There is significant Islamist ideological overlap between the worldwide Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and some of the globe’s most murderous jihadi groups — the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and al-Qaeda, Breitbart News learned from the Counter Extremism Project (CEP).
All three groups maintain a shared goal of establishing an Islamic global caliphate. However, MB has the advantage of being “one of the oldest and broadest-reaching Islamist organizations in modern times,” the non-governmental organization (NGO) noted in its Muslim Brotherhood profile, citing data from various governments and news reports.
According to CEP, MB itself or some of its affiliated groups maintain an active presence in at least 18 countries primarily located across the Muslim world, namely in the Middle East and Africa.
Given its global reach, it appears the Brotherhood is closer to achieving its goal of bringing about a caliphate, by changing existing governments and societies from within, than groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS.
At one point or another, American congressional hearings and federal terrorism trials have linked MB to U.S.-based Islamic groups such as Muslim American Society (MAS), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Muslim Students Association (MSA), North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), and the Hamas-affiliated Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Analysts such as Lorenzo Vidino of George Washington University’s Program on Extremism argue that over time some of those American groups have shed their links to MB.
Nevertheless, an MB manifesto, dubbed “Explanatory Memorandum On the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America” and presented by the FBI as evidence in a U.S. federal case against Hamas financing, explicitly claimed that it is a “civilization jihadist” group responsible for Muslims to “present Islam as a civilization alternative, and support[ing] the global Islamic State wherever it is.”
This meant that the Brotherhood’s “work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions,” CEP explained.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is considering joining the countries that have already outlawed the group as a terrorist organization: Bahrain, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Syria. While some of the countries that house MB branches have designated the group a terrorist organization, some openly support it, namely U.S allies Turkey and Qatar.
The following are five countries where MB maintains a terror-linked presence:
Following Egyptian MB President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster, Turkey has long served as a hub for the MB international organization, granting asylum to members who were expelled and even providing the Egyptian branch with weapons and intelligence, CEP noted. Furthermore, Turkey allowed the organization to regroup on its soil to ultimately strengthen the group whose birthplace is Egypt.
The Gulf Arab nation has long supported MB “through financial, public diplomacy, and media-based pathways [Al Jazeera] with Qatar’s backing largely based on the entities’ similar interpretations of political Islam,” CEP noted.
Qatar refused to join its Gulf neighbors in designating the group a terrorist organization. The Gulf Arab nation also provides political and financial support to MB’s “most notable and lethal” offshoot Hamas, which openly operates in Doha.
Although he denied that Qatar supports terrorists, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told the Associated Press (AP) Qatar has the “right to support groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, despite the fact that its neighbors view it as a threat to their hereditary rule.”
The African country’s MB-linked National Islamic Front (NIF) has affiliated itself with various terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah.
“Although formally registered as a political party, [MB-linked parties] have at times embraced genocidal violence against the country’s non-Muslims to advance their Islamist agenda,” CEP found.
Former Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir, who belonged to the MB-affiliated National Congress Party (NCP) stands accused of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide in connection to violence against religious and ethnic groups.
Bashir implemented a form of strict Islamic laws, or sharia, across Sudan under the guidance of MB.
Ultimately, the United States decided to place Sudan on its list of state sponsors of terrorism, along with Iran, Syria, and North Korea. Sudan reportedly continues to harbor the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt, the birthplace of MB, shares a border with Sudan.
The country is home to the MB branch known as the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP). Although Iraq banned MB under dictator Saddam Hussein, it resurfaced after his fall in 2003 and has since become the “largest Sunni political party” in the war-ravaged country, CEP revealed, adding:
While the IIP does not formally call itself a Brotherhood outfit, the party has acknowledged its longstanding ideological ties to the Brotherhood and continues to provide rhetorical support for the movement in Egypt.
The IIP is perceived as a sectarian party and has been accused of nurturing the wave of sectarian violence that swept the country in the mid-2000s.
Israel’s Palestinian Territories:
The U.S.-designated group Hamas functions as MB’s official branch in the territories. Although Hamas denies links to MB, “Hamas and the Brotherhood have cooperated in recent years, particularly during the Egyptian Brotherhood’s year in power,” CEP found, adding:
Further, Hamas continues to label itself in its charter as ‘one of the wings of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine.’ According to the charter, the Brotherhood is ‘a universal organization. … The largest Islamic Movement in modern times. … As Palestine’s MB branch, Hamas is committed to violent “armed resistance” against Israel, and the “liberation” of all of Palestine “from the river to the sea.”
Besides the U.S., the European Union and other governments have already designated Hamas a terror group.
“Hamas’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood have strained its relations with Egypt’s government led by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi,” CEP pointed out. “Following the 2013 overthrow of Egypt’s Brotherhood government, Egypt has increasingly cracked down on Hamas.”
Egypt has accused the Brotherhood of fomenting terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula, home to the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).
MB or the Brotherhood has “had a profound influence on the belief system that fuels” various jihadi groups, serving as a bridge for murderous leaders such as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Osama bin Laden, and Ayman al-Zawahiri to highest positions of their groups, the NGO reported.
Bahrain, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Syria have already labeled MB a terrorist group.
According to CEP, MB and its affiliates operate in Egypt; Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, the Palestinian territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.