The Washington Times - September 8, 2010, 12:16AM

Last week, media reports surfaced that the Obama administration sponsored workshops for controversial Muslim organizations last Tuesday that would help the groups gain “direct access” to government programs. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is cited as one of the sponsors of the event in an email from Islamic Society of North America about the event.

When I first contacted the USDA last Friday regarding details (who attended?, was the USDA aware of controversial connections?, etc…) about the event, a spokesman sent a vague response:

SEE RELATED:


To enhance our effectiveness in reaching those in need of USDA’s services, we continue to meet with a broad range of leaders and organizations to explain what services USDA provides to the American people and ways in which we can strengthen our outreach efforts.  We have met with leaders from a number of groups representing underserved communities as well as a number of faith-based organizations such as Bread for the World, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger.

Connie Hair at Human Events, though, pointed out the chief organizer of the event, has questionable ties:

The event’s main organizer, the Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations (CCMO) has long-established ties to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which fostered many Islamist terror groups. Some of CCMO’s member groups were un-indicted co-conspirators in the successfully prosecuted terrorist funding trial against the Holy Land Foundation (HLF). Event organizers said they would dedicate themselves to “cutting through red tape” to provide “direct access” to U.S. taxpayer funding for these terrorist funding-related groups.

An email announcement was sent out August 27 by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a group long associated with Muslim Brotherhood and an un-indicted co-conspirator in the HLF trial.

On Tuesday morning, the USDA seemed oblivious about an ISNA e-mail obtained by Big Peace which says:

“The Workshop: So what exactly is this workshop, you may ask. Leaders from Muslim organizations around the nation, particularly social service organizations, are invited to a workshop with representatives from the DOA, Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Health and Human Services, the White House, Department of Education, the Department of Homeland Security, and more. Twenty-five to thirty Muslim leaders representing 20 Muslim organizations are expected to attend the workshop.”

According to the USDA, no one from the White House was in attendance at Wednesday’s event, but the purpose of the USDA’s function grew out of the government’s faith based partnerships.

“Within the USDA there is the community of faith-based partnerships. I believe the office was created during the Bush administration. And we continued that effort to grow access to USDA programs an office that reaches out to non-profits, religious groups, and other entities to fully engage all communities and increase all access to their government,” the USDA representative told me.

While the USDA is quick to lay the faith based partnerships at the feet of the previous Bush administration, a source who worked in the Bush administration’s faith based initiative told me about how important it was to vet the various non-profits, religious groups, and other organizations who would come in contact with the government. “We vetted organizations all the time and the leaders of those organizations. If a leader of that organization even did something remotely suspicious in their past, that would raise huge red flags,” he said. “We wouldn’t reach out to them. If there was a lawsuit filed against them for some sort of abuse, for example, we wouldn’t reach out to [that group].”

The USDA spokesman, though, claimed not to have knowledge of any e-mail from ISNA regarding “cutting through red tape” or an un-indicted co-conspirator list, which makes one wonder if the USDA or other Obama administration departments even bothered to vet groups and leaders they reach out to.

The representative for the USDA did say that the workshops at the event did focus on food security, a State Department initiative dealing with global hunger and poverty.

“The USDA’s food and nutrition service—it’s an agency that does a lot to combat hunger, along with the school lunch and breakfast program,” the USDA representative said.

An attendee list of Wednesday’s event was requested of the USDA on Friday and again on Tuesday of the USDA spokesman, and no list has been received as of Tuesday evening.

Christine Brim at Big Peace lists who could have possibly been on the attendee list:

The Administration has not revealed which 20 groups and 25-30 leaders will attend the special workshop, but if they include the 41 CCMO members listed in 2007, the attendees could include the following groups, which I’ve linked to descriptions published by The Investigative Project (please support their work):

The Islamic Society of North America, an un-indicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation Terrorism Finance trial, and the source of Friday’s email promoting this CCMO/Department of Agriculture Event;

The Council on American Islamic Relations, shunned by the FBI, several of its leaders indicted or convicted for terrorism,  a possible violator of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, sued for fraud by Muslim, Hispanic and African-American families, named as an un-indicted co-conspirator (CAIR fundraiser advertised at the CCMO site);

The International Institute of Islamic Thought, the “think tank” of the Muslim Brotherhood, described at that link by The Grand Jihad author and former prosecutor Andrew McCarthy.  One of the current and longest serving officers of CCMO is Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, founder of the educational arm of IIIT, the Fairfax Institute and the Director of Outreach Program for Dar-ul Hijrah “Terror” Mosque – more on him below.

The Muslim Public Affairs Committee , exposed in that linked 88-page  IPT report particularly for their defense of terrorists and terrorist financers. MPAC advertised here at the CCMO site for an event co-sponsored by Islamic Free Market Institute, the latter described in Paul Sperry’s path breaking book Infiltration)

The Dar al Hijrah Mosque (known as the “Terror Mosque” in Northern Virginia for its links to imprisoned, indicted or wanted terrorists as vividly described by Frank Gaffney), advertised here at the CCMO site.

The Muslim American Society “Freedom Foundation” run by three-time felon Mahdi Bray (MASFF Fundraiser advertised at the CCMO site). The Muslim American Society was originally founded as the U.S. branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. MAS leader  Mahdi Bray was elected on September 7, 2003 to the Executive Committee by over 40 CCMO member organizations.

We will continue to wait for an attendee list from the USDA and keep this post updated should any other changes occur.