Executive leadership from some of the most prominent American Muslim organizations announced the formation of the United States Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) on Wednesday, 12 March 2014 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The eight founding Muslim organizations participating at the press conference were immediately joined by two additional U.S. Muslim organizations. Key Muslim leadership representatives spoke about the vision and mission of the USCMO and appeared in the following order:
- Ousama Jammal, Secretary General USCMO and past President of The Mosque Foundation
- Naeem Baig, President, Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA)
- Nihad Awad, National Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
- Mazen Mokhtar, Executive Director, Muslim American Society (MAS)
- Imam W. Deen Mohammed II, President, The Mosque Cares (grandson of the NOI founder)
- Khalil Meek, Executive Director, Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA)
- Imam (Name), American Muslim Alliance (AMA)
- Osama Abuirshaid, National Board Member, American Muslims for Palestine (AMP)
- Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid, Deputy Emir, Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA)
- Mahdabuddin Ahmad, Director of Community Affairs, Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA)
The USCMO is described as an umbrella organization – and CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad inferred that and more, with his assertion regarding the USCMO that “This is the dream of every American Muslim, to unify the approach, agenda and vision of the Muslim community. In the past, many people have tried to unite on a limited agenda, but this is a broad agenda for the American Muslim community.” Awad stressed the need for a “platform to coordinate, to communicate, and unify the vision on critical issues both to the Muslim community and the society at large,” because he believes that “Muslim voters can be swing voters in key elections, especially 2016.” The formation of the USCMO marks the first U.S. Muslim Brotherhood political party, and indeed the first religious identity political party in the history of this country.
USCMO founding members CAIR and ICNA were previously identified as front groups for the Muslim Brotherhood during the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trial in 2007. Sheikh Kifah Mustapha, who has worked with Ousama Jammal (current Mosque Foundation board member) at The Mosque Foundation, was listed by name as an unindicted co-conspirator in the HLF trial as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee. According to documents entered into evidence at the HLF trial, he was a “registered agent for HLF in Illinois” who acknowledged fundraising for the HLF from the mid-1990s until 2001. Mustapha has also raised money for MAS and ICNA initiatives during their annual conferences in Chicago.
It is important to note the geo-political influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Illinois, as this relates to the oversight of USCMO’s founding member organizations.
USCMO member organizations with headquarters in Illinois include the following:
- The Mosque Foundation (7360 W. 93rd Street, Bridgeview IL 60455)
- American Muslims for Palestine (10101 South Roberts Road, Palos Hills, IL 60465)
- The Mosque Cares (929 West 171st Street, Hazel Crest, IL 60429)
USCMO member organizations with regional offices in Illinois include the following:
- Islamic Circle of North America (6224 N. California Avenue, Chicago, IL 60659)
- Council on American Islamic Relations Chicago (17 N. State Street, Suite 1500, Chicago, Illinois 60602
- Muslim American Society (9210 South Oketo Avenue, Bridgeview, IL 60455)
- Muslim Legal Fund of America (15255 S. 94th Ave, 5th Floor, Orland Park, IL 60462)
During the press conference, Nihad Awad indicated his organization CAIR was “proud to join this historic organization, because today is a historic one. We have been meeting for at least one and a half years.” However, the information absent from this discussion by Awad and his colleagues was that the development of the USCMO not only predates the eighteen month time frame, but finds its origins in the Chicago metropolitan area, where the Muslim Brotherhood has successfully built a strategic organizational network for almost six decades.
On 20 January 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gifted the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood a key opportunity when she signed the Exercise of Discretionary Authority under Section 212(d)(3)(B)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Tariq Ramadan, the grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al Banna, now could finally enter the United States for the first time since the Department of Homeland Security revoked his visa in July 2004 during the administration of President George W. Bush.
Less than four months later, on 5 May 2010, Project Mobilize (also known as Project M), which included board members with ties to multiple Muslim Brotherhood front organizations, was founded by M. Yasser Tabara in Summit, Illinois. USCMO Secretary General Ousama Jammal was a founding Board Member of Project Mobilize. M. Yasser Tabara, Project Mobilize President, was former executive director for CAIR Chicago. Project Mobilize board member Safaa Zarzour, Esq. is former Secretary General of the Islamic Society of North America. Two Project Mobilize board members, Dr. Mohammed Zaher Sahloul and Safaa Zarzour, Esq. were appointed to the American Muslim Advisory Council on 30 August 2011 by Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn.
In April 2010, Tariq Ramadan returned to the US where he was keynote speaker for both the Council on Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC) fundraising dinner and the 6th Annual CAIR-Chicago Banquet. In July 2010 and July 1011, Ramadan was a keynote speaker for both the 47th annual ISNA and the 48th annual ISNA conventions in Chicago. In December 2012 and December 2013, Ramadan was a keynote speaker for the 11th annual MAS-ICNA and 12th annual MAS-ICNA conventions in Chicago, where he has communicated the need for Muslim American integration and participation in the political process and society.
At the Project Mobilize website, its stated mission included the following:
- To Develop the political capital existing within the Muslim American community;
- To Organize the Muslim American community around issues determined relevant; and
- To Advocate on behalf of the Muslim American community to elected officials and persons with political clout so that they act upon the concerns and desires of their Muslim American constituents.
In the Company Overview from their Facebook page, Project Mobilize described itself as “Based in the Chicagoland area, Project Mobilize or Project M is a non-profit political action and civic engagement organization dedicated to the education, development, and political advancement of the Muslim American community locally, statewide, and across the country.”
In April 2011, Project Mobilize successfully fielded its first candidatesfor political office: Asif Yusuf was elected as Oakbrook Village trustee; Ahmed Aduib was elected to the Bridgeview library board; Nuha Hasan was elected as a Village of Justice park district commissioner. Four years earlier in 2007, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs sponsored a study about political and civic participation, which included the Muslim American community. Project Mobilize stated that “among the top three recommendations of this diverse task force was to increase the civic participation of the Muslim American population beyond its current scope. This principle mirrors the fundamental objective of Project M and its three-pronged mission.”
In the Project Mobilize website section “Why Us? Why Now?” it is clear that Project Mobilize was the genesis for the formation of the USCMO: “There is political talent in the Muslim American community that needs only direction and resources in order to gain substantive footing.” Project Mobilize leadership intended for itself to be a catalyst for political action: “The long and extensive history of mobilization by several local Muslim-membered organizations has adequately laid the foundation for more strategic and consistent organizing efforts in the future.”
In President Barack Obama’s first term, the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States began to experience a political climate more conducive to their advancement of “Phases of the World Underground Movement Plan” in accordance with the framework articulated by influential Muslim Brotherhood theologian Sayyid Qutb in his book Milestones. Project Mobilize affirmed this reality on their website: “And finally, the political climate is ripe for an organization that will pave the way for concentrated advocacy efforts in the name of the Muslim American community.” The Project Mobilize leadership tactically positioned itself looking long term with the eventual formation of the USCMO coming to fruition in March 2014.
As the 2016 presidential election cycle heats up, the USCMO initiative to fortify Muslim citizenship rights “by conducting a census of American Muslims to create a database that will be used to enhance civic and political participation in upcoming elections,” shows all the outward signs that the Muslim Brotherhood actively is working to create the equivalent of the Republican Party’s GOP Data Center, formerly known as Voter Vault.
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