The Republican Hindu Coalition released a new ad Nov. 2, attacking Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin, for her Pakistani heritage.
The 30-second television spot, which is running on several Indian American television stations, including Zee TV, TV Asia, Times Now and Star TV, amongst other outlets, begins with an attack on Clinton for her alleged ties to Pakistan. The ad notes that the candidate has given “billions of dollars” and military equipment to Pakistan, “to be used against India.” The spot also notes that Clinton “was instrumental” in blocking a U.S. visa for Narendra Modi for several years, until he became prime minister of India. The RHC spot also alleged that former U.S. President Bill Clinton supports “giving Kashmir to Pakistan.”
At the halfway point, the ad states: “Huma Abedin is of Pakistani origin, and will become the chief of staff if Clinton wins.”
Shalabh “Shalli” Kumar, founder of the RHC, said he had not seen the ad, but nevertheless gave India-West an earful on Abedin’s alleged ties to terrorism.
Kumar – who with his wife has donated more than $1 million to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign and organized a rally for the candidate last month in Edison, New Jersey – noted that Abedin’s mother was the editor-in-chief of a Muslim magazine which has opined that the U.S. was responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Moreover, Abedin’s family has extensive ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which has ties to radical Islam, claimed the Chicago-area businessman.
“Such a close connection to the source of terrorism. How Clinton can associate with her is unfathomable to me,” Kumar told India-West.
A spokesman for the RHC told India-West that the new ad was meant to appeal to the Indian American community, and said that the U.S.’s relationship to India and, conversely, to Pakistan “resonates the most with the Hindu community.”
“We’re not saying (Huma) is a terrorist, we are questioning the backgrounds of the influencers to Hillary. We would not condemn anyone because of their ethnic background,” he said.
Two more ads will be released before the election Nov. 8.
Abedin, ironically, is half Indian American. Her father, the late Syed Zainul Abedin, who died in 1993, was born in New Delhi. Huma Abedin was born in Kalamazoo, Mich., but raised in Saudi Arabia. She came back to the U.S. in the early 1990s to study at George Washington University, and began her political career as then First Lady Hillary Clinton’s intern, in the White House.
At that time, Huma Abedin’s mother, Saleha Mahmood, served as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Minority Muslim Affairs, a designation she still holds. Mahmood has published several articles critical of progressive women’s rights issues, and takes a dim view of single parenting and gay marriage.
Among the most controversial pieces is an op-ed Mahmood published in 2002, shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that killed more than 3,000 people, which criticizes the U.S. for its role in fomenting the attacks. The article, which is available online, says that the attacks occurred because of U.S. sanctions against Iraq. “It was a time bomb that had to explode,” said Mahmood.
Huma Abedin was assistant editor of the journal, even as she served in the White House.
Saleha Mahmood is a founding member of the Muslim Sisterhood, the female branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Neither the Muslim Brotherhood nor the Muslim Sisterhood are on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations. In 2014, members of Congress attempted to pass a bill declaring the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist front.
The Hindu American Foundation immediately issued a statement condemning the attack on Abedin.
“Condemning anyone simply because of their religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation is against the pluralistic ethos of Hinduism and has no place in a democracy,” said Suhag Shukla, HAF’s executive director.
“While the potential foreign policy decisions of any of the presidential candidates are fair game for criticism — and are rightfully of deep concern to many Hindu Americans — personal attacks such as those made in the recent ads are simply beyond the pale.”
Shukla told India-West that the ad used innuendo and implication to suggest Abedin was a terrorist. That’s just not fair,” she said, stating that political missiles should be based on policy and facts.
Watch the ad here: