Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Erdogan’s Shills Lobby US Congress

NewsErdogan’s Shills Lobby US Congress

In mid-June, an umbrella group of US-Islamist non-profits heavily influenced by Türkiye organized a lobbying day in the U.S. Capitol.

[T]he elephant in the room is Türkiye.

Zuhdi Jasser

Over 500 attendees of the three-day event organized by the United States Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) advocated for policies aligned with foreign Islamist agendas, notably Türkiye’s newly reelected President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“The USCMO appears to be a Muslim Brotherhood front group with Jamaat-e-Islami elements,” says Zuhdi Jasser, a reformist Muslim who runs the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. “But the elephant in the room is Türkiye. USCMO has aligned itself with Erdoğan and other foreign Islamist sympathizing entities,” he told FWI.

Three of USCMO’s prominent founding member groups – the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the American Muslims for Palestine, and the Muslim American Society — do in fact have roots in the Muslim Brotherhood. The USCMO coalition also includes the Islamic Circle of North America and the Muslim Ummah of North America, both of which are proxies for Jamaat-e-Islami, a violent South Asian Islamist movement. Turkish regime officials have referred to Jamaat-e-Islami as a useful proxy for Turkish designs.

Zuhdi Jasser (Photo by Gage Skidmore, Wikipedia).

During its recent, annual lobby day to Congress, the USCMO urged Members of Congress to support an “Islamophobia” envoy, pushed for recognizing Muslim contributions to America, decried the “evil” FBI watchlist, and urged Members of Congress to boycott the visit of India’s Prime Minister Modi.

“There is nothing USCMO is doing on their platform that wouldn’t please Erdoğan,” says Jasser.

“In the last decade, the Erdoğan government has cultivated serious influence within the USCMO whose leaders such as Oussama Jammal made frequent visits to Türkiye to meet the Turkish President,” says Abdullah Bozkurt, a Turkish exile who runs the Nordic Monitor, adding, “USCMO seems to have become a proxy group for the Erdoğan regime to advance its political goals, and export political Islam abroad.” USCMO is an American non-profit and not a registered lobbyist for any foreign entity.

USCMO’s call for an “Islamophobia” envoy highlights its collaboration with Türkiye’s Western influence campaign. In January the USCMO’s Secretary General, Oussama Jammal, met with Türkiye’s Foreign Minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, in Ankara—with the Turkish government reporting they discussed, “the fight against Islamophobia and developments in the Middle East.”

“We as Türkiye attach great importance to combating Islamophobia and work to establish global solidarity with regard to this issue,” said Erdoğan in a speech last October at a Turkish government sponsored conference devoted to the subject.

As reported previously at FWI, Türkiye uses “Islamophobia” concerns in the West to advance its own global agenda. Each year Türkiye backs the production of a supposed “exposé” on the status of “Islamophobia” in Europe.

Not only did USCMO push congressmen to sign onto the Islamophobia Act, but it appears that appointing a US “Islamophobia” envoy is the brainchild of the USCMO. In January of 2021, USCMO sent a letter to newly elected President Joe Biden requesting that he appoint an envoy to combat “Islamophobia.”

When this and subsequent attempts failed, a Türkiye-aligned congresswoman, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), introduced legislation to appoint an envoy—framed as a response to a report published by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), ostensibly showing a rise in anti-Muslim incidents in the US. However, CAIR’s most recent “Islamophobia” report reveals that anti-Muslim incidents declined between 2021 and 2022.

USCMO has an extensive partnership with Türkiye. Last year, Türkiye offered free room and board for USCMO’s lobby day attendees through its Diyanet Center of America, a mosque in Maryland directly controlled by the Turkish government.

USCMO has taken more than one delegation trip to meet with Erdoğan in Türkiye, and last fall USCMO awarded Erdoğan’s wife, Emine, with the Muslim Women Achievements Award. USCMO has even publicly sided with Türkiye’s denial of the Armenian genocide.

Upon Erdoğan’s reelection in May, USCMO member leaders celebrated. CAIR’s National Executive Director, Nihad Awad, congratulated Erdoğan on his “free and fierce democratic elections,” and in a separate post thanked God writing, “The Trump-like fear mongering and Islamophobia lost badly. Thank you Türkiye. #TurkishElections.”

USCMO’s Jammal also celebrated on his Twitter, “I’m so honored to be invited and attending the inauguration of President @RTErdogan,” he wrote. The same month, ICNA awarded the Turkish Ambassador, Murat Mercan, for “outstanding community services.”

Abdullah Bozkurt notes: “The USCMO is a hypocritical organization that is totally silent on Erdoğan’s brutal repression on fellow Muslim citizens who happen to be critical of his regime on a range of issues including corruption, aiding and abetting armed jihadist groups and anti-Western/anti-US campaigns.”

“The USCMO’s support to Erdoğan also gets played for domestic audiences in Türkiye to portray him as a sort of Caliph who secured the endorsement of the entire US Muslim community for his foreign policy adventures,” said Bozkurt.

“Türkiye is spending a lot of money on its foreign Islamist influence operation in the West. Why are Members of Congress not paying attention?” asks Jasser.

Susannah Johnston is Focus on Western Islamism’s investigative reporter.

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