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FILE - In this July 25, 2016, file photo, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., speaks during the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Ellison, a prominent progressive and the first Muslim elected to Congress, has emerged as an early contender to become chair of the Democratic National Committee, backed by much of the party’s liberal wing. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Rep. Keith Ellison is taking heat for his past ties to anti-Semitic groups


Rep. Keith Ellison is taking heat for his past ties to anti-Semitic groups

WATCH | Rep. Keith Ellison's past might come back to haunt him

Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison was the first Muslim elected to Congress.

Now, he's hoping to be the first Muslim to chair the Democratic National Committee. But his past ties to anti-Semitic groups are a hurdle he may not be able to overcome. 

The Enemies Within 

On Thursday, in the nation’s capital, conservatives gathered to watch New Zealand anti-communist activist Trevor Loudon's documentary "The Enemies Within," which highlighted some of Ellison’s questionable ties to controversial U.S. communists, the Nation of Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood. 

Ellison's 35 second recording 

On Thursday the Anti-Defamation League, a group that fights anti-Semitism, retracted their support of Ellison to chair the DNC, after a 35 second recording surfaced of the lawmaker where he said, “The United States foreign policy in the Middle East is governed by what is good or bad through a country of 7 million people," stated Ellison. "A region of 350 million all turns on a country of 7 million. Does that make sense? Is that logic? Right? When the Americans who trace their roots back to those 350 million get involved, everything changes.”

ADL Statement 

Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the CEO of the ADL, said, "Rep. Ellison’s remarks are both deeply disturbing and disqualifying. His words imply that U.S. foreign policy is based on religiously or national origin-based special interests rather than simply on America’s best interests." 

House Ethics Committee

In late November, the House Committee on Ethics opened an investigation into Ellison on the grounds that he failed to disclose that the Muslim American Society of Virginia, a group connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, paid for his trip to Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 2008. The Muslim Brotherhood was designated a terrorist organization by Saudi Arabia in 2014. 

Is the Muslim Brotherhood a Terrorist Organization?

Although some members of Congress and counterterrorism officials want to designate the Muslim Brotherhood, founded by Hassan al-Banna in 1928 , a terrorist organization, the Obama administration has been reluctant.  

Some State Department officials and experts have argued the group is an Egyptian Islamist organization that is only dedicated to instilling Islamic Sharia law and not terrorism. 

Ellison says he's not anti-Semetic

Ellison's office did not return emails or phone calls to Circa for comment. But he has repeatedly distanced himself from his past contacts with the Nation of Islam.  In 2006, he wrote a letter to the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota saying, "I would like to state for the record that I categorically and unequivocally reject antisemitism in any form and from whatever source." 

Follow Sara A. Carter on Twitter @SaraCarterDC

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