ANALYSIS: On Identifying The Global Muslim Brotherhood


With many new readers, it may be helpful to take up the issue of how this publication identifies organizations and individuals associated with the global Muslim Brotherhood. Critics of the GMBDW, with no visible expertise in the subject and demonstrably not having read extensively in these pages, have claimed that such identification is based on a “loose definition”:

The Report employs a fairly loose definition of Muslim Brotherhood affiliates that includes fairly mainstream organizations such as the Islamic Society of North America and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. …By the standards of this site, you are not only a fellow traveler of the Muslim Brotherhood if you have defended them or recommended dialogue with them, you need only have been loosely associated with people who held those views.

To understand how connections to the Muslim Brotherhood are actually made, it is first necessary to acknowledge the scope of the problem. Muslim Brotherhood leaders themselves have publicly acknowledged the existence of their global network. For example, in 2003 a Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood MP said: (source listed below)

The Muslim Brotherhood is a global movement. Its globalization makes it inevitable to have links among its members, regardless of their country, colour or race. But there are no organizational relations with them. We are linked to them by ideas, culture and concepts.

In June of this year, the first Deputy chairman of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood was asked about the “international Muslim Brotherhood and replied:

There are entities that exist in many countries all over the world. These entities have the same ideology, principle and objectives but they work in different circumstances and different contexts. So, it is reasonable to have decentralization in action so that every entity works according to its circumstances and according to the problems it is facing and in their framework.

In spite of the acknowledged existence of the global Muslim Brotherhood, there does not appear to be a single organization outside of Egypt calling itself by that name. In a private conversation with intelligence officers from a European country, they denied the existence of the Muslim Brotherhood on their country saying “there are no organizations registered by that name in our country”. Therefore, it is left to the researcher/investigator taking up the question to develop a methodology for identifying Muslim Brotherhood organizations and leaders in any given circumstance. Useful criteria might include the origins and founding of the organization and its leaders, contact and links to other organizations, ideology, and conferences sponsored and/or attended.

The task of identifying the Muslim Brotherhood is made easier in certain cases such as Germany where the domestic intelligence agency annually designates one organization in that country as part of the global Muslim Brotherhood. In France, another organization is often referred to in the media as “close to the Muslim Brotherhood”, a designation which is rarely if ever contested. In the U.S., as another post has discussed, “mainstream” organizations such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) have been identified in federal court documents as part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood with Internal U.S. Brotherhood documents also confirming this identification.

As for the question of “Muslim Brotherhood supporters”, there are individuals that express varying degrees of support for the Brotherhood. These expressions are never taken by themselves as evidence for affiliations to the Brotherhood per se. However, in some cases, supporters have gone beyond merely verbal expression and have actually joined Brotherhood organizations. A prominent example is Georgetown academic John Esposito who served on the Advisory Board of an organization operated by Azzam Tamimi, a Brotherhood/Hamas figure in the U.K. Other board members included important global Brotherhood leaders such as Youssef Qaradawi. Given Dr. Esposito’s other statements and affiliations, certainly his presence on such a board is relevant to evaluating his ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

What is never done in these pages is to assert that an individual or organization is tied to the Brotherhood merely on the basis of a casual association and/or “six degrees of separation.” Any individual or organization so designated has been done so after consideration of available evidence and in line with the methodological questions discussed earlier. There is no other alternative given the Brotherhood policy of rarely identifying its affiliates around the world.

(Source: August 22, 2003, Friday Jordan: Muslim Brotherhood politician criticizes ties with Israel SOURCE: Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, in Arabic 20 Aug 03 p7)

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