With assistance from line graphs and pie charts accentuated with bullets instead of arrows, the group painted the Muslim Brotherhood as behind a massive conspiracy with the long-term goal of absorbing America into an Islamic Caliphate. Not convinced? Well, the group helpfully compiled a list of nearly 6,000 people and 200 organizations it claims are in some way connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.
And thanks to help from Rep. Allen West (R-FL), Citizens for National Security was able to present its alarm of Islamic sedition in the basement of the Rayburn House office building.
As the audience feasted on beef, turkey and tuna sandwiches, group co-founder Peter Leitner walked through a long PowerPoint presentation that laid out a 49-year stealth Muslim Brotherhood plot to infiltrate the United States through a vast web of organizations, many of which have tenuous links at best to the actual Muslim Brotherhood.
"It's a very, very complex organization and a very, very complex problem," Leitner said of the group he said was behind a plot to destabilize the U.S. "You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to realize that there are conspiracies in the world."
And quite a conspiracy it is, involving everyone from the Nazis to the group behind the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque", to African-American felons recruited from prisons.
One of Leitner's slides was a Venn diagram that purported to show the various techniques that the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, the Pakistani Muslim Brotherhood and the Saudi & Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood allegedly use to carry out domestic attacks. The Palestinians, according to Leitner's chart, preferred money laundering, fraud and political pressure, whereas the Saudis and Egyptians went the subversion, sedition and intimidation on college campuses route instead.
Leitner said that the list the group had compiled on the various groups with connections to the Muslim Brotherhood was based on open-source information that "anyone" could compile and would be made available to "responsible parties" like law enforcement officials.
But it wasn't just supporters of Leitner's worldview that showed up to Citizens for National Security's Capitol Hill briefing. Some of those in attendance were members of one of the very groups that Leitner said was part of a subversive plot to overthrow secular government.
Udit Thakur, 20, outreach representative for American University's chapter of the Muslim Students Association, challenged Leitner's premise. He joked that the MSA could actually use some fundraising help because the Saudi donations weren't coming in. Thakur also pointed out that Daniel Pipes, a member of advisory board of Citizens for National Security, was cited 11 times in the manifesto written by the man with right-wing views who has confessed to the shootings in Norway.
"I'm not in any way accusing you of being a part of that, I don't want to blur the line," Thakur said. "But we're talking about perception here, and terrorism is a tough thing to define."
Thakur told TPM that he heard about the event because he has a number of friends who work on the Hill and said he wanted to ask Leitner about his sourcing.
"Obviously there's a threat of terrorism in this country, we know that threat exists," Thakur said. "But the way you organize and quantify data can begin in a number of ways, and the way that he's done it is somehow presenting that there's this grand conspiracy."
In a statement to TPM, a spokeswoman for West said that Citizens for National Security contacted West's office "to see if they could get a room booked on the Hill and provide an opportunity to speak to members of Congress." West's office sent out two "Dear Colleagues" and invited other members to attend.
"The Congressman's hope is that Members of Congress and their staff will get the opportunity to learn more about the dangers of Homegrown Jihad, an issue of great concern to Congressman West," said Angela Sachitano.
"We cannot ignore the fact that al Qaeda is actively attempting to recruit individuals living within the Muslim American community to commit acts of terror," West said in a statement. "This threat is real."
[Ed. note: This story has been updated.]