JUST SAYIN’

ISIS and the Far-Right Have the Same Enemies' List

The new issue of ISIS’s magazine targets ‘apostate’ Muslim Americans. Funny, there’s another group that scorns exactly the same people.

04.14.16 2:44 PM ET

ISIS and certain American conservatives have something in common: They both hate the same Muslim Americans. This became apparent Wednesday when the new issue of ISIS’s magazine, Dabiq, was released.  (I downloaded it on my home computer—which likely means hello no-fly list.)     

In this issue of Dabiq, ISIS identifies Muslim Americans they believe should be targeted for death because they have become apostates per ISIS’s own made up version of Islam. Did any of these Muslims actually leave the faith? No, but ISIS claims that if a Muslim American is involved in American society, and especially in U.S. politics, he or she has become an apostate—even if that person is an imam who has dedicated his life to Islam.

Not that this matters to ISIS, but there’s no death penalty called for in the Quran for a person leaving the faith. But ISIS would never let the principles of Islam get in the way of its political goals.

And ISIS targeting Muslims for death is nothing new. As I have pointed out time and time again, ISIS’s mantra is submit to ISIS or die. They don’t care if you are the most devout Muslim in the world, they will kill you if you don’t do exactly what ISIS demands. That’s why experts note that 90 percent plus of the victims of ISIS are Muslims.

Now here’s the interesting part. Every person ISIS wants targeted, without exception, has already been targeted by American conservatives. Granted, not for death; things aren’t that bad yet. But they have been the targets of sustained political attacks. It appears that ISIS and many on the right in American politics both view the same Muslim Americans as a threat, but for different reasons.

ISIS has marked a diverse group of Muslim Americans for death, from white converts who are now leading imams to an African-American member of Congress to leaders of Muslim American organizations. These people are all very visible Muslim Americans who have also trashed ISIS countless times in the media. I will only list the names of the people targeted by ISIS if the person has agreed to my including their name or issued a public statement. (I don’t want to help ISIS terrorize people.) So here they are and here’s also a taste of the right-wing attacks waged against these very same people.

1. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) has been targeted for death by ISIS because as one of the two Muslims in Congress, he’s a visible role model for Muslims, inspiring them to become active in American politics and serve in our government.  Oddly enough, Ellison is also hated by the right for the same reason ISIS hates him, namely because he’s both very visible and effective. Just a few of the attacks include Former Rep. Michelle Bachmann, who claimed Ellison was part of the Muslim Brotherhood. Glenn Beck infamously questioned Ellison’s patriotism, demanding of Ellison on national television, “Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.” And the bottom-feeding website Breitbart.com (Trump’s biggest cheerleader) has attacked Ellison numerous times, alleging that he has nefarious (but fabricated) ties to terrorism.

Ellison issued a defiant statement in response to ISIS’s threat that truly sums up how Muslims view this murderous cult. Referring to ISIS as Da’esh, Ellison called it “a collection of liars, murderers, torturers, and rapists. No Muslim I know recognizes what they preach as Al-Islam.” Ellison added that he was in essence proud that Da’esh targeted him because it “means I am fighting for things like justice, tolerance, and a more inclusive world.”

2. Imam Suhaib Webb. ISIS has attacked him as being the “All-American imam” who connects with young Muslim Americans by using “thug life vocabulary and the latest pop culture references.” And they blast Imam Webb for publicly praising President Obama after he offered blessings on the Muslim Eid holiday. ISIS hates any Muslim leader who, like Webb, is encouraging American Muslims to become part of the fabric of our nation. The guys in ISIS are in “great” company because both Fox News and Breitbart.com have also attacked Webb, making unsubstantiated claims that the imam has a history of “ties to radicalism.” And many in the anti-Muslim circle of hate from Robert Spencer to Front Page.com have led a campaign to smear Webb as a radical linked to terrorism.

Webb responded in a phone conversation that ISIS targeting this group of visible Muslim Americans is proof that they are having an impact in both countering ISIS’s efforts to recruit Muslims and ISIS’s lies.  “No one can ever say again that Muslim Americans aren’t speaking out against ISIS after this because there’s now proof with these threats that we are and that it’s both effective and angering ISIS,” Webb explained.

3. Mohamed Elibiary. ISIS claimed that Elibiary was an apostate because he had worked in the Department of Homeland Security. Well, guess who else has attacked Elibiary? Ted Cruz’s new national security adviser, Frank Gaffney, who claimed Elibiary was part of “The Muslim Brotherhood’s infiltration of the Obama administration.” And Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) waged a jihad on Elibiary while he worked in DHS, apparently at the urging of people like Pam Geller.

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Elibiary’s response to ISIS via Twitter was also defiant, noting proudly that ISIS targeted him for his “service enforcing American laws 2 protect all Americans, Muslims included.”

4. Nihad Awad. The executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Awad was pictured at the top of the article in the ISIS magazine in the crosshairs of a gun sight. ISIS wants him dead for his work in defending the civil rights of American Muslims to ensure they have the same rights as all other Americans and feel welcomed in America. (ISIS wants Muslim Americans to be alienated to make it easier to recruit them.) Yet, as most are likely aware, CAIR and Awad has long been attacked by people on the right, from GOP politicians like Ben Carson, who just a few months claimed CAIR is a “supporter of terrorism” to Fox News, to of course Cruz’s adviser Gaffney, who has smeared Awad as a “Hamas lover.”

Awad responded to being on ISIS’s hit list with a statement that read in part, “The best response to such threats is to continue challenging extremism, whether it is espoused by organizations like ISIS or by Islamophobes who seek to demonize Islam based on that group's brutality. “

The big takeaway is that ISIS and the right in America have much in common on this subject. They both attack American Muslims who serve in our government and want to encourage other Muslims to do the same. They both ridicule those working to defend the rights of American Muslims to ensure that Muslims feel welcomed in our country. And they both fear that the more visible American Muslims become in contributing to our nation, the more it will undermine the vision they both share for how Islam should be defined.

Of course, there’s one big difference. ISIS wants these Muslims killed. The right in America only wants these Muslim Americans to be demonized, scorned, and marginalized.  Let’s hope that neither group will succeed in achieving their despicable goals.