Denying Islamists Federal Security Clearances

Nusairat’s past — including her leadership position with the radical Students for Justice in Palestine during college and her prior graduation from Virginia’s Islamic Saudi Academy, which has a history of using violent, bigoted textbooks and whose 1999 valedictorian conspired with al-Qaeda to assassinate President George W. Bush — drew the NGA’s attention as it reevaluated Hegab. However, his complaint indicates that the deal breaker for his clearance was Nusairat’s “current affiliation with one or more organizations which consist of groups who are organized largely around their non-United States origin.”

This passage likely refers to her job with Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA), the country’s most prominent Muslim charity. While IRUSA collaborates with federal bodies on humanitarian projects, it also distributes millions of dollars per year to an international partner immersed in jihad, Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW). A NEFA Foundation analysis states that IRW helped launch the Union of Good, designated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for being a Hamas-financing coalition. In 2006, the Israeli government announced the arrest of an operative of “IRW’s Gaza branch” who had “worked to transfer funds and assistance to various Hamas institutions and organizations”; on his computer were photos of “senior Nazi German officials” and Osama bin Laden. Furthermore, several IRW leaders have been tied to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Hegab, who ultimately was placed on unpaid leave, may be the first to have lost a federal clearance due to a spouse’s Islamist connections. The lawsuit is pending.

A third controversy involving Muslims and clearances came to light in a heavily redacted letter to the DoD from Amara Chaudhry, civil rights director of CAIR’s Philadelphia office (CAIR-PA). Dated November 30, 2011, it is written on behalf of a client “in response to your agency’s tentative denial of his eligibility for access to classified information based upon your concerns regarding his susceptibility to ‘foreign influence.’” A summary on the CAIR-PA website describes him as “a federal employee with over three decades of service” who “was offered a merit-based promotion which required a top-level security clearance.” It states that “his recent pilgrimage to Mecca caused him to have ‘contacts with persons in places in the Middle East,’” thus sparking the rejection. CAIR-PA’s claims cannot be independently verified at this time.

At the core of the dispute is Guideline B of the U.S. government’s Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information, which declares that “foreign contacts and interests may be a security concern if the individual has divided loyalties or foreign financial interests, may be manipulated or induced to help a foreign person, group, organization, or government in a way that is not in U.S. interests, or is vulnerable to pressure or coercion by any foreign interest.” An important consideration is whether the foreign country in question “is known to target United States citizens to obtain protected information and/or is associated with a risk of terrorism.”

Chaudhry uses an accompanying blog post to lament that “in practice, the contacts which create such a ‘heightened risk’ are contacts in Muslim-majority countries” — no surprise, given the radicalism and terror being exported by many of them. She goes on to reason that due to their “disproportionate negative impact on American Muslims,” the provisions of Guideline B are “motivated, in whole or in part, by anti-Muslim bias and enacted with discriminatory intent.” Warning of a potential lawsuit, Chaudhry’s letter demands not only that the DoD grant her client his clearance and promotion, but also that the government water down Guideline B.

Denying federal clearances based on support for suspect organizations, a spouse’s dealings with these groups, or contacts in nations of concern is nothing new; it was a common occurrence during the Cold War. Without a doubt, an employee’s links to those who back the jihad should worry the U.S. government no less than did links to communist fronts half a century ago. After all, both Islamism and communism are totalitarian, utopian ideologies that seek to build their “paradises” on the ashes of Western liberal democracy — and both utilize stealth and subversion to advance their goals.

Howls of “anti-Muslim bias” cannot obscure the history of Islamist-aligned insiders abusing their posts to obtain confidential information for illegal ends. A 2008 piece by Daniel Pipes collates numerous examples, including Nada Nadim Prouty, who as an FBI special agent searched restricted files on Hezbollah to determine whether family members had been tied to the group, and Weiss Rasool, a police officer in CAIR’s orbit who alerted the subject of an FBI counterterrorism investigation to data that had a “disruptive effect” on the case. The trend continues. Last October, Mohamed Elibiary, a Khomeini-honoring Islamist who inexplicably serves on an advisory council for the Department of Homeland Security and had been given unique access to law enforcement intelligence records, was accused of downloading materials and shopping them to the media in hopes of furthering the “Islamophobia” narrative.

Despite the aforementioned positive signs at the DoD and NGA, much remains to be done to combat Islamist penetration. Confidence in the overall integrity of background checks for federal security clearances took a hit following a 2011 report about investigators “submitting forms saying they conducted interviews or verified official documents when they never did”; these bureaucratic holes need to be plugged. Additionally, the Elibiary saga demonstrates that various parts of the U.S. government are still largely blind to stealth jihad and all must be more proactive in rejecting Islamists before they do damage. With CAIR-LA’s Ayloush having boasted that “many of our members … end up working for the defense industry and the State Department” and columnist Daniel Greenfield having identified several Muslim defense contractors with unsettling associations, redoubled efforts to weed out Islamists cannot come soon enough.

Muslims should not be excluded from holding sensitive government jobs just because they are Muslims. However, the multifaceted conflict with radical Islam and the inescapable fact that every Islamist is a Muslim first make it imperative for agencies on the front lines to jettison political correctness, realistically appraise the threat, concentrate limited resources, and apply the greatest possible scrutiny to Muslim employees and partners. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, but that vigilance is most effective when properly focused.