Fact Check

Top Clinton Aide Huma Abedin Has Ties to Terrorists?

A viral YouTube video recycles discredited accusations linking longtime Hillary Clinton deputy Huma Abedin and her family to radical Islamic terrorism.

Published Nov. 1, 2016

 (YouTube screen capture)
Image Via YouTube screen capture
Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin has ties to Muslim terrorists and Saudi funders of the 9/11 attacks through her family's business

Huma Abedin, a U.S.-born Muslim of Indian and Pakistani parentage, has served for more than a decade as a top aide to Hillary Clinton, though for much of that time was relatively unknown to the American public. All that changed beginning in 2011 when her husband, Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-New York), was forced to resign from the U.S. House of Representatives due to a sexting scandal, and in 2016 when she was thrust into the limelight by an FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server while at the State Department. As Clinton was running for president at the time, Abedin became the target of partisan attacks aimed at weakening her employer's candidacy.

On 24 October 2016, an eight-and-a-half-minute video was uploaded to the highly-trafficked YouTube channel "Anonymous" purporting to prove that Huma Abedin, estranged wife of disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner and longtime aide to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, has "undeniable ties to terrorists and 9/11 funders." It accrued more than 2 million views in under a week, resulting in a flash-flood of queries about it to our inbox.

Neither the video nor its content was new, however, nor were they created by the hacktivist group Anonymous. The video was originally posted on 11 September 2016 to a YouTube channel called "Leaked Uploads." It, in turn, closely follows the text of an article posted approximately 10 days before that in a subreddit populated by Donald Trump supporters. Both the text and video appear to have been created by the same individual, a user who goes by the handle "Invadepro."

Here is an excerpt from the text:

The facts that explain Huma Abedin's Saudi Arabia terrorism ties- Simplified to understand! Hillary winning is a security threat to us all.

Her history and alarming connections are mostly unknown to the American people.

Who is Huma Abedin? What do we know about Hillary Clinton’s number #1 aide and side-kick for 20 years? Hillary spoke at Huma’s wedding, saying “if I had a second daughter, it would be Huma.’’

This presidential election decides who gets to run the most powerful country on earth- so it’s obviously very important to understand the facts about Huma Abedin, as she may very soon become Chief of Staff in The White House.

I’ll be simplifying a very intricate web of people and events that unfolded over many years, all of this information and more is available online for anyone with access to Google- Anyway, here is the biggest story of this election that you definitely won’t see on CNN - condensed so that even a child can understand.

There are four main players in this:

1) Hillary Clinton 2) Huma Abedin 3) Abdullah Omar Naseef 4) Saudi Arabia

Huma was born in the USA (1976), then when she was two years old her family moved to Saudi Arabia (1978). They lived in Saudi Arabia for 16 years. Huma returned to the USA (1994) when she was 18 to study at George Washington University. Only after two years in the country she became an intern for Hillary Clinton (1996) and soon after started working full-time.

Also from 1996, Huma was working at her family’s business - A journal called The Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. The Abedin family’s business is owned by the Muslim World League, Saudi Arabia’s organisation that promotes Wahhabi Islam around the world. They even share an office at 46 Goodge St, London - Saleha Abedin, Huma’s mother and Hassan Abedin, Huma’s brother, currently work there still.

Abdullah Omar Naseef, a high-ranking leader in the Muslim World League and the Saudi Kingdom council, funded the creation of Huma’s family business. He also funded Al-Qaeda, along with other Saudi Arabia officials, for many years. His organisation was declared guilty of funding terrorism by the USA State Department.

Full Text

As we mentioned above, none of these allegations are new. We'll review the main charges, beginning with Abedin's biographical information, in a moment, but it's worth pointing out at the outset that before she could serve as Hillary Clinton's deputy chief of staff at the State Department, Abedin underwent a security clearance requiring, among other things, vetting of her personal and professional history to establish her loyalty to the United States and "freedom from conflicting allegiances and potential for coercion." While we would not argue that the clearance process is infallible, nor that information could not subsequently come to light that might change the assessment, we think it likely that the investigators charged with the task have better research tools available to them than does the average Internet user.

Biographical highlights

It's true that Huma Abedin was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1976 to Muslim parents, Syed Zainul Abedin (born in India) and Saleha Mahmood Abedin (born in what is now Pakistan). In 1978, the family moved to Saudi Arabia, where her parents pursued academic careers and Huma Abedin spent most of her childhood and teenage years. She returned to the United States to study journalism at George Washington University in 1994. In 1996 she was hired as a White House intern assigned to First Lady Hillary Clinton, for whom she has worked off and on ever since. She became Clinton's top aide during the latter's Senate campaign in 2000, served as deputy chief of staff when Clinton was Secretary of State from 2009 through 2013, and as vice chairwoman of Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.

The Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs

It's also true that from 1996 through 2008, Abedin was listed as an assistant editor of the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, an academic journal founded by her father and taken over by her mother after Syed Abedin's death in 1993. The claim that the journal is owned by the Muslim World League, an organization alleged to promote an extreme form of Islam known as Wahhabism, is false, however. The journal is owned by the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, a scholarly organization also founded by Huma Abedin's father whose mission is studying Muslims in non-Muslim countries. Any implication that the peer-reviewed journal, written by and for academics, is somehow "radical" is a misrepresentation, according to sources interviewed for a 25 August 2016 article in The Washington Post:

“I wouldn’t consider it ‘radical.’ Quite the contrary,” said Noah Feldman, director of the Julis-Rabinowitz Program on Jewish and Israeli Law at Harvard Law School. “That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of articles expressing conservative viewpoints, of course. But I’ve never seen anything in any way radical.”

Dale F. Eickelman of Dartmouth College, who is a member of the journal’s advisory board, described it as a “fairly innocuous journal.” He said it was “anything but radical, within the golden mean of what academic journals do.” He said most of the articles are written by emerging scholars who are relatively early in their academic careers. “The authors can vary in quality, as is the case with most academic journals,” he said. “Some are more edgy than others, but you can learn some fresh things.” He added that no one works on the journal full time.

In point of fact, Huma Abedin never literally worked at the Journal of Muslim Affairs at all, according to a spokesperson for the Clinton campaign, who said she was "just a figurehead and not actually on staff."

Abdullah Omar Naseef and the Muslim World League

The video attempts to link the Abedin family to terrorism via their connection with Abdullah Omar Naseef, a Saudi Arabian professor who was also secretary-general of the Muslim World League between 1982 and 1992. Naseef, who worked (and still works) at the same university where Syed Abedin taught, helped launch the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, and for a time sat on the advisory board of the journal. The video provides no evidence that Abdullah Omar Naseef "funded al-Qaeda" or any other terror groups, however. It simply asserts that he did based on his authorization of a refugee relief fund in 1988 that later developed ties with al-Qaeda. The Washington Post explains:

In 1988, during his tenure at the Muslim World League, Naseef authorized a Pakistani charity called the Rabita Trust at a time when the United States and its allies funded the mujahideen fighting the Soviet troops occupying Afghanistan. Years later, the fund became associated with al-Qaeda (which, after all, emerged from the mujahideen) and was frozen in 2002 by the Treasury Department after the 9/11 attacks. But that distant connection, a quarter-century later, is now used to tar Abedin.

The Muslim Student Association

Another dubious connection cited in the video is Huma Abedin's membership in the Muslim Student Association while she attended George Washington University. As it happens, two years after Abedin graduated and left the university, a young man named Anwar al-Awlaki arrived, joined that same Muslim Student Association, and served as a school chaplain. Al-Awlaki, you may recall, was later identified as an al-Qaeda recruiter and killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011. But the fact that each of them belonged, at different times, to the same campus religious organization does not mean they have anything in common other than being Muslim.

The video also links the national Muslim Student Association to the Muslim Brotherhood, but apart from the fact that the latter helped establish the former more than 50 years ago, the claim that the two organizations are actively affiliated isn't supported by evidence.


Most of these allegations first surfaced in 2012, when Michele Bachmann and other conservative Republicans launched a campaign denouncing "Muslim extremists" — Huma Adebin among them — who had supposedly infiltrated the U.S. government. The backlash against these unfounded charges transcended partisanship. Among those who condemned Bachmann's characterization of Abedin was then-Speaker of the House John Boehner, whom Politico quoted as saying:

"I don't know Huma, but from everything I do know of her, she has a sterling character," Boehner told reporters Thursday. "And I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous.

USA Today quoted then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, also a Republican, speaking in Abedin's defense as follows:

"That kind of assertion certainly doesn't comport with the Intelligence Committee, and I can say that on the record," he told USA TODAY, aligning himself with party leaders who have defended Abedin. "I have no information in my committee that would indicate that Huma is anything other than an American patriot."

And GOP Senator from Arizona (and former presidential candidate) John McCain summed up the consensus among members of both the House and Senate:

Recently, it has been alleged that Huma, a Muslim American, is part of a nefarious conspiracy to harm the United States by unduly influencing U.S. foreign policy at the Department of State in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist causes. On June 13, five members of Congress wrote to the Deputy Inspector General of the Department of State, demanding that he begin an investigation into the possibility that Huma and other American officials are using their influence to promote the cause of the Muslim Brotherhood within the U.S. government. The information offered to support these serious allegations is based on a report, ‘The Muslim Brotherhood in America,’ produced by the Center for Security Policy.

To say that the accusations made in both documents are not substantiated by the evidence they offer is to be overly polite and diplomatic about it. It is far better, and more accurate, to talk straight: These allegations about Huma, and the report from which they are drawn, are nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable citizen, a dedicated American, and a loyal public servant.

The letter alleges that three members of Huma’s family are ‘connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations.’ Never mind that one of those individuals, Huma’s father, passed away two decades ago. The letter and the report offer not one instance of an action, a decision, or a public position that Huma has taken while at the State Department that would lend credence to the charge that she is promoting anti-American activities within our government. Nor does either document offer any evidence of a direct impact that Huma may have had on one of the U.S. policies with which the authors of the letter and the producers of the report find fault. These sinister accusations rest solely on a few unspecified and unsubstantiated associations of members of Huma’s family, none of which have been shown to harm or threaten the United States in any way. These attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis, and no merit. And they need to stop now.


Burleigh, Nina.   "Meet Huma Abedin, Mysterious Clinton Aide Whose Emails Might Change History."    Newsweek.   28 April 2016.

Choudhury, Atif.   "Confessions of a Former Muslim Students Association Board Member."    Huffington Post.   25 May 2014.

Cordes, Nancy.   "Michele Bachmann Refuses to Back Down on Claims About Huma Abedin."    CBS News.   19 July 2012.

Dai, Serena.   "The Convoluted Connections That Link Huma Abedin to the Muslim Brotherhood."    The Wire.   30 July 2012.

Davis, Susan.   "House Intel Leaders Disavow Bachmann Allegations."    USA Today.   20 July 2012.

Hennessey, Kathleen.   "Rep. Anthony Weiner Makes Resignation Official."    The Los Angeles Times.   20 June 2011.

Kessler, Glenn.   "Inside the Life of Huma Abedin, Clinton Aide and Wife of Anthony Weiner."    The Washington Post.   25 August 2016.

Markoff, Alex.   "Radical Cleric Al-Awlaki Attended University."    The GW Hatchet.   11 January 2010.

McCain, John.   "Statement by Senator McCain on the Matter of Recent Attacks Made on Huma Abedin."    Press Release, 18 July 2012.

Sherman, Jake.   "Republicans Line Up to Rip Bachmann."    Politico.   19 July 2012.

David Emery is a West Coast-based writer and editor with 25 years of experience fact-checking rumors, hoaxes, and contemporary legends.