According to Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, President and Founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, "The importance of identifying the Muslim brotherhood as a terrorist organization could not be more clear to our national security and counterterrorism strategy." Pictured: Jasser testifies before the House Homeland Security Committee on March 10, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
The White House has, since April, been considering officially designating the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). This designation would follow in the footsteps of countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates, which have first-hand experience and understanding of the serious threat the MB represents.
The MB's modus operandi typically works through four stages: Preaching, sharing, use of violence, full control. It would therefore be wise to confront them sooner rather than later, before they manifest their full power.
Some of the organization's sympathizers and apologists seem sincerely to believe that the MB is a "moderate" group. Sadly, the evidence strongly suggests otherwise. Let us consider some examples.
The MB's ideological and political backing of the terrorist group Hamas, an offshoot of the MB, is well-documented and publicly acknowledged. Although Hamas claimed to have broken ties to the MB in 2017, apparently to try to improve its ties with the Gulf States, observers were skeptical. While supposedly renouncing all ties to the MB, according to the American Center for Democracy:
"... Sami Abu Zuhri denies all political, organizational or popular ties between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. However, he added that ideologically Hamas belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood (Alarabiya.net, March 22, 2016). Mahmoud al-Zahar made similar statements to Al-Sharq (quoted by Paltoday)."
That the MB through its affiliates continues to provide Hamas with material support seems an open secret. U.S.-based members of the Muslim Brotherhood established a Palestine Committee that was ultimately charged with the task of raising funds to underwrite Hamas's efforts to eliminate the state of Israel. Hamas and the MB are reportedly still calling for Israel's destruction. Terrorist acts by Hamas against innocent civilians and children, even their own, are still ongoing. In April 2018, the European Union condemned Hamas for terrorism and its use of human shields, presumably to prevent Israel from retaliating or to be able to show "dead babies" to the television cameras to cause outrage against Israel, another victim in this plan.
The Qatar-based Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, who is called "one of the spiritual fountainheads of the Muslim Brotherhood," and who led the Friday prayer for the group in Tahrir Square after the 2011 revolution in Egypt, has called suicide bombing "a supreme form of jihad for the sake of Allah" and "heroic operations of martyrdom."
On October 6, 2012 the late Mohamed Morsi, former President of Egypt and a high-ranking figure in the MB, invited Tariq Al-Zomor (the Islamist who assassinated President Anwar Sadat) to an official celebration, while ignoring the tradition of inviting President Sadat's family to remember the 1973 Arab-Israel War. Morsi also urged Egyptians to "nurse children and grandchildren on hatred for Jews and Zionists."
So much for describing the MB as "moderate."
The motto of the Muslim Brotherhood states:
"Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur'an is our constitution (dostoorona; lit. constitution). Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope."
If "jihad is our way" and "the Quran is our constitution," it would irrational not to postulate that the MB and its related groups in the U.S. endorse violence to change the U.S. constitution and replace it with the Quran.
While some "peaceful" Islamic organizations describe jihad as an internal spiritual quest or an "inner struggle," the term is not typically used by Islamic organizations to describe "peaceful" activities. The Qur'an clearly says:
"So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful." – (Qur'an 9.5), Shakir translation.
"Slay them wherever you may catch them and expel them from the place from which they expelled you. The sin of disbelief in God is greater than committing murder. Do not fight them in the vicinity of the Sacred Mosque in Mecca unless they start to fight. Then slay them for it is the recompense that the disbelievers deserve." – (Qur'an 2.191) Muhammad Sarwar translation.
In the Islamist vocabulary and MB motto, let us remember that the organization Islamic Jihad, which assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, was not seeking peaceful change. In mainstream Islamic sources, the definition of jihad is predominantly described in terms of violence. As Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, President and Founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, noted in congressional testimony:
The next slide looks at the logo. And I think it's important to understand what they are. They have not changed their logo. And at the bottom, under those swords, which are not peaceful, that are not violent symbol, it says wei du (ph).
And wei du (ph) is from chapter 8, verse 16 of the Koran, and it says "make ready." And it's not the Boy Scouts' "be prepared, make ready." This is a passage in the Koran that refers specifically to battle and preparing for militancy. This, despite them coming to power in Tunisia and Egypt and elsewhere, they never change the symbol and what they are.
One would need to twist the traditional meaning of the word jihad to prove that it was actually meant in the peaceful sense of the word.
Another important point to consider is the otherwise surprising cooperation between Shia Iran and the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, despite vast theological differences. It is telling that Iran was one of the first countries to object to President Trump's announcement that he might designate the MB a terrorist organization.
MB influence in Turkey is also worrisome. Over the past few decades, the MB and their supporters have managed to Islamize a significant portion of Turkish society. The current president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is a strong supporter of their organization. Imagine for a moment what might happen if the European Union made the mistake of accepting Turkey as a member. Turkey could, as it has been threatening to do anyway, dramatically facilitate the MB agenda simply by providing entry visas for huge numbers of Islamists from across the Middle East. They could quite literally flood Europe, which is already facing a possible clash of civilizations, and, even without unleashing new waves of terror, demographically change the future of the Europe forever.
The MB plan to force Europe to submit to their Islamic agenda can also be seen in their strong influence in Qatar, one of the biggest producers of natural gas on the planet, and where the country's broadcaster, Al Jazeera, founded and supported by Qatar's ruling Al Thani family, is the main megaphone of the MB. Qatar lavishly funds MB operations not only in the Middle East, but also in the U.S. and Europe.
That Qatar has been trying to dominate the European gas market was made clear by their support for terrorist groups in Syria to remove Al-Assad's regime and allow Qatari pipelines into Europe via Syria and then Turkey. This terror campaign was not limited only to Sunnis in Syria; it has also been extended to support for terrorist groups in other countries such as Egypt, Libya, and Iraq, which can compete with Qatar in exporting energy to Europe. This level of support for Sunni jihadi organizations could not possibly have happened without collaboration with the MB, which is widely regarded as the mother of many of these organizations.
Attempts by the MB to destabilize U.S. allies in the Muslim world, especially Egypt and Saudi Arabia, also cannot be ignored. Both countries currently have leaders who desire to take their countries into modernity and tolerance, and who deserve Western support.
In Egypt, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has admitted the role of "religious ideology" in the terrorism problem there. He has confronted the religious authorities, demanding that they provide a moderate interpretation of Islam that does not encourage violence. He has even, as president (for the first time in the history of Egypt), visited and celebrated Christmas mass in a Coptic church.
In Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, otherwise known as MBS, has taken unprecedented concrete steps on the path to modernity within the kingdom. He has disbanded the religious police, begun empowering Saudi women, and for the first time visited a Coptic church in Egypt.
We cannot say at this stage that these two countries have been brought fully into modernity. We can say, however, that we have two leaders who want to -- or are actually are -- taking their Muslim majority countries onto this path. This is a nightmare for the MB, whose goal is to return the Muslim world to the time of Islamic Caliphate. Designating the MB as a terrorist group can impede their ability to resist the noble attempts of these leaders.
Adding to this, the alliance between the MB (and its related organizations and sympathizers) with leftist groups in the U.S. can allow the MB to exert huge influence on U.S. politics to benefit their Islamist agenda. The MB's de facto control of Islamic banking can only help them achieve their goal for the global domination of their religious agenda.
Other Muslims agree. M. Zuhdi Jasser, in his 2018 testimony before the US House of Representatives, concluded:
The importance of identifying the Muslim brotherhood as a terrorist organization could not be more clear to our national security and counterterrorism strategy. This will begin not only a necessary process of treating the cancer at its core before it metastasizes rather than its byproducts after it has already spread.... I leave with you the following recommendations:
1. Designate the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) a foreign terrorist organization beginning in Egypt and then on a country by country basis. Libya, Syria, Kuwait, Jordan, Iraq and Yemen branches of the MB are the most obvious follow-ons.... But I would recommend that the designation be taken in the country by country basis and not a blanket global one, and only be driven by need to designate every group in the world which is either a self–identified actual Muslim Brotherhood organization or an obvious Islamist terror group. This designation is not only an ideological one but one related to material, social, and militant support of the Muslim Brotherhood as a salafi-jihadi movement.....
4. Develop foreign policy mechanisms to disincentivize Qatari and Turkish government facilitation of the Muslim Brotherhood and its global affiliates including those in the West. Considerations should include a move to suspend Turkey from NATO (perhaps warranting a separate hearing on the very complex U.S.- Turkey relations).
5. Lift up diverse pro-liberty, secular reformist Muslim voices beginning with our Muslim Reform Movement and its allies within the Muslim community who are anti-Islamist. Use that strategy and our Declaration of our Muslim Reform Movement to identify allies within Muslim communities across the world.
6. Use the MB designation as a template to transition immediately from the currently useless non-ideological center of gravity that relies on "Countering Violent Extremism" (CVE) to a much more practical one centered on "Countering Islamism" (CI) or (CVI).
7. Stop engaging Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups in government and media and NGO's and recognize their Islamist terror sympathies, misogyny, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and anti-American ideological underpinnings. We must recognize that they are not the only voice for American Muslims or any community of Muslims.
Finally, the MB's threats to our modern human civilization and security cannot be ignored and seriously need immediately to be confronted -- and at all levels.
Dr. Tawfik Hamid, the author of Inside Jihad: How Radical Islam Works, Why It Should Terrify Us, How to Defeat It, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.