Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump implied that Huma Abedin, an aide to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, is a security risk because of her mother’s current and her own former employment at an academic journal that writes about Muslims. Trump’s attack follows years of smears about Abedin from informal Trump adviser Roger Stone and right-wing media outlets, which said that Abedin is disloyal to the United States and that she is a secret “Muslim Brotherhood” agent.
Trump Implies Abedin Is A Security Risk Because Of Past Work At An Academic Journal Where Her Mother Works
Trump To Reporter: “Take A Look” At Where Abedin And Her Mother Worked; “Take A Look At The Whole Event.” According to The Nation, in an interview with Washington state radio station KIRO, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump discussed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's aide Huma Abedin. He told the interviewer to “take a look at where [Abedin] worked, by the way, and take a look at where her mother worked, and works. You take a look at the whole event.” George Zornick in The Nation noted that Trump was “likely referring to the fact that Abedin was once listed as an assistant editor at the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, which is edited by her mother.” From an August 29 article in The Nation:
Speaking with KIRO Radio in Seattle on Monday afternoon, Trump was asked about the news that Abedin had left her husband Anthony Weiner. Trump called Weiner “a pervert and just a very sick guy,” and then said: “By the way—check, take a look at where [Abedin] worked, by the way, and take a look at where her mother worked, and works. You take a look at the whole event. But in the case of Anthony Weiner, she’s married to a guy that’s uncontrolled, and uncontrollable. He’s a sick person. And you know she has access to classified information. Huma Abedin has access to classified information. How Hillary got away with that one, nobody will ever know.”
That sounds like a strange aside, but Trump was giving voice to long-running right-wing theories that Abedin is connected to radical Islamic elements. Specifically, Trump is likely referring to the fact that Abedin was once listed as an assistant editor at the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, which is edited by her mother. The Abedins’ employment at JMMA was the subject of a recent New York Post article, which tarred the journal as a “radical Muslim” publication. [The Nation, 8/29/16]
Roger Stone Championed Abedin Conspiracy Theory Through Right-Wing Media Outlets
Roger Stone Cites Huma Abedin’s “Family Background” To Conclude She “Is Most Likely A Saudi Spy.” Stephen Bannon, formerly of Breitbart News and currently the Trump Campaign CEO, asked informal Trump adviser Roger Stone on the conservative website’s radio program if there was “a fifth column” in media and government “bought and paid for by our enemies.” Stone responded that Saudis are “the quintessential influence-peddlers” and concluded that Abedin “is most likely a Saudi spy,” citing, in part, “her family background.” From the June 15 edition of SiriusXM Patriot’s Breitbart News Daily:
STEPHEN BANNON (HOST): Roger, do you think there’s a fifth column here in the United States, both in the media and in the government, a fifth column that is bought and paid for by our enemies?
ROGER STONE: Well, the Saudis certainly have been well-known for spreading money around. They are the quintessential influence peddlers. They understand how Washington works, so it’s entirely possible. Most of the experts I look at, I’ve spoken to, looking at the various facts regarding Huma and her rise, where she came from, her family background, her various connections, conclude that she is most likely a Saudi spy, which is my own conclusion. [Media Matters, 6/15/16]
Stone: Abedin’s Parents Are “Funders of the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs” And Connected To A 9/11 Financier. Appearing on the August 13 edition of SiriusXM Patriot’s Breitbart News Daily, Stone defended his Abedin conspiracy theory by mentioning that “her parents were both funders of the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs” and “also active in the World Muslim League,” which Stone alleged was itself funded by a man connected to the 9/11 terrorist attacks:
ROGER STONE: Yesterday there were quite a few tweets online saying, “Oh, Steve Bannon and Roger Stone, they are advocates for the conspiracy theory about Huma.” No conspiracy theory -- this is really simple. Her parents were funders of the Institute for Muslim Minority Affairs, also active in the World Muslim League -- both funded by the radical sheikh Omar Abdul Naseef, who also founded the Rabita Trust, identified by the Department of Justice as one of the funders of the attack on America on 9/11. Those are indisputable facts. It’s ironic that Huma also comes out of the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, as did Mr. Khan, who of course got quite a bit of press at the Democratic convention last week. Two radical Islamic organizations. [SiriusXM Patriot, Breitbart News Daily, 8/13/16]
Stone Spent Years Smearing Abedin As Disloyal To The United States. Stone has repeatedly accused Abedin of being connected to terrorism or otherwise disloyal to the United States. In 2012 he tweeted, “Is Huma Abedin Alger Hiss?” in reference to a possible Soviet spy embedded in the U.S. federal government in the 1940s. In October 2015 he called Abedin “Huma the Muslim Brotherhood spy.” In December of the same year he tweeted that Abedin was “Hillary Clinton’s Muslim Brotherhood handler.” [Twitter, 3/8/12, 10/1/15, 12/30/15]
Right-Wing Media Also Pushed Conspiracy About Abedin, Repeatedly Claiming She Has “Connections” To The Muslim Brotherhood
NY Post: Abedin Edited “Her Mother’s Journal,” A “Radical Muslim Publication.” On August 21, the New York Post’s Paul Sperry parroted Stone’s baseless conspiracy that Abedin’s parents link her to radical Muslims. Sperry described the Journal Of Muslim Minority Affairs, which Abedin’s mother owned and Abedin edited, as “a radical Muslim publication.” Sperry concluded that “the contradictions” between “Saudi-raised” Abedin and Clinton’s professed values “are hard to reconcile.” From the New York Post:
Hillary Clinton’s top campaign aide, and the woman who might be the future White House chief of staff to the first female US president, for a decade edited a radical Muslim publication that opposed women’s rights and blamed the US for 9/11.
Huma continued to work for her mother’s journal through 2008. She is listed as “assistant editor” on the masthead of the 2002 issue in which her mother suggested the US was doomed to be attacked on 9/11 because of “sanctions” it leveled against Iraq and other “injustices” allegedly heaped on the Muslim world.
Huma Abedin is Clinton’s longest-serving and, by all accounts, most loyal aide. The devout, Saudi-raised Muslim started working for her in the White House, then followed her to the Senate and later the State Department. She’s now helping run Clinton’s presidential campaign as vice chair and may end up back in the White House.
The contradictions are hard to reconcile. The campaign is not talking, despite repeated requests for interviews. [New York Post, 8/21/16]
Other Right-Wing Media Outlets Have Also Linked Abedin To The Muslim Brotherhood. Multiple right-wing media outlets have smeared Abedin as an enemy of the United States. Breitbart News’ Frank Gaffney called Abedin’s Muslim Brotherhood connections “well-documented,” TheBlaze once reported that Abedin “appears to have family ties to the Muslim Brotherhood,” and National Review’s Andrew McCarthy wrote that ever since Abedin and Clinton joined the State Department, “the United States has aligned itself with the Muslim Brotherhood in myriad ways.” [Media Matters, 8/22/16]
Fact-Checker Debunked Conservatives’ Claims About Abedin And Journal Where She Worked
Wash. Post Fact Checker: “Ridiculous” To Call Journal “Radical,” And Abedin’s Supposed Muslim Brotherhood Connections Are “A Case Of Six Degrees Of Separation.” Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post Fact Checker cited experts on religion to explain that the New York Post’s characterization of the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs as a “radical” publication is “ridiculous.” Kessler reported that the New York Post “cherry-picked quotes and mischaracterized articles published over the years, including by [Huma’s mother] Saleha Abedin” to paint the journal as a “radical Muslim publication.” Kessler similarly refuted Huma Abedin’s supposed “ties” to the Muslim Brotherhood as “a case of six degrees of separation” hinging on a single “distant connection” from over 25 years ago:
The New York Post described the journal as “a radical Muslim publication” but that’s ridiculous, according to experts on Islam and members of the advisory board. The New York Post report cherry-picked quotes and mischaracterized articles published over the years, including by Saleha Abedin, according to a review of the articles by the Fact Checker.
“I wouldn’t consider it ‘radical.’ Quite the contrary,” said Noah Feldman, director of the Julis-Rabinowitz Program on Jewish and Israeli Law at Harvard Law School. “That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of articles expressing conservative viewpoints, of course. But I’ve never seen anything in any way radical.”
Dale F. Eickelman of Dartmouth College, who is a member of the journal’s advisory board, described it as a “fairly innocuous journal.” He said it was “anything but radical, within the golden mean of what academic journals do.” He said most of the articles are written by emerging scholars who are relatively early in their academic careers. “The authors can vary in quality, as is the case with most academic journals,” he said. “Some are more edgy than others, but you can learn some fresh things.” He added that no one works on the journal full time.
This brings us to Huma Abedin’s supposed “ties” to the Muslim Brotherhood. Bear with us, as it’s really a case of six degrees of separation.
Syed Abedin in 1978 founded the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, a think tank which began publishing the journal a year later, with the support of Abdullah Omar Naseef, at the time president of King Abdulaziz University. Later, between 1983 and 1993, Naseef was secretary-general of the Muslim World League, a pan-Islamic nongovernmental organization.
In 1988, during his tenure at the Muslim World League, Naseef authorized a Pakistani charity called the Rabita Trust at a time when the United States and its allies funded the mujahideen fighting the Soviet troops occupying Afghanistan. Years later, the fund became associated with al-Qaeda (which, after all, emerged from the mujahideen) and was frozen in 2002 by the Treasury Department after the 9/11 attacks. But that distant connection, a quarter-century later, is now used to tar Abedin.
Meanwhile, Abedin’s mother founded an aid organization in the 1990s called the International Islamic Committee for Woman and Child, which at one point was said to be affiliated with International Islamic Council for Da’wa and Relief. IICDR was banned in Israel years later for allegedly supporting Hamas, a Palestinian offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, under the auspices of yet another group, the Union of Good. The Union of Good was designated by Treasury in 2008 for aiding a terrorist organization.
Indeed, the connections are so tenuous as to be obscure. Harvard’s [Ali] Asani[, who directs the school’s Islamic Studies program,] said the alleged connections to the Muslim Brotherhood are “crazy” when you consider the stated purpose of the journal. “The Muslim Brotherhood was the last organization interested in this issue” of the rights of minority Muslims, he said. “Syed Abedin was far from the Muslim Brotherhood. It makes absolutely no sense.” [The Washington Post, 8/25/16]