The newly elected Republican majority Congress will have the opportunity to decide if it wants to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, but in doing so, it will be considering a bill rife with problems.
As part of a last ditch effort before she retires, Rep. Michele Bachmann introduced HR 5194, which seeks to label the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist entity and impose sanctions on anyone in the U.S. who provides material support to the group. As is usually the case with these types of efforts, the bill seems to be more about fueling anti-Muslim hysteria rather than addressing any actual problem.
For starters, World Net Daily (WND) recently revealed that former FBI agent John Guandolo helped draft the bill. After resigning in disgrace from the FBI, Guandolo now operates as a full-time anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist who travels the country providing law enforcement and civilian trainings. His his trainings are steeped with anti-Muslim bias and geared more toward perpetuating fear that Muslims are bent on taking over America.
Guandolo has a well-documented history of engaging in outlandish conspiracy theories, further raising concerns about his role in drafting this bill. Guandolo previously joined in on a smear campaign accusing CIA director John Brennan of being a secret Muslim working for the Saudi government. In 2012, Guandolo further reinforced his disdain for Muslims when he asserted that local mosque leaders in Tennessee “do not have a First Amendment right to do anything.”
It’s no surprise that Bachmann’s bill also appears to be a slight against the civil rights organization Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), who she and Guandolo have repeatedly claimed to be a Muslim Brotherhood front group. CAIR, who is mentioned in the body of the bill and has repeatedly rejected accusations of terrorist activity or support, has been known to get Guandolo’s events canceled or discredited. However, members of the far-Right who uphold this claim were recently emboldened after the United Arab Emirates bizarrely labeled CAIR as a Muslim Brotherhood front group, although the U.S. officials haven’t made any similar designations and are still awaiting evidence from the UAE substantiating this claim.
It should also be noted that Bachmann, as well as the bill’s co-sponsor Rep. Louie Gohmert, seem to see the Muslim Brotherhood everywhere they go. In 2012, the two members of Congress embarked on a smear campaign accusing Hillary Clinton’s former aide Huma Abedin of being a Muslim Brotherhood operative, an attack that even drew criticism from their fellow Republicans.
In addition to Guandolo, Bachmann keeps close ties with other notorious anti-Muslim figures and organizations. This includes Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, which was at the forefront of the “Ground Zero mosque” opposition and has issued reports claiming that any Muslim following Islamic law, shariah, is following a “totalitarian ideology.” Bachmann also recently spoke at ACT! for America’s 2014 national conference. ACT! serves as the primary grassroots arm of the organized Islamophobia movement, boasting more than 800 chapters and more than 279,000 members. The group works to lobby lawmakers to introduce legislation aimed at stoking fear and suspicion of Muslims both at the state and national level. ACT! currently lists HR 5159 as one of its top priorities they hope to see passed.
So far, 19 additional Republicans have signed on in support of Bachmann’s bill. And given the upcoming Republican-controlled Congress, the bill could pass. However, while national security remains a large concern, it is also just as important for our elected officials to be able to distinguish between the real threats and those that are manufactured.