Given the enormous success and popularity of the online Encyclopedia Wikipedia, it should not be surprising that it has become a battleground in the “information war” conducted by the global Muslim Brotherhood. An interesting example is the Wikipedia article on Tareq Al-Suwaidan, one of the leaders and ideologues of the Islamic Reform Society in Kuwait, the Kuwaiti branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Both the history and discussion pages indicate that a struggle took place between two editors- one who clearly is a supporter of Al-Suwaidan and another who attempted to balance the hagiography written by the first editor. After the first revision, the author provided an insight into his position by writing in the discussion:
Typical of those in the camp of Daniel Pipes [the editor]is attempting to start a battle on this page. He has deleted quoted references without giving a reason and basing his opinion on Dr. Al-Suwaidan on newspaper articles rather than evidence from his own speeches. Sgmiller and his fellow pundits alienate all moderate and modern Islamists that give hope to the cause of rescuing the Muslim youth from the clutches of extremist and into a more tolerant and accepting version of Islam. If he is seeking to make all Muslim liberal pundits this is impossible, the best hope is to make them more moderate Muslims
The ensuing struggle between the two editors appears to have taken place over several issues. First, the critical editor modified the original description of al-Resalah TV where Al-Suwaidan is the general manager to include information about the station management and content:
Al-Suwaidan is the General Manager of al-Resalah TV which an Arab newspaper has reported in 2006 was the brainchild of Saudi multi-billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal and that the Supreme Advisory Committee of the new channel included important Saudi Islamist leaders such as Abdullah ibn Sulaiman Al-Manai, Abdullah Omar Naseef, and Hamed Al-Refaie. Al-Suwaidan is quoted by the Christian Science Monitor as defining the goals of the new, Islamic channel as being “in clash with terrorist ideas… We are going head to head” and “In our understanding, Islamic media is any clean media…” MEMRI, an organization often critical of Islamic media, has accused al-Reslah of airing anti-Western, anti-Semitic, and pro- Al Qaida content.
Second, the critical editor added a sentence to the section on Al-Suwaidan’s views on terrorism:
At times, Al-Suwaidan has condemned the actions of terrorists and suicide bombers, a stance that he clarified in a 2006 interview. At other times, he has called for Jihad in Israel.
Finally, the critical editor added a section to the article covering U.S. government allegations made against Al-Suwaidan
A U.S. government special agent has alleged that Al-Suwaidan was a business partner with Yassin Al-Qadi, listed as a Specially Designated Terrorist SDGT by the U.S. government, and that their company had a consulting contract with BMI, described as a New Jersey based Islamic investment bank catering to ranking members of the Muslim Brotherhood, including Hamas and al Qaeda supporters. The meaning of Al-Suwaidan’s financial associations has never been clarified and he was not charged in any associated prosecutions. In May 2007, Al-Suwaidan was listed by federal prosecutors in a group of U.S Muslim Brotherhood members named as part of a large group of Unindicted Co-Conspirators in the terrorism financing case against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, alleged to have provide funds for Hamas. Al-Suwaidan has not been charged in any associated prosecutions.
At one point, the original editor provided further insight into his support for and personal relationship with Al-Suwaidan:
I also on a personal note other than the wikipedia context, want to assure you that Al-Suwaidan truly is one of the “good guys” if there is such a thing. I have personally witnessed him moving very far-Right and radical Islamic youth towards the middle through his very logical approach to argument (one that he attributes to his training in the West). He has also withstood very harsh criticism by hard-line clerics because of what they call his ‘Americanization’ of Islam. You must understand the socio-cultural nuances of the Muslim world sometimes require would-be reformers to make populist statements for Palestine and against the defamation of the Prophet Muhammad in order for the masses to accept their other statements regarding the acceptability of democracy and women’s rights in Islam.
After long discussions and debate, the two editors appeared to reach a compromise in June 2007 that included the above modifications. However, not long thereafter, anonymous editors began “reverting”the article by deleting any material that show Al-Suwaidan in a less than favorable light. The IP address associated with the most active anonymous editor was originating in Toronto, Canada, suggesting that the original editor who was also located in Canada was likely the source.
The following graph shows the page views for the Al-Suwaidan article for December 2008:
The large spike in views from December 29-December 31 can be explained by the annual the three-day convention in Toronto, Canada known as Reviving the Islamic Spirit, featuring many speakers from the global Muslim Brotherhood including Tareq Al-Suwaidan who is billed as one of the star performers. On November 23, the same anonymous editor had once again reverted the Al-Suwaidan article to omit unflattering information an guaranteeing that journalists and other interested parties would only view the hagiography written by a likely disciple of Al-Suwaidan.