Bush Administration Moves To Legitimize The Muslim Brotherhood?
By William Mayer and Beila Rabinowitz
June 22, 2007 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope"
This is the mission statement of The Muslim Brotherhood and the Bush administration [led by the State Department] is reportedly on the verge of developing a formal relationship with it, "engagement" in diplo-speak. As the June 20 edition of the New York Sun reported, "Today the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research will host a meeting with other representatives of the intelligence community to discuss opening more formal channels to the brothers." [source, http://www.nysun.com/article/56899, "Bush Weighs Reaching Out To 'Brothers'," Eli Lake, New York Sun, June 20, 2007]
Center stage at the meeting was Robert Leiken, Director of the Immigration and National Security Program at The Nixon Center.
Leiken was commissioned by the State Department to produce a history of the Muslim Brotherhood and make a presentation based upon his findings.
Mr. Leiken along with Nixon Center researcher Steven Brooke authored an article in the March/April edition of Foreign Affairs Magazine titled "The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood." It seems reasonable to assume that Leiken's presentation at State would not materially differ from his very recent treatment of the subject in Foreign Affairs.
In that piece Leiken made the unsettling declaration [after having "met with dozens of Brotherhood leaders and activists from Egypt, France, Jordan, Spain, Syria, Tunisia and the United Kingdom"] that "all reject global jihad while embracing elections and other features of democracy." [source, The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood, Robert Leiken & Steven Brooke, Foreign Affairs, March/April 2007]
The authors assert that the Brotherhood's ideology had been determined by "an outsider, the respected judge Hasan al-Hudaybi," chosen to replace the group's original leader Hassan al-Banna, who had been assassinated in 1948.
Leiken thus dismisses the pivotal role that Sayyid Qutb played in the organization. There is a reason for that; Qutb is singularly responsible for establishing the modern religious justification for global Islamic holy war.
He is the seminal figure in that theology, as Dr. John Cook, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University wrote:
“Although Mawdudi [Abu Al-‘Ala Al-Mawdudi] was an important intellectual influence on radical Islam, Sayyid Qutb (executed 1969) could be said to have founded the actual movement." [source “Understanding Jihad," David Cook, p 102]
Regardless of Leiken's failure to acknowledge his role, Qutb was for all practical purposes the Brotherhood, its key force throughout the 50s and 60s - often writing from within an Egyptian jail cell - until his execution in 1969.
Not only did Qutb dominate the Brotherhood intellectually but he was an integral part of the organization's superstructure. He was a member of the Working Council and Guidance Committee, ran the Brotherhood's propaganda machine and was editor of the Brotherhood's newspaper, "Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimeen." [source, "The Quest for Modernity, Legitimacy, and the Islamic State," Ahmad S. Moussalli]
“During the following years," [post his visit to America] “he joined the Muslim Brotherhood…and quickly became its dominant intellectual figure...For most radical Muslims, especially Egyptians, Sayyid Qutb was a martyr who spoke the truth and was killed for it. His works have been cited by radical Muslims from the 1960s until the present, and his influence upon the movement is significant." [source "Understanding Jihad" David Cook, p 103]
Qutb on the nature of jihad:
“It is the right of Islam to move first, because Islam is not the belief of a [single] group, nor the system of a state, but the way of life of God and a system for the world. Thus it has the right to move to destroy impediments, whether systems or circumstances, that rob the person of the freedom to choose. It does not attack individuals in order to compel them to embrace its creed, but it attacks systems and circumstances in order to liberate individuals from false influences that corrupt the innate nature [of man]." [source Sayyid Qutb, cited by Cook, Understanding Jihad p 105]
The Brotherhood's founders included Abdullah Azzam, bin-Laden’s mentor and the godfather of al-Qaeda. Sheik Yusuf Al Qaradawi the founder of the website "Islamonline," was also an early and influential member, having turned down offers to lead the group several times. Qaradawi is probably best known for his fatwa sanctioning female suicide bombers.
The Brotherhood has two websites, one of the hard-core traditional jihadist variety whose logo is Quran above two crossed swords, the other similar to Qaradawi's "Islamonline" propaganda site.
“Soon after the biggest calamity happened in 1924 with the collapse of the "Khilafa", and the declaration of war against all shapes of Islam in most of the Muslim countries, the Islamic "revival" entered into the movement phase in the middle east by establishing "Al-Ikhwan Al-Moslemoon" (Muslim Brotherhood) in Egypt, 1928 . Soon after that date, it began to have several branches outside Egypt . Al-Ikhwan, since that date, began to spread the principal Islamic idea: That Islam is "Creed and state, book and sword, and a way of life." . [source http://www.ummah.net/ikhwan]
The Muslim Brotherhood were certainly not working through democratic channels "winning hearts through gradual and peaceful Islamization" as Leiken claims, when it conspired with renegade members of the Egyptian military including Abdul Nasser and Anwar Sadat to launch a coup against the monarchy in June 1952.
Members of the Brotherhood felt they had been intentionally deceived by Nasser and Sadat who had promised a return to Shari’a if the group helped them come to power. As a result, the Brotherhood sought repeatedly to assassinate Nasser in the early 1950s leading to mass arrests.
Four members of the group finally succeeded in wresting some measure of vengeance by assassinating Anwar Sadat in 1981.
Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin-Laden’s chief aid and al-Qaeda’s primary theorist was a member of the Brotherhood. He was arrested by the Egyptian government in the wake of the assassination of Sadat but never convicted, though he did serve time for the possession of illegal weapons.
Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the "Blind" Sheik, who was convicted and sentenced to life for masterminding the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 was a disciple of Sayyid Qutb, the early Muslim Brotherhood’s leading ideologue.
In the words of the 9/11 report, “In speeches and writings, the sightless Rahman, often called the “Blind Sheikh," preached the message of Sayyid Qutb’s Milestones, characterizing the United States as the oppressor of Muslims worldwide and asserting that it was their religious duty to fight against God’s enemies."
“The call of the Muslim Brotherhood was based on two key pillars…The introduction of the Islamic Shari`ah as the basis controlling the affairs of state and society…Work to achieve unification among the Islamic countries and states, mainly among the Arab states, and liberating them from foreign imperialism." [source “Principles of the Muslim Brotherhood," the Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] website http://www.ikhwanweb.com/Home.asp?zPage=Systems&System=PressR&Press=Show&Lang=E&ID=4584]
Though Leiken states that the Brotherhood is "the world's oldest, largest, and most influential Islamist organization" the question arises as to what Islamist means within that context.
Apparently, since he characterizes the group as being moderate [clever enough to embrace at least the catch phrases of democracy], Leiken accepts as legitimate the incremental model of Islamism, whereby Shari’a is instituted in bits and pieces, as circumstances allow.
This places Leiken within an extremely small minority, whose devotion to a secular, constitutional based, limited government founded upon Judeo-Christian principles, turns completely on the state of public opinion at any one moment.
Indeed, the author seems to be of that mindset, arguing that "the Brotherhood differs from those admonitory precedents: its road to power is not revolutionary; it depends on winning hearts through gradual and peaceful Islamization." [source, The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood, pg 111]
This raises the question, is this acceptable doctrine at the Department of State? Is it appropriate to engage in diplomacy with groups whose goal is to overthrow the framework of American constitutional government, albeit in a "non-violent" manner?
Leiken has displayed revisionism within his own recent writings on the Brotherhood. In the current piece he states:
“In fact, when the Islamists emerged, it was to try to calm the autumn rioters, who often greeted these missionaries with hails of stones. The Brotherhood-linked organization Union des Organisations Islamiques de France (uoif) repudiated the riots in a fatwa. That fatwa was the culmination of a uoif strategy, forged 15 years earlier, to be perceived as a reliable partner of the French government." [ p 118]
However he had a very different take on the Brotherhood only two years ago, as the summary in his 2005 Foreign Affairs article notes:
“Radical Islam is spreading across Europe among descendants of Muslim immigrants. Disenfranchised and disillusioned by the failure of integration, some European Muslims have taken up jihad against the West. They are dangerous and committed -- and can enter the United States without a visa."
Later in the article we read.
“that a radical leader of the Union of Islamic Organizations of France, a group associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, curses his new homeland: "Oh sweet France! Are you astonished that so many of your children commune in a stinging naal bou la France [fuck France], and damn your Fathers?" [source, http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20050701faessay84409-p40/robert-s-leiken/europe-s-angry-muslims.html, Europe's Angry Muslims, Robert S. Leiken, Foreign Affairs, July/August 2005]
Leiken's scholarship has been questionable in the past and his judgment in matters of state has been naïve at best:
As pointed out by the American Thinker, Leiken suggested in a June 26, 1983 New York Times piece [Yes, Talk with Salvador Guerillas] that the United States should negotiate with Nicaragua’s Marxist Sandinistas. In that article he morally equates Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas with George Washington and the American Revolutionary Army.
“Although assisted by Moscow, the guerrillas are not aligned with it…At most, only two of the five groups could be considered Soviet-oriented today...While condemning United States actions against Nicaragua, some Salvadoran guerrilla leaders also criticized the conspicuous Sovietbloc presence there…The Administration opposes unconditional negotiations with the guerrillas because they would ''shoot their way into power.'' Yet Washington applauds rebels in Afghanistan and Cambodia (not to mention those at arms in Nicaragua). George Washington shot his way into power. Denying the right to resistance denies our own history."
A few years later Leiken recanted, claiming he had made a mistake in evaluating the Sandinistas, that in effect he had been duped.
Leiken glosses over the Muslim Brotherhood's relationship with Hamas. The feds are not so abstemious, establishing in their legal brief for the Holy Land Foundation Hamas terror funding prosecution, that the link between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood is incontestable. It's therefore imprecise to state that the Muslim Brotherhood created Hamas, the two organizations are one and the same:
“At the outbreak of the First Intifada, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, an Islamic cleric from Gaza, was the leader of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood is an international Islamic fundamentalist movement, originally organized in Egypt in 1928, under the following of Islamic leader Sheik Hassan Al Banna. Sheik Yassin and his followers, fueled by their resentment of Israel’s existence and an Islamist ideology, were instrumental in the First Intifada. While many Palestinians were satisfied to have a “two state solution" to the conflict, where Israel and Palestine exist side by side, each recognizing the others right to exist, this was not an acceptable compromise for Sheik Yassin and his followers. They advocated the destruction of the State of Israel and the taking back of what they believed belonged to the Palestinians...In December 1987, Sheik Yassin, among others, founded Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Ilamiyya, Arabic for the “Islamic Resistance Movement" (known by its acronym, Hamas), to accomplish its mission of destroying Israel." [source http://www.pipelinenews.org/images/2007-05-29-US%20v%20HLF-Gov'tTrialBrief%20-%20co-conspirators.pdf, Government's Trial Brief , Holy Land Foundation, pg 7-8]
The Brotherhood is a secretive organization, international in scope with over 70 branches and a clandestine financial network. Yet several of their organizations operate openly under the guise of civil rights groups, the most prominent being the Muslim American Society, the acknowledged American wing of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States. Its goal is the institution of Shari’a.
MAS aims to destroy the United States by undermining the system from within by encouraging Muslim political participation and da’wa. At a Muslim youth rally during the 1990s, Yusuf Qaradawi told the crowd that America will not be conquered by the sword, but by da’wa.
In 2004 the Chicago Tribune demonstrated how even main stream media sources fully understood the nature of the Brotherhood.
“While separation of church and state is a bedrock principle of American democracy, the international Brotherhood preaches that religion and politics cannot be separated and that governments eventually should be Islamic. The group also champions martyrdom and jihad, or holy war, as a means of self-defense and has provided the philosophical underpinnings for Muslim militants worldwide." [source Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Sam Roe and Laurie Cohen, “A Rare Look at the Secretive Brotherhood in America," Chicago Tribune September 19, 2004 http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/specials/chi-0409190261sep19,1,3910166.story?coll=chi-news-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true]
Calculating that open warfare with more powerful Western powers is unproductive, the Muslim Brotherhood has used its considerable influence, working beneath the radar to carry on cultural jihad with the intent of eventually replacing secular governments with Shari’a.
“the Muslim Brotherhood and their Saudi financiers have worked to cement Islamist influence over Germany's Muslim community, they have not limited their infiltration to Germany. Thanks to generous foreign funding, meticulous organization, and the naïveté of European elites, Muslim Brotherhood-linked organizations have gained prominent positions throughout Europe… The Muslim Brotherhood's ample funds and organization have contributed to their success in Europe. But their acceptance into mainstream society and their unchallenged rise to power would not have been possible had European elites been more vigilant, valued substance over rhetoric, and understood the motivations of those financing and building these Islamist organizations… What most European politicians fail to understand is that by meeting with radical organizations, they empower them and grant the Muslim Brotherhood legitimacy. There is an implied endorsement to any meeting, especially when the same politicians ignore moderate voices that do not have access to generous Saudi funding. This creates a self-perpetuating cycle of radicalization because the greater the political legitimacy of the Muslim Brotherhood, the more opportunity it and its proxy groups will have to influence and radicalize various European Muslim communities" [source Lorenzo Vidino, “The Muslim Brotherhood’s Conquest of Europe," Middle East Quarterly Winter 2005, http://www.meforum.org/article/687]
The Brotherhood is fully supportive of Hamas governing Palestine, giving it a closer base with which to attempt to destroy Israel.
As the Middle East Media Research Institute [MEMRI] reports:
[The] “Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt General Guide Muhammad Mahdi 'Akef has said that the [Hamas] government of Palestinian Prime Minister Isma'il Haniya is one of the best Palestinian governments…'Akef called on the Palestinians to act to liberate the homeland from the Zionists, and said that the Muslim Brotherhood was standing alongside the entire Palestinian people." [source http://www.thememriblog.org/blog_personal/en/1937.htm]
The above analysis though not exhaustive, amply demonstrates the dangerous nature of the Muslim Brotherhood and its centrality within Islamic terrorism. It is also more than enough to provide grounds upon which to call into question the Bush administration's inexplicable decision to move to consider working with the Muslim Brotherhood at any level, at any time.
The State Department’s selection of Leiken, a known quantity, was not happenstance. Considering the intrigue which routinely goes on at State it seems reasonable to suppose that this move was already well known by Leiken before he published his study in Foreign Affairs. It stretches credulity that he would have gone to the time and effort to conduct global interviews simply as the basis for writing a puff piece about the Muslim Brotherhood.
Things do not generally happen that way in Washington.
Leiken's study is one of distortion and disinformation masked by simplistic scholarship, which may well serve to subvert national security.
The fact that the Bush administration is even giving this proposal consideration is an indication that something has gone very wrong indeed. By portraying the Muslim Brotherhood as a group of benign reformers the true nature of its totalitarian ideology and goal of subjugating the West is disguised.
Instead of engaging the theoreticians of Muslim terror, the group should be added to the Designated Foreign Terrorist List, per executive order 13224, right next to Hamas.
The prospect of the State Department legitimizing this enemy [which almost single-handedly gave us Islamic terrorism] awards the Muslim Brotherhood a clear victory. It's no wonder then that the Sun's piece, "Washington Considers Talking to the 'Brothers'" is first up on the official Ikhwan website.
Asked to comment about this development at Foggy Bottom, Dr. Daniel Pipes said, "State needs to realize that the enemy is defined not by his methods (e.g., terrorism) but by its goals (imposing the Shari`a), and that the Muslim Brethren is, by the latter definition, clearly an enemy of the United States."
Leiken places great weight on the assurances made by the Brotherhood's leadership that it has forsaken global jihad. Does he really expect that members of an organization committed to establishing a global Caliphate - the Quran and the sword - will tell the truth to a couple of gullible American researchers?
Only in the multicultural wasteland of Washington, DC would it seem reasonable to take at face value statements claiming moderation by those whose creed is, "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope."
Leiken's un-academic analysis, allowing him to recommend that the United States engage a "moderate" Muslim Brotherhood has a political precedent - Chamberlain's consultations with Hitler.
Leiken misrepresents and dangerously underestimates the threat of totalitarian Islamism and his conclusions should be dismissed as being factually unsound.
Engaging the Brotherhood on any level grants them undeserved legitimacy and emboldens them. The process of rewarding them increases the appeal of radicalism, not lessens it. Such ill-considered policies diminish Western efforts to combat the terror network, within which the Brotherhood is a significant presence.