In reviewing President Obama’s address to the United Nations, I mentioned his approving quotation of Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayyah, who said, “We must declare war on war, so the outcome will be peace upon peace.” Unfortunately, he belongs to a group that is also noted for declaring war upon American soldiers, signing onto a fatwa whose outcome was corpses upon corpses.
Bin Bayyah is “controversial” enough for the State Department to actually apologize for Tweeting out a link to his website just a few months ago. The linked article was a condemnation of the Boko Haram savages in Nigeria for kidnapping and enslaving hundreds of young girls, but there was enough of an outcry over bin Bayyah’s past to get that State Department Tweet deleted. A year before that, the White House got into some hot water for inviting him to a meeting of the National Security Council. On that occasion, Fox News reviewed what made this particular sheikh such a hot potato:
Bin Bayyah is vice president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, a group founded by Egyptian cleric Yusuf Qaradawi — a Muslim Brotherhood leader who has called for the death of Jews and Americans and himself is banned from visiting the U.S.
Bin Bayyah, for his part, has urged the U.N. to criminalize blasphemy. His group has spoken out in favor of Hamas and in 2009 issued a fatwa barring “all forms of normalization” with Israel.
[…] Aside from his ties to Qaradawi, IPT also found Bin Bayyah was vice president at the IUMS when they issued a 2004 fatwa saying that resisting U.S. troops in Iraq is a “duty” for Muslims.
He’s made some efforts to, shall we say, moderate these views, and there are people in the West who seem eager to help him along, evidently believing his influence in the Muslim world is worth whatever it takes to rehabilitate his image:
In 2010, Bin Bayyah publicly rejected a fatwa that had been used as the justification for Al Qaeda terrorism.
In his criticism of the fatwa, he said: “Anyone who seeks support from this fatwa for killing Muslims or non-Muslims has erred in his interpretation and has misapplied the revealed texts.”
The Muslim scholar has taken criticism from violent extremists for this position.
He has also worked with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other groups on global health issues.
Bin Bayyah was named in 2009, by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, as one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world.
Another reason the Administration might be interested in conferring legitimacy and approval upon bin Bayyah is that he recently issued a fatwa against ISIS, which NPR describes as essentially lecturing them about how they’re getting Islam wrong. You can see why the “nothing Islamic about the Islamic State” crowd would find that valuable:
His fatwa calls for dialogue about the true tenets of Islam and, over the course of many pages, questions just about everything for which ISIS says it stands. The fatwa says establishing a caliphate by force is a misreading of religious doctrine. Killing of innocents and violence, the fatwa declares, are wrong too.
Bin Bayyah said in an interview with NPR that he hopes the religious ruling will slow the group’s momentum. “Primarily [the fatwa] is really about addressing the mistakes, and it’s really warning them and advising them that what you are doing is clearly wrong,” he said.
Megyn Kelly of Fox News had an opportunity to discuss all this with State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf on Thursday night. It was… uncomfortable.
(Whose idea was it to film these interviews with a swooping camera? I was waiting for them to go all the way, and bust out the “Matrix” bullet-time cameras for Harf when she dodged questions.)
The first thing Harf does, after dispensing some boilerplate about the importance of nourishing relationships with Muslim leaders who are willing to denounce ISIS, is insinuate that he didn’t actually do the things that made him controversial. Holy cow… 30 seconds in, and she decides to handle this by lying about it?
Needless to say, it didn’t work, so after Kelly showered Harf with truth bombs, and remarked that it must have been “embarrassing” to have bin Bayyah’s past exposed this way, the State Department spokeswoman tried claiming she has no idea why the State Department apologized for sending people to the sheikh’s website. Ah, the Incompetence Defense! Eric Holder couldn’t have done it better. Later, Kelly empathizes with Harf for getting hung out to dry by the train-wreck Administration she works for, and she just kind of smiles and nods. When the conversation turned to the disturbing reality that Iraqi troops are still getting slaughtered in confrontations with ISIS fighters, Harf babbled something about “pockets of resistance,” as though ISIS wasn’t still firmly in control of the territory it has conquered. We’re in the best of hands, folks.
We were treated to a shot of the “Just One Person” argument we’ve heard from Obama loyalists in a variety of contexts: don’t criticize them for doing something stupid or extreme, because if it helps Just One Person, they were totally justified. In this case, we’re supposed to think that buddying up to a guy who signed off on killing American soldiers is defensible if it convinces Just One Person to say “no” to ISIS.
That’s the kind of foolishness that has made the world into a raging bonfire throughout the Obama years. It’s stupid to think that the most modest possible benefit justifies the most extreme expense, abuse of power, or reckless alliance. Costs and complications matter. In the struggle against radical Islam, tomorrow’s monsters are often created by desperate alliances against today’s hobgoblins. Just a year ago, Obama’s need to knock Bashar Assad out of power in Syria justified cozying up to the sleazeballs we’re dropping bombs on today. A willingness to offer some criticism of ISIS should not erase everything bin Bayyah ever did to get American troops killed, or his thoughts about imposing Islamic law at gunpoint, or his ties to radical elements. Among other things, that makes the Administration look weak and desperate – they’ll let anybody into the anti-ISIS club, with few questions asked.
I couldn’t help noticing that Sheikh bin Bayyah’s condemnation of ISIS was rather more tepid than his death warrant for American troops. He’s arguing with them about the fine points of Islamic theology, but he said it was “the duty of all Muslims” to “resist occupation troops.” Shouldn’t we have held out for the kind of fatwa that says it’s the duty of all Muslims to resist the Islamic State’s occupying troops? Has he formally apologized for, and retracted, the fatwas against killing American troops and normalizing relations with Israel? Has he formally renounced all support for the blood-splattered terrorists of Hamas, who most certainly do not have any interest in waging war upon war, so the outcome will be peace upon peace?
As with everything else this Administration does, the bin Bayyah affair was a wacky sideshow of blunders, disorganization, and embarrassment. Obama and his crew seem to think support for killing American soldiers in Iraq isn’t all that big of a deal, an unfortunate bit of business from the last decade that we shouldn’t dwell upon. It’s like they’re surprised anyone in America still thinks it’s a big deal. But then, this is the same bumbling team that spent years assuring us al-Qaeda was decimated and on the run… then said, “Would you believe core al-Qaeda was decimated?”… and then spent Day One of the air assault on Syrian territory dropping bombs on core al-Qaeda. My confidence in their ability to pick out the truly reformed radical Islamist clerics is not strong.