In an interview with an Arabic news service, Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Mahdi Akef expressed his view of Osama Bin Laden as a mujahidin (one engaged in Jihad) and said he supported Al Qaida’s activities when it targed “the occupation.” The following is the relevant part of the interview:
Interviewer: As we talk about resistance and jihad, do you consider Usama Bin Ladin a terrorist or an Islamic Mujahid?
Akef: Most certainly he is a Mujahid. I do not doubt his sincerity in resisting occupation for the sake of God Almighty.
Interviewer: Does this not contradict your previous description of Al-Qa’ida as US-made?
Akef: The name is US-made, but Al-Qa’ida as an ideology and organization came as a result of injustice and corruption.
Interviewer: Then, do you support the activities of Al-Qa’ida, and to what extent?
Akef: Yes, I support its activities against the occupier, but not against the people.
The Egyptian Brotherhood website quickly issued a clarification:
The Grand Professor Muhammad Mahdi Akif general guide of Muslim Brotherhood said the group had nothing to do with the so-called Al-Qaida; Moreover, the brothers stand with the resistance against the occupation…. about the relationship of the Muslim Brotherhood organization Al Qaeda, we hope to clarify the limits of this relationship. He answered: The: The Muslim Brotherhood had nothing to do with what is called Al-Qaida; since the Brotherhood did not agree with Any thought or method which used violence as an instrument of reform or change, or access to power, or in achieving its objectives Against civilians. Second: What is the position of the Muslim Brotherhood to resist foreign occupation of Islamic countries? He answered: The: The Muslim Brotherhood stands with the resistance, especially in Palestine and Iraq, Afghanistan and other Countries, and decide that the principle of resisting the occupiers is the natural right of all peoples and all laws and consistent with norms and international laws.
Knowledgeable sources suggest that Akef is viewed inside the Egyptian Brotherhood as a “loose cannon” but his statements are an interesting insight into his thinking which is in line with the Muslim Brotherhood doctrine of “Defensive Jihad” , discussed in a previous post. This doctrine holds that Jihad is justified where Muslims are thought to be under attack. In that sense, the disagreement between the Brotherhood and Al Qaeda would appear to be more about tactics than overall aims. This is also not the first time that elements in the global Muslim Brotherhood have expressed the view that Al Qaeda arose from “injustice and oppression.” Brotherhood condemnations of Al Qaeda terrorism frequently take the position that the organization is exploiting “legitimate grievances.”
(Source: Egypt Muslim Brotherhoods Akif Supports Al-Qaida Says Bin Ladin Is Mujahid
Interview with Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Guide Mahdi Akif, by Mahmud Abd-al-Rahim, from Cairo: “Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Guide Mahdi Akif to Ilaf: Bin Ladin Is Mujahid Whose Sincerity I Do Not Doubt, and I Support to Activities of Al-Qa’ida in Reply to Injustice and Corruption” Ilaf WWW-Text Friday, May 23, 2008)