RECOMMENDED READING: “Energized Muslim Brotherhood In Libya Eyes A Prize”


CNN has posted an article titled “Energized Muslim Brotherhood in Libya eyes a prize” which analyzes the potential role of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood in the future of Libya. The report begins:

Dr. Abdulmonem Hresha knows first hand how Moammar Gadhafi’s regime works. He says the seeds of his opposition were sown when he was age 10. He and classmates were taken to witness the public execution of a political opponent of Gadhafi. “They hung him up in front of thousands of small kids,” Hresha said. “He did that to scare people.” Hresha, who taught physics at Tripoli University, later fled to Canada. The prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood now lives in London, and anticipates the group could become an important player in a post-Gadhafi environment. As in Egypt and Tunisia, the Brotherhood in Libya has been energized by the sudden upheaval sweeping the Arab world. It says it has no organizational links with the Brotherhood elsewhere, but shares the philosophy of the pan-Arab Islamist movement founded in Egypt in the 1920s. Largely drawn from the devout educated middle classes and university campuses in Tripoli and Benghazi, the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood was founded in the mid-1950s. Islamist opposition to the Libyan regime gathered force in the late 1980s, as part of a wider Islamic awakening or “Sahwa” in the region and in reaction to what many saw as an attempt by Gadhafi to hijack and interpret Islam for his own purposes. While jihadists launched a brief but unsuccessful campaign to overthrow Gadhafi in the 1990s, the Brotherhood focused much of its efforts on clandestine preaching and social welfare efforts in Libya.? In 1998, Gadhafi’s security services launched a crackdown against the group that saw more than 200 members imprisoned and hundreds more forced into exile, including Hresha. Despite years of repression, Hresha claims the Brotherhood still has thousands of members scattered across Libya, with chapters in almost every single town, including Sirte, Gadhafi’s birthplace on the coast west of Tripoli. In 2006, its leaders were released after reconciling with the Libyan regime.

Read the rest here.

The CNN report also identifies Al-Amin Belhaj, a leader in the UK Muslim Brotherhood, as a leading figure in the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood who has recently traveled to Libya:

But now the Brotherhood is siding with the rebellion. In February, as protests in Libya began, Yusuf al Qaradawi — an Egyptian preacher in Qatar widely viewed as the Muslim Brotherhood’s chief spiritual guide — issued a fatwa or religious ruling obliging any Libyan soldier who had the opportunity to do so to assassinate the leader. Al-Amin Bilhaj, a leading figure in the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood and the President of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) recently traveled to Benghazi, the headquarters of the rebel movement, according to Hresha. Other Brotherhood exiles have returned to help treat the wounded in hospitals, according to Kemal el Helbawy, the Egyptian founder of the British association.

An earlier post discussed Mr. Belhaj when he became the new president of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) noting that a U.K academic report on North African immigrants and their links to terrorist organizations identified Dr. Belhaj as the leader of the Libyan Islamic Group in the UK and the Head of the Tunisian Islamic Front (TIF). (There is some question as to the accuracy of the link between Dr. Belhaj and the TIF).The U.S. State Department has identified the Libyan Islamic Group as the Libyan branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) had for many years been the most active organization in the U.K Muslim Brotherhood. Many of the leaders of the MAB left in 2007 to form the British Muslim Initiative (BMI). According to an Israeli think-tank report, the breakup appeared to be the result of a conflict between traditionalists in the MAB who were unhappy with the high level of involvement in U.K left-wing politics while those who who formed the BMI wished such activity to continue. Anas Al-Tikriti, the leader of the BMI, and former MAB official, is the son of Osama Al-Tikriti, one of the leaders of the Iraqi Islamic Party representing the Muslim Brotherhood in that country.

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