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Report One

The History of the Muslim Brotherhood

A report by 9 Bedford Row | 2nd April 2015 | Download report

1) Subject Matter of Report

1]  This report by members of the international practice group at 9 Bedford Row Chambers, of London has been commissioned by the State Lawsuit (Litigation) Authority of Egypt to provide an overview of the history of the Muslim Brotherhood looking at its structure, organisation and activities.

2]  In the report we review the Muslim Brotherhood’s objectives and growth strategy since its inception in 1928, up to the present day. There is analysis of the underlying tenets of the Muslim Brotherhood and its support and the methods employed to achieve its political goals.

3]  We have also looked at the organisational structure of the Muslim Brotherhood – a structure that has been substantially unchanged since its formation in the early 1930s. This has caused us to focus upon the origins of the Muslim Brotherhood’s paramilitary branch, the ‘Secret Apparatus’, and the central role it has held within the movement throughout its history. The key figures in the history of the Muslim Brotherhood are discussed, as is the formation and structure of the ‘international’ Muslim Brotherhood network.

4]  There is also analysis of the underlying ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood from which various militant Islamists groups have originated. Specifically in Chapter 4 we examine the origins of groups such as Al-Qa’ida, Islamic State, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, Al-Qassam Brigades and Sinai Province and their association with the Muslim Brotherhood. This review also includes the Muslim Brotherhood’s continued material support for these groups.

5]  The report in Chapter 5 goes on to examine the Muslim Brotherhood as a political force in Egypt and how in the 1980s it became the main opposition party. The group’s political trajectory and the consequent social effects of its rise in prominence are also discussed.

6]  There is a brief introduction in the concluding Chapter 6 to the current status of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt following the revolution against President Morsi’s government in 2013. The topics discussed in this Chapter and other related topics are to be analysed in greater detail in a series of subsequent reports that have been commissioned by the State Lawsuit (Litigation) Authority, namely: The Egyptian experience of the Muslim Brotherhood in power 2012-2013; The Egyptian Revolution against the Muslim Brotherhood 2013; and The current situation in Egypt. All these are due for completion within 2015.

2) Purpose and Objective of the Reports

7]  The reports will, together, present a comprehensive and effective review of the Muslim Brotherhood so that independent assessments may be made as to the nature of the organisation and its allied groups and organisations. We have not produced a document that has been tied to a chronology of development of the Muslim Brotherhood, but we have approached the project by looking at the issues and used a comparative approach.

8]  The reports will be evidence-based documents that also provide the necessary historical, social and political context in order to accurately demonstrate the true nature of the Muslim Brotherhood as an organisation. They will also review the impact of the brief period in which it was in power in Egypt and during which it managed to cause significant social, economic and political (as well as national reputational) damage.

1.3) Current Report: Methodology

9]  This report was wholly produced using open-source materials, drawing heavily on academic literature of the history and ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood as well as news reports of significant events in which it was involved. Where reference is made to sources freely available on-line, hyperlinks have been inserted for ease of reference.

10]  A glossary of transliterated Arabic terms can be found at the end of this report. Where possible, English translations of Arabic terms are used. Where direct translation may not be possible or might be difficult the original Arabic term is used with a translation included in the glossary.

1) The Growth Strategy of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

2.1.1 Setting the foundations for a mass movement

11]  The growth strategy of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt from 1928 to the 1980s demonstrates that the group sought to implement and achieve their founding aims, of an Islam formulated from and based on revelations in the Qur’an and the wisdom of the Prophet in the Sunna, that is applicable to all times and to all places and is a total system complete unto itself,1 with a high degree of pragmatism.

12]  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.”2

13]  The ultimate goal of a universal Islamic state could not be achieved overnight. The strategy has had to shift and react to the changing political landscape.

14]  The impact of the strategy can be seen by the Muslim Brotherhood’s exponential growth from 800 members in 1936, to over 2 million in 1948. It currently is a pervasive international Sunni Islamist movement, with branches or affiliated groups in over 70 countries. The Muslim Brotherhood also maintains political parties in many Middle Eastern and African countries, including Jordan, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Israel.

15]  As noted in article II of the Charter of Hamas:

“The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of Moslem Brotherhood in Palestine. Moslem Brotherhood Movement is a universal organisation which constitutes the largest Islamic movement in modern times. It is characterized by… its complete embrace of all Islamic concepts…the spreading of Islam… and conversion to Islam.” (emphasis added).

16]  A further indicator of the effectiveness of the Muslim Brotherhood’s growth strategy is that the Muslim Brotherhood has provided the ideological model for a number of modern Sunni Islamic terrorist groups, and the leaders of such groups, including Osama bin Laden, Ayman Zawahiri and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed have been influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood ideology.

17]  The international spread and influence of the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology is considered in detail in Chapter 4 below.

18]  The Muslim Brotherhood’s pragmatic growth strategy is also evident through:

(a) the ideological rhetoric that has developed, shifted and been re-interpreted over the years to match the shifting political landscape, although the underlying aims remain the same;

(b) the idea of ‘unity’ that included:

(i)  the desire to grow as broad an organisation as possible, achieved in part through the toleration, accommodation and, at times the encouragement of militant and extremist reactionary elements, and

(ii)  the development of a social-reform programme that was regarded as a natural method for establishing both the philosophy and authoritarian control;

(c) working the system, despite an anti-system rhetoric, to further its aims and influence; and

(d) acts of violence for political ends.

19]  The following sections: (i) Original objectives; (ii) Unity; (iii) Working the System and (iv) Acts of Violence for Political Ends, demonstrate that the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology and growth strategy from 1928 to the 1980s spoke the language of violence, rejected the traditions and values of the status quo, and accepted violence as a means to achieving its ends.

2.2 Original objectives

20]  The all-encompassing, broadly sketched goals of the Muslim Brotherhood, expressed through the slogan, ‘Islam is the Solution’,4 have not changed since its inception in 1928. Its principles, encompassed by its motto, “Allah is our objective, the Qur’an is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our path and death in the name of Allah is our goal,” have been stated both by Hasan al-Banna, the movement’s founder, and by Mohammed Morsi in his 13th May 2012 Presidential campaign speech.

2.2.1 Islam is the Solution

21]  Hassan al-Banna’s founding principles of the Muslim Brotherhood insisted upon:

(i)  an Islam as a total system complete unto itself;

(ii)  an Islam formulated from and based on its two primary sources, the revelation in the Qur’an and the wisdom of the Prophet in the Sunna; and

(iii)  an Islam applicable to all times and to all places.

22]  The founding principles were drawn primarily from reformist Islamist thinkers of the nineteenth century such as Rashid Rida and Jamal al-Din Afghani, who believed that the only way the Islamic world could meet the challenges posed by Westernisation and modernization was to return to the ‘uncorrupted’ values of the Islamic past.

23]  Al-Banna’s vision for the purpose of the Muslim Brotherhood is clear in his farewell message, ‘The Obstacles in Our Path’, written to his followers in 1943 when al-Banna believed he was about to be exiled by the British:

“My Brothers: you are not a benevolent society, nor are you a political party, nor a local organisation having limited purposes. Rather you are a new soul in the heart of this nation to give it life by the means of the Qur’an; you are a new light which shines to destroy the darkness of materialism through knowing God…”7

24]  Al-Banna recognized that his vision may require the use of violence as a means to achieve the end when he continued, in ‘The Obstacles in Our Path’:

“If you are accused of being revolutionaries, say ‘We are voices for right and peace in which we dearly believe, and of which we are proud. If you rise against us or stand in the path of our message, then we are permitted by God to defend ourselves against your injustice.’”8

25]  Indeed, militancy and martyrdom were considered to be central virtues in the Muslim Brotherhood’s ethos.9

2.2.2 Totalitarian reform

26]  Al-Banna believed in a comprehensive, all-encompassing, totalitarian doctrine of reform:

“The idea of the Muslim Brothers includes in it all categories of reform.”10

“The Muslim Brothers believe that when Allah most High revealed the Qur’an and ordered his worshippers to follow Muhammad, He placed in this true religion all the necessary foundations for the renaissance and happiness of nations…”11

“Islam established for the world the system through which man can benefit from the good and avoid dangers and calamities.”12

27]  Seeking to impose a total system complete unto itself, al-Banna defined the movement as:

“a Salafiyya message, a Sunni way, a Sufi truth, a political organisation, an athletic group, a cultural-educational union, an economic company, and a social idea.”13

28]  Al-Banna stated:

“We believe the provisions of Islam and its teachings are all inclusive, encompassing the affairs of the people in this world and hereafter…because Islam is a faith and a ritual, a nation (watan) and a nationality, a religion and a state, spirit and deed, holy text and sword…. The Glorious Qur’an …considers  [these things] to be the core of Islam and its essence….”14

29]  The totality of the system was reiterated by Umar al-Tilmisani, the Third General Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood. Islam he said, is:

“a creed, worship, homeland, citizenship, creation, the physical culture, law, forgiveness, and power.”15

2.2.3 Using the language of violence

30]  The Muslim Brotherhood espoused a reactionary, aggressive and violent rhetoric at its outset.  The six members of the British camp labour force allegedly spoke of “the road to action’” and of dying in the service of God, when they asked al-Banna to launch the Muslim Brotherhood, and they are all said to have taken an oath to God to be “troops [jund] for the message of Islam”.16

31]  At the Fifth Muslim Brotherhood Conference in 1939, al-Banna warned that “action, not speech, and preparations not slogans, would guarantee the victory.17” 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 tyrant. God willing, I will do it.”

32]  In line with this vision of the stage of execution and the requirement of force, al-Banna specifically included militancy as part of the training of the members of the Muslim Brotherhood. This is discussed in detail in the section on the Rover Scouts and Secret Apparatus in Chapter 3 of this report.

2.2.4 Creation of an Anti-systemic movement

33]  The Muslim Brotherhood’s founding purpose was anti-Western, anti-Imperialist and anti-colonial. Its message was one that rejected not only British rule, but also the traditions, values and methods of their rule. The Muslim Brotherhood believed the occupation, and subsequent decay of Islamic values, meant a “slow annihilation and profound and complete corruption” for Egypt. According to al-Banna:

“Western civilization has invaded us by force and with aggression on the level of science and money, of politics and luxury, of pleasures and negligence, and of various aspects of life that are comfortable, exciting and seductive.”20

34]  Al-Banna taught that “formal political independence” was worthless unless accompanied by “intellectual, social, and cultural independence.21” He, and Hudaybi after him, called for members of the Muslim Brotherhood to “eject Imperialism from your souls, and it will leave your lands.” Qutb in turn called for “Holy war” to be declared against Western civilization.

35]  Al-Banna rejected the imitation of Western thoughts and values:

“We want to think independently, depending on … Islam and not upon imitation which ties us to the theories and attitudes of the West in everything. We want to be distinguished by our own values and the qualities of our life as a great … nation which has a past”22

36]  In the Muslim Brotherhood’s view, western democratic government had not only failed, but had made the people victim to a corrupt and abusive political-economic social ‘tyranny’.23

37]  Given its rejection of the party system, the Muslim Brotherhood’s pragmatism is evident in its willingness to put candidates forward for election. It is also evident in its ability to work with political parties in order to achieve some of its objectives, and in modern times even to embrace the party system.

38]  The discourse rejected the economic order, which it considered to be dominated by ‘the foreigners’ who viewed Egyptians with little esteem.24 From the outset, the language of the movement was rife with anger towards the humiliation and lack of Arab and Muslim status, known as manzila, and dignity, known as karama.25 The Muslim Brotherhood spoke of purging the nation of its “painful economic oppressions” as a defence to both capitalism and communism.26

39]  As the foreigner, described as khawaja, was invariably a Christian or Jew, the Muslim Brotherhood’s rhetoric that it stood “in defence of Islam” meant that the foreigner was regarded as a religious and cultural, as well as a political and economic, enemy.27

40]  The Jews also became a metaphor for Western domination and immorality, and the threat to the integrity of Islam. The highly influential ideologue, Sayyid Qutb’s essay, “Our struggle with the Jews”, described the Jews as Islam’s worst enemies, the continuing battle raging for 1400 years. The essay vilified the Jews, stating that they:

“destroy the moral foundation on which the pure Creed rests, in order that the Creed should fall into the filth which they spread so widely on the earth. They mutilate the whole of history and falsify it […] From such creatures who kill, massacre and defame prophets one can only expect the spilling of human blood and dirty means which would further their machinations and evil.”28

41]  According to al-Banna, “[i]t was natural that there should be a clash between the [Muslim Brotherhood and missionaries] in view of the fact that one of them defends Islam and the second attacks it.”29

42]  Concerns regarding Christian missionaries were the focus of the First General Conference of the Muslim Brotherhood in May 1933, and a letter was sent to King Fu’ad urging these activities to be brought under control.30 During the 1930s and 1940s the Muslim Brotherhood lobbied ministers and members of parliament for Islam to be taught in schools, labelled missionary schools as ‘corrupt’ and called for them to be closed.31

43]  Inevitably, the local Christian or Jew was also identified with the foreign enemy.32 In 1948, during the war in Palestine, houses in part of the Jewish quarter in Cairo were attacked and destroyed, Jewish owned businesses were destroyed or damaged by explosions and anti-foreign rioting occurred.33

2.2.5 Personal morality

44]  Al-Banna’s goal of an all encompassing application of Islam was to be built upon the reform of individual hearts and souls, followed by the organisation of “society to be fit for the virtuous community which commands the good and forbids evil-doing, then from the community will arise the good (i.e. Islamic) state.”34

45]  The set of personal rights for all individuals encompassed by Islam were designed to, “raise the standards of individuals, permit their participation in activities which would serve the welfare of society, safeguard human dignity, nurture individual talents, and aid in the exploitation of their physical and intellectual resources.35” Whilst speaking the language of ‘rights’, therefore, a high degree of control can be justified.

2.2.6 Control: Adoption of the ‘General Law’ of the Muslim Brotherhood

46]  One of the most important developments that took place during the early-to-mid 1930s was the adoption by the Muslim Brotherhood of the General Law at the Third Conference in 1935.  This laid the initial foundations for the organisational administration and control of the Muslim Brotherhood and codified the rules for: (i) policy and decision-making; (ii) membership status and responsibilities; (iii) funding; and (iv) recruitment.

47] The General Law stipulated that the fundamental aim of the Muslim Brotherhood was “to raise a generation of Muslims who would understand Islam correctly and act according to its teachings”.36 The training prescribed by al-Banna was set out in detailed instructions and distributed to all organs and branches of the Muslim Brotherhood with the aim to “…produce a class of propagandists…who could spread the [Muslim Brotherhood]’s ideas, thereby expanding the organisation.”37 Al-Banna viewed the Muslim Brotherhood as predominantly a vehicle to spread and recruit adherents to his vision of Islam.  This was reflected in Article 8 of the General Law which listed, amongst other rules and obligations, the religious duties to be fulfilled by members of the Muslim Brotherhood.  Article 8 states that the fulfilment of this and other duties was to be:

“[…] the measure of the member’s faith in the [Muslim Brotherhood]’s idea. It measures his observance, his devotion and zealotry for the ideology of the [Muslim Brotherhood].


48]  A revised version of the regulations was adopted by the Shura Council in 1948 and with the appointment of Hasan al-Hudaybi as the new General Guide, an additional series of “General Internal Regulations” were also adopted.39  Together, these rules (which would continue to be revised and updated) would constitute the primary sources establishing the Muslim Brotherhood’s organisational structure and informing its administrative and technical operations.40

2.2.7 Culture of allegiance and obedience

49]  Since its inception, one of the hallmarks of the Muslim Brotherhood has been the cultivation of a culture of obedience among its members toward its leadership, in particular the General Guide.  Its laws and regulations cemented the General Guide’s overall authority of and control over the Muslim Brotherhood and all its bodies, associate (or affiliated) branches and members.  Such was the importance placed on the duty of obedience that all members, irrespective of societal position or membership status, are still required to swear an oath of allegiance, or bay‘a, to the General Guide and the leader of their section, committee or local branch. In turn there are consequences for disobedience which might take the form of a fine, demotion, suspension or, in serious cases, expulsion from the Muslim Brotherhood.41

50]  Al-Banna had put in place a system to ensure that the allegiance and obedience of recruits was not arbitrary. He structured the recruitment process to synchronise with his long-term strategy for indoctrinating new recruits to carry out the leadership’s orders without hesitation or question. Regular ‘training’ or ‘educational’ meetings referred to as “Battalion Assemblies” were held strictly in confidence to entrench this culture across all ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood.

51]  Beyond the developments in the organisational structure and hierarchy (discussed in Chapter 3), Al-Banna put his vision into practice, ensuring that the movement was organised so that members of the Muslim Brotherhood were engaged in programmes of ‘good works’ at the same time as encouraging and monitoring each other as regards the precepts of personal morality laid down in Islamic Law, known as sharia. This was important as a method of organisation and control, fulfilled the right to education, which was regarded as a ‘religious obligation’ and ‘the path to God’ and was a response to the problem of Western influences.42

52]  Western influences were accused of destroying the inherited and traditional values of Muslim society. The cinema, stage, radio and popular music, the uncontrolled press and permissibility of wine, the indiscriminate mixing of the sexes and the immodest behaviour of women were blamed for corrupting society and breeding immorality.

53]  Al-Banna demanded controls over all media of communication, so that theatres, films, songs, radio, press and magazines could be used to promote nobility and virtue.43

54]  Al-Banna further sought to control personal morality, calling for strict surveillance over coffee houses and summer resorts. He called for heavier punishment for crimes against morality as well as the abolition of prostitution, and the prosecution of adultery.

55]  There were sporadic but continuous acts of intolerant violence and interference by some members in the name of Islam and its morality, inspired by al-Banna’s militant sense of righteous power.44 At one point, a group led by Ahmed Rifat proposed that all members of the Muslim Brotherhood should, “carry bottles of ink to throw at those women who did not wear correct Islamic attire.”45

2.3 Unity

2.3.1 Breadth of the Organisation

56]  The idea of ‘unity’ underlines the growth strategy of the Muslim Brotherhood between 1928 and the 1980s, through both the breadth of the organisation and through its all-encompassing social-reform programme.

57]  Al-Banna explained his vision for membership of the Muslim Brotherhood. He stated:

“I did not want it to enter into competition with the other orders; 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 jihad46

58]  Al-Banna sought to grow the membership of the Muslim Brotherhood, and to encourage unity and inclusivity. He is said to have pleaded:

“Let us co-operate in those things on which we can agree and be lenient in those which we cannot.”47

59]  This strategy, to grow as broad an organisation as possible, has been continued throughout the Muslim Brotherhood’s history and has been achieved in part through pragmatic mergers, suppression of dissent, and through the toleration, accommodation and, at times the encouragement of militant and extremist reactionary elements.

60]  The first example of a pragmatic merger occurred in 1932 when the Muslim Brotherhood merged with Cairo’s ‘The Society for Islamic Culture’. This merger assisted the Muslim Brotherhood form firm foundations in the city, providing both a contact book and an operational starting point.

61]  The Muslim Brotherhood’s first significant dispute occurred in 1932. Dissidents, who complained of the dangerousness of the Muslim Brotherhood and its ‘secret works’ and above all its denial of ‘freedom of opinion’, were beaten by al-Banna’s supporters.48  This demonstrates that the breadth of the organisation and its inclusivity inevitably led to internal disputes and conflict, some of which could be and were suppressed or contained.

62]  From 1932 to 1938, there was increasing resistance and discontent within the movement. Some members resented the use of some of the funds raised to support the Arab strike in Palestine to fund the branches of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Al-Banna attracted intense criticism for his willingness to cooperate with authorities, despite the anti-system and reactionary rhetoric. Some members felt the moral salvation of Egypt, through Islamification, should be achieved by force.49

63]  Al-Banna sought to accommodate the more militant elements led by Ahmed Rifat, believing that containment was the most appropriate solution for the militant currents that had evolved in the movement.50 Although he continued to deal with the powers of the day, he also adopted a more aggressive rhetoric. For example, in May 1938 al-Banna declared that if the authorities failed to implement the Muslim Brotherhood’s programmes the movement would consider itself:

“at war with every leader, every party and every organisation that does not work for the victory of Islam!”51

64]  Al-Banna accommodated the more militant activists within the Muslim Brotherhood when he set up the Secret Apparatus, known as the Nizam al-Khass, in or around 1940,52 in line with his conception of jihad. However, al-Banna, struggled to contain his creation.53 By the late 1940s the Secret Apparatus, under Abdel Rahman al-Sanadi, was responsible for a series of acts of political violence, and had established a high level of executive autonomy.54 The Secret Apparatus, and its significance throughout the history of the Muslim Brotherhood, is considered in more depth in Chapter 3.

65]  Although al-Banna’s successor as General Guide, Hasan al-Hudaybi, publicly condemned the Secret Apparatus’s acts of violence, he was pressured by senior members of the leadership (many of whom were either members of or supported the Secret Apparatus) into retracting his statements. The militant activists had formed a powerful hub within the leadership echelons of the Muslim Brotherhood, sufficient to control Hudaybi from behind the scenes as they perceived him to be a ‘weak’ leader.

66]  The dissolution of the Muslim Brotherhood by Nasser in January 1954, and the imprisonment of a large number of members of the Muslim Brotherhood following the attempt on Nasser’s life in October 1954 caused the near collapse of the movement. However, by 1957 to 1958, prisoners began to discuss and exchange ideas, a communication network was built up linking prisoners, and Organisation 1965 was set up, with Sayyid Qutb, as its spiritual guide.55

67]  Organisation 1965 subscribed to Qutb’s idea that they, as the vanguard of Islamist activism, had to pass through several challenging stages of study, preaching, and persecution to reach their goal of establishing a just Islamic society.56 Because Qutb’s ideological development was not a secret, it can be concluded that al-Hudaybi was aware of the ideological foundations of Organisation 1965 and that he chose to tacitly accept, if not support, their activities.57

68]  In 1965, when Organisation 1965 was brought to court and accused of planning to overthrow the state system, the regime carried out a second wave of arrests and trials. Al-Hudaybi distanced himself from the group, his criticisms of radical activism later contained in Du’at la Qudat, translated as “Preachers not Judges”. The 1967 Arab-Israeli war  caused further division within the Muslim Brotherhood and a number of Qutb’s followers including Mustafa Shukri broke away to establish the militant Takfir wal Hijra group.58

69]  In the 1970s, Sadat released a number of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and allowed the return of former leaders of the Secret Apparatus to Egypt. These leaders set about rebuilding the organisation with a militant focus.  This is discussed further in Chapter 3.

2.3.2 Social reform programme

70]  Al-Banna believed that organisations must pass through three phases of development or organisational perfection: (i) propaganda, communication and information; (ii) formation, selection and preparation; and (iii) execution.

71]  The first stage applied to the generality of the membership. The second phase of development applied to those prepared to carry the burden of jihad and ‘military action’ without hesitation, question, doubt or criticism’. The third and final stage referred to a time of jihad and complete, unqualified acceptance and obedience of any order assigned.59

72]  Al-Banna’s Islamic nation or caliphate was to be built upon the reform of individual hearts and souls, followed by the organisation of society to be fit for the virtuous community which commands the good and forbids evil-doing, then from the community will arise the good state. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood were required to make a commitment to the movement described as, “action, obedience, and silence”’.60 The development of a social-reform programme was regarded as a natural method for establishing both the philosophy of the Muslim Brotherhood and authoritarian control of its members.

73]  In line with al-Banna’s first phase of ‘propaganda, communication, and information’,61 the primary focus for the early years of the movement was to enlarge its membership, building a broad base of members that was tightly disciplined, organised and mobilized to generate further recruits through continual outreach and indoctrination.62  Al-Banna sought to do this through direct communication. He and his deputies spoke with people in mosques, homes, clubs and other meeting places. New branches were founded, followed by the creation of a wide array of social welfare projects such as establishing mosques, schools, clubs, small home industries, health clinics, bringing electricity to villages. These projects provided a focal point for the population,63 and had the effect of developing a parallel state, through which the key ideals of the Muslim Brotherhood could be disseminated.  Chapter 3 sets out what was to become a highly sophisticated organisational structure.

74]  In its social-reform programme the Muslim Brotherhood placed great emphasis on education as a method by which to bring about its goals. Qutb stated:

“No renaissance of Islamic life can be effected purely by the law or statute, or by the establishment of a social system on the basis of the Islamic philosophy [.…] [a]nd the natural method of establish[ing] that philosophy is by education.”64

75]  As the movement became more established, spiritual, mental and physical training, for “Islamic preparation” was organised by the public relations and propaganda unit of the organisation. The section was responsible for supplying branches with lecture programmes, for authorising publications of a ‘scientific, cultural, and athletic nature’ and for providing a unified schedule of study for missionary schools.65

76]  In 1937 the ‘Battalions of the Supporters of God’ were launched. The battalion system was consciously designed to generate total physical, mental, and spiritual absorption in and dedication to the Society, its ideas, and its members.66 The later system of “families” organised the membership in a tight-knit chain of command, and was regarded as the active fulfilment of the meaning of Islam among the Brothers and the most fundamental of its educational’ instruments.67

77]  Al-Banna was so successful in establishing grassroots support through the social-reform programme that by the outbreak of the Second World War, the Muslim Brotherhood had “grown into one of the most important political contestants on the Egyptian scene”68 with a diverse membership, including civil servants, students, urban labourers and peasants.

78]  In 1929 there were 4 branches of the Muslim Brotherhood. In 1931 there were 10 branches. By 1939 there were 300 branches, there were 500 branches by 1940 and 2000 branches by 1949. It is estimated that by 1949 there were 500,000 active members and around an additional 500,000 sympathisers.69

2.4 Working the System

79]  Despite an anti-system rhetoric, the Muslim Brotherhood has proved to be highly pragmatic in dealing with the authorities from 1928 to the 1980s, in order to further their objectives.

80]  In the 1930s, al-Banna extensively communicated, by letter and in person, with the governments of Egypt about the state of Egyptian society, lobbying for reform.70 In 1935, delegations from the Muslim Brotherhood visited the Minister of Education and the Prime Minister to push for the teaching of Islam and Islamic history in the schools of Egypt.71 In 1937, a key training and recruitment unit of the Muslim Brotherhood set up by al-Banna, the Rover Scouts (see Chapter 3), acted as security forces in the coronation of King Faruq,72 publicly demonstrating their strength and organisation.

81]  In 1942, al-Banna sought to field seventeen candidates for the parliamentary elections. The government asked him to withdraw and to declare his loyalty to the government and the 1936 Anglo-Egyptian Treaty, the legal foundation for the British presence in Egypt. Despite the conflict of these requests with the Muslim Brotherhood’s beliefs, al-Banna agreed on the condition that the movement was free to resume full-scale operations, and the government would take action against the sale of alcohol and prostitution. The government complied with his requests and permitted the Muslim Brotherhood to hold meetings and issue some of its publications.73

82]  In 1946 and 1947, the Muslim Brotherhood was rewarded for its stand against the Wafd and the Communists, receiving a licence to publish its official newspaper, Jaridat al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin, privileges in the purchase of newsprint, as well as other privileges. A Minister of Education sympathetic to Muslim Brotherhood views was also appointed.74 However, this period is characterised by grassroots unrest: labour strikes, nationalist riots, battles between the youth of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Wafd, and political violence, which resulted in the dissolution of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1948.

83]  In 1951, Hasan al-Hudaybi was appointed General Guide, in part because he was well connected to the establishment (the other reason was that he was perceived as a moderate public face but was elected because he was thought to be easy to manipulate by the inner core of militant leaders). During this period the Muslim Brotherhood supported the nationalist agitations culminating in Nasser’s revolution; ending the British occupation coincided with their aims.

84]  1952 to 1954 was a period of conciliation between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Free Officers. The regime released all the members of the Muslim Brotherhood who had been imprisoned by the previous regime and opened an official inquiry into the murder of Hasan al-Banna. In 1953, despite the promulgation of the law banning political activities, the Muslim Brotherhood were allowed to continue its activities as an association with religious aims.75 However, al-Hudaybi declined the opportunity for three members of the Muslim Brotherhood to join the cabinet, for fear of losing its popular quality.76

85]  In 1954 the Muslim Brotherhood was declared a political party and was dissolved. After the attempt on Nasser’s life on 26 October 1954, for which the Muslim Brotherhood were deemed responsible,  some members were sent to prison or sentenced to death, but others moved abroad, where they focused on building the Muslim Brotherhood in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

86]  In the 1970s the Muslim Brotherhood continued to work the system to its benefit. They were able to tactically ally with Sadat against the Left, which saw their release from prison, their active participation in the discussions preceding the promulgation of the Egyptian Constitution, and their student cadres to be active in the university campuses. Their success is demonstrated by their winning of nearly all the seats in the Student Union elections in every university in the country, as well as in the National Student Union.

2.5 Acts of Violence for Political Ends

87]  There were two key political issues, the British Occupation and Palestine, which were the focus of acts of violence committed by members of the Muslim Brotherhood prior to, and immediately subsequent to their dissolution in 1948. Such was the level of violence that underlying the order dissolving the movement was the belief that the Muslim Brotherhood was planning imminent revolution.77 The third political issue that of Nasser’s nationalist rule, provided the focus of acts of violence committed by members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s and 1960s.

88]  Prior to the Anglo-Egyptian negotiations of 1946, al-Banna sent a letter to the King and to Sidqi pleading for an invitation to the nation to jihad, and an economic, cultural and social boycott of England. He called for major demonstrations all over the countryside and in the cities.78

89]  As a result, daily riots “exploded into orgies of fire – English books, stores, trams, and trees – and attacks on security and British forces in all the major centres.”79 Continuous rioting, including attacks on British establishments and personnel and on the Egyptian police, led to the resignation of Sidqi Pasha and the appointment of Mahmud Fahmi al-Nuqrashi Pasha to form a Cabinet.

90]  The Muslim Brotherhood had provided support to Palestine during the Arab general strike of 1936 and 1937, by raising money, sending supplies and equipment and by setting up a committee to propagandize the issue through the press, in pamphlets and in public speeches.80 In 1947 missions were sent to inspire resistance to Zionism as well as to provide technical support and military training.

91]  By 1948 a number of members of the Muslim Brotherhood engaged the Zionists in Palestine until the movement was dissolved, after which the majority remained under the control of the army.

92]  In October 1947 al-Banna ordered the branches of the Society to prepare for jihad. During December 1947 the Muslim Brotherhood carried out waves of anti-foreign demonstrations and riots in Cairo and Alexandria.81 In January 1948 the government announced that 165 bombs and cases of arms had been discovered, and had been confiscated by the police after a battle with some young Muslim Brothers who were training in the Muqattam hills near Cairo.82 The men claimed the arms were for Palestine, and were released immediately, suggesting their actions were condoned. In October 1948 the government discovered a cache of arms and munitions in Ismailia on the estate of Sheikh Muhammad Farghali, leader of the Muslim Brothers’ battalions in Palestine.83 In “Qawl fasl”, al-Banna’s pamphlet denouncing the decree of dissolution, he argued that the arms were officially recognised by the government as part of the arrangement between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Arab League.

93]  In Egypt, five weeks after fighting began in Palestine, on 20 June 1948, some houses in Jewish quarter were blown up, officially explained as the accidental detonation of fireworks.84

94]  On 17 July 1948, the day after an Israeli plane dropped bombs in a poor quarter of Cairo, there was anti-foreign rioting.

95]  On 19 July 1948 an explosion in lower part of the main through fare, Shari’ Fu’ad destroyed parts of two large Jewish owned department stores, Circurel and Oreco, an incident blamed, by the Government and the press, on Israeli bombs.85

96]  During the last part of July and early August 1948 other Jewish-owned businesses, Benzione, Gattigneo, and the Delta Trading Company, and the Marconi Telegraph Station, regarded as the centre of Zionist communications were either destroyed or damaged by explosions.86

97]  On 22 September 1948 an explosion destroyed another part of the Jewish quarter, and on 12 November 1948 the building of the Societe Orientale de Publicite, believed to have aided Zionist activities, was destroyed by a bomb.87 Large numbers of people were killed or injured, but no arrests or accusations were made.

98]  Amongst the papers found in the ‘Jeep Case’ (discussed further in Chapter 3), on 15 November 1948 were maps, memoranda and directives which clearly pointed to the responsibility of the Secret Apparatus for the terror inflicted upon the Jewish community.88

99]  In that case, police arrested the two dismounting passengers from a jeep loaded with crates outside a house in Cairo and a third who was carrying a briefcase. Documents from the third man’s flat, the jeep and briefcase disclosed the first information about the Secret Apparatus. At trial, the prosecution argued that Palestine was a façade to cover the Muslim Brotherhood’s real intentions of arming and training for revolution in Egypt.89 However, the court held that the Secret Apparatus was a training apparatus in line with the goals of “liberating the Nile Valley and all Islamic countries.”90

100]  On 28 November 1948, al-Banna was arrested for being implicated in the destruction of Societe Orientale de Publicite, but was released.  In “Qawl fasl” al-Banna claimed the attacks had not been and could not be proved as ordered by the leadership, and that they were a consequence of the Palestine war and the doubtful loyalties of some of “our Jewish compatriots.”91

101]  On 22 March 1948, Judge Ahmad al-Khazindar was killed on his way to work because he had sentenced a Muslim Brother to prison for attacking British soldiers in a club in Alexandria. The two assassins, members of the Secret Apparatus were sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labour. In “Qawl fasl”, al-Banna reminded the public that the judge had laid himself open to criticism from young people by sentencing young patriots to prison for attacks on the English, and maintained that the Society could not be held responsible for acts of its members.92

102]  On 4 December 1948 there were widespread riots at university against armistice talks on the Palestine war.  Students pelted the police force from the roof, and Cairo Commander of the Police Salim Zaki was killed by bomb thrown at him.93 The Muslim Brotherhood was accused, their newspaper was closed down, and despite al-Banna’s attempts to prevent it the Muslim Brotherhood was dissolved on 8 December 1948.

103]  The decree of dissolution held that the Muslim Brotherhood intended ‘the overthrow of the political order’ through the ‘terrorism’ of its militarily trained ‘rover units’, and set out charges of deaths of opponents, arms and training, bombings in Cairo and Ismailia, clashes with the police, threatening letters and violence amongst labourers and farmers in the countryside.

104]  On 28 December 1948 Prime Minster Nuqrashi was assassinated by ‘Abd al-Majid Ahmad Hasan, a 23 year old member of the Muslim Brotherhood and veterinary student, as he entered the ministry of the interior. Al-Banna wrote a leaflet Bayan li’l-nas repudiating the assassination of Nuqrashi.94 The prosecutor in the subsequent trial argued that the six months of violence prior to Nuqrashi’s death was the planned prelude to his murder, and the signal for a rebellion. The training programme was evidence of the intention to indoctrinate and train for violence. The primary function of the Secret Apparatus was to bring about “the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood by force.”95

105]  On 13 January 1949 there was an attempt to bomb the courthouse where the records of the jeep investigation were kept. Shafiq Ibrahim Anas, a member of the secret apparatus was arrested. al-Banna repudiated the act in public stating:

“They are neither Brothers, nor are they Muslims.”

106]  In “Qawl fasl”, al-Banna insisted that the only ones responsible for the acts are those who commit them.96

107]  Al-Banna was himself assassinated on 12 February 1949, by the political police, planned or at least condoned by the then Prime Minster ‘Abd al-Hadi.97

108]  On 5 May 1949, members of the Muslim Brotherhood failed in their attempt to assassinate ‘Abd al-Hadi, who had used oppressive measures including physical and mental torture in an attempt to quell the violence. They dispatched a barrage of bombs at a car with Hamid Juda in it; he escaped injury.

109]  In October 1951 with the unilateral abrogation of the Anglo-Egyptian treaty, Egyptians clashed with the British forces and the Muslim Brotherhood in Ismailia declared jihad against the British. From December 300 volunteers found their way into the Canal Zone, armed and trained by the ‘Free Officers,’ although Hudaybi denied the Muslim Brotherhood’s participation.98

110]  On 26 January 1952 in response to a major assault by the British on the Ismailia police headquarters, members of the Muslim Brotherhood were involved in a devastating riot in Cairo, whereby department stores, cinemas, bars, nightclubs, social clubs, luxury food and clothing establishments, novelty shops, automobile showrooms and garages airline offices were burnt in “one massive rejection, the British, the West, the foreigner, the wealthy, and the ruler – king and pasha alike.”99

111]  In the 1952 the Muslim Brotherhood assisted Nasser’s revolution by helping to ‘maintain order and security’.100

112]  However, the Muslim Brotherhood quickly became dissatisfied with Nasser’s staunch secularism. By 1954, Mahmud ‘Abd al-Latif, a tinsmith from Cairo was accused of attempting to assassinate Nasser. He pleaded guilty at trial to committing acts against the present form of government by joining in a criminal conspiracy to cause insurrection and revolution, and by attempting to kill the prime minister.

113]  In 1965, Sayyid Qutb, who had been released from prison in 1964, and members of Organisation 1965 were accused of plotting to assassinate Nasser, attempting to overthrow the regime and to incite a rebellion. Qutb was tried and hanged with six other members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

114]  The following chapter expands on the organisational structure of the Muslim Brotherhood both within Egypt and internationally, identifies its key members and discusses the creation and importance of the paramilitary unit, the Secret Apparatus.

3.1) The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

3.1.1 Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood as an Islamic movement in Egypt

115]  At the start of the 1930’s the Muslim Brotherhood had emerged from an ideology espoused by a small group of individuals under the leadership of Hassan al-Banna. It was principally based in Ismailia, North-East Egypt, evolving into a wider social and Islamic movement with local branches rapidly spreading across the country.

116]  By 1933, al-Banna recognised that for the Muslim Brotherhood to sustain its momentum, it required a tighter organisational structure, with an emphasis on cohesion and cooperation between districts and local branches. As membership increased, there was a drive by him to link the separate regional movements through an improved organisational structure. This would have a base in Cairo and with him as the recognised overall leader.101

3.1.2 Emergence of a functional framework for growth

117]  In 1933, the first annual meeting was held in Ismailia between prominent heads of local branches of the Muslim Brotherhood, which became known as the First Conference.  It was during this conference that the General Guidance Council  (Guidance Council) was established. This body became, and remains today, the Muslim Brotherhood’s highest decision-making body.  The initial Guidance Council consisted, among others, of heads of local Muslim Brotherhood branches and leading members of the Cairo branch.  It was affirmed that the Cairo branch would adopt a position of authority and act as the physical headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood. These developments were considered to establish a collective base upon which the Muslim Brotherhood could build.

118]  Shortly after the establishment of the Guidance Council, various qualitative measures were introduced, such as a formal registration procedure for members, educational initiatives and administrative and financial arrangements.  Importantly, al-Banna was keen to strengthen the spiritual unity of Muslim Brotherhood members and spread a more distinct message based on specific Islamic mores – a training programme for this purpose was therefore established.102 The importance of Islamic education was fundamental to al-Banna’s vision of the Muslim Brotherhood.

119]  The rapid rise of the Muslim Brotherhood across Egypt during this early period was partly due, to the vigorous publication of the group’s ideas through the acquisition of local newspapers. This allowed it to propagate its message and ideology across a wider area.103

120]  The Second Conference was held in 1934. One of its main achievements was to put in place a system to secure independent financing (primarily through membership fees) and to establish a printing press.104 The latter would help to greatly increase and accelerate the circulation of information about the Muslim Brotherhood.  This had the effect of garnering wider social awareness among the working class as well as increased support from academics and professionals. The latter group would subsequently form the core of the leadership within the Guidance Council and its various sub-committees. Younger recruits, many of them impressionable students who could be more easily moulded into the Muslim Brotherhood mindset, were key targets for expansion at the grass-roots level.

121]  Another outcome of the Second Conference was the consolidation of power vested in the Guidance Council and the recognition of the supreme authority of al-Banna through the conferment on him of the title of General Guide (al-Murshid al-amm).105

3.1.3 Development of a concrete organisational structure 

122]  The organisational structure of the Muslim Brotherhood took on a more discernable form in the mid-to-late 1930s. This featured sophisticated, hierarchical governance structures incorporating dedicated sections in charge of furthering its message among all levels of Egyptian society. Specific operational sections and advisory committees (both central and local) were entrusted with key functions, including: (i) propagation of the message; (ii) specialised committees for financial and; (iii) legal affairs and liaison with Muslim ‘reformist’ movements in other countries.

123]  It is noted however that while there are variances in opinion among historians on the exact structure of the Muslim Brotherhood, there is a general consensus that on the national level, the structure of the Muslim Brotherhood has remained essentially identical to the initial model formed in the 1930s as illustrated below.


Diagram based on the following source: Mitchell, R., “The Society of the Muslim Brothers”, Oxford University Press (1964) page 164. Organisational structure (Egypt)

124]  In the 1930s, the Muslim Brotherhood was organised with the principal aim of maximising regional growth with the command centre in Cairo and subsidiary branches spreading across the country.

125]  In its basic form, the Muslim Brotherhood is divided into several administrative levels.  The exact details of this division are uncertain but generally the structure is as follows: at the top is the headquarters in Cairo and the central governing bodies, the next level comprises the regional departments which are split into geographic areas, or manatiq. In 1935 there were 12 manatiq, growing to 20 in 1940.

126]  The areas are sub-divided into district offices, known as al-dawa’ir, there being 89 in 1937, each with a number of local “branches”.106

127]  The branches are divided into sub-units called families which would consist of around 5-6 individual members. The hierarchy of each sub-unit would be based on the level of each member’s active involvement within the Muslim Brotherhood, with a higher rank attracting more benefits and greater duties and responsibilities. From the top down, the ranking levels of family members are categorised as: active member, regular member, affiliate, supporter or sympathiser. Central leadership structure

128]  The leadership structure107 of the Muslim Brotherhood consists of three main components: (i) the General Guide; (ii) the Guidance Council, and (iii) the General Consultative (Shura) Council.

129]  The General Guide, the first being al-Banna himself, is the supreme authority and leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and represents its ideas and ideology to the general public.  He chairs the Guidance Council as well as the Shura Council. Traditionally, the General Guide in Egypt also serves as the head of the international Muslim Brotherhood movement. The policy and direction of the Muslim Brotherhood clearly flowed from the General Guide.

130]  After al-Banna, the General Guide’s were elected following procedural rules set out in the group’s regulations. In 2010, further revisions took place and it was decided that the General Guide could serve up no more than two six-year terms. Previously, the majority of General Guides had been elected for life. Also appointed are one or more Deputy General Guides and an official spokesman.

131]  The Guidance Council is the movement’s highest leadership and administration body. It formulates and executes the national policy of the Muslim Brotherhood (which includes direction and monitoring of preaching, activities and the operation of its various departments) as well as its international relations.

132]  The Shura Council is the modern equivalent of a legislature and is also chaired by the General Guide.  It takes part in the formulation of the movement’s overall policy and reviews the annual reports submitted by the Guidance Council, in effect acting as a check and balance.  It has responsibility for logistical and administrative issues although some sources have questioned its influence since the mid-1990s, suggesting that it has now been more or less subsumed by the Guidance Council and may be considered to be defunct.108

3.2 Jihad and the paramilitary branch of the Muslim Brotherhood (the “Secret Apparatus”)

133]  Little is known about the precise details of the formation of the Muslim Brotherhood’s paramilitary unit, widely cited as the “Secret Apparatus”, or “Nizam al-khass”, but it is certainly well-established and has a background arising almost from inception of the movement. Reputable sources are of the position that the Secret Apparatus might have come into existence as a result of a compromise between al-Banna and the more radical conservatives who demanded that Islamic tradition and Islamic sharia be implemented through force if necessary.109

134]  Pargeter states that the setting up of the military wing “was in line with al-Banna’s vision for the movement right from its inception.”  She quotes one of the founding members of the Secret Apparatus:

“The image that [al-Banna] had in his mind since…[the inception of the Muslim Brotherhood]…was of a military group that would encapsulate the idea of jihad in Islam… He [al-Banna]…was so keen to emphasise military activity in order to demonstrate the idea of jihad […].”110

135]  It is generally accepted that the Secret Apparatus as a military force was formed in or around 1940 and included among its ranks senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

136]  Key to the recruitment and military training of youths who joined the Secret Apparatus was the Rover Scouts.  Al-Banna had been impressed by the fascist youth groups which had emerged in Italy and Germany during the 1930s and with the creation of the Rover Scouts attempted to establish an Islamic equivalent.111

137]  The training of the Rover Scouts would not be merely physical but included a focus on jihad and martyrdom. Indeed, as is well documented by his tracts published in “Al-Nadhir” at the time, al-Banna tried to instil a willingness to die for the cause in these members by constantly associating jihad with the possibility of death at any time. Recruiting young men through the Rover Scouts and indoctrinating them in this manner (through relentless mantra, study and training) ensured that members would be consumed by the concept of jihad and martyrdom.112  Many of the Rover Scouts were however to be only foot soldiers.  The leadership of the Secret Apparatus was reserved for the elite members of the Muslim Brotherhood, many of who were influential members of the Guidance Council (including two who subsequently become General Guides).

138]  Al-Banna started building this military wing under the banner of ‘excursion groups’ run by the Rover Scouts. The Rover Scouts capitalised on anti-colonial sentiment and revolutionary spirit among the Egyptian youth at the time, their eagerness to fight against the ‘colonial oppressor’ conveniently feeding into the Muslim Brotherhood propaganda machine.  The young were also enticed by this new unit’s secrecy and mystique as some sort of covert, heroic fighting force.113

139]  Although attempts were made to keep the formation of this new military unit covert so as not to attract attention from the authorities, there was a deliberate transformation into a secret, trained, well-armed and well-funded military unit. The establishment of a military wing was a reaction not only to what was happening in Egypt at that time; but also as funds and arms were smuggled to help the Palestine struggle, the Muslim Brotherhood was also spreading its wings into international conflicts. The discreet strategy to use violence to further its ambitions was to become synonymous with the Muslim Brotherhood’s clandestine reputation, and remains so today.

140]  During the early 1940s, the militarisation of the Muslim Brotherhood had escalated, although they went largely unnoticed during the Second Word War. The violent nature of the Secret Apparatus soon became apparent when the unit was led by the militant senior Muslim Brotherhood member, Abdel Rahman al-Sanadi.

141]  While its early involvement in anti-establishment attacks against the British did not distinguish it from many other rebel groups at the time, the incident, which was to establish its notoriety, was the assassination in 1948 of the prominent Egyptian judge, Ahmed al-Khazindar. Al-Khazindar had sentenced some of the members of the Muslim Brotherhood to prison for attacks on the British and the reprisal against him was his execution.114

142]  In 1948, two major incidents happened which put the Muslim Brotherhood firmly on the map.  First, a young member of the Muslim Brotherhood assassinated Prime Minister Nuqrashi; and second, a member of the Secret Apparatus attempted a bomb attack on a Cairo courthouse. Al-Banna, who tried to distance himself from these actions, which caused already tense relations with senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood to boil over, wrote a pamphlet in response to these incidents. This was entitled “Qawl Fasl” and denied any involvement of the Muslim Brotherhood.  The existence of the Secret Apparatus was however uncovered in November 1948 in the so-called “Jeep incident” where the police, investigating the Muslim Brotherhood following the assassination of Al-Khazindar a few months earlier, found an abandoned jeep in Ismailia with documents regarding the Secret Apparatus and its violent activities.115 The information found included references to famous assassinations and bombings and was used as evidence in the trials against several Muslim Brotherhood members.116 A clampdown soon followed.

143]  Following the assassination of al-Banna in 1949 and the government crackdown on its senior members, a large number of Muslim Brotherhood members were arrested and imprisoned by the Egyptian government. The group was thrown into disarray and was without a new leader. Two years later, Hassan al-Hudaybi was eventually appointed the new General Guide to provide a public face that concealed a strong corps of militancy within the leadership.

144]  Al-Hudaybi’s appointment invoked dissent among many senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood as they were infuriated by his plans to disband the Secret Apparatus.117 Al-Hudaybi was considered weak and easily manipulated by those who were hardliners set out to exploit this position. His leadership was further undermined by the fact that many moderate members who supported him also regarded the Secret Apparatus as “glorious” and a Muslim Brotherhood without it was unthinkable.

145]  The Secret Apparatus clearly wielded significant power within the upper echelons of the Muslim Brotherhood and it was made clear to al-Hudaybi that his role as leader was to be the public face of moderation and nothing more. Key decisions on policy and operations were to be taken by senior members of the Guidance Council, which was dominated by the Secret Apparatus.118

146]  Upon President Gamal Abdel Nasser coming to power in 1952, the radical leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood initially supported him as they believed he would usher in Islamic rule. When they realised this would not be the case, the Secret Apparatus insisted that radical action be taken against the Nasser government. This reached a climax in 1954 with a failed assassination attempt of President Nasser at a speech in Alexandria known as the “Manshia Incident”. As a result, Nasser ordered the group’s dissolution.  The Muslim Brotherhood was for a time, at least, restricted in influence and power.

147]  For the next several decades the Muslim Brotherhood stagnated and its membership dropped significantly. However, an Islamic resurgence was to take place in the 1960s when a new wave of radical and anti-government sentiment emerged amongst the student population. These developments, galvanised by the radical ideas of the influential Islamic scholar, Sayyid Qutb, lent a new lease of life to the militant element of the Muslim Brotherhood. This was to dramatically shape the group’s future course and set the foundations for its strategy and purpose, still evident to this day.  The Secret Apparatus was to be fundamental to this strategy.

148]  Time would prove that the Secret Apparatus leaders were not tempered by their time in prison or by being forced to live and operate outside Egypt. These members, most of whom had been recruited to the Secret Apparatus in the 1940s, were already in elite positions as members of the Secret Apparatus. At the time, the Secret Apparatus still held authority with many of the next generation of Muslim Brotherhood leaders.

149]  Once outside of Egypt, the former Secret Apparatus leaders and their colleagues who had already been among the most prominent members of the group were able to operate from a privileged position without government interference. While abroad, many of them built fortunes through the opportunities for work in Europe and the oil-rich Gulf countries.  Members of the Muslim Brotherhood back in Egypt became dependent on them for financing, which enabled these wealthy, prominent members to wield significant influence on the group from outside the country.

150]  In the 1970s, President Sadat released many of the Muslim Brotherhood members in Egypt believing they had renounced violence. This would prove to be a fatal mistake.  Once released, these members set about recruiting students from university campus Islamic cells. These senior members would form the backbone of the future Muslim Brotherhood leadership with their influence still very much felt within the Muslim Brotherhood today.

151]  The influence of the Secret Apparatus on current international Islamic ‘terrorist’ groups such as al-Qa’ida, particularly since the death of the reformist General Guide, Umar al-Tilimsani, in 1986, is evident.  Assam Sultan, another reformist figure, acknowledged that when al-Tilimsani died, the reformist movement that had started within the Muslim Brotherhood died with him. Despite al-Tilimsani’s apparent efforts to reform the Muslim Brotherhood and adopt a more moderate strategy, the movement remained in the grip of the Secret Apparatus members. Although many of them were exiled for several decades, they acted as ‘back-room controllers’ and their gradual return to Egypt after his death marked the resurgence of this core leadership group. This group re-embraced the jihadist philosophy started by al-Banna and promoted by Sayyid Qutb.

152]  The impact of Mashhour, al-Malat and Sananiri (and Akef) on the Muslim Brotherhood today should not be understated and their individual and collective influence is discussed further below.

3.3 Key figures of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood 

3.3.1 Past leaders who significantly influenced the culture and direction of the Muslim Brotherhood Hassan al-Banna

153]  As the first General Guide and founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, he remains its most revered figure.  His ideology of a global Islamic caliphate remains the driving ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. Further, his apparent willingness to engage in violence to further the group’s aims has seen the concept of Islamic jihad emerge through the Secret Apparatus he established in 1940.  Its influence permeates the ethos of the Egyptian and international Muslim Brotherhood today, camouflaged by the guise of outward political moderation and religious tolerance. Mustafa Mashhour

154]  In his book, “Jihad is the Way”,119 Mashhour sets out his radical and often militant vision for the Muslim Brotherhood and the fundamental concepts of its ideology. This includes the Muslim Brotherhood’s goal of: (i) establishing an Islamic state; (ii) world domination under Islam; (iii) the public and personal religious duty of military jihad; (iv) and the warning not to rush to jihad until it is prepared and timed for maximum benefit. Mohammed Mahdi Akef 

155]  Akef was the movement’s seventh General Guide (2004 to 2010) and the first in history to voluntarily step down (in 2010) while still alive. He was one of the leaders of the Secret Apparatus and involved in the assassination attempt of President Nasser. In 2005, a year after he was appointed General Guide, he publicly denied the Holocaust and sided with then Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s anti-Western views. Akef stated that he wished to:

“expose the false American rule which has become a nightmare of a new world order”.120

3.3.2 Leaders of Secret Apparatus and their position of influence in the Muslim Brotherhood 

156]  Mustafa Mashhour, Kamal Sananiri, Ahmad al-Malat, Ahmad Hassanein, and Mohammed Mahdi Akef were Secret Apparatus operatives from the 1940s and 1950s121 who became wealthy leaders of the group in the late 1970s and 1980s. Unlike most members of the Muslim Brotherhood, these men were from wealthy families and were able to fund the Secret Apparatus themselves – a position which gave them automatic senior status within the Muslim Brotherhood.

157]  Once in the elite Secret Apparatus, they were well-placed to become prominent members of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership.122 The generation of Secret Apparatus operatives that preceded the Mashhour faction had been engaged in a power struggle with General Guide Hassan Al-Hudaybi, right up to the latter’s death in 1973. The Mashhour faction was one Secret Apparatus generation younger and had been one degree removed from the 1950s and 1960s power struggle. However, beginning in the mid-1970s, the benefits of their time abroad enabled them to ascend to the highest echelons of the Muslim Brotherhood over the heads of Al-Hudaybi’s successor, the new General Guide, the moderate Umar Al-Tilimsani, and his supporters in Cairo.

158]  Mashhour and, more recently, Akef were both to assume the role of General Guide, demonstrating the enduring authority of members of the Secret Apparatus and their powerful position within the Muslim Brotherhood.

3.3.3 Most prominent theologians and ideologists encouraged violent jihad 

159]  Some of the most influential Islamic scholars who arguably had the biggest influence on the strategy and ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood included Hassan al-Banna himself (although not regarded as an Islamic scholar as such). More notable scholars were Sayyid Qutb, whose teachings formed the basis of the Muslim Brotherhood ideology as well as those of several current Islamic ‘terrorist’ groups and more recently Mohammed al-Ghazali and Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

160]  Mohammed al-Ghazali was an Islamic cleric and prolific scholar whose writings are reported to have influenced generations of Egyptians. Although often presented as a moderate, he demonstrated extremist views. One notable instance was when he testified on behalf of the members of members of Al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya, a designated terrorist group affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Members of the group had been accused of assassinating author and human rights activist, Farag Foda, for blasphemy. Al-Ghazali testified before an Egyptian court that anyone who openly resisted the full imposition of Islamic law was an apostate who should be killed. Al-Ghazali later defended his position stating:

“The killing of Farag Foda was in fact the implementation of the punishment against an apostate which the imam (the Islamic leader in Egypt) has failed to implement.”123

161]  His extremist views were echoed by perhaps the most influential of all the Islamic scholars who came to define the theological nature and ethos of the Muslim Brotherhood – Sayyid Qutb.

162]  The central role of Sayyid Qutb in establishing, since the 1960s, a firm theological foundation and philosophy with which the Muslim Brotherhood could identify and make their own, cannot be understated and is discussed in more depth in Chapter 4.

3.3.4 Current leadership Mohamed Badie 

163]  Badie, the current General Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood has been heavily influenced by the ideas of radical scholar Sayyid Qutb124 as well as leaders of the Secret Apparatus. This is apparent from several controversial statements he has made since being elected General Guide in January 2010.  He has on various occasions made statements in support of al-Qassam Brigades (see Chapter 4) and that jihad is a duty of all Muslims.  In a 2010 speech he claimed:

“Arab and Muslim regimes are betraying their people by failing to confront the Muslims’ real enemies: not only Israel but also the United States. Waging jihad against both of these infidels is a commandment of Allah… Governments have no right to stop their people from fighting the United States.”

164]  Despite his position as General Guide, his Deputy General Guides, Khairat Shater, Mahmoud Ghozlan and Mahmoud Ezzat, all of whom are reported to be strict, albeit covert, adherents of conservative Qutbism and enthusiastic supporters of violent jihad, are generally considered more influential within the Muslim Brotherhood.

165]  Badie was arrested, along with Shater and many other Muslim Brotherhood leaders, in July 2013 on grounds of inciting violence leading to the death of 50 people during the mass demonstrations in Cairo against the overthrow of President Morsi. He was sentenced to life in prison in September 2014.

166]  While it appears that Badie has retained his position as General Guide125 despite his incarceration, it has been suggested that deputy guides (among them, Mahmoud Ezzat) have assumed increased leadership responsibilities in his absence.126 Khairat Shater 

167]  Shater has been the Deputy General Guide since January 2004 and is currently in custody awaiting a retrial in respect of his role of inciting violence against government officials in the events of April 2013 in Cairo. He joined the Muslim Brotherhood in 1974, has been a member of the Guidance Council since 1995 and is recognised as one of the movement’s most influential strategists.

168]  Prior to his current detention, Shater has been detained several times (starting in 1968), notably in 1995 (for five years), and in 2007 (for seven years) on charges of financing terrorism and money laundering following the infamous Al-Azhar student militia revolt in December 2006,127 where he was arrested with other Muslim Brotherhood members for allegedly providing combat training and weapons to student protestors.

169]  The extent of divide between the increasingly militant ideology of the student supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and the more moderate academic establishment of Al-Azhar University was apparent from the response of the University’s President, Ahmed el-Tayeb, who claimed that the number and influence of Brotherhood-affiliated students had grown steadily in the last two years. He stated:

“They now control the university mosques, using them as forums to attack Al-Azhar’s moderate Islam and discredit its clerics.”128

170]  Shater, a millionaire businessman and the owner of the computer technology company Salsabiel, is also known to be the economic brain of the movement and one of its main financiers. Mahmoud Ezzat 

171]  Ezzat is a Deputy General Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood and one of its most influential members. Ezzat has been personified as the Brotherhood’s “iron man,” embodying its reputation for top-down decision-making and the culture of obedience and radical Islamic indoctrination of student activists.

172]  Despite his leading role, he has kept a low profile and in December 2012 was singled out as the organisation’s “most dangerous man”, by an academic Sa’d al-Din Ibrahim, who described him as a “big enigma”.129 Mahmoud Ghozlan

173]  Ghozlan is the official spokesman of the Muslim Brotherhood and a member of the Shura Council. Ghozlan served as secretary-general of the group until his arrest in February 2002. He was released in August 2005 and re-imprisoned from March to October 2007. Ghozlan is considered among the Muslim Brotherhood’s hardline leaders.  His position in respect of violent jihad is often revealed in his public statements, such as when he accused former Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman of being an “aide to the Jews”. He has also stated that he does not believe widespread reports regarding the persecution of Christians in Egypt – a position in step with the Muslim Brotherhood’s propaganda that they (the members of the movement) are the persecuted ones. Sheikh Abdullah al-Khatib 

174]  Al-Khatib was the movement’s former mufti and member of the Guidance Council until his resignation in November 2008. He was considered a possible candidate for General Guide in 2004.  The reverence in which he is held among the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood is revealing in that al-Khatib holds strong conservative and radical views, encouraging, among other things, the destruction of existing churches and the cessation of construction of new ones,130 and is opposed to the election of Copts and women to senior posts. Muhammad al-Beltagy

175]  Al-Beltagy is a member of the People’s Assembly and is one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s most prominent and charismatic political figures. He first became acquainted with the group while in high school in Alexandria, where he was considered a student leader.

176]  Although outwardly moderate, al-Beltagy is firmly entrenched in the hardline factions of the Muslim Brotherhood. His direct involvement in or support of militant Islamist groups is unclear.  From what is know about him, his tacit acceptance of (illustrated too by his refusal to condemn) the radical and militant elements and activities of the Muslim Brotherhood belies his moderate facade. Subhi Saleh

177]  Saleh is one of the primary legal experts within the Muslim Brotherhood and is considered among its most radical political figures.  He once responded during a March 2011 speech at al-Azhar Universityas to whether the Muslim Brotherhood would be able to establish an Islamic state to everyone’s liking:

“The Copts are deadlocked because they don’t want an Islamic state. But not us.”131 Saber Abouel Fotouh

178]  Abouel Fotouh holds the position of Chair of the Workforce Committee within the People’s Assembly.  Having risen through the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood since his involvement as a student, Abouel Fotouh’s political views tend to be hardline Islamic conservative. He has often argued for the imposition of Islamic rule and that Christians should not be allowed to criticize Islamic law.

3.4 The International Muslim Brotherhood 

3.4.1 The international Muslim Brotherhood network and its relationship with Egypt132

179]  The international organisation of the Muslim Brotherhood, known as Tanzim al Dawli, is a network of national organisations that have sprung from the basic ideology originated by al-Banna and refined over the years by various Egyptian as well as international Muslim Brotherhood leaders. It is believed that the international Muslim Brotherhood was formally established in 1982133 by the future General Guide, and one of the former leaders of the Secret Apparatus, Mustafa Mashhour. However, as has been shown, its expansion outside Egypt started much earlier.

180]  It is now a highly influential part of the structure of the Muslim Brotherhood with voting rights that shape policy and elect the core leadership including the General Guide.

181]  The underlying purpose and ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood always had at its core the establishment of a global Islamic movement.  Soon after the Muslim Brotherhood movement had started to gather momentum in Egypt in the mid-1930s, it began to establish connections abroad, mainly through personal contacts of its members and by foreign students who were doing graduate work at Al-Azhar or in other Cairo universities and who were open to the ideas of Hassan al-Banna.

182]  Al-Banna himself, in the movement’s early years, gave a high priority to establishing relations with similar Islamic movements across the Middle East and made personal contact with several foreign Islamic leaders. This, coupled with visits from Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood missionaries to various countries (including Palestine and Syria in 1935), gave rise to the concept of an international Muslim Brotherhood framework.

183]  Many of the early foreign connections of the Muslim Brotherhood were not branches per se, but Islamic movements either influenced by or dedicated to the values and teachings of al-Banna. The international Muslim Brotherhood leadership symbolically remains vested in the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leadership as represented by the General Guide and the International Guidance Council.  Significantly, the General Guide is the only one to carry the title of Murshid, while the leaders of branches outside of Egypt are referred to within the Muslim Brotherhood as either “Secretary Generals” or “General Supervisors”.

184]  The international Muslim Brotherhood is organized in the various constituent states so that they follow the decisions made by the international movement’s leadership consisting of the General Guide, the International Guidance Council, and the International Shura Council on membership conditions and general policy. In addition, they must secure the approval of the International Guidance Council before making important political decisions.

185]  Muslim Brotherhood leaders in the various countries are required to consult and reach an agreement with the General Guide or the International Guidance Council before making decisions on local issues that may affect the Muslim Brotherhood in other countries. The national leaders outside Egypt do exercise a significant degree of independent authority over the local branch’s action plan, policy, activity, organisational development, and positions on local affairs as long as they have no bearing on the Muslim Brotherhood in other states, provided they do not conflict with the group’s collective strategy.

186]  National branches are required to pay a specified annual amount134 to the International Muslim Brotherhood as determined with the International Guidance Council.

187]  In a 2009 interview with London Al-Quds Al-Arabi Online,135 then General Guide Mohammed Mahdi Akef, gave details about the composition of the international Muslim Brotherhood structure. Akef explained that the International Shura Council consists of 90 members from inside Egypt and 40 from outside. It is the International Shura Council who elect the General Guide, making Akef’s appointment more international than in earlier times.

188]  There is no bar in the rules of the Muslim Brotherhood to elect a non-Egyptian General Guide but to date this has not happened. The International Guidance Council consists of eight Egyptians and five non-Egyptians. Representation on the International Shura Council is apportioned to countries or regions with the most members, such as Jordan, Syria, the Gulf states, Malaysia, Indonesia and Europe, and each candidate should be a prominent person in the Islamic world.

189]  There is thereby international cooperation and support between leaders of the global Muslim Brotherhood for collective as well as country-specific struggles.

3.4.2 The Muslim Brotherhood in Arab countries

190]  The first Muslim Brotherhood ‘branches’ started emerging in the Arab world in the 1930s and 1940s. There was no formal arrangement in place at this time and alliances between the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and Arab branches were formed naturally through personal liaison. After 1945, the Muslim Brotherhood established a “Communications Bureau”, similar to a type of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the Islamic world to formalize contacts and the network it had created.

191]  Over time, the non-Egyptian Arab branches grew in influence within their respective countries,136 most notably in Syria, which was to develop into one of the largest Muslim Brotherhood branches outside Egypt. Important Muslim Brotherhood branches also emerged and became established in Jordan, Algeria, Turkey, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Persian and Gulf states. Subsidiary organisations such as Hamas also developed on the Palestinian scene.

3.4.3 The Muslim Brotherhood in European countries

192]  The Global Muslim Brotherhood has been present in Europe since 1960 when Said Ramadan, the son-in-law of Hassan Al-Banna, founded137 a mosque in Munich. Since that time, Muslim Brotherhood branches or affiliate Islamic organisations have been established in most E.U. countries138 as well as many non-E.U. countries such as Russia and Turkey.

193]  The international Muslim Brotherhood also includes Saudi institutions, many of which were founded by members who settled in the country. These include the Muslim World League and the 139 World Assembly of Muslim Youth,140 both of which were created to propagate Saudi ‘Wahhabi’ Islam, an ultra-conservative version of Islam. These organisations, as well as Islamic organisations in other parts of the world, operate as a network sharing similar ideology, backgrounds, funding, and institutional links. They hold conferences that are attended by leading members141 of the Muslim Brotherhood in their respective countries as well as within the global movement.

3.4.4 Global ideology and political integration

194]  National branches and/or affiliates of the international Muslim Brotherhood exhibit similar patterns of activity, albeit influenced by the social and political conditions in their respective countries.

195]  The Muslim Brotherhood’s integration into the political establishment142 was easier in Arab countries due to common cultural and religious values. However, through speeches and publications of its senior members, the Muslim Brotherhood would reveal its underlying ambition, to ultimately establish a caliphate, and was therefore in conflict with the authorities as well as members of the general public.

196]  In Tunisia, Ennahda, a Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated party was shaped by the radical ideas of Sayyid Qutb and attained considerable influence in the 1980s where it supported the takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979. It was described in the 1980s, by a British journalist as “the single most threatening opposition force in Tunis”143 and its members were involved in acts of terrorism through the bombing of tourist hotels.144

197]  In Syria in the 1970s and the early 1980s, the Muslim Brotherhood led a military uprising,145 which included the city of Hama.

198]  In the Palestinian Territories, Hamas took part in the 2006 parliament elections when it defeated its then political opponents, Fatah and the Palestinian Authority.

3.4.5 Political tactics

199]  To avoid public exposure, the Muslim Brotherhood operates in most Arab countries through front parties which become integrated into the political arena. For example, the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan established the Islamic Action Front; in Algeria it established the Mouvement de la Société pour la Paix (MSP); in Lebanon Al-Jama’ah al-Islamiyya; in Morocco, the Moroccan Justice and Development Party (PJD); in Tunisia it established the Al-Nahda party and in Kuwait it established the Islamic Constitutional Movement. In Syria, however, the movement has retained its Muslim Brotherhood identity, even though in the past year its leader has expressed willingness to turn it into a political party. In Saudi Arabia it was prohibited from establishing a party.

200]  In some countries such as Jordan, Morocco and Kuwait, the Muslim Brotherhood’s integration into government institutions has been a catalyst for internal tension and disagreements as it prefers to be in opposition and confront the regime. A recent report states,

“Less publicly, the international Muslim Brotherhood branches and supporters are often associated with fundamentalism, anti-Semitism,  … While claiming to disavow Al-Qaeda linked terrorism, the Muslim Brotherhood are at best lukewarm in their condemnation of Islamist violence and commonly issue statements justifying and supporting such violence.”146

3.5 Concluding remarks

201]  The influence and global reach of the Muslim Brotherhood today is testament to the endurance of its underlying ideology first presented by al-Banna in 1928.

202]  It quickly became clear that the Muslim Brotherhood has two faces; one is a public face that preaches moderation to secure political advancement, while behind the scenes it is gradually consolidating social and political support through propaganda so as to further its ultimate goal of creating an Islamic state.

203]  The next chapter will discuss the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and its links to other militant Islamist groups.

4.1) Introduction

204]  The close association between the Muslim Brotherhood and militant Islamist groups such as al-Qa’ida, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Islamic State, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab and Sinai Province goes beyond a superficial regional link. These actors all share the same fundamental ideological values that have their roots in the Muslim Brotherhood.

205]  As a result, irrespective of the variant in tools used, the Muslim Brotherhood continues to provide material support to these militant Islamist groups. In doing so, the Muslim Brotherhood aims to edge closer to its own ultimate purpose – the creation of a pan-Islamic caliphate via the promotion and use of violent means.

4.2 Muslim Brotherhood and the origins of militant Islamist groups

206]  Tracing the origins of the various militant Islamist groups clearly shows that the roots of such groups lay within the Muslim Brotherhood. As held by former Kuwaiti MP, Dr. Ahmad al-Rab’i, ultimately the founders of most modern terrorist groups in the Middle East emerged from the mantle of the Muslim brotherhood.147

4.2.1 Origins of al- Qa’ida

207]  Al-Qa’ida is a global militant Islamist network, named as a terrorist organisation and subject to UN sanctions in 2000.148 The network was established amidst the decade-long conflict149 between the Soviet Union and the Afghani resistance following the former’s occupation of Afghanistan in December 1979.

208]  It is widely acknowledged that the network was founded by Osama bin Laden, a Saudi citizen who had travelled to Afghanistan to assist the Afghan resistance in the early 1980’s.150 However, the network was not established by bin Laden alone.

209]  The al-Qa’ida network was established towards the end of the Soviet war in Afghanistan between 1988 and 1989 by leading figures within the Muslim Brotherhood international networks. Documents of minutes of meetings held in August 1988 are said to reveal the formation of al-Qa’ida and those present at the meeting which include Osama bin Laden, Ayman Zawahiri and Aballah Yusuf Azzam.151 All three individuals had direct links to the Muslim Brotherhood. Abdallah Yusuf Azzam

210]  Abdallah Yusuf Azzam was a Palestinian Sunni Islamic scholar described as the father of modern jihad.152 He was a key member of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, having joined the group in the mid-1950’s and introduced to the works of Hassan al-Banna.153 A decade later, Azzam travelled to Cairo to study at Al-Azhar University, during which he found himself at the centre of the Islamist movement with direct access to Sayyid Qutb and subsequently was referred to as a disciple of Qutb.154

211]  Following the execution of Qutb in 1966, Azzam travelled back to Jordan where he rapidly rose through the ranks of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood.155 Azzam was a prolific religious scholar who lectured and published extensively across the region.156 Having been described as the ‘Jordanian Sayyid Qutb’, he became one of the five members of the Majlis al-Shura, or the Shura Council.157

212]  In 1980 Azzam began teaching at the King Abdul Ibn Saud University in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.158 It is believed that he secured this position through his connections with the Muslim Brotherhood. Mohammed Qutb, best known as the brother of Sayyid Qutb, was already employed at the university and likely assisted Azzam to secure employment there.159 Osama bin Laden was also enrolled at the King Abdul Ibn Saud University between 1976 and 1981.160

213]  Having left Saudi Arabia, Azzam went on to assist the Afghan resistance, travelling to Peshwar to set up guest-houses for would-be jihadists and military training camps.161 It was in Peshwar that Azzam established the Maktab al-Khidimat alongside Osama bin Laden.162 Translated as Bureau of Services, the Maktab al-Khidimat was established as a support network to channel funds to jihadi recruits in Afghanistan.163 With Azzam leading the group, bin Laden was a key member in securing finances.164 In short, the Maktab acted as a platform for al-Qa’ida following the end of the Soviet war in Afghanistan and Azzam himself has been described as “help[ing] bring about the mobilisation of the Muslim Brotherhood movement more than any other leader”.165 Ayman Zawahiri

214]  The current leader of al-Qa’ida is an Egyptian citizen who went on to establish the Egyptian Islamic Jihad movement.166 Prior to this, Zawahiri had joined the Muslim Brotherhood at a young age following the influence of his uncle Mahfouz Azzam.167

215]  Mahfouz Azzam was the legal advisor for the Muslim Brotherhood and close confidante of Sayyid Qutb.168 Ayman Zawahiri was significantly influenced by the rhetoric of his uncle in relation to the Muslim Brotherhood.167 Zawahiri became a devout follower of Sayyid Qutb, which existed in his subsequent Islamic works.170

216]  Following Qutb’s execution in 1966, Zawahiri formed a cell as part of the Muslim Brotherhood to assist the establishment of an Islamic caliphate which would replace the Nasser regime in Egypt.171 Although the cell began with five students, by 1974 it had grown to over forty members with Zawahiri as emir, or leader, of the cell.172

217]  In 1980, Zawahiri travelled to Pakistan to provide medical assistance to the Afghan cause following an invite by a Muslim Brotherhood member who ran a clinic in Pakistan. Upon his return from Pakistan,173 Zawahiri established the Egyptian Islamic Jihad movement and was subsequently put on trial and detained for the assassination of President Sadat alongside a significant number of Muslim Brotherhood members.174

218]  Following his release from detention, Zawahiri travelled to Pakistan via Saudi Arabia.175 It was here that he assisted the Maktab al-Khidimat alongside Abdallah Azzam and Osama bin Laden. Forging links with bin Laden, Zawahiri went on to become instrumental in the theological direction taken by al-Qa’ida. Osama bin Laden

219]  As well as the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Abdallah Azzam, Osama bin Laden had further direct links to the movement. Whilst studying at King Abdul Ibn Saud University, Osama bin Laden regularly attended the lectures of Mohammed Qutb.176

220]  Alongside his brother, Mohammed Qutb was accused of plotting to overthrow the government of President Nasser.177 Although his brother Sayyid Qutb, was subsequently executed for these crimes, Mohammed Qutb was released and sought refuge with other Muslim Brotherhood members residing in Saudi Arabia.178 Whilst in Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Qutb published and disseminated his brother’s works, thereby promoting core values of the Muslim Brotherhood movement.179

221]  It is during his attendance of Mohammed Qutb’s weekly lectures, that Osama bin Laden was exposed to the Muslim Brotherhood, subsequently becoming a member of the Saudi Muslim Brotherhood movement.180 Other notable members

222]  As well as the core founders of al-Qa’ida, a number of the network’s members were also originally part of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. As a result, throughout its existence, al-Qa’ida has remained aligned with the origins of the Muslim Brotherhood.

223]  Anwar al-Awlaki,181 the American-born al-Qa’ida propagandist, had several ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. Whilst preaching in the U.S. between 1994 to 2002, al-Awlaki often displayed an admiration for Sayyid Qutb.182 Commentators have often described al-Awlaki’s position as being more aligned with those of the Muslim Brotherhood and almost identical to those advocated by Yusuf al-Qaradawi,183 the Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader. Al-Awlaki subsequently left the U.S. to the U.K. in 2002, where he was supported by organisations affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.184 When al-Awlaki had subsequently travelled to Yemen in 2004, he was protected by members of the Muslim Brotherhood so that he could continue to issue statements about the global jihad.185

224]  Khaled Sheikh Mohammed is the Pakistani-born accused of being the mastermind behind the September 11 attacks.186 Having been raised in Kuwait, Khaled Sheikh Mohammed joined the Muslim Brotherhood at the age of 16 prior to his involvement with the al-Qa’ida network.187

225]  Mohammed Atta is one of the al-Qa’ida hijacker pilots of the planes involved in the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2001.188 In 1990, having completed his architecture studies, Atta joined the Engineer’s Syndicate,189 one of three professional associations controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood.

226]  These are just but a few examples of the role the Muslim Brotherhood has played as an ally to al-Qa’ida activities.

4.2.2 Origins of the Islamic State, Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab

227]  The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (“Islamic State”); Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’Awati Wal-Jihad (“Boko Haram”); and Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (“al-Shabaab”) are all off-shoots of the al-Qa’ida network. Bearing in mind the genesis of al-Qa’ida in the Muslim Brotherhood, an indirect link between these three militant groups with the Muslim Brotherhood can therefore be forged.

228]  The link between these three militant Islamist groups and the Muslim Brotherhood is further strengthened by the fact that the leaders of Islamic State, Boko Haram and al-Shabaab were first members of the Muslim Brotherhood prior to any link with the al-Qa’ida network. As a result, the Muslim Brotherhood has been described as a gateway of sorts to al-Qa’ida.190 Islamic State

229]  The Islamic State is a predominantly Sunni militant group which has developed against the backdrop of the civil war in Syria and continuing conflict in Iraq.191 The group has been condemned on numerous occasions by the United Nations for its ongoing barbaric terrorist acts,192 and has been designated as a terrorist organisation by a number of states, with over sixty states joining the coalition against it.193

230]  The roots of the group are found in the Islamic State of Iraq194 which in turn was formed by uniting several groups,195 most notably: (i) al-Qa’ida in Iraq, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi; (ii) the Mujahedeen Shura Council in Iraq; and (iii) Jund al-Sahhaba which translates as Soldiers of the Prophet’s Companions.

231]  Following the death of Zarqawi in 2006, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was appointed emir of the Islamic State of Iraq.196 Due to internal disputes with Abu Mohammed al-Golani, leader of Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Baghdadi went on to encompass Jabhat al-Nusra into the new super-organisation called Islamic State.197 As recently confirmed by Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated cleric, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the self-appointed emir of the Islamic State was formerly a member of the Muslim Brotherhood prior to joining al-Qa’ida in Iraq.198 Boko Haram

232]  Boko Haram199 is a Nigeria-based group which espouses violent extremist ideology and is closely linked to al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb.200 It is subject to UN sanctions201 and has been designated as a terrorist organisation by a number of states including the U.S.202 and U.K.203

233]  The group has deep roots in the social and ethnic divisions in Nigeria and was established in 2002 in order to impose Islamic sharia across the state,204 including the predominantly Christian areas in the south. Its founder, Mohammed Yusuf, was originally a member of the Nigerian Muslim Brotherhood.205

234]  Following his exposure to the Muslim Brotherhood, Yusuf went on to experiment with the Islamic Movement of Nigeria,206 another militant Islamist group which took inspiration from the works of the Muslim Brotherhood, in particularly Hassan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb. Al-Shabaab

235]  Al-Shabaab207 is a militant group based in Somalia. It is currently subject to UN sanctions208 and has been designated as a terrorist organisation by a number of states including the U.S.209 and U.K.210

236]  The group was originally the militant wing of the former Somali Islamic Courts Council which played a central role in the insurgency which removed Ethiopian forces out of Somalia.211

237]  The group was founded by Ahmed Abdi Godani in 2006.212 Prior to this, Godani had been secretary general of the executive council of the Islamic Courts Union,213 a creation of the Somali Muslim Brotherhood.214

4.2.3 Origins of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades

238]  Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades (“al-Qassam Brigades”) is the paramilitary wing of the political group, Hamas.

239]  Following the emergence of the state of Israel in 1948, Hassan al-Banna took up the Palestinian cause, which resulted in the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.215

240]  Prior to establishing Hamas, its founder, Sheik Ahmad Yassin, was active in the Palestinian branch of Muslim Brotherhood.216 In his early years Sheikh Yassin had travelled to Al-Azhar University in Cairo during the 1950’s during which time he became associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.217

241]  Sheikh Yassin formed Hamas during the First Intifada, a Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation.218 He announced the birth of Hamas on 14 December 1987, taking the lead in the Palestinian resistance.219 The Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood subsequently assumed authorship of Hamas in February 1988. This was followed by the release of the Hamas Charter on 18 August 1988, which defines Hamas as one of the branches of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Palestine.220

4.2.4 Sinai Province, formerly Ansar Beit al-Maqdis

242]  Sinai Province,221 also known as Wilayat Sinai, is a militant group based in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula. Up until November 2014,222 the group was formerly known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis was declared a terrorist organisation by the U.S.,223 U.K,224 the United Arab Emirates225 and Egypt226 in 2014.

243]  Ansar Beit al-Maqdis was established in 2011 following the Egyptian revolution in 2011 amid mass releases and escapes from prison.227 The group dramatically increased activity228 following the second revolution that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammad Morsi in July 2013. Prior to this, the group had primarily targeted Israeli interests.229

244]  The timing of the upsurge in the group’s attacks against the Egyptian government and security forces implies some association between Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, now Sinai Province, and the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2013, leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad accused the Muslim Brotherhood of funding Ansar Beit al-Maqdis.230 Moreover, Refaat Said,231 leader of the Socialist Party in Egypt, went further to state that the Muslim Brotherhood had placed Ansar Beit al-Maqdis in Sinai.

4.3 Shared ideology and values

245]  Given that a number of militant Islamist groups are rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood, there are clear ideological parallels between these groups and the Muslim Brotherhood movement. Indeed, as previously detailed in this report, the Muslim Brotherhood has played a central role in propounding a number of ideological values which currently form the core of al-Qa’ida; Islamic State; Boko Haram, al-Shabaab; al-Qassam Brigades and Sinai Province.

246]  This section will focus on the shared concepts of (i) modern jahiliyya and takfirism; (ii) a pan-Islamic caliphate; and (iii) the Islamic vanguard and global jihad.

4.3.1 The Muslim Brotherhood 

247]  In order to best analyse the shared ideological values between the Muslim Brotherhood and the various militant Islamist groups, a brief overview of the former’s ideological position is set out.

248]  One of the key pillars of the Muslim Brotherhood movement is the strive against the jahiliyya. Literally translated the term jahiliyya means the age of ignorance.232 Traditionally, the term was used to describe the state of ignorance of pre-Islamic Arab states.233 This is considered to be a period of lawlessness, barbarism and paganism.234

249]  The concept of jahiliyya is therefore considered to be the absence of Islamic belief or guidance. The concept has regained focus in contemporary history and is considered to be central to the thinking of radical components of the Islamic movement of Egypt from 1967 to 1981.235 This coincides with the publication of Sayyid Qutb’s “Milestones of the Road” in which the concept of jahiliyya formed the core of Qutb’s revivalist thought.236

250]  For Qutb, the world had a choice: Islam or jahiliyya.237 Those that do not choose Islam are considered to be kafirs, or infidels. This includes Muslims who he considered to have deviated in their practice of Islam holding that carrying out the Islamic rituals, such as pray; charity or fasting, were not enough if Islamic sharia was not followed.238 The concept of takfirism is therefore the elimination of any deviation from Islamic sharia.

251]  Sayyid Qutb’s version of modern jahiliyya and takfirism was a mere extension of Hassan al-Banna’s position that the process of westernization had corrupted Egypt and Muslims across the region.239

252]  For al-Banna this indicated a need to revive the political aspects of Islam that had retreated with the decline of the Ottoman empire and the advent of Western colonialism.240 It was this premise that drove al-Banna to form the Muslim Brotherhood and, as discussed below, continues to drive the movement today.

253]  The other side of the concept of jahiliyya is the establishment of a pan-Islamic caliphate and absolute obedience to the Islamic sharia. It is this absolute sovereignty of God which delivers society from jahiliyya.241

254]  The establishment of a pan-Islamic caliphate was at the core of Hassan al-Banna’s vision for the future of the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Banna firmly believed that the Muslim Brotherhood would aim to stitch together the nascent states that Europe’s colonial powers had carved out of the Ottoman empire:

“Islam does not recognize geographical boundaries, nor does it acknowledge racial and blood differences, considering all Muslims as one Umma. The Muslim Brethren consider this unity as holy … [and] believe that the caliphate is a symbol of Islamic Union and … [see it as] a top priority …”

255]  In his “Milestones of the Road”, Qutb establishes a four-step process in order to achieve the pan-Islamic caliphate and defeat of the jahiliyya. This process, known as the Islamic manhaj, has as its first step, the development of a community of committed individuals – the vanguard – who would become the leaver for instituting the Islamic state.244

256]  For Qutb, the second stage involved the vanguard seizing state power by waging global jihad to both exterminate the rule of jahiliyya and to bring about the rule of God known as hakimiyyat Allah.245 Qutb advocates that the vanguard must wage jihad on as many fronts in order to establish the final Islamic goal.246

257]  These ideological principles are not merely historical values. Despite public efforts to disassociate itself from these values,247 the Muslim Brotherhood continues to advocate for the creation of a pan-Islamic caliphate which destroys the jahiliyya. In 2007, Muslim Brotherhood member of parliament, Mohammed Shaker Sanar openly admitted that the movement had not changed from its original inception:

“The organisation was founded in 1928 to re-establish the Caliphate destroyed by Ataturk…With Allah’s help [the Muslim Brotherhood] will institute the law of Allah.”248

258]  Sanar’s position is in line with that of Mohammed Badie, former General Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood. In December 2012, Badie outlined six stages for the Muslim Brotherhood movement which included:

  • Islamic sharia over the individual
  • Islamic sharia over the family;
  • Islamic sharia over the society;
  • Islamic sharia over the government;
  • Resurrection of the Caliphate; and
  • ‘Mastership of the world.’

259]  The Muslim Brotherhood has not sought to abandon the concept of jihad in order to establish ‘mastership of the world’. The slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood continues to read: “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Koran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope”.249 Moreover, the Muslim Brotherhood’s publication, “Risalat al-Ikhwan”, features at the top of its cover the motto: “jihad is our path; martyrdom is our aspiration”.250 Prior to the September 11 attacks, this slogan was “our mission: world domination”.251 Furthermore, the Muslim Brotherhood’s website aspires to the following ideology:

“We want a Muslim individual, a Muslim home, a Muslim people, a Muslim government and state that will lead the Islamic countries and bring into the fold the Muslim Diaspora and the lands robbed from Islam and will then bear the standard of jihad and the call [da’wah] to Allah. [Then the] world will happily accept the precepts of Islam….The problems of conquering the world will only end when the flag of Islam waves and jihad has been proclaimed.”252

260]  It is this association with jihad which led Juan Zarate, U.S. White House Chief of Counterterrorism, to remark:

“The Muslim Brotherhood is a group that worries us not because it deals with philosophical or ideological ideas but because it defends the use of violence against civilians.”253

261]  Efforts to use democracy to establish either support or credibility must be viewed in context. As Sheikh al-Qaradawi explains, the Muslim Brotherhood democracy “is different”254 given that western democracy does not honour the rule of God. Muslim Brotherhood MP, Mohammed Shaker Sanar further admits that the Muslim Brotherhood is not committed to Western democratic values.255

262]  This was echoed by Mohammed Mahdi Akef, a former General Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, who unequivocally stated in 2005 that the Muslim Brotherhood opposed U.S. democracy stating that it was “corrupt and serves the American agenda” and that U.S democracy “wants to destroy the [Islamic] nation, its faith and tradition”.256

263]  More telling is the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood views its involvement in Western-style democracy as an alternative form of jihad to destroy the jahliyya. As disclosed during the U.S. federal court trial of the Holy Land Foundation, members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S are compelled to “understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within.”257

264]  Similar sentiments have been echoed by Mohammed Badie who had described the U.S. as an infidel nation that “does not champion moral and human values and cannot lead humanity.258” Badie has gone on to characterize both the U.S. and Israel as “the Muslim’s real enemies” asserting that “waging jihad against both of these infidels is a commandment of Allah that cannot be disregarded”.259 Tellingly, Badie maintains that the “change that the [Muslim] nation seeks can only be attained through jihad and sacrifice and by raising a jihadi generation that pursues death just as the enemies pursue life.”260

265]  Badie’s comments have found theological support from Yusuf al-Qaradawi who has issued a number of fatwas waging jihad against Western governments who seek to control Islamic countries. In 1998, al-Qaradawi held “there should be no dialogue with these people [Israelis] except with swords”.261 In 2004, al-Qaradawi issued a fatwa endorsing the killing of U.S. soldiers.262

266]  The Muslim Brotherhood also continues to advocate the concept of takfirism. Yusuf al-Qaradawi has issued a number of fatwas which supports the harsh treatment of those who apostatize from Islam.263 This apostate, said al-Qaradawi in a June 2002 fatwa, “is no more than a traitor to his religion and his people and thus deserves killing”.264

267]  Similar rhetoric and conduct of the various militant Islamist groups reflect the words of both the Muslim Brotherhood’s General Guide, Mohammed Badie, and its international and spiritual figurehead, Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

4.3.2 Al-Qassam Brigades

268]  Al-Qassam Brigades were created as an outgrowth of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Therefore the ideology of the al-Qassam Brigades is identical to that of the Muslim Brotherhood encompassing the concept of jahiliyya; jihad and the establishment of a pan-Islamic caliphate.

269]  Al-Qassam Brigades are actually named after Izz a-din al-Qassam, one of the initial members of the Muslim Brotherhood alongside Hassan al-Banna. Having been killed in battle in Palestine in 1935 by British forces, Izz a-din al-Qassam is considered by the Muslim Brotherhood to be their first martyr in the jihad against the West.265

4.3.3 Al-Qa’ida

270]  According to U.S. authorities, al-Qa’ida’s strategic objectives are to remove Western influence and presence from the Muslim world, topple “apostate” government of Muslim countries, and establish a pan-Islamic caliphate governed by its own interpretation of Islamic sharia that ultimately would be at the centre of a new international order.266

271]  As with the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qa’ida has also targeted the values of both the U.S. and Israel. In August 1996, al-Qa’ida issued its first fatwa entitled “Declaration of war against the Americans occupying the land of the two holy places”,267 signed by Osama bin Laden, and urged would-be jihadists “to take part in fighting against the enemy – your enemy and their enemy – the Americans and the Israelis.”268

272]  Similarly the second fatwa, published on 23 February 1998 and signed by inter alia, Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri, ordered all Muslims to:

“[K]ill the Americans and their allies – civilians and military – is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it […] [E]very Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God’s order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it.”269

273]  Although the Western enemy has extended to other states including France,270 the ideological values of al-Qa’ida have remained the same since the issuance of both fatwas and are a constant in all branches of the network.271

274]  The origins of al-Qa’ida’s ideology stems from the works of Abdallah Azzam, who is discussed earlier in this chapter. In April 1988, mere months before he assisted in the establishment of al-Qa’ida, Azzam published an article entitled “Al-Qa’id Al-Sulbah” which translates as “The Solid Base”. In this article, Azzam echoes the need for an Islamist vanguard as proffered by Sayyid Qutb,272 in order to enforce the rule of God.  At the time of publication, Azzam was of the belief that the U.S was intent on robbing jihadis of their victory273 over the Soviets by imposing secularist interests on Afghanistan. Azzam called for the long jihad in order to defeat secularist values and to resurrect the pan-Islamic caliphate:

“To continue the jihad no matter how long the road is, until the last breath will be taken, or the last vein will throb, or until we will see the State of Islam standing on its feet.”274

275]  This was to lead to the creation of the al-Qa’ida network, with bin Laden subsequently declaring in 2001 the need to “redraw the map of the Islamic world to become one state under the banner of the caliphate.”275 In this same declaration, bin Laden confirms the necessity of creating a vanguard to carry out jihad.276

276]  Although Azzam died within the first year of al-Qa’ida’s inception, the same values continued to be upheld with al-Qa’ida ensuring its message was (and remains today) clear to the world.

277]  The ideology of the al-Qa’ida network has largely been developed by Ayman Zawahiri, with bin Laden providing the front and the finance for al-Qa’ida.

278]  Zawahiri, who was discussed earlier in this chapter, is a staunch advocate of Qutb, declaring that the al-Qa’ida campaign started on the death of Qutb in 1966.277 In his book “Fursan Taht Rayah al-Nabi”, or “Knights under the Prophet’s Banner”, Zawahiri highlighted the importance of Qutb’s works finding that Sayyid Qutb’s ideology had sowed the seeds for an Islamic revolution which justified the use of violence, externally as well as internally.278

279]  The original strands of Zawahiri’s ideology for the network can be found in his publication entitled “Shifa’ Sudur Al-Mu’minin” translated as “The Cure for Believers’ Hearts”. Zawahiri published this article in 1996 around the same time as bin Laden’s first fatwa, within which he set out the logistical requirements for global jihad. The article set out the justification for global jihad which targeted the West and apostate Arab regimes.279

280]  These values have since been replicated in the extensive books and essays published by the network as part of its propaganda campaign to appeal to the masses. This includes, for example, Zawahiri’s essay entitled “Al Wala Wal Bara” which translates as “Loyalty and Enmity”. This 2002 publication sets out al-Qa’ida’s position that the world is divided into two warring camps: true Muslims and the rest of the world,280 thereby echoing the position propounded by Sayyid Qutb and reinforcing al-Qa’ida’s position as a takfiri organisation.

281]  There are clear similarities between the ideologies of the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qa’ida, which is to be expected given the origins of the latter. However, despite this, efforts have been made by both groups to disassociate from the other.

282]  For example, in the 1991 publication entitled “Al-Hissad Al-Murr”, or the “The Bitter Harvest”, Zawahiri criticized the Muslim Brotherhood for what he perceived as inactivity:

“[The Muslim Brotherhood] takes advantage of the Muslim youths’ fervour by bringing them into the fold only to store them in a refrigerator. Then, they steer their onetime passionate, Islamic zeal for jihad to conferences and elections…. And not only have the Brothers been idle from fulfilling their duty of fighting to the death, but they have gone as far as to describe the infidel governments as legitimate, and have joined ranks with them in the ignorant style of governing, that is, democracies, elections, and parliaments.”281

283]  Zawahiri continued to criticize the Muslim Brotherhood on the same basis in later years.282 Similarly, the Muslim Brotherhood, along with other Islamic leaders, did criticize Al-Qa’ida for its large scale attack on U.S. soil during the September 11 attacks.283

284]  From this, commentators284 have referred to the fact that whilst al-Qa’ida favours an implacable jihad to destroy the economies of the Western countries, the Muslim Brotherhood supports jihad against foreign presence in the Islamic world with its main priority being the construction of a Muslim infrastructure to usurp the Western governments.

285]  However, even if it is conceded that the two groups employ different tactics or tools, the ultimate policy and goals of the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qa’ida remain the same- that is the use and promotion of violence to achieve the creation of a pan-Islamic caliphate.

286]  The similarities in ideology have been recognised by both groups on numerous occasion, not least by Osama bin Laden:

“[C]urrent conditions have brought unprecedented opportunities and the coming of Islamic governments that follow the fundamental doctrine is a benefit to Islam […] [T]here is a sizeable direction within the Muslim Brotherhood that holds the fundamental doctrine, so the return of the Brothers and those like them to the true Islam is a matter of time.”285

4.3.4 Islamic State

287]  The similarities in shared ideologies between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic State has led to members of the U.S congress to conclude that the “[Islamic State] emerged from the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood”.286

288]  Since its inception, the Islamic State has ultimately sought to establish an Islamic caliphate based on its interpretation of Islam and Islamic sharia. Consistent with its jargon, the Islamic State is of the belief that this caliphate has been obtained as announced by its emir, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi:

“Muslims everywhere […] you have a state and calipha, which will return your dignity, might, rights, and leadership.”287

289]  In order to achieve the restored caliphate, al-Baghdadi has adopted the call to act against foreign domination of the Arab world, in line with the calls of the forefathers of the Muslim Brotherhood. This includes the use of jihad against Western targets within the Middle East,289 and more recently, attacks within Europe.290

290]  As well as waging jihad against Western domination, the majority of the Islamic State’s targets are Muslims.290 Following the takfiri doctrine sponsored by the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic State is committed to what it perceives as purifying the region of Muslim apostates.291

291]  Although the perception of the Islamic State is far more barbaric and intolerable than the image of the Muslim Brotherhood, in its basic form the Islamic State differs little from the Muslim Brotherhood. The Islamic State aims to be a deeply ideological closed vanguard which promotes Islam as an all-encompassing aspect of daily society.292 This is no different to the values promoted by the Muslim Brotherhood both at inception and in present day. Gomaa Amin, a late senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, reiterated Hassan al-Banna’s core principle providing:

“Islam is in need of a state and authority. One of its most important roles is protecting the [Islamic nation’s] creed that today is mocked, in addition to establishing its rituals and observances until it governs all [aspects] of life.”293

292]  This rhetoric has attracted remarks concerning the similarities of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic State as being “virtually two sides of the same coin”.294

4.3.5 Sinai Province, formerly Ansar Beit al-Maqdis

293]  Sinai Province’s slogan, as established by Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, references the same Quranic verse singled out by Hassan al-Banna: “Fight them until there is no fitnah [discord], and [until] the religion, all of it, is for Allah.”295

294]  The group has declared its aim to:

“liberate [the] Ummah and Muslim people from the slavery of the oppressive, apostate regimes, and establish justice, dignity and freedom for them, and that is only through servitude to Allah alone and implementing His proper Shariah.”296

295]  As with the ideological position of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sinai Province has invoked jihad in order to implement Islamic sharia in all aspects of Egyptian daily life. In a rallying statement in 2014, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis repeated a call to rise up against Egypt’s military-backed government, stating:

“To our people in Egypt, what are you waiting for after the violation of your dignity? After shedding the blood of your sons on the hands of this reckless tyrant and his soldiers? When will you take out your swords to face your enemies?”297

296]  The group has subsequently engaged in a number of violent terrorist attacks against Egyptian security forces and politicians.298

297]  During its initial stages, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis had primarily targeted Israeli interests thereby aligning its position with al-Qassam Brigades,299 the Palestinian affiliated branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. More recently, the group pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State,300 thereby triggering the name change to Sinai Province. Much like the Muslim Brotherhood, the group was directed by its desire for a pan-Islamic caliphate, chastising those who had not already joined the Islamic State:

“To what are you aspiring? A state has been established for Islam and Muslims, and a Caliph was appointed for them… yet you slacken through your failure to support it.”301

4.3.6 Boko Haram

298]  The term ‘Boko Haram’ translates as “Western education is a sin302 in the regional Hausa language. Moreover, the group’s official Arabic name, Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’Awati Wal-Jihad, refers to adherents of proselytism and holy war.303

299]  The group has justified violent acts of terror as part of its propaganda rejecting Western values which it deems as haram or sinful as it seeks to suppress Islam. For example, following the abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls from a school in Chibok, Borno State in 2014, Boko Haram’s leader cited to ideological opposition to the Western education of young girls.304

300]  In particular, echoing the Muslim Brotherhood, Boko Haram has specifically rejected Western democracy, waging jihad to end Western dominance in the Islamic world:

“These European educated Muslims returned home only to confuse other Muslims, claiming that democracy is comparable with Islam, while Jihad should only be for self-control … We are for jihad, and our jihad is to put an end to democracy, to western education and western civilization. The Jihad is intended to make us [Muslims] return to the original state of Islam.”305

301]  As part of its jihad, Boko Haram has both a regional priority and an international aspect. With regard to the latter, the group has issued a number of statements warning the U.S. that “jihad has just begun”,306 claiming responsibility for a number of attacks against Westerners in Africa.307

302]  With regard to its domestic ideology, Boko Haram has sought to target local targets, including the Nigerian government,308 which it perceives as a mere extension of Western civilization. In doing so, Boko Haram does not differentiate between non-Muslims and Muslims. It is a takfiri organisation which accuses all other groups of being apostates.

303]  Boko Haram’s waging of jihad is consistent with the objectives of the Muslim Brotherhood, namely to impose Islamic sharia and establish a pan-Islamic caliphate in Northern Africa. Yusuf, and subsequently the current leader, Abubaker Shekau, have stated that no reconciliation could be met with the Nigerian government until Islamic sharia is the law of the land.309

304]  Boko Haram perceives itself as part of the Islamic vanguard described by the forefathers of the Muslim Brotherhood. As a result, the group refuses to deviate from the ideological doctrines propounded by the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2009, Mohammed Yusuf expressly stated that “[a]ll Islamic scholars who undermine Ibn Taymiyya, Sayyid Qutb, Hassan al-Banna and Osama bin Laden are not authentic Islamic scholars”.310

305]  In keeping with the present version of this vanguard, Boko Haram swore allegiance to the Islamic State,311 having previously aligned itself with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.312 The group offered the areas under its control in the Borno state to be part of the pan-Islamic caliphate.

306]  In doing so, Boko Haram has brought itself in line with other militant Islamist groups which share the same ideologies as the Muslim Brotherhood.

4.3.7 Al-Shabaab

307]  Al-Shabaab’s primary objective is the establishment of an Islamic state in Somalia,313 based on Islamic law known as sharia and the elimination of foreign ‘infidel’ influence.314 In doing so, former al-Shabaab spokesperson, Abu-Mansoor al-Amriki reiterated the need to establish Islamic sharia, citing as an inspiration Sayyid Qutb who al-Amriki states, “refused to accept entering into the kaafir [infidel] governments as a solution.”315

308]  Al-Shabaab has also followed the Muslim Brotherhood’s suit in its support for the takfiri doctrine. This is emphasised by Sheik Mukhtar Robow, another spokesperson for the group, who emphasised the importance of complying with Islamic law and the fact that punishment for not complying with Islamic sharia would be meted out to anyone, including those engaged in jihad.316 During his announcement, Robow referred to the execution of one jihadist in the area of Wajid in Somalia as an example.317

309]  To enforce Islamic sharia, al-Shabaab has fully endorsed the global jihad vision. It has participated in a range of attacks against Western targets across East Africa in the name of jihad.319 More recently, the group has made a specific target of the U.S. calling for attacks on shopping areas in the U.S.320

310]  In early 2008, when the U.S. designated al-Shabaab a global terrorist entity, prominent members of the group struck a celebratory tone. Robow told the BBC that he welcomed the designation as an honor because “[w]e are good Muslims and the Americans are infidels. We are on the right path.”

311]  In particular al-Shabaab has shunned Western democracy for the same reasons cited by Muslim Brotherhood leaders. In an audio message on January 2009, the group’s emir Sheikh Mukhtar Abdirahman Abu Zubeyr said that democracy and communism had failed in Somalia because both political systems “were incongruent with the teachings of the Islamic religion.”321

312]  Al-Shabaab does not view its efforts in isolation but as furthering the global jihad ideology as evoked by al-Qa’ida and established by the Muslim Brotherhood.322

313]  Al-Shabaab’s overarching objective is to establish, through jihad, an ‘Islamic Emirate of Somalia’,323 to include Somalia, Somaliland, Puntland, north-eastern Kenya, the Ogaden region of Ethiopia and Djibouti. The group believes that this will assist in the grand creation of a pan-Islamic caliphate.

4.4 Muslim Brotherhood support for militant Islamist groups

314]  Despite recent efforts to be portrayed as a moderate political party, the Muslim Brotherhood continues to demonstrate allegiance to militant Islamist groups with its provision of political and financial support.324

4.4.1 Political support

315]  In 2007, “Foreign Affairs” magazine published an article entitled The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood authored by Robert S. Leikan and Steven Brooks.325 The article sought to separate the Muslim Brotherhood from militant Islamist groups submitting that the group rejects global jihad, embraces democracy and is willing to engage with the U.S.

316]  However, at the same time, members of the Muslim Brotherhood have provided public support for violent acts of terrorism undertaken by militant Islamist groups.

317]  This support has been displayed by various high-ranking members of the Muslim Brotherhood including former General Guide Muhammed Mahdi Akef, as mentioned in Chapter 3. In 2004, Akef expressed public support for the suicide bombings in Israel and Iraq, during the Iraq war, “in order to expel the Zionists and the Americans”.326

318]  Similar rhetoric has been echoed during parliament sessions by Muslim Brotherhood MP Rajab Hilal Hamida. Writing in the daily Egyptian publication, “Roz al-Youssef”, Hamida stated:

“Terrorism is not a curse when given its true meaning […] From my point of view, bin Laden, al-Zawahiri and al-Zaraqawi are not terrorists in the sense accepted by some. I support all their activities since they are a thorn in the side of the Americans and the Zionists.”327

319]  The Muslim Brotherhood’s support for militant Islamist groups continues today. Commentators have taken note of the fact that recently deceased high-profile member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Gomaa Amin, highlighted the severe anti-Westernism, which both the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic State embrace.328

320]  Support for the Islamic State has also come from prominent Muslim Brotherhood member, Wagdy Ghoneim, who publically announced his condemnation of air strikes on Islamic State targets and called for unity in the face of the Crusader allegiance against Muslims.329 In particular, Ghoneim urged Muslims to “not crusade against the Islamic State” adding that he was “with [his] brothers in ISIL [Islamic State] in some matters” and that he “rejects the Crusader alliance to defeat them”.330 In his support for the Islamic State, Ghoneim also extended his support to al-Qa’ida stating:

“America is the largest terrorist state, and the West, too. We will not forget what it did to America’s Indians, and the Abu Ghraib prison, Allah is sufficient for me, the most excellent in whom I trust, and yes, America the body of the martyr bin Laden into the sea […].”331

321]  Ghoneim’s comments are consistent with the Muslim Brotherhood’s constant support for the rebel groups opposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad,332 from which the Islamic State has gained strength.

322]  More recently, senior officials in the Islamic Action Party, the political arm of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, called for support of the Islamic State and condemned Western air strikes in Syria and Iraq. The current leader of the Jordanian branch went as far as to call on the Jordanian government to withdraw from the international coalition against the Islamic State.334

323]  Despite a huge showing of national unity in Jordan following the murder of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh by the Islamic State, the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood refuses to join other Jordanians in standing against the militant Islamist group.335 This lack of condemnation is as powerful as any positive support for the violent acts carried out by the Islamic State.

324]  Similarly, following the beheading of twenty-one Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya by the Islamic State,336 the Muslim Brotherhood failed to condemn the barbaric attack. Instead, Muslim Brotherhood leaders penned an open letter to U.S. President Barack Obama requesting he denounce retaliatory airstrikes by Egypt on Islamic State targets in Libya.337

325]  It is evident from the above that support for the Islamic State is widespread amongst members of the Muslim Brotherhood. In June 2014, a statement published on the Muslim Brotherhood website drew strong criticism for its implied condemnation of the Islamic State. The published statement made no explicit reference to the Islamic State, instead stating, “the blood and honour of Muslims are prohibited by Muslims […]”. Following angry comments from its members, the Muslim Brotherhood launched an internal investigation to review how the statement was published on the site.338 The Muslim Brotherhood was quick to abandon any attempt to condemn the Islamic State and has since failed to issue any similar statement against the militant Islamist group.

326]  The Islamic State is not the only militant Islamist group which is supported by the Muslim Brotherhood. Former leader of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, Ali Sadreddine Bayanouni, has repeatedly pledged support for violent acts undertaken by al-Qassam Brigades.339

327]  In certain circumstances, the Muslim Brotherhood has gone beyond vocal support for militant Islamist groups in order to receive much-needed assistance from such groups.

328]  During the June 2013 revolution in Egypt, Mohammed Morsi, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood and at the time President of Egypt, contacted Mohammed Zawahiri, brother of al-Qa’ida leader Ayman Zawahiri. Recently disclosed intercepts of the call on 30 June 2013340 reveal Morsi inciting Zawahiri to rise against the Egyptian military in Sinai and requesting Zawahiri to compel all jihadi elements to come to the aid of the Muslim Brotherhood.

329]  In response Mohammed Zawahiri reportedly stated that he would “fight the [Egyptian] military and the police, and we will set the Sinai aflame”.341

330]  Mohammed Morsi also reached out to Ayman Zawahiri, appealing to the al-Qai’da leader to send 3,000 Islamist volunteers to fight Egyptian government forces in the Sinai Peninsula.342 Ayman Zawahiri in turn condemned the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, and urged al-Qa’ida followers to conduct kidnappings of westerners in Egypt.343

331]  The solidarity between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Zawahari brothers follows a prior agreement in which the Egyptian authorities under Morsi’s leadership released a number of convicted militant Islamists in 2012.344 This included Mohammed Zawahiri who at the time was detained for his alleged involvement in the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981.345 Following Zawahiri’s release, as ordered by the Muslim Brotherhood-led government at the time, it was agreed that al-Qa’ida would support the Muslim Brotherhood, including all its international branches, on the understanding that Morsi would seek to implement full Islamic sharia in Egypt.346 The shared ideology between both groups served a mutual purpose.

332]  The release of Mohammed Zawahiri occurred just after the prison escape of Ayman Nofel,347 a senior official in al-Qassam Brigades. After his escape, Nofel fled to Gaza where he reiterated his hope to see the Muslim Brotherhood in power and indicating that he would “resume [… ] work with the Qassam Brigades. We are preparing and training for the next battle. This is our right.”348

333]  The call to jihad also enlisted the support of the Islamic State who took credit for coordinated attacks committed by members of Sinai Province against Egyptian military and police in the Sinai peninsula on 30 January 2015.349 A security expert has commented on the increased activity by Sinai Province in the Sinai region following Morsi’s removal as a means to avenge the Muslim Brotherhood.350 Two days after the coordinated attack in Sinai, officials from the Muslim Brotherhood called for a “long, uncompromising jihad in Egypt”.351

334]  Tacit support for militant Islamist groups has also attracted support for it from al-Shabaab, with leaders of the group calling on the Muslim Brotherhood to take up arms in Egypt.352

4.4.2 Material support

335]  The Muslim Brotherhood is involved in both the direct and indirect provision of funds to militant Islamist groups.

336]  This follows the declaration of a new strategy adopted by the Muslim Brotherhood to confront Western imperialism and former General Guide, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, specifically called upon the Muslim Brotherhood to grant financial and material support to join the ‘resistance’ against the U.S.-Israel alliance.353

337]  In 1988, leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood founded ‘Bank Al-Taqwa Limited’,354 appointing co-founder, Youssef Nada, as chairman of the bank. Egyptian-born Nada is a leading figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, having joined the group at a young age in 1948,355 and subsequently led the group’s ‘foreign affairs bureau’ for twenty-five years whilst based in Europe.

338]  Within ten years of its inception, al-Taqwa bank was the subject of an Italian investigation for an alleged transfer of $60 million to al-Qassam Brigades and other militant Islamist groups.356 This was followed by a Swiss investigation of the bank’s branch in Lugano, Switzerland and a Bahamian investigation where the bank was registered.357

339]  The on-set of investigations into the bank led to the discovery of a list of al-Taqwa’s shareholders which included Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood cleric, two relatives of Osama bin Laden and Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, one of al-Qa’ida’s co-founders.

340]  It was during these investigations that the document, known as the “Swiss Project” was discovered by Swiss investigators.359 The document concerned a twelve-point strategy for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate and is widely accepted as having been drafted by associates of the Muslim Brotherhood.

341]  As a result of these investigations, al-Taqwa bank, Youssef Nada and other affiliates of the bank were blacklisted by the U.S. in its Executive Order 13224.360 In correspondence to Swiss authorities, George Wolfe, U.S. Treasury Deputy Counsel, stated that the U.S. authorities possessed information which indicated that al-Taqwa had “long been thought to be involved in financing radical groups“.361 The U.S. linked al-Taqwa to the provision of funds to al-Qa’ida and other organisations officially designated by the U.S. as groups that sponsor terrorism.362

342]  In accordance with UNSC Resolutions 1267 (1999)363 and 1333 (2000),364 Nada was also placed on the United Nations Security Council (“UNSC”) list of individuals allegedly linked to al-Qa’ida.

343]  The UNSC found that Mr. Nada had participated “in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf or in support of” al-Qa’ida, further providing that:

“As of October 2000, Bank Al Taqwa Limited provided a clandestine line of credit to a close associate of Usama bin Laden. As of late September 2001, Youssef Nada provided financial assistance to Usama bin Laden and the organisation of Al-Qaida.”365

344]  Despite the lack of charges against Nada or al-Taqwa bank, it cannot be conclusively stated that al-Taqwa bank had no association with the provision of funds to militant Islamist groups. As stated by Mark Weidmer, spokesperson for the Swiss Attorney-General’s office in 2005: “we don’t say that they [Nada and al-Taqwa] are innocent”.366

345]  During the trial proceedings,367 a number of documents tendered into evidence revealed the involvement of a number of high-ranking members of Muslim Brotherhood in the provision of funds to a designated foreign terrorist organisation. A number of these members were listed as unindicted co-conspirators including: Yusuf al-Qaradawi; Mousa Abu Marzook; Omar Ahmad; Abdurahman Alamoudi; Jamal Badawi; Mohammad Jaghlit; and Abdel Aziz Rantisi.368

346]  The Muslim Brotherhood has been associated in criminal proceedings concerning the funding of other militant Islamist groups.369

347]  These activities are also undertaken by individual members of the Muslim Brotherhood, such as Khairat Shater, a high-ranking member of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been linked to the provision of funds to a number of militant Islamist groups. In particular, Shater is reported to have provided Ayman Zawahiri, leader of al-Qa’ida, $25 million whilst Morsi was in government in order to secure al-Qa’ida’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood.370

348]  Khairat Shater has also reportedly provided funding to Ansar Beit al-Maqdis371 as a result of negotiations presided over by Mohammed Zawahiri. Shater is reported to have funded militant Islamist groups in order to preserve the Muslim Brotherhood’s position in government.

349]  The Muslim Brotherhood has also been involved in the indirect financing of militant Islamist groups in Iraq and Syria using the political and financial leverage of countries such as Qatar and Turkey to achieve its aims.

350]  Qatar and Turkey have been sources of support for the Muslim Brotherhood. Both states have hosted Muslim Brotherhood members for decades, for example, Yusuf al-Qaradawi has been exiled in Qatar for over six decades.372

351]  Although senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood had to leave Qatar in 2014, they were not expelled from the state. At the time, Qatar was under regional pressure to disassociate itself from the Muslim Brotherhood following a Gulf Cooperation Council agreement signed in Riyadh in 2013.373 The senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood therefore opted to leave Qatar so as to “avoid embarrassing Qatar”374 and sought safe haven from which they could “run [their] activities free of pressure”.375 Upon leaving Qatar, the members were immediately welcomed by Turkey.376

352]  Qatar and Turkey have calibrated support for affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood to the extent in which each state perceives it as a strategic asset. For Qatar, this is the achievement of gaining political dominance in the region377 thereby overtaking Saudi Arabia; whilst Turkey seeks to return as the seat of the pan-Islamic caliphate.378

4.5 Repercussions for The Muslim Brotherhood

353]  The Muslim Brotherhood’s involvement in supporting and sponsoring violent acts of terrorism has resulted in severe consequences for the group. The Muslim Brotherhood has been banned in Syria (1964) and Iraq (1954).379 Russia followed suit and banned the Muslim Brotherhood in 2003.380 More recently, it has been banned in Egypt,381 Saudi Arabia382 and the United Arab Emirates.383 Of note is Saudi Arabia’s decision to ban the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic State at the same time.384 All designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation.

354]  Individual members of the Muslim Brotherhood have also been sanctioned for their involvement in assisting militant Islamist groups.  For example, Yusuf al-Qaradawi has been banned from entering the U.S (1999);385 the U.K. (2008);386 Ireland (2011)387 and more recently, France (2012)388. Saudi Arabia has banned Mufti Muhammad Al-Arifi from travelling to Qatar due to his support of the Muslim Brotherhood.389 A travel ban has also been imposed on Mohammed Morsi; Mohammed Badie and Khairat Shater by Egyptian authorities in 2013.390

355]  The Egyptian authorities have further frozen the assets of a number of Muslim Brotherhood leaders, including, inter alia, Mohamed Badie, Rashad Bayoumi and Khairet Shater.391 Muslim Brotherhood members, Youssef Nada,392 Abdulrahman al-Amoudi393 and Yasin al-Qadi394 have all been subject to various asset freezing orders in light of their alleged financing of terrorist groups.

4.6 Concluding remarks

356]  When assessing militant Islamist groups, there is a danger of focusing on each group in isolation and highlighting the differences between each group. In reality, the groups are not rigidly demarcated but share common origins, ideological values and material and financial support. At the core of these militant Islamist groups, is the Muslim Brotherhood.

357]  Since its inception, the Muslim Brotherhood has provided theological justification for violent acts of terrorism committed by militant Islamist groups. As commented by Saudi journalist Mshari Al-Zaydi:

“Without people like Sayyid Qutb and Hassan Al-Banna, and books like Milestones, and The Messages of Da’wa, or concepts like Al-Hakimiyyah (divine rule) and Ustaziatul Alam (mastership of the world,) there would have been no Islamist terrorism today. There would be no terrorist chiefs like Osama Bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi or Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. There would be no Khalid Islambouli, who assassinated President Sadat. There would be no jihadist ideologues like Abdullah Azzam, Abdul Majeed Al-Zindani.”395

358]  Rather than disconnect itself from the positions adopted by al-Banna and Qutb, the Muslim Brotherhood has continued to reach out to those who share and value the same ideology, these being the same groups and individuals which perpetually shock the world with violent acts committed for the purpose of establishing a pan-Islamic caliphate.

5.1) 1970s-80s: Regrouping and rebuilding

359]  Following the Nasser government crackdown in the 1950s, the Muslim Brotherhood spent much of the next three decades rebuilding an organisation that had been dramatically depleted. Moreover, internal ideological rifts between the old guard and some of the next generation had thrown the movement into disarray.

360]  Under the leadership of Umar al-Tilmisani, the Muslim Brotherhood’s effort to rebrand itself publicly as a moderate group that renounced violence prompted fierce criticism from many of its own members and supporters, both within and outside Egypt.

361]  Prominent al-Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri (a former member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood discussed in Chapter 4 above), described396 the Muslim Brotherhood leadership’s public denunciation of acts of violence and terrorist activity committed by members or affiliated Islamist groups “contrary to God’s sovereignty” and a “betrayal.”

362]  Al-Qassam Brigades also condemned397 the decision made by its parent organisation, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, to renounce violence, maintaining that violent jihad is a justified means to fulfil the global movement’s ambition of “ridding Islamic lands of infidels” in pursuit of establishing a global Islamic state.

363]  The Muslim Brotherhood leadership in Syria also criticized398 the change in direction of its Egyptian counterpart.  The Syrian group openly supported attacks against Israel and the U.S. in Iraq and voiced full support for the Iranian-backed Shi‘ite militia Hezbollah – a designated terrorist group in Western countries.

364]  After al-Tilmisani’s death in 1986, Muhammad Hamid Abu al-Nasr was elected as General Guide (purportedly due to the significant influence among the leadership core of Mustafa Mashhour, who was to succeed al-Nasr as General Guide in 1996).

365]  Al-Tilmisani’s death put an end to the beginning of any shift in ideology away from violent jihad, and the Muslim Brotherhood reverted to its core ideological tenets that al-Banna had laid out in the 1940s.  This remains the group’s position today.

5.2 1990s – 2011: Emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood as a political force in Egypt

5.2.1 Success in 1980s elections

366]  Parliamentary elections, though largely closed to opposition, give some indication of the Muslim Brotherhood’s popularity under President Hosni Mubarak. In elections in 1984 and 1987, the party aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood received more votes than all the other opposition parties combined.

367]  With the succession of Mustafa Mashhour399 (a former Secret Apparatus leader) as General Guide in 1996, the militant ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood once again came to the fore.  The strategy was to gradually gain political support by taking advantage of political and social developments to increase its membership and influence.

5.2.2 Social impact

368]  During the 1990s the Muslim Brotherhood, whilst still officially outlawed, reorganized itself to engage with all levels and classes of Egyptian society to gain support and bolster its ranks.  During this period it published two newspapers, “Liwa’ al-islam”, translated as “The Banner of Islam”, and “Al-I’tisam”, or “Adherence”. These publications maintained regional and national offices, made public statements and sold books written by prominent members.

369]  The Muslim Brotherhood was careful to present a moderate and reformist public façade by setting up charities, schools and hospitals, pursuing al-Banna and Qutb’s long-term, gradualist approach to the establishment of an Islamic state. This would be obtained by popular consent which would be attracted by social and economic reforms.

370]  The economic downturn in Egypt also provided fertile ground for the Muslim Brotherhood to present itself as an attractive political alternative among many who were becoming increasingly disenchanted with what they perceived as a corrupt government.  As a result, Islamic charities and private mosques flourished.

371]  It was in this scattered network of different Muslim Brotherhood-supported associations where hearts and minds would start to be turned against the government in support of the movement’s Islamic ideology.400 Members of Egypt’s leading professional associations were economically disadvantaged university graduates whose votes helped Muslim Brotherhood candidates gain large majorities on the executive boards of several of these associations, such as those representing lawyers, doctors, pharmacists, scientists and engineers.

372]  At the same time, the wheels of the international Muslim Brotherhood network were spinning. Muslim Brotherhood branches and related organisations gained prominent positions in Europe’s sociopolitical scene, presenting themselves as moderates and the legitimate representatives of Muslim communities in Europe.

373]  In 2000, the Muslim Brotherhood ran 76 parliamentary candidates as independents and won 17 seats, as many as all the other opposition parties combined.

5.3 Muslim Brotherhood becomes main political opposition group in Egypt

374]  In the 2005 parliamentary elections, the Brotherhood’s candidates, who stood as independents, won 88 seats,401 which was 20% of the total. It was able to form the largest opposition bloc and cement its role as Egypt’s dominant opposition force.

375]  The Mubarak government feared a rise in Islamic extremism as a result of the Muslim Brotherhood’s increased political influence and subsequently instituted a number of legal “reforms” to counter its resurgence including a change to the constitution which was rewritten402 to stipulate that “political activity or political parties shall not be based on any religious background or foundation.”

376]  In 2007, the Muslim Brotherhood distributed a draft program403 for its proposed political party which called for the introduction of Islamic rule, the rejection of the civil nature of the state and the exclusion of non-Muslim minorities and women from domestic politics.  It also called for a special council of Islamic clerics to vet parliamentary legislation. During the 2008-9 Gaza War, some Muslim Brotherhood leaders called for jihad and encouraged Egyptians to go to Gaza and fight Israel, notwithstanding Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

377]  Its rise in power coincided with bolder statements of intent as regards the Muslim Brotherhood’s political and social philosophy.  The group’s motto sums it up neatly – “Islam is the Solution”.

6.1) Public Opposition to Morsi Government

378]  Within a short period after he came to power in June 2012, serious public opposition developed against President Mohamed Morsi.  There were a number of reasons for this, which will be discussed in more depth in a separately commissioned Report and is therefore only mentioned briefly below.

379]  In late November 2012, Morsi granted himself powers to legislate without judicial oversight or review of his acts,404 effectively placing himself above oversight of any kind, including by the courts. He also placed a draft constitution to a referendum that led to wide-scale protests that his government was attempting to impose upon the country the Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamist agenda.  This triggered mass protests405 against the Morsi government and against the Muslim Brotherhood. Prominent Cairo-based author Yasmine El Rashidi reported in her article, published during the final months of the Morsi government, entitled “Egypt: The Rule of the Brotherhood”,

“In the press you could read that the Brotherhood was engaged in one “power grab” after another—of the parliament, the cabinet, the press itself. And beginning last spring, there was another power grab during the drafting of the constitution for the new, democratic Egypt. What was meant to be a “representative”one-hundred-member Constitutional Assembly had been turned, by the Islamist-led parliament, into an Islamist-dominated one, and one in which the Islamists—the Muslim Brotherhood members but also ultra-orthodox Salafis—were trying, increasingly, to impose their own rigid, radical views.”406

380]  Following the 2013 revolution, the new government declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation and arrested and imprisoned many of its senior members and confiscated its assets. The government’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood generally (not only members of the former Morsi-led government) was supported407 by a significant portion of the country’s population who believed that the Muslim Brotherhood, which many perceived as the real power behind the Morsi-government, was “destroying Egypt” through its aggressive advancement of Islamic policies.

381]  Mshari Al-Zaydi, a Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism, stated408 immediately following the 2013 revolution,

“[T}he Muslim Brotherhood has been exposed, uncovering their true puritanical face which they had previously managed to hide behind false smiles and shaky claims about democracy, dialogue, tolerance, etc.”

382]  He warns409 however that it would be wrong (and dangerous) to suggest that the Muslim Brotherhood has ceased to be influential and that there is a fear that the movement may reactivate its military wing, the Secret Apparatus (discussed above) out of vengeance amidst statements from senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood, such as Mohamed al-Beltagy (supported by similar statements from leaders of other Islamic groups, including U.S. and E.U.-designated terrorist groups such Al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya), stating that they would defend Morsi’s legitimacy (as president) “with their blood”.

383]  The cause of the 2013 revolution, and the role of the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters in the violent aftermath that followed, will be reviewed in subsequent Reports to be released later in 2015.

9 Bedford Row London | 2 April 2015

Transliterated Arabic Term

English Meaning underneath



“Pledge”; an oath of allegiance to a leader (Caliph or Iman).



“Abode of War”



“Abode of Peace”



“District” offices



“The call to Islam”; proselytizing.



“Protected Persons”; usually referring to Jews and Christians living in an Islamic state who must pay a special tax (jizya)



“Discord”, “trial” or “tribubulation”



“Shaking off”; refers to Palestinian uprisings against the Israeli Occupation.



Age of ignorance before Islam arrived in Arabia.


Jama’at al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin

“The Society of Muslim Brothers”; the official name of the Muslim brotherhood.



A tax to be paid by non-Muslim males living under Muslim political control.



“Struggle”; earnest striving (or fighting) in the way of God





Kafir (kuffar)







“Master” or “Lord”; title of respect


Majlis al-Shura

“Consultative Council”


Maktab al-Khidimat

“Bureau of Services”






Methodology by which truth is established.





Al-Murshid al-amm 

General Guide



“The Magazine”


Nizam al-khass 

“Special Section”; the ‘Secret Apparatus’ of the Muslim Brotherhood.


Al-Qawl wa al-Fasl 

“Words and Separating Good from Evil”



“The basis”



“The following of the (righteous) predecessor/ancestors”; Used to refer to those imitating the first three generations of Muslims.



“The Youth”


Islamic sharia 

“The path to the watering hole”; Islamic canonical law based on the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah.



“Declaration” or “Witness”: testimony of faith (one of the five pillars of Islam).



“Consultation”; terms used for consultative bodies throughout the Islamic and Arab world.



Muslim Mystic



“The path” or  “example”; refers to actions or sayings from the life of Prophet Mohammed.



Largest denomination of Islam, term derived from Sunnah.



Declaration of individual or group (of previously considered Muslims) as disbelievers.


Tanzim al Dawli 

“The international organisation”

Egypt Presents The Evidence