On Tuesday, National Security Advisor John Bolton named Fred Fleitz, a longtime staffer at the anti-Muslim think tank Center for Security Policy (CSP) as his new executive secretary and chief of staff of the National Security Council (NSC).
Fleitz worked for Bolton as his chief of staff during Bolton’s tenure in the George W. Bush administration. In his new role Fleitz will have access to the key decision makers who sit on the NSC, such as President Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
CSP’s anti-Muslim views and Fleitz
Fleitz leaves an organization that serves as the premier megaphone for stoking fears about American Muslims. For decades, CSP has peddled absurd accusations that shadowy Muslim Brotherhood operatives have infiltrated all levels of government. CSP warns this is part of a greater conspiracy known as “creeping Shariah,” or Islamic religious law, which CSP claims poses a threat to American democracy.
CSP has a long history of targeting high-profile American Muslims and attempting to tar them with accusations of ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. These include longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin as well as two members of the board of the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC). Gaffney was banned from attending the annual CPAC conference for a period as a result. In 2013, Lopez told an audience at an event organized by the Central New Jersey chapter of the American Jewish Committee, “When people in other bona fide religions follow their doctrines they become better people — Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Jews. When Muslims follow their doctrine, they become jihadists.”
Fleitz clearly shares the same views as his former employers. In January 2017, Fleitz was a guest on Breitbart radio where he stated:
It’s certainly true there are some communities in the United States that have not assimilated. I’m not concerned about Amish or Jewish communities, but I will tell you that there are enclaves of Muslim communities in Michigan and Minnesota that concern me. We know that in Minnesota there’s a rising rate of measles because the community has not assimilated into the rest of the community, and is not vaccinating their children. This is wrong. This is a big problem. The problem with these Muslim communities is that it is making them susceptible to this radical worldview that wants to destroy modern society, create a global caliphate and impose sharia law on everyone on Earth. These other communities aren’t trying to do that. They’re peaceful religious communities.
Peddling conspiracy theories
In May 2016, following the tragic crash of EgyptAir Flight 804, Fleitz appeared on CSP’s radio show with Frank Gaffney to discuss the news. While Fleitz noted the details of the crash were still unclear, he said the tragedy “raises real questions about whether jihadis have found new ways to penetrate airport security, both by getting their members as employees and possibly by finding technical work-arounds to ways to detect bombs being placed on aircrafts." Fleitz has also promoted the conspiracy theory that the Council on American Islamic Relations is a front group for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Fleitz co-authored a 2015 report published by CSP titled, “The Secure Freedom Strategy: A Plan for Victory Over the Global Jihad Movement.” Other authors of the report include anti-Muslim figures Lt. Gen (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, John Guandolo and Tom Trento. The report contains a number of radical recommendations about how to defeat the so-called “global jihad movement,” including halting the immigration of “Shariah-adherent” individuals to the U.S. It also claims there are “legal premises for deportation and stripping of American citizenship” for “Shariah-adherent” American Muslims.
Fleitz’s appointment is the latest in a disturbing trend of staffers leaving hate groups and joining the administration. Just last week, Trump tapped Ronald Mortensen of the anti-immigrant hate group Center for Immigration Studies for Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. Fleitz’s appointment is further indication that those who harbor nativist views are welcome in this administration.