Ever since Donald Trump announced that he was appointing Breitbart.com CEO Stephen K. Bannon to run his presidential campaign, a number of interesting biographical facts about Bannon have circulated throughout the political world. By now you probably know that Bannon is a bomb-throwing cargo-shorts enthusiast who made a ton of money off Seinfeld royalties and who once directed a poorly reviewed documentary about a losing vice presidential candidate curiously titled The Undefeated.
But one of the more interesting and less-examined quirks of Stephen K. Bannon is his obsession with the Islamist Egyptian political organization known as the Muslim Brotherhood or, more specifically, his conspiratorial tendency to promote the theory that every Muslim person who has ever come within 100 feet of Hillary Clinton is somehow associated with the Brotherhood and is part of a grand Islamic conspiracy.
As Mother Jones reporter Patrick Caldwell noted on Tuesday, Bannon has used Breitbart.com and his Sirius XM radio show to promulgate the absurd conspiracy theory that top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin is secretly connected to the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical groups. During his June 5th radio broadcast, Bannon interviewed Roger Stone, another denizen of Trumpland, to discuss what Bannon described as "breaking news on Huma Abedin." Stone then proceeded with a lengthy diatribe about Abedin's supposed ties to extremist groups.
Later in the segment Stone explained why he believes Abedin has avoided scrutiny by U.S. officials. "She's very chic. She's very exotic. She's very beautiful," Stone told Bannon, "They don't realize she's also very lethal. She's most likely a plant, you know, for the Saudis. I believe she's a plant. I've written that for Breitbart." Bannon followed Stone's comments by directing listeners to his latest Abedin hit-piece on Breitbart.com.
But Bannon's reckless endorsement of baseless conspiracy theories about Islamic infiltrators does not end with Huma Abedin. After the father of Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen was spotted in a crowd onstage behind Hillary Clinton at a Florida rally, Bannon suggested on his radio show that the Muslim Brotherhood was somehow involved.
How can a rational individual see what happened yesterday and not think somehow the Muslim Brotherhood—you can’t have somebody sitting up in back of the nominee for a party that doesn’t have their date of birth and Social Security number checked, and she’s the First Lady of a former President. How does that happen? Is the Muslim Brotherhood somehow—this guy didn’t get—he didn’t walk across the street to go to that rally.
In another installment of that same radio show Bannon brought on New York Post columnist Paul Sperry to discuss Sperry's widely debunked article attacking Khizr Khan, the father of a fallen war hero. Bannon had published the piece at Breitbart.com and promoted it on the site's homepage. Discussing some of Khan's academic work, Sperry told Bannon:
Khan gratefully cites the notorious Muslim Brotherhood radicals who called for installing Islamic regimes in the West through ‘civilization jihad,’ which is what you’re talking about in terms of the infiltration of this fifth column that the Muslim Brotherhood has built up with their infrastructure in the United States, this terrorist support network too.
Sperry's claims about Khan are based on his own dubious interpretation of two benign scholarly works by Kahn, which examine juridical aspects of Islamic practice in the Middle East. The "fifth column" is a reference to a right-wing conspiracy theory often promoted on Breitbart, which maintains that the Muslim Brotherhood is attempting to infiltrate the U.S. government and implement Sharia law.
Instead of pushing back against Sperry, Bannon goes on to say that, based on Sperry's work, he believes Khan is "probably, I think, one of the biggest proponents in this country, as a legal scholar, of Sharia law."