Commentary by Kyle Shideler is the Director of Research and Communications for the Endowment for Middle East Truth (emetonline.org)
The announcement coming out of Great Britain that British intelligence would begin conducting a security investigation of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is fantastic news for all those who have been warning about the threat posed by the 86-year old global Islamist organization.
The Muslim Brotherhood has provided the ideological undercurrent, and in many cases the leadership, of almost all Sunni Islamic terror groups in modern times. The Muslim Brotherhood, through a variety of its affiliates and front organizations, engages in a wide variety of subversive activities including, in many cases, material support for terrorism.
Since the popular coup in Egypt which ousted Muslim Brotherhood-rule, Egyptian authorities have declared the Brotherhood a terrorist group. Saudi Arabia has followed suit. According to reports, Muslim Brothers set up London as a temporary base of operations, with exiled Brothers from Egypt arriving to augment an already extensive local British MB apparatus. Indeed as British writer Douglas Murray notes, the British government’s own advisory group,“on Freedom of Religion or Belief” includes:
“that dauphin, that exemplar of Muslim Brotherhood royalty, Tariq Ramadan. It was Ramadan’s grandfather who founded the fascist movement now under investigation and his parents’ generation which continued the tradition.”
Thanks to just this kind of political influence, the Muslim Brotherhood has survived serious probes before.
In this Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014 photo, Saad el-Katatni, right, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, gestures with others from the defendant's cage during their trial along with ousted President Mohammed Morsi, on charges related to the prison breaks at the height of the 18-day 2011 uprising against Morsi's predecessor Hosni Mubarak.(AP Photo)
In the United States, the largest terrorism finance trial in American history targeted the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which served as the fundraising arm of the “Palestine Committee” of the Muslim Brotherhood, working to finance the terrorist group Hamas. Several Muslim Brotherhood supporters were imprisoned for material support as a result of that trial, and a list of “unindicted co-conspirators or joint-venturers” was produced based on the extensive documents and surveillance evidence uncovered by the FBI. But, according to investigative journalist Patrick Poole, a series of secondary prosecutions against these conspirators were “squashed” for political reasons by the Obama Administration Department of Justice.
If the British investigation succeeds where the American effort failed, it will be because the British will have honored the Prime Minister’s request for an investigation “into the philosophy and activities of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
That is however a tall order.
Not because such information isn’t available (it is readily available) but because such information makes politicians uncomfortable. It has been a hallmark of both the British and the American counter-terrorism campaigns to precisely avoid this kind of examination of “philosophy” in order to disconnect Islam, and the political activities of the Muslim community (dominated in many cases by the Muslim Brotherhood), from so-called “radicalism” or terrorism. The Muslim Brotherhood however, doctrinally accepts no such de-linkage.
As Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan Al-Banna told his followers [emphasis added]:
“My brothers: you are not a benevolent society, nor a political party, nor a local organization having limited purposes. Rather you are a new soul in the heart of this nation to give life by means of the Qur’an… if told you are political, answer that Islam admits no distinction. If you are accused of being revolutionaries, say ‘We are voices of right and for peace in which we clearly believe; and of which we are proud. If you rise against us, or stand in the path of our message, then we are permitted by God to defend ourselves against your injustice.’”
For the Brotherhood the political propagation of their message, and violence, are inherently linked at the ideological level. You cannot separate the “ideologists” from the violent “radicals” as one British commentator suggests.
Pro-Egyptian military supporters gather in front of the White House August 22, 2013 in Washington, DC. The supporters denounced the Muslim Brotherhood while giving support to General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi. Credit: Getty Images
As Sayyid Qutb, the foremost Brotherhood thinker wrote in his seminal work "Milestones":
“This movement uses the methods of preaching and persuasion for reforming ideas and beliefs and it uses physical power and Jihad for abolishing the organizations and authorities of the Jahili (non-Islamic) system.”
The ideologues and the “radicals” are two-sides of the same coin.
And while Al-Banna and Qutb are long dead, the recipients of previous (failed) Egyptian efforts to suppress the Brotherhood, this thinking has never changed. The 1982 Muslim Brotherhood planning document known to researchers as “The Project,” instructs the Brothers to, “To construct a permanent force of the Islamic dawa and support movements engaged in Jihad across the Muslim world, to varying degrees in so far as possible.”
The 1991 “Explanatory Memorandum” of the North American Muslim Brotherhood follows the same line of thinking:
“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.”
The union between dawa, that is as Qutb noted, “methods of preaching and persuasion” and jihad has remained unbroken from Al-Banna’s day to the present.
A riot police officer, on a armoured personnel carrier, fires rubber bullets at members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi along a road at Ramsis square, which leads to Tahrir Square, during clashes at a celebration marking Egypt's 1973 war with Israel, in Cairo October 6, 2013. (REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
If the British investigation attempts to root out the Muslim Brotherhood by focusing solely on its connections to terror, it will almost certainly fail. Some Muslim Brothers will likely be connected to terrorism, or terror support. They may even be deported or convicted.
But to truly understand the subversive nature of the Brotherhood, one must look at it as not solely a “terror” threat, but rather regard it in the same manner in which the Brothers’ regard themselves. As a “civilizational-Jihad” threat the Brothers require, not just investigation by counterterrorism specialists, but also to be subjected to a full counterintelligence, counterespionage, and public diplomacy campaign aimed at exposing and alienating them from positions of power or influence.
While Prime Minister Cameron’s call for a commission is a good start, unless the British truly go after the Ikhwan “root and branch,” this investigation is likely to be as fruitless as previous attempts.
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