455. Muslims in our Government: Suhail Kahn

This is the seventh post in a series informing you about some of the Muslims who now hold key positions in our government.
Raised in California, Suhail Khan is an American Muslim and the son of the late Mahboob Khan, who was an early founder of the Muslim Students Association (MSA), a founding member of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a founding member of the Muslim Community Association (MCA), and the founder of American Muslims for Global Peace and Justice. His son has vowed to carry on his “dear father’s shining legacy.” Suhail’s mother, Malika Khan, was a founding member of the MCA and is currently a board member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) California chapter.

With degrees from UC Berkeley (1991) and the University of Iowa (1995), Suhail became a Capitol Hill staffer in the mid-1990s, where he convinced House Speaker Newt Gingrich to reserve a room in the Capitol for Muslims to pray. Among those who subsequently prayed and spoke there was the late Anwar Awlaki, a known affiliate of al-Qaeda.

At a 1999 ISNA event, Khan openly praised the “mujihadeen” who had martyred themselves for the cause of Islam. He praised the Muslims who had loved death more than the oppressors loved life. He lamented the fact that Muslim Americans were under attack and were often faced with discrimination, harassment and outright hatred. He urged his fellow Islamists to be prepared to give their lives for the cause of Islam. Khan also expressed hostility toward federal law-enforcement and sympathy for terrorist suspects.

As a staffer with Republican congressman Tom Campbell in a heavily Muslim district in Northern California, Khan worked to eliminate the Justice Department’s use of so-called “secret evidence” in deportation cases involving Arab immigrants suspected of terrorism. Khan worked that legislation specifically for Sami Al-Arian, whom Khan later defended against conservative allegations that he was a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader. Under the very law that Khan was trying to abolish, Al-Arian was ultimately arrested, convicted, and sentenced to federal prison for his PIJ affiliations.

After George W. Bush won the presidency in 2000, Khan won the political lottery when Bush selected him as a staff member in the White House Office of Public Liaison (OPL). His responsibility was to select which Muslims would be allowed access to the President and his team. Among those who were granted access was Sami al-Arian, who was still being investigated by the FBI. In 2001, the San Francisco Chronicle published a report tying Osama bin Laden’s chief lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri, to the California mosque where Khan’s late father had been board chairman.

Realizing that Khan’s connection could prove embarrassing (or worse) to his administration, Bush removed Khan from the OPL and he was given a political appointment in the Department of Transportation where he remained during Bush’s entire presidency. His last position was as Assistant to the Secretary for Policy, a position that gave him access to classified information on port, rail, waterway and highway security, as well as the movement of nuclear weapons and other hazardous materials.

Since leaving the Bush administration, Khan has utilized the Muslim Brotherhood’s “interfaith dialogue” strategy for co-opting and influencing the clerical leaders of other faiths while presenting himself as a pro-American, “life-long Reagan conservative.” He was so successful in his “makeover” that in 2007 he was elected to the board of directors of the American Conservative Union (ACU). Thanks largely to Grover Norquist’s sponsorship, Khan has been able to infiltrate other conservative circles as well, including evangelical Christian leaders in the South.

In 2010, Khan supported Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf’s effort to build the infamous “Ground Zero Mosque” in Manhattan, characterizing Rauf as a moderate Muslim whose intentions were benevolent. A little research into Khan’s family mosque would have revealed his true colors. His late father’s mosque had hosted several Taliban supporters while raising money for Hamas through its U.S. charitable front, the now-defunct Holy Land Foundation (HLF). Lately, Kahn has been briefing Republican leadership on various issues and has gained the trust of key staffers running the Republican Study Committee, the caucus for conservatives in the House of Representatives.

If you think the Democrats are the only ones who have been duped, think again.



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