Who is Frank Gaffney?
Frank Gaffney is the founder of the anti-Muslim think tank Center for Security Policy Studies (CSP), which seeks to advance anti-Muslim sentiment in both policy and society and alleges that Islam is an existential threat to America.
A 2011 report published by the Center for American Progress identified Frank Gaffney as one of the top five “misinformation experts” in the Islamophobia network that has generated “false facts and materials used by political leaders, grassroots groups, and the media.”
Gaffney frequently links Islam with extremism and terrorism. He portrays Islam as a significant national security concern through his think tank and public engagements. Gaffney also endorses conspiracy theories involving a ‘Muslim infiltration’ in the United States. He advocates the concept of ‘civilizational jihad’ and supports decisive measures against Muslim individuals and groups, alleging a concealed ‘stealth jihad’ by American Muslims.
Southern Poverty Law Center designated Center for Security Policy as an anti-Muslim hate group. SPLC calls Gaffney as “one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes” and as a key propagandist and conspiracy theorist for the Islamophobia movement.
The Bridge Initiative at Georgetown University asserted that Gaffney “advances conspiratorial claims that American Muslims are working to infiltrate and ‘penetrate’ the government and ‘destroy western civilization from within.’”
Shortly after Gaffney was “forced out” of his service with the Reagan administration, he founded the Center for Security Policy, a “hawkish think tank.” The think tank is also “a conspiracy-oriented mouthpiece for the anti-Muslim movement in the United States.”
One of Gaffney’s conspiracy theories suggests that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated parts of the American government through certain individuals who had previously served various administrations.
In 2011, Gaffney made allegations about former Clinton staffer Huma Abedin’s involvement in a Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy. He also made unsupported claims in a 2009 article in The Washington Times, insinuating that President Obama might be Muslim himself and purports his policies would align “with those of Shariah-adherents such as the Muslim Brotherhood.”
In another report from 2015, the Center for Security Policy falsely accused Grover Norquist, a prominent anti-tax activist, and Suhail Khan, a former Bush administration official involved in Muslim outreach initiatives, of having connections to the Muslim Brotherhood. The report complied by Gaffney further accused various Muslim leaders of infiltrating the George W. Bush government.
The Center for Security Policy has reinforced the conspiracy theory alleging the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrates American society. CSP released a 10-part video course om YouTube titled “The Muslim Brotherhood of America.” In the series, Gaffney makes the claim: “America faces in addition to the threat of violent jihad another, even more toxic danger –— a stealthy and pre-violent form of warfare aimed at destroying our constitutional form of democratic government and free society. The Muslim Brotherhood is the prime-mover behind this seditious campaign, which it calls ‘civilization jihad.’”
At a 2015 conference hosted with John Guandolo in Denver, Gaffney called Somali-American communities “colonies” and said of Somali workers at meatpacking plants in Colorado: “I don’t know about you, but it kind of creeps me out that they are getting jobs in the food supply of the United States.”
Gaffney played an active effort to oppose the construction of mosques in the United States, alleging that these places of worship operate as sites for ‘stealth jihad.’
According to a New York Times article published in 2017, Gaffney alleged that: “Potential enemies are hidden in plain sight – praying in mosques, recruiting at Muslim student associations and organizing through mainstream Muslim rights groups – and are engaged in ‘this stealthy, subversive kind of jihad.’”
In 2010, Gaffney collaborated with Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller from the Stop Islamization of America to oppose the construction of Park51 and helped coin the term “Ground Zero Mosque.” Gaffney’s CSP funded an anti-Park51 campaign website run by Geller and appeared on Fox News to allege that Park51 was part of a largest plan for a ‘Sharia takeover’ of America.
During the same year, Gaffney was a key witness for the plaintiffs in a controversial lawsuit against a mosque being built in Tennessee, where he promoted the notion that mosques want to “destroy western civilization from within.”
Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy funded the introduction of anti-Sharia bills in state legislatures across the United States during the early 2010s.
According to a report published by Haas Institute at the University of California Berkeley, Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy provided $153,000 and an anti-Sharia legislative model to the American Laws for American Courts (ALAC). From 2010 to 2016, Haas Institute reported 194 anti-Sharia legislations were introduced in 39 state legislatures, of which 18 bills were enacted into law – pushed by ALAC’s efforts.
On December 7, 2015, then presidential candidate Trump cited a debunked SP poll as justification to call for a Muslim Ban, a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States. CPS had commissioned The Polling Company, led by Kellyanne Conway who now serves as Counselor to Trump, to conduct the poll in June of that year. The Intercept reported the alleged poll utilized a “non-probability based, opt-in online survey” that had no statistical validity.
During the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, Sen. Cruz listed Gaffney and three individuals at Center for Security Policy as foreign policy advisers for his campaign.
According to a New York Times article, Gaffney played an advising role on Trump’s national security team during its presidential transition.
According to the Bridge Initiative at Georgetown University, Gaffney and the CSP have “long-running relationships with Trump campaign and administration personnel like Kellyanne Conway, Michael Flynn, Sebastian Gorka, and Mike Pompeo.”
Frank Gaffney enjoys a close relationship with Steve Bannon, having been interviewed on Bannon’s far-right radio show a total of 29 times. Bannon praised Gaffney as a “senior thought leaders and men of action in this whole war against Islamic radical jihad…doing amazing work, doing God’s work, sir. Just fantastic.” Gaffney and Bannon have continued their collaborative effort at the “Committee on the Present Danger” since 2019, where Gaffney serves as vice chairman.
Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik, responsible for the deaths of 77 people in Oslo and Utoya Island, cited the works of Gaffney and the Center for Security Policy on eight occasions in his manifesto.