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Who is Mohamed Elibiary — and why is he advising DHS?

Readers of my former blog may recall my run-ins with Mohamed Elibiary, a Muslim activist from North Texas with whom I frequently clashed. Elibiary had the mau-mau strategy down pat, being quick to accuse his opponents of anti-Muslim bigotry. This is his standard m.o., and he’s done pretty well by it. One of the last […]

Readers of my former blog may recall my run-ins with Mohamed Elibiary, a Muslim activist from North Texas with whom I frequently clashed. Elibiary had the mau-mau strategy down pat, being quick to accuse his opponents of anti-Muslim bigotry. This is his standard m.o., and he’s done pretty well by it. One of the last times I wrote about him at the Dallas Morning News was to blog about how incredibly foolish it was for Congress to rely on Elibiary for counterterrorism advice, considering that Elibiary publicly defended the late Muslim Brotherhood jihad ideologist Sayyid Qutb as a positive spiritual influence. Qutb, understand, called for global holy war to subjugate the planet — including dissenting Muslims — for radical Islam. As blogger Patrick Poole reminded us last year, Elibiary also spoke at the infamous Dallas Muslim conference in honor of “the great Islamic visionary” the Ayatollah Khomeini. What occasioned Poole’s recollection? Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano’s appointing Elibiary to an exclusive Homeland Security Advisory Council.

How, exactly, does the US government’s DHS choose to take advice from a man who publicly encouraged Americans to read the work of Qutb, whose teachings the 9/11 Commission cited as a prime motivator of Al Qaeda’s ideology, so that all may “see the potential for a strong spiritual rebirth that’s truly ecumenical allowing all faiths practiced in America to enrich us and motivate us to serve God better by serving our fellow man more”? It’s amazing. I have no idea if Elibiary is a bad guy or not, but at best this statement is truly crackpot. I find it hard to take Elibiary seriously as a sinister figure, as some on the right do, because to interact with him and to read his writing is to fail to be overwhelmed, or even whelmed, by his analytical capabilities. Based on my history with him, including dealing with him in editorial meetings, I wouldn’t trust the guy to give me straight advice about where to eat falafel, much less about Islamic terrorism. But that’s our government for you.

I had forgotten about Elibiary, who runs an outfit he calls the Freedom & Justice Foundation — or did run it; the website apparently no longer exists. (I’m sure it’s a total coincidence that Freedom & Justice is the name the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood chose for the political party it founded this year.) Well, it was reported a few weeks back that Elibiary may have leaked sensitive intelligence information to an unnamed media outlet in an alleged attempt to gin up negative coverage of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, on the grounds that Perry is “Islamophobic.” The media source told Poole it didn’t do a story because it found no evidence of Islamophobia in the documents Elibiary provided. From Poole’s report:

In light of these allegations, I spoke today with Texas DPS Director Steve McCraw. He confirmed that Elibiary has access to the Homeland Security State and Local Intelligence Community of Interest (HS SLIC) database, which contains hundreds of thousands of intelligence reports and products that are intended for intelligence sharing between law enforcement agencies.

(Full disclosure: I gave a briefing in April 2010 to the TX DPS on historical terror incidents and terror connections to Texas. I’ve also been critical of Elibiary’s involvement with DHS considering his past extremist statements and activities.)

I asked Director McCraw if he knew whether Elibiary had access to TX DPS reports on the HS SLIC, to which he replied:

“We know that he has accessed DPS documents and downloaded them.”

Elibiary did not respond to Poole’s request for comment.

If this is true, it’s a fairly significant story. Poole did not name his media source who claims Elibiary was shopping around this information. Poole later reported that McGraw of the Texas DPS requested a DHS investigation into the Elibiary affair. Poole did a follow-up report on November 28, saying that the DHS is still stonewalling on the Elibiary story. Excerpt:

Before publishing the original article, I spoke with DHS spokesman Chris Ortman. After grilling me about the nature of my source, he immediately terminated the conversation after I asked him how and when Elibiary got access to the HS SLIC system, telling me he would have to get back to me.

Needless to say, I’m still waiting for that return phone call, despite follow-up emails.

The questions I am looking to get answered:

1) When did Elibiary get access to the HS SLIC system, and who approved it?

2) Why was Elibiary the only member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council — he is one of 26 members — to get access to that system?

3) What is the status of the investigation requested by TX DPS Director McCraw into Elibiary’s leaking his agency’s documents to the media?

4) What other sensitive government databases did/does Elibiary still have access to, since he works with other agencies (e.g., FBI, National Counterterrorism Center, Office of the Director of National Intelligence)?

5) Is there evidence that Elibiary leaked sensitive documents and reports to other media outlets?

These are very good and important questions. The DHS website continues to list Elibiary as a member of its advisory council. One has to presume he is still in good standing with the agency. As Poole reports, Rep. Louie Gohmert asked Secretary Napolitano about the Elibiary situation in a Congressional hearing back in October; she promised to get back to him.

Well? It’s scandalous enough that a guy with Elibiary’s background and public profile serves on a high-level DHS advisory council, and may have been given access to sensitive intelligence. But if he used that access to try to play partisan politics by smearing the Texas governor, that is a very serious situation that reflects terribly on the DHS’s judgment — especially because all you have to do is spend 10 minutes with Google to learn how squirrelly Elibiary’s opinions are.

Maybe Elibiary did nothing wrong, and is being smeared. But the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety is on record saying that Elibiary had access to these documents and downloaded them, and asking for a DHS investigation. At this point, the issue is not only about Elibiary, it’s about the security and the judgment of the Department of Homeland Security. Come on, media — especially Texas media — this is a story.