State Department Apologizes for Promoting Muslim Cleric Who Backed Killing of U.S. Soldiers

Tweet promoting controversial cleric sparks widespread outrage
John Kerry / AP

John Kerry / AP

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The State Department’s Counter Terrorism (CT) Bureau apologized on Tuesday for promoting a controversial Muslim scholar whose organization has reportedly backed Hamas and endorsed a fatwa authorizing the murder of U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

The apology came on the heels of a Friday Washington Free Beacon report detailing the CT Bureau’s promotion of Sheik Abdallah Bin Bayyah, the vice president of a radical Muslim scholars group that was founded by a radical Muslim Brotherhood leader who has called “for the death of Jews and Americans.”

Bin Bayyah himself is one of several clerics who endorsed a 2004 fatwa, or religious order, endorsing the killing of U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq.

The CT Bureau apologized multiple times on Tuesday for tweeting in favor of Bin Bayyah and promoting an article on his website.

“This should not have been tweeted and has since been deleted,” the CT Bureau tweeted at users who expressed anger over the original message.

“It was wrong and should not have been tweeted,” the bureau later tweeted in response to other outraged individuals.

Bin Bayyah has long been a controversial figure and his attendance at a 2013 meeting at the White House sparked a fury among critics of the Obama administration.

Bin Bayyah has served as the vice president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), which was founded by Muslim Brotherhood leader “who has called for the death of Jews and Americans and himself is banned from visiting the U.S.,” according to Fox News.

Bin Bayyah also has “urged the U.N. to criminalize blasphemy,” according to reports, and spoke “out in favor of Hamas,” the terror group that governs the West Bank.

The controversial cleric also took heat for issuing a fatwa in 2009  “barring ‘all forms of normalization’ with Israel,” according to Fox.

The 2004 fatwa allowing for the murder of U.S. troops in Iraq reportedly stated that “resisting occupation troops” is a “duty” for all Muslims, according to reports filed at the time.

Terrorism analyst Patrick Poole condemned the State Department’s tweet last week, stating that it must more carefully vet the Muslim leaders it promotes.

“This administration is continuing to push extremist clerics like Bin Bayyah as part of a fantasy foreign policy that somehow they are somehow a counter to al Qaeda,” Poole said. “But in Bin Bayyah’s case, it was his organization that issued the fatwa allowing for the killing of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and said it was a duty for Muslims all over the world to support the Iraqi ‘resistance’ against the United States that gave religious justification for al Qaeda’s terrorism.”