What was a radical Muslim sheikh doing at the White House earlier this month? Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah was invited to Washington and met with U.S. government officials on June 13 to discuss various issues, including the conflict in Syria.
The meeting was revealed earlier this week by Steve Emerson and John Rossomando of the Investigative Project on Terrorism. The White House meeting took place on the same day that the U.S. plan to arm rebels in Syria was announced.
Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah may not be well known, but he is the deputy of Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. Qaradawi has called for the killing of Jews and Americans, but has also recently called on his followers to join the fight against Hezbollah and the Assad regime in Syria.
Bin Bayyah has criticized the West for placing Palestinian groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the same category as al-Qaida.
Bin Bayyah is vice president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, a group led by Qaradawi that in 2009 issued a fatwa forbidding any normalization of relations with Israel. In 2012, the group welcomed Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh as a member. The group declared it would “spare nothing in the service of the Palestinian people” and praised “the jihad of the Palestinian people with the leadership of the Hamas movement for resistance.”
Bin Bayyah is also a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference’s International Islamic Fiqh Academy, which in 2003 sanctioned Palestinian suicide bombings.
While the U.S. invited Bin Bayyah to the White House, Qaradawi is banned from entering the country due to his checkered background.
An account of the meeting was posted, with a photo, on Bin Bayyah’s website.
“We asked for this meeting to learn from you and we need to be looking for new mechanisms to communicate with you and the association of Muslim scholars,” Gayle Smith, senior director of the National Security Council, was quoted as saying to Bin Bayyah at the meeting.
In the days following that meeting, Bin Bayyah wrote on his website that he “visited the White House, where he met with Ms. Gayle Smith, a senior aide to President Barack Obama, and Mr. Rashad Hussain, U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of the Islamic Conference.”
“He also met with a number of experts,” that claim continued, “including the director of public relations in the White House, the national security adviser, and representatives from seven government agencies.”
The highest-ranking official at the meeting was outgoing U.S. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, although the reference to Donilon’s presence was later deleted from the account on Bin Bayyah’s website.
The Investigative Project on Terrorism said the White House declined repeated requests for a comment on the report.
“That the Obama administration would invite to the United States a radical Muslim cleric whose organization supports terrorism and whose leaders have issued fatwas calling for the killing of Americans and Jews is beyond comprehension,” Investigative Project on Terrorism executive director Steve Emerson told MailOnline.
Emerson called on Congress to investigate “immediately.”
“In my 30 years of covering terrorism, I have never in my life been so appalled and outraged at what can only be called criminal behavior by this administration,” he said.