Rep. Louie Gohmert (R., Texas) said that it is "truly unsettling" and "utterly appalling" that President Obama went before the United Nations on Wednesday and praised a controversial Muslim cleric who endorsed a fatwa encouraging the murder of U.S. troops in Iraq.
Obama came under scrutiny yesterday after the Washington Free Beacon reported on his commendation of controversial cleric Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, who the president referred to as a moderate Muslim capable of helping to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL or ISIS) extremist ideology.
Critics noted that the cleric endorsed a 2004 fatwa advocating for the killing of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and has called "for the death of Jews," according to terrorism analyst Patrick Poole.
Additionally, Bin Bayyah has served as the vice president of a Muslim scholars group that has reportedly endorsed Hamas and that was founded by a radical Muslim Brotherhood leader who has called "for the death of Jews and Americans," according to multiple reports.
Gohmert, a vocal critic of radical Islam, told the Free Beacon that Obama’s efforts to boost Bin Bayyah and sell him to the world as a moderate cleric are "truly unsettling" and "utterly appalling."
"It is truly unsettling that our Commander-in-Chief can praise someone with such a radical ideology in the midst of conducting airstrikes against those that hold the same beliefs, then finish his speech at the U.N. with his best impersonation of a determined George W. Bush," Gohmert told the Free Beacon in a statement.
"Perhaps it is the people he has advising him, but he still has extraordinary difficulty in discerning our friends from our enemies. Case in point, he continues outreach to Iran while their centrifuges continue to spin future death for the U.S. and Israel," said Gohmert, who serves as vice chair on the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.
Gohmert is particularly miffed that Obama gave a nod to Bin Bayyah from the global stage at the U.N. with the world watching.
"The ideology of ISIL or al Qaeda or Boko Haram will wilt and die if it is consistently exposed, confronted, and refuted in the light of day," Obama said in his remarks.
"Look at the new Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies—Sheikh bin Bayyah described its purpose: ‘We must declare war on war, so the outcome will be peace upon peace,’" Obama said, quoting the controversial cleric.
"It is utterly appalling that the President of the United States would go before the United Nations and praise a radical Muslim cleric," he said. "President Obama honored Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah by reading a quote from him on the world stage and grouping this cleric with those who are ‘Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies.’"
Given Bin Bayyah’s controversial views and past statement, "this, by no means, sounds like a moderate Muslim leader," Gohmert said.
When asked to explain Obama’s remarks on Wednesday, a White House official said that the president’s comments speak for themselves and declined to add anything further.
The Obama administration has come under fire multiple times in the past for promoting Bin Bayyah.
He was included in a 2013 meeting at the White House with Obama’s national security team. The State Department’s Counterterrorism Bureau (CT) then promoted Bin Bayyah earlier this year on Twitter. The department later deleted the pro-Bin Bayyah tweet and apologized multiple times for promoting the controversial cleric.