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Jul
24

ANALYSIS: Does The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Tell the Truth About Itself?

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U.S. media is reporting that representatives off the  Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood have denied allegations of Brotherhood influence within the U.S. government, as alleged by four U.S. Congressional representatives. According to a Global Post report:

CAIRO, Egypt — Michele Bachmann has again ignited a political firestorm in the US, claiming last week that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has ‘infiltrated the highest levels of US government,’ including the White House. The Muslim Brotherhood’s response? ‘I haven’t heard these rumors, but they strike me as ridiculous,’ said Ahmed Al Nahhas, a long-time Brotherhood activist and leader in Egypt’s second-largest city, Alexandria. ‘Surely the United States government selects its employees very carefully.’ Bachmann claims that Huma Abedin, a Muslim-American aide to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, is central to the battle to subvert the US ‘from within.’ Bachmann says Abedin, who is now under police protection, is influencing White House policy at the behest of what Bachmann says are her Brotherhood-linked family members. But in Egypt, the birthplace of the Brotherhood, the organization’s leaders were either perplexed by the accusations or simply hadn’t heard them. Nor had they heard of Huma Abedin. ‘The Muslim Brotherhood can’t even penetrate the Egyptian government,’ said a Brotherhood leader in Egypt’s Daqheleya province, Ibrahim Ali Iraqi, in response to the accusations his group had infiltrated top US agencies. Indeed, having assumed the presidency following a year of economic tumult and political upheaval, the Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi is grappling with severe domestic problems — not least of which is his battle with the ruling military for executive power. ‘We are in a period of darkness because the country is still governed by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces — and they have a long history of support from the United States,’ Iraqi said. ‘So it’s ridiculous that these accusations are leveled at us.’ But while the US has in fact long financially supported Egypt’s military — a diplomatic bribe, of sorts, to keep the peace with Israel — only recently have US diplomats publicly warmed to the Muslim Brotherhood. After several false starts for US-Brotherhood relations in Egypt’s pre-revolution era, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met President Morsi in Cairo for the first time on July 14. The US government does not list the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, and the group has not carried out a violent, armed attack in 50 years. ‘All we have [with the US] is a relationship of mutual respect and mutual interests that must be maintained,’ Al Nahhas said.

Read the rest here.

It should be noted that the Brotherhood could scarcely be expected to confirm if it had, in fact, penetrated the U.S. government. It should also be remembered that in August 2008, the Egyptian Brotherhood issued a rather extraordinary statement covered by the GMBDW. The statement denied that the Muslim Brotherhood had any “representation” in the U.S and yet interestingly listed all of the organizations routinely identified by the GMBDW as part of the U.S. Brotherhood, stating that it had “absolutely has no organizational links, ties, or associations” with any of these organizations:

The MB has repeatedly denied it has any representation in the U.S., nor does it maintain any links with any of the Islamic or charitable organizations in the U.S. We have previously clarified that moderate and pragmatic Islamic thought is not exclusive of the MB, however, there are many other Islamic movements and organizations throughout the world that have the same mainstream principles as the MB but not necessarily part of its organizational structure. In this regard, the MB confirmed that it absolutely has no organizational links, ties, or associations with any of the Islamic organizations in the U.S., including but not limited to: The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the Muslim Student Association (MSA), the Muslim American Society (MAS), and the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT).

Space prohibits an exhaustive listing of the links, ties, and associations of all these organizations with the global Brotherhood but it is instructive to consider the case of the Muslim American Society (MAS). The Chicago Tribune reported in 2004 that Mohammed Mahdi Akef, now the Egyptian Brotherhood Supreme Guide, says he helped found the MAS by lobbying for the change during trips to the U.S. The Tribune investigation further reported that despite an alleged push for openness by Akef and other MAS leaders, the MAS decided that it would operate by concealing its Muslim Brotherhood affiliation. Investigative research has also extensively documented the Muslim Brotherhood origins and ties of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), created by Brotherhood leaders who were instrumental in the earlier founding of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and who also went on to found the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT). Other research has documented the origins of the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) out of the Hamas infrastructure in the U.S. Both federal prosecutors and a cache of internal U.S. Brotherhood documents introduced into federal court proceedings further identify and support the identification of many of the organizations in question as part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.

Rather oddly, after denying the ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian Brotherhood statement went on to acknowledge the origins of many of these organizations in the Muslim Brotherhood:

There are however, ideological similarities between the MB and most of above mentioned Islamic organizations for the fact that these ideologies represent mainstream moderate Islamic thinking. However, some of the founders or members of these organizations were at some point in their lives either members or sympathizers of the MB in their native countries before they migrate to the U.S. or other countries. During the 1960s, many members of the MB have fled Egypt to escape persecution by the Egyptian regime. Most of them settled in European countries or the U.S. and benefited from the atmosphere of freedom and prosperity in these countries and continued to practice and promote moderate Islamic thought. Thus, several local Islamic organizations were created to help Muslims integrate within their local communities and engage in charitable work mandates by Islam. Islamic work worldwide was also enriched by Muslim students who studied abroad and were keen on practicing their religion. In the U..S, several of these local active groups have merged and created large national organizations widely known throughout the country.

The statement then asserted what might charitably  be called a distortion of the facts by asserting that the “ties between the MB and any of the U.S.-based organizations were extensively scrutinized during the Holy Land Foundation trial.”:

Most of the alleged ties between the MB and any of the U.S. based organizations were extensively scrutinized during the Holy Land Foundation trial and were found groundless by the juries in court case that ended in mistrial. The prosecution in this case failed to establish any evidence that link the MB as an organization with any of the Islamic organizations in the U.S., but instead presented the court with notes, diaries and minutes of meetings among individuals who were not in any form or shape part of the MB and were not representing it, although they might of shared its ideology as we previously alluded to.

The Muslim Brotherhood ties of the Holy Land defendants were not part of the charges against them and this statement appears to be designed rather to discredit the internal Brotherhood documents discussed above that were introduced as part of the trial. However, in 2009, US federal judge ruled as part of the Holy Land case that “The Government has produced ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR, ISNA and NAIT with HLF, the Islamic Association for Palestine (“IAP”), and with Hamas.”

Our post at the time detailed more about this statement but we have reproduced much of that material to illustrate the the  Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, as could be expected of an organization with a long history of covert activities, has long played fast and loose with the truth about its associations and ties.

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