IPS Africa has provided a useful summary of the charges against Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders accused by the Egyptian government of various charges included planning to establish international networks. According to the report:
Several leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood opposition movement stand accused of plans to form an “international network of organisational cells.” Its leaders say the charges are blatant fabrications. “We’re used to trumped-up charges,” says Saad Al-Husseini, a prominent Brotherhood MP accused by police of spearheading the group’s alleged global expansion plans. “I was also briefly accused of training jihadists in Chechnya five years ago – despite never having left Egypt,” he told IPS. Thirteen leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, including a member of the group’s Guidance Office, were arrested last month for “establishing organisational cells worldwide.” The claims were accompanied by customary charges of “belonging to and financing a banned organisation,” and of money laundering. Although the Brotherhood remains formally outlawed, its members can contest as nominal independents in municipal and parliamentary elections. In 2005, the group captured 88 seats in parliament – roughly one-fifth of the national assembly – making it Egypt’s largest opposition bloc. The independent daily Al-Dustour reported last month that the 13 had been formally accused of setting up an illegal “committee for communications abroad.” According to official charges cited in the press, the committee constituted an attempt to “form an international network of Muslim Brotherhood strongholds.” The men were further accused of “exploiting foreign religious students in Egypt to promote the Muslim Brotherhood’s message in their respective countries,” and of “communicating with Brotherhood cells overseas.” The police charge sheet spoke of plans to establish cells in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq, as well as in the U.S., Germany and Italy. Police additionally went on to accuse four high-ranking Brotherhood figures of complicity in the plot. Along with Al-Husseini, these included Ibrahim Al- Katitani, head of the group’s parliamentary bloc; Hussein Ibrahim, Al- Katitani’s number two in parliament; and Abdel Menaam Abou Al-Fotouh, who is also secretary-general of the Arab Doctors Union. All the men except Ibrahim are also members of the group’s 21-member Guidance Office
However, Saad Al-Hussein goes on to acknowledge that tacitly acknowledge the existence of Muslim Brotherhood “members” throughout the world:
Al-Husseini, who leads the parliamentary bloc’s committee for foreign relations and was therefore accused of heading the alleged “communications committee”, calls the charges against him “illusory”. “It’s true that I’m responsible for foreign relations for the Brotherhood bloc in the assembly. Whenever international figures visit Egypt’s parliament, I meet with them openly,” he said. “But this doesn’t mean that I run a ‘committee for international communications’, the existence of which is a police fabrication. “Throughout the world, Muslim Brotherhood members respect the laws of the nations in which they reside,” Al-Husseini said. “This is part of the group’s philosophy. Despite the frequent moves against us – such as arrest campaigns, asset seizures or false accusations – we remain devoted to political change by peaceful means only.”
As discussed in a previous post, the Egyptian government identified the “MAS”, presumably the Muslim American Society, as part of the international network of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. A previous post has discussed what is known about the so-called “International Organization” of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Egyptian Brotherhood has long denied the existence of any kind of international network. However, in June 2008 the first Deputy chairman of the 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.
Mohammed Mahdi Akef, the current leader of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, has said in a 2005 interview that the Muslim Brotherhood was present in “70 countries.”
It should be noted that the leadership of the global Muslim Brotherhood today is not well understood but that Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi in Qatar is perhaps the most significant leader of this network. The Egyptian “mother organization” is probably best viewed as only one of multiple power centers of the global Brotherhood.