Help Wanted: Muslim Outreach Adviser For Obama Campaign

By Natalie Gewargis

Aug 6, 2008 3:55pm

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, has been taking some heat for not doing enough to reach out to the Muslim community. (At the very least!)

In an attempt to rectify that, a new volunteer national coordinator for Muslim American affairs for the Obama campaign — Chicago attorney Mazen Asbahi — was appointed on July 25.

Asbahi lasted all of ten days.

The problem, reports today’s Wall Street Journal, started last Friday when the "Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report" — an internet newsletter that monitors the fundamentalist Islamic group the Muslim Brotherhood — noted that: "Democratic Presidential candidate Barrack Obama has named Mazen Asbahi, a Chicago lawyer with ties to a financial organization close to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood, as National Coordinator for Muslim American Affairs for his campaign."

The newsletter noted that Asbahi was listed as one of six trustees of Allied Asset Advisors Funds in a May 4, 2000 SEC filing.

And according to Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report, that group was a "subsidiary of the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) and adviser to the Dow Jones Islamic Fund, both affiliated with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)," referring to its own February 2007 report "EXTREMISM AND THE ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA (ISNA)."

Part of that report details the role NAIT played in an ideological struggle in a Bridgeview, Illinois, mosque, and the fundamentalist imam, Jamal Said, who ultimately won that battle. Said served along with Asbahi as a trustee of Allied Asset Advisors Funds.

In 2004, the Chicago Tribune had an interesting story on Said’s internal struggle to control this mosque. Read it HERE.

Said was also one of the many listed as an "unindicted co-conspirator or joint venturer" named in the US government’s ultimately unsuccessful racketeering trial The United States of America vs. the Holy Land Foundation, formerly the largest Muslim charity in the U.S., which the US government accused of being a front-group to fundraise for Hamas.

Note that Obama had no apparent ties to Said — the charge is that Obama named Asbahi to do Muslim outreach for his campaign, and Asbahi had ties to Said — and to the Islamic Society of North America, which was also named as an "unindicted co-conspirator or joint venturer" in the Holy Land Foundation case.

That case, it should be noted, ended in a mistrial.

The newsletter also asserted that Asbahi has been listed as a speaker for ISNA and has spoken at ISNA conferences.

(As long as we’re playing the guilt by association game, we should note that Karen Hughes, back when she worked for the State Department, spoke before an ISNA conference and was honored with an ISNA dinner, and both former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have met with ISNA leadership.)

By Monday Asbahi had tendered his resignation letter to the Obama campaign, saying: "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. Since concerns have been raised about that brief time, I am stepping down…to avoid distracting from Barack Obama’s message of change."

Indeed!

- jpt

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