In 2008, we presented an analysis that identified four conceptual categories into which Brotherhood positions on terrorism can usually be parsed. The GMBDW noted that this Muslim Brotherhood strategy regarding terrorism should be seen for what it is, a remarkably consistent and internally coherent means of obscuring the true aims and goals of the group. An article published yesterday by Faisal Kutty, a former vice-chair and legal counsel to the Canadian Counsel on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN), neatly exemplifies each of the four strategies conveniently presented in the same order as the GMBDW analysis.
The article, titled “Muslims hold key to fighting terror” begins by by briefly mentioning the recently thwarted Canadian railway terror plot said to have been discovered through a tip provided by a local Imam. Mr. Kutty then lays out the heart of his thesis:
Despite the credit, some self-proclaimed experts continue to pin collective blame on Muslims, citing the ‘radicalization’ of the community. In fact, some Islamophobes who have the ear of the government have had the audacity to claim that 80 per cent of the mosques in Canada are incubators of ‘homegrown’ terrorists. There is no credible evidence to support such bald assertions. On the contrary, the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University released a study in February titled ‘Muslim-American Terrorism: Declining Further,’ which concluded that Muslim terrorism was not a significant threat. It had claimed 33 lives since Sept. 11, 2001, compared with 200 victims of far-right terrorists and 180,000 murders. Moreover, the centre has documented the active role of Muslims in combating terror. I think an equivalent study in Canada would confirm the same.
The remainder of Mr. Kutty’s article is devoted to developing his case which, as discussed above, follows the four Global Muslim Brotherhood rhetorical strategies on terrorism to a remarkable degree. We will first look at the four principles in turn, followed by excerpts from the article.
1. DENIAL- Since the Brotherhood is pursuing Islamization and eventually Shariah (Islamic Law), it is necessary at all costs to deny that Islam as a religion has any connection to violence or terrorism. Of course, the Brotherhood represents Islamism as opposed to Islam in this regard but since the general audience does not understand that distinction, it is Islam which is the Brotherhood reference. They cannot afford to fail in this denial and the denial strategy is usually pursued through sophistry. That is, the Brotherhood claims that Islam is unfairly associated with terrorism while Christianity, Judaism, and other religions are not (e.g. Abortion bombers are not called Christian Terrorists) and/or that other religious terrorism is just as dangerous as Islamic terrorism. The Brotherhood may be winning this battle (see here.)
Mr. Kutty writes:
Muslims must not be held collectively responsible for the alleged actions of criminals among them. No other community is put in such an unenviable position. Italians are not asked to condemn the actions of the Mafia, nor were the Irish asked to apologize for the actions of the Irish Republican Army. Canadians in general are not expected to take responsibility for the actions of the criminals who have vandalized mosques and discriminated against or attacked Muslims since the tragic events of Sept. 11…Muslims wonder why they must keep distancing themselves from something so antithetical to their world view. Even when they disown such conduct, it is under-reported or dismissed as a PR exercise. That said, as part of a civil society the Muslim community has a duty to the mainstream to address the perception — real or imagined — about the extremists within.
Here Mr. Kutty neatly conflates Islam the religion with Islamism, the politicized ideology espoused by the Global Muslim Brotherhood. Of course Islam and Muslims per se should not be held accountable for terrorism but the organizations and leaders of the Global Muslim Brotherhood, of which the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) is a part, should indeed be held accountable for the generalized climate of grievance in which terrorism festers, particularly since they claim to be the “mainstream” representatives of Muslims throughout the world.
2. DECEPTION- In order to defend Islam (Islamism) from charges that it is inherently violent/terroristic, the Brotherhood deceives the public about the nature of Jihad. This is necessary because Jihad plays an important role for Islamism and the Brotherhood and if the connection between Islam and violence is to be denied, Jihad must be explained away. Again, the Brotherhood represents the “Jihadism” of the Islamists as opposed to the “classical Jihad” of Islam but since that distinction is also lost on the public, the Brotherhood defends Jihad. It does so usually in one of two ways, sometimes employing both deceptions. First, the Brotherhood claims that Jihad has little or no connection to violence and warfare (i.e. there is no “Holy War”), and is instead akin to various forms of inner struggle or self-improvement. Second, the Brotherhood suggests that Jihad is a form of “freedom fighting”, even comparing Jihad to the American Revolution. There has even been a suggestion that Jihad should be replaced with the term “Hirabah” which, if successful, would represent a victory for the Brotherhood deception strategy.
Mr. Kutty writes:
The vast majority of Muslims condemn terrorism because even classical Islamic law explicitly classifies hirabah (terrorism) as a serious sin. In fact, indiscriminate killing and attacks are prohibited. Indeed, the Qur’an proclaims: ‘Anyone who kills a person it is as if he has killed the whole of humanity.’ Moreover, the Prophet Mohammed’s strict rules of engagement even in times of hostility were blunt: ‘Do not kill women or children or non-combatants.’ Such nuances are lost on those with limited knowledge of their religion. Indeed, a 2010 United States Institute for Peace study of more than 2,000 people who were attracted to terrorism found that they ‘have an inadequate understanding of their own religion, which makes them vulnerable to misinterpretations of the religious doctrine.’ To its credit, the community has risen to the challenge. Many — including the imam who came forward — openly challenge jihadist ideology. A number of our clients have organized anti-radicalization events over the years and many have worked with counterterrorism officials in the interest of our collective security.
Mr. Kutty exemplifies the Global Muslim Brotherhood strategy of deception regarding “jihad”, even managing to invoke “hirabah” which, as noted above, has been pushed by the Global Muslim Brotherhood as a means to divert attention from Islamic terrorism. Rather than “challenging jihadist ideology”, the Global Muslim Brotherhood adheres to its own doctrine of so-called “defensive jihad’, the concept that armed violence is justified when Muslims or Muslim land and/or honor is under attack. This doctrine has been fully explicated by none other than Jamal Badawi, the North American Muslim Brotherhood leader who just happens to be a member of the board of CAIR-Canada, formerly represented legally by Mr. Kutty. As far as “non-combatants”, Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi has in the past defended suicide bombings against Israeli civilians on the grounds that “”an Israeli woman is not like women in our societies, because she is a soldier.”
3. DEFENSE- Having staked out the positions that Islam is not violent and that Jihad is not connected with violence, the Brotherhood is left with the task of defending the violence carried out by Islamist groups. Since according to the Brotherhood these groups cannot, by definition, be motivated by Islamic ideology, there can be only one answer- they are fighting because of “legitimate grievances” and hence are “freedom fighters.” This defense of Islamist violence is mounted differently for Brotherhood-related groups such as Hamas as opposed to Al Qaeda. Because of the visible dispute over land, it is easy for the Brotherhood to suggest that the actions of Palestinian terror groups such as Hamas are based on such grievances whereas, in reality, the Brotherhood has managed to turn the conflict into a religious war. The most viable strategy for the Brotherhood in the West is to posit that the problem is “Occupation“, leaving it to the audience to figure out whether the reference is to 1967 or 1947. Given the sensitivity in the West towards terrorism at home, the Brotherhood has a far more difficult job explaining Al Qaeda terrorism which is does by suggesting that while nothing “justifies” such terrorism, Al Qaeda actions spring from justified anger at U.S. foreign policy. This strategy provides a natural interface” for the Brotherhood with the political far-left and, in Europe, the Brotherhood has been successful in forging such alliances.
Mr. Kutty writes:
As part of the same civil society, the government also must do its part. First, it must re-examine our foreign policy of blindly aping the U.S. It is high time to acknowledge that all innocent lives lost — whether to terrorists or to the ‘war on terror’ — must be valued equally. Victims do not appreciate the difference between a pressure-cooker bomb and a drone strike. Disagree with their tactics as you may, it is undeniable that there are many people in the world who have legitimate grievances against our foreign policy, some of whom may allow anger to overshadow religious rules of engagement.
There perhaps has never been a more clear and straightforward statement of the Brotherhood claim that Islamist violent is motivated by “legitimate grievances” that Mr. Kutty claim trump what he calls “religious rules of engagement.” In other words, since terrorism is alleged to be a violation of Islamic principles, the only explanation that can be proffered is “legitimate grievances, thereby obscuring any role that ideology does in fact play in motivating terrorism.
4. OBSTRUCTION- Having explained the violence of Islamist groups as a response to legitimate grievances, the Brotherhood is free to obstruct counter-terror efforts. One portion of its efforts is devoted to protecting its charities (e.g. Holy Land) and associated infrastructure which help to support Hamas and other Palestinian terrorism. The second part of the effort lies in hindering wider U.S counter-terror policies which it does by providing inaccurate analysis, positing plots and conspiracies about a “War on Islam” and opposing almost every counter-terror initiative undertaken by the government, suggesting instead that the correct response to terrorism is to change U.S. foreign policy, the ultimate goal of the obstruction. Again, the natural ally is the far-left and the Brotherhood has been successful in the U.S in forming such alliances with respect to counterterrorism policy.
Mr. Kutty writes:
Second, at the domestic level, the Harper government has been on a witch hunt. Muslim charities are unfairly targeted, the niqab is unnecessarily made into an issue and intelligence harassment is rampant. Terrorist profiling often is based simply on guilt by association, which just adds to the vicious cycle of marginalization, distrust and blowback. Moreover, some even question the timing of the arrests (especially given that there was no imminent threat), which appears planned to push through the Combating Terrorism Act. This legislation seeks to bring back two expired provisions from previous anti-terror legislation — preventive detention for three days without charges and ‘investigative hearings’ under which a suspect who refuses to testify before a judge could be imprisoned for up to a year — as well as restrictions on travel. Third, government officials must be careful not to alienate the community by seeking advice only from those with an anti-Muslim agenda. Fourth, the accused must be given their day in court in a fair, open and transparent manner. The trust and confidence asked of the community must not be squandered by resorting to the secret hearings and secret evidence provisions of the anti-terror act. Any attempt to deny due process and the rule of law will certainly have an impact on co-operation. Finally, the government must understand that the majority of Muslims, who are neither secular nor ultra-orthodox, hold the key to any serious and productive bridge-building. If government agencies believe they can win the ‘war on terror’ by undermining front-line soldiers, they had better think again.
All of the themes set forth in the “Obstruction” principle are present here including the attempt to protect charities important to the Brotherhood as well as a generalized opposition to all counterterror policies with the suggestion that they are actually aimed at Muslims and the Muslim community itself. As a bonus, Mr. Kutty throws in the notion that the government is “seeking advice only from those with an anti-Muslim agenda.”
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) is part of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S. and Canada.