The right-wing site World Net Daily and conservative columnist Frank Gaffney came up with a new reason this week to hate the Conservative Political Action Conference, arguing that it has been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood thanks to Grover Norquist, the Republican group Muslims For America, and Ex-Bush staffer Suhail Khan.
In an interview with TPM today, Khan described how “every few months there’s a different iteration of [Gaffney] and his cohorts’ wild accusations,” but it is simply untrue, and a part of Gaffney’s “tempter tantrum” that he has been marginalized by the conservative movement.
As we reported, several social conservative groups have pulled out of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference that will take place this February, because the gay conservative group GOProud will be attending. The Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage were among those who backed out.
CPAC is not exactly known for its fuzzy left-wing politics. Last year’s conference included appearances by Dick and Liz Cheney, Mitt Romney, and Jim DeMint, with Glenn Beck as keynote speaker. Rush Limbaugh keynoted in 2009.
But in an article yesterday on World Net Daily called “Now look who else is infiltrating CPAC,” Gaffney “told WND that Islamism has infiltrated the American Conservative Union, the host of CPAC, in the person of Washington attorney and political activist Suhail Khan and a group called Muslims for America.”
Gaffney has been a go-to shariah “expert” on the right for some time — he even testified against a proposed mosque project in Murfreesboro, TN, and then said on CNN that the purpose of mosques “is to destroy western civilization from within.”
“What’s going on in conservative circles should give everyone real cause for concern,” Gaffney told World Net Daily. “What it bespeaks is an effort to penetrate and influence conservatives, who are the most likely and perhaps only community in America who will stand up to and ultimately help ensure the defeat of this seditious totalitarian political program.”
He also implicated anti-tax conservative activist Grover Norquist in the plot: “Grover Norquist is credentialing the perpetrators of this Muslim Brotherood influence operation. This is part of tradecraft, to get people who have standing in a community to give it to people who lack it, so they can do what they’re assigned to do in terms of subversion. We are in a war, and he has been working with the enemy for over a decade.”
“The fact that it has gone on within conservative circles for this long, and may be further enabled at CPAC this year, is a travesty,” he continued.
Gaffney’s crusade against Norquist goes back a long way, and was perhaps springboarded by the fact that Norquist’s wife is Muslim. In 2003, Gaffney wrote a long article in Front Page Magazine about Norquist’s role in “enabling a political influence operation to advance the causes of radical Islamists,” particularly in the Bush Administration.
Norquist is president of Americans For Tax Reform, and currently serves on the GOProud board.
Khan, a former appointee in the Bush Administration and now a Senior Fellow for Christian-Muslim Understanding at the Institute for Global Engagement, dismissed the article in a phone interview with TPM today. He described how after September 11 the claim was that he was “an Al Qaeda operative in the Bush Administration,” now it’s that he’s a member of the Muslim Brotherhood — “next week I’ll be a closet girl scout.”
“Every one of his assertions is completely untrue,” Khan said, adding that Gaffney “doesn’t want to let a few silly facts in the way of good story.”
Khan also described how Gaffney has “become completely marginalized in the conservative movement,” and describes the article as a “tempter tantrum given that he is being ignored.”
One of the claims, which Khan called “laughable,” was that his late father was a founding member of the Muslim Brotherhood. His father was from South India, while the Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt. “It’s very annoying, and especially sad that he would besmirch the memory of my late father.”
As for CPAC, Khan does serve on the ACU board, and said he might spend some time volunteering in the Muslims For America booth, but he has no official role in the group.
The ACU’s CPAC director Lisa DePasquale told Ben Smith of Politico: “The fact is that we will have a panel tentatively titled ‘Defining and Debating Shariah in America’ at this year’s CPAC moderated by Cliff May of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.”
“If what Frank says were true then, Suhail Khan is much more powerful than anyone ever imagined!” she added.
Norquist did not respond to TPM’s request for comment.
h/t Right Wing Watch.