Founded in Egypt in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood is that country’s oldest Islamist organization and one of the world’s most powerful, with branches throughout the world.* The Brotherhood’s ultimate goal is to implement sharia (Islamic law) under a global caliphate. Unlike ISIS and al-Qaeda, the Brotherhood has officially disavowed violence. Rather, it purports to achieve this societal transformation by taking advantage of existing democratic institutions, such as when the party captured Egypt’s presidency in 2012.*
The Brotherhood seeks to win the hearts and minds of Muslims around the world, enabling bloodless coups. Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna wrote*:
“Our Primary concern is to arouse the spirit, the life of the heart, to awaken the imagination and sentiments. We place less emphasis on concrete ideas … than on touching the souls of those we encounter.”
U.S. President Donald Trump in 2019 reportedly began considering the designation of the Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization.* In 2016, terrorism analyst J.M. Berger said that no major American Muslim organization was affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.* That was not always the case, however. While the Internet is filled with false accusations and conspiracy theories regarding Brotherhood infiltration at the highest levels of the U.S. government, particularly under the Obama administration, it is nonetheless accurate to note the Brotherhood’s involvement in Muslim-Americans’ university life dates back to the 1960s. Specifically, members of the Muslim Brotherhood were involved in the creation of the following organizations:
- Muslim American Society (MAS)*
- Muslim Students Association (MSA)*
- Muslim World League (MWL)*
- World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY)*
- Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)*
While there are no major American-Muslim organizations directly affiliated with the Brotherhood today and the above named groups insist they operate independently, the Brotherhood’s involvement in their creation cannot be ignored, particularly given the extent of their ongoing outreach efforts to American youth. Further, the Brotherhood’s influence on the direction of these organizations, in the type of events and speakers they recruit, as well as their support networks, remains palpable.
This report examines the Brotherhood’s impact on the development of these five organizations and how its influence continues to manifest today.