Muslim Brotherhood

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The Muslim Brotherhood of 'The Society of the Muslim Brothers' is a transnational Sunni movement founded by Hassan al-Banna in Egypt in 1928. It is one of the world's oldest and largest Islamist movements.[1]

Approaches towards the Muslim Brotherhood have been a highly contentious issue in Western debates about the War on Terror.

David Kaplan reported in April 2005, that the Bush Administration was engaging the Brotherhood as part of its Muslim World Outreach strategy:

Another strategy being pursued is to make peace with radical Muslim figures who eschew violence. At the top of the list: the Muslim Brotherhood, the pre-eminent Islamist society, founded in 1928 and now with tens of thousands of followers worldwide. Many brotherhood members, particularly in Egypt and Jordan, are at serious odds with al Qaeda. "I can guarantee that if you go to some of the unlikely points of contact in the Islamic world, you will find greater reception than you thought," says Milt Bearden, whose 30-year CIA career included long service in Muslim societies. "The Muslim Brotherhood is probably more a part of the solution than it is a part of the problem." Indeed, sources say U.S. intelligence officers have been meeting not only with the Muslim Brotherhood but also with members of the Deobandi sect in Pakistan, whose fundamentalism schooled the Taliban and inspired an army of al Qaeda followers.[2]

In a Winter 2005 article for the Middle East Forum's Middle East Quarterly, Lorenzo Vidino criticised European governments for giving the Brotherhood legitimacy:

There is an implied endorsement to any meeting, especially when the same politicians ignore moderate voices that do not have access to generous Saudi funding. This creates a self-perpetuating cycle of radicalization because the greater the political legitimacy of the Muslim Brotherhood, the more opportunity it and its proxy groups will have to influence and radicalize various European Muslim communities.[3]

In the March/April 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs, Robert Leiken and Steven Brooke of the Nixon Center argued that the Brotherhood's "relative moderation offers Washington a notable opportunity for engagement -- as long as policymakers recognize the considerable variation between the group's different branches and tendencies."[4]

In a June 2008 article for The New Republic, Peter Bergen and Paul Cruikshank argued that the Brotherhood was key to defeating Al Qaeda:

It has long opposed Al Qaeda's jihad, a stance that so angered Zawahiri that he published a book, The Bitter Harvest, condemning the organization in 1991.[5]

Bergen and Cruikshank highlighted the Brotherhood's role in ousting militants from the Finsbury Park Mosque in North London.

In 2003, British police shut the mosque, but Abu Hamza's followers continued to have a strong presence in the area. In February 2005, police helped broker a deal for the mosque to re-open under the leadership of the local chapter of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), a Muslim Brotherhood group. No sooner had the moderates gained control of the Finsbury Park mosque than they were confronted by Abu Hamza's angry followers, led by the pugnacious Atilla Ahmet, who calls himself "the number-one Al Qaeda in Europe" and who, in October, pled guilty to providing British Muslims with terrorist training.[6]


External resources


  1. Alistair Crooke, Resistance, The Essence of the Islamist Revolution, Pluto Press, 2009, p.ix.
  2. David E. Kaplan, Hearts, Minds, and Dollars, US News & World Report, 17 April 2005.
  3. Lorenzo Vidino, The Muslim Brotherhood's Conquest of Europe, Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2005.
  4. Robert S Leiken and Steven Brooke, The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood, Foreign Affairs, March/April 2007.
  5. Peter Bergen and Paul Cruikshank, The Unraveling, The New Republic, 11 June 2008, archived at
  6. Peter Bergen and Paul Cruikshank, The Unraveling, The New Republic, 11 June 2008, archived at