The news about the airplane crash of EgyptAir Flight MS-804 on its way from Paris to Cairo with 66 casualties immediately led to speculations about a terrorist attack. And indeed, US intelligence agencies claimed that there were indications of an explosion. Experts hint to the fact that there is not only Islamist terrorist activity in France but even much more in Egypt. Since the plane crashed during a return flight to Cairo and it was only on the ground in Paris for one hour, there is a possibility that Egyptian terrorists are behind an eventual attack.
According to Dr. Mark Christian, the president of the Global Faith Institute, a US-think tank specialized on Islamic terrorism, admits that the Muslim Brotherhood has most to gain from terror attacks. Recently there has been a series of terror attacks in Egypt including the killing of security forces or setting fire at tourist sites. In addition, the economic situation of the country is very bad and the recent government of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is already regarded as vulnerable. Al-Sisi promised Egyptians prosperity and safety but has not been able to convert that into reality. Hence, the Muslim Brotherhood can only profit from further destabilization that will sooner or later lead to his overthrow. Christian said that the Muslim Brotherhood has a secret militant wing that is involved in terrorist attacks all over the Middle East.
In case a bomb had been placed in the plane already before its departure in Cairo, this would indicate that terrorists applied a totally new strategy. First, this means that airport personal was involved in the attack and second, it shows that a timed bomb can explode at any place in the world and therefore poses a global threat.
However, until now there is no evidence that the Muslim Brotherhood was involved in this airplane crash but it cannot be ruled out that the organization would be ready to apply this kind of violence in order to enhance its political position within Egypt.
The bill to brand the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, the so-called “Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act” increasingly gains support in the House. The legislation introduced by Mario Diaz-Balart shall pass a vote later this year and officially has bipartisan support since two Democrats are signing on as co-sponsors. A companion bill introduced in the Senate by Ted Cruz meanwhile has five key co-sponsors. In case the legislation will be enacted, it would outlaw the Muslim Brotherhood’s front groups and freeze its resources. Providing material support to the Brotherhood would then be a crime. Organizations which are identified in the text of the bill as radical front groups of the Muslim Brotherhood include the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) and the Muslim American Society (MAS). While the Muslim Brotherhood is banned in Egypt, Saudi-Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the latter even designated CAIR and MAS as terrorist organizations. One of the reasons is their financial support to terrorist groups such as Hamas. In general, the Brotherhood shares ideology with Al-Qaeda, Hamas and ISIS and experts like the former FBI director Robert Mueller claim that “elements of the Muslim Brotherhood both here and overseas have supported terrorism.”
Several terror analysts ignore all evidence for the Muslim Brotherhood’s links to terrorism and claim that the group is actually a firewall against violent extremism. Marc Lynch, who is working for the George Washington University and the Project on Middle East Political Science, argued in a Washington Post report that Congress should not designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. According to him, the Muslim Brotherhood served as bulwark against more violent groups due to its ideology of nonviolence and democratic participation. It thus was in competition for recruits with terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda. Notwithstanding, Lynch ignores the fact that Al-Qaeda’s founders, Abdullah Azzam and Osama bin Laden, and its current leader, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, were also members of the Muslim Brotherhood or trained by the group. Furthermore, it has to be considered that the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda have the same ultimate goal: the replacement of democratic rule with Sharia. The main difference between the two groups is that the Muslim Brotherhood uses democratic participation as way to undermine democracy and destroy it from within. Al-Qaeda, in contrast, uses violence in order to attack and destroy democratic states. Despite this different approach, the two groups are two sides of the same coin.
On Monday, April 18, a group of people who are associated with the United States Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) was received by members of the congress. The USCMO is a front organization that aims at advancing the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood in the USA. This agenda is outlined in a group-internal document called “The Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal of the Group in North America”. In this memorandum the group explicitly states that the mission of the Muslim Brotherhood in North America is to destroy Western civilization from within. Therefore, the USCMO was founded in March 2014 as a political party that tries to mobilize Muslim voters in support of the Muslim Brotherhood agenda. The organization already participated in anti-Semitic, pro-Hamas and pro-Muslim Brotherhood demonstrations and fundraising on behalf of Islamic Relief USA which is an Islamic supremacist charity. Hence, congress should be aware of the USCMO’s real intention und it should be clear that legislators should have nothing to do with its program and members.
A renowned researcher and director for the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish Defence University, Lars Nicander, adverts to an ongoing Islamist infiltration of the Swedish government.
Recently, several members of the Green party got under pressure due to their links to Islamic extremists. Lars Nicander points out that the Green party is young and therefore vulnerable to infiltrations of groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Thereby they use the same methods that were applied by the Soviet Communists during the Cold War.
The Green Party secretary, Anders Wallner, said in a media interview that the warning will be taken seriously because extremism has no place in this party.
Since the establishment of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928 in Egypt, the movement has committed large-scale political murder and attempted coups d’etats for which reason it is considered a terrorist organization by most Arab states. In fact, the Brotherhood was created by British intelligence, then changed into the sphere of influence of the Nazi regime and finally into that of the CIA. Since 2004 the CIA and State Department have tried to overthrow Arab regimes and replace them by Muslim Brotherhood members.
Today all jihadist groups confess to the Brotherhood’s ideology. The Muslim Brotherhood as well as ISIS shares the goal of reaching power and building an Islamic empire. The obvious distinction between ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood is its tactic. While ISIS uses violence to gain control over a country, the Muslim Brotherhood tries to gain political control and then draws back to violence to proceed against opponents. We saw this strategy put into practice in Egypt when the Muslim Brotherhood came into power. The Muslim Brotherhood is in fact the parent of all terrorist groups which aim at the establishment of a worldwide Caliphate and are hostile to Western values and culture. It established a wide network of underground cells, fighters and assassination squads.
Arab media already revealed that Muslim Brotherhood members joined terrorist camps of ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Al-Bawaba news even published the names of 30 Muslim Brotherhood members who were trained there in order to commit suicide attacks in Egypt. In 2014 the first Muslim Brotherhood terrorist cell whose members had pledged loyalty to ISIS was arrested. Some of the terrorists were even released from jail under the presidential pardon of Mohamed Morsi. Until today several groups that belong to the Muslim Brotherhood network have sworn loyalty to ISIS. The Muslim Brotherhood even offered to facilitate the entry of ISIS members to Egypt and in return expected ISIS to support the Brotherhood in regaining political power in the country. However, ISIS and the Brotherhood did not agree on that deal but the incident shows their ambitions to cooperate. The Muslim Brotherhood as well as ISIS is spreading its network all over the world and pose a substantial risk to democracy and a nonviolent living environment.
The Muslim Council of Britain, a Muslim Brotherhood group and biggest Islamic umbrella group in the country, recently released a statement in which it condemns attacks on Ahmadi Muslims but at the same time claims that they are non-believers who are destined for doom and degradation after death according to the Quran. Thereby, the statement could encourage further persecution of Ahmadi Muslims all over the world.
The murder of Ahmadi Muslim Asad Shah in Glasgow, who was stabbed to death, is the trigger for this debate. Mr. Shah was generally known for spreading the motto of Ahmadi Muslims “Love for All, Hatred for None” via internet. The murder was even celebrated on the internet by Muslims who regard Ahmadi Muslims as heretical sect. Tanveer Ahmed, the person accused of committing the murder, issued a statement explaining that he attacked Mr. Shah because he had disrespected Islam. The Ahmadi Muslim community is worried due to the growing intolerance and hate in the UK.
Despite the USA’s clear perception and experience of what terrorism is in practice it seems quite difficult to decide what constitutes a terrorist organization. The problem arises due to partisan politics and relations to foreign actors with certain religious affiliations.
In February this year, the House Judiciary Committee approved legislation requesting the State Department to designate the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt a foreign terrorist organization. This law would prevent aliens with Muslim Brotherhood links from entering the country and increase grounds for deporting immigrants with ties to the movement. Furthermore, it would make financial assistance to the Brotherhood a crime and enable the administration to block all financial transactions of the group.
Experts like the senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, Shadi Hamid, argue that the Brotherhood is in fact not a terrorist organization. There is a notable difference between terrorism and Islamism. While the former includes violence against civilians intended to cause fear for a political purpose, the latter is the belief that life should be based on Islamic values including the sphere of governance. However, Islamism is often associated with anything bad that happens in the Middle East and the word “jihad” is often misinterpreted as synonym for terrorism. John Esposito, professor of religion, international affairs and of Islamic studies at Georgetown University, claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood never responded with violence to repression under Hosni Mubarak’s regime in Egypt. Instead it functioned as a social and sometimes political organization and has renounced violence. Notwithstanding, its Islamist ideology inspired militant Islamist offshoots like Al-Jihad in Egypt or Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Hence, labeling the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group could endanger civil liberties as well as US national security by giving the government more options to invade individual privacy of Muslims.
The deputy leader of the Turkish Republican People’s Party (CHP), Erdogan Toprak, mentioned in his weekly report that the USA’s recognition of the Muslim Brotherhood as terrorist organization could have substantial influence on the foreign policy of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). It thus may lead to serious tensions between Turkey and the USA.
The report says that despite the designation of ISIS and Al-Nusra Front as terrorist organizations by the majority of the International Community, the Turkish government had not officially taken that stance at the beginning of the military operations in Syria. That only happened after attacks in Reyhanli and Suruc committed by the two groups. When Turkey announced its fight against ISIS, attacks occurred in Ankara, Istanbul and Diyarbakir. Over the past 14 years the AKP leadership has been supporting groups that are internationally recognized as terrorist organizations. Hence, it supports the Muslim Brotherhood, maintains friendly relations with Hamas and assists radical Islamists in Libya. According to the report the AKP also provides support to ISIS, Al-Nusra Front as well as Ahrar Al-Sham and the Free Syrian Army. The same government, on the other hand, accuses the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party of committing terrorism.
Toprak concludes that in the future there could be conflicts of interest in the fight against terrorism between the AKP and the US-leadership. If the USA designates the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, the Turkish government will automatically be in the position of an accomplice of terrorists.
In the USA, the House Judiciary Committee opened its discussion of a bill requesting the State Department to consider the classification of the Muslim Brotherhood as terrorist organization. The draft of the bill includes information about the ties between the Brotherhood and terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and Hamas.
Notwithstanding, Rep. John Conyers stated that the Brotherhood had sworn off violence and that the bill promotes Islamophobia. Meanwhile, even the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan commented on the bill. His spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin leveled criticism against the bill and denied the Brotherhood’s involvement in terrorist activity. Furthermore he stated that the West has failed with regard to its attitude towards Islam.
However, experts argue that the Brotherhood aims at the Islamization of society and that it might not agree to a Western definition of terrorism since it regards Hamas and Hezbollah as freedom fighters. The bill even includes the assessment made by then-FBI Director Robert Mueller in 2011 that elements of the Muslim Brotherhood have actively supported terrorism. Several Brotherhood-linked charities in the USA and elsewhere have been financing terrorism.
Previously, the US government also listed Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Brotherhood, and Lajnat Al-Daawa, a social wing of the Brotherhood in Kuwait, as terrorist entities. Terrorists like Ramzi Yousef, responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center attacks, and Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, architect of 9/11, had worked for Lajnat Al-Daawa.
Now, the bill needs to be approved in the House and the Senate and finally must be signed by the US President.
Sources: https://www.algemeiner.com/2016/03/04/democrats-balk-at-findings-of-muslim-brotherhood-terror-bill/#, http://www.todayszaman.com/diplomacy_erdogans-office-criticizes-us-bill-calling-muslim-brotherhood-terrorist_413389.html