Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Huma Abedin's Alleged Ties to Terrorists: Tentative Conclusions

Last week, Anonymous put out a controversial video that points to alleged links between Human Abedin, a close assistant to Hillary Clinton, and terrorists (Snopes recently judged the video's central claims as unproven; here is my brief response to the article).  I decided to fact check several of the video’s claims.  Of course, the fact that Abedin married a Jewish-American and doesn't wear a hijab seem to belie the claim that she's a radical.  However, one could always dismiss the inconsistencies between her life and her professed faith by appealing to the Muslim concept of Taqiyya, whereby believers are allowed to "deny [their] faith or commit otherwise illegal or blasphemous acts while they are at risk of significant persecution."  This term has reportedly been "recovered by Sunni jihadists trained in the Afghan terror camps" and has been used by "radicalised young men a means of integrating and disguising themselves in Western societies."

Unless otherwise noted, my sources are restricted to mainstream think tanks and media outlets, respected academic publishers, government websites, and the key organizations highlighted in this film.  Below are my findings. 

Claim # 1: Huma Abedin’s mother, Saleha Mahmood Abedin, heads the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs IMMA.

My Verdict: True.  Saleha is listed as director of the IMMA by the World’s Who’s Who, a Routledge publication.  Moreover, Huma was once listed as an assistant editor of the IMMA’s journal, the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs.

Claim # 2: The IMMA is funded by the Muslim World League of Saudi Arabia.

My Verdict: Although I haven’t found evidence that the Muslim World League has specifically funded the IMMA, Anonymous does correctly point out that the two share the same address (click here and here to be taken directly to their websites).

Claim # 3: The Muslim World League was established by the Saudi government to promote Wahhabism (a radical strain of Islam).

My Verdict: True.  This is confirmed in Terrorism Financing and State Responses, an edited volume published by Stanford University Press.

Claim # 4: The Muslim World League has been accused of funding Al Qaeda.

My Verdict: True. This is confirmed by political science professor, Steve Yetiv, in his book The Petroleum Triangle, published by Cornell University Press. 

Claim # 5: Saleha published the book Women in Islam, which advocates for “female genital mutilation, the death penalty for leaving Islam, subordination of women,” and “the participation of women in violent jihad.”

My Verdict: This appears to be at least partly true.  According to the National Library of Australia, Saleha translated, supervised and edited the book, which can be purchased through the IMMA website.  These two facts are troubling, given the alleged contents of the book.  I found a PDF version put out by an Arabic-language source with which I am not familiar (so one might take the following excerpts with a grain of salt).

While I found no evidence for the claim concerning support for female genital mutilation (see note below),  the author does state that it “is lawful to kill” “the one who reverts from Islam” (p. 136).  Further, she denounces the “‘so-called’ International Law of the Modern West” (p. 252), which should concern anyone (including Ms. Clinton) claiming to respect international law.  Finally, the author explicitly contrasts what she interprets to be the Islamic conception of female liberation with that endorsed by the West:

The rights of Muslim women are granted by Allah and they cannot be altered or replaced. Women have gained these rights without a feminist rebellion or a suffragette movement, without flaunting or abusing their femininity as the Romans and the Greek did previously and as the women in the west continue to do today…The modern ‘liberated’ woman in addition to performing her natural roles of motherhood and house management is expected to go out to earn her living, and often that of her family as well. Thus she is expected to be the man and the woman at the same time! (p. 253)

Those who, like Ms. Clinton, at least pay lip service to Western-style feminist ideals should obviously find the above statements troubling.

Putting the Pieces Together

Huma Abedin has familial and professional ties to an institute that happens to share the same address as a Saudi-funded organization that has spread Wahhabism and funded terrorism.  Moreover, her mother appears to have supported or at least condoned radical ideas that run counter to core American values.  It is thus reasonable to ask someone who may very well become the next White House Chief of Staff to comment on these ties and repudiate these ideas.

Note: The following is stated concerning female genital mutilation: “Circumcision for women is allowed but is not ordered because the aforementioned hadith is weak. When the Prophet (s) prescribed circumcision for the Muslim nation he specifically referred to Muslim men. There is no proven or authentic evidence that the Prophet (s) ever ordered a woman to be circumcised - and Allah (T) knows best” (p. 220).