Biden Names First Muslim as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom

Rashad Hussain, US envoy to the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), speaks during a press conference in the Saudi coastal city of Jeddah on May 9, 2010. Hussain met with OIC assistant secretary general Abdullah Alem to discuss ways to implement US President Barack Obama's pledges in a speech …
AMER HILABI/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. President Joe Biden announced Friday his “intent to nominate” Rashad Hussain as the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, the first Muslim to occupy the post.

Under the Obama Administration, Hussain served as U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) from 2010 to 2015.

During this period, an Egyptian magazine asserted that Hussain was one of six American Islamist activists working within the Obama administration as Muslim Brotherhood operatives enjoying strong influence over U.S. policy.

The December 22, 2012 story published in Egypt’s Rose El-Youssef weekly magazine claimed the six had turned the White House “from a position hostile to Islamic groups and organizations in the world to the largest and most important supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood,” a group described by the Chicago Tribune as “the world’s most influential Islamic fundamentalist group.”

Rose El-Youssef alleged that Rashad Hussain participated in the June 2002 annual conference of the American Muslim Council, formerly headed by convicted terrorist financier Abdurahman Alamoudi.

Hussain also participated in the organizing committee of the Critical Islamic Reflection along with important figures of the American Muslim Brotherhood such as Jamal Barzinji, Hisham al-Talib, and Yaqub Mirza, the magazine claimed.

The Egyptian article was translated and reported by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, or IPT.

In a 2010 article published by Townhall, Cal Thomas stated that “Hussain, a devout Muslim, has a history of participating in events connected with the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Biden’s new religious freedom ambassador also wound up in hot water in 2010 when he first denied then later admitted to describing the G.W. Bush administration’s investigation into professor Sami Al-Arian as well as other Muslim terrorism suspects as “politically motivated persecutions.”

Al-Arian subsequently pleaded guilty to conspiracy to contribute services to or for the benefit of the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a Specially Designated Terrorist organization, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. He was later deported to Turkey.

The controversy about Hussain’s comments on “political motivated persecutions” was aggravated by the fact that they were deleted from a report on the conference in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, a magazine on the region with articles from the Arab and Muslim perspectives.

In its report on the affair, Politico noted that the changes made to his comments “have led to speculation that Hussain was sanitizing his record to smooth his path to a White House legal post.”

In his new role as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Hussain will replace Sam Brownback, who occupied the post from 2018 to 2021.

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