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Huma Abedin (left) is a longtime aide to Hillary Clinton. (Getty Images) Huma Abedin (left) is a longtime aide to Hillary Clinton. (Getty Images)

Huma Abedin (left) is a longtime aide to Hillary Clinton. (Getty Images)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher September 14, 2016

No evidence to back claim that top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin has ties to Muslim Brotherhood

Interviewed on CNN as a Donald Trump surrogate, U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy attacked Hillary Clinton for several minutes for having coughing fits and then took aim at one of her longtime aides, Huma Abedin.

After the Aug. 23, 2016 exchange turned testy, the Wisconsin Republican told host Brianna Keilar she was the one who raised the coughing issue.

Then this back-and-forth about Abedin ensued:

Duffy: Why aren’t we talking then about Huma and her ties to the Muslim Brotherhood? Why aren’t we talking about the fact that she was an editor for a pro-Sharia newspaper?

Keilar: She doesn’t have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Duffy: The information is out there that she does have these ties.

Keilar: Uh, no.

The Washington Post Fact Checker has already knocked down Duffy’s allegation.

And, when we asked for backup, Duffy’s office cited to us only a New York Post column that didn’t directly allege any ties between Abedin and the Muslim Brotherhood.

What is Muslim Brotherhood?

The Muslim Brotherhood for years has been cast in a negative light by some Republican politicians.

In 2012, then-U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., sent a letter to the deputy inspector general of the State Department. At the time, Clinton was secretary of state and Abedin was her deputy chief of staff. Bachmann (now a Trump campaign adviser) asked for an investigation, citing information that claimed Abedin’s mother, brother and late father were "connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations."

In March 2016, when Trump and then-presidential candidates Ted Cruz and John Kasich appeared in Milwaukee for a CNN Republican Town Hall event, Cruz called the Muslim Brotherhood a "terrorist organization." But a CNN news report debunked the Texas senator’s claim.

The report pointed out that the Muslim Brotherhood is an Islamist organization with active branches in many Middle Eastern countries that was founded on the belief that Islam is not simply a religion, but a way of life and advocates for a move away from secularism -- and that it has never appeared on the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorist organizations, although Egypt and several other countries have put the group on their lists.

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Earlier that month, Cruz and other Republicans had tried to have the Muslim Brotherhood designated as a terrorist group.

At the time, U.S. News & World Report described the group as an Egyptian Islamist organization dedicated to instilling Islamic law (Sharia) based on the teachings of the Quran and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. Experts said the group has not been involved in terrorism, rather it has functioned as a social organization and a political organization that participates in elections -- a description similar to one provided in a 2015 article in the Middle East Journal, an academic publication.

Recent Abedin references

Duffy’s staff cited a Paul Sperry column published two days before Duffy’s CNN interview. The column said that from 1996 to 2008, Abedin was an editor at the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs working under her mother, Saleha Abedin, who remains editor-in-chief. The column called the journal "a radical Muslim publication that opposed women’s rights and blamed the US for 9/11."

But the column made no mention of the Muslim Brotherhood.

An opinion piece by Trump supporter Kenneth Timmerman in The Hill, which  piggybacked on the Sperry column, did mention the brotherhood -- but in a roundabout way, in relation to Abedin.

The piece said Abedin’s father, Syed Zaynul Abedin, founded the Institute for Muslim Minority Affairs; that the institute was supported by the Muslim World League; and that the league has been called "perhaps the most significant Muslim Brotherhood organization in the world." The piece also said Abedin’s mother, Saleha Abedin, sits on the Presidency Staff Council of the International Islamic Council for Da’wa and Relief, a group that is chaired by the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

A fact check

The Washington Post Fact Checker, after interviewing a number of experts, called the connections "so tenuous as to be obscure," and concluded:

Duffy asked why the alleged Muslim Brotherhood connections to Huma Abedin are not being talked about. Perhaps it’s because they are bogus. Abedin has lived in the United States for 23 years, working in the White House, the Senate and the State Department. Vague suggestions of suspicious-sounding connections to her parents don’t pass the laugh test, even at the flimsiest standard of guilt by association.

The Fact Checker gave Duffy four pinocchios -- its lowest rating.

And we’ve found no evidence to support Duffy’s claim, either.

Our rating

Duffy says Clinton aide Huma Abedin has "ties to the Muslim Brotherhood."

Duffy made the claim in the context of stories in the presidential campaign that get relatively little media coverage. But he cited no evidence to back his statement, and we couldn’t find any.

We rate his statement False.

Our Sources, CNN interview of Sean Duffy (11:20), Aug. 23, 2016

Email, Sean Duffy spokesman Mark Bednar, Sept. 6, 2016

Email, Hillary Clinton spokesman Josh Schwerin, Sept. 7, 2016

Washington Post Fact Checker, "Does Huma Abedin have ‘ties’ to the Muslim Brotherhood?" Aug. 25, 2016

New York Post, "Huma Abedin worked at Muslim journal that opposed women’s rights," Aug. 21, 2016

The Hill, "Huma Abedin's ties to the Muslim Brotherhood," Aug. 23, 2016

CNN, "GOP Town Hall: CNN's Reality Check Team vets the claims," March 30, 2016

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Tom Kertscher

No evidence to back claim that top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin has ties to Muslim Brotherhood

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