Egypt’s main Islamist group has long denied official links to the Palestinian terrorist organization, Hamas, but public statements and actions by its senior leaders have often gone a long way to undercut the credibility of such denials.
On Friday, Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, eulogized little-known Hamas founder, Mohamed Hassan Shamaa. Shamaa, 76, reportedly died of a stroke after decades as a senior leader of the Gaza-based terrorist group. After his death, Hamas admitted Shamaa was the leader of the group’s governing body, or Shura Council. The identities of the Council’s other leaders is a closely guarded secret, and Shamaa’s name had never been previously disclosed.
Of Shamaa, Badie gave high praise and “offered condolences to the Muslim world in general and the Palestinians in particular…” In the eulogy, Shamaa is described as an “influential” public figure with an “exceptional ability to listen and dispense sound wisdom.”
Contrary to repeated denials by the Brotherhood of ties to Shamaa’s group, Hamas was established as the Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood–a fact the group readily admits in its founding charter. The Brotherhood has ideologically stood by its progeny, frequently calling for armed resistance against “crusaders” and “occupiers” in Palestine.
Following the fall of longtime President Hosni Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood appears to be growing increasingly bold in its actions and statements. The MB has formed a political party–the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP)–and has increased its target for the number of seats it will contest in September’s important parliamentary elections to nearly 50%. It has also ratcheted up its rhetoric in support of Iran and Hamas.
Badie’s recent statement appears to be yet another example that the group, now a legally sanctioned party in Egypt, is growing more and more comfortable showing in public where its heart truly lies.