Just over a week ago, the Barack Obama campaign announced with some fanfare their new Muslim outreach director, Mazen Asbahi. Within a fortnight, the media and bloggers did the vetting that Obama and his team neglected, and found that Asbahi had a habit of speaking at events sponsored by fundamentalist mosques and had served on a board with a fundamentalist imam. Faster than one can say “the wheels of the bus go round and round”, Asbahi found himself underneath them:
Chicago lawyer Mazen Asbahi, who was appointed volunteer national coordinator for Muslim American affairs by the Obama campaign on July 26, stepped down Monday after an Internet newsletter wrote about his brief stint on the fund’s board, which also included a fundamentalist imam. …
In 2000, Mr. Asbahi briefly served on the board of Allied Assets Advisors Fund, a Delaware-registered trust. Its other board members at the time included Jamal Said, the imam at a fundamentalist-controlled mosque in Illinois. …
The eight-year-old connection between Mr. Asbahi and Mr. Said was raised last week by the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report, which is published by a Washington think tank and chronicles the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood, a world-wide fundamentalist group based in Egypt. Other Web sites, some pro-Republican and others critical of fundamentalist Islam, also have reported on the background of Mr. Asbahi. He is a frequent speaker before several groups in the U.S. that scholars have associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Muslim Brotherhood, launched in the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, has given birth to radical Islamist groups for the last eighty years. Al-Qaeda indirectly owes itself to the MB, as did Ayman al-Zawahiri’s original Egyptian Islamic Jihad group, which now exists within AQ. The MB promote radical, political Islam, and preach violence in pursuit of their goals. If Asbahi spends his time engaging those groups, people can legitimately wonder what his intent was in joining Team Obama.
The big story isn’t so much how Asbahi would have been a threat to the US as a member of Obama’s campaign (answer: not much), but in how inept Obama and his team are at background checks. These will be the same people who appoint people to government posts if Obama wins the election. How many of these “mistakes” will occur then? Competence usually comes with experience, and Obama doesn’t demonstrate much of either.
On the other hand, maybe Obama and his team overreacted. After all, Asbahi didn’t spend nearly as much time on the same board with Said as Obama did with William Ayers.
Michelle has more.