EO has been quiet lately, but our editors surely haven’t. Here’s one of my latest, from the New Ledger:
Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is in Australia this week, speaking on social justice, democracy, and his own legal woes. He has also addressed the recent release of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese opposition politician, declaring that her release will mean nothing until she is permitted to take her place as the elected leader of Myanmar. Anwar has used Suu Kyi’s release to attract attention to his own political problems, arguing that Australia ought to speak out in the face of atrocities in both Myanmar and Malaysia:
“But I think they’re ill-advised if they proceed in this way…. I’m not suggesting that [the Australian government] should interfere, but they should express their views, they should promote civil society, as a vibrant democracy they’ve a duty…. But I think the issue of democracy, human rights, rule of law, they’re not something that you can just ignore. But I’m of course appreciative of the fact that Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd took time, and we had very, very useful discussions, some issues affecting both countries, and of course my personal predicament. But I always make it a point that they should extend the issue, the issue of freedom, human rights. It goes beyond Anwar’s personal case.”
The problem here is that “Anwar’s personal case” is very different from Suu Kyi’s, and Malaysia’s political landscape has little in common with Myanmar’s.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton neatly sidestepped a messy diplomatic tangle Tuesday when she canceled her plans to meet with Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. Only time will tell whether her last-minute schedule change adequately conveyed her apparent reluctance to add status to a controversial figure, but one thing is certain — Anwar’s anti-Semitic rhetoric and ties to dangerous terrorist finance groups mean he deserves none of the status a visit would have afforded him.
Though Anwar has spent the past decade gathering respect in Washington, his ties to terrorist finance groups like the Muslim Brotherhood clearly falsify his claims to represent the sort of moderate Islam the United States has so eagerly courted. Al Gore’s defenses notwithstanding, Anwar is exactly the sort of Islamist radical in moderate’s clothing the U.S. must denounce.
Far from being the Malaysian “Voice of Democracy” his website touts, Anwar is in fact the co-founder of, and a trustee at, the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), an American front organization for the Muslim Brotherhood.
The IIIT has a long history of proven and alleged terrorist finance ties. Just two years ago, for example, Temple University refused funding from the IIIT, citing serious concerns about the organization’s terror-financing connections.
In 1991, the Muslim Brotherhood named the IIIT in a list of 29 likeminded “organizations of our friends” that aimed to destroy America and turn it into a Muslim nation.
In 2003, U.S. prosecutors submitted evidence that the IIIT had a hand in funding Sami al-Arian, the convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad fundraiser. The same document also stated that “IIIT president Taha Jaber al-Alwani once signed a copy of a fatwa declaring that jihad is the only way to liberate Palestine.”
And the United States isn’t the only nation that has noted the Virginia-based IIIT’s problematic ties; in 2007, Malaysian Muslim feminist Zainah Anwar alleged that the organization had indirectly endorsed Islamic polygamy by removing from new translations of the Quran some widely accepted notes on the supremacy of monogamous marriages.
Anwar has done little to disguise his association with the IIIT, even tweeting recently that he was visiting the organization during a trip to the United States. Despite these and other problematic ties, Anwar continues to be a well-loved figure in Washington circles — a fact that Clinton did not hesitate to point out during her tour of Malaysia.
This is surprising, given President Obama’s praise for Anwar’s political enemies at the ASEAN summit in New York last week. Obama’s enthusiastic endorsement of Prime Minister Najib’s call for a Global Movement of Moderates should leave no room for Anwar’s brand of Islamist extremism, but that hasn’t kept U.S. officials from voicing their support of Anwar’s cause.