USCMO: An Inside Look at the US Council of Muslim Organizations
It’s difficult to identify the allegiance of a ship at sea when that ship keeps changing its sails. That scenario is no different from the Muslim Brotherhood, a notorious band of chameleons whose sails are stars and stripes, but in whose hearts soars the twin-sword flag of the Brotherhood.
In the U.S., the Muslim Brotherhood is recognized through the wave of aggressive Muslim interest groups, including ISNA, ICNA, and CAIR. In recent years these lobbies faced growing pressure on three fronts. The first wave of pressure comes from watchdog groups who areexposing the underground network of Islamist collaborators who link these groups together. The second wave of pressure comes from the state and intelligencesector, as both are moving to either challenge or distance themselves from groups spearheaded by Islamists. And finally, the third wave of pressure comes from secular Muslims themselves who feel these groups no longer fully represent the wave of diverse Muslim opinion that has slowly but surely begun blossoming after 9/11.
In March of 2014, a new group formed with the aim of uniting a coalition of Muslim organizations: the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO). USCMO came into the spotlight more recently with the launch of their 2016 political campaign, “One America.” The campaign followed on the heels of a December 2015 emergency summit of over 100 mostly Muslim leaders who sought to offset a Muslim image crisis after GOP nominees’ unfavorable – albeit often true – remarks about some Muslim communities.
Reading Between the Lines of USCMO’s “One America” Campaign
The “One America” campaign calls for mobilizing one million new Muslim American voters, cultivating dialogue with elected officials, along with increased open-house days at mosques across the country. According to an ICNA press release:
“The [USCMO] coalition committed itself to combat all forms of violent extremism in the homeland. Experts in the field shared some factors related to radicalization that include isolation, the presentation of a twisted religious ideology and toxic anti-Muslim political rhetoric and negative perceptions of American policy, particularly in the Middle East.
These strategies will seek to prevent the targeting of members of the American Muslim community by those espousing extremist ideologies and will help young people to rejoin the mainstream community. In each of the initiatives, coalition members will seek to protect the civil liberties of all Americans.”
This sort of polished rhetoric is the typical of Islamist Muslim organizations – organizations that fail to tackle the more damaging elements of an Islamic ideology responsible for heightened global religious extremism. When USCMO says “combat all forms of violent extremism” in the homeland, what they mean is looking at all forms of violent extremism except radical Islamic extremism. For these groups, homegrown extremism isn’t domestic jihad – it’s Islamophobia.
When USCMO mentions “experts,” it means people who subscribe to a victim narrative that ignores personal and community accountability. A systematic practice of finding fault in others is furthered by how the group defines “radicalization.” For USCMO, “radicalization” is linked with social alienation, political rhetoric, and American foreign policy. When it comes to radical Islamic ideology, these groups don’t recognize what almost all other secular and even conservative Muslims recognize: undeniable flaws within the Islamic faith, within scripture, interpretation and culture. Yet, USCMO cannot recognize Islamic ideology’s integral role in the radicalization process. Furthermore, the Islamist group supports the agenda to manipulate language, which now includes denyingthe existence of radicalization.
When USCMO talks about ensuring civil liberties, it means ensuring these Islamist groups’ use civil liberties to advance their own cause. In this election year and moving forward into 2017, that cause is defined by challenging the validity of critical thinkers and slandering them through largely unfounded accusations of bigotry and Islamophobia. In almost call cases, Islamist organizations work with counter-productive groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and Wahhabi funded agents to weave a narrative that undermines our number one freedom: freedom of speech.]
For USCMO, the Only “Real” Muslims are Islamists
When USCMO talks about Muslim Americans rejoining the mainstream community, their vision is a new legion of politically active Muslims who can further ensure their agenda. Secular Muslims, Muslims combative towards Islamism, critical Muslim academics and Muslim Reformers are not part of what USCMO considers its demographic. In fact, private conversations with both cultural and deeply faithful Muslims shows a disdain for Muslim groups that pander to identity politics.
Ammar Anwer, a rising Pakistani blogger at Huffington Post and Quilliam, feels that “faith has nothing to do with national identity.” He adds, “Out of all the misunderstandings, the greatest misunderstanding is to confuse religious beliefs with national identity.”
Shaykh Uthman Khan, an academic traditionalist who routinely challenges Islamism, questions the need for Muslim representation:
“Why do Muslims need representation unless Muslims have incorporated within themselves a sectarian mentality that needs to be protected? This is an example of religions become sects and clubs. As long as we have this, we will continue to be segregated and hated against.”
Uthman Khan is frequently “looked at and hated against” for his orthodox appearance. He adds, “I didn’t go crying looking for representation. Rather, I dealt with it.” Khan feels strongly that USCMO is another form of monopolization of Islam.
Yet people like myself, Anwer and Khan are not only ostracized from dialogues led by Islamist groups, we’re also often slandered for it. When it comes to our voices as Muslims, groups like USCMO conveniently disregard civility and liberty. Clearly, only Islamist Muslim voices matter. Furthering the hypocrisy of their actions, Islamists demand a public platform to elevate their voice above any other message.
So despite the emergence of new Muslim interest groups, the language and demands for an audience remain the same. The reason USCMO’s rhetoric hasn’t changed because the players haven’t changed. The umbrella organization is spearheaded by hardcore Islamists (see list here).
Respected leading Muslim Reformer and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Zuhdi Jasser, points out that USCMO “…should be looked at as a circling of the wagons of the inner core of American Islamist organizations. If they were going to start an American Islamist political party those would be the founders. Instead they deceive Americans as an innocent ‘Muslim coalition.’”
Even a den of thieves can call themselves a “coalition.”
The groups that fall under USCMO not only shun secular Muslims out of any ‘coalitions,’ they have a completely ulterior agenda that clashes with secular Muslim groups. The latter serve as voices for humanity promoting common values that transcend identity driven politics – an agenda that’s completely at odds with Islamists. These voices include the Center for Islamic Pluralism (CIP), Muslim American Leadership Alliance (MALA), the Muslim Reform Movement, Muslims Facing Tomorrow (MFT), and the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD).
Devastate USCMO by Attacking its Base: The Muslim Brotherhood
After a number of public strikes against a deteriorating brand, including growing multi-front attacks against CAIR, Islamist leadership regrouped and rebranded under USCMO – a direction that reveals a growing interest in being politically active agents. It is time-consuming and resource expensive to repeatedly confront each Islamist group under its own banner, which is why the last formidable solution to stem the Brotherhood must be supported by each and every one of us.
H.R. Bill 3892, titled “The Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act of 2015,” was introduced in November of 2015 by Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart and Senator Ted Cruz. A former GOP presidential candidate, Senator Cruz is a formidable opponent to Islamism. Recognizing the newest coalition as another form of the same brand of Islamists, Senator Cruz recently spurned USCMO’s requests to meet – a move that caused the Islamist lobby to publicly lash out at the then GOP presidential candidate.
National Security Analyst Ryan Mauro has been rallying support for the bill, which now includes 56 additional representatives. He had this to say on why the bill is a critical legal step in defeating Islamist ideology:
“Because the Brotherhood isn’t designated as a terrorist group, you have to identify, investigate and prosecute each individual Brotherhood manifestation. And if you manage to do that, you’ll soon have to start it all over again because the entity will rebirth under a new name.
The status quo makes it exceptionally difficult to investigate and prosecute Brotherhood entities that support terrorism. It’s not illegal to support the Brotherhood, even though it’s the same organization as Hamas. A terrorism financier can legally pass the funds to Brotherhood fronts with the intention of the funds illegally going to Hamas. How can a prosecutor prove that the financier intended for that illegal transfer to happen? It’s nearly impossible.
An investigation can only begin when there’s sufficient evidence of possible illegal activity. If it is legal to support the Brotherhood, who can you justify an investigation? Doing it solely on the basis of Brotherhood affiliation will lead to accusations of misconduct, religious profiling and civil liberties violations. However, Hamas is a subset of the Brotherhood network and so the designated Hamas has a protective layer from the non-designated Brotherhood.”
The Muslim Brotherhood has already been banned in Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Syria and Bahrain, among others. Now it’s our turn to stem the tide by calling our elected officials and asking them to co-sponsor and support the bill. Search the list to see if your elected official supports the bill. Here’s how you can find and contact your representative and ask them to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.