A close ideological link exists between the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda. The two organizations aspire to the similar goal of establishing an Islamic caliphate and imposing Islam over the entire world via jihad. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates in Jordan and the Palestinian territories openly condemn bin Laden’s “assassination.” This condemnation once again proves that the claim by Western elements that the Muslim Brotherhood is a pragmatic movement is false.
The global Muslim Brotherhood movement published an official statement on May 2, 2011, regarding the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by the United States. The statement was carefully drafted to blur the movement’s identification with bin Laden and the strategy (as opposed to the tactic) of confrontation that he espoused against Christianity, the West, the democratic world, and the infidels.1
The Arabic version states that “a special force of American Marines managed to assassinate Sheikh (honorary title) Osama bin Laden” and goes on to criticize the action. “The Muslim Brotherhood announced that they are opposed to the use of force in general, and against assassination methods, and they support bringing a person accused of committing any crime whatsoever to a just trial….The Muslim Brotherhood demands that the United States desist from intelligence actions against those who oppose it, and cease intervening in the internal affairs of all Arab or Islamic countries.”
The text includes no condemnation of bin Laden and al-Qaeda’s past terror practices. From the Muslim Brotherhood’s perspective, bin Laden was not an active terrorist but only a “suspect” who should be brought to trial. The U.S. military operation which killed bin Laden is seen by the Muslim Brotherhood as fundamentally illegitimate, similar to all intelligence activities by the United States aimed at Islamic terror targets. In other words, the Muslim Brotherhood believes that the United States has no legal authority to operate against terror in the Arab and Islamic world, which implies that these areas should serve as a territorial sanctuary for jihadis like bin Laden.
Furthermore, in its statement the Muslim Brotherhood justifies terror activities perpetrated against American forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, and everywhere within an Arab or Muslim country where they are stationed.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s official statement continues: “The Muslim Brotherhood emphasizes that resistance against foreign occupation is a legitimate right awarded by divine law and international covenants, and the confusion created between legitimate resistance and violence against innocents has been deliberately sown by the Zionist enemy.”
“As long as the occupation remains, resistance will remain legitimate. The United States, the NATO alliance, and the European Union must speedily announced the termination of the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq and recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.”
The Muslim Brotherhood continues to adhere to a line that openly supports terror. In its opinion, as emerges from this statement, terror attacks by Palestinian terror organizations patterned after those perpetrated by al-Qaeda constitute “legitimate resistance” and are not in the realm of terror. These same patterns of armed struggle in Afghanistan and Iraq, that include suicide attacks, enjoy continued legitimacy as long as American soldiers are stationed in those countries. The Muslim Brotherhood rejects any justification that a Western presence in these countries is intended primarily to assist in the war on terror and help lay the foundations for democratic regimes.
After it has justified Islamic and Arab terror and has termed it “legitimate resistance,” the Muslim Brotherhood movement insists that there is no connection whatsoever between Islam and terror. “The Muslim Brotherhood demands of the world in general and the peoples and governments of the Western world in particular to stop making a connection between Islam and terror and correct the maliciously mistaken image that was disseminated a few years ago.”
The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, as well, condemned the American action. Jamil Abu-Bakr, the movement spokesperson, noted on May 3, 2011, that, “despite the dispute between us regarding bin Laden’s modus operandi, he persisted to the very last moment on this path of confrontation with America and the enemies of the Muslim nation in an attempt to liberate the Muslim world from foreign influence, and he remained faithful to his ideas and his nation and stood steadfast in battle.”2
The words of Abu-Bakr faithfully reflect the position of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, that disputed the tactics of al-Qaeda but remains confident of its ideological platform and vastly esteems the work of bin Laden and the struggle to remove any Western influence or presence from Islamic countries.
The Hamas movement, that constitutes the Palestinian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, expressed sorrow over the killing of bin Laden. Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister, said, “we condemn the assassination and killing of an Arab jihad fighter….We see this as a continuation of American policy based on repression and the shedding of Arab and Muslim blood.”3
The Muslim Brotherhood movement and Hamas published bereavement messages in Gaza over the death of the “martyr [shahid] Sheikh Osama bin Laden…who ascended to heaven as a martyr after waging a heroic battle against the Crusader forces on Pakistani territory.” In another bereavement notice by the Muslim Brotherhood, bin Laden was awarded the title “the Sheikh, the Imam.”4
The Islamic movement in Israel headed by Ra’ed Salah, that is also identified ideologically with the Muslim Brotherhood, published a statement on May 2, 2011, condemning the action in which bin Laden was killed, saying: “We in the Islamic movement condemn the assassination of the Sheikh and martyr Osama bin Laden….The act of assassination…demonstrates the collusion of the mercenaries who have sold their soul to the devil….The act of killing Sheikh Osama bin Laden…will not terminate Muslim hatred for the iniquity and disasters caused by the United States.”5
The sympathetic attitude of the Muslim Brotherhood should come as no surprise. Former Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mehdi Akef told the Elaph website on May 22, 2008, that Osama bin Laden was an estimable jihad fighter. Asked whether he viewed bin Laden as a “terrorist or an Islamic jihad fighter,” Akef responded, “definitely a jihad fighter, and I have no doubt about his sincerity in the struggle against the occupation and an attempt to draw closer to Allah.” Asked if he “supported al-Qaeda activity and to what extent?” Akef responded, “Yes, I support his activity against the occupier, but not against nations.”6
Mohammed Badia, the current Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, explained in his weekly missive on January 13, 2011, that wars were caused worldwide by the absence of Islamic justice, and only its imposition could guarantee global peace. According to Badia, “Currently, humanity desperately requires the justice that Islam has imposed upon the land, in order to make the world happy and rectify the path of mankind. There is no path to stability in the world except for the restoration of the lost [Islamic] justice and its imposition throughout the entire world in every arena – global, international, regional, national, individual and collective – via equality, liberty, justice, and recognition of the rights of those who are entitled to them. Will the leaders, politicians, and philosophers be perceptive enough to understand this call for a restoration of the lost [Islamic] justice and impose it throughout the world?”7
Al-Qaeda sprang from the foundations of the Muslim Brotherhood. Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, started out as Muslim Brotherhood activists. The Muslim Brotherhood ideology is essentially no different from that of al-Qaeda in its aspiration to reestablish the Muslim caliphate and wage war against the West, on the path to conquer Europe and liberate Rome, the Italian capital and the seat of the Vatican, as an implementation of the divine edict mentioned in the vision of the Prophet Mohammed. Both the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda view Western civilization, with its democratic values and Christianity, as the paramount enemy of Islam, and both groups espouse and support jihad as the proper way to fulfill Islamic objectives.
The killing of Osama bin Laden closed a circle with regard to the terror attacks of September 11, but it has not liquidated al-Qaeda or its roots in the global Muslim Brotherhood movement, whose branches in the Arab and Western world continue to create new generations who cling to an extremist Muslim ideology that constitutes fertile ground for their recruitment to terror. The condemnation of the killing of bin Laden exemplifies once more and more forcibly that the conception adhered to by certain Western parties that the Muslim Brotherhood is a pragmatic movement is without foundation.
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2. http://www.ikhwan-jor.com/#3 7044
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Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi is a senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He is a co-founder of the Orient Research Group Ltd. and is a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.