The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ruled that the Muslim Public Affairs Council Foundation(MPAC) will not receive the $393,800 Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) grant that was approved by former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson on January 13, just a couple of days before he left the office.
This foundation has been considered a spin-off of the D.C.-based Muslim Public Affairs Council, whose main leaders were advisors to Obama and many of his deputies, where they lobbied for a national strategy of allowing semi-segregated Islamic political communities and groups play the leading role in fighting Islamic terrorism.
This case represents another example of how administration officials are trying to break the political influence of Islamic groups in the U.S. So far, they have eliminated 2016 plans to fund Muslim organizations allied to former President Barack Obama, and declined to schedule a 2017 Islamic “Iftar” dinner in the White House.
As reported in a previous article, one of the most important details of this event was that Islamic groups were able to show their political power to ambassadors of wealthy Islamic nations.
The incredible u-turn was made public on Friday when the DHS announced a revised list of the organizations which are getting their funds in order to prevent young Muslims from becoming terrorists. This new list replaced another one made by Obama, and in addition to what happened with the MPAC, it also dropped a $800,000 grant for an Islamic seminary in Los Angeles.
Regarding the list change, a DHS spokesman said in an email to the Investigative Project on Terrorism that the department utilized its discretion to consider other key elements and data when reviewing the applicants.
Additionally, she explained the DHS considered whether these applicants for CVE awards would partner with law enforcement, had a history of prior efforts to conduct prevention programs targeting violent extremism, had a significant experience in combating violent extremism, and were able to continue after the award period.
DHS spokeswoman also explained these additional priorities were applied to the existing pool of applicants. She assured the greatest applications that were consistent with each of these priorities remained as awardees.
Regarding this issue, MPAC acknowledged through a statement that cooperating with law enforcement is not their priority. In fact, the group pointed out that its position on this matter has consistently centered on community-led initiatives that improve access to counseling, mental health resources, and a host of many other social services without the involvement of any law enforcement.
Also, the MPAC disputed the loss of the $393,800 CVE grant by assuring it would consider every legal option in order to solve this situation.
Apparently, its Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati introduced the program as a controversial alternative to law enforcement agencies using informants to infiltrate mosques, since he has vehemently objected to anything that involved these religious temples or informants in terror investigations.
Several investigations revealed that mosques are the places in Western nations where Muslims get radicalized. While some of these end up committing terrorist attacks, there are other who eventually join ISIS.
The roll out meeting included Muslim community groups as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and some politicians like U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Rep. Bill Foster, D-Ill., and former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson.
Al-Marayati has been known for consistently rejecting the connection between jihad and terrorism. His last moment taking this position was during a January 25 debate with American Islamic Forum for Democracy President and founder Zuhdi Jasser.
During this debate, Al-Marayati told that Jihad was only a struggle against oneself instead of the so-called holy war. He defended his stance by explaining that Muslims must allow themselves to reclaim their faith and not let Islam be defined by its extremist distortions.
These assertions have been disputed by experts, including liberal intellectual Sam Harris, who has explained in several opportunities the concerning links between Islam and terrorism. According to his studies, there are several details about this religion that explain the acts and philosophy of its terrorist groups.
Another prominent figure who strongly disagreed with Al-Marayati is Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, who assured that jihad only had to do with fighting. In fact, MPAC co-founder Maher Hathout has described himself as a loyal disciple of al-Banna.
With these decisions, Trump administration is showing a stronger stance in the fight against Islamic extremism.