|The Muslim Brotherhood is increasingly at the forefront as a major force in the Middle East and beyond. The election of Mohammed Morsi to the Egyptian Presidency, the Brotherhood’s growing role in Tunisia, Syria and other Arab nations, in addition to their ongoing relationships with Hamas and other terrorist organizations make them a formidable challenge to Arab governments, the West and to Israel. This LAN fact sheet provides information about the history of the Muslim Brotherhood, their charter which includes venomous anti-Israel positions and ways to remain informed as events unfold.
1. The Muslim Brotherhood is a Sunni Islamist organization founded in Egypt in 1928 by radical Muslim cleric Hassan al-Banna. The Brotherhood’s goal was and is the creation of an Islamic empire by propagating Sharia or Islamic Law. Through the spread of Islam, al-Banna hoped that the Brotherhood would successfully re-establish the Caliphate. According to al Banna
, “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.”
2. The Brotherhood strategy is to use a grassroots network of social and charitable organizations to expand their membership base, gain trust, and illustrate Islam's relevance in all aspects of life.
3. Today the Muslim Brotherhood is considered to be the largest and most influential Islamist organization in the world, with branches in 70 countries. A number of terrorist organizations including al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Jamaat al Islamiyya (“The Islamic Group”) originated from the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas, the Gaza based terrorist organization, is a direct offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. The following quote from Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna can be found in the Hamas Charter “Israel will arise and continue to exist until Islam wipes it out as it wiped out what went before…”
4. The Muslim Brotherhood is having significant success in the elections resulting from the Arab Spring. Through their membership and social services network, they are usually the only organized political party outside of the government/military, in what were mostly authoritarian ruled countries. For instance, in Tunisia, the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate Ennahda was founded in 1981, banned in 1992 but gained control of the Tunisian government in their recent elections, holding 89 out of 217 seats in the Constituent Assembly, the most of any party. In Morocco, the Justice and Development Party (PJD) won 107 of 395 seats and holds 12 of Morocco’s 31 cabinet positions including Prime Minister. In Jordan, the Muslim Brotherhood political party, Islamic Action Front, is posing a potential challenge to the government.
5. In Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood has a long history of Islamism, dating back to 1945. Although the group was outlawed in 1964 by Hafez Assad, today the Brotherhood is leading the opposition movement in Syria, and analysts believe that it is poised to gain control of Syria if the Bashar Assad regime is overthrown. Syrian Muslim Brotherhood leaders have openly supported Hamas in Gaza. In 2009 for example, a Syrian Muslim Brotherhood headquarters' statement said in reference to Gaza that it is a, “sacred duty to liberate occupied land.” Notably all Israeli troops withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and even Hamas officials have recognized that Gaza is not occupied by Israel.
6. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohammed Morsi, just narrowly won the presidency after Islamist parties won more than 70% of the vote in Parliament. On Sunday, July 8th, Morsi moved to reinstate the dissolved Parliament, taking on the military which surprised many in the West.
7. Though the Muslim Brotherhood’s roots are in Egypt, from 1954 until the fall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, the organization was officially outlawed from organizing
. In 1971, President Anwar Sadat attempted to improve relations allowing the Brotherhood to become involved with civilian and religious organizations. Sadat would also alter Egypt’s Constitution, declaring Islam the state religion in order to appease the Brotherhood. Nonetheless, Sadat was assassinated by terrorists affiliated with Jamaat al-Islamiyya in 1981, two years after signing the historic Camp David Accords with Israel.
8. Since the fall of Mubarak in 2011, the Muslim Brotherhood has increased its power and visibility in Egypt resulting in the recent election of Morsi as President. In May, as a presidential candidate Mohammed Morsi said
, “[He will] achieve the Islamic conquest of Egypt for the second time, and make all Christians convert to Islam, or else pay the jizya (a tax placed on non-Muslims).” Morsi went on to say, “[Coptic Christians] need to know that conquest is coming, and Egypt will be Islamic, and that they must pay jizya or emigrate.”
9. In January, Muslim Brotherhood Deputy Chairman Rashad Bayoumi said
, “We do not recognize Israel at all. It is a raping, occupying, criminal enemy entity…”. In a similar vein, Muslim Brotherhood spokesmen Mahmoud Ghazlan said in January, “Our group is not prepared to conduct dialogue with Israel—that is our decision. Our position is consistent and clear, and not up for discussion.”
10. Despite Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has placed an unofficial travel ban on Egyptians traveling to Israel, publically denouncing Egyptian officials who make the trip. On April 19th, Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa traveled to Jerusalem to, “support Jerusalemites and the Palestinian people and the Al Aqsa Mosque and to learn about the great suffering they go through.” The Muslim Brotherhood denounced Gomaa’s visit saying on their website
, “What he did cannot be justified and cannot be endorsed.” Although Morsi has said that he would keep the peace with Israel, in the past he reportedly called Israeli leaders “vampires” and “killers.”
11. In his first address after his election on Friday, June 29th, Egypt’s President-elect Mohammed Morsi, called for the release of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, known as the Blind Sheikh. Rahman, aligned with Jamaat, was the emir to those who killed Sadat, and is currently serving time as the convicted mastermind of a "war of urban terrorism" against America, which included one seminal day in which five bombs were to blow up the United Nations Building, the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, the George Washington Bridge and the main Federal office building in Manhattan. The prosecution also charged that the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in which six innocent Americans were killed was part of this conspiracy. Notably, before Rahman's sentencing he gave a 100 minute speech in which he castigated the United States as an “enemy of Islam”.
12. Morsi has denied the September 11th attacks, telling Foreign Policy reporter Shadi Hamid, "When you come and tell me that the plane hit the tower like a knife in butter then you are insulting us. How did the plane cut through the steel like this? Something must have happened from the inside. It's impossible."
13. Since 1979, the United States has given an average of 2 billion dollars of aid to Egypt annually. This past March, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released the annual 1.3 billion dollars in military aid package, waiving a Congressional condition that would require Egypt to meet specific democratic reforms before receiving the funds.
14. The Union of Good is a coalition of Islamic charities that provides financial support to both the Hamas “social” infrastructure as well as terrorist activities. It is headed by global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi and most of the trustees and member organizations are associated with the global Muslim Brotherhood, according to a report by the NEFA Foundation. The U.S. based Holy Land Foundation, convicted of providing material support to Hamas, was listed as a UG donation point.
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Send this LAN to your friends, family and colleagues to help them understand the Muslim Brotherhood and provide context for how their plans could affect our future. Watch for updates on the situation by following us on Twitter at @LAN_Buzz and visit our website at www.leadershipactionnetwork.org.
Earlier this year, the Muslim Brotherhood supported the Egyptian government’s decision to prosecute U.S. NGO workers working in Egypt saying the United States was funding the NGOs to cause chaos after Mubarak ceded control of Egypt. Although this was never proven, 43 people were held for trial, including the son of US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The people were ultimately released but a sharp decline in NGO activity since then in Egypt has been noted.
In Libya, voters countered the trend by rejecting the Muslim Brotherhood, electing the secular National Forces Alliance (NFA). The National Forces Alliance is a grouping of 60 small parties and dozens of civil-society organizations created in early 2012. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, they were united by their rejection of the aggressive religious identity and social priorities of the Muslim Brotherhood, and their support of political decentralization and infrastructure development as the root of economic recovery.The NFA reportedly aims to promote western legal and democratic traditions.
According to the book Jihad is the Way written by Mustafa Mashur, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt from 1996-2002, “It should be known that Jihad and preparation towards Jihad are not only for the purpose of fending-off assaults and attacks of Allah’s enemies from Muslims, but are also for the purpose of realizing the great task of establishing an Islamic state and strengthening it around the world.” He called for “Jihad against the criminal, thieving, gangs of Zion.”
The Muslim Brotherhood has a long history of hostility toward Israel and the Jewish People. Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al Banna was an admirer of Adolf Hitler and, in referring to the 1947 U.N. partition of Palestine, al Banna, “considered the whole United Nations intervention to be an international plot carried out by the Americans, the Russians and the British under the influence of Zionism.” These anti-Semitic, anti-Israel sentiments continue today. In March, the Muslim Brotherhood controlled People’s Assembly of Egypt passed a resolution stating, “Revolutionary Egypt will never be a friend, partner, or ally of the Zionist entity, which we consider to be the number one enemy of Egypt and the Arab nation. It will deal with that entity as an enemy and the Egyptian government is hereby called upon to review all its relations and accords with that enemy."
Background and Further Reading Material:
The Unbreakable Muslim Brotherhood
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
The Muslim Brotherhood's Long Game: Egypt's Ruling Party Plots its Path to Power
Foreign Policy Research Institute
Understanding the Muslim Brotherhood
Meir Amit Terrorism and Information Center
The Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab World and Islamic Communities in Western Europe
The Hudson Institute
The Brotherhood's Walking Korans
The Simon Wiesenthal Center
Hitler Put Them in Their Place: Egypt Muslim Brotherhood's Jihad Against Jews, Judaism, and Israel
Brotherhood of Hate: Muslim Brotherhood's Hatred of Jews and Israel Flourishes in "New" Egypt
American Jewish Committee
The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt
In Tunisia, the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate, Ennahda was founded in 1981 by Tunisian Islamist Rashid Ghannouchi. The party was banned from Tunisia in 1992, but gained control of the Tunisian government in the elections after the Arab uprisings. As recently as April Rashid Ghannouchi said, “There can be no normalization with ties to Israel.” In November, Ennahda party leader and current Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi al-Jabali called for the “conquest of Jerusalem” and the creation of a “sixth caliphate,” or Muslim empire. Prime Minister al-Jabali is strengthening ties with Hamas. In January, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was the first world leader to visit Tunisia since the formation of the new Ennahda led government. Haniyeh was reportedly welcomed in Tunisia with an honor guard and a band playing the Palestinian and Tunisian anthems.
In Jordan, the Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1945, and in 1992 formed a political organization, Islamic Action Front (IAF). The IAF has called for an end to the peace treaty with Israel. Hamza Mansour, the Secretary-General of the IAF, was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the United States terrorism financing case against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.
In 2009, Abdeliah Benkirane, the leader of PJD, the political party of the Muslim Brotherhood in Morocco, said, “The Moroccans see the Islamic resistance movement Hamas as the mother of resistance and steadfastness. The Moroccans very much love the Hamas movement…and they love to recall at every occasion the acts of heroism and sacrifice of this great and mighty movement….All of the Moroccans stand beside the Palestinians and the noble Al-Quds [Jerusalem], and if the borders are opened to the Moroccans and the obstacles are removed, you will see how the masses come to help Al-Aqsa and Al-Quds.” Benkirane has signed two manifestos that support using Jihad as the only way to liberate Palestine.
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