Before the conviction in April of the leaders of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, an independent Egyptian newspaper presented four different views of the impact on the finances of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the event of a conviction. According to the report:
Islamic Movements experts differed on the impact on the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) group if 40 of its leaders, especially Khairat el-Shater and Hassan Malik, are convicted. While some experts believed the sentences may cripple the financial capabilities of the group when contributions from its wealthy sources stop, others said the group would not be affected at all, as it has survived six previous trials since its founding.
The four views of the experts are as follows:
Dr. Amr el-Shobki, researcher at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, said: “The group is panicking over the fate of El-Shater and Malik who have played a key role in financing the group in the past ten years. He added that El-Shater succeeded in establishing a self-sufficient financial empire independent of MB members residing abroad, such as Youssef Nada and others, explaining that the group is panicking over the strike it got when their charismatic and financially influential leaders were arrested.
[Islamic Movements Researcher Diaa Rashwan] added that the arrests have affected the group financially, as the group does not have a central system for spending, but rather depends on membership subscriptions and contributions. He stated that the group does not depend on external funding, for although Nada’s money was frozen in 2001, the group still has the same financial capabilities, except for major operations such as elections, which El-Shater and Malik used to handle.
Islamic Movements Researcher Hossam Tamam said that the government is seeking to drain the group and not eradicate it completely, and that arresting its leaders is designed to control the strongholds of the group, blowing its main sources of funding and its capacity for advocacy, as a member like El-Shater has influence that may supersede that of the group’s general guide. He said these arrests and sentences would impact the whole Islamic funding of the group, especially the Turkish investments that Malik used to seek.
Political advisor to the general guide, Abdel Hamid el-Ghazali, said any sentences would not impede the group’s endeavors for reform. He is expecting the accused would be acquitted as they have been exposed to many such persecutions before, quoting Hassan el-Banna, the founder of the group, as having once said: “You shall be persecuted and tortured.” He added that the six previous trials only made the group stronger, and that this one will not prevent them from contributing to public life, confirming that the group would not be financially affected as it relies on subscriptions.
Particularly interesting is are the comments about the role of Youssef Nada in financing the Muslim Brotherhood. Nada was the founder and head of the Al Taqwa Bank, registered in the Bahamas but operated from an office in Lugano, Switzerland. Numerous Muslim Brotherhood luminaries held shares in the offshore bank, including the bank’s Sharia supervisor Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi and his family, which was supposed to conduct business in accord with Islamic principles. The bank was closed in 2000 after what Nada said were unforeseen developments related to the Asian financial crisis and a run on the bank caused by unfavorable publicity generated by accusations that the bank was funding Hamas. No documentation of the bank’s activities has ever been produced and Nada has refused to hand over the bank records which he said were moved to Saudi Arabia. Al Taqwa Bank was mainly the focus of investigations centered on terrorism financing but it was sometimes reported that the bank served essentially as a financial repository for the Brotherhood and called “The Muslim Brotherhood Bank.” Nada has frequently denied that Al Taqwa functioned in this capacity.