ANALYSIS: Death Of Its Leader Prompts Speculation About Muslim Brotherhood "International Organization"


Muslim World News has produced a summary of developments following the death of an Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader on Friday. According to the MWN report, Dr. Hasan al-Huwaidi was the head of the Brotherhood’s “International Organisation” and discussions are underway about a replacement:

On Friday (13/3/2009) it was announced that Dr. Hasan al-Huwaidi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s former General Supervisor [muraqib ‘am]in Syria, died in Jordan. Huwaidi was buried in Jordan, and condolences are reported to have been received in London as well, at the Muslim Welfare House and the Palestinian Forum / Club. Huwaidi served as the third deputy of the Muslim Brotherhood’s General Guide [murshid ‘am], and, according to several reports, was also in charge of the Muslim Brotherhood’s International Organisation. The online British-based Saudi news portal Elaph reports (17/3/2009) on several developments following Huwaidi’s death; the report is titled “The death of [former]Syrian General Supervisor arouses new hopes for reviving the Muslim Brotherhood’s International Organisation”. According to Elaph, the role of the Brotherhood’s third deputy also includes the responsibility over the International Organisation — a position, says Elaph, that Huwaidi had held since 1982. However, Elaph also states that the Muslim Brotherhood’s General Guide has the ‘final word’ over the decisions carried out by the International Organisation. The International Organisation’s role, continues the report, has suffered a decline since 9/11, with the confiscation of the Muslim Brotherhood’s funds and the arrests of several of its leaders and other leading Brotherhood figures in Egypt. In spite of denials by Muslim Brotherhood officials, according to an unnamed high ranking source within the Brotherhood who spoke with Elaph, talks have now started between Brotherhood members in Egypt and abroad, aiming to find a replacement for Huwaidi. According to Elaph, there are currently three names emerging: Faysal Mawlawi, Kemal Helbawy and Ibrahim Monir.

Mawlawi (probably the leading candidate of the three, according to Elaph), was born in Tripoli, Lebanon, in 1941, and currently serves as Secretary-General of the Lebanese Jama’a Islamiyya [the Lebanese branch of the Muslim Brotherhood], as well as a Shar’ia judge [qadhi]in Beirut. He lived in France from 1980 until 1985, where he served as spiritual guide of the Union des Organisations Islamiques de France (UOIF). Since 1986 he has served as spiritual guide of the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE), and is said to have maintained close connections with Islamic centres in Europe. While living in France, he received an award from the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) for being the best Muslim Preacher in Europe; he is the Founding President of the European Institute for Islamic Studies (IESH), established in Chateau-Chinon, France, in 1990, and was acting President until 1994; he is also Deputy Chairman of the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR).

Helbawy, said to enjoy vital and wide political and intellectual activities, is a specialist in Islamic and strategic studies; he is former official spokesman of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West, and during the era of jihad in Afghanistan was a consultant to the Institute of Policy Studies in Pakistan; he is a founding member of both the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) and the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) ; he is approaching the age of 70, and currently heads both the Global Civilizations Study Center (GCSC), and the Centre for the Study of Terrorism (CFSOT). [Helbawy lives in Britain, and officially retired from the Muslim Brotherhood in 1997]. In a recent interview with the Egyptian paper Al-Masry al-Youm, Helbawy confirmed that the International Organisation played a key role in coordinating and planning the rallies for Gaza across the world; nonetheless, Helbawy added that the signboards of the International Organisations were not raised. Rather, this coordination took place under the cover of ‘relief organisations’.

Ibrahim Monir, according to other sources, was born in Egypt in 1937. He is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau, serves as Secretary-General of the Muslim Brotherhood’s International Organisation, and is also the Muslim Brotherhood’s current spokesman in the West and the general overseer of the London-based Muslim Brotherhood’s weekly bulletin, Resalat al-Ikhwan. Monir lives in London.

In 2004, the French newspaper Le Monde described the history of the Muslim Brotherhood International Organization:

The existence of the Tanzim Al Dawli is the best guarded secret of the Brothers. Today, many pieces of the puzzle are known. The first of these is that the supreme leader of the international framework is, since the beginning, the Egyptian guide. Significantly, he is the only one to carry the title of murchid (guide). The leaders of the other branches are `secretary generals’. The Brotherhood’s expansion abroad has a long history: from its very first years the movement’s ideology was spread by foreign students who were doing graduate work at Al Azhar or in other Cairo universities and who were seduced by the ideas of Hassan Al Banna. Back in their country they transmitted that ideology. After 1945 a Communications Bureau with the Islamic world was created. It soon became a sort of `ministry of foreign affairs of the Brothers’ according to the Egyptian journalist Husam Tammam who published the most thorough study of the international organization […] After Nasser dissolved the Brotherhood in 1954 the persecutions and exile of many of its prominent members aided its spread abroad. But the Tanzim Al Dawli’s true birth came later, on July 29 1982 to be exact, under the influence of Mustafa Machhour. After his release from prison in 1973, this leader of the Brotherhood worked to reestablish the web of the international movement through numerous foreign trips aided by Mohammed Mehdi Akef who has lived in Hamburg since 1981. The Muslim Brothers’ international is made up of member organizations and those allied with the movement, like the Jamaat e Islami in Pakistan or the Refah in Turkey. Machhour named an envoy to represent him abroad: the Syrian Hassan Howeidi who lives in Amman, in Jordan.

The article goes on to say that that the International Organization began to fall apart following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iraq and the departure of the Kuwaiti Muslim Brothers, said to have been the leading source of funds for the International organization, over the failure of the Brotherhood to condemn the invasion strongly enough. Despite the 2004 election of Mohammed Mehdi Akef as new Supreme Guide, who had spent time in Germany during the 1980’s, what Le Monde called the “centrifugal tendency” continued to develop.

It should be noted that the Muslim Brotherhood today has become a global network and that the Egyptian mother branch is not necessarily the most important part of the movement. Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi, close to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, is often referred to by the GMBDW as the most important leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood, an acknowledgement of his role as the de facto spiritual leader of the movement. In 2004, Qaradawi turned down the offer to lead the Egyptian Brotherhood after the death of the Supreme Guide stating only that

..he had consciously decided not to limit his scope of manoeuvre by tying himself ‘any movement which might constrain my actions, even if this is the Muslim Brotherhood under whose umbrella I grew and which I so defended…Would I, at the age of 77, accept what I turned down when I was 49?’

It should also be noted that Faysal Mawlawi (aka Faisal Mawlawi) is a close associate of Youssef Qaradawi, serving as Qaradawi’s Deputy at the European Council For Fatwa and Research (ECFR). Should Mawlawi assume the duties of head of the International Organization, he likely would become a good candidate to succeed Qaradawi as the most important leader of the global Brotherhood upon Qaradawi’s death as well as facilitating a closer relationship between the global Brotherhood and the Egyptian organization.

Comments are closed.