Investigative Project on Terrorism
THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD
The Muslim Brotherhood (al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun)¹ was founded as an Islamic revivalist
movement in the Egyptian town of Isma’iliyaa in March 1928 by school teacher Hassan
The Brotherhood’s goal has been to promote the implementation of Shari’ah (Islamic law
derived from the Quran and the Sunnah)³ Early in its history, the Brotherhood focused
on education and charity. It soon became heavily involved in politics and remains a major
player on the Egyptian political scene, despite the fact that it is an illegal organization.
The movement has grown exponentially, from only 800 members in 1936, to over 2
million in 1948, to its current position as a pervasive international Sunni Islamist
movement, with covert and overt branches in over 70 countries.
“I did not want to enter into competition with the other orders,” al-Banna once said. “And
I did not want it to be confined to one group of Muslims or one aspect of Islamic reform;
rather I sought that it be a general message based on learning, education, and jihad.”4
According to al-Banna, “It is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to
impose its law on all nations and to extend its power to the entire planet.”5 That helps
explain the Muslim Brotherhood’s motto: “Allah ghayatuna Al-rasul za’imuna. Al-Qur-
‘an dusturuna. Al-jihad sabiluna. Al-mawt fi sabil Allah asma amanina. Allah akbar,
Allah akbar.” (“God is our goal, the Quran is our Constitution, the Prophet is our leader,
struggle [jihad] is our way, and death in the service of God is the loftiest of our wishes.
God is great. God is great.”)6 *****(that has nothing to do with the Quran but his twisted psychopathic way of thinking)
The Brotherhood has reached global status, wielding power and influence in almost every
state with a Muslim population. Additionally, the Brotherhood maintains political parties
in many Middle-Eastern and African countries, including Jordan, Bahrain, Tunisia,
Algeria, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and even Israel.
The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood attempted to overthrow the Syrian government in the 1980s, but the
revolt was crushed. Aside from the Muslim Brotherhood in Israel proper, the terrorist
organization Hamas was founded as the Palestinian chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood.
In fact, Article II of the Hamas charter states:
1. They are also known as the Muslim Brothers, The Brothers (al-Ikhwan), or the Society of Muslim
Brothers (Jama’at al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun).
2. Born in Mahmoudiyya, Egypt, Hassan al-Banna was the son of the prominent Imam Sheikh Ahmad al-
Banna. He studied at Al-Ahzar University and joined a Sufi order there. He then moved to Cairo as a
school teacher in 1932 establishing the Muslim Brotherhood branch there. Al-Banna was assassinated by
the Egyptian government on February 12th, 1949 as part of an Egyptian government crackdown on the
3. Sharia’h is the body of Islamic religious law. It is primarily based on the Quran and the Sunnah.
4. Hassan al-Banna, quoted in, Richard P. Mitchell, The Society of Muslim Brothers (New York City:
Oxford University Press, 1969), p. 207.
5. Fereydoun Hoveryda, The Broken Crescent, (Westport, CT: Praegar Publishers, 2002), p. 56.
6. Richard P. Mitchell, The Society of Muslim Brothers (New York City: Oxford University Press, 1969), p.
The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of Muslim Brotherhood in
Palestine. Muslim Brotherhood Movement is a universal organization which
constitutes the largest Islamic movement in modern times. It is characterized by
its deep understanding, accurate comprehension and its complete embrace of all
Islamic concepts of all aspects of life, culture, creed, politics, economics,
education, society, justice and judgment, the spreading of Islam, education, art,
information, science of the occult and conversion to Islam.7
Since its founding, the Muslim Brotherhood has openly sought to reassert Islam through
the establishment of Sunni Islamic governments that will rule according to the strict and
specific tenets of Shari’ah. To the Brotherhood, this is the correct primary endeavor of
human civilization, with the ultimate goal being the unification of these regimes under
the banner of the Caliphate – or universal Islamic state.
According to al-Banna, the Caliphate must govern all lands that were at one time under
the control of Muslims. He stated:
We want the Islamic flag to be hoisted once again on high, fluttering in the wind,
in all those lands that have had the good fortune to harbor Islam for a certain
period of time and where the muzzein’s call sounded in the takbirs and the tahlis.
Then fate decreed that the light of Islam be extinguished in these lands that
returned to unbelief. Thus Andalusia, Sicily, the Balkans, the Italian coast, as well
as the islands of the Mediterranean, are all of them Muslim Mediterranean
colonies and they must return to the Islamic fold. The Mediterranean Sea and the
Red Sea must once again become Muslim seas, as they once were.8 ****(doesn’t this remind you of the Zionists who want Palestine back?)
Once that is accomplished, the Caliphate is to be expanded to cover the entire globe,
erasing national boundaries under the flag of Islam. This concept was elucidated by the
Brotherhood luminary, Sayyid Qutb, who wrote in his seminal work, Milestones (1964),
that Muslims are not merely obliged to wage jihad in defense of Islamic lands, but must
wage offensive jihad in order to liberate the world from the servitude of man-made law
and governance.9 ****(Sayyid Qutb was even more insane than his predecessor, this is not what the Quran teaches)
The Muslim Brotherhood used activism, mass communication, and sophisticated
governance to build a large support base within the lower class and professional elements
of Egyptian society. By using existing support networks built around mosques, welfare
associations, and neighborhood groups, the Brotherhood was able to educate and
indoctrinate people in an Islamic setting. The organization is headed by a Supreme Guide
or Secretary General and is assisted by a General Executive Bureau (Maktab al-Irshad),
and a constituent assembly known as the Shura Council. There have been six Secretaries
7. “The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement,” The Avalon Project at Yale Law School, August
18, 1988, http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/mideast/hamas.htm (Accessed June 9, 2008).
8. Hassan al-Banna, quoted in: Caroline Fourest, Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan
(Encounter Books, 2008), p. 19.
9. Sayyid Qutb, Milestones.
General of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood,10 which is widely seen as the leading
branch of the worldwide organization.
The Muslim Brotherhood seeks to restore the historical Caliphate and then expand its
authority over the entire world, dismantling all non-Islamic governments. The
Brotherhood aims to accomplish this through a combination of warfare – both violent and
The Muslim Brotherhood has provided the ideological model for almost all modern Sunni
Islamic terrorist groups. When discussing Hamas, Al Qaeda, and Palestinian Islamic
Jihad, Richard Clarke – the chief counterterrorism adviser on the U.S. National Security
Council under Presidents Clinton and Bush – told a Senate committee in 2003 that “The
common link here is the extremist Muslim Brotherhood – all of these organizations are
descendants of the membership and ideology of the Muslim Brothers.”11
The leadership of Al Qaeda, from Osama bin Laden to his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri
and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed all were influenced by Muslim
Brotherhood ideology.12 ****(We know for a fact that none of the above where involved in the 9/11destruction but they were the easy target).
In fact, al-Zawahiri was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood as a young man, but he broke with them when his terrorist career began. He later wrote a book called The Bitter Harvest in which he condemned the Brotherhood for neglecting jihad in favor of participating in elections.13
The Brotherhood’s ideology was formulated by its two main luminaries: its founder,
Hassan al-Banna – who was assassinated by agents of the Egyptian government in 1949 –
and Sayyid Qutb, hanged in 1966.
Al-Banna once described the Brotherhood as, “a Salafiyya message, a Sunni way, a Sufi
truth, a political organization, an athletic group, a cultural-educational union, an
economic company, and a social idea.”14 While studying in Cairo, al-Banna had become
immersed in the writings of Rashid Rida (1865-1935), Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905)
and Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (1839-1897), who formed the backbone of the Salafiyya
Movement.15 Al-Banna agreed with their ideas that Islam provided the solution to the
afflictions plaguing Muslim society. Specifically, in accordance with Salafism, he called
for a return to what he perceived to be true Islam.
10. The six Secretaries General of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt are: Hassan al-Banna (1928-1949),
Hassan Ismai’l al-Hudaybi (1951-1973), Omar al-Telmesany (1976-1986), Muhammed Hamid Abu al-Nasr
(1986-1996), Mustafa Mashour (1996-2002), Ma’amun al-Hodeiby (2002-2004), and current leader
Mohammed Mahdi Akef.
11. Statement of Richard A. Clarke before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, October 22, 2003.
12. Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan Dahoah-Halevi, “The Muslim Brotherhood: A Moderate Islamic Alternative to
al-Qaeda or a Partner in Global Jihad?” Jerusalem Viewpoints, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs,
November 1, 2007. *****(This is not MODERATE ISLAM)
13. Raymond Ibrahim, The Al Qaeda Reader (Doubleday: New York, 2007), p. 116.
14. Hassan al-Banna, quoted in, Mitchell, Society of Muslim Brothers, p. 14.
15. The term Salafiyyah comes from the phrase as-salaf as-saliheen or “pious predecessors” of early the
Muslim community, referring primarily to Muhammad’s companions (sahaba).
Salafism is an austere form of Islam within the Sunni sect that attempts to return to what
its adherents believe to be unadulterated Islam as practiced by Muhammad and his
companions. In order to achieve this, Salafists strip out what they see as bida, or
innovations, from the practice of Islam as it has developed over the centuries. According
to Salafists, only pure Islam can solve the political, economic, social, domestic, and
external issues of the Muslim nation (ummah). As such, Muslim societies should be
governed according to Shari’ah.
While al-Banna drew almost exclusively on early Islamic doctrine in his works, it is also
important to understand the strong anti-colonialism sentiments driving his ideology. Al-
Banna was writing and working at a time when European powers had colonized the
Jihad, death, and martyrdom have been lauded throughout the history of the Brotherhood,
not only as a means to achieve the above goals, but as an end unto itself. In his seminal
work, The Society of Muslim Brothers, Robert P. Mitchell the late University of Michigan
Professor of Near Eastern History, quotes and paraphrases al-Banna:
The certainty that jihad had this physical connotation is evidenced by the
relationship always implied between it and the possibility, even the necessity, of
death and martyrdom. Death, as an important end of jihad, was extolled by
Banna in a phrase which came to be a famous part of his legacy: “the art of death”
(fann al-mawt). “Death is art” (al-mawt-fann). The Qur’an has commanded
people to love death more than life. Unless “the philosophy of the Qur’an on
death” replaces “the love of life” which has consumed Muslims, then they will
reach naught. Victory can only come with the mastery of “the art of death.” In
another place, Banna reminds his followers of a Prophetic observation: “He who
dies and has not fought [ghaza; literally: raided] and was not resolved to fight, has
died a jahiliyya [ignorance of divine guidance] death.” The movement cannot
succeed, Banna insists, without this dedicated and unqualified kind of jihad.16
Jihad is a central tenet in the Muslim Brotherhood ideology. In a booklet entitled,
“Jihad” and in other works, al-Banna clearly defines jihad as violent warfare against non-
Muslims to establish Islam as dominant across the entire world. He wrote:
Jihad is an obligation from Allah on every Muslim and cannot be ignored nor
evaded. Allah has ascribed great importance to jihad and has made the reward of
the martyrs and fighters in His way a splendid one. Only those who have acted
similarly and who have modeled themselves upon the martyrs in their
performance of jihad can join them in this reward.17 ****(WHAT he writes is absolute BS Allah forbids this kind of warfare and especially when people are unarmed, or if the believe in another religion has to be respected… Banna took this passage out of context as he always wanted to join the CRUSADERS, he was insane and the Westerners helped him along with this insanity)
To support his assertions about jihad, al-Banna quotes extensively from the Quran, the
Hadith, and great Islamic scholars. These quotes either define jihad as fighting and/or
16. Mitchell, Society of Muslim Brothers, p. 207.
17. Hassan al-Banna, “Jihad,” http://www.youngmuslims.ca/online_library/books/jihad/ (Accessed June 9,
emphasize the obligatory nature of jihad. On the specific subject of “fighting with People
of the Book [Jews and Christians],”18 al-Banna quotes Quran 9:29 – the infamous sword
Fight against those who believe not in Allah nor in his Last Day, nor forbid that
which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who
acknowledge not the Religion of Truth (i.e. Islam), from among the People of the
Book, until they pay the jizya [poll tax] with willing submission, and feel
Al-Banna quotes a Hanafi scholar:
Jihad linguistically means to exert one’s utmost effort in word and action; in the
Sharee’ah it is 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.19 *****(exactly what the CRUSADERS DID IN THE HOLY LAND against the Muslim population is it a coincidence that Banna recites the same… I was told by my father who is a scholar on Islamic religion that at the time of the Prophet when he was fighting against the nomads who were against the religion as they believed in totems the Turks approached him and told him we will become Muslims if you allow us to fight beside you and become like the Crusaders, The Prophet refused and told them that Islam and the preaching of the Quran forbids such a thing other religions will have to pay poll tax and cannot force people to change their belief in their God as long as they believe in one God whether its Christian or Jewish they must believe in one God.)
Islam allows jihad and permits war until the following Qur’anic verse is fulfilled:
“We will show them Our signs in the universe, and in their own selves,
until it becomes manifest to them that this (the Qur’an) is the truth” (Surat
al-Fussilat (41), ayah 53)20
In conclusion, al-Banna writes:
My brothers! The ummah [Islamic community] that knows how to die a noble and
honourable death is granted an exalted life in this world and eternal felicity in the
next. Degradation and dishonour are the results of the love of this world and the
fear of death. Therefore prepare for jihad and be the lovers of death.21
To ensure that the Shari’ah would be the “the basis controlling the affairs of state and
society,”22 al-Banna laid out a seven-step hierarchy of goals to be implemented by the
Brotherhood for the Islamization of society. The first step is to educate and “form” the
Muslim person. From there the Muslim person would spread Islam and help “form” a
Muslim family. Muslim families would group together to form a Muslim society that
18. Al-Banna, “Jihad.”
22. “The Principles of the Muslim Brotherhood” IkhwanWeb.Org, Official Muslim Brotherhood Website
would establish a Muslim government. The government would then transform the state
into an Islamic one governed by Shari’ah, as voted by the Muslim society. This Islamic
state would then work to free “occupied” Muslim lands and unify them together under
one banner, from which Islam could be spread all over the world.
As Mitchell explains, quoting original Brotherhood sources, these goals would be carried
out in three stages. Starting with “the first stage through which all movements must pass,
the stage of ‘propaganda, communication, and information.’”23 In this stage, the
Brotherhood would recruit and indoctrinate core activists. The next stage consists of
“formation, selection, and preparation.”24 In this stage, the Brothers would endear
themselves to the population by creating charities, clinics, schools, and other services.
More importantly, they would prepare for the third and final stage: the stage of
“execution.”25 Of this stage, al-Banna stated:
At the time that there will be ready, Oh ye Muslim Brothers, three hundred
battalions, each one equipped spiritually with faith and belief, intellectually with
science and learning, and physically with training and athletics, at that time you
can demand of me to plunge with you through the turbulent oceans and to rend
the skies with you and to conquer with you every obstinate tyrant. God willing, I
will do it.26
Qutb and Jahiliyya
In addition to al-Banna’s founding philosophy, the works of Sayyid Qutb (1909-1966)
also had a major impact on the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. Beyond that,
Qutb’s books sent shockwaves throughout the entire Islamic world. His most influential
works were Fi zilal al-Qur’an (“In the Shade of the Quran”)27 and Ma’alim fi al-Tariq
(“Milestones”). Milestones has come to be Qutb’s most popular work and has influenced
Islamic extremists such as Ayman al-Zawahiri,28 Dr. Abdullah Azzam, 29 and Osama bin
23. Mitchell, Society of Muslim Brothers, p. 13.
24. Risalat Al-Mu’tamar al-khamis (Message of the Fifth Congress), quoted in Mitchell, Society of Muslim
Brothers, p. 14.
25. Ibid, 15.
27. This work, written while Qutb was languishing in an Egyptian jail cell (1954-1964), is a 30 volume
commentary (tafsir) on the Quran. A highly popular work, Qutb in his commentary advocates for shari’ah
to be implemented in all Muslim societies. It also contains significant amounts of vitriol directed primarily
28. Zawahiri, also a member of the Brotherhood since the age of fourteen (1965) became familiar with
Qutb’s writings while he was in Saudi Arabia. There he came under the tutelage of Sayyid’s brother
Muhammad Qutb, who fled Egypt in 1972 and began teaching his brother’s philosophy while a professor at King Abdel-Aziz University in Jeddah and the Umm al-Qura University in Mecca. Osama Bin Laden also
reportedly attended Muhammad Qutb’s lectures there too.
17. Jim Landers, “Muslim Extremists Justify Violence on Way to Restoring Divine Law,” Dallas Morning
News, November 3, 2001.
30. The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the
Written while Qutb was in prison in Egypt,31 Milestones’ central thesis was that the
world had degraded into a state of ignorance (as existed before the Prophethood of
Mohammad) or jahiliyya.32 He proposed that the overthrow of apostate rulers and the
establishment of Islamic societies worldwide though offensive jihad is the only way to
solve this state of affairs. In addition to Hassan al-Banna’s ideas, Qutb was heavily
influenced by the writings of Indian Islamist Sayyid Mawlana Abul Ala Maududi (1903-
1979)33 and the medieval scholar Taqi ad-Din Ahmad Ibn Taymiyyah (1263-1328).
However, Qutb expanded on their ideas of jahiliyyah and jihad.
As the 9/11 Commission Report found, Qutb came to the U.S. to study in the late 1940s:
Qutb returned with an enormous loathing of Western society and history. He
dismissed Western achievements as entirely material, arguing that Western
society possesses “nothing that will satisfy its own conscience and justify its
existence.” Three basic themes emerge from Qutb’s writings. First, he claimed
that the world was beset with barbarism, licentiousness, and unbelief (a condition
he called jahiliyya, the religious term for the period of ignorance prior to the
revelations given to the Prophet Mohammed). Qutb argued that humans can
choose only between Islam and jahiliyya. Second, he warned that more people,
including Muslims, were attracted to jahiliyya and its material comforts than to
his view of Islam; jahiliyya could therefore triumph over Islam.
Third, no middle ground exists in what Qutb conceived as a struggle between God and Satan. All
Muslims—as he defined them—therefore must take up arms in this fight. Any
Muslim who rejects his ideas is just one more nonbeliever worthy of
While both Maududi and Ibn Taymiyyah used jahiliyya to describe some contemporaries,
Qutb described the whole of the Muslim community to be in jahiliyya, as “the Muslim
community has long ago vanished from existence.”35 Since Arab secular leaders did not
follow the Shari’ah, they were considered to be in apostasy for violating God’s
sovereignty (al-hakimiyya) on earth. In fact, “any place where the Shari’ah is not
31. Qutb spent ten years in prison from 1954 to 1964 after being arrested for being a member of the
Brotherhood (he joined in 1953) when Nasser outlawed the organization in 1954. Milestones was published when Qutb emerged from prison in 1965, even though Qutb was arrested and jailed again for preaching for an Islamic state in Egypt. He was executed on August 29th, 1966 with excerpts from Milestones used against him during his trial. After his execution he became a “Martyr” (Shaheed) to his followers.
32. Jahiliyyah can be loosely translated as a state of “ignorance of divine guidance” referring to the
conditions in pre-Islamic Arabian society before the revelations of the Quran by Allah and the Prophet
33. Also written as Maududi, Maudoodi, or Mawdudi. He founded the Pakistani Islamic group Jamaat-e-
Islami in 1941 with the goal of establishing an Islamic state in South Asia. He headed the party until 1973
and was well known for his writings on Islam.
34. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, The 9/11 Commission Report: Final
Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (New York: Norton,
2004), p. 51.
35. Qutb, Sayyid. Milestones. (Syria: Damascus, Dar al-Ilm), 9.
enforced and where Islam is not dominant becomes the Abode of War (Dar-ul-Harb).”36
Jahiliyyah now included all states, whether ruled by Muslims or not.
To achieve his vision, Qutb advocated for the creation of a vanguard (tali’a), whose
members would model themselves after the Prophet Muhammad’s companions. This
vanguard would then fight jahiliyya and its influences through
methods of preaching (daw’a) and persuasion for reforming ideas and beliefs; and
it uses physical power and Jihad for abolishing the organizations and authorities
of the jahili system which prevents people from reforming their ideas and beliefs
but forces them to obey their erroneous ways and make them serve human lords
instead of the Almighty Lord.37
According to his vision, the vanguard would not “compromise with the practices of jahili
society, nor can we be loyal to it,” Qutb wrote. “Jahili society, because of its jahili
characteristics (described as evil and corrupt), is not worthy to be compromised with.”38
Qutb’s jihad against Dar al-Harb (Abode of War),39 was not only to protect the Dar al-
Islam (Abode of Islam) but also to enhance it and spread it “throughout the earth to the
whole of mankind.”40 Adherence to Shari’ah would free mankind from the jahiliyyah
influences. This war would not be temporary, “but an eternal state, as truth and falsehood
cannot co-exist on this earth.”41
The Brotherhood Today:
While many Muslim Brotherhood branches around the world claim to have embraced
democracy, the philosophies developed by Hassan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb still carry
great influence within the organization. The Brotherhood continues to be driven by al-
Banna’s belief that Islam is destined to eventually dominate the world. The
Brotherhood’s declared principles remain steadfast even today. According to their
website, the Brotherhood seeks, “the introduction of the Islamic Shari’ah as the basis
controlling the affairs of state and society” and “unification among the Islamic countries
and states…liberating them from foreign imperialism.”42 This includes “spreading
Islamic concepts that reject submission to humiliation, and incite to fighting it” while
36. Ibid., 124.
37. Ibid., 55.
38. Ibid., 21.
39 The Dar al-Harb (Abode of War) traditionally is considered to be countries and places where Islam is
not predominant or areas not ruled by Muslims.
40. Milestones, 72.
41. Ibid., 66.
42 .“The Principles of the Muslim Brotherhood” IkhwanWeb.Org, Official Muslim Brotherhood Website
(Accessed June 10, 2008).
“reviving the will of liberation and independence in the people, and sowing the spirit of
Some have contended that there is a “moderate” wing to the Muslim Brotherhood that
can and should serve as a bridge between the Islamic world and the West, 44 but this claim
has been much disputed in academia and the media. Proponents of this theory claim that
beginning with Hassan al-Hudaybi – al-Banna’s immediate successor as Supreme Guide
– the Brotherhood took a moderate turn.
Detractors 45 note the proponents’ lack of background in the subject matter. They also cite
the Brotherhood’s persistent support of violence, under the rubric of resistance against
occupation, and the greater popularity of decidedly immoderate figures like Sayyid Qutb
over al-Hudaybi in the modern Brotherhood (Qutb’s books can be found in a variety of
languages all around the world. The same cannot be said for al-Hudaybi’s). One scholar
has questioned whether al-Hudaybi even penned the moderate volume, Preachers, Not
Judges, that has been credited to him, raising the possibility that the Egyptian intelligence
service played a role in its production.46
In the fall of 2007, the Brotherhood issued its first official platform in decades. The
platform explains, in plain terms, the agenda of the Brotherhood in Egypt and the Islamic
world. It calls for: “Spreading and deepening the true concepts of Islam as a complete
methodology that regulates all aspects of life.” Here are some other notable excerpts
from the platform:
– “The intentions of the Islamic Shari’ah which aim for the realization of the
important aspects and needs and good achievements in the realm of religion
and spirit and the self and property and intellect and wealth represent the
ruling policy in the defining of the priorities of the goals and strategic
– “Islam has developed an exemplary model for a state.”
– “The Islamic methodology aims to reform the state of limited capabilities to
make it into a strong Islamic state…”
Whatever moderating stance the platform takes, in August 2004, the Brotherhood issued
a public appeal of support for those fighting coalition forces in Iraq,47 and the following
43. “Reading into The Muslim Brotherhood’s Documents,” IkhwanWeb.Org, Official Muslim Brotherhood
Website, June 13, 2007, http://www.ikhwanweb.org/Article.asp?ID=818&LevelID=2&SectionID=116
(Accessed May 29, 2008).
44. Robert S. Leiken and Steven Brooke, “The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood,” Foreign Affairs, March-
45. Douglas Farah, Youssef Ibrahim, Patrick Poole, and others.
46. Barbara Zollner, “Prison Talk: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Internal Struggle During Gamal Abdel
Nasser’s Persecution, 1954-1971” (International Journal of Muddle East Studies, 39, 2007), pp. 411–433.
47 .“The Muslim Brotherhood Movement in Support of Fighting Americans Forces in Iraq,” MEMRI Special
Dispatch Series, September 3, 2004.
month, spiritual guide Yusuf al-Qaradawi issued a fatwa deeming it a religious duty for
Muslims to fight America in Iraq.48
The Brotherhood also plays an active role today in promoting terrorism against American
interests. The Brotherhood actively supports Hamas to “face the U.S. and Zionist
strategy” in the Occupied Territories and supports their “legitimate resistance.”49
A November 2007 interview with Brotherhood Supreme Guide Muhammad Mahdi Akef
shows the group remains committed to violence against those it views as occupiers.
Akef, the Supreme Guide, pledged 10,000 fighters for Palestine but said it was up to a
government to arm and train them. In the same interview, Akef denied the existence of Al
“All these things are American Zionist tricks,” Akef said. “The Shi’ites
attack one another, the Sunnis attack one another, and the Shi’ites attack
the Sunnis. But the Muslim Brotherhood has a principle, which I declared
from day one: The Shi’ites and Sunnis are brothers.”
“I’d like to go back to the issue of Al-Qaeda. There is no such thing as Al-
Qaeda. This is an American invention, so that they will have something to
Interviewer: “What about Osama bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri, and the Islamic
State of Iraq?”
Akef: “When one man, or two or three, fight this tyrannical global
superpower – is it worth anything?”50
Interviewer: “Thousands have carried out attacks in the Iraq in the name of
Akef: “That is a lie. Who says so?”
Interviewer: “They do.”
That argument fits with a theory offered by Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan Dahoah-Halevi,
senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public
Affairs. He argues that Al Qaeda and the Brotherhood share the same final goal – the
establishment of a global Caliphate – but the Brotherhood fears “that an Al-Qaeda attack
48. “Cleric Says It’s Right to Fight U.S. Civilians in Iraq,” Reuters, September 2, 2004.
49. ”Reading into The Muslim Brotherhood’s Documents,” IkhwanWeb.Org, Official Muslim Brotherhood
Website, June 13, 2007, http://www.ikhwanweb.org/Article.asp?ID=818&LevelID=2&SectionID=116
(Accessed May 29, 2008).
50. Special Dispatch – Jihad & Terrorism Studies Project, MEMRI TV Project, December 18, 2007.
against the West at this time might hamper the Islamic movement’s buildup and focus the
West on the threat implicit in Muslim communities.”51
Thus, the Muslim Brotherhood and spiritual guide al-Qaradawi condemned al Qaeda’s
actions in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
However, in an interview on May 23, 2008 with the online Arabic news service Elaph,52
Akef seemed to change his approach. He was asked: “Regarding resistance and jihad, do
you consider Osama Bin Laden a terrorist or an Islamic Mujahid?” In response, Akef
said, “In all certainty, a mujahid, and I have no doubt in his sincerity in resisting the
occupation, close to Allah on high.”53 He was then asked about his previous denial about
the existence of al Qaeda, and said, “The name is an American invention, but al Qaeda as
a concept and organization comes from tyranny and corruption.”
The interviewer followed with this question: “So, do you support the activities of al
Qaeda, and to what extent?” Akef said, “Yes, I support its activities against the occupiers,
and not against the people.”
Two days later, in another interview the Saudi-owned pan-Arab daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat,
Akef tried to clarify some of his comments about al Qaeda after receiving criticism from
religious and political leaders about his remarks in the May 23 interview. He said:
We (the Brotherhood) have nothing to do with al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden… we
are against violence except when fighting the occupier…When he [bin Laden]
fights the occupier then he is a mujahid, and when he attacks civilians, then this is
rejected. The word al Qaeda is an American illusion…Bin Laden has a thought
…his thought is based on violence, and we do not approve of violence under any
circumstances except one and that is fighting an occupier. We have nothing to do
with al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden…we condemn any thought that leads to
violence. When bin Laden fights the occupier then he is a mujahid, when he
attacks the innocent and citizens then this is rejected.54
In June 2008, Mohammad Habib, the first deputy chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood,
sat down with an interviewer from Al Ahrar, an Egyptian daily. In the long interview,
Habib spoke to the international Muslim Brotherhood:
Al-Ahrar: But what about the view that the Muslim Brotherhood will perish in
the coming twenty years?
51. Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan Dahoah-Halevi, “The Muslim Brotherhood: A Moderate Islamic Alternative to
al-Qaeda or a Partner in Global Jihad?” Jerusalem Viewpoints, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs,
November 1, 2007.
52. Interview with Mohammad Akef, Elaph, May 23, 2008,
http://188.8.131.52/ElaphWeb/AkhbarKhasa/2008/5/332823.htm (Accessed May 28, 2008).
54. Abd-al-Sattar Ibrahim, “Akif tells Al-Sharq al-Awsat: The Brotherhood is Against Al-Qa’idah
Organization Targeting Civilians; Bin Ladin’s Thought is Based on Violence” Al-Sharq al-Awsat, May 25,
2008, FROM: BBC Monitoring International Reports.
Dr. Habib: On the contrary, I see that the future is ours, and we will reach our
aspirations. The group is gaining every day more territories and a depth in the
consciousness of the Egyptian people. Add to this, the group is not confined to
Egypt, it has offshoots in various countries all over the world, it continuously
grows, achieves more successes at all levels.
Al-Ahrar: What about the international Muslim Brotherhood?
Dr. Habib: There are entities that exist in many countries all over the world.
These entities have the same ideology, principle and objectives but they work in
different circumstances and different contexts. So, it is reasonable to have
decentralization in action so that every entity works according to its
circumstances and according to the problems it is facing and in their framework.
This actually achieves two objectives: First: It adds flexibility to movement.
Second: It focuses on action. Every entity in its own country can issue its own
decision because it is more aware of the problems, circumstances and context in
which they are working. However, there is some centralization in some issues.
These entities can have dialogue when there is a common cause that faces Arabs
or Muslims over their central issues like the Palestinian cause. At that time, all of
them must cooperate for it. I want to confirm that while some see that Palestine
caused rifts among the Arabs, we see that this cause is the one for which all Arabs
The Brotherhood in the West
In the United States, the Brotherhood has had an active presence since the 1960s. They
have been represented by various organizations such as the Muslim Students’ Association
(MSA) founded in 1963, the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) 1971, the Islamic
Society of North America (ISNA) 1981, the International Institute of Islamic Thought
(IIIT) 1981, the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) 1981, the United Association for
Studies and Research (UASR) 1989, the American Muslim Council (AMC) 1990, the
Muslim American Society (MAS) 1992, the Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA),
the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) 1994, and others. In fact, nearly all
prominent Islamic organizations in the United States are rooted in the Muslim
An internal Brotherhood memorandum, released during the terror-support trial of the
Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) trial in July 2007 shows that
the Brotherhood’s jihad can take more subtle and long range approaches. Dated to May
22, 1991, the memo states:
The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad
in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and
55 “Interview with MB Deputy Chairman in Al Ahrar Daily,” IkhwanWeb.Org, Official Muslim
Brotherhood Website, June 16, 2008,
http://www.ikhwanweb.com/Article.asp?ID=17267&LevelID=1&SectionID=0 (Accessed June 17, 2008).
‘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
That theme was picked up four years later by a Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a Muslim
Brotherhood spiritual leader attending a conference in Toledo, Ohio. Al-Qaradawi has
been offered the post of General Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood twice, but has turned
it down in favor of building and managing several Islamist organizations in the West and
the Middle East associated with the Brotherhood.57 At the Ohio conference hosted by the
Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA), he said, “Our brothers in Hamas, in Palestine,
the Islamic resistance, the Islamic Jihad, after all the rest have given up and despaired, the
movement of the Jihad brings us back to our faith.”58
He later added:
What remains, then, is to conquer Rome. The second part of the omen. “The city
of Hiraq [once emperor of Constantinople] will be conquered first,” so what
remains is to conquer Rome. This means that Islam will come back to Europe for
the third time, after it was expelled from it twice… Conquest through Da’wa
[proselytizing], that is what we hope for. We will conquer Europe, we will
conquer America! Not through sword but through Da’wa.
But the balance of power will change, and this is what is told in the Hadith of Ibn-
Omar and the Hadith of Abu-Hurairah: “You shall continue to fight the Jews and
they will fight you, until the Muslims will kill them. And the Jew will hide behind
the stone and the tree, and the stone and the tree will say: ‘Oh servant of Allah,
Oh Muslim, this is a Jew behind me. Come and kill him!’ The resurrection will
not come before this happens.” This is a text from the good omens in which we
Prominent Brotherhood organizations in Europe include the Forum of European Muslim
Youth and Student Organizations, the Muslim Association of Britain, the European
Council for Fatwa and Research, the Islamische Gemeinschaft Deutschland (IGD), and
the Union des Organisations Islamiques de France (UOIF).
56. U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation, 04-CR-240 Government exhibit 3-85.
57. Mona El-Ghobashy, “The Metamorphosis of the Egyptian Muslim Brothers,” International Journal of
Middle East Studies (Cambridge University Press, 2005) p. 385.
58. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, MAYA Conference, 1995, Toledo, Ohio.