White House officials met this month with Sheik Abdullah bin Bayyah, a deputy of radical Egyptian cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the so-called spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who has been banned from entering the United States.
The June 13 meeting took place on the same day the Obama administration announced plans to arm Syria's rebel forces, reports the Investigative Project on Terrorism
In a report issued Wednesday, IPT said al-Qaradawi, the founder of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, endorses Palestinian suicide bombers and supports Hamas in its fight against Israel. The report also said bin Bayyah, like al-Qaradawi, also "refuses to label the acts of groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad as terrorism."
Yet the White House reportedly sought the meeting with bin Bayyah, the IPT report declared.
In a post, written in Arabic on his own website
, bin Bayyah quoted National Security Council official Gayle Smith as saying, "We asked for this meeting to learn from you and we need to be looking for new mechanisms to communicate with you and the Association of Muslim Scholars," according to IPT. The post carried a picture appearing to show bin Bayyah at a table with U.S. officials in the White House
Other senior officials that bin Bayyah said were in attendance include Rashad Hussain, the U.S. special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation; White House spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri; and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon.
According to the project, bin Bayyah lobbied the White House to "take urgent action" to help Syrian rebels fighting to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
"That the Obama administration would invite to the United States a radical Muslim cleric whose organization supports terrorism and whose leaders have issued fatwas calling for the killing of Americans and Jews is beyond comprehension," IPT Executive Director Steve Emerson told MailOnline.
"In my 30 years of covering terrorism, I have never in my life been so appalled and outraged at what can only be called criminal behavior by this administration," Emerson said.
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