The left-wing attack machine wasted no time in posting an article with false information and smears in order to protect the Clinton campaign.
Hillary Clinton has stated publicly that she helped “start and support” Media Matters, and that organization has consistently come to Clinton’s aid with a consistent campaign of misinformation, half-truths and smears of her critics that can then get repeated by the mainstream media.
The Vanity Fair article must have sent shockwaves through the Clinton camp. It’s rare to read mainstream press criticism of Huma Abedin.
Instead, mainstream adoration for Huma by the media is often so over the top that even other outlets are forced to say something. For example, after Abedin’s husband, disgraced former New York congressman Anthony Weiner, was once again caught sexting with other women as he ran for mayor of New York City, New York magazine published a piece so gushing that it led the Atlantic to write an article titled New York Magazine Has a Crush on Huma Abedin. New Republic chimed in and said that “Abedin always gets good press, but this piece takes it to a new level” and cited this description of Huma as an example of New York’s Silliest/Creepiest Huma Abedin Descriptions:
She wore bright-red lipstick, which gave her lips a 3-D look, her brown eyes were pools of empathy evolved through a thousand generations of what was good and decent in the history of the human race.
Despite the fawning coverage she has received, there are many unanswered questions about Abedin, especially given her complete access to Hillary Clinton, one of the most powerful people in the world, a former Secretary of State and possible future president. As Vanity Fair’ William Cohan writes in his piece:
Over the years Huma has served in several positions, with increasingly important-sounding titles. She has been Hillary’s “body woman,” her traveling chief of staff, a senior adviser, and a deputy chief of staff when Hillary was secretary of state. Now, based in Brooklyn, she is the vice-chair of Hillary’s 2016 presidential campaign.
The Facts about Huma Abedin and Abdullah Omar Nasseef
To his credit, Cohan’s Vanity Fair piece on the secretive Abedin confirms a number of facts that have been reported by conservative media for a couple of years but have been twisted and convoluted by the mainstream media.
For example, the Vanity Fair article flatly lays out the information that Huma Abedin was an assistant editor at a publication called the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs from 1996 until 2008. He writes:
When (Huma) Abedin was two years old, the family moved to Jidda, Saudi Arabia, where, with the backing of Abdullah Omar Nasseef, then the president of King Abdulaziz University, her father founded the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, a think tank, and became the first editor of its Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, which stated its mission as “shedding light” on minority Muslim communities around the world in the hope of “securing the legitimate rights of these communities.”
It turns out the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs is an Abedin family business. Huma was an assistant editor there between 1996 and 2008. Her brother, Hassan, 45, is a book-review editor at the Journal and was a fellow at the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies, where Nasseef is chairman of the board of trustees. Huma’s sister, Heba, 26, is an assistant editor at the Journal.
Not one statement is actually controversial because they can all be confirmed by simple research that refers to primary sources. In other words, you don’t need to reference conservative media in any way to determine the truth about the Abedin family and their connections to Abdullah Omar Nasseef.
As the masthead of this 1996 issue of the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs shows, Huma Abedin was an assistant editor at Journal. Down the masthead you can see the name of Abdullah Omar Nasseef.
Because of the smear tactics used by Media Matters and repeated by the mainstream media, this point cannot be stressed enough: this is a primary source showing Abedin was an Assistant Editor of the Journal. It’s not a right-wing theory, a conservative fever dream, Islamaphobia nonsense or anti-Muslim fear-mongering. It’s a fact, a cold hard fact shown on the Journal’s masthead at the site where the Journal itself publishes.
It is a breakthrough, however, and that’s precisely why Media Matters for America immediately went to work trying to obscure the facts, telling its readers— which include many journalists— that claiming Huma Abedin has connections to alleged terror funders is a “spider-web of guilt by association.”
Although Cohan brought the facts about Abedin to light for the first time in a mainstream media article, he failed to flesh out some of the key background of Abdullah Omar Nasseef.
Again, please note that we can point out these facts about Abdullah Omar Nasseef without linking to a single conservative media source. We are only going to link to primary sources and widely respected, left-leaning media like CNN and the New York Times.
Aside from helping found the “Abedin’s family business” it’s beyond dispute that Abdullah Omar Nasseef was the secretary-general of a group called the Muslim World League. That’s not controversial and Cohan does acknowledge this in Vanity Fair:
In his early years as the patron of the Abedins’ journal, Nasseef was the secretary-general of the Muslim World League, which Andrew McCarthy, the former assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the “Blind Sheik,” Omar Abdel Rahman, in the wake of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, claims “has long been the Muslim Brotherhood’s principal vehicle for the international propagation of Islamic supremacist ideology.”
Although it describes itself a nongovernment organization, the Muslim World League is an effectively an arm of the Saudi Arabian government. As a lawsuit posted on thePhiladelphia Enquirer website states “a full time employee of the Muslim World League testified as follows:”
Let me tell you one thing, the Muslim World League, which is the mother of IIRO (International Islamic Relief Organization) is a fully government funded organization. In other words, I work for the government of Saudi Arabia. I am an employee of that government.
Second, the IIRO is the relief branch of that organization which means that we are controlled in all of our activities and plans by the government of Saudi Arabia.
Keep that in mind, please … I am paid by my organization which is funded by the [Saudi] government … the [IIRO] office, like any other office in the world, here or in the Muslim World League, has to abide by the policy of the government of Saudi Arabia. If anybody deviates from that, he would be fired; he would not work at all with IIRO or with the Muslim World League.
According to the group’s own website, the Muslim World League:
…is engaged in propagating the religion of Islam, elucidating its principles and tenets, refuting suspicious and false allegations made against the religion. The League also strives to persuade people to abide by the commandments of their Lord, and to keep away from prohibited deeds. The League is also ready to help Muslims solve problems facing them anywhere in the world, and carry out their projects in the sphere of Da’wah, education and culture. The League, which employs all means that are not at variance with the Sharia (Islamic law) to further its aims, is well known for rejecting all acts of violence and promoting dialogue with the people of other cultures.
The group’s claim about “rejecting all acts of violence” is specious given its connection to the Saudi government and the Kingdom’s advocacy for sharia law, which it practices with gusto.
Desperate to retain the Saudi royal family’s iron grip, Saudi Arabia banned all public gatherings. The Saudi Arabian government uses both public beheading and crucifixion as punishments, for example, and in 2012 sentenced a 16-year-old who’d protested against the government to both. Saudi Arabia recently sparked international outrage when it executed over 40 people deemed “terrorists.” Many were beheaded.
Following 9/11, the Saudis came under intense government scrutiny for their role in funding terror through ostensively charitable groups. In 2007, ABC News reported Saudis Still Filling Al Qaeda’s Coffers:
Despite six years of promises, U.S. officials say Saudi Arabia continues to look the other way at wealthy individuals identified as sending millions of dollars to al Qaeda.
“If I could somehow snap my fingers and cut off the funding from one country, it would be Saudi Arabia,” Stuart Levey, the under secretary of the Treasury in charge of tracking terror financing, told ABC News.
The mainstream media has done nothing to serious vet the connection between the Clinton and Saudi Arabia, and the key role Huma Abedin plays in the life and work of Hillary Clinton are one core link. Abedin not only lived in Saudi Arabia from the time she was two years old, but her mother currently lives in Saudi Arabia and runs the Journal for Muslim Minority Affairs as well as being a dean at a woman’s college there.
Further tying the Clintons to the Saudis is big money. CNN reported in 2008 that “donations to the William J. Clinton Foundation include amounts of $10 million to $25 million from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” Vanity Fair points out Huma’s ties there after Clinton left her role as Secretary of State:
In addition to the State Department and Teneo jobs, Huma was hired as a consultant to the William J. Clinton Foundation to help plan for Hillary’s “post-State philanthropic activities,” and as a personal employee of Hillary’s.
The Saudis have denied the accusation they’ve funded terrorism and also say they complied with U.S. orders, telling ABC “that after the Sept. 11 attacks, the country took prompt action and “required Saudi banks to identify and freeze all assets relating to terrorist suspects and entities per the list issued by the United States government.”
One of the organizations specifically singled out for funding terrorism was founded by the Abedin family benefactor. In 1988, Naseef also founded the charitable giving arm of the Muslim World League, an entity called Rabita Trust.
Remember the League’s connection to the Saudis as stated earlier and it’s clear that Naseef was not a loose cannon but effectively acting as an “employee” of the Kingdom.
One of the other founders of the Rabita Trust was Wa’el Hamza Julaidan, who that same year would also become one of the four founders of Al Qaeda. In 1984, Julaidan had worked with Osama bin Laden to set up mujahedin training camps in Afghanistan. As U.S. News reported in 2003:
Afghanistan forged not only financial networks but important bonds among those who believe in violent jihad. During the Afghan war, the man who ran the Muslim World League office in Peshawar, Pakistan, was bin Laden’s mentor, Abdullah Azzam. Another official there was Wael Julaidan, a Saudi fundraiser who would join bin Laden in founding al Qaeda in 1988. Documents seized in raids after 9/11 reveal just how close those ties were. One record, taken from a Saudi-backed charity in Bosnia, bears the handwritten minutes of a meeting between bin Laden and three men, scrawled beneath the letterhead of the IIRO and Muslim World League. The notes call for the opening of “league offices . . . for the Pakistanis,” so that “attacks” can be made from them. A note on letterhead of the Saudi Red Crescent–Saudi Arabia’s Red Cross–in Peshawar asks that “weapons” be inventoried. It is accompanied by a plea from bin Laden to Julaidan, citing “an extreme need for weapons.”
Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, the government froze the assets of the Rabita Trust for funding terrorism. As the New York Times reported in October, 2001:
The Bush administration vowed today to seize the assets of more individuals it says support terrorism, including a prominent businessman from Saudi Arabia, a United States ally whose reluctance to move against people and groups with ties to Osama bin Laden has become a politically sensitive
Also on the list is Rabita Trust, a Pakistani charity that at least until recently had Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, on its board. Administration officials said they warned President Musharraf of the impending order against the Rabita Trust and encouraged him to disassociate himself from what they described as its founder’s links to Al Qaeda, Mr. bin Laden’s terrorist network.
In March, 2002 federal law-enforcement officials conducted raids on 15 organizations that the Treasury Department suspected of laundering money. The New York Times reported:
One other place searched today was the office of the International Islamic Relief Organization at 360 South Washington Street in Falls Church, Va., another Washington suburb.
That charity has a parent, the Muslim World League, that officials said was also searched. Corporate records show that the Muslim World League, which is financed in part by the Saudi government, is based at the same address as the relief organization, in Falls Church, but that it has used the Herndon building as a mailing address.
Last October, the Treasury Department listed another Islamic charity financed by the Muslim World League, the Rabita Trust, as having connections to Al Qaeda.
The connection of Abdullah Omar Nasseef to terror funding in general and Al Qaeda specifically is clear and convincing; just as clear and persuading as his connection to the Abedin family is.
The Muslim World League was the mother organization of two groups the government believed were involved in funneling money to terrorists–the Rabita Trust and the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO). Both groups are listed on the Treasury department’s website. Both Naseef’s co-founder Wa’el Hamza Julaidan himself and the Rabita Trust as an organization were placed by lists of terror funders by both the United States and the United Nations.
The Treasury Department met cited the Rabita Trust “for providing logistical and financial support to al Qaida.”
The Treasury Department’s discussion of the IIRO goes into detail about the money and logistics support they provided terror groups and includes information that shows that these provide both legitimate charity services but also act as a money laundering operation to get funds to terror groups:
International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO)
The IIRO was established in 1978 and, according to its website, the organization has branch offices in over 20 countries in Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
Abd Al Hamid Sulaiman Al-Mujil (Al-Mujil) is the Executive Director of the IIRO Eastern Province (IIRO-EP) branch office in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Al-Mujil has been called the “million dollar man” for supporting Islamic militant groups. Al-Mujil provided donor funds directly to al Qaida and is identified as a major fundraiser for the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).
The IIRO-PHL is a source of funding for the al Qaida-affiliated ASG. IIRO-PHL has served as a liaison for the ASG with other Islamic extremist groups. A former ASG member in the Philippines familiar with IIRO operations in the country reported that a limited amount of foreign IIRO funding goes to legitimate projects and the rest is directed to terrorist operations.
The IIRO Indonesia director has channeled money to two Indonesia-based, JI-affiliated foundations. Information from 2006 shows that IIRO-IDN supports JI by providing assistance with recruitment, transportation, logistics, and safe-havens. As of late 2002, IIRO-IDN allegedly financed the establishment of training facilities for use by al Qaida associates.
Vanity Fair did publish some other elements of the close connections between the Abedin family, Naseef and groups with terror funding designation. Writing about Abedin’s father and mother, Cohan writes that “in 1993, his wife succeeded him as director of the institute and editor of the Journal, positions she still holds.She has also been active in the International Islamic Council for Da’wa and Relief, which is now headed by Nasseef and was banned in Israel on account of its ties to the Union of Good, a pro-Hamas fund-raising network, run by Yusuf al-Qaradawi.”
After some solid initial work in the article, howerCohan suddenly gives readers the impression that Nasseef’s connection to terror funding might possibly be a sketchy, tenuous affair that still up for debate, pushed by “right-wing screeds.” The article doesn’t even mention the IIRO or the Rabita Trust despite Naseef’s clear connections and both group’s designations. Instead, the Vanity Fair article says:
Google Abdullah Omar Nasseef, the man who set up the Abedins in Jidda, and a host of right-wing screeds pop up. Though he is a high-ranking insider in the Saudi government and sits on the king’s Shura Council, there are claims that Nasseef once had ties to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda—a charge that he has denied through a spokesman…
Again, if you’re skeptical about these claims just click on any of the above links. There’s not a right wing screed in the bunch. Everything about Abedin and Naseef can be proven through primary and left-leaning mainstream media sources.
The lack of any mention of all about the Rabita Trust or the IIRO combined with the inherently insulting phrase “right-wing screeds” may have been intended to mollify Democrats who are desperate to smother the Huma Abedin story, but it utterly failed.
Media Matters went on the attack against Vanity Fair, anyway. And why not? The mainstream media had already proven that it wouldn’t report any of this material as it related to Huma Abedin in 2012.
Anatomy of a Smear Campaign
The “protect Huma” smears have six elements:
Never mention that Huma Abedin was an Assistant Editor at the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs for over a decade. Simply leave that fact out of your reporting and assume your audience won’t do the research themselves.
Never mention Abdullah Omar Nasseef’s clear connections to terror funding, as supported by both the U.S. goverment and reporting in sources non-right wing sources like the New York Times.
Write the whole thing off as a convoluted, completely unsubstantiated conspiracy theory. Because the audience does not know Huma worked at the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs or about Naseef’s terror funding ties., with no clear connection to Huma Abedin at all.
Call it a conservative fantasy. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy since nobody else in the mainstream media will report the facts, so the facts are only being reported by conservative media.Point to the lack of MSM coverage as proof the the whole thing is a right-wing chimera.
Exaggerate the claims of the critics. Tell your audience that Huma is being accused of being “a spy” when in fact what critics are pointing out is that there are clear connections and gaps in the record that raise troubling questions about Huma Abedin that should be answered. If you make the claims seem outrageous, you can distract from the actual facts.
Point to Huma Abedin’s Republican defenders such as Sen. John McCain or Sen. Marco Rubio as proof that “even Republicans” don’t think questions should be raised about Huma Abedin. Once again, this conveniently avoids the actual facts.
The new Media Matters article uses every one of these tactics. It doesn’t acknowledge that Huma Abedin was an Assistant Editor at the Journal or explain Abdullah Omar Nasseef’s connection to terror funding.
Media Matters begins its attack on Vanity Fair and Cohan by saying:
Cohan chose to introduce Abedin to the magazine’s readers by regurgitating a series of right-wing attacks that have previously been widely covered or discredited by other journalists — including the ridiculous and offensive question of whether she might have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Media Matters closes the section discussing Vanity Fair’s treatment of Abedin’s associations:
Although Cohan describes some of the allegations as “right-wing hysteria” and provides quotes from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and the Clinton campaign denouncing the attacks, Cohan takes no position on the claims.
In fact, everyone from the Department of Homeland Security to former Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio to former GOP chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers (R-MI) has denounced the attacks as false and despicable.
The way these deceptive tactics have played out in the media is important to understand, because it gives a clear indication of what is in store for the 2016 election. Republican presidential contenders and their consultants would do well to study how the media not only failed to vet Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin, but actually covering up the facts and attack people for pointing them out.
The six smear tactics outlined above were also used in the summer of 2012 when a handful of Republican representatives including Louis Gomert and Michele Bachmann began asking questions about Abedin.
If you want to be clear on why Andrew Breitbart said: “The media is the enemy” take the time to see what people who don’t read conservative media were being told about Huma Abedin during the last election cycle.
For a prime example, watch Anderson Cooper’s explanation on his CNN show AC360 in 2012 talking about the connection between Huma Abedin and Abdullah Omar Nasseef. He takes over a minute to explain what he calls a “conspiracy” and never once mentions that Huma was the Assistant Editor of the Journal for Muslim Minority affairs for 12 years.
Here’s liberal radio host Sam Sedar in 2012 describing the relationship using hand gestures behind the back of his head to indicate just how crazy it is to think that Huma Abedin has a connection to Naseedf but again, no mention that Huma worked at the Journal.
The spectacle of right-wingers like Michele Bachmann throwing around accusations that State Department deputy chief Huma Abedin is a secret agent of the Muslim Brotherhood has been remarkably information-free. So we decided to trace the most ardent supporter’s case for radical Islamic infiltration of the U.S. government. The results are a tangled, convoluted mess.
Huma Abedin Must Be Vetted
The Vanity Fair article may be the first crack that breaks the mainstream media’s protective shell around Hillary Clinton’s top aide.
The case for raising questions about Huma Abedin is compelling but needs to be laid out in a methodical, fully documented and factually accurate way that will stand up to the inevitable defense mechanism of the mainstream media and Democrat machine.
It’s not just the media that needs to be held accountable; it’s the entire Democratic machine as well as Republicans who defended Huma, including John McCain and Marco Rubio.
They say that sunlight is the best disinfectant, and there is ample proof that when politicians get pressed for facts, they often fold like a cheap card table.
I asked Representative Keith Ellison about the factual points about Abedin in 2012 on Twitter. Democrats often tout Ellison as a brave pioneer, the first Muslim elected to Congress.