Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

Year of Origin:

1928

Founder(s):
Hassan al-Banna
Place(s) of Operation:
Egypt

Egypt

The Muslim Brotherhood (i.e., the Brotherhood) is Egypt’s oldest and largest Islamist organization.“Profile: Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood,” Al Jazeera, February 6, 2011, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/2011/02/201126101349142168.html. The Brotherhood rose to power following the 2011 ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, with Brotherhood official Mohammed Morsi ruling the country from June 2012 to July 2013.David. D Kirkpatrick, “Army Ousts Egypt’s President; Morsi Is Taken Into Military Custody,” New York Times, July 3, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/04/world/middleeast/egypt.html?_r=0. Since Morsi’s overthrow, the Brotherhood has grown increasingly factionalized, with ideological and tactical rifts between the movement’s older and younger generations.Eric Trager and Marina Shalabi, “Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Gets a Facelift,” Foreign Affairs, May 20, 2015, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/egypt/2015-05-20/egypts-muslim-brotherhood-gets-facelift; Abdelrahman Ayyash and Victor J. Willi, “The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in 2016
Scenarios and Recommendations,” German Council on Foreign Relations, March 2016, https://dgap.org/en/article/getFullPDF/27762.
Egypt’s military-run government—led by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi—has sought to uproot the Brotherhood entirely, forcing many Brotherhood leaders into exile.Louisa Loveluck, “Sisi says Muslim Brotherhood will not exist under his reign,” Guardian (London), May 5, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/06/abdel-fatah-al-sisi-muslim-brotherhood-egypt; Nathan J. Brown and Michele Dunne, “Unprecedented Pressures, Uncharted Course for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, July 29, 2015, http://carnegieendowment.org/2015/07/29/unprecedented-pressures-uncharted-course-for-egypt-s-muslim-brotherhood/ie2g.

The Brotherhood was formed in Egypt in 1928, four years after the abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate.Brian R. Farmer, Understanding Radical Islam: Medieval Ideology in the Twenty-First Century (New York: Peter Lang, 2007), 83; “Profile: Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood,” Al Jazeera, February 6, 2011, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/2011/02/201126101349142168.html; Jay Winter, “The birth of the Muslim Brotherhood,” Los Angeles Times, March 14, 2011, http://articles.latimes.com/2011/mar/14/opinion/la-oe-winter-muslim-brotherhood-20110314; Tareq Abu al-Ainain, “Egypt’s Brotherhood Strives for ‘Caliphate’ at Expense of Security,” Al-Monitor, June 2, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/security/2013/06/egypt-muslim-brotherhood-caliphate-national-security.html#; “The abolition of the Caliphate,” Economist, March 18, 1924, http://www.economist.com/node/11829711. Since then, the Brotherhood has advocated for the re-establishment of a caliphate, a state ruled by sharia (Islamic law).Brian R. Farmer, Understanding Radical Islam: Medieval Ideology in the Twenty-First Century (New York: Peter Lang, 2007), 83; “Profile: Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood,” Al Jazeera, February 6, 2011, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/2011/02/201126101349142168.html; Tareq Abu al-Ainain, “Egypt’s Brotherhood Strives for ‘Caliphate’ at Expense of Security,” Al-Monitor, June 2, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/security/2013/06/egypt-muslim-brotherhood-caliphate-national-security.html#. The group’s founder Hassan al-Banna espoused an ideology of “pan-Islamic nationalism”“Hassan al-Banna and his political thought of Islamic Brotherhood,” Ikhwanweb: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Official English web site, last modified May 13, 2008, http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=17065. and launched Brotherhood branches as well as Brotherhood-affiliated mosques, schools, and sporting clubs.“Profile: Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood,” BBC News, December 25, 2013, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-12313405. In its early years, the Brotherhood was focused on opposing secular and Western influence in the Middle East and the British colonial presence in Egypt. The group later sought to oppose the Jewish presence in Palestine.John Mintz and Douglas Farah, “In Search of Friends Among the Foes: U.S. Hopes to Work with Diverse Group,” Washington Post, September 11, 2004, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A12823-2004Sep10.html;
Agence France-Presse, “Timeline: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood,” Al Arabiya, December 25, 2013, http://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/profiles/2013/12/26/Timeline-Egypt-s-Muslim-Brotherhood.html;
Brian R. Farmer, Understanding Radical Islam: Medieval Ideology in the Twenty-First Century, (Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, 2007), 83; “Profile: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood,” Al Jazeera, February 6, 2011, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/2011/02/201126101349142168.html; “Myths and realities: The Muslim Brothers and armed activism,” Al Jazeera, August 12, 2014, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/08/myths-realities-muslim-brothers--20148129319751298.html;
“Hassan al-Banna and his political thought of Islamic Brotherhood,” Ikhwanweb: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Official English web site, last modified May 13, 2008, http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=17065.

Using the slogan “Islam is the solution,” the Egyptian Brotherhood has sought a gradual implementation of sharia. Banna believed that sharia would be implemented by first developing the Muslim individual, the Muslim family, the Muslim community, and finally the Muslim government, or Islamic state.Larbi Sadiki, “Egypt: The triumph of Hassan Al-Banna,” Al Jazeera, July 4, 2012, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/07/20127212233901118.html. According to the Brotherhood’s official English website, Ikhwanweb, Banna urged the Brotherhood members “who were looking for fast results” either to “learn to be patient and persever[e]” or else “leave the [Brotherhood] movement.”“Hasan al-Banna and his political thought of Islamic brotherhood,” Ikhwanweb, May 13, 2008, http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=17065.

The Brotherhood maintains that in order to re-establish Islamic governance, the group must first unite a “popular base [of people] that believes in the Islamic system and is aware of its main ideas,” according to Ikhwanweb.“The Principles of the Muslim Brotherhood,” Ikhwanweb: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Official English web site, accessed May 29, 2014, http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=813. The Brotherhood has nurtured its base primarily through grassroots efforts—including political organizing and religious indoctrination—as well as through the provision of public goods like health care and education. Beyond these efforts, Brotherhood leaders have also scouted potential members “at virtually every Egyptian University,” according to Brotherhood analyst Eric Trager. The Brotherhood has used its popular base to obtain increased political representation and power through democratic processes, despite the group’s ultimate political goal of establishing an Islamic state.Abdullah al-Arian, “A State Without a State: The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s Social Welfare Institutions,” Middle East Political Science, September 20, 2014, http://pomeps.org/2014/09/30/a-state-without-a-state-the-egyptian-muslim-brotherhoods-social-welfare-institutions/; Eric Trager, “The Unbreakable Muslim Brotherhood: Grim Prospects for a Liberal Egypt,” Foreign Affairs, 90 (2011): 114, http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/68211/eric-trager/the-unbreakable-muslim-brotherhood.

Despite the group’s professed claim of adherence to nonviolence, the Brotherhood in Egypt has a history of engaging in violent activities. In 1940, the Egyptian Brotherhood launched an underground military wing called the Nizam al-Khass—the “secret apparatus”—largely in response to the failure of the Arab uprising in Palestine (1936-1939).Omar Ashour, “Myths and realities: The Muslim Brothers and armed activism,” Al Jazeera, August 12, 2014, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/08/myths-realities-muslim-brothers--20148129319751298.html. Its members carried out numerous bombing operations and assassinations, including the 1948 murder of then-Prime Minister of Egypt Mahmoud El Nokrashy Pasha, who had recently banned the Brotherhood.“Profile: Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood,” Al Jazeera, February 6, 2011, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/2011/02/201126101349142168.html; “Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Official Claims Group Has Revived Paramilitary Wing,” The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch, August 21, 2008, http://www.globalmbwatch.com/2008/08/21/egyptian-muslim-brotherhood-official-claims-group-has-revived-its-paramilitary-wing/. Hassan al-Banna was assassinated one year later in what was believed to be a revenge assassination by a member of Egypt’s secret service.John Mintz and Douglas Farah, “In Search of Friends Among the Foes: U.S. Hopes to Work with Diverse Group,” Washington Post, September 11, 2004, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A12823-2004Sep10.html;
Lorenzo Vidino, The New Muslim Brotherhood In The West (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010), 168.
The group continued to engage in violent activities after Banna’s death. In October 1954, a member of the Brotherhood’s secret apparatus attempted to assassinate then-President Gamal Abdel Nasser. In retaliation, Nasser renewed the ban against the Brotherhood, executed several of its leaders, and jailed thousands of Brotherhood supporters.“Profile: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood,” Al Jazeera, February 6, 2011, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/2011/02/201126101349142168.html.

In the 1950s and ’60s, the Brotherhood grew more radical amid clashes with state authorities. During this time, imprisoned Brotherhood theologian Sayyid Qutb wrote a number of influential works advocating jihad. In his book Milestones, Qutb re-popularized the Islamic concept of takfir, which permits the labeling of fellow Muslims as apostates, thus justifying their persecution and murder.Alastair Finlan, The Test of Terrorism: Responding to Political Violence in the Twenty-First Century, (London: Routledge: 2015). By legitimizing and indeed imploring takfir, Qutb essentially provided a legal loophole sanctioning Islamists to wage jihad against state officials and ordinary civilians. Though Nasser legalized the Brotherhood in 1964,David Bukay, From Muhammad to Bin Laden: Religious and Ideological Sources of the Homicide Bombers Phenomenon, (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers: 2008), 207. he cracked down on the Brotherhood in 1965, throwing many of its leaders, including Qutb, into prison.Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower, (New York: Random House, 2011), 36; Johannes J. G. Jansen, The Dual Nature of Islamic Fundamentalism, (New York: Cornell University Press, 1997), 50; Stephen E. Atkins, Encyclopedia of Modern Worldwide Extremists and Extremist Groups, (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press: 2004), 261. Qutb was executed by hanging in 1966. His theories are believed to have inspired the leaders of subsequent Islamist terror groups including al-Qaeda and ISIS.Youssef Aboul-Enein, “Learning from Adel Hammouda’s Work on Militant Islamist Movements,” Combatting Terrorism Center, September 15, 2008, https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/learning-from-adel-hammouda%E2%80%99s-work-on-militant-islamist-movements;
Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower, (New York: Random House, 2011), 34-35; Dale C. Eikmeier, “Qutbism: An Ideology of Islamic-Fascism,” Parameters: U.S. Army War College Quarterly, Spring 2007, 89, http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a485995.pdf.

Following the death of Nasser in 1970, the Brotherhood assumed a greater role in Egyptian society and officially renounced violence.“Profile: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood,” Al Jazeera, February 6, 2011, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/2011/02/201126101349142168.html; Zachary Laub, “Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood,” Council on Foreign Relations, last modified January 15, 2014, http://www.cfr.org/egypt/egypts-muslim-brotherhood/p23991. Nasser’s successor, Anwar Sadat, initially cooperated with Brotherhood leaders in order to unite against his opponents, but the relationship soon ended due to differences in ideology.“Profile: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood,” Al Jazeera, February 6, 2011, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/2011/02/201126101349142168.html; “Profile: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood,” BBC News, December 25, 2013, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-12313405. During the 1980s, the Brotherhood attempted to infiltrate the political mainstream by forming alliances with a number of parties, including the nationalist liberal Wafd party, the Socialist Liberal Party, and the Socialist Labour Party.“Profile: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood,” BBC News, December 25, 2013, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-12313405. Alliances with these parties enabled Brotherhood members to run for parliament on those parties’ tickets. In the mid-2000s, Brotherhood members won 20 percent of the seats in Egypt’s People’s Assembly party.“Profile: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood,” BBC News, last modified December 25, 2013, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-12313405;
Jason Brownlee, “The decline of pluralism in Mubarak's Egypt,” Journal of Democracy 13, no. 4 (2002): 6-14, https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jason_Brownlee2/publication/236831112_The_Decline_of_Pluralism_in_Mubarak's_Egypt/links/5416f9230cf2bb7347db83e6.pdf.

As the Arab Spring came to a head in 2011, the Brotherhood’s resilience and robust infrastructure left it well positioned to capitalize in Egypt’s new political landscape. The Brotherhood was officially legalized in early 2011,“'Shariah in Egypt is enough for us,' Muslim Brotherhood leader says,” Hurriyet Daily News, May 23, 2011, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/default.aspx?pageid=438&n=8220shari8217a-law-in-egypt-is-enough-for-us8221-tells-a-muslim-brotherhood-leader-2011-05-23. forming the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) in June of that year.Said Shehata, “Profile: Egypt's Freedom and Justice Party,” BBC News, November 25, 2011, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-15899548. The FJP ran senior Brotherhood member Mohammed Morsi on its party ticket, and Morsi was elected president of Egypt in June 2012.“Muslim Brotherhood-backed candidate Morsi wins Egyptian presidential election,” Fox News, June 24, 2012, http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/06/24/egypt-braces-for-announcement-president/.

Starting in November 2012, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians joined the Tamarod grassroots movement in protest against the actions of Morsi and his government, including the practice of attacking demonstrators and prosecuting journalists.Stephanie McCrummen and Abigail Hauslohner, “Egyptians take anti-Morsi protests to presidential palace,” Washington Post, December 4 2012, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/egyptians-take-anti-morsi-protests-to-presidential-palace/2012/12/04/b16a2cfa-3e40-11e2-bca3-aadc9b7e29c5_story.html;
Patrick Kingsley, “Protesters across Egypt call for Mohamed Morsi to go,” Guardian (London), June 30, 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/30/mohamed-morsi-egypt-protests;
“Profile: Egypt's Tamarod protest movement,” BBC News, July 1, 2013, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-23131953.
On November 22, 2012, Morsi granted himself unlimited powers in a new constitutional declaration, announcing his right to take “any measures he sees fit in order to preserve and safeguard the revolution, national unity or national security,” according to a translation of Morsi’s constitutional declaration by Egypt Independent.“Morsy issues new constitutional declaration,” Egypt Independent (Cairo), November 22, 2012, http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/morsy-issues-new-constitutional-declaration. One week later, Morsi called for a referendum on the draft constitution, prompting fears of an Islamist overhaul of the constitution.Stephanie McCrummen, “Morsi sets date for referendum on charter as his Islamist supporters rally in Cairo,” Washington Post, December 1, 2012, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/in-cairo-rival-protests-over-the-path-forward/2012/12/01/73bb2f1e-3bd7-11e2-9258-ac7c78d5c680_story.html.

The Egyptian military ousted Morsi in July 2013 and suspended the constitution, placing Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders in military custody.David. D Kirkpatrick, “Army Ousts Egypt’s President; Morsi Is Taken Into Military Custody,” New York Times, July 3, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/04/world/middleeast/egypt.html?_r=0; Abigail Hauslohner, William Booth, and Sharaf al-Hourani, “Egyptian military ousts Morsi, suspends constitution,” Washington Post, July 3, 2013, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/egypts-morsi-defiant-under-pressure-as-deadline-looms/2013/07/03/28fda81c-e39d-11e2-80eb-3145e2994a55_story.html. Seven months of violence ensued, primarily between authorities and Islamist protesters, resulting in the deaths of over 2,500 civilians and nearly 60 police officers.Michele Dunne and Scott Williamson, “Egypt’s Instability by the Numbers,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, accessed May 12, 2016, http://carnegieendowment.org/2014/03/24/egypt-s-unprecedented-instability-by-numbers/.

On December 24, 2013, suspected Brotherhood members carried out a bombing attack on police headquarters north of Cairo, killing 15 people and wounding over 100.Kareem Fahim and Mayy El Sheikh, “Egyptian Officials Point at Islamist Group After Blast at Police Building,” New York Times, December 24, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/25/world/middleeast/egypt-car-bomb.html. The government held the Brotherhood responsible for the attack, formally designating the group as a terrorist organization on December 25, 2013.Kareem Fahim, “Egypt, Dealing a Blow to the Muslim Brotherhood, Deems It a Terrorist Group,” New York Times, December 25, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/26/world/middleeast/egypt-calls-muslim-brotherhood-a-terrorist-group.html. In response, the group denounced “all violence” and reiterated its “commitment to peaceful protest,” according to the Brotherhood’s official website.“Muslim Brotherhood, Freedom and Justice Party Leaders Condemn All Violence,” Ikhwan Web Homepage, Ikhwanweb: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Official English web site, December 24, 2013, http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=31480.

Since Morsi’s ouster, a rift has grown between the Brotherhood’s older and younger members. In the months following Morsi’s disposal in July 2013, the Brotherhood’s youth reportedly became impatient with the older members’ gradualist approach, and began calling for revolutionary and violent tactics against Egyptian authorities.Eric Trager and Marina Shalabi, “Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Gets a Facelift,” Foreign Affairs, May 20, 2015, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/egypt/2015-05-20/egypts-muslim-brotherhood-gets-facelift. Younger members began to carry out a low-level insurgency, and created Facebook pages calling for the burning of police vehicles and the use of Molotov cocktails against authorities.Eric Trager, “Egypt's Invisible Insurgency,” New Republic, March 19, 2014, https://newrepublic.com/article/117072/egypts-young-islamists-use-facebook-organize-violence. In January 2014, a message posted on the Brotherhood’s Arabic-language website—most likely by members of the younger strain—indicated a sharp reversal of the group’s commitment to non-violence: “We are at the beginning of a new phase where we summon our strength and evoke the meaning of jihad. [We] prepare ourselves…for relentless jihad where we ask for martyrdom.”Abdelrahman Ayyash, “The Brotherhood’s Post-Pacifist Approach,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, July 9, 2015, http://carnegieendowment.org/sada/?fa=60665.

In response to the mounting jihadist rhetoric and small-scale violent attacks on the ground perpetrated by the younger members, the older generation—which urges a patient approach—has reportedly become more deferential to its younger members out of fear of losing support for the movement.Nathan J. Brown and Michele Dunne, “Unprecedented Pressures, Uncharted Course for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, July 29, 2015, http://carnegieendowment.org/2015/07/29/unprecedented-pressures-uncharted-course-for-egypt-s-muslim-brotherhood/ie2g.

In February 2014, the Brotherhood held internal elections, replacing 65 percent of its older leaders overwhelmingly with younger, more revolutionary individuals. The elections led to the formation of the Crisis Management Committee—headed by Brotherhood member Mohamed Taha Wahdan—tasked with managing events on the ground in Egypt. Wahdan, loyal to the younger revolutionaries, is believed to largely oversee the Brotherhood’s rank and file in Egypt.Abdelrahman Ayyash and Victor J. Willi, “The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in 2016
Scenarios and Recommendations,” German Council on Foreign Relations, March 2016, 2, https://dgap.org/en/article/getFullPDF/27762.
In April 2015, the Brotherhood created the Office for Egyptians Abroad—under the chairmanship of Brotherhood member Ahmed Abdel-Rahman—to organize the Brotherhood’s leaders in exile and strengthen the struggle against President Sisi’s military government. In a televised interview with Al Jazeera, Abdel-Rahman declared, “There will not be a political solution [with Sisi’s government] before the demands of the revolutionaries [Egyptian Brothers] on the ground are met…We will continue our revolution until victory.”Eric Trager and Marina Shalabi, “Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Gets a Facelift,” Foreign Affairs, May 20, 2015, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/egypt/2015-05-20/egypts-muslim-brotherhood-gets-facelift; “أول ظهور إعلامي لرئيس مكتب اخوان مصر بالخارج,” YouTube video, 49:27, Posted by “مكتب اخوان مصر بالخارج,” April 22, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrCXjh8GoSM.

In 2016, a militant group called Hasm emerged in Egypt.Michael Horton, “Is the Hasm Movement the Future of Militancy in Egypt?” Jamestown Foundation, September 22, 2017, https://jamestown.org/program/is-the-hasm-movement-the-future-of-militancy-in-egypt/. The group has mostly focused on carrying out several assassinations and assassination attempts targeting Egyptian authorities and security officials. Media sources have speculated that Hasm is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, given that its activities have targeted individuals who have specifically acted against the Brotherhood in the past. For example, in November 2016, the group attempted to assassinate Ahmad Abu al-Fotouh, a judge in Morsi’s 2015 trial.Ahmad Abd Alhaleim, “Hasm claim embassy bombing in Cairo, may be looking to expand,” Al-Monitor, October 15, 2017, https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/10/egypt-hasm-movement-attacks-local-figures-myanmar-embassy.html. Egyptian authorities allege that Hasm is the militant wing of the Muslim Brotherhood and is being aided by leaders of the Brotherhood.Ahmad Abd Alhaleim, “Hasm claim embassy bombing in Cairo, may be looking to expand,” Al-Monitor, October 15, 2017, https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/10/egypt-hasm-movement-attacks-local-figures-myanmar-embassy.html. The Brotherhood has denied any link to the group.“Egypt launches major assault on militants ahead of election,” Reuters, February 9, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-security/egypt-launches-major-assault-on-militants-ahead-of-election-idUSKBN1FT0SB?il=0. Hasm members have reportedly confessed to Egyptian authorities to receiving weapons and explosives training from the Brotherhood. In September 2018, Hasm spokesman Khaled Seifeddine denied any affiliation with the Brotherhood. He further claimed that the Brotherhood had failed in Egypt and had failed to resonate with the Egyptian people.Walid Abdulrahman, “Hasm Admits Muslim Brotherhood's Failure in Egypt,” Ashar Al-Awsat (London), September 7, 2018, https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1387946/hasm-admits-muslim-brotherhoods-failure-egypt.

In June 2017, Egypt, the UAE, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in response to that country’s ongoing support for the Muslim Brotherhood and other extremist and terrorist groups.Patrick Wintour, “Gulf Plunged into Diplomatic Crisis as Countries Cut Ties with Qatar,” Guardian (London), Jne 5, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/05/saudi-arabia-and-bahrain-break-diplomatic-ties-with-qatar-over-terrorism.

Today, the Brotherhood’s leaders—both on the ground in Egypt and in exile—seek to regroup and reorganize.Umar Farooq, “Turkey Nurtures Egypt’s ‘Terrorist’ Muslim Brothers,” Daily Beast, April 15, 2015, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/04/15/turkey-nurtures-egypt-s-terrorist-muslim-brothers.html. Egypt’s government continues to sentence Brotherhood members to death, maintaining a firm suppression of the 90-year-old Islamist organization.“Muslim Brotherhood: Death Sentences, Executions Will Not Intimidate Us,” Ikhwan Web Homepage, Ikhwanweb: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Official English web site, May 13, 2016, http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=32538.

History

 

Violent Activities

In 1940, the Egyptian Brotherhood founded an underground military wing known as the “secret apparatus.” Its members assassinated Prime Minister Mahmoud El Nokrashy Pasha in 1948,“Profile: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood,” BBC News, December 25, 2013, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-12313405. and attempted to assassinate President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1954.“Profile: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood,” BBC News, December 25, 2013, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-12313405. The Brotherhood officially renounced violence in the 1970s,Zachary Laub, “Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood,” Council on Foreign Relations, last modified January 15, 2014, http://www.cfr.org/egypt/egypts-muslim-brotherhood/p23991. and has continued to reiterate its commitment to peaceful protest.“Muslim Brotherhood, Freedom and Justice Party Leaders Condemn All Violence,” Ikhwan Web Homepage, Ikhwanweb: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Official English web site, December 24, 2013, http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=31480. Following Morsi’s ouster, however, violent clashes erupted between Brotherhood members and Egyptian authorities. The interim government blamed a December 2013 car bombing on the BrotherhoodKareem Fahim and Mayy El Sheikh, “Egyptian Officials Point at Islamist Group After Blast at Police Building,” New York Times, December 24, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/25/world/middleeast/egypt-car-bomb.html. and swiftly labeled the group a terrorist organization.Kareem Fahim, “Egypt, Dealing a Blow to the Muslim Brotherhood, Deems It a Terrorist Group,” New York Times, December 25, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/26/world/middleeast/egypt-calls-muslim-brotherhood-a-terrorist-group.html. Sisi’s government has since blamed numerous small-scale attacks on the Brotherhood.David D. Kirkpatrick, “Two Officers Killed by Militants, Egypt Says,” New York Times, March 19, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/20/world/middleeast/military-officers-killed-by-militants-egypt.html; Dina el-Husseiny, “Small Blasts Across Cairo Disrupt Calm Since Election,” New York Times, June 25, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/26/world/middleeast/cairo-explosions-end-postelection-peace.html/; Associated Press, “Car bomb kills Egypt’s top prosecutor as Islamists seek revenge for Muslim Brotherhood crackdown,” NY Daily News, June 29, 2015, http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/car-bomb-kills-egypt-top-prosecutor-article-1.2275009

Ties to Extremist Groups

  • Al-Qaeda

    The philosophy of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is believed to have spurred the creation of al-Qaeda. Specifically, Sayyid Qutb’s theories, expressed in his work Milestones, inspired Osama bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam, and others to found al-Qaeda.“Profile: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood,” BBC News, December 25, 2013, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-12313405. The current emir of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, joined the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as a teenager.“Profile: Ayman al-Zawahiri,” BBC News, August 13, 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-13789286.

  • Hamas

    Hamas, the political Islamist organization in the Palestinian territories, is a nationalist offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.Andrew Higgins, “How Israel Helped to Spawn Hamas,” Wall Street Journal, January 24, 2009, http://online.wsj.com/articles/SB123275572295011847. Founded in 1988, article two of Hamas’s charter defines itself as “one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine.” It continues, “The Muslim Brotherhood Movement is a world organization, the largest Islamic Movement in the modern era.”Andrew C. McCarthy, “Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood,” National Review Online, January 29, 2011, http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/258381/hamas-muslim-brotherhood-andrew-c-mccarthy. However, political realities on the ground have often dictated the strength of Hamas’s desired relationship to the Brotherhood. In March 2014, Hamas was banned by the Egyptian government as part of a larger crackdown on the Brotherhood.Hazem Balousha and Patrick Kingsley, “Egyptian court bans Hamas amid crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood,” Guardian (London), March 4, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/04/egyptian-court-bans-hamas-activities. In response, Hamas weakened ties with the Brotherhood in the interest of strengthening its relationship with Egyptian authorities responsible for the Rafah border into Gaza, a lifeline upon which Gazans rely heavily.Adnan Abu Amer, “Hamas tones down Brotherhood links to improve Egypt ties,” Al-Monitor, May 13, 2014, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/05/gaza-egypt-hamas-brotherhood-elections.html#/. In March 2016, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri denied any links between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.Jack Khoury, “Hamas Denies Links With Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Elsewhere,” Haaretz (Tel Aviv), March 23, 2016, http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/.premium-1.710423. In May 2017, Hamas unveiled a new policy document, which reframed the Palestinian struggle as a nationalistic rather than religious one. The document also made no mention of Hamas’s origins within the Muslim Brotherhood. Nonetheless, Hamas leaders have said the new document does not replace the original 1988 charter, which remains in effect with its linkage to the Brotherhood.“New Hamas policy document ‘aims to soften image,’” BBC News, May 1, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-39744551.

Designations by Governments and Organizations


For a complete list of countries and organizations that have designated the Muslim Brotherhood, please see the Muslim Brotherhood's full report

In Their Own Words

  • Apr. 2016

    Official statement calling for protests:

    “The only solution now is to defeat and end this illegitimate coup, to reinstate democratic legitimacy, and put right all the ruinous coup’s injustices and crimes.”“Egypt mobilises security forces as Brotherhood calls for mass protests,” Middle East Eye, April 25, 2016, http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/security-forces-mobilise-anticipation-major-protests-egypt-2009083905

  • Aug. 11, 2015

    Message left by pro-Brotherhood hackers on Cairo International Airport’s website:

    “In revenge for the martyrs who have died by the bullets of the military gang and criminal Sisi since the coup, you will drown in the blood of those you have killed. We will follow you everywhere… the revolution continues and the land does not absorb blood.”“Muslim Brotherhood hackers briefly take over Cairo Airport website,” Cairo Post, August 14, 2015, http://www.thecairopost.com/news/163991/news/muslim-brotherhood-hackers-briefly-take-over-cairo-airport-website.

  • Mohammed Montasser Jun. 30, 2015

    “The current Egyptian situation has exceeded everyone’s capacity. There is no way to stop the bloodshed except by breaking the military coup and reviving the revolution.”“Muslim Brotherhood holds Sisi regime responsible for assassination,” Middle East Monitor, June 30, 2015, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/19548-muslim-brotherhood-holds-sisi-regime-responsible-for-assassination.

  • Amr Darrag Apr. 2015

    “It is always good to have fresh blood ... (this was) one of the blessings of the coup [Morsi’s ouster]. The Muslim Brotherhood is deeply rooted in Egyptian society ... We have been there for more than 80 years. It is an establishment, not a one-man show. We are sure we will come back.”Humeyra Pamuk, “Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood says new leaders taking over,” Reuters, April 21, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/21/us-egypt-mursi-brotherhood-idUSKBN0NC1S020150421.

  • Mohammed Badie May 18, 2014

    “We have fought only against the Jews, and Kamel Al-Sharif may testify about the conduct of the Muslim Brotherhood in the [1948] war in Palestine. We fought against the Jews.“Muslim Brotherhood Leader Muhammad Badi's Day In Court: We Fought Only Against The Jews, Not Against The Egyptian People,” MEMRI, May 21, 2014, http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/7996.htm.

  • Mohammed Badie Oct. 2012

    “It is time for the Muslim [nation] to unite for the sake of Jerusalem and Palestine after the Jews have increased the corruption in the world…Zionists only know the way of force.”“2012 Report on International Religious Freedom,” U.S. Department of State, May 20, 2013, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/2012/frontmatter/208112.htm

  • Khairat el-Shater Apr. 5, 2012

    “Sharia was and will always be my first and final project and objective.”“Egypt Brotherhood candidate says sharia is main goal,” Reuters, April 5, 2012, http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE83401Y20120405.

  • Mohammed Mahdi Akef Sep. 2011

    “We believe that Zionism, the United States, and England are gangs that kill children and women and men and destroy houses and fields. Zionism is a gang, not a country. So we will resist them until they don’t have a country.”Eric Trager, “The Unbreakable Muslim Brotherhood: Grim Prospects for a Liberal Egypt,” Foreign Affairs, 90 (2011): 114, http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/68211/eric-trager/the-unbreakable-muslim-brotherhood.

  • Khairat el-Shater Apr. 21, 2011

    “Everywhere, the Brothers are working to restore Islam in its all-encompassing conception to the lives of people. Thus the mission is clear: restoring Islam in its all-encompassing conception, subjugating people to God, instituting the religion of God, the Islamicization of life, empowering of God’s religion, establishing the renaissance of the ummah [worldwide Muslim nation] on the basis of Islam... Every aspect of life is to be Islamicized.”Oren Kessler, “'Every aspect of life is to be Islamicized,” Jerusalem Post, April, 10, 2012, http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Every-aspect-of-life-is-to-be-Islamicized.

  • Mohammed Morsi Sep. 23, 2010

    “These futile [Israeli-Palestinian] negotiations are a waste of time and opportunities. The Zionists buy time and gain more opportunities, as the Palestinians, the Arabs, and the Muslims lose time and opportunities, and they get nothing out of it... This [Palestinian] Authority was created by the Zionist and American enemies for the sole purpose of opposing the will of the Palestinian people and its interests…”“Morsi in 2010: No to Negotiations with the Blood-Sucking, Warmongering ‘Descendants of Apes and Pigs’; Calls to Boycott U.S. Products,” MEMRI, accessed May 30, 2014, http://www.memri.org/clip_transcript/en/3702.htm.

  • Mohammed Morsi Sep. 23, 2010

    “No reasonable person can expect any progress on [negotiations]. Either [you accept] the Zionists and everything they want, or else it is war. This is what these occupiers of the land of Palestine know – these blood-suckers, who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs.”“Morsi in 2010: No to Negotiations with the Blood-Sucking, Warmongering ‘Descendants of Apes and Pigs’; Calls to Boycott U.S. Products,” MEMRI, accessed May 30, 2014, http://www.memri.org/clip_transcript/en/3702.htm.

  • Mohammed Morsi Sep. 23, 2010

    “We should employ all forms of resistance against them. There should be military resistance within the land of Palestine against those criminal Zionists, who attack Palestine and the Palestinians. There should also be political resistance and economic resistance through a boycott, as well as by supporting the resistance fighters. This should be the practice of the Muslims and the Arabs outside Palestine. They should support the resistance fighters and besiege the Zionist wherever they are. None of the Arab or Muslim peoples and regimes should have dealings with them. Pressure should be exerted upon them. They must not be given any opportunity, and must not stand on any Arab or Islamic land. They must be driven out of our countries.”“Morsi in 2010: No to Negotiations with the Blood-Sucking, Warmongering ‘Descendants of Apes and Pigs’; Calls to Boycott U.S. Products,” MEMRI, accessed May 30, 2014, http://www.memri.org/clip_transcript/en/3702.htm.

  • Mohammed Morsi Sep. 23, 2010

    “[T]hese negotiations must stop once and for all. Everybody must turn to the support of the resistance, which is the option chosen by the Palestinians and by us all – the Arabs and the Muslims, Palestinians and others. We must all realize that resistance is the only way to liberate the land of Palestine.”“Morsi in 2010: No to Negotiations with the Blood-Sucking, Warmongering ‘Descendants of Apes and Pigs’; Calls to Boycott U.S. Products,” MEMRI, accessed May 30, 2014, http://www.memri.org/clip_transcript/en/3702.htm.

  • Mohammed Morsi Jan. 10, 2010

    “Dear brothers, we must not forget to nurse our children and grandchildren on hatred towards those Zionists and Jews, and all those who support them. They must be nursed on hatred. The hatred must continue.”“Egypt's Morsi in 2010: Obama Insincere; We Must Nurse Our Children and Grandchildren on Hatred of Jews,” MEMRI, January 10, 2010, http://www.memritv.org/clip_transcript/en/3713.htm.

  • Mohammed Morsi Sep. 15, 2007

    “The US administration has never presented any evidences on the identity of those who committed that incident [9/11 attacks]… The Muslim Brotherhood and others demanded a transparent trial with clear evidence and to have court rulings. We confirm that this isn’t a defense to those who committed these actions but we only seek the truth.”“Morsi: 9/11 a global calamity, not only for U.S.,” Ikhwan Web Homepage, Ikhwanweb: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Official English web site, September 15, 2007, http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?ID=14069&LevelID=1&SectionID=71.

  • Mohammad Mahdi Akef Dec. 2005

    “Western democracies have slammed all those who don't see eye-to-eye with the Zionists regarding the myth of the Holocaust.”“Tehran to convene conference on Holocaust ‘myth,’” New York Times, January 15, 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/15/world/africa/15iht-iran.html?_r=0.

  • Muslim Brotherhood 2001

    “We have a specific task to establish God’s rule on the basis of our faith. This is our true and effective way to escape all our internal and foreign problems, whether political, economic, social or cultural.”Dr. Sayed Mahmoud Al-Qumni, “The Muslim Brotherhood's Initiative as a Reform Program: A Critical Review,” The Brookings Institution, October 2004, 5, http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Events/2004/10/05-islamic-world/cairopaper1.pdf?la=en.

  • Mustapha Mashour 1981

    “Democracy contradicts and wages war on Islam. Whoever calls for democracy means they are raising banners contradicting God’s plan and fighting Islam.”Lorenzo Vidino, The New Muslim Brotherhood in the West (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010), 58.

  • Sayyid Qutb 1965

    “In all modern jahili [pagan] societies, the meaning of ‘morality’ is limited to such an extent that all those aspects which distinguish man from animal are considered beyond its sphere. In these Societies, illegitimate sexual relationships, even homosexuality, are not considered immoral.”Sayyid Qutb, Milestones, (Damascus: Dar al-Ilm: 1965), 98.

  • Sayyid Qutb 1965

    “World Jewry[’s]…purpose is to eliminate all limitations, especially the limitations imposed by faith and religion, so that the Jews may penetrate into body politic of the whole world and then may be free to perpetuate their evil designs.”Sayyid Qutb, Milestones, (Damascus: Dar al-Ilm: 1965), 111.

  • Sayyid Qutb 1964

    “Indeed, people are not Muslims, as they proclaim to be, as long as they live the life of Jahiliyyah. If someone wishes to deceive himself or to deceive others by believing that Islam can be brought in line with this Jahiliyyah, it is up to him. But whether this deception is for others, it cannot change anything of the actual reality. This is not Islam, and they are not Muslims.”David Aaron, In Their Own Words: Voices of Jihad (Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2008), 62.

  • Sayyid Qutb 1964

    “Since the objective of the message of Islam is a decisive declaration of man’s freedom, not merely on the philosophical plane but also in the actual conditions of life, it must employ Jihaad.”David Aaron, In Their Own Words: Voices of Jihad (Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2008), 61.

  • Sayyid Qutb 1949

    “Whatever system is to be established in the world ought to be on the authority of God, deriving its laws from Him alone.”David Aaron, In Their Own Words: Voices of Jihad (Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2008), 62.

  • Sayyid Qutb 1949

    “It is in the very nature of Islam to take initiative for freeing the human beings throughout the earth from servitude to anyone other than God; and so it cannot be restricted within any geographic or racial limits, leaving all mankind on the whole earth in evil, in chaos and in servitude to lords other than God.”David Aaron, In Their Own Words: Voices of Jihad (Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2008), 62.

  • Sayyid Qutb Date Unknown

    “Those who say that Islamic Jihad was merely for the defense of the ‘homeland of Islam’ diminish the greatness of the Islamic way of life and consider it less important [than] their ‘homeland.’... However, [Islamic community] defense is not the ultimate objective of the Islamic movement of jihad but it is a mean of establishing the Divine authority within it so that it becomes the headquarters for the movement of Islam, which is then to be carried throughout the earth to the whole of mankind….”Dale C. Eikmeier, “Qutbsim: An Ideology of Islamic-Facism,” U.S. Army War College 37, no. 1 (2007): 89, http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a485995.pdf.

  • Hassan al-Banna Date Unknown

    “Islam does not recognize geographical boundaries, nor does it acknowledge racial and blood differences, considering all Muslims as one Umma (global community of Muslims). The Muslim Brethren (Muslim Brotherhood)…. believe that the caliphate is a symbol of Islamic Union and an indication of the bonds between the nations of Islam. They see the caliphate and its re-establishment as a top priority, subsequently; an association of Muslims people should be set up, which would elect the imam.”“Hassan al-Banna and his political thought of Islamic Brotherhood,” Ikhwanweb: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Official English web site, last modified May 13, 2008, http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=17065.

  • Hassan al-Banna Date Unknown

    “For the Islamic Sacred Law and the decisions of the Islamic jurists are all-sufficient, supply every need, and cover every contingency, and they produce the most excellent results and the most blessed fruits. If the punishments prescribed by God were carried out, they would be a deterrent dismaying even the hardened criminal…”Hasan al-Banna, Five Tracts of Hasan Al-Banna: A Selection from the Majmu at Rasail al-Imam al-Shahid Hasan al-Banna (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978), p. 72.

  • Hassan al-Banna Date Unknown

    “[T]he Noble Qur’an appoints the Muslims as guardians over humanity in its minority, and grants them the right of suzerainty and dominion over the world in order to carry out this sublime commission. Hence it is our concern, not that of the West, and it pertains to Islamic civilization, not to materialistic civilization.”Hasan al-Banna, Five Tracts of Hasan Al-Banna: A Selection from the Majmu at Rasail al-Imam al-Shahid Hasan al-Banna (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978), p. 71.

  • Hassan al-Banna Date Unknown

    “Now you can see from all this how the men of learning…agree unanimously that jihad is a communal obligation imposed upon the Islamic umma in order to broadcast the summons [to embrace Islam], and that it is an individual obligation to repulse the attack of unbelievers upon it. Today the Muslims, as you know, are compelled to humble themselves before non-Muslims, and are ruled by unbelievers. ...Hence it has become an individual obligation, which there is no evading, on every Muslim to prepare his equipment, to make up his mind to engage in jihad, and to get ready for it until the time is ripe…”Hasan al-Banna, Five Tracts of Hasan Al-Banna: A Selection from the Majmu at Rasail al-Imam al-Shahid Hasan al-Banna (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978), p. 150.

  • Hassan al-Banna Date Unknown

     “Islam does not recognize geographical boundaries, nor does it acknowledge racial and blood differences, considering all Muslims as one Umma (global community of Muslims). The Muslim Brethren (Muslim Brotherhood)…. believe that the caliphate is a symbol of Islamic Union and an indication of the bonds between the nations of Islam. They see the caliphate and its re-establishment as a top priority...”http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=17065.

  • Sayyid Qutb Date Unknown

    “Let us…plant the seeds of hatred, disgust, and revenge in the souls of these children. Let us teach these children from the time their nails are soft that the white man is the enemy of humanity, and that they should destroy him at the first opportunity.”Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower, (New York: Random House, 2011), 27-28.

  • Sayyid Qutb Date Unknown

    “There are two parties in all the world: the Party of Allah and the Party of Satan – the party of Allah which stands under the banner of Allah and bears his insignia, and the Party of Satan, which includes every community, group, race, and individual that does not stand under the banner of Allah.”David Aaron, In Their Own Words: Voices of Jihad (Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2008), 155.

  • Sayyid Qutb Date Unknown

    “With their spite and deceit, the Jews are still misleading this nation, and distracting her away from her Koran in order that she may not draw her sharp weapons and her abundant ammunitions from it… [The Jews’] aim is clearly shown by the Protocols [of the Elders of Zion]. The Jews are behind materialism, animal sexuality, the destruction of the family and the dissolution of society. Principal among them are Marx, Freud, Durkheim and the Jew Jean-Paul Sartre.”David Aaron, In Their Own Words: Voices of Jihad (Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2008), 159.