Commentary Magazine


Topic: Shekh Abdullah Bin Bayyah

Guess Who’s Welcome in the White House?

In 2009, the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center named Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah as one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world. The cleric has also worked with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on what are said to be global health issues. So perhaps there is nothing wrong about him attending a meeting at the White House on June 13 to confer with Obama administration officials, including some of the members of the National Security Council. Or so the administration thought. As it turns out, Sheikh Bin Bayyah’s resume is a little longer than that short list of distinctions. As Steven Emerson and John Rossomando of The Investigative Project reported on Wednesday, as vice president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, he’s also a leading supporter of Hamas and endorsed Islamist terrorism against U.S. troops in Iraq. If that isn’t enough, he’s also a disciple of radical Egyptian cleric Yusuf Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who is banned from the U.S. as a result of his repeated calls for the murder of both Jews and Americans.

So what exactly was the Obama administration thinking when it not only granted him a visa to come to the United States but actually invited him to the White house to confer with administration officials to discuss what we are told are issues relating to poverty, global health and to encourage him to continue speaking ill of al-Qaeda? While that last point may make the decision to embrace Bin Bayyah seem defensible, how is it possible that a known supporter of a group the U.S. has itself labeled as a terrorist organization, and whose record includes a long list of statements about the need to oppose U.S. policies, would be considered a proper advisor to people at the highest level of the American security establishment?

Unfortunately, the answer to these questions makes no more sense than administration replies to queries about why they have embraced the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt and why President Obama treats Turkey’s Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as if he’s his best friend.

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In 2009, the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center named Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah as one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world. The cleric has also worked with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on what are said to be global health issues. So perhaps there is nothing wrong about him attending a meeting at the White House on June 13 to confer with Obama administration officials, including some of the members of the National Security Council. Or so the administration thought. As it turns out, Sheikh Bin Bayyah’s resume is a little longer than that short list of distinctions. As Steven Emerson and John Rossomando of The Investigative Project reported on Wednesday, as vice president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, he’s also a leading supporter of Hamas and endorsed Islamist terrorism against U.S. troops in Iraq. If that isn’t enough, he’s also a disciple of radical Egyptian cleric Yusuf Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who is banned from the U.S. as a result of his repeated calls for the murder of both Jews and Americans.

So what exactly was the Obama administration thinking when it not only granted him a visa to come to the United States but actually invited him to the White house to confer with administration officials to discuss what we are told are issues relating to poverty, global health and to encourage him to continue speaking ill of al-Qaeda? While that last point may make the decision to embrace Bin Bayyah seem defensible, how is it possible that a known supporter of a group the U.S. has itself labeled as a terrorist organization, and whose record includes a long list of statements about the need to oppose U.S. policies, would be considered a proper advisor to people at the highest level of the American security establishment?

Unfortunately, the answer to these questions makes no more sense than administration replies to queries about why they have embraced the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt and why President Obama treats Turkey’s Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as if he’s his best friend.

Lest there be any doubt about Bin Bayyah’s presence in the White House, a “senior Obama administration official confirmed to Fox News that the meeting took place. But the fact that Bin Bayyah had already posted a photo of the meeting on his Web site, there was no need for anybody to go digging through the log of visitors to the White House.

The Investigative Project details Bin Bayyah’s record at length, but suffice it to say that despite a recent willingness to oppose al-Qaeda, his record on terrorism and radical Islamism should have rendered him off limits for entry to the United States, let alone being allowed to waltz into the White House.

While the Obama administration has developed an altogether commendable record on killing terrorists in the field, its weakness for some radical clerics and Islamist political parties in the Middle East has compromised its ability to think clearly about Egypt and Turkey. If the likes of Bin Bayyah are welcome in the White House, it’s little wonder the president and his foreign policy team have been unable to put forward a coherent policy on dealing with the problems of the Middle East.

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