Writing in AlterNet yesterday, journalist and columnist Max Blumenthal revealed that much of the right wing media’s conspiracy-mongering about President Obama and the Muslim Brotherhood has taken hold in Egypt among military supporters.
In the wake of the brutal crackdown on supporters of the deposed president Mohammed Morsi by the Egyptian military, a pro-military Egyptian cable channel called ONTV has been disseminating some of the same rhetoric that Glenn Beck and other right wing Islamophobic figures have produced.
Since Egyptian security forces commanded by strongman Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi began massacring supporters of Morsi, arresting and disappearing activists in droves, and shutting down unsympathetic news outlets, the Obama administration has ratcheted up its criticism, canceling a joint military maneuver with Egypt while stopping just short of suspending aid. Fearing that external pressure could lead to a crisis in internal morale, Egypt’s military regime has cranked up its Mighty Wurlitzer.
During the past two weeks, pro-military networks like OnTV have begun blending footage of Egypt’s glorious security forces waging a “war on terror” with the kind of conspiratorial screeds familiar to far-right members of Congress like Michele Bachmann and Islamophobia hustlers like Pamela Geller. The propaganda blitz has successfully reinforced the view of many average Egyptians that if Obama cannot respect the heroic Sisi’s war on “terror,” it is because he is caught in the invisible tentacles of the Brotherhood – or perhaps he is an undercover Brother himself.
Blumenthal cites the conspiracy theory made popular by Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN) which targets the lone Muslim member of the Department of Homeland Security advisory council, Mohamed Elibiary, accusing him of being a leader of a Muslim Brotherhood sleeper cell.
Elibiary operates a private security firm in Texas and has consulted extensively for the FBI. In order to enter the administration, he had to first clear a thorough background check. Soon after his 2010 swearing in, Elibiary was bombarded with smears, with the anti-Muslim researcher Stephen Emerson accusing him of “support[ing] terror-related individuals and organizations,” a charge echoed in a letter to the DHS by a cadre of far-right Republican members of Congress.
With the 2012 election over, it seemed like the far-right conspiracy theories were going to dissipate. But a pro-Mubarak tabloid in Egypt caught wind of the Elibiary allegations and ran with them.
In November 2012, the formerly pro-Mubarak Egyptian tabloid Rose El-Yousef introduced millions of Egyptians to Elibiary, naming him and five other influential Muslim-American political activists as secret Brotherhood operatives. “I asked my mom what this paper was and she said she used to read it back in the 60’s,” Elibiary told me. “It was for stay at home wives, kind of a National Enquirer type magazine. And all of the sudden I noticed this [conspiracy] stuff about me was playing in opposition circles.”
Back in the US, Islamophobes were overjoyed by the development. An authentically Arab newspaper had seemingly validated what they always believed but could never prove, and had forced the Obama administration on the defensive. Stephen Emerson ran a translated version of the Rose El-Yousef article on his Investigative Project on Terrorism website while neocon agitator David Horowitz’s FrontPageMag published a lengthy post celebrating the article’s publication, claiming it merely “let the facts about the six men speak for themselves.”
Read the entire piece here.
Watch “What pro-military Egyptians think of Obama, the Brotherhood” in the video below.