An Internet news portal has reported on a dispute between Egypt’s official press and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood over the organizational relationship between the two organizations. According to the report, the Egyptian press is claiming that such a relationship exists:
Egypt’s official press has recently alleged an “organisational relationship” between the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) opposition movement and Palestinian resistance group Hamas, currently facing the brunt of Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip. MB spokesmen, however, say their relationship with Hamas is purely ideological. “Hamas has adopted the principles of the MB,” Essam Al-Arian, leading member of the Egyptian MB, told IPS. “But there is absolutely no ‘organisational relationship’ between the two movements.” On the first day of Israel’s campaign against the Gaza Strip, governed by Hamas since the summer of 2007, Egyptian officials renewed claims that Hamas was taking its instructions from the leadership of the Egyptian MB. “Politically and organisationally, Hamas belongs to the Egyptian MB,” Mohamed Ali Ibrahim, editor-in-chief of prominent official daily Al-Gomhouriya wrote on Dec. 27. “It is not, therefore, concerned primarily with the interests of the Palestinian people or cause.” Ibrahim pointed to a recent declaration by Hamas founding member Abdel-Fattah Dukhan, in which Dukhan publicly swore allegiance to the “mission of the Muslim Brotherhood.” “I swear to God I will be faithful to the mission of the MB and abide by its founding principles,” Dukhan said in Gaza City on Dec. 14, on the occasion of the 21st anniversary of the movement’s establishment. “I have full trust in its leadership and will follow its instructions.” According to Ibrahim, Dukhan’s statement “represents proof that Hamas takes its instructions from Mehdi Akef,” the supreme guide of the Egyptian MB, whom Ibrahim went on to describe as the “head of the global MB organisation.”
The report goes on to detail the response of an Egyptian Brotherhood spokesperson who denied an organizational link to Hamas, stating that their Supreme Guide, Mohamed Mahdi Akef, is only a “symbolic leader”:
Spokesmen for the Egyptian MB strenuously deny official claims of an “organisational” link to Hamas. “The Egyptian MB’s supreme guide is only a symbolic leader to other MB movements, but he does not issue orders or instructions,” said Al-Arian. “Various branches of the MB around the world have their own leaderships, which act according to their respective circumstances.” Different branches of the MB do, however, share certain principles, added Al-Arian. These principles, he said, include “a commitment to peaceful means of political change and the renunciation of violence, a moderate approach to Islam, and a commitment to political methods for achieving the improvement of society.” Al-Arian went on to stress, however, that the MB’s commitment to peaceful means of change did not contradict the group’s support for the Hamas-led armed resistance against Israel.
In order to analyze these competing claims, it should be understood that one of the salient characteristics of the global Muslim Brotherhood is deception and this is not the first time that Egyptian Brotherhood leaders have attempted to obscure the nature of its relationships. An earlier post discussed similar claims and using similar language by the Egyptian Brotherhood denying that it had any “representation” in this U.S., stating that it has “absolutely has no organizational links, ties, or associations” with any of the organizations comprising the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. As that post noted, the Chicago Tribune reported in 2004 that Mohamed Mahdi Akef, now the Egyptian Brotherhood Supreme Guide, says he helped found the Muslim American Society (MAS), one of the organizations mentioned in the Egyptian Brotherhood statement, by lobbying for the change during trips to the U.S. The Tribune investigation further reported that the MAS decided that it would operate by concealing its Muslim Brotherhood affiliation. Both federal prosecutors and a cache of internal U.S. Brotherhood documents introduced into federal court proceedings also further identify and support the identification of many of the organizations in question as part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.
According to a U.S. federal court filing, one of the former leaders of the U.S. Brotherhood and its Palestine Committee is Mousa Abu Marzook who has recently been speaking to the media as the deputy of the political bureau of Hamas:
By the outbreak of the First Intifada, the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States was significant and well organized. In 1987, the governing body of the International Muslim Brotherhood decided to focus its mission on the Palestinian issue, and directed that Palestine Committees be formed in countries throughout the world. In the United States, the Palestine Committee was comprised of active Muslim Brotherhood members of Palestinian origin. The leader of the Palestinian Committee in the United States at that time was unindicted co-conspirator Mousa Abu Marzook. Marzook is now – and has been since 1995 – a Specially Designated Terrorist and Hamas leader. In fact, in the early 1990s, Marzook left his post as a leader of the United States-based Muslim Brotherhood and Palestinian Committee to take over as Hamas’ Political Bureau Chief, the organization’s highest official position. The creation and growth of the Palestine Committee in the United States are evidenced in part by documents that the government seized in 2004 from the Virginia home of unindicted co-conspirator and Palestinian Committee member Ismail Elbarasse. As shown by those documents and other evidence, the Muslim Brotherhood directed its Palestinian Committees throughout the world, including the United States, to carry out the mandate of assisting Sheik Yassin and his newly-formed Hamas Movement.
It should also be noted the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), another organization with which the Egyptian Brotherhood says it has no relationship, had its origins in the Palestine Committee of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.
In other words, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has had strong ties to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and Marzook, as well as other leaders of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood were, in fact, also Hamas leaders. While the command and control of the global Muslim Brotherhood is not well understood and there appear to be struggles for control over its networks between the Egyptian and Saudi/Gulf led factions, any denial of an organizational relationship between the Egyptian Brotherhood and Hamas should be considered in the context of the Brotherhood’s deception strategies. As another previous post discussed, all elements of the global Muslim Brotherhood would prefer to be viewed as a set of disaggregated civil rights, cultural, relgious, and/or national-aspirational groups, rather than the inter-related global network to which they in fact belong.