The Brotherhood’s claws come out

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The aftermath of the July 3 ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has been tragically bloody, yet deeply illuminating for students of the Muslim Brotherhood. The secretive organization, once mislabeled as secular and moderate by U.S. Director of National Security James Clapper, has revealed itself to possess ready access to, and a willingness to use, implements of severe brutality to achieve its ends.

Twenty-one have been killed, and 112 injured, as rampant violence continues in the Sinai despite efforts by Egyptian police and military forces to rein in militias loyal to Morsi and the Brotherhood’s rule. Deaths have also occurred in street clashes between pro-Morsi and anti-Morsi protestors, with Muslim Brotherhood forces reportedly wielding shotguns and automatic rifles. The Egyptian military has bolstered its strength in the Sinai, with the approval of Israel as required by the Camp David Accords, and shuttered Gaza tunnels controlled by Hamas, expressing the fear that Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, was coordinating violence on behalf of their parent organization in Egypt. Egyptian troops have seized weapons from the Brotherhood’s Cairo headquarters, arrested heavily armed protestors, and even seized Grad rockets allegedly headed for Cairo. The Grad rockets are the same type used by Hamas and its allies to rain down destruction on Israeli towns such as Sderot. Egyptian prosecutors are also seeking to convict Muslim Brotherhood leaders for their alleged role in an assassination attempt against a top Egyptian general.

These events have thrown into stark relief what previously has been little understood. Indeed on July 2, just days prior to the Egyptian government’s decision to move against the Muslim Brotherhood and oust Morsi, I agreed to provide a briefing on the subject of the worldwide threat of the Muslim Brotherhood on Dec. 9, at Beth Chaverim in Virginia Beach.

The goal was to answer the question of whether the Muslim Brotherhood does indeed represent a legitimate expression of Middle East politics, as administration officials such as James Clapper have insisted, or whether it represents a dangerous threat to American interests and world peace.

How is it that the Muslim Brotherhood, misunderstood as a mere political organization, within days, is capable of mounting a growing armed insurgency, even while many of its key leaders remain imprisoned, or in hiding?

For the answer, it is best to turn to the original thinkers and founders of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 by Hassan Al-Banna, who from the earliest days stressed that the Brotherhood had both a political, religious, and military component. Warfare for the sake of Islam “Jihad,” is granted pride of place in the Brotherhood motto, which concludes: “Jihad is our way, Death in the way of Allah is our greatest desire.”

Indeed the Muslim Brotherhood takes great pride in having rekindled Jihad as of principal importance. As Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf Al Qaradawi notes in his work Islamic Education and Hassan Al-Banna, “The real implication of ‘Jihad’ had been dismissed from Islamic training and way of Life, before its conception among the lkhwans (Brothers)…”

The importance of the Muslim Brotherhood as both a “Dawah” (meaning preaching or proselytizing) and a “Jihad” organization is noted by seminal Muslim Brotherhood thinker Sayyid Qutb, who wrote in his work Milestones:

“The movement uses the methods of preaching and persuasion for reforming ideas and beliefs and it uses physical power and Jihad for abolishing the organizations and authorities of the Jahili system.”

Jahili refers to a system of government prior to the institution of Islamic law. Given that these thinkers shaped the Muslim Brotherhood from its earliest days, and have never been repudiated, we have every reason to believe that the Muslim Brotherhood takes its role as a jihad organization seriously. The recent events in Egypt make equally clear that when conditions are understood to require it, the Brotherhood is capable and willing to engage in violence. This is not the first time the Brotherhood has done so, nor the first time that it suffered arrests and repression as a result. Such was the case after the failed assassination attempt against Nasser in 1954, and again after the assassination of Sadat in 1981. The Brotherhood was in many ways forged in prison, as Qaradawi writes, “We used to jest by saying ‘The prison house of Tur is the 1949 training camp of the lkhwanis. Its expenses, food and lodging and other responsibilities rest with Egyptian government.’”

The Muslim Brotherhood is, by its own admission, the fount of Jihad from which all other jihadi terrorist organizations have emerged. Their brief experience leading Egypt has not divorced them of their terrorist methods or goals. It has made clear, however, the deep ignorance that exists among Americans, both policy makers and general public, about Muslim Brotherhood, and how truly dangerous it is.

Originally published at

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About the Author

Kyle Shideler
Kyle Shideler is the Director of Research and Communications for the Endowment for Middle East Truth

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