Hamas is attempting to strengthen its status with Egyptian authorities by bolstering the position of Muslim Brotherhood (MB) spiritual guide Sheikh Yussuf al-Qaradawi, according to an analysis in a report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.
On Feb. 19, Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip, contacted Qaradawi to invite him to visit and lead prayers. He also congratulated Qaradawi and the Egyptian people on the "victory of the revolution," as well as expressed his appreciation of Qaradawi's call for the lifting of the Israeli economic blockade on Gaza, made during the theologian's sermon in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Feb. 18. Qaradawi accepted Haniyeh's invitation and wished Palestinians victory and liberation.
Qaradawi was banned from Egypt approximately 30 years ago and found refuge in Qatar. He delivered a Friday sermon in Egypt in 1981 after the assassination of former President Anwar el-Sadat and returned to speak at the mass rally in Tahrir Square. He ended his speech with calls for the "liberation" of the Al-Aqsa mosque, an opening of the Rafah crossing and the allowance of convoys to enter the Gaza Strip.
Hamas was formed in 1987 as an outgrowth of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Islamist terrorist group has praised Qaradawi for his support of "jihad" and "martyrdom operations." Qaradawi has issued fatwas calling for jihad against Israel and the Jews and sanctioning suicide bombing attacks. Qaradawi's fatwas echo the writings of the Hamas charter, whose slogan is "Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Qur'an its Constitution, Jihad its path and death for the case of Allah its most sublime belief." Hamas, like the Muslim Brotherhood, wants Israel eliminated. The charter states in its beginning, "Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors."
The Muslim Brotherhood and Qaradawi provide political, ideological and material support to Hamas. Qaradawi helps fund Hamas through his organization Union of the Good, a conglomeration of dozens of Islamic charities that raise money for Hamas and other Islamist causes around the world. The Union of the Good was designated by the U.S. Department of Treasury in 2008 as "an organization created by Hamas leadership to transfer funds to the terrorist organization."
Senior Egyptian MB figure Essam al-Arian confirmed that the Muslim Brotherhood wants to give Hamas financial aid during a 2006 interview, according to the Meir Amit Intelligence report. "According to the Egyptian media, after Operation Cast Lead the Muslim Brotherhood established a fund for the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip with the objective of raising $50 million for Hamas. It is unclear if the commitment was fulfilled."
Cast Lead was Israel's 2008-09 incursion into Gaza launched to stop Hamas rockets from being launched at Israeli cities.
Qaradawi is also hostile to Hamas' rival the Palestinian authority. In January 2010, Qaradawi called on the Arab league, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and other parties to investigate whether Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas instigated the Israeli war against Gaza. "If it is proven that Abbas instigated the Israeli war against Gaza, he deserves to be publicly stoned in Mecca because this would be a betrayal on his part," Qaradawi said.