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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Egypt Fears the Strengthening of the “Muslim Brotherhood” Movement

Filed under: Egypt, Operation Swords of Iron

Egypt Fears the Strengthening of the “Muslim Brotherhood” Movement
A map of Egypt with the flag of the Muslim Brotherhood superimposed on it. (Wikipedia)

The Egyptian government is apprehensive about the potential reinforcement of the “Muslim Brotherhood” movement within the country, particularly amidst the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip.

The “Muslim Brotherhood,” deemed a terrorist organization in Egypt, shares historical ties with Hamas. The group operated alongside the Brotherhood in Egypt until 2017, engaging in terrorist activities aimed at undermining President al-Sisi’s administration. Both Hamas and the Brotherhood are substantially underwritten by Qatar, which also allows leaders of both groups to reside in Doha, Qatar’s capital.

In June 2023, news reports claimed that at Egypt’s request, Qatar ordered the expulsion of 100 leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups.1

Abdel Fatah al-Sisi with Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani
Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi (R) received Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on November 10, 2023, at Cairo International Airport. (Photo Handout/Egyptian Presidency)

Egypt’s primary worry today revolves around the impact of the Gaza conflict on its internal stability and the continuity of President a-Sisi’s leadership.

Given the Muslim Brotherhood’s status as the most prominent opposition entity in Egypt, coupled with its affiliation with Hamas, there are concerns that it may seek to destabilize the government.

President a-Sisi declared the movement a terrorist group upon assuming power in 2014.

Egyptian Interior Minister Mahmoud Tawfik cautioned on January 25, 2024, against the Muslim Brotherhood’s efforts to revive propaganda activities, disseminating false information to incite violence and discontent.

Speaking during the 72nd Police Day event, he emphasized the movement’s attempts to disrupt governmental stability and social harmony.

Tawfik noted that the group uses social media to attract and train young people to prepare them to mount violent attacks against their country.2

Tawfik revealed that Egyptian security forces had thwarted 129 attempts to establish terrorist cells over the past year and had taken measures against commercial entities financing the Muslim Brotherhood’s infrastructure.

Furthermore, Egyptian security officials indicate that despite significant setbacks suffered by the Brotherhood within Egypt, the group is attempting to rebuild its network abroad, notably in Turkey and Syria.

In Syria, it operates in areas conducive to terrorist activities, training members in sabotage and weapon use.

The Brotherhood’s Internal Problems

Internal divisions and leadership disputes have also weakened the Muslim Brotherhood, diminishing its influence compared to its peak between 2011 and 2013.

Egyptian security agencies closely monitor attempts by the movement’s overseas leadership to re-establish connections with activists within Egypt to incite terrorist acts against the regime.

Minister Tawfik warned against the exploitation of regional instability, such as that seen in the Gaza conflict, by terrorist organizations to establish new cells and recruit members via social networks, urging vigilance against potential violence directed at state institutions.

Despite ongoing efforts to dismantle the Muslim Brotherhood, sleeper cells await opportunities to carry out attacks.

Moreover, the movement’s leadership abroad is engaged in a duplicitous game, attempting reconciliation with the Egyptian government, which staunchly opposes such overtures.

Egyptian prisons house many Muslim Brotherhood leaders convicted of violence and incitement, while others have fled to countries like Turkey and Qatar.

Egyptian intelligence is particularly concerned about the possibility of Hamas operatives from Gaza entering Egyptian territory post-conflict, potentially joining forces with Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS affiliates in North Sinai to launch coordinated terrorist attacks against the regime, reminiscent of activities observed until 2017.

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