Muslim Brotherhood

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Muslim Brotherhood (or al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun, as it is known in Arabic) "was founded in 1928 by a 22-year-old schoolteacher named Hassan Banna in his house in the Egyptian city of Ismailiyya." [1]

"In the 1950s, Brotherhood activists -- reeling from their suppression in Egypt, Iraq and Syria -- found a refuge in Saudi Arabia, newly awash in oil money. Thousands of Ikhwanis became teachers, lawyers and engineers there, staffing government agencies, establishing Saudi universities and banks, and rewriting curricula.
"With royal family approval, Brotherhood activists also launched the largest Saudi charities, including the Muslim World League in 1963 and the World Assembly of Muslim Youth in 1973. Funded by petro dollars, they became global missionaries spreading the Saudis' austere and rigid Wahhabi school of Islam, whose adherents at times describe all non-Wahhabis as infidels.
"The missionary work morphed into armed struggle in Afghanistan, where in the 1980s Saudi-financed Brotherhood activists helped repel the Soviet invasion, with support from the CIA and Pakistan. As Islamic radicalism spread with the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan in 1989, many Ikhwanis laboring for the Saudis embraced worldwide jihad and were at al Qaeda's inception.
"The Brotherhood began to fall out of favor with the Saudis in 1990, when the Ikhwan backed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in his invasion of Kuwait. The Saudis slowly cut off funding." [2]

John Mintz and Douglas Farah writing in the Washington Post in 2004 go on to note that "some U.S. diplomats and intelligence officials believe [that the Muslim Brotherhood's] influence offers an opportunity for political engagement that could help isolate violent jihadists.

""It is the preeminent movement in the Muslim world," said Graham E. Fuller, a former CIA official specializing in the Middle East. "It's something we can work with." Demonizing the Brotherhood "would be foolhardy in the extreme," he warned." [3]

However, "Leslie Campbell, who runs Middle East affairs for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, supports the outreach idea. Campbell, who trains Arab politicians including Islamists, hosted a delegation in July from a Brotherhood-tied political party in Yemen to the Democratic National Convention in Boston." [4]

"The Muslim Brotherhood, although officially banned, is by far Egypt's largest opposition organisation. The funeral of the group's previous leader last year filled the streets of Cairo with hundreds of thousands of mourners. But some delegates were critical of the Muslim Brotherhood's cooperation with the [Egyptian] government in a series of stage-managed anti-war rallies held before the invasion of Iraq." [1]

"UK to build ties with banned Islamist group"

In 2006, the Guardian reported that "A leaked Foreign Office memo published yesterday reveals that the government is to establish ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group banned by the Egyptian government...

"The memo says: "The presentation of any change in the way we deal with the Muslim Brotherhood will have to be carefully handled, in order to safeguard our bilateral relations with Egypt."...

"The Foreign Office launched an inquiry yesterday into the leaking of the memo, which is marked confidential. It was written by Julie McGregor, a member of the Arab/Israel and North Africa Group, and sent to Mr Straw...

"[the memo] recommends that, as well as meetings with diplomats, Muslim Brotherhood parliamentary representatives should be included "when events for medium-level British visitors take place in Egypt". It also recommends pressing the US and other members of the European Union to make contact with the Muslim Brotherhood...

"Until 2002, Foreign Office diplomats held infrequent meetings with Muslim Brotherhood members of parliament. But the Egyptian authorities expressed their displeasure, the memo says. "Since 2002, we have had only occasional contacts."" [5]

In 2005, Front Page Magazine reported that "The UK government has formed a strategy called Project Contest to steer British Muslims away from Islamist radicals, a novel idea which could have disastrous long-term effects. While this strategy of rolling back Islamists is supposedly being implemented, the government itself has been having highly publicized meetings with representatives from the Islamic Foundation UK and other groups tied to the Jamaat-i-Islami. The consequence of this is that the British government and Scotland Yard have recently let representatives from the Muslim Brotherhood take over the infamous Finsbury Park Mosque." [6]

In 2006, Jack Straw noted that "While there are contacts between the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas leaders, we have no evidence of any direct financial or other support given by the Muslim Brotherhood to Hamas." [7]

On 18 July 2006, Lord Lucas noted that: "There are difficult relations between Muslims and Christians throughout the world and the Government appear to be conducting a love affair with the Muslim brotherhood which I find extremely difficult to agree with." [8]

On 17 April 2007, Michael Gove notes "Why is the Muslim Association of Britain—the UK branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organisation—on an equal footing with the British Muslim Forum and the Muslim Council of Britain?" [9]

On 12 May 2006, Dr. Howells noted that: "British officials have had contact with members of the Egyptian Parliament, including occasional contact with members of the Muslim Brotherhood since September 2001. Officials have also met representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, Kuwait, and Lebanon. In addition, officials have had limited contact with members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, whose leadership is in exile in London." [10]

On 23 May 2006, The Minister for the Middle East (Dr. Kim Howells): noted "British officials have varying degrees of contact in a range of countries with those regarded as Muslim Brotherhood. This is during the normal course of their work to encourage democratic and tolerant societies that embrace the rule of law and universal human rights principles. We will continue to promote this agenda and to challenge those views with which we disagree...

"Our diplomats have met such people on occasion. We do not go out of our way to engage in such meetings, but when they occur, we argue the case for a non-violent approach. We argue against terrorism and we seek co-operation." [11]

On 18 July 2006 "Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which organisations with links to the Muslim Brotherhood received money from his Department in each of the last five years for which figures are available; and how much each organisation received. [86269]

"Mr. McNulty: The information requested is held centrally and to provide it would incur disproportionate costs." [12]

On 16 November 2005, "Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what her Department's policy is on providing funding for members of the (a) Muslim Brotherhood and (b) Muslim Association of Britain. [86287]

"Mr. Hoon [holding answer 18 July 2006]: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does not provide funding for either organisation, although there may be occasions when those who are affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Muslim Association of Britain take part in FCO initiatives or events that involve a broad range of participants." [13]

According to a House of Commons research paper released in 2006: "Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt may see an interest in encouraging moderation from Hamas, believing that Islamist success in the West Bank and Gaza would help demonstrate the credibility and relevance of their political platform." [14]

Muslim Brotherhood in the US

"In his speech, Qaradawi said the dawah would work through Islamic groups set up by Brotherhood supporters in this country. He praised supporters who were jailed by Arab governments in 1950s and then came to the United States to "fight the seculars and the Westernized" by founding this country's leading Islamic groups.

"He named the Muslim Students Association (MSA), which was founded in 1963. Twenty years later, the MSA -- using $21 million raised in part from Qaradawi, banker Nada and the emir of Qatar -- opened a headquarters complex built on former farmland in suburban Indianapolis. With 150 chapters, the MSA is one of the nation's largest college groups...

"Some of the same Brotherhood people who started the MSA also launched the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) in 1971. The trust is a financing arm that holds title to hundreds of U.S. mosques and manages bank accounts for Muslim groups using Islamic principles.

"In 1981, some of the same people launched the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), which was also cited in Qaradawi's speech. It is an umbrella organization for Islamic groups that holds annual conventions drawing more than 25,000 people. Some U.S. officials praise its moderation, and its Islamic Horizons magazine covers such topics as Muslim Boy Scouts and Islamic investing principles...

""In addition to the first generation of groups aimed at consolidating the U.S. Islamic community, a second generation arose to wield political and business clout.

"One such group was the American Muslim Council (AMC), launched in 1990 to urge Muslims to get involved in politics and other civic activities. One of its founders was Mahmoud Abu Saud, who 58 years before helped Banna expand the Brotherhood, and who later became a top financial adviser to governments from Morocco to Kuwait, according to documents provided by the SITE Institute, a Washington terrorism research group that has written reports critical of the Brotherhood. The AMC folded in 2003, and a more moderate group has assumed that name.

"One leader of the former AMC was Abdurahman Alamoudi, who U.S. officials and Islamic activists say is a Brotherhood associate. In July he pleaded guilty to moving funds from Libya, which was illegal because the United States at the time considered that country a sponsor of terrorism. Federal documents in the case say he is a Hamas supporter. Alamoudi also was identified by U.S. officials in June as a participant in a plot hatched by Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi to assassinate the Saudi head of state, Crown Prince Abdullah.

"Another group in this generation is the Muslim American Society, based in Falls Church, which was co-founded in 1992 by Akef, the recently installed head of Egypt's Brotherhood, and other Ikhwanis, Akef told the Chicago Tribune in February. The group's goals include spreading Islam to Muslims and non-Muslims and building "a virtuous and moral society." Its officials deny ties to the Ikhwan." [15]

Writing in Foreign Affairs in April 2007, Robert S. Leiken and Steven Brooke note that: "U.S. policymaking has been handicapped by Washington's tendency to see the Muslim Brotherhood -- and the Islamist movement as a whole -- as a monolith. Policymakers should instead analyze each national and local group independently and seek out those that are open to engagement. In the anxious and often fruitless search for Muslim moderates, policymakers should recognize that the Muslim Brotherhood presents a notable opportunity." [16]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. In Search Of Friends Among The Foes, Washington Post, accessed July 7, 2007.
  2. In Search Of Friends Among The Foes, Washington Post, accessed July 7, 2007.
  3. In Search Of Friends Among The Foes, Washington Post, accessed July 7, 2007.
  4. In Search Of Friends Among The Foes, Washington Post, accessed July 7, 2007.
  5. UK to build ties with banned Islamist group, Guardian, accessed July 7, 2007.
  6. Combating the Islamist Threat,, accessed July 7, 2007.
  7. 27 Feb 2006 : Column 300W—continued, House of Commons Hansard, accessed July 7, 2007.
  8. Untitled, House of Commons Hansard, accessed July 7, 2007.
  9. 17 Apr 2007 : Column 42WH—continued, House of Commons Hansard, accessed July 7, 2007.
  10. 12 May 2006 : Column 625W—continued, House of Commons Hansard, accessed July 7, 2007.
  11. 23 May 2006 : Column 1325, House of Commons Hansard, accessed July 7, 2007.
  12. Column_555W, House of Commons Hansard, accessed July 7, 2007.
  13. Muslim Organisations, House of Commons Hansard, accessed July 7, 2007.
  14. The Palestinian Parliamentary Election and the rise of Hamas, House of Commons Library, accessed July 7, 2007.
  15. In Search Of Friends Among The Foes, Washington Post, accessed July 7, 2007.
  16. The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood, Foreign Affairs, accessed July 7, 2007.

External resources

External articles