New York Post Publishes New Smear Against Huma Abedin

Academic journal described as “radical Muslim” had Bernard Lewis on its advisory board

At the New York Post, a breathless “exposé” from Paul Sperry:

Huma Abedin worked at a radical Muslim journal for a dozen years

Hillary Clinton’s top campaign aide, and the woman who might be the future White House chief of staff to the first female US president, for a decade edited a radical Muslim publication that opposed women’s rights and blamed the US for 9/11.

…Huma Abedin published articles in a Saudi journal taking Clinton’s [1995] feminist platform apart, piece by piece. At the time, Abedin was assistant editor of the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs working under her mother, who remains editor-in-chief.

…Headlined “Women’s Rights Are Islamic Rights,” a 1996 article argues that single moms, working moms and gay couples with children should not be recognized as families. It also states that more revealing dress ushered in by women’s liberation “directly translates into unwanted results of sexual promiscuity and irresponsibility and indirectly promote violence against women.” In other words, sexually liberated women are just asking to be raped.

“A conjugal family established through a marriage contract between a man and a woman, and extended through procreation is the only definition of family a Muslim can accept,” the author, a Saudi official with the Muslim World League, asserted, while warning of “the dangers of alternative lifestyles.” (Abedin’s journal was founded and funded by the former head of the Muslim World League.)

The story has also been picked up uncritically and derivatively by the Daily Mail, and cited widely by the usual right-wing pundits [UPDATE: it has also been Tweeted by Donald Trump’s son].

It’s true that the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs has Saudi backing – indeed, it shares its London address in Goodge Street with the Muslim World League – but it can hardly be called a “Saudi journal”.  It is actually a standard academic journal, and publication is managed through the mainline academic publisher Taylor and Francis. Details of the editors and advisory board as of 1998 can be seen here – it is worth noting that the advisory board at that time included none other than Bernard Lewis, who is hardly known for his Islamist sympathies (here he is being praised at American Thinker). Huma Abedin is listed as one of two assistant editors, but given her studies in the US and work for Hillary Clinton from 1996 (when she was 20), it seems likely that her association with the journal over the years has been nominal.

The item highlighted above by Sperry was one of two that appeared in a “Documentation” section that followed the regular academic articles that were published in issue 16 (2). In other words, it is presented as a primary source rather than as a piece of academic research. It consists of

Excerpts from the open letter of the Secretary General of Muslim World League, Makkah Al Mukarramah to Mrs Gertrude Mongella, Secretary General of the United Nations, Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing, 4-15 September, 1995

Unfortunately, an expensive paywall means that it’s impossible to assess comprehensively whether Sperry has fairly represented his source, but here’s a bit of extra context for his “smoking gun” quote, gleaned from Google Scholar:

A more serious problem is the use of mass media for the exploitation of women as sex objects and in stereotyped images which are generally negative and passive and foster disrespect for women and invite prejudice and violence directed against them. This increases the challenges that women face in preserving their personal dignity. In a society vitiated by spiritual vacuum and an upsurge in normlessness, this directly translates into unwanted results of sexual promiscuity and irresponsibility and indirectly promote violence against women.

The chain of reasoning may be arguable, but it is difficult to see how this can be reduced in good faith to “sexually liberated women are just asking to be raped”. It should also be noted that there is nothing exclusively Islamic in the above, and it wouldn’t be out of place in a Catholic or Evangelical journal. And indeed, the other item in the journal’s “Documentation” section is a reprint of a piece called “Women: Teachers of Peace”, by, erm… Pope John Paul II, originally published as his Message for the 1995 World Day of Peace. That’s an odd thing to find in a “radical Muslim journal” – and an odd thing for Sperry to have missed, unless he is deliberately dishonest.

Sperry also takes quotes from an article by Abedin’s mother, Saleha M. Abedin, which appears to show she is opposed to “women’s empowerment”. Again, it’s impossible to judge her article in the round, but from what can be seen from the first page, it is reasonable to form the view that Sperry is over-simplifying and sensationalising. She also apparently argued that 9/11 was the result of a “spiral of violence”, although again all we have is a quote out of context.

Sperry also writes:

[Clinton’s] closest adviser served as an editor for that same Saudi propaganda organ for a dozen years. The same one that in 1999 published a book, edited by her mother, that justifies the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation under Islamic law, while claiming “man-made laws have in fact enslaved women.”

Sperry is here referring to Women in Islam: A Discourse in Rights and Obligations, by a certain Fatima Umar Naseef. The book was published by the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs in 1999, and then by the International Islamic Committee for Woman & Child in Egypt. S. Abedin is listed as having supervised and edited the translation into English. As an exhortatory religious text it seems somewhat out of place among the academic titles listed as belonging to the IMMA’s “book series“; the subject of “circumcision for women” is addressed on pages 219-220, concluding:

Circumcision for women is allowed but is not ordered because the aforementioned hadith is weak. When the Prophet (s) prescribed circumcision for the Muslim nation he specifically referred to Muslim men. There is no proven or authentic evidence that the Prophet (s) ever ordered a woman to be circumcised – and Allah (T) knows best.

Of course the phrase “circumcision for women is allowed” should be challenged, but the above is far from being a “justification” of the practice – indeed, it’s clear that the author disapproves of it. Sperry wants his baying readership to infer that S. Abedin edited some sort of fundamentalist tract written to promote FGM when it is clear that this is not the case. However, it’s possible that Sperry made an error here: the first sentence of the section states that “circumcision is a religious duty”, and he may not have bothered to read on to see that the discussion at that point concerns males.

But there’s a bigger point here than just the proper context for specific statements: S. Abedin has produced a body of work over the years as a writer, editor, and publisher, and trawling through the lot will probably unearth various passages that might be objectionable in one way or another (along with much that may be unremarkable or progressive). Some of these may reflect her own views, but picking out such phrases “gotcha” style does not truly enlighten us about who she is and what she stands for; and to argue that this is what her daughter – an assimilated American married to a non-Muslim – “really” wants to promote stretches unsustainable claims even further.

Huma Abedin has been a hate-figure for elements of the US right for some time, although some conservatives, such as John McCain and Rep. Jeff Flake, denounced the way she was being smeared in 2012 (the conspiracy theory aspect of those claims, that H. Abedin has a non-Muslim husband as “cover”, has recently been revived by Roger Stone). The thin pickings presented above are more of the same, but characteristic of a man who once wrote a column for for WND calling for US forces in Afghanistan to threaten to put pig blood in the water supply.

UPDATE: Roger Stone, while not mentioning Sperry directly, in conversation with Alex Jones has taken credit for recent media stories about Huma Abedin. Stone also extrapolated further on the “genital mutilation” claim, describing S. Abedin as “a prominent advocate for genital mutilation” and has “has written extensively about genital mutilation”. Jones responded with the grotesque query “Did Huma have her genitals cut off?” Details at Media Matters.

Anjem Choudary Snared by Indonesian Oath

The Metropolitan Police announce:

Two men have been convicted of encouraging support for the proscribed terrorist organisation Islamic State.

Anjem Choudary and Mohammed Mizanur Rahman were found guilty on 28 July following a trial at the Old Bailey.

At a meeting in a restaurant on the 2 July 2014, during which Choudary and Rahman contacted Mohammed Fachry, a convicted terrorist, in Indonesia via Skype, text and phone, the pair pledged their allegiance to ISIS and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Fachry then published this oath, having been signed off by Choudary, on an Indonesian website.

Choudary and Rahman were arrested by officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command on 25 September 2014.

This is front-page news in the UK, and so there isn’t much to add here. However, it is worth noting that the 2014 arrest came just one day after the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) published a report by Sidney Jones on The Evolution of ISIS in Indonesia, which was reported at the time by Channel 4 News.

I doubt there was a direct connection, but the timing is remarkable: the report includes details of how Fachry set up Sharia4Indonesia on a model inspired by Choudary, and discusses pro-ISIS oaths:

As part of its campaign to win public support, FAKSI [Fachry’s Forum of Islamic Law Activists] began organising public declarations of support for ISIS… Before April 2014, these initial pro-ISIS programs did not involve formal loyalty oaths. On 16 April 2014, however, Aman Abdurrahman made an online pledge.

That oath was apparently published in English on a now-deleted blog called Prisoner of Joy.

Choudary’s own oath appeared online in July; Court News UK has the details:

At 9pm, Choudary sent a WhatsApp message to his wife that said: ‘Done’ before posting a Twitter message to his followers.

On 7 July, an Oath of Allegiance appeared on the website in Indonesian and Arabic, which included Choudary and Rahman’s ‘kunyas’ or Islamic names – Abu Luqman, used by Choudary, and Abu Baraa, used by Rahman.

It was also signed in the names Abu Yahya and Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed.

The Metropolitan Police statement continues with a quote attributed to Dean Haydon, Head of the MPS Counter Terrorism Command:

The oath of allegiance was a turning point for the police – at last we had the evidence that they had stepped over the line and we could prove they supported ISIS

Our well established international contacts ensured that we were able to obtain key evidence from the Indonesian authorities to prove that Choudary and Rahman were key in the publication of their oath of allegiance.

There has been speculation over the years that Choudary was allowed to remain free because he served as a “clerical honeypot” (see Shiraz Maher here) whose activities made the surveillance of extremists easier. However, Haydon’s “at last we had the evidence” comment clearly asserts that this was not the case, and that the police have been wanting to move against him for a long time. The BBC has an interview with David Anderson QC, the UK government’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, in which he says that it “is not as easy to get convictions under these laws as it should be”.

[UPDATE: Haydon’s statement also needs to be considered in the context of a later report that there was a difference of opinion between police and MI5:

Met counter-terror officers often felt they enough evidence to build a case against the radicalising cleric, only to be told to hang fire by MI5, because he was crucial to one of their on-going investigations, a source has claimed.

The situation led to tension between the two sides with police feeling “frustrated” that Choudary was not being brought to justice, the source added.]

The announcement of Choudary’s conviction has also brought renewed complaints that the media has given him too much of a platform over the years; here’s Charlie Brooker’s ever-pertinent analysis from 2010:


Sussex Police Apologise but Stand by Bishop George Bell “Arrest” Statement

Peter Hitchens returns to the troubling story of the posthumous child-sex abuse allegation against the former Anglican Bishop of Chichester, George Bell, who died in 1958:

Almost every time I took the case up with neutral observers, or with media who had reported accusation as fact, they cited the police statement that they would have arrested George Bell as crucial in persuading them that there was a serious case against him.

This is so in terms of propaganda. But it simply isn’t so in law. An arrest is proof of nothing and is worthless as evidence. Alas, far too few people know this.

The police statement appeared as part of a press release by Chichester Cathedral, which I noted in October 2015. It stated:

Following a meeting between the survivor and Sussex police in 2013, it was confirmed by the police that the information obtained from their enquiries would have justified, had he still been alive, Bishop Bell’s arrest and interview, on suspicion of serious sexual offences, followed by release on bail, further enquiries and the subsequent submission of a police report to the CPS.

Hitchens made a complaint about the police’s statement on behalf of Bell’s niece, Barbara Whitley. As one would expect, this was initially dismissed out of hand: police tend to regard complaints purely in terms of whether an officer stands accused of conduct that would warrant disciplinary censure, and if the answer is “no” then there is not much chance that a force will feel the need to justify or even explain operational decisions.

However, in this instance Hitchens managed to get a sympathetic hearing from Sussex’s Police and Crime Commissioner, which has now led to a qualified apology, as reported by the BBC:

In a letter to Mr Hitchens, Det Supt Jeremy Graves, head of the force’s professional standards department, said the force would apologise to Ms Whitley.

“The distress caused to Barbara Whitley is of course regrettable and I know that Katie Perkin [head of corporate communications] plans to personally write a letter of apology to her,” he wrote.

He continued: “With hindsight the matter could have been managed more sensitively but it was complicated by the fact that the release was generated by the diocese with whom we should have been working more closely.”

In other words, the police continue to maintain that it was right to announce that it would have arrested Bell were it not for the fact he is dead, even though this comment served no purpose other than to give the impression that Bell had a case to answer and – more generally alarming – that arrests are indicative of well-grounded suspicion, or perhaps even of guilt. (There’s a similar unhappy trend in which the fact of the police handing over “evidence” to the CPS is also taken to mean “no smoke without fire” – I discussed this here) They concede only that “the matter could have been managed more sensitively”.

Hitchens has published a further segment of Graves’s statement (emphases added by Hitchens):

‘My understanding’, wrote Detective Superintendent J.D. Graves,

‘is that the Diocese of Chichester notified Sussex Police that they planned to release a statement to the media. It was never our intention to be proactive (my emphasis); in other words, there was no intention to release a police statement about the alleged criminality of Bishop Bell (my emphasis). However, we were asked by the Diocese to make a statement as they had decided to make this information public and so we provided them with a statement for inclusion in their press release on the basis that once the Diocese published their statement a natural consequence would be a media request to the police for comment’.

As Hitchens adds: “Something is very wrong here.”

The allegation against Bell concerns one woman, known in the media as “Carol”, who claims to have been abused between the ages of five and nine years old in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The Cathedral paid “Carol” a sum of money, and stated in October that

The settlement followed a thorough pre-litigation process during which further investigations into the claim took place including the commissioning of expert independent reports. None of those reports found any reason to doubt the veracity of the claim.

The names of the investigators have not been made public, nor have the details of their findings. The media interpreted this statement as meaning that the Church accepts the allegations as “being true on the balance of probabilities”, which is a subtle but significant slide in meaning: at the end of January the Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler (lead bishop on safeguarding, and discussed further here), reeled back slightly with a comment in the House of Lords (noted by Hitchens) that

In fact, if noble Lords read very carefully the statements that have been put out, they will see that there has been no declaration that we are convinced that this took place.

Specific details of the abuse allegations appeared in the media shortly afterwards.

Hitchens is not the only person to have expressed disquiet about how the “investigation” into Bell was conducted, or scepticism about its findings. In particular, the George Bell Group argues that “Carol’s” recollection of seeing Bell waiting for her on a staircase is inconsistent with the layout of the Bishop’s residence.

Hitchens also writes:

The simple principle, that nobody is guilty of a crime until he has been proven to be before an independent jury, just doesn’t apply to the dead – even as in this case when the accusation is solitary, ancient, uncorroborated and anonymous.

I think this risks going too far the other way. The “simple principle” applies to how the justice system works, but not to the process of historical inquiry. For instance, I see no reason to refrain from describing Eric Gill as a child-sex abuser or Arthur Koestler as a rapist, just because these two men were never brought before a jury. However, in those instances we can assess the evidence and testimony for ourselves – which we cannot do in the case of Bell.

The sad fact is that many allegations of abuse will never be able to be proved or disproved. Innocent men and women, whether alive or dead, will have their reputations sullied by false accusations that cannot be comprehensively debunked; and some genuine victims will never be able to substantiate their true accounts and may themselves be unfairly tarred as false accusers. One should always proceed with caution, and those in authority should avoid creating unrealistic expectations.

Police Act on Jerusalem “Christian Paedo Cult” Panic

From the Times of Israel:

Police launch an investigation into a group of Israeli Jews from the Sanhedria neighborhood of Jerusalem who allegedly misled and swindled donors in Israel and abroad by making up stories about a purported Christian cult that had kidnapped, sexually abused and forcibly converted to Christianity hundreds of Jewish children from the Haredi community…

Details are scarce, but this presumably relates to the situation that was reported last year by a writer named Menachem Kaiser in the Tablet:

In the last few weeks, I have received a startling number of calls and emails regarding an ongoing crisis in Sanhedria Murchevet, a neighborhood in north Jerusalem where many—including some prominent rabbis and communal leaders—believe that an organized ring of criminals have been abusing, raping, and torturing Jewish children and have been doing so for a number of years. There is also widespread belief that the abuse is at least partially religiously motivated—that operating in the community’s midst is a cult, a ring of men and women who are subjecting the children to ritual torture.

Kaiser cautioned against hysteria, and he noted how similar claims had arisen in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Nachlaot in 2012:

People died in the wake of what happened in Nachlaot. An 80-year-old woman was beaten with a crowbar and hospitalized, because she was believed to be a key member of a Christian missionary cult behind the abduction, torture, and rape of Jewish children. Many lives were destroyed. Children underwent corrective therapy for traumatic events that almost certainly did not happen—therapy that thereby created and reinforced that trauma.

Kaiser wrote about the earlier Nachlaot case here (the woman who was attacked was described as “70” rather than “80” in his earlier piece, following a report in Haaretz). In that instance, the police came to the view that there was a real paedophile ring in operation (albeit nothing to do with a “cult”), and arrests and convictions followed.

This time, the police appear to have taken a different view. However, I’d be surprised if the Sanhedria allegations can be reduced to a calculated scam: there are obvious parallels here with the Anglo-American “Satanic Panic” controversies of the 1980s and 1990s (recently revived in the UK in the form of false “VIP abuse” allegations), while panic over a “Christian cult” plays dovetails with ultra-Orthodox activism against Christian missionaries in Israel.

Team Trump Mainstreams Theodore Shoebat with Smear Attack on Khizr Khan and his Dead Son

From Think Progress (emphasis and link added):

An official adviser to the Trump campaign has escalated the attacks on Khizr Khan, the gold star father who was critical of Trump at the Democratic convention, baselessly accusing him of being a “Muslim Brotherhood agent.”

The adviser, Al Baldasaro, tweeted a link to an article from, a fringe anti-Islam conspiracy website. The article also suggests (without any evidence) that Humayun Khan, who was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze, was a jihadist who joined the military to kill Americans.

That last aspect of the Shoebat post risks being overlooked and/or downplayed, hence the added bold. The post, by Theodore Shoebat opines that

In regards to his son and his sacrifice, on the other side of the coin, many were the ‘Muslim martyrs’ who joined the US military. Ali Abdul Saoud Mohamed, for example, enlisted in the Special Forces of the US Army; he was a double agent for Al-Qaeda.

…These Muslim soldiers were “heroes” of course, until the snow melted later on. Is it likely that Khan’s son was killed before the snow melted? Only another type of investigation will determine that.  Does Hillary’s man ever mention how many soldiers have died because of Muslim traitors?… But soon everything we need to know will be uncovered as a Middle Eastern proverb says: the snow always melts and the sh*t under it will soon be revealed.

The claim that Khizr Khan is a “Muslim Brotherhood agent” is derived from a paper he published in 1983, in which he acknowledges the writings of Said Ramadan as a source in a footnote. The paper, entitled “Juristic Classification of Islamic Law“, appeared in the Houston Journal of International Law (volume 6, number 23).

This is all presented as something that “the media is not telling you”, and as such it is now being hyped in certain quarters in a – somewhat desperate – attempt to re-frame the narrative away from what Trump’s outburst against Khizr and Ghazala Khan reveals about Trump’s disordered personality and fragile ego (as eloquently dissected here by Robert Kagan) to how the “real” story is about how Khan is secretly some awful person.

Those on the bandwagon promoting Shoebat’s post include none other than veteran conservative Richard Viguerie, who promptly blocked me on Twitter when I remonstrated; Fox News’s Lou Dobbs, who suggests that the post reveals “questions” about Khan; and Roger Stone. Theodore Shoebat’s father Walid Shoebat has also been interviewed about the subject by Michael Savage. The post is also linked in passing by Breitbart, in an article about Khan’s past association with the international law firm Hogan Lovells (which employs more than 2,500 lawyers). These sources commend Shoebat as a source on Khan and the Muslim Brotherhood, although they avoid mentioning Shoebat’s slur against his son.

Meanwhile, although not citing Shoebat directly, Trump’s spokeswoman Katrina Pierson stated on The Kelly File that “this father apparently has been a strong proponent of Sharia law”, and that he has reportedly written “law briefs for Sharia law”. As such, according Pierson, it is not “a far fetched assumption” by Trump that Ghazala Khan had not been allowed to speak by her husband (Pierson similarly excelled on CNN, explaining that “it was under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that changed the rules of engagement that probably cost [Humayun Khan] his life” – even though Humayun Khan was killed in action in 2004, halfway through the Bush presidency).

Oddly enough, I speculated in January that Trump’s rise might herald a Shoebat revival – a few years ago now, Walid Shoebat was part of the conservative and evangelical speaker circuit, but more recently the Shoebat family business become something of a fringe operation, especially since the Shoebats decided to adopt a form of Catholic traditionalism that is viscerally anti-Protestant (Martin Luther is apparently “a spiritual Jezebel and a Balaam”, while John Wycliffe is an “evil heretic”). Theodore’s anti-gay hatred is so obessive that he recently repelled even Peter LaBarbera with his calls for gay people to be executed – with typical Shoebat crudity, LaBarbera was then denounced as a “filthy pig” and a “traitor”.

It should also be noted that although the Shoebats highlight acts of Islamist and Jihadist barbarity as evidence of the evils of Muslims, they often don’t care too much for their victims either; in particular, the Bataclan attack prompted “Don’t Pray For France, France Is A Godless Nation That Deserved To Be Attacked. France Supports Terrorists And Kills Christians, And Needs To Be Punished“. That kind of thing is probably too much for the majority of US churchgoers – but it did occur to me that Trump’s successes were revealing a cruder constituency for whom there is no stigma in appealing to the worst instincts.

UPDATE: Walid Shoebat has now followed up with a post of his own:

Hillary Is Busted: Read The Real Booklet Hillary’s Man Was Carrying For Years. It Was The Muslim Shari’ah Constitution And NOT The U.S Constitution

It includes a photo, which is also being promoted on social media:

Khan Shoebat

Obviously, with this photo Shoebat is attempting to imply that he’s spotted something odd about the back of the document that Khan held aloft at the DNC, although his post doesn’t in fact make the claim that Khan was not holding a pocket constitution (such a suggestion would in any case be unsustainable). Instead, Shoebat writes (links in original):

Khizr Muazzam Khan’s photo carrying a booklet of the U.S. Constitution made him a celebrity to millions of bleeding liberal hearts. While Khan never once wrote complementing the U.S. Constitution until Trump,  instead, in his booklet, The Sharia Explained (we copied shocking excerpts) of what the media failed to vet:  Khan’s real booklet clearly upholds Shari’ah while denouncing any other including any modern reforms to Islam. He concludes that Sharia should be “upheld in its original form” and that it has “no room for change” insisting that Muslims worldwide must be “subordinated to the Shari’ah”…

Both links in fact click through to the Houston Journal of International Law article “Juristic Classification of Islamic Law” mentioned above. It is not a “booklet”; it is not called The Sharia Explained; and it is a descriptive account of Islamic law for the benefit of a wider audience rather than a prescriptive theological treatise. The “Sharia Law” image on the left is unrelated to the paper, and has no connection with Khan.

Shoebat focuses in particular on one section (underlining here in Shoebat’s quote, although not in the original):

“The Shari’ah-was completed during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammed, in the Quran and Sunnah. This brings up an important fact which is generally overlooked, that the invariable and basic rules of Islamic Law are only those prescribed in the Shari’ah (Quran and Sunnah), which are few and limited,” Khan continues to write: “All other juridical works which have been written during more than thirteen centuries are very rich and indispensable, but they must always be subordinated to the Shari’ah and open to reconsideration by all Muslims.”

Shoebat says that this shows that it is “as clear as the sun” that Khan has a view of Islam in which “there is no room for any modernization”.

However, Shoebat here completely misrepresents his source. Khan is not saying that later juridical works must be disregarded, and the Quran and Sunnah approached fundamentalistically; rather, he’s saying that the “basic rules” are “few and limited” and that later works must be “open to reconsideration”. This in fact highlights flexibility and openness to reform.

Meanwhile, Snopes has an overview and assessment here. The short version:

No credible evidence supports the assertion that Khan is an operative of the Muslim Brotherhood.