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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Wanted: Muslim outreach advisor untainted by terror associations

On the surface, Mazen Asbahi looked perfect for the role that the Obama campaign wanted him to play. Clean-shaven, dressed for success, a senior corporate associate at Chicago's sixth largest law firm, Asbahi seemed like just what the Obama campaign sought: A Muslim success story who is fluent in Arabic but looks American, who could act as the campaign's liaison to the Muslim community.

Asbahi lasted about ten days.
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.

"Mr. Asbahi has informed the campaign that he no longer wishes to serve in his volunteer position, and we are in the process of searching for a new national Arab American and Muslim American outreach coordinator," spokesman Ben LaBolt said in a statement.

...

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.

"I served on that board for only a few weeks before resigning as soon as I became aware of public allegations against another member of the board," Mr. Asbahi said in his resignation letter. "Since concerns have been raised about that brief time, I am stepping down...to avoid distracting from Barack Obama's message of change."
But there's more to it than that.
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 Justice Department named Mr. Said an unindicted co-conspirator in the racketeering trial last year of several alleged Hamas fund-raisers, which ended in a mistrial. He has also been identified as a leading member of the group in news reports going back to 1993.

Mr. Said is the imam at the Bridgeview Mosque in Bridge-view, Ill., outside Chicago. He left the board of the Islamic fund in 2005, Securities and Exchange Commission filings state. A message left for Mr. Said at the mosque was not returned.

Allied Asset Advisors is a subsidiary of the North American Islamic Trust. The trust, which is supported financially by the government of Saudi Arabia, holds title to many mosques in the U.S. and promotes a conservative brand of Islam compatible with the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and also akin to the fundamentalist style predominant in Saudi Arabia. Allied executives did not respond to inquiries.
The issue here isn't Asbahi. As Captain Ed points out, the issue is that the Obama campaign should have found these connections in the vetting process and realized that this wouldn't fly.
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.
Michelle Malkin is predicting that it won't be long before CAIR starts screaming about Islamophobia and Obama's minions start complaining that firing Asbahi is racist.

But there are two other possibilities as to why this happened. One is that Barack Hussein Obama and his campaign see nothing wrong with employing people who are connected to terrorists. After all, as Ed points out, Obama himself spent a lot more time sitting on the same board with William Ayers than Asbahi did with Said.

The second possibility is that the type of Muslim who isn't a terrorist sympathizer - the Noni Darwish's, the Ayan Hirsi Ali's, the Wafa Sultan's - wouldn't work for the Obama campaign and wouldn't attract many Muslim voters.

Neither possibility bodes well for an Obama presidency or for the future of the United States.

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