American Islamists' Curious Support for the Syrian Rebels

AINA (press release) 7 February 2013

The Syrian American Council (SAC) is a Syrian-American lobbying group advocating international support for the Syrian rebels seeking to overthrow the brutal dictatorship of Bashar Assad. SAC, for example, posted advertisements in Washington, DC, metro cars in early November calling upon the international community to "Save Syria's Children" with intervention. SAC's senior political adviser, Mohammed Alaa Ghanem, also penned a December 27, 2012, editorial in the Washington Post calling for international aid to Syria's rebels in order forestall the influence of Al Qaeda-linked "extremists." Yet analysis of SAC's membership calls into question this group's moderation, thereby raising further doubts about which groups in a conflict-ridden Syria the United States could support.

Investigation of SAC's board members reveals various troubling associations. SAC's chairman is Hussam Ayloush, a resident of Los Angeles. As Ayloush's own webpage announces, he is the southern California chapter leader for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a consistently radical organization with its origins in the Muslim Brotherhood and an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2007 Holy Land Foundation (HLF) terrorism financing trial. As the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) documents, the 2012 Democratic National Convention delegate Ayloush is no exception to CAIR's extensive history of Islamic militancy.

Similar to Ayloush is SAC board member and Florida CAIR chapter head Hassan Shibley of Tampa. Shibley has similarly merited his own IPT dossier documenting how he has often defended Hamas and Hezbollah as "resistance" movements against an Israel compared with apartheid South Africa and the Third Reich, and he has even expressed willingness to fight in the ranks of Hezbollah. Shibley has also favored implementing Islamic sharia as opposed to secular laws. (continue reading...)