Muslim Brotherhood in Syria

Year of Origin:

1945

Founder(s):
Mustafa al-Sibai
Place(s) of Operation:
Syria

Syrian Arab Republic

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (i.e., the Syrian Brotherhood or the Brotherhood) was formed in 1945 as an affiliate of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.“The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, accessed May 16, 2016, http://carnegieendowment.org/syriaincrisis/?fa=48370; Hazem Kandil, Inside the Brotherhood (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2015), 154. The Syrian Brotherhood actively participated in Syrian politics until 1963, when the incoming pan-Arab Baath party began restricting the movement before ultimately banning the party in 1964.“The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, accessed May 16, 2016, http://carnegieendowment.org/syriaincrisis/?fa=48370. In 1964, Brotherhood member Marwan Hadid formed a violent offshoot—known as the Fighting Vanguard—whose members waged numerous terror attacks against the regime in the 1970s and early ’80s. In 1982, in order to quell a Brotherhood uprising in the city of Hama, then-Syrian President Hafez al-Assad dealt a near-fatal blow to the group, killing between 10,000 and 40,000 armed Brotherhood members and civilians.Raphaël Lefèvre, Ashes of Hama: The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria (Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2013), 45-46; Raphaël Lefèvre, “The Syrian Brotherhood’s Armed Struggle,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, December 14, 2012, http://carnegieendowment.org/2012/12/14/syrian-brotherhood-s-armed-struggle;
Mohammad Saied Rassas, “Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood: Past and Present,” Al-Monitor, January 5, 2014, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2014/01/syria-muslim-brotherhood-past-present.html;
Patrick Seale and Maureen, McConville, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East (Berkley: University of California Press, 1990), 93, 328-329;
Cecily Hilleary, “Syria’s Tadmor Prison Massacre: Reliving Horrors of 32 Years Past,” Middle East Voices, June 27, 2012, http://middleeastvoices.voanews.com/2012/06/syrias-tadmor-prison-massacre-reliving-horrors-of-32-years-past-81070/.
The group was nearly incapacitated as surviving Brotherhood leaders fled into exile. Though the Brotherhood managed to remobilize at the start of the Syrian civil war, its relevance in the conflict has been overshadowed by violent jihadist groups on the ground.“Syria: Old-timers and Newcomers,” Wilson Center, August 27, 2015, https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/syria-old-timers-and-newcomers.

Egyptian Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna mentored the Syrian Brotherhood’s first comptroller general, Mustafa al-Sibai, in Cairo in the 1930s. Like Banna, Sibai believed that Islam was an all-encompassing guide to political and social life. Sibai claimed that his group would “revive Islam from its current petrification” by liberating “Arab and Islamic people from foreign domination.”Hazem Kandil, Inside the Brotherhood (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2015), 154; Raphaël Lefèvre, Ashes of Hama: The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 23, 25.

At its founding, the Syrian Brotherhood enjoyed a wide base of support drawn from politically active Islamic clubs, jamiat, that had formed in the 1920s and ’30s. In order to further spread its influence, the Brotherhood actively participated in Syrian politics in its first two decades of existence. The group was temporarily dissolved between 1958 and 1961, when Syria and Egypt joined to become the United Arab Republic, presided over by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser.“THE UNION WITH EGYPT, 1958–61,” Britannica, accessed May 20, 2016, http://www.britannica.com/place/Syria/The-union-with-Egypt-1958-61; Raphaël Lefèvre, Ashes of Hama: The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 23, 35, 86.

The Syrian Baath party seized power in 1963 and immediately banned the Brotherhood, as well as any other group that challenged its secularism. The first significant Baath-Brotherhood conflict occurred in Hama, Syria, in April 1964. After stockpiling weapons and looting wine shops, Brotherhood members murdered a Baathist National Guard militiaman and mutilated his corpse. The Baathists retaliated with indiscriminate artillery fire in densely populated areas.“The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, accessed May 16, 2016, http://carnegieendowment.org/syriaincrisis/?fa=48370;
Raphaël Lefèvre, Ashes of Hama: The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria (Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2013), 27, 45-46;
John F. Murphy, Sword of Islam (Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 2002), 125; Raphaël Lefèvre, “The Syrian Brotherhood’s Armed Struggle,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, December 14, 2012, http://carnegieendowment.org/2012/12/14/syrian-brotherhood-s-armed-struggle;
Mohammad Saied Rassas, “Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood: Past and Present,” Al-Monitor, January 5, 2014, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2014/01/syria-muslim-brotherhood-past-present.html;
Patrick Seale and Maureen, McConville, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 93.

As the fighting escalated, Brotherhood member Marwan Hadid organized a sit-in at Hama’s al-Sultan mosque—where Brothers had stockpiled weapons—though it was soon bombed by Baathist forces. The incident, known as the Hama rebellion, resulted in the death of 70 Muslim Brothers. Soon after, Hadid formed a violent offshoot known as the Fighting Vanguard. In response, the Baathists forced then-Brotherhood leader Issam al-Attar into exile for failing to control his movement.Raphaël Lefèvre, Ashes of Hama: The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria (Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2013), 45-46, 101;
Raphaël Lefèvre, “The Syrian Brotherhood’s Armed Struggle,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, December 14, 2012, http://carnegieendowment.org/2012/12/14/syrian-brotherhood-s-armed-struggle;
Mohammad Saied Rassas, “Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood: Past and Present,” Al-Monitor, January 5, 2014, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2014/01/syria-muslim-brotherhood-past-present.html;
Patrick Seale and Maureen, McConville, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East (Berkley: University of California Press, 1990), 93.

Throughout the 1960s, a rift emerged between the Brotherhood’s members in Damascus and its members in the northern cities of Latakia, Aleppo, and Hama. The “Damascus wing” continued to support nonviolence and parliamentary politics, while a sizable minority of the “northern axis” adopted a radical stance toward the ruling government, according to Syrian Brotherhood analyst Raphaël Lefèvre. In the late 1960s, Fighting Vanguard founder Hadid and several Brotherhood members belonging to the “northern axis” traveled to Jordan and trained in Palestinian fedayeen camps.Mohammad Saied Rassas, “Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood: Past and Present,” Al-Monitor, January 5, 2014, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2014/01/syria-muslim-brotherhood-past-present.html;
Raphaël Lefèvre, Ashes of Hama: The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria (Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2013), 88-89, 101, 109.

In 1970, Baathist Defense Minister Hafez al-Assad consolidated power among his sectarian minority—the Alawites—and assumed the Syrian presidency in 1971. In response, the Brotherhood sought to brand itself as the leader of Syria’s Sunni majority against what it perceived as the commandeering Shiite minority. Pervasive corruption in Assad’s regime led to popular resentment and unrest across Syria. In 1975, Syrian authorities arrested Hadid, who died from a hunger strike in Syrian prison in 1976. In revenge for his death, the Fighting Vanguard launched an assassination campaign against top Syrian officials. Meanwhile, in the late 1970s, the Brotherhood’s radical “northern axis” organized massive anti-regime demonstrations in the Syrian cities of Aleppo and Hama, whose residents reportedly felt disenfranchised. Throughout this time, the Brotherhood maintained ideological and organizational distinction from its violent offshoot.Patrick Seale and Maureen McConville, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East (Oakland: University of California Press, 1990), 324; Raphaël Lefèvre, “The Syrian Brotherhood’s Armed Struggle,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, December 14, 2012, http://carnegieendowment.org/2012/12/14/syrian-brotherhood-s-armed-struggle;
Mohammad Saied Rassas, “Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood: Past and Present,” Al-Monitor, January 5, 2014, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2014/01/syria-muslim-brotherhood-past-present.html;
Raphaël Lefèvre, Ashes of Hama: The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria (Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2013), 57;
Hazem Kandil, Inside the Brotherhood (Cambridge, United Kingdom: Polity Press, 2015), 156.

In 1979, Fighting Vanguard members killed 83 Alawite cadets at the Aleppo Artillery School, prompting further crackdown by the Baathist regime.Yvette Talhamy, “The Syrian Muslim Brothers and the Syrian-Iranian Relationship,” Middle East Journal 63, no. 4 (2009): 561-580, http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/the_middle_east_journal/summary/v063/63.4.talhamy.html;
Raphaël Lefèvre, “The Syrian Brotherhood’s Armed Struggle,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, December 14, 2012, http://carnegieendowment.org/2012/12/14/syrian-brotherhood-s-armed-struggle.
The Syrian Brotherhood was on the precipice of the most overtly radical period in its existence.

In June 1980, Brotherhood members attempted to assassinate Assad using grenades and machine guns. Assad’s government launched a crackdown on the group and gunned down hundreds of Brotherhood members in their prison cells. The following month, the Syrian government introduced Law 49, outlawing the Brotherhood and making membership a capital offense. In late 1980, the Brotherhood officially partnered with the Fighting Vanguard, prompting Assad to label the entire Brotherhood movement a terrorist organization and continue his attempt to eradicate the group. In November 1981, the Brotherhood carried out three car-bomb attacks against military and government forces and infrastructure in Damascus, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of people.Patrick Seale and Maureen McConville, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East (Oakland: University of California Press, 1990), 328-329, 331; Cecily Hilleary, “Syria’s Tadmor Prison Massacre: Reliving Horrors of 32 Years Past,” Middle East Voices, June 27, 2012, http://middleeastvoices.voanews.com/2012/06/syrias-tadmor-prison-massacre-reliving-horrors-of-32-years-past-81070/;
Raphaël Lefèvre, “The Syrian Brotherhood’s Armed Struggle,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, December 14, 2012, http://carnegieendowment.org/2012/12/14/syrian-brotherhood-s-armed-struggle;
“The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, accessed May 26, 2016, http://carnegieendowment.org/syriaincrisis/?fa=48370.

In February 1982, Assad launched a brutal crackdown on the Brotherhood, killing an estimated 10,000 to 40,000 armed Brotherhood members and civilians. Known as the Hama massacre, the siege effectively decimated the Brotherhood branch in Syria. Its surviving leaders regrouped in exile in Europe and Turkey, and the group had little influence in the following three decades.Azmat Khan, “On 30th Anniversary of Hama Massacre, Syrian Troops Lock Down City,” Frontline, February 2, 2012, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/foreign-affairs-defense/syria-undercover/on-30th-anniversary-of-hama-massacre-syrian-troops-lock-down-city;
Mohammad Saied Rassas, “Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood: Past and Present,” Al-Monitor, January 5, 2014, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2014/01/syria-muslim-brotherhood-past-present.html;
Michael Jacobson, “What Role for the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria’s Future?,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, March 11, 2005, http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/what-role-for-the-muslim-brotherhood-in-syrias-future;
Raphaël Lefèvre, Ashes of Hama: The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria (Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2013), 128;
“Syria,” The American Foreign Policy Council’s World Almanac of Islamism, last modified August 22, 2014, http://almanac.afpc.org/Syria.

During the 1990s and 2000s, however, the Brotherhood—still in exile—sought to rebrand itself as a peaceful, politically minded group. In 1996, the Brotherhood entered into secret negotiations with the Syrian government, though Law 49 remained in place and the group’s legal status was unaffected. In July 2000, when Bashar al-Assad succeeded his father as president of Syria, then-Syrian Brotherhood Comptroller General Ali Sadreddine al-Bayanouni urged Assad to release all Brotherhood prisoners, approve the return of exiled members, and reverse the ban against the Brotherhood. Assad rejected Bayanouni’s demands but released hundreds of Brotherhood prisoners.“The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, accessed May 16, 2016, http://carnegieendowment.org/syriaincrisis/?fa=48370.

In the early 2000s, the Brotherhood issued several documents including the National Honor Pact in 2001 and the 2002 National Call for Salvation, which renounced violence and called for minority rights and free elections, respectively. In 2005, the Brotherhood endorsed the Damascus Declaration, a statement demanding a multiparty democracy in Syria. Starting in 2006, the Brotherhood allied with former Syrian Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam, hoping to renew relations with Syria’s government. The Turkish government offered to broker negotiations between the Syrian government and the Brotherhood, but the Syrian government refused.Radwan Ziadeh, Power and Policy in Syria (London: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd, 2013), 69; “Muslim Brotherhood (Syria),” Berkley Center at Georgetown University, accessed May 25, 2016, https://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/organizations/muslim-brotherhood-syria;
“The Damascus Declaration,” Carnegie Endowment for International peace, March 1, 2012, http://carnegie-mec.org/publications/?fa=48514;
“The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, accessed May 16, 2016, http://carnegieendowment.org/syriaincrisis/?fa=48370.

As popular protests erupted in Syria in March 2011, the Brotherhood remobilized and moved to consolidate political and military power among the opposition. Amid the ensuing tumult of the civil war, the Brotherhood established recruitment offices and urged its members in large Syrian cities to return to smaller communities and reconnect with the citizens there. The Brotherhood found success in recruiting members from rebel-held areas of Syria, especially in and near Aleppo. According to UAE-based Middle East analyst Hassan Hassan, the Syrian Brotherhood was careful to avoid a discourse centered on “jihad” in order to distance itself from its violent past in the 1970s and ‘80s.Raphaël Lefèvre, “The Muslim Brotherhood Prepares for a Comeback in Syria,” The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, May 2013, 6, http://carnegieendowment.org/files/muslim_bro_comback.pdf;
Hassan Hassan, “In Syria, the Brotherhood’s influence is on the decline,” National (Abu Dhabi), April 1, 2014, http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/comment/in-syria-the-brotherhoods-influence-is-on-the-decline#full.

By the winter of 2011, the Brotherhood had assumed a leading role in the Syrian National Council, an umbrella group comprised of anti-Assad factions. With the founding of the Syrian National Coalition in November 2012, however, the Brotherhood took a back seat to rival Islamist groups. Meanwhile, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates worked to undermine the Brotherhood’s involvement in the oppositions’ coalition by instead promoting secular Syrian rebels.Hassan Hassan, “How the Muslim Brotherhood Hijacked Syria’s Revolution,” Foreign Policy, March 13, 2013, http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/03/13/how-the-muslim-brotherhood-hijacked-syrias-revolution/;
“Syria: Old-timers and Newcomers,” Wilson Center, August 27, 2015, https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/syria-old-timers-and-newcomers.

In 2013, the Brotherhood introduced what it called “reformist” polices, officially rejecting “all forms of violence and extremism.”Hollie McKay, “Syrian Muslim Brotherhood revives amid ongoing civil war, lashes out at the U.S. and Israel,” Fox News, July 9, 2018, https://www.foxnews.com/world/syrian-muslim-brotherhood-revives-amid-ongoing-civil-war-lashes-out-at-the-u-s-and-israel. That June, the Brotherhood founded a political party, Waad, which formally launched in March 2014. By party statute, the Brotherhood constituted one-third of Waad’s membership, though the party claimed it was entirely unaffiliated with the Brotherhood. Its leader, Mohammad Hekmat Walid, resigned in November 2014 and was elected as the Brotherhood’s comptroller general. The Waad party has since had little to no influence amid the chaos of the civil war.Raphaël Lefèvre, “The Belated Birth of the Waad Party,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, December 16, 2013, http://carnegieendowment.org/syriaincrisis/?fa=53926;
Zaidan Zenklo, “Syrian Waad Party denies being Muslim Brotherhood arm,” Al-Monitor, November 25, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2013/11/new-syria-party-denies-brotherhood-affiliation.html##ixzz33B1eZNXn;
Agence France-Presse, “Syria Muslim Brotherhood appoints new leader,” Al Arabiya, November 7, 2014, http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2014/11/07/Syria-Muslim-Brotherhood-appoints-new-leader-.html;
“Q&A: 'We want to build a new Syria',” Al Jazeera, May 26, 2015, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2015/01/qa-want-build-new-syria-20151146413892728.html;
“Syria: Old-timers and Newcomers,” Wilson Center, August 27, 2015, https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/syria-old-timers-and-newcomers.

In spring 2015, Reuters reported that hundreds of Syrian Brotherhood members had returned to Syria from exile. Membership in the organization remains punishable by death, though the Brotherhood largely operates in opposition-held areas including in Aleppo, Idlib, and Hama. Walid continues to operate from Turkey.Dasha Afanasieva, “Banned in Syria, Muslim Brotherhood members trickle home,” Reuters, May 7, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/07/us-syria-crisis-brotherhood-idUSKBN0NR20Y20150507. Indeed, the Brotherhood remains sidelined and ineffective as jihadist organizations increasingly dominate the Syrian opposition.

The Brotherhood has sought rebrand itself as a moderate organization. Turkey-based Omar Mushaweh, the head of media and communications for the Syrian Brotherhood, described the group to Fox News in 2018 as “a moderate Islamist movement that accepts political pluralism and receives great harm from terrorist movements.”Hollie McKay, “Syrian Muslim Brotherhood revives amid ongoing civil war, lashes out at the U.S. and Israel,” Fox News, July 9, 2018, https://www.foxnews.com/world/syrian-muslim-brotherhood-revives-amid-ongoing-civil-war-lashes-out-at-the-u-s-and-israel. Membership in the Brotherhood in Syria remains illegal. Mushaweh would not comment to Fox how many members the Brotherhood has in the country, but he claimed the organization is reestablishing itself in Syria.Hollie McKay, “Syrian Muslim Brotherhood revives amid ongoing civil war, lashes out at the U.S. and Israel,” Fox News, July 9, 2018, https://www.foxnews.com/world/syrian-muslim-brotherhood-revives-amid-ongoing-civil-war-lashes-out-at-the-u-s-and-israel.

History

 

Violent Activities

The Syrian Brotherhood turned to violence following two decades of peaceful political participation. In 1964, Brotherhood member Marwan Hadid formed a violent offshoot, the Fighting Vanguard, which carried out numerous terror attacks including an attempted assassination of Syrian President Hafez al-Assad in June 1980.Raphaël Lefèvre, Ashes of Hama: The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria (Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2013), 45-46; Raphaël Lefèvre, “The Syrian Brotherhood’s Armed Struggle,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, December 14, 2012, http://carnegieendowment.org/2012/12/14/syrian-brotherhood-s-armed-struggle; Mohammad Saied Rassas, “Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood: Past and Present,” Al-Monitor, January 5, 2014, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2014/01/syria-muslim-brotherhood-past-present.html; Patrick Seale and Maureen, McConville, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East (Berkley: University of California Press, 1990), 93, 328-329; Cecily Hilleary, “Syria’s Tadmor Prison Massacre: Reliving Horrors of 32 Years Past,” Middle East Voices, June 27, 2012, http://middleeastvoices.voanews.com/2012/06/syrias-tadmor-prison-massacre-reliving-horrors-of-32-years-past-81070/. The Brotherhood officially partnered with the Fighting Vanguard for one year starting in December 1980. In February 1982, in order to crush a violent Brotherhood uprising, Assad launched a brutal crackdown on the group known as the Hama massacre, effectively decimating its operations and forcing any surviving members into exile.Raphaël Lefèvre, “The Syrian Brotherhood’s Armed Struggle,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, December 14, 2012, http://carnegieendowment.org/2012/12/14/syrian-brotherhood-s-armed-struggle; Azmat Khan, “On 30th Anniversary of Hama Massacre, Syrian Troops Lock Down City,” Frontline, February 2, 2012, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/foreign-affairs-defense/syria-undercover/on-30th-anniversary-of-hama-massacre-syrian-troops-lock-down-city; Mohammad Saied Rassas, “Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood: Past and Present,” Al-Monitor, January 5, 2014, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2014/01/syria-muslim-brotherhood-past-present.html; Michael Jacobson, “What Role for the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria’s Future?,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, March 11, 2005, http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/what-role-for-the-muslim-brotherhood-in-syrias-future. The Brotherhood remobilized at the start of the Syrian civil war and began funding militant opposition groups, though those alliances have been met with limited success.Raphaël Lefèvre and Ali el Yassir, “Militias for the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood?,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, October 29, 2013, http://carnegieendowment.org/sada/?fa=53452; Hassan Hassan, “How the Muslim Brotherhood Hijacked Syria’s Revolution,” Foreign Policy, March 13, 2013, http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/03/13/how-the-muslim-brotherhood-hijacked-syrias-revolution/; “Syria: Old-timers and Newcomers,” Wilson Center, August 27, 2015, https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/syria-old-timers-and-newcomers.

Ties to Extremist Groups

  • Ahrar al-Sham

    The Syrian Brotherhood has reportedly “networked” with Syrian Salafist militia Ahrar al-Sham, according to independent think tank Arab Reform Initiative.Waseem Hafez, “The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria: Illusion and Reality,” Arab Reform Initiative, November 2015, 11, http://www.arab-reform.net/sites/default/files/The%20Muslim%20Brotherhood%20in%20Syria%20Illusion%20and%20Reality.pdf. In September 2014, then-Syrian Brotherhood Comptroller General Mohammad Riad al-Shaqfeh released a statement mourning the killing of Ahrar al-Sham’s leaders by the Syrian regime. On the Egyptian Brotherhood’s English-language website, Ikhwanweb.com, al-Shaqfeh wrote: “We console ourselves, Ahrar Movement, the martyrs’ families and the Syrian people for the loss of this fine group of faithful men. We assure them that we are marching on the same path of the truth, until God grants us the victory promised to His faithful servants.”“Syria Muslim Brotherhood Mourns Ahrar al Sham Movement Leaders,” Ikhwanweb: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Official English web site, September 10, 2014, http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=31797. In August 2015, however, the Brotherhood denied reports that it sought to form an alliance with Ahrar al-Sham.“Syrian Brotherhood not seeking to form alliance with Ahrar Al-Sham,” Middle East Monitor, August 26, 2015, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20150826-syrian-brotherhood-not-seeking-to-form-alliance-with-ahrar-al-sham/.

Designations by Governments and Organizations

The Syrian government banned the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood in 1963Raphaël Lefèvre, Ashes of Hama: The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria (Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2013), 23. and made membership in the group a capital offense under Law 49 in 1980.“The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, accessed May 26, 2016,

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. 30, 2016

    “God bless our martyrs in Aleppo and throughout the country. May He help us unite and close ranks in the face of the oppressors and occupiers.”“Syria Muslim Brotherhood: Aleppo Massacres Expose World Complicity in Ongoing Genocide,” Ikhwanweb: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Official English web site, May 2, 2016, http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=32526.

  • Sep. 21, 2015

    “We solemnly salute all free men and women of Palestine and Syria, who stand steadfast in the face of the aggressors’ crimes, and take the criminals’ bullets in their bare chests. Only thus Syria and Palestine shall be liberated.”“Syria Muslim Brotherhood Vows Victory Despite Long Suffering,” Ikhwanweb: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Official English web site, September 21, 2015, http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=32281.

  • Sep. 10, 2014

    In reference to the fallen leaders of Ahrar al-Sham:

    “We console ourselves, Ahrar Movement, the martyrs' families and the Syrian people for the loss of this fine group of faithful men. We assure them that we are marching on the same path of the truth, until God grants us the victory promised to His faithful servants.”“Syria Muslim Brotherhood Mourns Ahrar al Sham Movement Leaders,” Ikhwanweb: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Official English web site, September 10, 2014, http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=31797.

  • Sep. 10, 2014

    In reference to the fallen leaders of Ahrar al-Sham:

    “Dying for the sake of God is every true Muslim fighter’s wish. For this wish to be honored by God is evidence of sincerity and truthful determination. When I first met with those heroes, I saw honesty and determination to achieve the good goals and confidence in Allah’s victory shine in their words.”“Syria Muslim Brotherhood Mourns Ahrar al Sham Movement Leaders,” Ikhwanweb: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Official English web site, September 10, 2014, http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=31797.

  • Unnamed prominent Brotherhood member Jul. 2012

    “We are ready for the post-Assad area…we have plans for the economy, the courts, politics…”Raphaël Lefèvre, Ashes of Hama: The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria (Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2013), 194.

  • Zuhair Salem Dec. 2011

    In calling for a greater Islamic caliphate:

    “…to hell with Syria, we do not recognize Syria.”“Key Figures in the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, accessed May 26, 2016, http://carnegieendowment.org/syriaincrisis/?fa=51470.

  • 2004

    “[We have not given up on our goal of established an] Islamic state [based on the] gradual Islamization of laws.”“Syria: Old-timers and Newcomers,” Wilson Center, August 27, 2015, https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/syria-old-timers-and-newcomers.

  • Mohammad Riad al-Shaqfeh Date unknown

    In reference to Marwan Hadid, founder of the violent Fighting Vanguard:

    “[He was a] brave Islamic militant; he had the temper of a true leader and had much influence on Hama’s youth.”Raphaël Lefèvre, Ashes of Hama: The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria (Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2013), 102.

  • Mustafa al-Sibai Date unknown

    “[The Syrian Brotherhood will] revive Islam from its current petrification [through] social reform [and the] liberation of Arab and Islamic people from foreign domination.”Raphaël Lefèvre, Ashes of Hama: The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria (Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2013), 25.

  • Date unknown

    “[We vow to fight] bloodily and cruelly until our country [Palestine] is restored to us.”Raphaël Lefèvre, Ashes of Hama: The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria (Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2013), 32.