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commentary from the heroic Benyamin Solomon

Commentary from the heroic Benyamin Solomon:The Muslim Brotherhood is practically the father of radical Islam, which is a Fascist medieval ideology. MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Monitor is a great source to research the threat of militant Islam. This goes to show that the Muslim Brotherhood is not moderate, contrary to pro-Muslim Brotherhood propagandists like Robert Leiken and Steven Brooke. The Muslim Brotherhood is an anti-democratic Islamo-Nazi group. For Mahmoun Fandy, author of "America and the Arab world after 9/11" said, “The Nazis early on really sort of influenced that totalitarian impulse, the totalitarian streak in the Muslim Brotherhood.” The Muslim Brotherhood collaborated with the Nazis in WWII and got many totalitarian aspects from them. And the leader of the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood at the time Haj Amin Al-Husseini, who founded the Palestinian terrorist struggle against Israel, was Hitler's best friend in the Muslim world. He helped bring Nazi anti-Semitism into the Middle East and said on Berlin radio to "Kill the Jews wherever you find them." He led two Bosnian Muslim SS. divisions and was one of the organizers of a pro-Nazi coup in Iraq in 1941. Though that coup fortunately failed, everyone who took part in the coup including Al-Husseini carried out a vicious terrorist pogrom on Iraqi Jews known as the Farhud. It got many Iraqi Jews to flee.
That Muslim Brotherhood website posted articles that spewed the basic concept of militant Islam, which is jihad against infidels.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Showdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, Part III

By Patrick Poole | Friday, April 20, 2007
In this concluding Part 3 of my rejoinder to Nixon Center Fellows Robert Leiken and Steven Brooke’s article, “A Response to Patrick Poole’s ‘Mainstreaming the Muslim Brotherhood’,” I cover the following points:

1) The very un-moderate statements of the so-called “moderates” they identify within the Muslim Brotherhood;
2) I take note that many of the reformists within the Brotherhood, many of whom served in the organization’s leadership, left a long time ago (1996) to form the Al-Wasat (“Center”) Party, frustrated by the radicalization and ideological lockdown within the Brotherhood;

3) I respond to their accusation that US foreign policy is responsible for Islamic radicalization in the Middle East;

4) I document my previous claim that the Brotherhood has engaged in vote rigging and rampant financial fraud in their administration of the professional syndicates in Egypt, as well as observing that the sole piece of evidence they cited in their response on this point was subject to some suspicious editing on their part;

5) I directly challenge their claims that the Muslim Brotherhood has not been implicated in the violent and fatal attacks against the Coptic community in Egypt by citing a report published by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, in addition to reports issued by the Coptic community and articles in the Egyptian press;

6) I revisit the events surrounding the military demonstration by Muslim Brotherhood youth cadres at Al-Azhar University this past December, which prompted the current government crackdown on the organization, as evidence that the intentions of the Brotherhood are not entirely peaceful;

7) I observe that their characterization of the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate in France, the UOIF, as a “moderate” organization is directly contradicted by recent studies published by their own organization, the Nixon Center, and that most careful researchers have concluded that France’s policy of embracing the Muslim Brotherhood has been a catastrophic failure and fueled Islamic radicalization – the same policy Leiken and Brooke demand the U.S. implement.

On the basis on the extensive evidence I have provided throughout this report, I conclude that when it comes to anything challenging the carefully manicured image of the Muslim Brotherhood crafted by Leiken and Brooke, they resort to the old maxim: see no evil; hear no evil; speak no evil. Other contradicting evidence is steadfastly ignored. In the event that fails, their policy has been: attack the critic. This is hardly the way to determine US foreign policy, but admittedly this is how business is conducted in the think tanks and policy shops of the Beltway intelligentsia.

The previous parts to this rejoinder can be found here:

Showdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, Part 1

Showdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, Part 2

Muslim Brotherhood ♥ Leiken and Brooke

To begin the concluding Part 3 of my rejoinder to Robert Leiken and Steven Brooke, I would quickly point out to FrontPage readers that the Muslim Brotherhood is now featuring their response to me on the official Ikhwan website, and promoting it on their home page.

Leiken and Brooke’s Muslim Brotherhood “Moderates”

Following up on a point I made in Part 2 in my rejoinder to Leiken and Brooke was how virtually all of the “reformists” they claim that they have spoken with in the Muslim Brotherhood over the past year have gone unnamed. We realize the reason that the “many members” of the Brotherhood that Leiken and Brooke spoke with during their Magical Muslim Brotherhood Mystery Tour remain unidentified – to prevent “armchair/internet intellectuals” like me from conducting follow-up research on these alleged “reformists” and “pragmatists” that are supposedly proof of their so-called “Moderate Muslim Brotherhood.”

In their response to my original criticism, they tacitly identify one of these figures:

“Many high- level figures in the Brotherhood take a pragmatic view of Israel. As one explained to us “we may not like it, but we have to accept the fact that Israel exists and is not going anywhere. We must start from this point.”

When following the link they provide, we arrive at an interview conducted by anti-war activist and Christian Science Monitor columnist Helena Cobban with Dr. Abdel Monem Abul-Futouh, a member of the Brotherhood’s Guidance Council and the head of the Brotherhood-controlled professional syndicate, the Arab Doctors’ Association.

Following the publication of Part 2 of my rejoinder, I was reminded by my colleague Alyssa Lappen, Senior Fellow at the American Center for Democracy, of the review she gave several months ago (“Islam’s Useful Idiots” The American Thinker [October 23, 2006]) to “pragmatic” statements previously made by El-Futouh, such as these quotes given to the New York Times where he expresses his preference for a “Hezbollah-Iranian agenda” over an “American-Zionist one”:

The Muslim Brotherhood, the Sunni Islamist group founded in Egypt, has been particularly outspoken. Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, a member of its guidance office, said that the United States had invaded Iraq to divide Muslims and that it was better to support a Hezbollah-Iranian agenda than an “American-Zionist” one.

“Which one is more dangerous to the Muslim world?” he said in an interview, before attacking “the regimes who tremble before Iran. They are weak and tattered regimes who don’t acknowledge the will of their people.”

When pressed, though, a vague ambivalence emerges. “Iran would be at the end of our list of enemies, even though it’s not an enemy,” he said. “Let’s combat the American danger on the region before we ‘compete’ with Iran.” (Neil MacFarquhar, “Hezbollah’s Prominence Has Many Sunnis Worried,” New York Times [August 4, 2006]; emphasis added)

Now remember that El-Futuoh was the member of the Muslim Brotherhood tacitly identified by Leiken and Brooke noted for his pragmatism related to Israel. But when pressed by the New York Times, we discover that his pragmatism leads him to embrace the terrorist organization Hezbollah and the terror-supporting regime in Tehran over the democratic states of Israel and America. This is “pragmatism” for the Nixon Center pair.

Lappen also notes more of El-Futouh’s “pragmatism,” endorsing Al-Azhar scholars’ call for jihad against the U.S.:

Islamic scholars had performed their 'basic religious duty' in calling on Muslims to join jihad against the U.S., El Fotouh stated in March 2003. Al Azhar had rightly urged them to 'defend themselves and their faith' against an 'enemy' stepping 'on Muslims' land'—which the scholars called 'a new Crusader battle targeting our land, honour, faith and nation.' Al Azhar's decree, El Fotouh stated, was 'no more than an attempt on the part of its scholars to fulfill their duty before God.' The U.S. had 'plans to enslave the Arab nation,' he also claimed. (“Islam’s Useful Idiots”; link is to Gihan Shahine, “Debating Jihad” Al-Ahram Weekly [March 27-April 2, 2003])

Leiken and Brooke are sure to claim that El-Futouh’s call to fight the “Crusaders” is in line with their distinction between “defensive jihad” and “global jihad”; but it is undeniable that Egypt has not been attacked by the United States, nor is it the national defense forces of Egypt that El-Futouh is supporting to fight the “enemy,” i.e. the United States. El-Futouh is calling for support of terrorists – al-Qaeda terrorists, in fact – in Iraq, who have killed tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi since he made those pronouncements in favor of the Al-Azhar fatwas – as many, if not more, than US forces have accidentally killed.

We also learn a little bit more about El-Futouh from an article in the New York Post last year when El-Fatouh was denied a visa by the Department of Homeland Security to attend a NYU symposium supporting the Brotherhood,

El-Fotouh is believed to have led a radical resurgence of the group in the 1970s, although today he is regarded by many watchdogs as a moderate.

He was also among 62 group leaders sentenced to five years in prison in Egypt in 1995 for their alleged role in a failed coup. (David Andreatta, “NYU in Islam Furor,” New York Post [October 20, 2006])

In 2005, when Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammad Akef told the Egyptian daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that the organization would back a Mubarak candidacy for President – a surprising conciliatory gesture to the current regime – is was El-Futouh that became enraged and penned a heated editorial in Al-Hayat against the Brotherhood leader for showing signs of compromise with the Egyptian government.

Later I will discuss the Muslim Brotherhood’s governance of the professional syndicates in Egypt, but at this point I should note that in his tenure of the Arab Doctors’ Association, it has been reported that El-Futouh has been responsible for diverting funds from the syndicate to support terrorist activities in Iraq, Chechnya, and Afghanistan, while denying funds be sent to tsunami victims in Indonesia, because that was an act of “divine punishment” against the Muslims there.

In their original Foreign Affairs article, they direct our attention to another alleged Muslim Brotherhood “reformer”:

The United States lost an opportunity to hear from one of these reformers last October when [Kamal] Helbawi—the imam whom we heard deliver a sermon extolling a Jew—was forced off a flight en route to a conference at New York University. This treatment of a figure known for his brave stand against radical Islam and for his public advocacy of dialogue with the United States constitutes yet another bewildering act by the Department of Homeland Security, which provided no explanation. This London-based admirer of Shakespeare and the Brontës appears to be exactly the sort of interlocutor who could help bridge civilizations. Instead, his public humiliation was a gift for the radicals, a bracing serving of “we told you so” on the subject of engaging Americans. (“The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood,” p. 121)

But at other times when enthusiastic Western supporters, such as Leiken and Brooke, have not been around, Helbawi has had less favorable things to say about Jews, as journalist and counterterrorism expert Steve Emerson reported that he heard first-hand at a 1992 Muslim Arab Youth Association conference:

“Do not take Jews and Christians as allies, for they are allies to each other.”

“O’Brothers, the Palestinian cause is not a conflict of borders and land only. It is not even a conflict over human ideology and not over peace. Rather, it is an absolute clash of civilizations, between truth and falsehood. Between two conducts – one satanic, headed by Jews and their co-conspirators—and the other is religious, carried by Hamas, and the Islamic movement in particular and the Islamic people in general who are behind it.” (Steve Emerson, “Muslim Brotherhood Member Barred from United States,” Counterterrorism Blog [October 20, 2006]; cited in Lappen, “Islam’s Useful Idiots”)

With regards to Helbawy, Emerson additionally reports and concludes:

In 1991, Helbawy spoke at a conference hosted by the Islamic Committee for Palestine, a front group that was headed by convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) operative Sami al-Arian. Other speakers at the event include Specially Designated Terrorist and current General Secretary of PIJ, Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, the notorious Egyptian “Blind Sheikh,” Omar Abdul Rahman (spiritual leader of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, currently serving a life prison sentence for his role in a plot to blow up New York City landmarks), and PIJ founder and spiritual leader Abdel Aziz Al Awda.

Helbawy’s radicalism and support for terrorism (and terrorists) is both longstanding and well documented. Despite his current protestations and NYU’s willful blindness, U.S. government officials are rightfully wary of his past and level of influence. The Department of Homeland Security deserves credit for keeping Helbawy, and others like him, out of the United States. (ibid.)

It is “reformers” and “pragmatists” like El-Futouh and Helbawy that Leiken and Brooke direct our attention to in support of their claim of a “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood. In light of the present evidence, we would do well to take their claims “with much salt.”

The Reformists Have Left the Building – Quite a While Ago!

In listening to the clap-trap about how the Muslim Brotherhood is brimming with “reformists” and “moderates,” we should recall a piece of recent Egyptian political history. In 1996, a number of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and members broke away from the organization to found the Al-Wasat (“Center”) Party because of the radicalism and intransigence of the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In a 2004 interview, the head of Al-Wasat, Abu al-Ula Madi, who was a senior Brotherhood leader in the Engineering Syndicate, explains that he decided to leave after more than a decades-worth of unsuccessful attempts to “reform” the Brotherhood:

Al-Wasat doesn't only stand for an explicitly Islamist agenda, it actually emerged as a breakaway movement from the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. For over fifteen years Abu al-Ula Madi was himself active in the Brotherhood, rising to a leadership position in the Brotherhood-dominated engineers' trade union.

In 1996, together with a few like-minded people, he turned his back on the Muslim Brotherhood. He says that was "after we'd tried for ten years to reform them." (Jürgen Stryjak, “Al-Wasat Party: Democratic and Pluralistic?” Qantara [September 28, 2004])

Many of the reformers within the Muslim Brotherhood left at this time, and others have left since. While Leiken and Brooke are certain to tell us that the group’s supply of “reformists” has been restocked and now represent the majority within the organization, other careful researchers and analysts have admitted that the reformists are far from having won the battle within the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood:

The balance between reformers and hardliner differs from one Islamist movement to another. Reformers are clearly the most influential force in the Moroccan PJD and the Egyptian Wasat Party; in fact, the latter was launched by a breakaway reformist faction of the Muslim Brotherhood…The 2004 Wasat Party program calls for establishing a democratic political system in Egypt within the framework of the Islamic marji’iya. In other movements, such as the Jordanian Islamic Action Front and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, however, the reformists have not yet won the battle. (Nathan Brown, Amr Hamzawy, and Marina S. Ottaway, “Islamist Movements and the Democratic Process in the Arab World: Exploring the Gray Zones,” Carnegie Endowment for Peace, Carnegie Paper No. 67 [March 2006], p. 18; emphasis added)

Despite the massive exodus of true reformers and moderates out of the Muslim Brotherhood – a stunning refutation of their “moderate” claims –Leiken and Brooke must assert their unquestioned authority and rely upon the ignorance of their readers, much like Johann Tetzel hawking indulgences in 16th Century Germany, to continue peddling their policy wares.

If all else fails, blame America First!

As the foundations continue to crumble for Leiken and Brooke’s argument advancing the claim of a “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood, we uncover that they have created an escape plan in case their argument for the “rejecting global jihad” and “embracing democracy” “Moderate Muslim Brotherhood” comes crashing down around them. Towards the end of Leiken and Brooke’s response, we come across this critical statement:

“Probably the most important development of the past five years is cited by Poole himself, the “upward trend of Islamic radicalization.” But what Poole ignores is that U.S. policies have been responsible for this radicalization.”

First off, I don’t ignore; I reject it. We only need to look at recent history to see that radicalization was well on the rise long before 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq. If they had argued that the military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan have been used by others in the Middle East to radicalize elements, we would be close to an agreement. However, they say that “U.S. policies have been responsible,” which is an attribution of culpability.

In fact, it was during the 1990s, as Islamic radicalism and terrorism directed at the United States was on a sharp rise, that America was doing the most for Muslims around the world: defending the “Land of the Two Mosques” at the request of the Saudi government, and leading the military campaign alongside most Arab countries to liberate Kuwait; the humanitarian effort directed at ending the man-made famine and tribal warfare in Somalia; forging the Dayton Peace Accords, which stopped the slaughter of Muslims in Bosnia; using diplomatic pressure to get Israel to agree to the Oslo Accords, the first substantive diplomatic effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and the ongoing US-led NATO mission in support of the Muslims in Kosova. Yet during this period, al-Qaeda was in its ascendancy and Islamic radicalism was on a fast boil throughout the Middle East.

Since 9/11, Leiken and Brooke should remember that it hasn’t been President Bush, Vice President Cheney and former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld that has preaching anti-Americanism from the pulpits of mosques throughout the Muslim World; it hasn’t been CBS, NBC, ABC and CNN that has spewed all manner of anti-Jewish propaganda in the Middle East; it isn’t a US-backed Arab regime that’s perpetrating genocide against non-Arab Muslims in Darfur; it hasn’t been Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell that has issued fatwas endorsing terrorism and calling for jihad; and it hasn’t been American and coalition forces soldiers that has been killing tens of thousands of innocent Muslims in horrific terror attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan. But nonetheless, Leiken and Brooke want to lay responsibility for all this at the feet of American foreign policy.

It seems here that Leiken and Brooke have gone “native.” They have adopted the exact same rhetoric and justification for terrorism as Osama bin Laden and the Muslim Brotherhood. To blame US foreign policy for Islamic terrorism and radicalism (which goes back long before 9/11 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) is just as ridiculous as Sayyid Qutb’s condemnation of American moral laxity and “barbarism” he claims he witnessed in the 1940s. The United States is no more responsible for the terrorism that is afflicting the Middle East today than the mixed sex crowd at the social dance that Qutb attended in the dry town of Greeley, Colorado in 1948 that he claimed was responsible for his jihadist ideology.

With foreign policy realists like the Nixon Center, who needs the Muslim Brotherhood or al-Qaeda for enemies?

Egypt’s Professional Syndicates and the Muslim Brotherhood Mafia

“Poole charges, again without evidence, that the Brotherhood’s behavior in the syndicates (essentially Egyptian unions) shows that the Brotherhood will one day rule Egypt dictatorially. Corruption and mismanagement are problems for all syndicates, as they are for much of Egyptian society. But careful researchers must parse facts from sour-grapes accusations by political operatives on the losing end.”

Did you catch that “careful researchers” comment? I did too. I assume that they fancy themselves as “careful researchers,” but had they bothered to do their homework, they would have found that there is scholarly research to back up my claim (and I would have been glad to provide them with such had they bothered to ask).

But before we get too much further on this topic, let’s continue with what they have to say about the Brotherhood’s administration of the professional syndicates:

We note a study by the prestigious Cairo-based Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. According to the Arab Strategic Report, in the 2001 Lawyers Syndicate elections, the Brotherhood

presented a list of 24 candidates which included members from outside the brotherhood. The list included 8 brothers, 3 NDP members, one Nasserist, one Labor party member, one liberal Copt, and one Wafd member. The rest were independents….The Brothers were able to score more successes within the lawyers syndicate during 2002. They cooperated successfully with other opposition forces especially with the Nasserists.

Most people wouldn’t realize it, but here we have a very suspicious cut-and-paste quotation. Here’s what they cut out of their quotation of this Al-Ahram Center study in their very convenient ellipsis:

…During those elections, the candidates of the brotherhood were much more representative of their syndicate's interests and less representative of the brotherhood than during any other election. Their election campaigns focused on syndicates issues wrapped in Islamic garb. This was contrary to their traditional practice of advancing an Islamic agenda in the context of syndicates… (emphasis added)

The very point that the “prestigious” Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies was intending to make in their study is that the very election that Leiken and Brooke identify as being fair and competitive was the marked exception, not the rule. And yet with their curious and convenient block-quote editing, they are able to turn the Al-Ahram Center’s analysis on its head – all to make the Brotherhood look its best.

Again, we are offered only half-truths by Leiken and Brooke, and as I’ve charged in my previous critique and I repeat here, the parts they leave out are precisely the points that defeat the heart of their “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood thesis. I realize that the Nixon Center has received sizable grants to arrive at these conclusions, and that this is pro forma behavior for the Beltway intelligentsia, but “armchair/internet intellectuals” such as myself are not so easily fooled.

Getting back to the issue at-hand, they charge me with initiating this line of argument about the connection between the Muslim Brotherhood’s dominance of Egypt’s professional syndicates and their alleged democratic leanings; but in fact, they first raised the Brotherhood’s performance in the syndicates as a demonstration of their “reformist” rehabilitation:

“Such pressure exacerbates differences between various tendencies in the Egyptian Brotherhood. Since the 1980s, middle-class professionals have pushed it in a more transparent and flexible direction. Working within labor unions and professional organizations, these reformers have learned to forge coalitions with and provide services to their constituents.” (“The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood,” p. 114)

Not long after the Brotherhood began taking over the professional syndicates (teachers, lawyers, doctors, engineers, etc.) in the early 1990s, it quickly became apparent that despite the fact that they had campaigned on cleaning up corruption, their administration of the syndicates was swiftly setting new lows. Here is one scholar’s analysis several years after the fact:

At a time when the Muslim Brotherhood was criticizing both the government and other secular political forces in the syndicates for falsifying the results of a number of syndicate council elections, they were doing the same thing. In fact, the Muslim Brothers appear to have outwitted the government in this area.

…Some Muslim Brothers have claimed that change in the council leadership of syndicates under their control has taken place more frequently than in other syndicates. These changes, however, have been confined to members of the Muslim Brotherhood, and have taken place in an undemocratic way. (Ninette S. Fahmy, “The Performance of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Egyptian Syndicates: An Alternative Formula for Reform?” Middle East Journal 52:4 [Autumn 1998], p. 559, 560)

As Fahmy chronicles, the Muslim Brotherhood racked up an impressive record of corruption and undemocratic behavior in their governance of the syndicates. Here are some of the examples she cites:

In the 1995 Engineering Syndicate elections, the Brotherhood only submitted 70,000 names of the 220,000 that had paid their annual dues. Most of those omitted from the voting lists were government engineers. Because of the Brotherhood’s rampant voter fraud, the judicial commission was forced to cancel the elections seven times. (ibid., pp. 559-560)
During the 1993 Lawyers Syndicate election in Giza, several current and former syndicate officials charged the Brotherhood with leaving out a number of dues paying lawyers, while stuffing voter roles with Brotherhood supporters who did not even live in the Giza district. (ibid., p. 560)
In 1990, Christian doctors were prevented from voting in the Doctors Syndicate elections by failing to send them their ballots, and by holding the election on Good Friday. Christians were again the target in 1992, when Muslim Brotherhood officials removed their names from voter roles in the Doctors Syndicate elections in the Daqahiliyya governorate. The same was true in the 1995 Engineers Syndicate elections. Because of rampant corruption by Muslim Brotherhood officials, an independent Association of Egyptian Doctors was formed catering to Christians, secularists and moderate Muslims (ibid.)
In 1994, the Central Auditing Agency discovered that $400,000 could not be accounted for from the Engineering Syndicate treasury, that $120,000 had been spent on unrelated religious conferences abroad attended by Brotherhood officials, and another $60,000 had been taken from the pension fund. To help fund their elections, Brotherhood officials had spent $260,000 on advertising and propaganda from syndicate accounts. The Engineering Syndicate was placed under judiciary supervision due to the rampant financial and electoral fraud perpetrated by the Brotherhood (ibid., p. 561)
Another audit found that $88,000 had been spent out of the Pharmacists Syndicate accounts for publishing a Muslim Brotherhood magazine. (ibid.)

Maybe next time Leiken and Brooke won’t be so quick to throw around the “without evidence” charge. Wishful thinking, I know.

As with all things related to the Muslim Brotherhood, in one way or another we are quickly brought right back to the terrorism issue, and the Egyptian professional syndicates is no different. One recent analysis discusses how the Muslim Brotherhood has used their control of the professional syndicates to raise funds to support terrorist activities all over the world, including violence directed at the Coptic population in Egypt itself (which Leiken and Brooke deny the Brotherhood has any involvement in; discussed in detail below):

Within these groups, it has a record of corruption, fanaticism, and promoting conflict. The major concern of the Muslim Brotherhood was to raise funds or use those belonging to these institutions in order to support Islamists all over the world, from Chechnya to Afghanistan and Bosnia. Terrorist groups have used these same funds to threaten Egypt's national security, its Christian citizens, and foreign guests--giving a small, horrendous taste of what is to come should they gain power. (Magdi Khalil, “Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Political Power: Would Democracy Survive?” Middle East Review of International Affairs 10:1 [March 2006])

Americans saw first-hand on 9/11 the consequences of the radicalism preached by the Muslim Brotherhood in the Egyptian professional syndicates. As the Washington Post reported just days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Mohammad Atta, the terrorist ringleader, began his infamous journey into al-Qaeda in 1990, when he entered the Brotherhood-controlled Engineering Syndicate:

In 1985, Atta entered the architecture school in the engineering department at Cairo University. The Muslim Brotherhood and other religion-based political organizations are banned in Egypt, but the beliefs they represent show up in many seemingly unlikely institutions. One of them was the engineering department.

In 1990, after finishing his studies in architecture, Atta joined what is called an "engineering syndicate," a professional or trade group. Like the school that trained many of its engineers, the syndicate was an unofficial base for the Muslim Brotherhood, where it recruited and propagated its ideas, including the demonization of the United States. (Peter Finn, “A Fanatic’s Quiet Path to Terror,” Washington Post [September 21, 2001], p. A1; see also, John Hooper, “The shy, caring, deadly fanatic,” The Observer (UK) [September 23, 2001])

As a number of reports have noted, Mohammad Atta operated out of a Muslim Brotherhood cell run by Syrians in Hamburg, Germany. From there he would travel to Afghanistan to receive his orders from Osama bin Laden, and eventually, the United States. The rest is one of the most horrific episodes in American history – one we can partially thank the Muslim Brotherhood for.

Finally, one recent report notes a number of articles in the Egyptian press concerning the Muslim Brotherhood’s infiltration of the educational system and how the organization uses that position to propagate Islamic radicalism:

The Muslim Brotherhood, explains Dr. [Imad] Siam, infiltrates the education system: "The first method is planned and organized infiltration by various political Islam organizations, that aim to take control of the [state's] political authorities through direct, meaning violent, political activity, or through propaganda carried out by thousands of political Islam activists in [various] political organizations, unions, and NGOs.

"The second method is indirect infiltration… [carried out] by encouraging wide sectors of society to endorse political Islam's ideology and activity without necessarily joining its political organizations. This latter type of infiltration is the most dangerous and difficult to control…

"[These two types of infiltration] have ultimately turned the education system into the chief production line of sectarian ideas, extremism and irrationality." (“Egyptian Press Criticizes the Muslim Brotherhood’s Infiltration of Egypt’s Education System,” MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1495 [March 9, 2007])

As we saw, the sole piece of evidence Leiken and Brooke cited on their behalf was a jerry-rigged quote from a study that disproved the very assertion that they were attempting to make. And the scholarly studies and reports I’ve cited clearly show that the Brotherhood has rigged elections, plundered syndicate funds to finance their own agendas, and used the syndicates to proliferate radicalism and jihad. So my original point still stands: If they refuse to act in a democratic fashion in the private sphere, why should we remotely believe their behavior would be any different in the civil sphere?

The Coptic Community: “With Friends Like These…”

“Poole offers unsubstantiated arguments that the “military apparatus” of the Muslim Brotherhood has been attacking the Christian Coptic community. Sectarian violence does occur in Egypt, but the Muslim Brotherhood has not been implicated. On the contrary, the BBC reported that the Muslim Brotherhood supported Coptic Christians demonstrating for greater police protection. The Brotherhood also called one particularly high- profile attack “an attack against all the Egyptian people, Muslim and Copt.” There has been reported cooperation between the Muslim Brotherhood and Coptic candidates in Egypt, and earlier this year a Christian joined the leadership council of the political party affiliated with the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood (although he soon resigned for reasons unclear).”

I’m sure the Coptic community in Egypt will be glad to hear that the ongoing lethal attacks directed by the Muslim Brotherhood against their persons, businesses and churches are all just a figment of my imagination!

Here’s their critical contention:

“Sectarian violence does occur in Egypt, but the Muslim Brotherhood has not been implicated.”

But a definite rebuttal to Leiken and Brooke’s agnosticism regarding Muslim Brotherhood-inspired violence directed at the Copts comes from a very authoritative source – the US Commission on International Religious Freedom:

Coptic Christians face ongoing violence from vigilante Muslim extremists, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood, many of whom act with impunity. Egyptian authorities have been accused of being lax in protecting the lives and property of Christians.

…At the end of December 1999, communal violence in the village of al-Kosheh resulted in the deaths of 20 Coptic Christians and one Muslim. In February 2001, a criminal court acquitted 92 of 96 defendants, Muslims and Christians, suspected of crimes committed while participating in that violence. None of the four convicted, all Muslim, was convicted of murder. Coptic religious leaders and families of the victims criticized the verdict and the General Prosecution quickly lodged an appeal. In July 2001, the Court of Cassation ordered a retrial of all the defendants, which opened in November 2001. In February 2003, the Sohag Court again acquitted 92 of the 96 defendants arrested in connection with the Al-Kosheh killings. Of the other four who were convicted, one was sentenced to 15 years for the killing of the sole Muslim victim, while the other three men, all Muslims, received either one or two year sentences. According to the State Department, in March 2003 the public prosecutor appealed the verdict, citing “misapplication of the law and inadequate justification of the verdict.” The case is ongoing. (Annual Report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, [May 2004], p. 73; emphasis added)

Not surprisingly, Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mehdi Akef denounced the findings of the USCIRF Report, claiming US interference in Egyptian “domestic affairs.” (“‘Akef Attacks the Report of the American Freedoms Commission,” [August 12, 2004], But Leiken and Brooke ignore the findings of this USCIRF report altogether – a seemingly regular occurrence in their supposed “careful research.”

This testimony of Muslim Brotherhood involvement in anti-Coptic violence has been repeated recently in a comprehensive report of violent attacks issued by the Coptic community itself:

A coordinated action plan appears to exist between the extremist Egyptian media's terrorist-supporting motives, Egypt's radical clerics, and the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest and oldest terrorist organization and a group that has, in the past several months, achieved a level of government tolerance. (US Copts Association, Alexandria’s Native Christians under Siege, November 10, 2005)

Maybe the Copts just haven’t heard from Leiken and Brooke how much the Muslim Brotherhood is doing on their behalf?

The Muslim Brotherhood was implicated in a well-publicized incident in Alexandria in 2005, where a Coptic church was accused of selling a CD of a performance of play that was deemed an insult to Islam. Three Copts were murdered, and one brave warrior of jihad stabbed a nun in the chest.

Subsequent media reports on this incident noted that the Brotherhood was behind the violence, which they hoped to use for political advantage in the upcoming parliamentary elections:

Security officials are suggesting that Islamist fundamentalists distributed the CDs to stoke up sectarian tension as a way of tipping the balance in the upcoming electoral contest between Coptic nominee Maher Khellah and the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed El-Badrashini, both of whom are running for a seat in the same Ghorbal district in Alexandria where the tension erupted. The Brotherhood's intention was to sully Khellah's reputation, they said. (Jailan Halawi, “Tip of the Iceberg” Al-Ahram Weekly No. 766 [October 27-November 2, 2005])

That same Al-Ahram article quotes another Egyptian media figure, Adel Hammouda, chief editor of the Al-Fajr newspaper, attributing the violence to the Brotherhood:

Hammouda also blames the Muslim Brotherhood, along with other clandestine organisations and political groups seeking to make gains as the elections near. These groups, he said, "fanned the flames of the strife sparked by the Copts, turning it into a blaze by manipulating Muslims into believing they should rise up in defense of their faith against the Coptic enemy seeking to defame it." (ibid.)

Another example of the Brotherhood’s role inciting Muslim mobs to violence against Copts during the 2005 parliamentary elections is found in this report published by the Free Copts organization:

In a small village called Kafr Salama near Menya El Kamh' in the governorate of Sharkeya (north east of Cairo) some Muslims, mainly young men belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood group , attacked the houses, shops and properties of Christians. This took place after a fight between a Christian and a Muslim in the village, during which the father of the latter dropped dead after going into a diabetic coma when he watched the fight. Things quickly escalated after the rumor spread that "Christians killed Muslims." The naive Christians, knowing the tension was only the result of a normal fight, did not believe things would get any worse.

However, members of the Muslim Brotherhood began sending messages to neighboring villages asking for their assistance. Subsequently hundreds of Muslims gathered from different villages, attacking the houses, shops and belongings of Christians. So far, seven houses and one farm have been completely burned, and many houses have been destroyed. The Christian young man who was involved in the initial fight was massacred by the mob of Muslims. Furthermore, the numerous police vans that rushed into the village have been so far unsuccessful in protecting the Christians, most of whom have fled the village. The few Christian families that remain are currently stranded in their houses, awaiting attack by the Muslims, unless protection arrives in due time. Hundreds of Muslims from neighboring villages, screaming "Islam is the solution," are still flooding Kafr Salama and threatening to burn and kill whatever crosses their way.

Yes, those friendly, peace-loving, well-intentioned Muslim Brotherhood rampaging mobs. Of course, Leiken and Brooke are sure to blame the Copts for their skepticism and not accepting the Brotherhood’s multiple demonstrations of friendship.

(For more information on the fears of the Coptic community concerning the Muslim Brotherhood, including the long-stated policy of treating Copts as dhimmis in any Muslim Brotherhood-led government, consult Magdi Khalil, “The Muslim Brotherhood and the Copts” [April 2006]; also see Samir Morcos, “Citizens of One State,” Al-Ahram Weekly No. 792 [April 27-May 3, 2006].)

Jihadis on Parade; or, Everybody was Kung-Fu Fighting!

“Poole charges that the Brotherhood’s December 10th 2006 demonstration at al Azhar University signified “a return by the group to the era of 'secret cells'...capable of military action,” and was furthermore a kind of coded message to awaken “sleeper cells.” It is true that some Brotherhood members dressed themselves in ninja-style outfits and performed martial arts demonstrations and military- style exercises. But this was to protest the Egyptian dictatorship’s expulsion of Brotherhood students from their dorms and its intervention in student council elections. It was a stupid, disturbing display, but without violence, despite the hyperventilating of the state- controlled press and the government’s desire to provoke a confrontation. The Brotherhood leadership condemned the demonstrations, apologized (as Poole notes) and rebuked the students, who also apologized for their actions. The Brotherhood’s peaceful response to an increasingly brutal crackdown actually offers evidence of its non-violent character and not of “sleeper cells” or “military action.”

Actually, the quotes they attribute to me (“a return by the group to the era of 'secret cells'...capable of military action,”) were actually made by an Egyptian commentator who apparently isn’t convinced by Leiken and Brooke’s apologetics on behalf of the Brotherhood. And the pair apparently hasn’t heard of the literary device called “block quotes,” which seems odd for such seasoned members of the Beltway intelligentsia.

This is what I wrote in my original article:

At present in Egypt many of the organization’s leaders are in jail following an incident this past December where student cadres of the Brotherhood engaged in a military-style demonstration at Al-Ahzar University, which prompted the Mubarak regime’s current crackdown on the Brotherhood. One observer, Jameel Theyabi, described the scene and its possible message in an op-ed for Dar Al-Hayat:

The military parade, the wearing of uniforms, displaying the phrase, 'We Will be Steadfast', and the drills involving combative sports, betray the group's intent to plan for the creation of militia structures, and a return by the group to the era of 'secret cells'...this development comes as a clear Brotherhood announcement that the group is capable of acting and reacting to developments, and by these demonstrations, it is seeking to deliver a news flash that says: "The group is still out there, and is capable of military action, recruitment of new elements, military training and mobilization...I believe that the group's public power display represents a kind of coded message to awaken sleeper cells within Egypt and abroad.

There was no denying that this was an organized Muslim Brotherhood event; the Brotherhood leaders, however, did not anticipate the strong reaction from both the regime and the media. But since the Brotherhood apologized, we’re not allowed to mention it or draw any negative inferences from it. In fact, according to Leiken and Brooke, the military demonstration is supposed to convince us of the Brotherhood’s peaceful intentions and methods!

The Brotherhood’s peaceful response to an increasingly brutal crackdown actually offers evidence of its non-violent character and not of “sleeper cells” or “military action.”

Here they confuse cause and effect: the current brutal crackdown was caused by their al-Qaeda-style military demonstration, not the result of it.

While the incident is easy to over-simplify and can be attributed to a number of factors, to pretend that the incident didn’t happen and that it in no way contradicts Leiken and Brooke’s claim of a “moderate,” peaceful Muslim Brotherhood, is to ignore the evidence staring us in the face, which is essentially what they are asking us to do. These trained military cadres did not materialize out of the thin air, nor was there any claim that this was staged by the regime.

There were media reports of the revival of the Brotherhood’s “secret apparatus” months before the Al-Azhar incident, many of which noted Supreme Guide Mohammad Akef’s vow to send 10,000 Muslim Brotherhood troops to fight alongside Hezbollah against Israel (Al-Arabiya reported that, in fact, members of the Lebanese Muslim Brotherhood’s Fajr Forces were part of the fighting last summer; Hayyan Nayyouf, “Lebanese Brotherhood reveals their fight alongside Hezbollah in the South” Al-Arabiya [August 1, 2006]).

A report summarizing the discussion at an Open Forum held by the pro-democracy Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies in Cairo quotes Hamdi Rizk, deputy chief editor of Al-Mussawar, who warned months before the Al-Azhar incident that the Brotherhood had revived its “secret apparatus”:

…the Muslim Brotherhood has already revived its "physical education" division and the "secret organization," a clandestine armed wing of the group. This was achieved through scouting camps. (Saad Eddin Ibrahim, “The Constitution, the Supreme Court and the Armed Forces,” Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies Newsletter [September 2006])

There is another piece to the puzzle that helps shed some light on the atmosphere created by the Muslim Brotherhood’s militia parade at Al-Azhar. During the public opinion firestorm after the Egyptian news media reported on the jihadist Brotherhood rally, one member of the media that had reported on the incident sent a desperate message to the Muslim Brotherhood in fear for his life, apologizing for his report and for taking photos of the event. The Brotherhood published his apology on their website:

"Since, Monday, when Al Masri Al Youm Newspaper published the news of Al-Azhar militias, I have felt sad about what will happen after; there was fear inside me but I did not know that all this would happen.”

I hope that anyone I offended to forgive me; this is because I -I swear by Allah- did not mean to offende (sic) any body. I was just doing my job honestly and I didn’t support one side against the other. (“Al Masri Al Youm Journalist Regrets Parade Photos,” December 18, 2006)

This reporter’s apology begs the question: why would he be in fear for his life if the Muslim Brotherhood was the peace-loving Islamist group that Leiken and Brooke represent them to be? That the Brotherhood published his letter speaks volumes.

(A full round-up of responses in Egypt to the Brotherhood’s military parade can be found in L. Azuri, “Relations Worsen Between the Egyptian Regime and the Muslim Brotherhood,” MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 321 [February 2, 2007])

Is Paris Burning Yet?

The Brotherhood led organization in France, the UOIF, is moderate and collaborates with the conservative government and its Interior Minister and presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy.

Here we have another brazen assault on the truth by Leiken and Brooke, but don’t take the word of this wanna-be “armchair/internet intellectual”: here is a contrary assessment on the UOIF published by Leiken and Brooke’s own organization, the Nixon Center!

Founded in 1983, the Union’s leadership has shown a tendency to radicalism. Its spiritual guide, Shaykh Faisal Mawlawi, sits on the European Council for Fatwa and Research with radical Muslim Brotherhood cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Both Mawlawi and Qaradawi have expressed hatred for the United States and Israel, and both have praised and encouraged suicide “martyrdom” operations. The Union has hosted both at its annual convention in Le Bourget, and they have been guests of honor among the Union’s affiliate groups. The Union has also hosted Tariq Ramadan, grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al Banna, who has had his American visa revoked by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In 1995, Pasqua denied Ramadan entrance into France after French authorities linked him to an Algerian terrorist group which carried out attacks in Paris. More recently, the Union asked a French television station to cancel a program critical of Ramadan, and denounced the journalist who produced it. Union officials have also systematically defended Hamas leaders such as the late Sheik Ahmed Yassin and Abdelaziz Rantissi, and have raised money for Hamas through a French organization called the Comité de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens (The Committee for Palestinian Charity and Aid), which the U.S. Treasury Department has called a “primary fundraiser of Hamas.” (Glen Feder, “The Muslim Brotherhood in France,” The Nixon Center, In the National Interest [September 2005]; emphasis added; footnotes in the original)

Feder has recently repeated his charge that the UOIF is one of the forces of radicalism responsible for enflaming the Muslim immigrant youth in France, once again, in one of the Nixon Center’s own publications!

Religion is not the prime reason for the riots, but it is one important element. The current generation of young Muslim immigrants in France no longer adheres to the pious Tabligh movement of their parents, which peaked in the 1970s and 1980s. The Tabligh movement, which was one of the most important Islamic movements by the end of the twentieth century, originated in the late 1920s in India and emphasized the strict imitation of Muhammad’s life instead of the politicization of Islam. Part of the reason for this shift is that in 1997, in an effort to strike a compromise between preserving the rights of their minority groups and protecting traditional French secularist principles, France decided to streamline powerful Islamic organizations into one unified coalition called Le Conseil Français du Culte Musulman (French Council for the Muslim Religion). While the French government hoped that this would create one moderate and unified voice within the Muslim community, its effort backfired.

The results of the election held amid the Muslim population for the council was the victory of a fundamentalist Islamic organization: the Muslim Brotherhood’s Union des Organisations Islamiques de France (UOIF). Through the enormously successful efforts of the Union des Organisations Islamiques de France (UOIF) and figures like Tariq Ramadan, the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology has spread like wildfire among French youth. The Muslim Brotherhood is not simply a religious movement, but a global social movement that promotes a version of Islam that adamantly rejects secularized political and social institutions. (Glen Feder, “Paris Still Smolders,” The Nixon Center, The National Interest [December 14, 2006]; emphasis added)

Feder tells us that the efforts by the French government to reach out to the UOIF, which Leiken and Brooke tell us is evidence of the organizations so-called “moderation,” has completely backfired on the French (I will forsake snide comments on their ironic mention of the Brotherhood’s “collaboration” – a term packed with some meaning in a French context). We should remember that this is precisely the policy that they demand that the U.S. adopt. Maybe they’re eager for it to backfire on the U.S. as well!

Another recent assessment by Lorenzo Vidino, a noted and frequently-published Muslim Brotherhood expert, charges in an article published earlier this month in the Dutch weekly, Opinio, that most of the Brotherhood’s public image of non-violence (one crafted by Brotherhood enthusiasts in the West…I won’t mention any names) is nothing but a duplicitous façade intended to mask their violent rhetoric and support for terrorism:

In the West violence and confrontation are replaced by a cleverly engineered mix of penetration of the system through appeasement and simultaneous radicalization of the Muslim population. Its leaders publicly vow the group’s dedication to integration and democracy, representing themselves as mainstream, and seeking to portray themselves as the representatives of the various Western Muslim communities in the media and in dialogues with Western governments. Yet, speaking Arabic or Turkish before their fellows Muslims, they drop their facade and embrace radicalism. While Brotherhood representatives speak about interfaith dialogue and integration on television, the group’s mosques preach hate and warn worshippers about the evils of Western society. While they publicly condemn the murder of commuters in Madrid and school children in Russia, they continue to raise money for Hamas and other terrorist organizations.

…[T]he Brotherhood’s renunciation of violence seems more opportunistic than genuine, considering that its European members use fiery rhetoric to endorse terrorist operations in the Middle East. While they are quick to condemn violence in the West to avoid becoming political pariahs, they do not refrain from approving of it elsewhere, notably in Palestine and Iraq, because they believe they can get away with it. It is not unreasonable to assume, therefore, that should it become convenient for them to do so, the ever-flexible Brotherhood would embrace violent tactics in the West as well. (Lorenzo Vidino, “The Muslim Brotherhood in Holland,” Opinio; reprinted in English at Counterterrorism Blog [April 6, 2007])

This two-faced nature of the Muslim Brotherhood organizations in Europe and North America is a reflection of the mother Muslim Brotherhood organization in Egypt, to which the former head of the Security Intelligence Service of the DGSE (the French Secret Service), Alain Chouet, one of the leading experts on the Islamist movement in the Western intelligence community, attests:

The "democratic conversion" of Mohammad Mehdi Akef, grand master of the Brotherhood in Egypt, the vituperative comments by Ayman Zawahiri on the Egyptian and Jordanian Brothers and their support for the democratic process, the apparent moderated discourse of Tariq Ramadan towards the European institutions should not fool anyone. Like every fascist movement on the trail of power, the Brotherhood has achieved perfect fluency in double-speak. They are able to command all the possible means of accession to the control of the masses, and to power. (Alain Chouet, “The Association of Muslim Brothers: Chronicle of a Barbarism Foretold,” European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center Background Analysis [June 4, 2006]; emphasis added)

One of the consequences of Western governments embracing the Muslim Brotherhood is that it has crowded out truly moderate Muslim organizations and denied them the legitimacy they should be granted. Because of the legitimacy that the Western governments bestow on the Muslim Brotherhood-backed groups, these organizations are relieved of any responsibility to encourage assimilation, and instead, promote radicalism:

At present, the French government’s efforts to encourage moderation and Muslim toleration of non-Muslims have backfired. Instead, the Conseil Française du Culte Musluman has marginalized more moderate institutions like the Mosque de Paris in favor of Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated groups. These new groups have cast aside the goals of integration and adherence to French values, and instead are implementing an outside agenda. As Zuhair Mahmood said, “We are pursuing two goals. The first is an authentic Islam, authentic Muslims. The second is to be in conformity with the rules of society, with the laws of the Republic. It is not easy. It is not always possible.” This is partly because their brand of Islam is global in its aspirations, and supports terrorist groups like Hamas as a means of spreading it. Lhaj Thami Breze, president of the Union des Organisations Islamiques de France, summed up their stance on religious accommodation within a secular state when he said, “The Qur’an is our constitution,” a saying that is also a motto of the Muslim Brotherhood. (Feder, “The Muslim Brotherhood in France”; emphasis added)

Lorenzo Vidino adds that not only does the acceptance of the Muslim Brotherhood groups in the West push out the moderates and encourages radicalization; it actually has the effect of speeding up the process:

What most European politicians fail to understand is that by meeting with radical organizations, they empower them and grant the Muslim Brotherhood legitimacy. There is an implied endorsement to any meeting, especially when the same politicians ignore moderate voices that do not have access to generous Saudi funding. This creates a self-perpetuating cycle of radicalization because the greater the political legitimacy of the Muslim Brotherhood, the more opportunity it and its proxy groups will have to influence and radicalize various European Muslim communities. The ultimate irony is that Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna dreamed of spreading Islamism throughout Egypt and the Muslim world. He would have never dreamed that his vision might also become a reality in Europe. (Lorenzo Vidino, “The Muslim Brotherhood’s Conquest of Europe,” Middle East Quarterly 12:1 [Winter 2005])

Nixon Center national security analysts fail to understand it as well, it seems.

(For more on the radicalism of the Brotherhood’s organizations in France, Germany and England, see Lorenzo Vidino, “Aims and Methods of Europe’s Muslim Brotherhood” Hudson Institute Center on Islam, Democracy and the Future of the Muslim World, Current Trends in Islamist Ideology Vol. 4 [November 2006], pp. 22-44; also, “Glorifying the Radicals,” Wall Street Journal (Europe), July 18, 2005, p. A8)


In the two months since their Foreign Affairs article first appeared, Leiken and Brooke have had a number of critics offer a counsel of caution in their bid to mainstream the Muslim Brotherhood – counsel they have decidedly rejected.

Given all of the qualifications that Leiken and Brooke have been forced to make to their thesis since their Foreign Affairs piece first appeared, it would be fair to ask the pair exactly what they now think is “moderate” about the Muslim Brotherhood at all?

Much like street hustlers selling Rolex watches for $100, Leiken and Brooke are peddling goods quite different from what they claim. After assurances from Leiken and Brooke that the Muslim Brotherhood “embraces democracy,” we find that by “democracy” the Brotherhood have something very different in mind from what the West understands the concept to be. There is no expectation that the Muslim Brotherhood will honor human rights any more than the Mubarak regime currently does, and evidence in hand to believe that their behavior would be worse; there are no assurances that minorities, such as the Copts or women, will be recognized as full citizens in Egypt; there is no expectation that elections would be any more free or fair; and after hearing their claim that the reformists are surging within the Brotherhood, we discover that most of the moderates have left the Muslim Brotherhood already, frustrated by the institutional and ideological obstinacy of its leadership – the very leaders whom Leiken and Brooke argue the US should embrace. Lastly, we find that the very “moderates” within the Brotherhood that they identify openly support terrorism and identify America as their enemy. That last discovery is perhaps the most damning of them all with regards to the arguments made by the Brotherhood’s enthusiasts in Washington DC.

Thus, in conclusion, when it comes to the radicalism and promotion of violence by the Muslim Brotherhood, Leiken and Brooke have closely followed the old maxim: see no evil; hear no evil; speak no evil.

It’s for this reason that when any Muslim Brotherhood leader says or does something departing from the carefully crafted script that Leiken and Brooke attempt to peddle, they must be quickly categorized as “hard-line” (Jordanian IAF MPs paying their respects to the family of the late Iraqi al-Qaeda leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi), “controversial” (late Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mustafa Mashour statements on democracy), or a “doddering, slightly embarrassing old uncle (current Supreme Guide Mohammad Akef’s comments on virtually any topic). Any evidence that contradicts the basic tenets of their “Moderate Muslim Brotherhood” thesis must be ignored and suppressed, and any critic willing to offer a different analysis or presenting verboten evidence is quickly the victim of their ad hominem attacks.

They take their best shot at me:

“But an armchair (or maybe internet) intellectual, happier to sound off than to act wisely, prefers to exhibit the weeds in the Muslim Brotherhood to the uninformed crowd. In this way, to switch metaphors, we lose the forest for the trees. A wise policy demands a full picture.”

But it is precisely the full picture that they are unwilling to contemplate. As I demonstrated in my first article, and have thoroughly documented in this extensive rejoinder, Leiken and Brooke must deliberately evade, downplay or explain away anything that contradicts their thesis. Whatever evidence is overwhelming to their position is simply ignored as if it didn’t exist. And if all else fails, attack the critic! Why must they sink to ad hominem? Because their whole argument is predicated on smoke and mirrors. Yes, there may be reformists all over the Middle East associated with the Muslim Brotherhood that the US can and should deal with, but that has not been their argument.

Instead, they are the purveyors of the myth of the “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood: one that “rejects global jihad,” which as we discovered is nothing more than a fictional category and a diversionary tactic intended to redefine the terrorism that the Brotherhood preaches and actively supports, and is a distinction that the Muslim Brotherhood leaders themselves are not willing to draw; and one that “embraces democracy,” which we learned bears absolutely no resemblance to democracy as we know it – equality of citizens, rule of law, separation of the secular and religious spheres, etc. With such a radical proposal contrary to all well-established facts, they would do better to argue that the Muslim Brotherhood “rejects democracy” and “embraces global jihad.”

How embarrassing it must be that an “armchair/internet intellectual” like myself is able to so easily slice and dice through their obfuscation and mendacity like a Ginsu knife! This is why they protest so loudly about my “exhibiting the Muslim Brotherhood’s weeds.”

I readily confess that I have not had my pockets stuffed with grant money to afford me the opportunity to take the Magical Muslim Brotherhood Mystery Tour, sipping tea and smoking the hookah with Muslim Brotherhood leaders from North Africa to the Arabian Gulf. But I have not prostituted myself and allowed myself to be blinded to the abundant evidence that flatly contradicts the most basic elements to their argument. If that is what being an “armchair/internet intellectual” represents, I proudly embrace it!

If anything, Robert Leiken and Steven Brooke have shown us that the Beltway foreign policy/national security intelligentsia just isn’t what it used to be.

As for wise policy, let me conclude with this thought from another skeptic who cautions us against embracing Islamist radicals as part of US foreign policy:

In essence, then, the U.S. government should promote democrats, not just democracy. Nonviolent Islamist parties, such as they are, have earned about as much claim for attention and affection as neo-Nazi parties in Europe or Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front in France. We should not encourage political engagement with Islamists. Instead of moderating the radicals, let us commit ourselves to the project of empowering the moderates. We can do that only if we are more discriminate in how we promote democracy in the Middle East. (Robert Satloff, “U.S. Policy towards Islamists: Engagement versus Isolation,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, September 24, 2005)

Showdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, Part II

By Patrick Poole, Frontpage Magazine | Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Having considered in Part 1 the false distinction between “defensive jihad” and “global jihad” drawn by Robert Leiken and Steven Brooke in their response to me last week here at FrontPage, “A Response to Patrick Poole’s ‘Mainstreaming the Muslim Brotherhood’”, today I turn my attention to several national affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East – the Palestinian terrorist organization HAMAS, the pro-HAMAS Islamic Action Front (IAF) in Jordan, the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic Constitution Movement (ICM) in Kuwait, and the genocidal National Islamic Front (NIF) government in Sudan. The activity of these respective Brotherhood affiliates, and their ties to the main Muslim Brotherhood group in Egypt, severely undercuts Leiken and Brooke’s assertion of a “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood.)

HAMAS and the Brotherhood: Strained Relations?

1) “Poole thinks that we only dare to treat Hamas “obliquely.” Hamas has murdered Israeli civilians and refuses to recognize the Jewish state, leading many observers to conclude that it wishes to exterminate it. But it is simply not “one of the most active fronts” of global jihad as claimed by Poole. The acrimony between Hamas and al Qaeda, the sustained fury with which the jihadists criticize Hamas for its policy of waging jihad for territory (in Israel) rather than religion (against all Jews) is documented in our article.

“As the Palestinian arm of the Brotherhood (but the relationship is more strained than Poole believes), Hamas adheres to the Brotherhood policy of “defensive jihad” and has never expanded its conflict to America. Many high- level figures in the Brotherhood take a pragmatic view of Israel. As one explained to us “we may not like it, but we have to accept the fact that Israel exists and is not going anywhere. We must start from this point.”

Let’s look at their initial Foreign Affairs piece to see what exactly was “documented in our article” concerning HAMAS:

“Even on the central issue of Israel, each national organization calls its own tune. Every Muslim Brotherhood leader with whom we spoke claimed a willingness to follow suit should Hamas—the Palestinian offshoot of the Brotherhood—recognize the Jewish state. Such earnest professions may be grounded in the confident assumption of Hamas recalcitrance, but that position nonetheless stands in sharp relief to that of most jihadists. As Zawahiri expresses the jihadist view, “No one has the right, whether Palestinian or not, to abandon a grain of soil from Palestine, which was a Muslim land, which was occupied by infidels”

… However, the Brotherhood’s failure to stress the religious dimension incenses the jihadists, who mock the Brotherhood (including Hamas) for conducting jihad “for the sake of territory” rather than for the sake of Allah.”

In total, there were only three mentions of HAMAS in their entire article, and they were found within these four sentences. No mention is made whatsoever in their original article of their terrorist activities, despite the fact that this is a regular sticking point between advocates of the “moderation” of the Brotherhood and critics of that position. In context of how large this problem looms for Leiken and Brooke, and short shrift they give it, I would say again that their treatment is “oblique” at best. More like downright evasive.

If it’s they argue that the relationship is “more strained than what Poole believes”, then I would contend that the relationships between the Brotherhood leadership in Cairo and HAMAS, as well as al-Qaeda and HAMAS, are closer than what Leiken and Brooke are willing to admit.

As I reminded readers in my previous critique of their Foreign Affairs article, HAMAS is a self-identified branch of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, as is claimed in their own charter:

The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of Moslem Brotherhood in Palestine. Moslem Brotherhood Movement is a universal organization which constitutes the largest Islamic movement in modern times. It is characterized by its deep understanding, accurate comprehension and its complete embrace of all Islamic concepts of all aspects of life, culture, creed, politics, economics, education, society, justice and judgment, the spreading of Islam, education, art, information, science of the occult and conversion to Islam. (HAMAS Charter, Article 2, emphasis added)

If Leiken and Brooke want to continue to claim that relations are strained between the Egyptian organization and their Palestinian brothers, someone should go over there and tell the respective parties. (I nominate the Nixon Center duo to go talk to the “democracy embracing” HAMAS. Do I hear a second?)

Take, for instance, the less-than-strained behavior exhibited between the two last year when the Brotherhood leaders extended their advice and active support for the Palestinian Authority elections where HAMAS won a majority and took control of the government. One of the first HAMAS operatives warmly received in Cairo by the Brotherhood in the run-up to the PA elections was “mother of martyrs” Miriam Farhat, who several years ago appeared on a HAMAS propaganda video urging her sons to launch attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians, and all three eventually responded to her call. Did Leiken and Brooke run into “mother of murder” Miriam while they were waiting to have afternoon tea with Supreme Guide Mohammad Akef? I doubt they would tell us if they did, though she may be one of their sources for the supposed “strained relations”.

As should be clear by now, whatever differences and disputes exist between the Brotherhood and HAMAS (much like there can be in any organization, corporation or family), to claim that there is somehow some irreparable breach between the two is pure fiction.

2) “Hamas has murdered Israeli civilians and refuses to recognize the Jewish state, leading many observers to conclude that it wishes to exterminate it. But it is simply not “one of the most active fronts” of global jihad as claimed by Poole.”

Take a moment and read those two sentences again. (Go ahead. I’ll wait.)

I will note only in passing their patently absurd dismissal that the “defensive jihad”/terrorist campaign against Israel “is simply not ‘one of the most active fronts’ of global jihad”. It is statements like these that make it difficult, if not impossible, to take Leiken and Brooke seriously. The tragic part is that they are serious and are recognized card-carrying members of the Beltway intelligentsia, and listened to by policymakers.

But what if we were to take their statements at face value in light of their “defensive jihad”/”global jihad” distinction they have demanded is so important to understanding the “moderation” of the Muslim Brotherhood. The first position they identify with the Muslim Brotherhood and HAMAS; the second they identify with al-Qaeda. Has there been any recent movement between the two positions? In fact there has been.

During the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict last summer, none other than “Crazy Uncle” Ayman al-Zawahiri took to the airwaves to proclaim al-Qaeda’s solidarity with the conflict against the “Zionists”, and acknowledge this conflict’s role in the context of the larger “global jihad”:

In keeping with Al-Qaeda's belief in a global clash of civilizations, al-Zawahiri begins by stating that the "war with Israel" is not a conflict over treaties, nationalism, or disputed borders, but rather a "jihad in the path of God." The jihad aims not only for the "liberation of Palestine," but also "all land that was the realm of Islam, from Andalusia to Iraq."

Al-Zawahiri claims that the Israeli weapons that are "tearing apart the bodies of Muslims in Gaza and Lebanon" are provided and paid for by "all the countries of the crusader alliance," which must be made to "pay the price."

"How can we be silent?" he asks, enumerating a long list of heroes from Islamic history and promising that "we have once again taken to the field." (Dan Rimmage, “Al-Qaeda Addresses the Jihad-Versus-Resistance Conflict”, RFE/RL [July 31, 2006])

Here we see the convergence of the “defensive jihad” and “global jihad” positions. As I noted in my original article, it is precisely at this point that Mohammad Akef also announced his solidarity with Hezbollah and vowed to send 10,000 jihadists to fight alongside the Shi’ite terrorist group against the “Zionists” – an announcement that they go out of their way to dismiss:

“Poole points to statements of Muhammed Mahdi Akef, the current General Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, promising to send 10,000 volunteers to the Lebanon conflict. These statements should be seen for what they are; demagogic posturing and populist rhetoric in the effort to capitalize on the very strong support for Hezbollah in the Arab street. Indeed, the 10,000 never materialized, and many Brothers we spoke with expressed deep embarrassment at Akef’s irresponsible statements.”

These statements hardly represent the sum total of the Brotherhood’s open support for Hezbollah last summer, and Akef was not alone in banging the drums of war within the organization. As Eli Lake of the NY Sun reported (“Leading Saudi Sheik Pronounces Fatwa against Hezbollah”), the Brotherhood sponsored a massive Friday afternoon rally in support of Hezbollah at the most important mosque in Cairo, Al-Ahzar. He also reported:

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, however, has not rejected Hezbollah. In the last three days the organization has been condemning the shelling of Lebanon in Egypt’s parliament and pledged solidarity. One member who deals with the press yesterday said, “Of course we are supporting the resistance. We have no choice.”

The Brotherhood’s press spokesman must not have been among the “many Brothers” that Leiken and Brooke spoke to (who again have all gone unnamed thus far). And not everyone in Egypt saw Akef as the “doddering, slightly embarrassing old uncle” that they describe when he promised 10,000 jihadists for the struggle against the “Zionists” and calling for the assassination of Arab leaders that had not risen to his level of response on the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict.

It is here in the convergence of al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood on this issue that we see that Leiken and Brooke’s “defensive jihad”/”global jihad” distinction is nothing more than an intellectual abstraction intended to justify the behavior of the Brotherhood, yet maintaining a fictional separation from al-Qaeda for American audiences still sensitive about that whole 9/11 thing.

This reveals the absurdity of their “rejecting global jihad” claim of the “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood: the “defensive jihad” that the Brotherhood justifies against the “Zionists” in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and the “American imperialists” in Iraq is in no way different than the “global jihad” against the “Jews and Crusaders” that al-Qaeda is also waging in Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Iraq (among other locations). Even an “armchair/internet intellectual” like me can figure that out, but apparently not card-carrying members of the Beltway intelligentsia.

3) “…Hamas adheres to the Brotherhood policy of ‘defensive jihad’ and has never expanded its conflict to America.”

I really feel sorry for these guys; they suffer from really poor timing. The day before their response was published last week, a report emerged that entirely undercuts this claim.

Last week a video statement was made public by a new organization, Iraqi HAMAS, which according to one international media report is affiliated with the Iraqi Muslim Brotherhood delegation in the Iraqi Parliament. This video shows Iraqi HAMAS forces engaged in “defensive jihad” by bringing down a US Apache helicopter and attacking US troops. Bill West, a contributor to Counterterrorism Blog, explains:

Today, a report surfaced in Adnkronos International (AKI) concerning a new terrorist group in Iraq calling itself “Iraqi Hamas.” Iraqi Hamas has apparently claimed responsibility for attacking and bringing down a US helicopter in Baghdad on Tuesday. The AKI report goes on to state that Iraqi Hamas is believed to be linked to the Islamist party in the Iraqi parliament (serious in its own right) and to the local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Clearly, these reports are worthy of further investigation and presumably the US military and Intelligence agencies are doing just that. That an operationally active terrorist organization in Iraq that has attacked US military personnel may have links to the Muslim Brotherhood should not surprise serious counter-terrorism professionals. Those US diplomats and politicians who believe the Muslim Brotherhood should be engaged as a peace partner should consider reports as the one just noted in AKI and all the available Intelligence material that surely exists related to this issue. (Bill West, “Some US Diplomats and Politicians Think MB = “Moderate” Brotherhood – They Should Think Twice,” Counterterrorism Blog, April 10, 2007; source article, ADNKronos International, “Iraq: Helicopter Attack Claimed by ‘Iraqi Hamas” April 10, 2007)

I suspect that Leiken and Brooke will respond to this new report by claiming that the relations between “Iraqi HAMAS” and the Muslim Brotherhood is “more strained than what Poole believes”, but the fact still remains that the Iraqi HAMAS is now killing Americans. If it’s Palestinian HAMAS, Iraqi HAMAS, or Kuwaiti HAMAS – all of which proclaim their association with the Muslim Brotherhood organization – that is killing US soldiers in the Middle East, is there really much of a difference from a US policy perspective?

Of course, Leiken and Brooke might believe that killing US soldiers is justified by the Islamic doctrine of “defensive jihad”, which as we saw earlier they attempt to equate with Christian “just war” teaching. I’ll leave it to them to clarify that point, but will quickly note that they attach the blame for these activities, not to the Muslim Brotherhood, but to the US itself. More on that later.

4) “Many high- level figures in the Brotherhood take a pragmatic view of Israel. As one explained to us “we may not like it, but we have to accept the fact that Israel exists and is not going anywhere. We must start from this point.”

Who exactly are these “many high- level figures in the Brotherhood” that “take a pragmatic view of Israel”? They only tacitly identify one – Dr. Abdel Monem Abul-Futouh, who is on the Brotherhood’s Guidance Council – in a link to someone else’s blog and provide absolutely no evidence themselves that his views are anywhere near representative of the organization’s leadership. Abul-Fatouh’s shrug of the shoulders while muttering “they’re not going anywhere” is at best the minority report of the Muslim Brotherhood’s official position on the state of Israel.

In fact, Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammad Mahdi Akef has given us plenty of enlightenment on the “pragmatic view of Israel” that is shared by “many high-level figures in the Brotherhood”. In an interview last year with Egypt Today, he reiterated the organization’s long-term objective of seeing the state of Israel destroyed:

While he asserts that the revision of Egyptian-Israeli relations is not among the immediate objectives of the Brothers’ MPs, he insists that his group still does not recognize the state of Israel — and recently landed himself in trouble for first denying the Holocaust, then backtracking from his comments amid the domestic and international uproar that followed. “We consider them [Israelis] an aggressive people who occupied a land unjustly. We will fight it by working on the progress of our nation. Ultimately, Israel would have no existence. At that point, if the Jews decide to live among us and share the same duties and rights as genuine citizens, they will be welcomed. However, they will never be able to live under an unjust aggressive state, God willing,” says Akef. (Noha El-Hennawy, “Around the Bloc,” Egypt Today [March 2006], emphasis added)

It should be noted that when Akef says “we consider…” and “we will fight…” he’s speaking on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood. Nor is this remotely the first time that he had indulged in such rhetoric:

In an interview with the Egyptian weekly al-Ahram last week, the 77-year old Akef, who spent 20 years in prison, said: “I have declared that we will not recognize Israel, which is an alien entity in the region. And we expect the demise of this cancer soon. If they want to live with us as normal citizens sharing our rights and duties then we don't mind. But to remain an occupying tyrannical country, then this will not happen, God willing.” (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Hamas coordinates with ‘Brotherhood’”, Jerusalem Post [Dec. 20, 2005])

An actual “reformist” in Tunisia, Abdelwahab Meddeb, has offered a first-hand account describing an earlier Akef’s Holocaust-denial tirade:

"...I believe the speaker was the current [spiritual] guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, Muhammad Mahdi 'Akef. He was pounding his words like a political propagandist, yelling his advice and his threats from the heart of the mosque... He was condemning the passivity and cowardliness of the Mulsim countries and masses, while praising the Iranian president and his courageous stand, in particular with regards to Israel... A few days later the press published an announcement by the same 'Akef condoning the Iranian president's denial of the Holocaust. According to ['Akef, the Holocaust] is nothing but a myth intended to legitimize [the existence of] Israel...” (Nathalie Szerman, “Tunisian Reformist Abdelwahab Meddeb: It's Up To the Arab to Take the Courageous Step Of Questioning His Faith,” MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 315 [January 10, 2007])

This anti-Jewish tirade by Akef – again, who is the top official in the Muslim Brotherhood organization, no matter how much Leiken and Brooke are advised to take his statements “with much salt” – was delivered in a Friday sermon at the prominent Al-Ahzar Mosque in Cairo, apparently just days before he issued a weekly statement offering support to Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denials and vows to “wipe Israel off the map”.

The “many brothers” holding to the “pragmatic view” of Israel’s existence that Leiken and Brooke refer to have limited their public statements to shoulder shrugs and mutterings to attentive Western policy wonks as they hit the hookah together. If we are to believe that they are the dominant voice within the Brotherhood, these “many brothers” need to be much more vocal.

Crossing Jordan

“Poole makes much of the fact that four very hard-line members of a Jordanian political party (the IAF) affiliated with the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood (and officially recognized by the Jordanian government) visited the family of Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the top terrorist in Iraq. We know something about Zarqawi- we wrote the first full account of his emergence as a terrorist leader, and a follow-up article documenting his challenge to Bin Laden. (Both of these articles, by the way, ran in The Weekly Standard, hardly the home of the “progressives” and “Democrats” among whom Poole demagogically places us).

“Of the four legislators who made the visit, three represented Zarqawi’s hometown (and the fourth was born in Faloujah, now the Israeli town of Kiryat Gat). The IAF’s base of support is in and around Palestinian camps and traditionally religious constituencies such as Salt and Zarqa. The IAF, mirroring the views of most Jordanians (and indeed most in the Middle East), very strongly opposed the war in Iraq and the U.S. presence there. While this does not excuse the deputy’s repulsive behavior, it also says very little about the Brotherhood’s overall stance on jihad. The IAF leadership distanced itself from the parliamentarian’s actions, and Jordanians were justifiably outraged at the IAF.

There is one critical statement here made that I want to highlight:

“The IAF leadership distanced itself from the parliamentarian’s actions…”

Let me be clear: this claim is nothing short of a categorical lie.

Instead of distancing themselves from the “repulsive behavior”, as Leiken and Brooke assert, when the Jordanian government arrested the four, the IAF rose to their defense and threatened to bring down the government in response. The head of the IAF, Zaki Saad Bani Rashid, engaged in behavior that bordered on a coup d’etat, as one analyst explained:

As reported in Al-Hayat (“Amman - Strident Declaration Inflames Confrontation with the Government and a Decision to Dissolve ‘The Islamic Centers Association’ Expected”) on Tuesday, the ill-received mourning for Zarqawi was followed by a declaration published by the “National Jordanian Conference” headed by the general secretary of the IAF, Zaki Saad Bani Rashid. In terms described by Al-Hayat as “inflammatory,” the declaration called for a new government which would break off cooperation with Israel and the United States, recognize Hamas, and provide assistance to the “resistance” in Palestine and Iraq. The Jordanian government responded by talking about the imminent creation of a “temporary administration” which would take over the Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamic centers, a suggestion interpreted to mean that they would be abolished. (Kirk H. Sowell, “Jordan-Muslim Brotherhood Conflict Heats Up After Zarqawi Homage”, July 5, 2006)

When Bani-Rashid was eventually forced by the threat of a government takeover of the IAF (the “temporary administration” mentioned above) to finally apologize for the four member’s actions, a number of IAF leaders resigned from the IAF’s governing Shura Council, because they were upset with Bani-Rashid’s apology and that three of the Zarqawi mourners were charged, the apology notwithstanding.

Remember that this incident occurred just months after al-Qaeda operatives, acting under orders from Zarqawi in Iraq, killed 59 people and injured more than one hundred in three coordinated hotel bombings in downtown Amman. Imagine four Democratic members of Congress paying a condolence call to the family of 9/11 ringleader, Mohammad Atta (on second thought, that might be too easy to imagine). The actions of the IAF leadership in response to this crisis were roundly condemned, as this editorial by the General Manager of Al-Arabiya TV exemplifies:

Instead of renouncing their colleagues’ behavior and supporting their country, members of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood treated them heroically and threatened to withdraw from politics, under feeble pretexts… The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan ought to make up its mind: it can either support its own citizens or al-Qaeda’s terrorists. It is no longer possible to support terrorists shamelessly. The tape of al-Zarqawi where he praised the Amman bombings leaves no space for neutrality. The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan should make it clear whether they are with their fellow citizens or their fellow “brothers”. (Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed, “Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood vs. its Own People!” Asharq Al-Awsat, June 22, 2006)

Yet again we see that the rosy, apologetic picture of the Muslim Brotherhood that Leiken and Brooke paints for us is significantly different from reality. Maybe they are in their Impressionist policy period?

Since Leiken is quick to claim his superior knowledge relating to al-Zarqawi, he might recall that it was the IAF that pushed for the terrorist leader’s release from prison, along with a number of other al-Qaeda members, in 1999. The Jordanian government agreed to the release of Zarqawi and his associates in order to “engage” the so-called “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood – a policy that had catastrophic consequences and one that Leiken and Brooke demands that the US itself adopt.

We should also recall that on the same day that the horrific 11/9 Amman hotel bombings occurred, a report by Nasr Al-Majali was published by Elaph warning that splits were developing within the IAF, with the Palestinian faction wanting to appoint Zarqawi himself as their leader, as long as he gave up “slaughter, terror and murder”! That evening the IAF East Jordan faction received Zarqawi’s murderous response to their leadership offer.

And as for the “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, it should be noted that analysts have observed a rapid trend of radicalization of the IAF thanks to their Palestinian comrades, HAMAS.

Traditionally, the Muslim Brotherhood's leaders have been men of East Bank origin who have developed a modus vivendi with the regime that provided them with wide latitude in social and cultural matters in exchange for political support to the Hashemite ruling family. Yet recent years have witnessed the emergence of a bolder, more strident, largely Palestinian-led faction within the organization (and within the IAF itself) that borrows heavily from the motifs and strategy of Hamas. In March IAF leadership elections, Bani-Irshayd, a representative of the "Jordanian Hamas" wing of the organization was elected secretary general, the IAF's top post. While East Banker Jordanians still control a majority of the seats in the IAF, Bani-Irshayd's election represents a trend toward a growing Palestinian presence in the organization's leadership and suggests a potential "Hamasization" of the group. (David Schenker, “Hamas Weapons in Jordan: Implications for Islamists on the East Bank,” PolicyWatch #1098, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, May 5, 2006; emphasis added)

This radicalization of the IAF can be seen by the statements made by IAF leaders once again expressing the Muslim Brotherhood’s “pragmatic” views on Israel. In an interview last year with the Washington Post, Bani-Rashid, the head of the IAF, expressed his organization’s intent to revoke Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel, much like Supreme Guide Akef has threatened to do in Egypt should the Brotherhood come to power.

According to IAF leader Bani-Irshayd, “We are clear....We reject this treaty because it is against Jordan’s national interest. But we will move cautiously. We will ask for a referendum on it.” (Daniel Williams “Political Islam’s Opportunity in Jordan,” Washington Post, April 13, 2006)

Nor does the IAF express any reluctance in embracing their terrorist Palestinian brothers. That same Washington Post article later says,

The party sympathizes with Hamas, formally known as the Islamic Resistance Movement, which the United States and European Union have labeled a terrorist organization. "We have a special feeling for Hamas in the face of the Zionist project," Saad [Bani-Irshayd] said.

At this point, Leiken and Brooke will probably try to respond that the recent attempt by HAMAS to disassociate themselves with the IAF disproves my point about the Hamasization of the IAF; but to raise the issue results in some very inopportune questions for them about what the most “moderate” and most politically active Muslim Brotherhood affiliate in the Middle East was doing working in cooperation with the most violent element of the Muslim Brotherhood in the first place. I doubt that they’ll be eager to admit that that HAMAS has submitted the dispute between the two organizations to none other than Supreme Guide Mohammad Akef. Maybe things weren’t so strained after all? (Stayed tuned for how they spin this!)

We can also observe how this most “moderate” element of the Muslim Brotherhood still uses the threat of violence when it doesn’t get it’s way politically. After the Jordanian government instituted new measures last year to combat terrorism by targeting terrorist supporters (HAMAS) in response to the 11/9 bombings, IAF leader Bani-Rashid hinted that such a move would have violent repercussions, saying that the “continuation of repression of people’s choices (HAMAS – ed) will lead to atmospheres where extremism can thrive replacing the moderate Islamic groups.” (United Press International, “Jordan Enacts New Anti-Terror Law,” [May 29, 2006])

And yet, IAF leader Bani-Rashid is the exact same individual that Leiken and Brooke quote in their Foreign Affairs article as carrying the banner of anti-jihad:

The leader of the Jordanian Islamic Action Front, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party in Jordan, said that his group outdoes the government in discouraging jihad: “We’re better able to conduct an intellectual confrontation, and not a security confrontation, with the forces of extremism and fanaticism.” (“The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood”, p. 112)

On that same day that the IAF chief was threatening violence, a report in the Jordanian daily Al Rai described how IAF deputy Mohammad Abu Fares and a gang of IAF thugs assaulted an imam at a mosque located in a refugee camp in Irbid in an unsuccessful attempt to seize the podium and deliver the Friday sermon. This is the same IAF deputy that was one of the four MPs who visited Zarqawi’s family, and after taking criticisms from family members of those killed in the 11/9 bombings, said in reply, “We (Muslim Brotherhood) are not in a place to pass judgment onto other people categorizing who is a believer and who is not.” But in his Friday sermon that week (no imam assault involved on that occasion), he praised Zarqawi as a mujahid. Apparently they were in a place to pass judgment.

The Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood, Jihad, and Al-Qaeda

Another example identified by some advocates of a “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood is the chapter in Kuwait, where the political wing of the Brotherhood, the Islamic Constitutional Movement, represents the largest parliamentary bloc (see Nathan Brown, “Pushing toward Party Politics? Kuwait’s Islamic Constitutional Movement,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carnegie Paper No. 79 [January 2007]).

The Kuwaiti branch broke away from the larger Brotherhood organization in 1991 as a result of the international organization’s stand against the Gulf War, but relations have steadily improved and the Kuwaiti branch resumed attending international Brotherhood events several years ago (see Wendy Kristianasen, “Kuwaiti’s Islamists, Officially Unofficial,” Le Monde Diplomatique [June 2002]).

And yet while Muslim Brotherhood backers in the West hail the alleged democratic achievements and intents of the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood, it is perhaps one of the most radical for preaching jihad, advocating for the imposition of shari’a, and financing terrorism. When Kuwaiti authorities decided to crackdown on jihadist activity, there was only place to start – the Muslim Brotherhood – as Stephen Ulph of the Jamestown Foundation explained:

Against this backdrop of accelerated jihadist activity, Kuwaiti authorities conducted an investigation into mosque preachers suspected of disseminating hard-line jihadist ideology. Although the investigation also embraced preachers of the Shi'ite denomination, most of the twelve or so under investigation were Sunni clerics of Egyptian nationality, who predominate Kuwaiti mosques. A significant portion of these have ties with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood which, while advertising its interest in participation within Egypt's political system, is less reticent about calling for radical solutions abroad. (Stephen Ulph, “Kuwait Steps up Anti-jihad Activities,” Terrorism Focus 1:3 [September 03, 2004], emphasis added)

The Brotherhood’s aggressive cultural campaign to impose shari’a on Kuwaiti society is best exhibited by their continual efforts to amend Article 2 of the country’s constitution to shift the language from saying that shari’a is “a main source of legislation” to shari’a is “the source of legislation”.

For an organization that is acclaimed by the Beltway intelligentsia in the US as an advocate of women’s rights, the Brotherhood has been the leading advocate of the continued segregation of women from society. It should also be noted that in 2001 the head of the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood, Abdullah al-Mutawa, famously predicted the “wrath of Allah” would fall upon the whole of Kuwaiti society due to a women’s soccer match and the broadcasting of women’s sports events during the Sydney Olympics.

As the Bush Administration and US counterterrorism officials responded to 9/11 by going after al-Qaeda’s network of financial support, they observed a common thread stretching from the Gulf States, Europe, to the US, all tied to al-Qaeda – the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood. As the US campaign against al-Qaeda’s financial networks intensified, one of the first stops in the Middle East for then-US Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill was Kuwait.

Former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke offered testimony before the Senate Banking Committee in October 2003, where he identified multiple points of contact between the Kuwaiti Brotherhood and the highest levels of al-Qaeda.

· The Kuwaiti government allegedly provides substantial funding to charities controlled by the Kuwait Muslim Brotherhood, such as Lajnat al-Dawa. The U.S. Department of Treasury and the United Nations Security Council designated Lajnat al-Dawa on January 9, 2003 as a supporter of al-Qaeda. Lajnat al-Dawa and its affiliates had offices in the U.S. in Michigan, Colorado and Northern Virginia. (p. 6)
· The Kuwait Finance House was allegedly an investor in BMI. The Kuwait Finance House is reported to be the financial arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait. Several al-Qaeda operatives have allegedly been associated with the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Suliman abu Ghaith, Wadih el Hage and Ramsi Yousef. On January 9, 2003, the Treasury Department designated the Kuwaiti Lajnat al-Dawa as a terrorist entity. Lajnat al-Dawa reportedly spawned out of and is controlled by the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood. (p. 11)
· Tareq Suwaidan, a leading member of the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood, reportedly engaged in financial transactions with BMI. (ibid.)

In 2003, some Kuwaiti Brotherhood members went one step beyond preaching jihad and financing terrorism to form their own military wing – the Kuwaiti HAMAS Movement. Drawing explicitly from Muslim Brotherhood clerics, they expressed their intent to target American “invaders” and “crusaders”, though they weren’t near as concerned about American “crusaders” when America led the effort to free Kuwait in the Gulf War.

In analyzing the charter for Kuwaiti HAMAS, Islamist expert Reuven Paz noted three important themes:

The language, terms used, and the forum in which this declaration was placed clearly indicate the work of the Muslim Brotherhood and not any other radical group affiliated with Qa`idat al-Jihad.
The recent Fatwahs of Al-Azhar and the Qatar-based Egyptian Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi,(2) the main Islamic authority for the Palestinian Hamas, motivated the author or authors of this declaration. It was not necessarily motivated by the writings and declarations of bin Ladin, Qa`idat al-Jihad, or several of the Islamic scholars and clerics that are affiliated with al-Qa`ida in Saudi Arabia or the Gulf States.
In recent weeks, Sheikh Ahmad Yasin, the leader of the Palestinian Hamas, and his senior aides, such as Abd al-Aziz al-Rantisi, have given public interviews in which they stated that in the event of an American attack against Iraq, Hamas might attack American interests. Hamas senior official, Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahhar, declared recently: “If Iraq is attacked…all American targets will be open targets for every Muslim, Arab or Palestinian.” (Reuven Paz, “The Establishing of Hamas Kuwait,” Project for the Research of Islamist Movements (PRISM) Occasional Paper Vol. 1, No. 2 [March 2003)
In forming Kuwaiti HAMAS, the organizers have not only drawn on ideological support from Brotherhood figures, but picked up the theme of attacking Americans from the leaders of Palestinian HAMAS. Yet again, this all puts the lie to Leiken and Brooke’s claim that HAMAS is not targeting Americans (covered in detail above with reference to last week’s attack on US troops by Iraqi HAMAS).

But despite the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood’s ties to al-Qaeda, in the recent Carnegie report cited above concerning the Brotherhood’s significant political role in that country, never once were the al-Qaeda ties mentioned or the extensive radical and jihadist activities of the organization – a curiously reoccurring phenomenon that seems habitual for the Beltway intelligentsia.

The opposition of Western policy wonks notwithstanding, at least one prominent Kuwaiti intellectual, Ahmad Al-Baghdadi, has insisted that the US should designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization:

"Perhaps the most puzzling thing is the U.S.'s silence regarding the Muslim Brotherhood, despite the fact that [this organization] supports terrorism, whether by supporting Bin Laden … or by publishing terrorist fatwa s, or by calling to destroy democracy…

"Does the U.S. expect this organization to become like the Turkish Justice and Development Party [the ruling party in Turkey,] and expect to have political contacts with it, assuming that it is an opportunistic party operating by the principle of 'the ends justify the means?' [Is] the U.S. expecting that the Muslim Brotherhood organization will similarly agree to maintain political contacts with the U.S.?… If the conservative right-wing in the U.S. believes this, it is mistaken, since this political organization, which [only] exploits religion, does not believed in rights, justice, or equality, nor does it believe in human rights – so how can the U.S. believe them? Is this not pure nonsense? (“Kuwaiti Intellectual: The Muslim Brotherhood Organization Should Be Put on the U.S. Terrorist List,” MEMRI Special Dispatch Series No. 843 [January 7, 2005])

I agree, Ahmad; it is pure nonsense.

No doubt, Leiken and Brooke will charge him too with “muddying the windshield” and making such a “childish” call by expressing his skepticism about claims of a “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood; though whether they also designate him an “armchair/internet intellectual” remains to be seen. If so, I can testify that he’ll be in good company

Up the Blue Nile Without a Paddle

“Poole’s (sic) alleges that the National Islamic Front (NIF)’s behavior in the Sudan is a good index of how the Brotherhood will rule should it come to power elsewhere. But though the NIF presents itself as the Muslim Brotherhood in the Sudan, it is a specific creature of Hasan al Turabi, who publicly and contentiously broke from the Brotherhood in the 1970s. A smaller faction remained closer to the traditional (Egyptian) Brotherhood line. This faction has considerable disagreement with al Turabi and the current policies of his government.”

I have a frank confession to make: I really like to watch Leiken and Brooke at work. They offer more rhetorical shakes, shimmies, twists and turns than a jive dance competition. Here we’re treated to a full floor show.

Notice in the quote above their claim that the NIF, the Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood affiliate, “is a specific creature of Hasan al Turabi”. While I think that it is an exaggeration to say that the NIF is a “specific creature” of Turabi, I will readily concede that his role has been instrumental. (For the development of the Brotherhood in Sudan and Turabi’s role, see Prof. Gabriel R. Warburg, “The Muslim Brotherhood in Sudan: From Reforms to Radicalism,” The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World; reprinted, Project for the Research of Islamist Movements (PRISM) Islam in Africa Research Project, August 2006)

But with respect to Turabi, we are told that he “publicly and contentiously broke from the Brotherhood in the 1970s”. This, I imagine, is an intentional attempt to put distance between Turabi and the Brotherhood to detach the latter from Turabi’s active support of al-Qaeda (he famously hosted bin Laden in Khartoum from 1991-1996) and his essential role in forging the network of global jihad through his conferences featuring virtually every Islamic terrorist organization in the Middle East, including Hezbollah and other Shi’ite organizations. Sudan has also been the primary state supporter of terrorism on the African continent, backing the Islamic Courts Union in Somalia, and playing a critical role in the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

And then there is the war the NIF government waged against the indigenous Christian population in the oil-rich south of the country, which claimed the lives of 2 million people, as well as the current ethnic cleansing campaign against non-Arab Muslims in Darfur directed by the government in Khartoum.

While Leiken and Brooke now claim in response to my earlier criticisms that Turabi broke with the Brotherhood in the 1970s, we read in their Foreign Affairs article that in the 1980s, Turabi was in their estimation “the Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood powerhouse”:

In the early 1980s, the Egyptian Ikhwan sought to establish coordination among dozens of national offspring. But opposition was universal. Right next door, the Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood powerhouse Hasan al-Turabi protested, “You cannot run the world from Cairo.” (“The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood”, p. 115)

So we can watch as Leiken and Brooke shimmy and shake regarding Turabi depending on the particular circumstance, and whether they are making a case for the “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood (where Turabi is a “Muslim Brotherhood powerhouse” serving as bulwark against organizational hegemony in the 1980s), or if they are responding to critics (where they push Turabi’s connections to the Brotherhood as far back as possible). Several answers for the price of one!

It is true that many Muslim Brotherhood leaders in the Middle East are now openly critical of Turabi. But the reason they reject Turabi is that he is now too liberal for their tastes, particularly on his understanding of the role of women in society! Take, for instance, this condemnation last year of Turabi by one of the leaders of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood:

The outlawed but tolerated Muslim Brotherhood Organization also blasted Sudanese Islamic leader Hassan al-Turabi for issuing edicts allowing Muslim women to wear a less rigid veil.

Salem Falahat, spiritual guide of the Brotherhood, whose political wing, the Islamic Action Front, controls the biggest opposition bloc in parliament, told United Press International Wednesday, "al-Turabi is condemned for issuing edicts rejected by any Muslim ulema." (United Press International, “Jordanian Islamists Blast Gadhafi, Turabi” April 12, 2006)

Hasan al-Turabi represents the contradictions seemingly endemic to the Brotherhood: he now argues for the liberalization of the very shari’a proscriptions that he himself imposed as Attorney General of Sudan. And while now he is vilified by Muslim Brotherhood clerics as a liberal, not long ago he was a shining example for Muslim Brotherhood leaders everywhere about what could be achieved if they could attain power and impose their Islamist agenda.

And while Turabi’s NIF/Muslim Brotherhood regime was committing genocide in the South, no word of protest was uttered by Brotherhood leaders – a policy that continues today with their genocide in Darfur in the East. Douglas Farah recently noted this deafening silence:

It is striking that the Brotherhood-related groups across Europe and the United States, and the regimes in the Gulf (particularly Saudi Arabia) that support them have raised not a single protest over the genocide in Darfur. They have raised hundreds of millions of dollars to build their infrastructure and rally to the cause of Hamas and occasionally Hezbollah. But not one word of condemnation for their regime in Sudan.

Al Turabi opened his country to bin Laden and any other Muslim, precisely because he was implementing the Ikhwan strategy of creating a non-territorial Islamic state that welcomes all Muslims (including crossing the Shia-Sunni divide, and Youssef Nada has made clear in his public statements and the Brotherhood ties to Iran, also unexplored and unexplained in the Leiken/Brooke piece). (“As Sudan Crisis Lingers, it is Worth Recalling it is a Brotherhood Government,” [March 27, 2007])

And when Turabi played host to terrorists from all over the Middle East in the 1990s during his conferences in Khartoum, representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood were right there in the mix (see Yossef Bodansky, Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America [Prima, 2001], p. 103).

Leiken and Brooke take umbrage at my raising the issue of Sudan as an example of what a Muslim Brotherhood government might look like in Egypt, cautioning us not to look at the organization monolithically and attempting to distance the Egyptian organization for its Sudanese counterpart. But in fact, we have two examples of working Muslim Brotherhood governments – Sudan and the Palestinian Authority – and we would be derelict as analysts if these examples were left unexamined and off limits.

Upon inspection of the 2004 Reform Initiative, the Islamist governance program offered by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood varies little from the actual practice of the government in Khartoum.

At this point, Leiken and Brooke are certain to remind us with respect to the Egyptian organization:

“…its road to power is not revolutionary; it depends on winning the hearts through gradual and peaceful Islamization” (“The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood”, p. 111)

But in both cases each organization attempted to ride revolutionary coups to power – in Egypt under Nasser, and in Sudan under Bashir; in the first instance, the Brotherhood turned on the revolutionary regime because it was not implementing their hoped-for Islamist agenda fast enough, and the coup they tried to ride to power ended up turning on them; in the second case, the Brotherhood was able to implement its social and political programs, with Turabi appointed as Speaker of Parliament – the second highest political position – in 1996 (though Turabi fell out with Bashir in a power struggle in 1999, and was eventually implicated in another coup in March 2004 and arrested; he was released in June 2005).

We should also remember that the Egyptian and Sudanese coups are not the only examples of revolutionary behavior by the Brotherhood:

In some nations – Egypt, Algeria, Syria, Sudan – the Brotherhood has fomented Islamic revolution. In the Palestinian territories, the Brotherhood created the Islamic Resistance Movement, or HAMAS, which has become known for its suicide bombings of Israelis. (John Mintz and Douglas Farah, “In Search of Friends among the Foes,” Washington Post [September 11, 2004], p. A1)

Does this mean that the Egyptians will try once again to use revolutionary means to obtain power? Certainly not. But we would be derelict in our analysis if we refused to consider that the Brotherhood has an organizational history in several countries – including Egypt – of utilizing revolutionary coups.

On the other hand, we also have an example last year of HAMAS coming to power through evolutionary means (elections), but it is important to note that they took control of the government there without renouncing their campaign of terrorist violence to any degree; in fact, we’ve seen almost constant violence between HAMAS and Fatah struggling for power since the elections.

Why is this important? In the two existing examples of Brotherhood affiliates coming to power, violence was and remains a component of both, though one was accomplished by a coup, and the other through elections. Both were cheered by the Brotherhood internationally, notwithstanding their sometimes public statements disavowing violence by Brotherhood leaders. They see no contradiction between these positions, because the use of violence is merely a question of tactics, not strategy. In the statements by their leaders and by their organization’s actions, we discover that achieving power to implement the Brotherhood’s program of Islamization is to be accomplished (pace Malcolm X) by any means necessary.

One expert has noted that when considering their program of Islamization, whether accomplished through violent or non-violent means, the end result is inevitably anti-democratic:

Recently, much has been made of the differences between violent and nonviolent Islamist groups. The implication is that, by renouncing violence, a group essentially punches its entry ticket into the democratic game. Yet, one must keep in mind three important facts. First, Islamists view violence as a tactic, not a strategy. The Islamist strategy is unchanging: the transformation of existing regimes into sharia-based states. Some groups use revolutionary means (i.e., violence) to achieve this revolutionary end, while others use evolutionary means (i.e., elections). The end is always the same, though—and always antidemocratic.

Second, no Islamist group has ever suspended violence except when pressured by a regime. In Algeria, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, and elsewhere, Islamists eschew violence only when they have exhausted or been denied all alternatives to doing so. They have shown no evidence of a deep and long-lasting commitment to democratic politics.

Third, nonviolence is not the only commonly used test for inclusion in democratic politics; racism and ethnic incitement are widely used as well. For example, racist parties are banned in many European countries, and the literature and rhetoric of Islamist parties is often no less racist than that of these proscribed groups. (Robert Satloff, “U.S. Policy towards Islamists: Engagement versus Isolation,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, September 24, 2005)

In terms of US policy, that the Muslim Brotherhood at times uses evolutionary means, rather than revolutionary, is not an accurate measure of determining their “moderation” when their stated ultimate goal of Islamization is considered. If evolutionary/revolutionary means was our ultimate guide, as Leiken and Brooke urge us, we would have to conclude (as Robert Satloff has hinted at above) that if the German Nazi Party had used elections to seize Austria, the Rhineland, the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia, and half of Poland in the 1930s, US foreign policy should have recognized the Nazis as a “moderate” force of change in Europe.

Leiken and Brooke will no doubt protest at applying their logic in this manner, but the comparison between Nazism and all of it attendant horrors, and Islamism, as practiced in Sudan, Iran and the Taliban in Afghanistan, and advanced by the Muslim Brotherhood all over the world, including the West, fits perfectly.

Whether it is achieving power through coups, such as in Sudan; or through elections, like HAMAS in the Palestinian Authority (though still engaging in terrorism); or the parliamentary participation of Brotherhood affiliates in Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Kuwait, they all adhere to the same inherently anti-democratic program of Islamization. There is no “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood to be found.