Clare Lopez is a former CIA operations officer and long-standing rightwing activist who has worked for a number of hawkish policy institutes. She is a senior fellow at Frank Gaffney's neoconservative Center for Security Policy (CSP), vice president of the Intelligence Summit, and a senior fellow at the Clarion Project, a controversial film production and distribution company that is tied to rightwing groups in Israel and the United States. Lopez is also the former executive director of the hawkish Iran Policy Committee and has been a lecturer at the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies.
Along with many of her colleagues at CSP and Clarion, Lopez is a vocal proponent of the notion that the U.S. government—and in particular the Obama administration—has been infiltrated by Islamic extremists tied to the Muslim Brotherhood. She is the author of a conspiratorial 2013 Gatestone Institute report alleging the group's involvement in a decades-long plot to infiltrate the U.S. government and spread "Sharia law" in North America through "front groups" like the Muslim Students Association and the Council on Islamic-American Relations, among other mainstream U.S.-based Muslim organizations.
Lopez claimed in the report that Muslim Brotherhood infiltrators may have convinced the Obama administration to provide backing to early Arab Spring uprisings, which she misleadingly characterized as essentially Islamist affairs. "The driving force of the so-called 'Arab Spring' is a resurgent Islam, dominated by the forces of al-Qa'eda and the Muslim Brotherhood," Lopez asserted, dismissing the historic enmity between the Brotherhood and al-Qaeda as well as the widespread regional reaction against political repression and economic stagnation. "Energized as Islam may be at this time, however, without the active involvement of the United States to help arm, fund, support, and train the region's Islamic rebels, it is questionable whether they could have gotten this far, this fast." She went on to argue that "the takedown of U.S. national security defenses from within was critical to the current Middle East-North Africa (MENA) campaign to re-establish the Caliphate and enforce Islamic Law (shariah)."
Though Lopez traced the purported "infiltration" as far back as the George W. Bush administration, she argued that the Brotherhood had achieved particular success under Obama. "Under the Muslim Brotherhood-influenced Obama administration," she wrote, "U.S. policy has undergone such a drastic shift in the direction of outright support for these jihadist movements—from al-Qa'eda militias in Libya, to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and both al-Qa'eda and Muslim Brotherhood-linked rebels in Syria—that it is scarcely recognizable as American any more." Alleging that specific Obama administration advisers might be connected to the Brotherhood, Lopez added that "the infiltration of individuals…with such close Muslim Brotherhood identifications, to positions of influence at the highest levels of U.S. policymaking must be considered, at a minimum, a contributing factor." She concluded by publicly thanking Michele Bachmann and four other Republican members of Congress for having made similar claims—also based on studies by CSP and likeminded groups—which were widely condemned by both Democrats and Republicans.
In the aftermath of the 2013 Boston marathon bombing, Lopez gave several interviews in which she advocated increased surveillance of American Muslims, implying that agitation by (presumably Brotherhood-linked) Islamic activists had stifled such efforts in the past. "As terrorism expert Clare Lopez, a senior fellow at the Clarion Fund, emphasized to me following the Boston bombing," wrote a columnist for the Philip Anschultz-owned Washington Examiner, "the FBI and local police need to be more aggressive in gathering intelligence in places that people like the [bombing suspect] Tsarnaevs gather, including mosques. The New York police were doing a great job in this regard until Muslim special-interest pressure groups got them to back down. Lopez contends that the FBI is now trained to avoid that sort of operation."
Lopez has made similarly sensationalistic claims with respect to purported Iranian influence in Washington. At CSP, she produced a 2009 study alleging that a "complex network of individuals and organizations with ties to the clerical regime in Tehran is pressing forward in seeming synchrony to influence the new U.S. administration's policy towards the Islamic Republic of Iran."
Echoing other efforts by "pro-Israel" hawks to counter arguments about the influence of the "Israel Lobby" in the United States, Lopez breathlessly claimed in her study that there was a "de facto partnership" between groups like the National Iranian-American Council and the Council on American Islamic Relations, which she said "must arouse deep concern that U.S. national security policy is being successfully targeted by Jihadist entities hostile to American interests." (For more on efforts to argue the existence of an "Arab Lobby," see Samer Araabi, "The Real Middle East Lobby," Right Web, November 24, 2010.)
Lopez concluded: "To be sure, efforts at influencing U.S. decision-making are common among a host of legitimate interest groups, including many foreign countries. But in this context, where the guiding force behind such influence operations emanate from the senior-most levels of a regime like Iran's—which holds the top spot on the State Department list of state-sponsors of terror, makes no secret of its hatred and enmity for the United States and its ally, Israel, and acts in myriad ways to support those who have assassinated, held hostage, kidnapped, killed and tortured American civilians and military personnel over a 30-year period—such operations must be viewed with serious concern."
In 2005, Lopez and Kenneth Timmerman founded the Iran Policy Committee (IPC). A boisterous proponent of regime change strategies in Iran, IPC advisers have included a host of well known hawks such as Raymond Tanter, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Paul Vallely, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Thomas McInerney, Navy Capt. (ret) Chuck Nash, and Lt. Col. (ret). Bill Cowan. IPC is a part of small cadre of U.S.-based rightwing activists that has vigorously promoted the Iranian exile group the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), which for many years was on the State Department's list of proscribed international terrorist groups. IPC has been tied to a number of other advocates of Middle East intervention, including Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress.
According to her bio on the CSP website, Lopez "began her career as an operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), serving domestically and abroad for 20 years in a variety of assignments, acquiring extensive expertise in counterintelligence, counternarcotics, and counterproliferation issues with a career regional focus on the former Soviet Union, Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans." The bio also says that Lopez worked for a time in the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security and has been a program manager for Hawkeye Systems, LLC.