by John Rossomando
A Muslim legal group, girded with $1.8 million in grant money from George Soros’s Open Society Foundations (OSF), has helped influence major policy changes in the war on terror, including the Department of Homeland Security’s screening of individuals with suspected terror ties and the FBI’s training program for its agents working in counterterrorism.
Internal records, made public by the hacking group DC Leaks, show OSF spent $40 million between 2008 and 2010 on programs aimed at weakening U.S. counterterrorism policy.
Muslim Advocates’ Executive Director Farhana Khera played a key role in shaping the foundations’ spending. Khera co-authored a 2007 memo that “informed” the foundations’ U.S. Programs Board’s decision to create the National Security and Human Rights Campaign (NSHRC), a Sept. 14, 2010 OSF document discussing the program’s reauthorization, shows.
The NSHRC’s goals included:
- Closing Guantanamo Bay, eliminating torture and methods such as the extraordinary rendition of prisoners, and ending the use of secret prisons;
- Ending warrantless and “unchecked” surveillance;
- Ensuring that anti-terrorism laws and law enforcement activities do not target freedom of speech, association or religious expression;
- Reducing ethnic and religious profiling of people of Muslim, Arab or South Asian extraction;
- Decreasing secrecy and increasing oversight of executive actions, and expose U.S. government or private individuals who abuse or violate the law.
Some of these policies, such as closing Guantanamo and ending enhanced interrogation techniques, already were also advocated by Obama administration. OSF claimed its work laid the groundwork for implementing those policies. The Edward Snowden leaks cast light on the depth of the government’s warrantless surveillance activity. The other goals are more difficult to assess.
Muslim Advocates was founded in 2005 as an offshoot of the National Association of Muslim Lawyers. It often criticizes U.S. counterterrorism strategies that use sting operations and informants as discriminatory.
Papers released by the anonymous hacker group DC Leaks show that OSF budgeted $21 million for the NSHRC from 2008-2010. OSF spent an additional $1.5 million in 2010. The NSHRC also received a matching $20 million contribution from Atlantic Philanthropies, a private foundation established in 1982 by Irish-American Chuck Feeney billionaire businessman.
OSF made 105 grants totaling $20,052, 784 to 63 organizations under the NSHRC program. An Investigative Project on Terrorism tally shows Muslim Advocates received at least $1.84 million in OSF grants between 2008 and 2015.
A funders’ roundtable created by OSF in 2008 helped coordinate the grant making among several left-leaning foundations, ” in order to “dismantle the flawed ‘war on terror’ paradigm on which national security policy is now based.” At least “two dozen” foundations participated in the roundtable’s strategy sessions as of the end of 2008.
Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, called the Soros foundations’ $40 million program both hypocritical and ironic. He noted that the 2011 OSF-funded Center for American Progress report “Fear, Inc.” complained that seven conservative foundations donated $42.6 million to so-called “Islamophobia think tanks between 2001 and 2009.” The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and other major Islamist groups routinely use the $42.6 million funding number to portray their opponents as being pawns of dark forces.
“It’s amazing that one foundation donated an amount that CAIR and [Muslim] Advocates say is the huge sum of money that funds the entire anti-jihad campaign,” Jasser said. “… That wasn’t from one foundation. That was an addition of [the money given to] everybody that they threw under the bus.”
By contrast, OSF and Atlantic Philanthropies spent $41.5 million in just three years. OSF dedicated another $26 million to the NSHRC program from 2011-2014.
OSF additionally funded a study by the New America Foundation equating the terror threat posed right-wing extremists with al-Qaida. An Oct. 17, 2011 memo discussing NSHRC grants notes that New America received $250,000, partly to write two reports. The first aimed at creating a “‘safe space’ in which Muslims in America feel free to hold controversial political dialogues, organize without fear of unwarranted government surveillance.” The second aimed to “correct mistaken public beliefs that Al-Qaeda’s brand of terrorism is unique to Islam and that most terrorists are Muslim.”
The paper promised “to show how adherents of each extremist ideology use different language to justify very similar political means and goals. By demonstrating parallels among militant groups, this paper will aim to separate politically focused terrorism from the religion of Islam.”
Arguments from this report continue to help frame how Democrats and their allies talk about the jihadist threat. New America’s statistics and arguments recently came up in a House hearing about the threat from homegrown Islamic terrorists.
“According to the New America Foundation, there have been more incidents of right-wing extremist attacks in the United States than violent jihadist attacks since 9/11. I’m not minimizing jihadist attacks. In that light, can you explain what your office plans to do with respect to domestic right-wing extremism?” Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., asked Department of Homeland Security Office of Community Partnerships Director George Selim during a House subcommittee hearing last month.
New America’s effort to conflate right-wing extremists with al-Qaida glossed over a major difference – namely al-Qaida’s reliance on mass casualty attacks and suicide bombings.
New America’s latest data shows that jihadists have killed more people since 9/11 than right-wing extremists.
“You’ll see that the Soros foundation is spending money on organizations that deny the very principles they are defenders of, which are feminism, gay rights, individual rights. Muslim Advocates’ entire bandwidth is spent on attacking the government and blocking any efforts at counterterrorism.”
Muslim Advocates also opposes discussion on reform within the Muslim community and supports those who have theocratic tendencies, Jasser said.
OSF also contributed $150,000 in 2011 and $185,000 in 2012 to a donor advised fund run by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. It used this money to pay Hattaway Communications, a consulting firm run by former Hillary Clinton adviser Doug Hattaway, to develop a messaging strategy for Muslim Advocates and similar organizations. Hattaway’s message strategy painted Muslims as victims of American national security policies.
Khera used Hattaway’s strategy to paint the New York Police Department’s mosque surveillance strategy as “discriminatory.”
And now Wikileaks has released emails that reveal a top Obama and Clinton campaign official actively solicited a recommendation from Soros that turned out to be the radical Muslim Advocates group:
Thanks and follow-upHi John- Thanks again for taking the time amidst your crazy schedule — and many more important obligations — to meet last week. I’m writing to follow up on one topic we discussed — what the incoming Administration could do to address domestic national security policies and practices that unfairly target Muslim, South Asian and Arab communities in America. You asked whether I could provide you with a document outlining recommendations. To follow up, I asked two leaders working on these issues, Farhana Khera of Muslim Advocates and Aziz Huq of the Brennan Center for Justice (both OSI grantees), to prepare a brief memo outlining concrete steps that the new Administration could take to correct these discriminatory policies and practices. Their memo is attached. Muslim Advocates and the Brennan Center are working closely with other advocacy partners in affected communities, and they would greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet with members of the transition team to discuss their recommendations. Please let me know if I can do anything more to help facilitate such a conversation. In case you aren’t familiar with the authors, I have included brief bios below. Best, Ann
Infiltration at all levels and all working according to their plan.
If you have time, search more emails from Wikileaks here.