.’
And Hamas parliament member Marwan Abu Ras, another International Union of Muslim Scholars member, claimed on the Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV that ‘Jews are behind each and every catastrophe on the face of the Earth. This is not open to debate. … Any catastrophe on the face of this Earth, the Jews must be behind it.’
That assessment came on Sept. 12, 2012, as the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya lay in ruins and ashes.
The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for information about whether it recommended against issuing a visa to bin Bayyah for his June 13 meeting. Typically, a former DHS official told MailOnline, that agency would have been consulted before the state Department began the process to clear him for entry into the country.
Speaking of the International union of Muslim Scholars, the Investigative Project on Terrorism’s Emerson claimed ‘the United States Government has just legitimized a group that is basically no different that Hamas or Hizbollah, except that this group is the one issuing the religious edicts to those Islamic terrorist groups to carry out jihad against Israel and the United States.’
‘This is the equivalent of inviting Al Qaeda to the White House.’