President Donald Trump reportedly intends to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization.
On its face, the move is inarguable. The Brotherhood is the religious foundation of Islamic terrorist groups al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas. It not only serves as their religious and ideological wellspring, but also cooperates with them on multiple levels, including financing their operations, whichamount to material support for terrorism on a massive scale.
So who can argue with designating the fount of all major Sunni Islamic terror groups a terrorist organization?
Well, the New York Times can. The Times opposes going after the mothership of Sunni Islamic terrorism because it is wedded to a notion that has failed demonstrably for 18 years.
The failed notion, which was embraced by both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, as well as by the European Union ,views terrorism as a standalone proposition. Terrorists, by this view, operate in isolation from their social and political milieu. Only the trigger-pullers are terrorists. Their support networks are peaceful.
The strategic concept at the root of the Bush-Obama perception of terrorism is that it is possible to separate the trigger-pullers from their environments by appeasing their supporters and spiritual guides. Once this happens, so the thinking goes, the trigger-pullers will put down their weapons.
In Europe, this strategy is implemented by making artificial distinctions between terrorists and their support networks. For instance, the EU insists that Hezbollah, the Lebanese legion of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, has two branches: the political branch and the military one. The EU has banned the so-called military branch but allows the “political” branch to operate openly. Rather than moderating its positions, Hezbollah uses its open operations to facilitate terrorism in Europe as well as weapons procurement, while building cadres of supporters in the Muslim communities of Europe.
In the United States, the Bush and Obama presidencies implemented this concept by seeking to bring democracy to the authoritarian Arab world. Both administrations’ policies empowered the Muslim Brotherhood and the Iranian regime.
Far from inducing a reduction of terrorism, the Bush and Obama policies failed to stop an escalation of terrorist violence and war worldwide. These policies projected a perception of a weak United States, giving hope to Islamists that the U.S. was on its way out.
Indeed, as the Obama administration was distancing itself from then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a long-time U.S. ally, in September 2010 while supporting Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, the Brotherhood’s Supreme Leader Mohamed Badie gave a sermon effectively restating Al Qaeda’s 1998 declaration of war against America.
Badie said, “Resistance [i.e., terrorism] is the only solution against the Zio-American arrogance and tyranny.”
This “resistance,” he said, “can only come from fighting and understanding that the improvement and change that the [Muslim] nation seeks can only be attained through jihad and sacrifice and by raising a jihadi generation that pursues death just as the enemies pursue life.”
As a Senate report on the Muslim Brotherhood noted, Badie also predicted the imminent downfall of the United States, saying: “The United States is now experiencing the beginning of its end, and is heading towards its demise.”
Bush and Obama’s attempt to fight terrorist groups while coddling the jihadists’ support networks in the name of democracy failed to deliver the desired results.
This brings us to Trump’s apparent plan to break away from his predecessors’ failure by ending their artificial and destructive insistence on viewing Islamic terrorists in isolation from their Islamist movements.
There are two global Islamic terror groups that spawned and instruct all of the others: Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Initially, Trump had intended to designate both groups simultaneously. Instead, he opted to designate the IRGC a global terror group on April 8, and leave the issue of the Muslim Brotherhood open.
For years, in keeping with the narrow view of terrorism adopted by Obama and Bush, opponents of the prospect of designating the IRGC a terror group insisted that doing so would provoke Iran to attack the U.S. Opponents also insisted that the IRGC, as a central organ of the Iranian regime, does a lot more than sponsor terrorism. As a consequence, designating it a foreign terrorist organization would be unnecessarily punitive.
This view ignored the basic nature of Islamic terrorism and its role in the larger nexus of IRGC, and Iranian regime operations more generally.
Islamic terrorists are not nihilists. They are idealists. Islamic terrorists are not engaged in destruction for the sake of destroying. They believe that the purpose of terrorism is to defeat non-Islamist societies and impose jihadist regimes on all nations of the world. They destroy in order to rebuild the world under an Islamic empire, or caliphate, that will rule humanity under Islamic law, or Sharia.
In the case of Iran, as Foundation for Defense of Democracies Freedom Scholar Michael Ledeen has noted, the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Rohollah Khomeini, “rejected the very idea of an Iranian revolution.
“Khomeini said, ‘There is no Iran, there is only Islam. And [the revolution] has to do with Islam, not with Iran. Only pagans think this has to do with Iran.”
Ledeen explained that from Khomeini’s perspective, Iranian patriotism or nationalism is an abdication of faith. Islam, he believed, is inherently imperialist. It aspires, at its core to global domination. His view was adopted by his successor Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and remains the position of the Iranian regime.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is responsible for securing the revolution in Iran and for exporting it abroad through Iran’s foreign operations. At home, the IRGC’s role has made it the most powerful force in Iran not merely militarily, but also economically. As the guardians of the revolution, the IRGC controls vast portions of the Iranian economy.
Abroad, the IRGC is the regime’s representative to all the terror groups that Iran fields worldwide. It is in charge of all of Iran’s foreign terrorist operations and wars. It is responsible for Iran’s illicit non-conventional weapons and missile programs.
It is also involved in the propagation of Iran’s Islamic faith and revolutionary, imperialist beliefs through proselytization in mosques and other seemingly civilian operations, sometimes through Iranian embassies and sometimes through Iran’s Hezbollah foreign legion.
Had the U.S. wished to separate the IRGC’s terror operations from the rest of its activities, it would have been impossible. Terrorism, in the name of protecting and extending the Islamic revolution in Iran throughout the world, is the purpose of the IRGC. All of its other activities are directed towards enabling it to achieve its purpose.
The same is the case with the Muslim Brotherhood. Just as the IRGC created Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and countless Shiite militia in Iraq and Syria, Afghanistan, Bahrain and Yemen; so the Muslim Brotherhood has spawned Sunni jihadist terror groups from Hamas and Al Qaeda to Jaish el-Islam. Not only has the Muslim Brotherhood spawned terror offshoots, it engages directly in terrorism. And just as the IRGC operates on multiple non-military outlets to facilitate its terrorist activities, so the Muslim Brotherhood is a multi-dimensional organization, all of whose activities are geared towards achieving the aim of violent global jihad.
In 2015, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) submitted identical bills to the Senate and House of Representatives enjoining the Secretary of State to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization. Both bills were resubmitted in 2017. In them, the lawmakers set out the case for the designation. The bills included in-depth background on the nature of the Muslim Brotherhood; its ideology of global domination; its operations in the United States; and its ties to terror groups that it has spawned, including al Qaeda and Hamas.
As the bills noted, the Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928 and today operates worldwide.
The Brotherhood’s motto is explicitly violent. It announces, “Allah is our objective. The Prophet [Muhammed] is our leader. The Koran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope. Allah is greater!”
In his book, The Way of Jihad, Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna explained the meaning of jihad.
In his words, “Jihad [means] the fighting of the unbelievers, and involves all possible efforts that are necessary to dismantle the power of the enemies of Islam including beating them, plundering their wealth, destroying their places of worship and smashing their idols.”
He asserted that “it is the nature of Islam to dominate, not be dominated,” and the mission of Islam must be, “to impose [Islamic] law on nations and to extend its power to the entire planet.”
As the Senate bill explains, “In Muslim Brotherhood organizations and chapters throughout the world, including in the United States, al-Banna’s originating philosophy continues to be taught.”
Since the 1990s, the U.S. has designated Muslim Brotherhood elements worldwide as terrorist organizations and Muslim Brotherhood officials as specially designated terrorists.
For instance, in 2001, Bush designated the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood a terror group. It did so due to the group serving as a financial conduit for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda; funding terror groups in Chechnya and Libya; and listing al Qaeda operations chief Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and World Trade Center 1993 bomber Ramzi Yousef as leaders of the organization.
Sheikh Abd-al-Majid Al Zindani, a leader of Yemen’s Muslim Brotherhood,was designated a specially designated terrorist in 2004 for his long service as one of Osama bin Laden’s spiritual leaders. Zindani was the coordinator of the al Qaeda bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen in October 2000 in which 17 U.S. Navy sailors were murdered.
As the Senate bill notes, in 1994 and 1995, the Hassan al-Turabi, the head of the Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood, held a series of terror conferences in Khartoum that were attended by the leaders of every major Islamic terrorist organization and representatives of Iranian intelligence. Osama bin Laden was also present at the conferences, At which attendees agreed to launch a terror offensive against the United States.
The Muslim Brotherhood in the United States serves as a funding arm of Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated terror groups, including Hamas and al Qaeda. In testimony before the Senate Banking Committee in 2003, Richard Clarke, former National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism under Presidents Bill Clinton and Bush, explained the work of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood outlets.
In his words, as cited by the Senate bill,
While overseas operations of Islamist terrorist organizations are generally segregated and distinct, the opposite holds in the United States. The issue of terrorist financing in the United States is a fundamental example of the shared infrastructure levered by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda, all of which enjoy a significant degree of cooperation and coordination within our borders. The common link here is the extremist Muslim Brotherhood – all of these organizations are descendants of the membership and ideology of the Muslim Brothers.
The New York Times, and other opponents of Trump’s plan to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terror organization, ignore its inherently violent nature and its key role in spawning, directing, financing and defending Islamic terrorism. They do this in the service of the failed and destructive belief that terrorists are nihilists and sociopaths rather than respected and revered representatives of social and religious milieus, cultivated by the Muslim Brotherhood.
President Trump’s determination to abandon this destructive conceptualization of Islamic terrorism and replace it with an approach that sees terrorists as representatives of their jihadist milieus, created and cultivated by the IRGC on the one hand and the Muslim Brotherhood on the other, is a courageous and wise position.
Everyone who seeks to secure the United States and the free world as a whole from the scourge of Islamic jihad and terrorism should support it.
Caroline Glick is a world-renowned journalist and commentator on the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy, and the author of The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East. She is running for Israel’s Knesset as a member of the Yamin Hahadash (New Right) party in Israel’s parliamentary elections, scheduled for April 9. Read more at www.CarolineGlick.com.