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A recent Biden judicial nominee, Zahid N. Quraishi, who would be the first Muslim American federal judge with a lifetime appointment, has come under fire from an unusual source, U.S. Muslim groups, some with ties to Islamist groups.

Biden, who went out of his way to court Islamist groups during the 2020 presidential election, has apparently frustrated them with this most recent announcement.

In an article for left-leaning Slate, a number of named and unnamed detractors raised questions about Qurashi, claiming that “notable Muslim organizations” such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) were not consulted for the decision.  CAIR is an organization with extensively documented Muslim Brotherhood links and terror ties.

Quraishi joined the U.S. Army in 2003 and served as a Captain in the Judge Advocate General Corps, which included time as a legal advisor for Detention Operations. Quraishi also served as Counsel in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush.

CAIR’s Zahra Billoo publicly questioned Quraishi’s military service.

“He joined the military after 9/11, after that Iraq war began…This was at a time when Abu Ghraib was open. The government was suggesting the law didn’t matter, that they were above the law. So, was he advising them on how to skirt the law? What was he doing? It’s just a gaping hole. We don’t know,” Billoo told Slate

Billoo has a long track record of maligning the U.S. military, including infamously accusing them of “terrorism” on Memorial Day in 2015 and calling for the celebration of convicted cop killer Jamil Abdullah Amin as a “Black liberation soldier” instead.

Asra Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and counter-Islamist activist, indicated she recognized the hallmarks of Islamist smear tactics in the article about Quraishi.

“I don’t know Biden judicial appointee Zahid Quraishi, but I do know a character assassination by the Council on American-Islamic Relations,” Nomani wrote on Twitter, “Slate should not have published this hit piece, quoting so many unnamed assassins.”

“I would much rather have a white Christian judge with progressive values,” Billoo went on to say. “It’s not enough that he is Muslim. In fact, it’s insulting.”

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), a noted opponent of U.S. Islamist groups and himself a former U.S. Naval officer said while he didn’t know Quraishi’s views, he didn’t buy the appeal to “progressive values” coming from CAIR.

“They do certainly care about Quraishi’s opinions but it’s not for the reasons the progressivists want you to believe,” Jasser noted, “Odds are high that Quraishi –who to the Islamists’ chagrin served our country in uniform—just doesn’t tow the Islamist supremacist line.”

Not all Muslim groups are opposed to Quraishi’s nomination.

Quraishi did receive praise from the judicial and prosecutorial nominations and appointees chair of the New Jersey Muslim Lawyer’s Association (NJMLA), a group which had previously awarded Quraishi their 2019 Trailblazer award.

The NJ Muslim Lawyer’s Association does have some Islamist ties, however.  NJMLA Co-founder Atiya Aftab served as chair of the board of trustees of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey, a mosque founded by members of the Muslim Students Association, the earliest Brotherhood front in the United States. Aftab also served with the Brotherhood-linked Islamic Society of North America’s Masjid Development Committee.  The same year that NJMLA awarded its trailblazer award to Quraishi, it awarded a “social justice” award to a CAIR-NJ employee, and NJMLA’s Legislative and Communications Outreach director previously served as the legal director for CAIR-NJ.

That said, the NJMLA appears to be a lawyer’s association with a broad membership within the Muslim community, so it is entirely possible that while there are Islamist lawyers who are members of the organization, they do not exercise sufficient control to prevent the NJMLA endorsement of Quraishi.

It seems reasonable to interpret the sharp response by CAIR and other unnamed critics of the Quraishi appointment as evidence that Quraishi is not viewed by them as supporting policies favored by the U.S. Islamist community. It will also be be illustrative to see which, if any, senators choose to undertake a line of questioning during the nomination hearing in support of the Islamist view.

Of course, senators from both parties should subject Quraishi to a rigorous examination of where he stands on a wide variety of issues. But, the Biden Administration ought to be commended for –at a minimum—not giving in to Islamist pressure on the appointment of a Muslim American or allowing Islamist lobby groups to exercise a veto over appointments of any kind.

Kyle Shideler

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