ANALYSIS: New York Times Fails To Understand Global Muslim Brotherhood Positions On Terrorism


The New York Times has reported on a video made by the US Muslim Brotherhood described as intended to “repudiate the militants message.” According to the report:

Now nine influential American Muslim scholars have come together in a YouTube video to repudiate the militants’ message. The nine represent a diversity of theological schools within Islam, and several of them have large followings among American Muslim youths. The video is one indication that American Muslim leaders are increasingly engaging the war of ideas being waged within Islam. “We need to shepherd our own flock and to say that, theologically, these things are unacceptable,” said Imam Suhaib Webb, the educational director for the Muslim American Society, a grass-roots group in Santa Clara, Calif., who is among the nine in the video. “The Prophet Muhammad, when on the battlefield, saw that amongst the enemy there were innocent women and children killed, and he was openly angry. He is prohibiting us from killing the innocent. It is very clear.” Mr. Webb said in an interview on Friday that as a white convert from Oklahoma, he had become deeply alarmed in the past year at the number of converts who had been arrested on charges of planning or carrying out violence in the name of Islam….Ihsan Bagby, an associate professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky, who is also in the video, said, “We’re hoping that that loner out there who, because of internal turmoil, starts listening to the wrong people, that this message also filters into his ear.”…Among the nine are several converts to Islam who are popular because they are steeped in both American culture and Islamic scholarship. They include Sheik Hamza Yusuf and Imam Zaid Shakir, scholars who have founded Zaytuna College, an Islamic seminary in Hayward, Calif. The video, which is about five and a half minutes long, opens with ominous music, like that used in some of the jihadists’ propaganda videos, and the words “Believers Beware: Injustice Cannot Defeat Injustice.” “Many people are saying that there are so many issues of injustice taking place around the world,” Imam Mohamed Magid, leader of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, a mosque in Virginia, says in the video. “That is true, we acknowledge the injustice taking place around the world. But we believe there is a way to address the injustice — not by taking innocent people’s lives.” Edina Lekovic, director of policy and programming for the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the advocacy group that produced the video, said they intentionally chose scholars who represent a diversity of theological streams.

The Times fails to identify the Muslim American Society (MAS) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) as important parts of the US Muslim Brotherhood nor does the report explain the Muslim Brotherhood position on “defensive jihad.” As one Jamal Badawi, one of the most important leaders of ISNA and the US Muslim Brotherhood and who appears in the video, has explained:

Jihad refers to various means of striving and relates to combat only for “just causes, such as to repel aggression or resist severe oppression, and only if peaceful means to achieve peace fail.” Such war is strictly regulated, including not hurting noncombatants and not destroying infrastructure or the environment. The Koran condemns excesses, even in worship.

Global Muslim Brotherhood statements against terrorism generally refer to prohibitions against killing the “innocent” without clearly defining the who is considered innocent in areas of conflict such as the Israel. For example, the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA), affiliated with ISNA, is issued a 2005 fatwa against terrorism that was criticized as falling “short of both its Spanish counterpart and a comprehensive denunciation of terror” partly for its failure in this regard. The fatwas of Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi in support of suicide bombings against Israeli citizens were instrumental in the development of the phenomenon. All of the organizations comprising the US Muslim Brotherhood, including the MAS, ISNA, and MPAC, have had a long history of financial, political, and other support for the Hamas infrastructure in the U.S. ISNA was designated an an un-indicted co conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation Hamas fundraising case.

The video in question never identifies by name a single individual or organization engaged in terrorism but rather continues the Global Muslim Brotherhood practice of referring only to the killing of innocent people.

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