(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/24/17) - The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today revealed that the original draft of Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) controversial “Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act” was written by a disgraced former FBI agent who has made a career out of bashing Muslims and Islam.
An Islamophobic website (WND, 11/23/2014) reported that John Guandolo, who claims that former CIA Director John Brennan is a “secret Muslim,” “helped draft the [original] anti-Brotherhood bill” for then Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN).
“The fact that Senator Cruz’s current legislation has its origins in the conspiracy theories of a notorious Islamophobe serves to prove that the bill is designed as the basis for an anti-Muslim witch hunt, not as a legitimate defense of national security,” said CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw.
The first version of the current bill, which is viewed by many as a thinly-veiled attempt to erode American Muslim civil rights and to block that faith community’s civic participation, was introduced by Rep. Bachmann in 2014.
The original Bachmann bill states:
“If the Secretary of State does not designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act within 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall submit to Congress a report that contains the reasons therefor.”
The bill has been modified and reintroduced for the past three congressional sessions, but has so far failed to pass. The bill’s Islamophobic sponsors and supporters believe it will pass this year because the Republican Party now controls Congress and the White House.
Earlier this month, Sen. Cruz and Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) reintroduced the legislation that shares entire passages with the text of Rep. Bachmann’s bill. Cruz’s bill also shares Bachmann’s goal of seeking a return to McCarthy-era style witch hunts targeting domestic Muslim civil society organizations by falsely promoting the debunked conspiracy theory that American Muslims are being “secretly controlled” by overseas groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Cruz bill states: “Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the intelligence community, shall submit a detailed report to the appropriate congressional committees. . . if the Secretary of State determines that the Muslim Brotherhood does not meet the criteria referred to in paragraph (1), includes a detailed justification as to which criteria have not been met.”
Backgrounder on John Guandolo:
Guandolo’s Ties to Sen. Cruz, Support of Islamophobe Frank Gaffney
John Guandolo left the FBI in disgrace after he "had an intimate relationship with a confidential source that he thought could damage an investigation” targeting former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA). Since leaving the FBI, Guandolo has made a career based on Islamophobic statements, such as his claim that the former CIA director is a secret Muslim and that Muslims in America “do not have a First Amendment right to do anything.”
The Commandant of the US Army War College said Guandolo’s “claim (in print) that he teaches at the Army War College and any other references (e.g., online) identifying him as an adjunct instructor here are simply untrue.” The FBI withdrew from a Texas event in 2015 after it became public that Guandolo was slated to speak there.
Sen. Cruz has been linked to Guandolo. In 2016, he invited one of Guandolo’s employees to testify at an Islamophobic Senate hearing.
During his presidential race, Sen. Cruz also included “anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist” Frank Gaffney among his foreign policy advisers. Gaffney is a proponent of the conspiracy theory that Muslims are “infiltrating” the U.S. government. He also believes that a crescent, sometimes seen as a symbol of Islam, in the Missile Defense Agency’s logo fits “an increasingly obvious and worrying pattern of official U.S. submission to Islam.”
Gaffney has gone on the record as being a strong supporter of Sen. Cruz’s “Muslim Brotherhood” act, calling it the “essential issue of the day.”
How the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act is Designed to Hurt American Muslims:
In January, Baher Azmy, legal director with the Center for Constitutional Rights told the Washington Post in the article (“How an obscure U.S. policy effort could hurt American Muslims”) that the bill was, “part of a two-step process to delegitimize a great swath of American Muslim advocacy organizations,” adding, “This is sort of a massive cudgel, if it were passed, that could really be used to question, to target, to harass advocacy organizations.”
The Post article also noted: “[I]t would mark the first time that the U.S. government has pursued the terrorist designation on ideological grounds. . .It is also likely to have a far-reaching impact on American Muslims at a time when Muslim community leaders say the religious minority is facing the worst harassment it has seen since the aftermath of 9/11.”
In November, 2016, J.M. Berger, a counterterrorism analyst at George Washington University’s Program on Extremism offered this opinion to Buzzfeed about the true objective behind the moment supporting the bill: “Let me be extremely clear. This initiative is concerned with controlling American Muslims, not with any issue pertaining to the Muslim Brotherhood in any practical or realistic sense.”
Nathan Lean, author of the 2012 book “The Islamophobia Industry,” told the Huffington Post in January that the bill, “opens up the door for a lot of really damaging possibilities, like endless prosecution of Muslim Americans that simply hold different political or religious positions than Cruz, [Ben] Carson, Gaffney, Trump and that band of fear-mongers.”
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.
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