As he headed for his history-upending election four years ago, Donald Trump paused to deliver – as all presidential candidates must – a major foreign policy address. Among other items on his America First checklist, he vowed to work with “all moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East.”
At that moment, with the ISIS “Caliphate” consumed in its murder spree and the Obama administration trying to appease the terrorist Iranian regime with $150 billion in cash, Trump singled out Egypt’s president Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah as Muslim leaders whose voices he would “amplify.”
Most establishment media underplayed the story.
But a contributor to the Trump-friendly Breitbart News had this to say: “Donald Trump in his speech recognized the need to support our Muslim allies in the global war on terrorism. This is critical in defeating global jihad. We cannot afford another four years of a policy of alienating our allies and emboldening our enemies as we have seen under the Obama administration.”
The strategy, four years on, and again with Trump headed for another rendezvous with the polls, was prescient and it paid off in an historic breakthrough. A fresh departure from diplomatic inertia, the Abraham Accords, in which the moderate Muslim leaders of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – like Egypt and Jordan before them – agreed to make peace, not war, with Israel. The policy success was so obviously monumental that it staggered the mainstream media.
So whatever became of that Breitbart contributor?
Tera Dahl, who at the time was executive director of the now-defunct Council on Global Security, was tagged by the new Trump administration to help organize the National Security Council as deputy chief of staff. Working first with Michael Flynn and then with H. R. McMaster, former national security advisers each, Dahl was able in the early days to see the amplification of moderate Muslim voices come about as official policy.
She next moved on to what excited her even more, an appointment as senior adviser to the United States Agency for International Development, which dispenses financial aid and technological expertise to developing nations. Here was another chance to defy bureaucratic inertia, performing global good for ever-more grateful countries.
That’s when media indifference ceased.
Both Politico and The New York Times have been on a rampage about Trump’s politically incorrect USAID appointments. Some of Dahl’s associates came under scrutiny for comments critical of the LGBTQ agenda, one, a deputy White House liaison, being forced out by congressional pressure.
According to the Times’ Pranshu Verma, Trump had appointed other offenders who brought with them anti-abortion sentiments and had placed “anti-Muslim statements on social media.” Dahl, reported Verma, was “a former Breitbart News writer who made statements against Islam.”
Politico went further in a headline: “A Bannon ally is the latest contentious hire at USAID.” That of course would be Steve Bannon, who published Breitbart before being hired and fired by President Trump and who now is under federal indictment for mail fraud. Never mind that Dahl and Bannon seldom crossed paths.
The most damning Dahl quote Nahal Toosi (presumably an “ally” of Politico publisher Robert Allbritton) could find was this: “There is no difference between Hamas and Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda, and the Boko Haram; all are dedicated to the creation of a global Islamic Caliphate.”
Which is manifestly true. And based on Dahl’s many research trips to the region.
But Toosi’s impulse to indict included this convoluted, double-negative-laden sentence: “[Dahl] has disavowed efforts to delink the concept of terrorism from the religion, in ways that Muslim advocacy groups view as discriminatory.”
In other words, Dahl recognizes that religion, any religion, can attract violence-prone extremists and that some overly sensitive practitioners of the religion in question prefer that it not be mentioned. Guilty!
Now my disclosure: As a congressional staffer a few years ago, I knew Tera when she was running the fellows program of the Washington-based Shafik Gabr Foundation, which brings promising young Muslim professionals to study in the U.S. capital city.
Gabr, an Egyptian-born industrialist and philanthropist dedicated to the memory of martyred peacemaker Anwar Sadat, was as astonished as I to read that Tera was, by these reporters’ tortured logic, an anti-Muslim activist now burrowing into USAID. In a lengthier statement sent to me, Gabr wrote:
“[T]era could not be further away from being anti-Muslim. She is a patriotic American who has extended her hand to the East and worked as a bridge-builder between the two cultures.”
Gabr went on, agreeing with Tera, to describe the Muslim Brotherhood as a “terrorist group,” adding that “Muslims themselves are also very much against the Muslim Brotherhood organization.”
Toosi and Verma, themselves allied to a false narrative, clearly do not know how to process such realism, and their journalism shows it. My efforts to reach them and their editors have been unavailing.
No matter. The Abraham Accords have shattered their narrative – and vindicated Tera Dahl’s.
K. E. Grubbs Jr., a longtime bicoastal journalist who most recently served as a congressional communications director, is a fellow of the Freedom Research Foundation.