Is the Muslim Brotherhood friend or foe? This is a question that has constantly been debated since 9/11. The debate has been fierce, with one side claiming that the 80-year-old Islamic revivalist movement can serve as a bridge between the US and the Muslim world. Others dismiss this possibility based on the Brotherhood's history of violence and declared goal of establishing a worldwide Islamic Empire governed by strict Shari'ah, or Islamic law.
The motto of the Muslim Brotherhood is, "God is our goal, the Quran is our Constitution, the Prophet is our leader, struggle is our way, and death in the service of God is the loftiest of our wishes. God is great. God is great."
A recent episode epitomizes the problem with the premise of the Muslim Brotherhood as a friend to the United States and a bridge to the Muslim world. As our colleague David Schenker reported on the Counterterrorism Blog, the head of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood had some interesting things to say about Osama bin Laden in a recent interview:
Supreme Guide of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Mohammed Akef was asked: "Regarding resistance and jihad…do you consider Osama Bin Laden a terrorist or an Islamic Mujahid?"
"In all certainty, a mujahid, and I have no doubt in his sincerity in resisting the occupation, close to Allah on high."
As Schenker correctly notes, for a man trying to persuade the world that his organization condemns Al Qaeda, is moderate, and accepts democracy, that's an odd thing to say. Apparently, we aren't the first to notice.
Akef quickly offered a second interview, this time to the London-based Al-Sharq al-Awsat, walking back from his praise of bin Laden and sticking to the Brotherhood's public line:
When he (Bin Ladin) fights the occupier then he is a mujahid, and when he attacks civilians, then this is rejected.
When I was asked, I said that I forbid the killing of civilians. I said that it is permitted to kill only those who fight. Islam forbids killing women, youth, and so on. I said so openly, but I asked: `Who is a civilian?' When engineers, laborers, and technicians enter (Iraq) with the American army, are they considered civilians? Is a fighter only the one inside the tank or also the one servicing it? I am speaking of the interpretation of the word "civilian."
Qaradawi also calls suicide attacks "the greatest of all sorts of Jihad in the Cause of Allah." He issued a fatwa in 2004 stating that Muslims killed fighting American forces in Iraq are martyrs "given their good intentions since they consider these invading troops an enemy within their territories but without their will."
This issue on when bin Laden is or isn't a mujahid and its corollary of what constitutes a civilian is simply another example in an 80-year-old chain of examples that demonstrate the true duplicitous and extremist nature of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Some scholars have advocated dialogue with the "moderate" wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. When proponents of this strategy are asked how they know this wing is moderate, their reply amounts to, "Because they told us so." If only the discussion ended there. The Brotherhood is based on the goal of worldwide Islamicization. As its founder, Hassan al Banna said, "It is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its law on all nations and to extend its power to the entire planet." No matter how "moderate" some in the Brotherhood claim to be, this is still the central and undisputed tenet of the organization.
Then there is the issue of terrorism. Hamas was founded as the Palestinian chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood Al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri began his Islamist career as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Almost every single Sunni terrorist organization can be traced back to the Muslim Brotherhood. And this isn't limited to the Middle East. As former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke told the Senate Banking and Finance Committee in 2003:
The issue of terrorist financing in the United States is a fundamental example of the shared infrastructure levered by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and al Qaeda, all of which enjoy a significant degree of cooperation and coordination within our borders. The common link here is the extremist Muslim Brotherhood – all of these organizations are descendants of the membership and ideology of the Muslim Brothers.
The terrorism financing trial against the Holy Land Foundation in Dallas, Texas revealed the existence of a massive Muslim Brotherhood subversive movement in the United States that was originally established in the 1960s. This movement includes almost every major Islamic organization in the United States, such as the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim American Society, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. An internal Muslim Brotherhood strategy memo released as evidence in the trial stated the following:
The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and "sabotaging" its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions.
Can such an organization be a friend to the West? It is clear that the answer is "no." And until we realize this and the Muslim Brotherhood is recognized as a strategic enemy of the United States, efforts on our part against terrorism and extremism will be weakened.
Click on this link to read the IPT's profile of the Muslim Brotherhood.