by Jerry Gordon (June 14, 2011)
On June 10th, a board fight erupted at the National Defense University Foundation (NDUF) meeting at Fort McNair in Washington, DC. Fort McNair is the home of the National Defense University – our nation's premier senior military education institution, established by the Pentagon Joint Chiefs of Staff (J-5). The NDUF board has 26 members, 18 of whom have voting rights. The result of the conflict was the decision by the board of directors to request the resignations of two of its members: R. Leslie Deak and Farouk Shami. R. Leslie Deak is the scion of the Deak Perera money exchange and gold trading fortune. He was accused of having had questionable links to the 13-story Ground Zero Mosque project in lower Manhattan sponsored by the Cordoba Initiative and of having held meetings with Muslim Brotherhood representatives in Egypt. Farouk Shami, a Palestinian American, originally from Ramallah on the West Bank is on the board of the American Task Force on Palestine and has had dealings with the Chief Representative of the PLO Delegation in Washington. Shami is a billionaire hair and salon products magnate. He ran for, but failed to obtain, the Democratic nomination for the Texas governorship in the 2010 primary.
Established 25 years ago, the NDUF, a 501 (C) (3) tax exempt organization, is affiliated with the NDU. The NDUF endows the Annual American Patriots Award and the International Fellows program of the NDU. US Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) are the 2011 American Patriot Awardees. The NDU has an annual operating budget of over $100 million and is currently headed by President Vice Admiral Ann Rondeau, a protégé of former J-5 chief Admiral Michael Mullins. Members of the board are required to make financial commitments to the Foundation. Deak had contributed over $100,000 during his ten years on the NDUF board. Texas billionaire Shami had also made significant contributions during his first term as an NDUF member of the Board of Directors.
This successful effort to unseat Deak and Shami was spearheaded by a NDFU board member (who shall remain anonymous for this article). A preponderance of the board was won over after revelations about the connection between Deak and Muslim Brotherhood groups in America and Egypt along with Deak's insistent misuse and misrepresentations as a “Trustee” of the NDU/NDUF (a title which has never existed at either organization). In Shami’s case it was his involvement with the PLO Fatah in the West Bank through his board membership at the American Task Force on Palestine. A board motion to replace both Deak and Shami with new candidates for three year terms was subsequently passed by a majority of the board.
While Deak had submitted a letter of resignation, at the request of the NDUF board, from his position as Treasurer, he clearly was rankled about the request to resign from the board of the Foundation. Instead of complying with this request he immediately walked across the Fort McNair campus of the NDU and gained an appointment with NDU President VADM Ann Rondeau. Allegedly, Deak offered to personally fund the International Fellows program during his meeting with Rondeau. Deak did not stop there. He reached out to Mark Treaner, the Chairman of the Board of Visitors of NDU for support. It is alleged that Treaner, a former Wachovia Corporation general counsel, had been involved in easing out consultants to the NDUF for their national security views and support for America’s ally in the Middle East, Israel. Doubtless Deak will endeavor to use his network of connections in Washington to bring pressure on the NDUF board for his retention. Notwithstanding that, he might opt for an appointment to the NDU Board of Visitors.
What triggered the NDUF board contest was the nomination and looming board vote on June 10th that would have given Deak, the group’s current Treasurer, the additional position of Vice Chairman. Deak had previously suggested Shami, as a man who had considerable wealth and influence, to become a director. Shami subsequent to his approval by the board had invited NDUF members to a social function in Texas that also included Maen Rashid Areikat, the Chief Representative for the PLO Delegation in Washington, DC.
The Deak Family Heritage
R. Leslie Deak is the son of the fabled Nicholas L. Deak, whom Time Magazine called “the James Bond of the world of money.” The elder Deak left the Transylvanian region of Hungary just prior to WWII. He earned a Doctorate in Economics in the 1930’s from a Swiss University, and had been an employee of the League of Nations. During WWII, Nicholas L. Deak joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) founded by the legendary ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan. He undertook missions in the Balkans and was present at the Japanese surrender in Burma in 1945 as US representative. In the fall of that year, Deak was dispatched to Indo-China to monitor the activities of the Viet Minh insurgency and the return of the French colonial administrators. Following his intrepid wartime service, the elder Deak founded the international currency exchange and gold trading firm of Deak Perera, Inc. in New York. He and his Viennese wife Lisalotte raised their son, Robert Leslie, in suburban Scarsdale, New York. Nicholas Deak apparently kept up hi links to the US intelligence community via the OSS successor, the CIA. He reportedly was involved in providing funds for the US-backed Iran coup against Nationalist Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953 that returned the late Shah to the Peacock Throne in Tehran. The younger Deak took a degree in International Affairs from Haverford College in suburban Philadelphia and joined the family firm at its world headquarters located at 29 Broad Street in Lower Manhattan. He rose to the position of Senior Vice President, when in 1984 the firm was caught by a Reagan-appointed commission on money-laundering which accused Deak of laundering tens or hundreds of millions of Columbian drug money in exchange for gold. As a result, the Deak Perera firm subsequently filed for bankruptcy protection. Tragedy struck the family when the elder Deak was killed in a bizarre Wall Street murder in 1985, when a deranged woman from Seattle, apparently a psychotic schizophrenic, burst into the firm’s offices and first shot and killed a receptionist and when the 80-year Deak emerged from his office shot and killed him, as well.
The younger Deak and his mother, the widowed Lisalotte were the beneficiaries of the elder Nicholas’ estate. Deak, after the sale of the business assets of Deak-Perera then engaged in a number of business pursuits. In 1992, Deak formed Bittachon Holdings, Inc. (Bittachon) with headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut controlled by Bittachon, LLC. The firm develops and manages investments and companies in the United States and the Middle East. The firm’s holdings include subsidiaries engaged in receivables management, advisory services, and real estate.
Deak, originally raised as a Christian, had first converted and married an Orthodox Jewish woman with whom he had three children. Following a divorce from his former Jewish wife, nine years ago, he married Moshira Namoury, a divorced Egyptian Muslim and American citizen whom he had met during business dealings in suburban Westchester County New York and neighboring Fairfield County, Connecticut. He now identifies himself as a practicing Muslim. The couple maintains their principal residence in Rye, New York and has a condominium in Washington, DC. Additionally, Deak spends several months a year with his wife Moshira in Egypt.
Deak’s Intelligence Community and Middle East Business Connections
Deak had connections as a business consultant to The Patriot Defense Group, LLC (Patriot Defense) headquartered in Maitland, Florida with additional offices in Tucson, Arizona. The company engages in “specialized training, operational support, and logistics to the United States government, military and law enforcement communities. Its specialized training services are also provided to friendly foreign governments in accordance with United States Department of State ITAR approvals or under the auspices of the United States Department of Defense, Foreign Military Sales Program.”
One of the members of a Patriot Defense affiliate is Ammar Charani, President of Icm Global Net, Inc. Charani was on the board of the Muslim Education Foundation (MEF) in the mid-1990’s along with other directors with Muslim Brotherhood affiliations that have emerged in terrorism funding investigations. As head of MEF, Charani engineered a scheme to switch Muslims to former long-distance carrier MCI and take advantage of a 5% charitable contribution arrangement that funneled $150,000 in funds to a Muslim Charity under investigation by the U.S. Treasury Department, Benevolence International Foundation (Benevolence). Benevolence was alleged to have passed on funds to Al Qaeda, Hamas and other designated terrorist groups. An MEF – related group, International Charity Network, Inc. of Winter Park, Florida contributed more than $300,000 to Benevolence in 1996 -1997. We note that Charani was a past President of the Islamic Center of Central Florida, an Orlando Mosque that figured in a scheme to raise funds for Hamas in 2009 with the assistance of former UK Parliamentarian George Galloway and Mahdi Bray, executive director for Muslim Brotherhood front, the Muslim American Society. The NER published an investigative report on this recent episode that led to requests by California Democratic Congressman, Brad Sherman for investigations by both the State Department and The Department of the Treasury's Internal Revenue Service about possible violations of the tax exempt status of participating organizations.
Deak has also been engaged in facilitating business and trade deals in the Middle East. In 2004, he founded a Cairo-based company, Advanced Medical Concepts, Inc. (AMC). AMC allegedly engaged in developing strategies and business plans for “creating start-ups engaged in import, sales and distribution of U.S. medical supplies to hospitals throughout Egypt and Morocco.” He was a Director of AMC until 2007.
In 2009, he founded Cause Management, Inc., a Washington, DC based firm that, according to Deak, “works on programs to assist and support initiatives related to business and security issues involving the Middle East and Indonesia.” Examples of those endeavors included:
- Contributing to Egyptian private sector/government education partnership initiative. Secure private donations to fund capital improvements, school supplies, and instructor training for schools in economically depressed areas. Identify USAID grant opportunities and advise on partnership models.
- Spearheaded a project to help rejuvenate agricultural economic base in the Kurdish Region of Iraq with the goal of achieving sustainable operations while rebuilding critical regional food source. He secured commitments for initial funding through OPIC. He aligned sponsorships by Egyptian and Israeli governments and private sector partners.
Deak’s Political and NGO Contributions
Federal Election Commission records reveal that Deak, through Bittachon Holdings, Inc and personally, had contributed funds to a number of Democratic Congressional and Senatorial candidates, as well as the Presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama. Additionally, Deak has given funds to the Democratic National Committee. Among the Congressional and Senatorial campaigns that Deak gave money to were those of Minnesota Congressman, Keith Ellison and New York US Senator Kersten Gillibrand.
Among Deak’s contributions to NGOs, we noted funds given to the JStreet PAC. The JStreet PAC is President Obama's ‘go to’ Jewish lobby group eclipsing AIPAC, the alleged all powerful Jewish lobby group. J Street’s mantra, “pro-Peace, pro Israel” masks its real objective of declaring an immediate Palestinian state. This is also an objective that the PA authority in its new alignment with Hamas, hopes to realize in a vote for the declaration of a Palestinian state at the upcoming fall 2011 UN General Assembly Meeting in Manhattan. The UN General Assembly with 193 member countries is heavily influenced by the 56 members of the Organization of Islamic Conference headquartered in Saudi Arabia. An NER interview with Lori Lowenthal Marcus, President of the pro-Israel group, Z Street, noted the significant funding of J Street by George Soros and the presence of pro-Palestinian advocates who orchestrated a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel. Some of whom spoke at the J Street policy conference in February, 2011 in Washington, DC.
Deak’s Washington Muslim Advocacy Connection – the Buxton Initiative.
In March, 2011, Deak and Dr. Tawfik Hamid spoke at a panel sponsored by the Washington, DC –based, Buxton Initiative concerning what would follow in Egypt in the wake of the fall of the Mubarak regime. The topic was “What’s next for Egypt: Is Democracy Possible?” The core of the discussion was about an assessment of the emerging role of the Muslim Brotherhood in light of Parliamentary and Presidential elections scheduled for the fall of 2011. Hamid was in a unique position to opine on this topic. He was an Egyptian physician and former associate of Number 2 in al Qaeda, Ayman Al Zawahiri. Hamid, now an American citizen, now actively opposes the global terrorist group, al Qaeda, and its connections to Salafist doctrine which also lies behind the Muslim Brotherhood.
According to its website, the Buxton Initiative “celebrates Interfaith initiatives and partnerships.” The group characterizes itself as:
. . . an organization of Muslims, Christians and Jews from a variety of backgrounds and professions who are dedicated to building understanding and dialogue among their respective communities. Such dialogue must go beyond superficial exchanges that, while socially comforting, are ultimately insufficient and are easily undone when conflict arises.
The Deak presentation to the Buxton Initiative panel promoted his informed citizen role and other views that surfaced later in the confrontation with members of the NDUF board.
The Buxton Initiative blog post on the panel contrasted the views of Deak versus Hamid.
Deak, who has interacted with Egyptian officials and officers in the military, provided insight into the balance of power in Egypt. Due to the popular composition of the military, they are more accountable to everyday citizens. Thus, they may help a leader transition into power, but will also help oust a leader as they did with Mubarak due to the massive uprising of the people. Their interest is to offer candidates for a next civilian election while making sure their own power is maintained. Deak also spoke about the prevalent corruption in Mubarak’s government and in Egypt’s industry. A large grievance of the Egyptian people is the lack of jobs, the disparity in and corrupt distribution of wealth, and obstacles to entrepreneurship. Deak sees this moment as a vital opportunity to transition to a system with more transparency and democratic elements which will spur entrepreneurship and accountability.
Hamid sees Egypt’s future wrestling between what he categorizes as the right—democracy and liberalism—and the left—radical Islam. No matter what happens with Egypt, he emphasized that the fact that Mubarak was pressured to leave by protest is a huge victory in and of itself. Now, whoever gains leadership will remember that the people do have power. Due to the Muslim Brotherhood’s base in Egypt, Hamid gave a rundown of the different categories of practicing “Muslims” in order to provide a perspective into the psychology of radical Islamic movements.
Founder and Co-chair of the Buxton Initiative Board of Directors is J. Douglas Holladay, a former Goldman Sachs banker, White House and State Department official. An honorary director of the Buxton Initiative is Imam Mohamed Magid, the Executive Director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, ADAMS Center, in Sterling, Virginia one of the largest Islamic Centers in the Washington Metropolitan Area. Magid is the son of the Grand Mufti of the Sudan. He currently is President of the Islamic Society of North America, a Muslim Brotherhood front group designated as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008 Federal Holy Land Foundation trial and convictions. Time Magazine noted Magid’s award by the FBI in 2005. In the article he stated that “as far as he knew his Mosque had not been infiltrated by terrorists.” Note this comment from Militant Islam Monitor:
Imam Magid's letter to his congregants was placed on the ADAMS website to reassure his congregants that he does not 'tip off the FBI' about suspicious individuals at ADAMS Islamic Center, and actually dissuades them from considering Muslims as potential terror suspects. Deflecting suspicion from ADAM's congregants is quite a noteworthy feat in its own right, considering the fact that the FBI and JTTF raided the Islamic Center in connection with terrorism funding in 2002 during Operation Greenquest, and Magid himself is tied to a worldwide Islamist network linked to Al Qaeda.
NDUF Board Challenge of Deak and His Responses
An NDUF board member had challenged Deak concerning his support for the controversial Ground Zero Mosque in Lower Manhattan sponsored by the Cordoba Initiative as well as his contacts with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood following the fall of the Mubarak regime. Deak had contributed more than $98,000 to the Cordoba Initiative. Deak was apparently unaware of the Muslim Brotherhood affiliations and views of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, and the American Society for Muslim Advancement founded by Ms. Daisy Kahn, Imam Rauf’s wife.
Imam Rauf’s father, Dr. Muhammad Abdul Rauf (1917-2004) was an Egyptian contemporary of Muslim Brotherhood Founder, Hassan Al Banna. Rauf senior fled with his family from Egypt to Kuwait in 1948. He subsequently traveled to England, eventually immigrating to the US and subsequently headed the Islamic Center on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, DC. Perhaps Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s penchant for developing mega-mosques like the Ground Zero Mosque in lower Manhattan arose from his late father’s success with the development of the elaborate Islamic Cultural Center of Manhattan located at Third Avenue and 96th Street. Note what Alyssa Lappen reported in a Pajamas media article on the Ground Zero mosque:
In 1965, Muhammad R. Abdul Rauf moved to New York to plan and head a huge Islamic Cultural Center that took decades to realize. He bought prime Manhattan real estate at 96th St. and 3rd Ave — roughly two thirds of a city block — apparently with $1.3 million in funding from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Libya. The late Rauf long retained some of that land in a personal trust. But when construction started on the $17 million mosque in 1984, it had received funding from 46 Islamic nations
Based on translations from Arabic websites and news media interviews, Imam Rauf’s views are decidedly extremist. In a September 30, 2001 CBS 60 Minutes interview he espoused the ‘truther’ view that somehow US actions in the Muslim ummah gave rise to the devastating attacks that killed more than 3,000 on 9/11. Rauf conveyed this insensitive view while millions in this country were still in deep shock and grief over this Jihadist terror attack on America.
Rauf’s views published in Arabic media in the Middle East differ from his views published in US media. Take for example this op-ed except from the New York Daily News cited in a May, 2010 Pajamas media article by Walid Shoebat:
My colleagues and I are the anti-terrorists. We are the people who want to embolden the vast majority of Muslims who hate terrorism to stand up to the radical rhetoric. Our purpose is to interweave America’s Muslim population into the mainstream society.
Only two months before, on March 24, 2010, Abdul Rauf is quoted in an article in Arabic for the website Rights4All entitled “The Most Prominent Imam in New York: ‘I Do Not Believe in Religious Dialogue.’”
Then note this from Shoebat in a debate with a Cordoba Initiative supporter, the Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State during a Fox news O’Reilly Factor debate drawn from an August 2010 NER/Iconoclast blogpost
Shoebat forcefully argued that Rauf's intent was to establish an Islamic state under Sharia beginning with the Ground Zero mosque project. He cited Rauf's own words translated from the Arabic that we had posted, most recently from a Jordanian newspaper in an article authored by the Imam, currently traveling in the Middle East on a goodwill mission sponsored by our State Department. Shoebat noted his translation from the Al-Ghad Newspaper in Jordan, 5/9/2009
In it, Imam Rauf reveals his views to Muslims right after the 9/11 attacks that Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad were born as a result of the Muslim hunger for Islamic law and justice.
According to the Imam, secularism is not the answer to a Muslim and that “all the laws Muslims need are in the Quran and the Hadith.” It is Islam and not the secular American Constitution that “offers life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Of course Imam Rauf is merely referring to Muslims receiving life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness since according to Rauf, 'infidels' (all non-Muslims) deserve the inverse: death, slavery and misery.
Note what Deak said in an email to the NDUF board in response to questions triggered by a New York Observer expose in September 2010 about his donations and efforts on behalf of the Cordoba Initiative. His rationale was based on an alleged J-5 support of Islamic Sharia studies by Imam Rauf:
The donations were made in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and were used to fund a study by Islamic scholars of the Definition of What Constitutes a Shariah Complaint State. The organizer of this project at the time was a little known, but well respected, Imam – Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. This project grew out of, and was vetted and encouraged by, J-5 as part of helping formulate a response to radical Islam. The project was finished in 2009 and moved to Egypt in early 2010 for implementation with the support of JCS and the NDP (ruling party – which no longer exists). I continued to maintain good relations with Imam Feisal until recently.
This is a bizarre explanation of why he dropped his support for the Cordoba Initiative and who he blames for the Ground Zero Mosque controversy and their alleged nefarious motivations:
In 2009, Imam Feisal became involved with developing a site with a local developer who was a congregant of his to expand space for his existing congregation in NY. I declined to become involved in the project due to concerns regarding its financial viability. The project was public and was well known and was even front page news in the NYT six months before it exploded into the Ground Zero Mosque controversy. The publicity occurred after the aborted attempt by the Times Square bomber when the Mosque was seized on by Pamela Geller and Frank Gaffney as an easily exploitive issue with which to raise money for the Center for Security Policy. By some accounts, the amounts raised off of this issue of Islamophobia and “Shariah” by ultraconservative groups runs into the tens of millions of dollars (some say hundreds of millions). At this point, it appears unlikely that the Mosque will be built – but the damage the controversy has done to our basic rights of religious freedom and our reputation in the Muslim world is incalculable.
An NDUF board member had also challenged Deak about his purported activities and alleged reporting on behalf of the J-5 while on a sojourn in Egypt following the fall of the Mubarak regime. Note Deak’s justification:
I am also enclosing a report delivered in person last week to the Joint Chiefs Staff. It was also forwarded by NDU to OSD and was delivered by Rep. Gary Ackerman to both the House and Senate Foreign Relations Committees. It is representative of the type of work I have been doing. The report is confidential but not classified since I am a civilian.
[. . .]
Two years ago I retired and moved to DC to work pro bono on issues related to formulating responses to radical Islamist Ideology. This work grew out of projects that I funded to engage leading scholars in the Islamic world to work on the issue. The project was encouraged and vetted by DoD, NSC, DHS and State. Last year the project was moved to Egypt under the supervision of the NDP. Since the NDP no longer exists, the project is back to square one and will be built out again once a new Islamic state sponsor is located. Fortunately, the potential of the emerging democratic movement to accomplish the same objectives is providing a viable alternative and I have been asked to assist in this area as well.
I am currently in Cairo and, at the request of J-5, and at some personal risk, am undertaking an informal, unofficial assessment of the situation by meeting with my extensive contacts from all parts of society-including our Embassy, political operatives, Brotherhood, freedom movement, former and current officials, military, presidential candidates and businessmen. Many of these contacts are inaccessible through normal channels available to the USG.
Some of these activities, and access to some of the contacts, are facilitated by my affiliation with NDUF but all my efforts are in the interests of furthering our National Security.
Deak delivered a report dated May 11th to the NDUF board by email on May 19th presenting his views on the turmoil and the possible role of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Here are his views concerning the role of the Egyptian MB, which in light of recent developments appear either naive or purposely whitewashed:
Except for the MB, there is no organization with the capability to get out the vote. The opposition is highly fragmented and disorganized. There is a possibility that the old parliamentarians may run for election independently and serve to weaken the MB, but it is unlikely.
The MB has indicated that they will not run, but they are negotiating with the candidates and will throw their weight behind the one that will assure their interests.
The recent issue with the Salafis is largely viewed as manufactured by the MB in order to make the MB appear more moderate. I would personally expect that the MB and the military will resolve the Salafi problem once it has served its purpose.
What can we conclude from this kerfuffle at the NDUF board meeting?
First, that Muslim money buys influence even at institutions that support national security education for senior military personnel at the most strategic level in the Pentagon.
Second, if not for the diligence, perseverance of well-informed NDUF board members, this influence would have drawn others with connections to the Muslim Brotherhood into our national security system.
Third that our national security apparatus, as exemplified by the J-5 in the Pentagon, has to drop the veil from their eyes about accommodating Islamic initiatives.
After all, we had the example of what happened to Army Reserve Major Stephen Coughlin. He was ejected from his position as consultant to the Pentagon Joint staff as an expert on the doctrine of Islamic Jihad (warfare law). This followed accusations by Hesham Islam, Muslim outreach aide to former Bush Deputy Defense Undersecretary Gordon English that he was “a Christian fanatic with a pen.” Islam left his position only after it was revealed that he had embroidered his resume. In another example, the Pentagon had American- born Imam, Anwar al-Awlaki in for lunch in 2002 to talk about outreach to Muslims. Al-Awlaki had slipped out of the US and wasn’t detained even after FBI questioning concerning movements of several 9/11 perpetrators who met him in San Diego and subsequently in Northern Virginia at the Dar al Hijrah Mosque. Al-Awlaki left for strife torn Yemen to head Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and inspire the Underwear and Times Square Bombers, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and Faisal Shazad to become Jihadists and attack us.
So, Bravo to the NDUF board who had the gumption to put a stop to Islamic influence peddling at the NDUF. We need more people like them as watchmen on the ramparts to protect us.
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