In a recent interview with London Al-Quds al-Arabi Online, Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Mahdi Akef provided some new details about the composition of it’s so-called “International Organization.” In the interview, Mr. Akef discusses the International Shura Council as well as the International Guidance Bureau:
The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) Murshid-General (Guide), Muhammad Mahdi Akif, said that it is likely that his successor would be a non-Egyptian, but that depends on the internal elections in the Shura Council of the International Organization of the Brotherhood. He added in exclusive statement to Al-Quds al-Arabi that “the International Shura Council consists of 90 members from inside Egypt and 40 from outside, and it is they who elect the ‘murshid-general’.” As to whether the future ‘murshid-general’ can be a non-Egyptian, he said: “The brothers abroad have always preferred an Egyptian candidate out of politeness and love of Egypt.”With regard to the MB’s ‘international guidance bureau’, he said: “it consists of eight Egyptians and five non-Egyptians; whereas the Egyptian guidance bureau consists of 17 members, all of whom are Egyptians.”…With regard to the international organization, Dr Al-Halabawi said: “Representation on the Shura Council is for the countries with more members such as Jordan, Syria, the Gulf, Malaysia, Indonesia and Europe, and the candidate should be a prominent person.” (Note 1)
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 the International Organization began to experience difficulties following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait 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 Mr. 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.
Also in 2004, a London-based Arabic newspaper identified further members of the International Organization:
The international organization of the Muslim Brotherhood is an assembly of all national Brotherhood organizations, but its higher leadership is in the hands of the Egyptian organization represented in the guide and the Guidance Bureau. There are other leaders that help run the international organization, such as the Syrian Hasan Huwaydi, who is considered the third deputy of the guide, in addition to Faisal Mawlawi, leader of the Lebanese Brotherhood, Abd-Majid-Dhunaybat, controller-general of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, and the Tunisian Rashid al-Ghannushi. The London-based Egyptian, Ibrahim Munir, takes care of coordination among the organization’s members in Europe. The leaders of the international organization have held their meetings with Egypt’s Brotherhood leaders in several European countries, as it is impossible to organize such meetings in Egypt, where the group is banned and targeted by security authorities.
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). Identified above as a member of the International Organization, Mawlawi has been discussed as a possible replacement for Mr. Akef upon his retirement.
A previous post has discussed developments following the death Dr. Hasan al-Huwaidi (aka Hassan Howeidi), the head of the International Organization.
(Note 1: “Statements by Muslim Brotherhood Leaders on Succession to ‘Murshid General'”Report on Statements by Muslim Brotherhood Leaders on the Position of Murshid General or [Guide] by Khalid al-Shami from London: Al-Quds al-Arabi Online Wednesday, April 8, 2009)