In a House Intelligence Committee hearing Thursday morning, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper refused to admit that the Muslim Brotherhood is an Islamist organization that supports violence, calling the group's Egyptian branch "largely secular."
The comments came in response to questioning from Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC) about the threat posed by the group. Politico reports on the exchange:
"The term 'Muslim Brotherhood'...is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam," Clapper said. "They have pursued social ends, a betterment of the political order in Egypt, et cetera.....In other countries, there are also chapters or franchises of the Muslim Brotherhood, but there is no overarching agenda, particularly in pursuit of violence, at least internationally."
The Brotherhood uses the slogan, "Islam is the answer," and generally advocates for government in accordance with Islamic principles. The movement has as a broad goal unifying what it perceives as Muslim lands, from Spain to Indonesia, as a "caliphate."
Myrick interrupted Clapper at one point, saying her concern isn't simply with the violence but with the Brotherhood's beliefs regarding government.
"The danger of the Muslim Brotherhood is not just encouraging terrorism through their ideology, but also trying to take over government, so everyone has to succumb and live under their ideology," Myrick said.
Clapper said later in the hearing that the Brotherhood in Egypt runs 29 hospitals "not under the guise of an extremist agenda." He said the group fills a vacuum cause by the absence of government services, but added, "It is not necessarily with a view to promoting violence or overthrow of the state.
That contradicts what FBI Director Robert Mueller said in the same hearing. Mueller noted that "obviously, elements of the Muslim Brotherhood here and overseas have supported terrorism."
Even Politico reports that Hamas, the terrorist organization in Gaza, grew out of the Brotherhood, and adds some have connected the Brotherhood to other Islamic organizations. Politico also noted the group's desire for a "caliphate."
Just yesterday it was revealed that a 1995 book written by the Brotherhood's fifth leader details the group's objectives, including the “global conquest of Islam” and “reestablishing the Islamic Caliphate, the “public and private duties of jihad,” and the “struggles Muslims must wage against Israel.”