Muslim Brotherhood

Executive Summary

The Muslim Brotherhood is a transnational Sunni Islamist movement that seeks to implement sharia (Islamic law) under a global caliphate. Founded in Egypt in 1928, the Brotherhood is that country’s oldest Islamist organization and has branches throughout the world. While these branches operate under a variety of names and use a variety of social, political, and occasionally violent methods, they share a commitment to the overarching goal of establishing rule according to sharia. The most notable and lethal Brotherhood offshoot is Hamas, the Palestinian terror group operating out of the Gaza Strip. Some analysts also argue that the Brotherhood has served as the ideological forerunner of modern violent Islamist groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS. The group has been labeled a terrorist organization by the governments of Bahrain,“Bahrain backs Saudi Arabia, UAE, Foreign Minister says,” Bahrain News Agency, March 21, 2014, http://www.bna.bh/portal/en/news/609752; Habib Toumi, “Bahrain Confirms Full Support to Saudi Arabia, UAE,” Gulf News (Dubai), March 22, 2014, http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/bahrain/bahrain-confirms-full-support-to-saudi-arabia-uae-1.1307223. Egypt,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. Russia,Gabriela Baczynska, “Russia may ease Muslim Brotherhood ban to boost Egypt ties,” Reuters, December 28, 2012, http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/18/us-egypt-politics-russia-idUSBRE8BH0VD20121218;
“Russia names ‘terrorist’ groups,” BBC News, July 28, 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5223458.stm.
Saudi Arabia,Rania el Gamal, “Saudi Arabia designates Muslim Brotherhood terrorist group,” Reuters, March 7, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/07/us-saudi-security-idUSBREA260SM20140307. Syria,“The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, accessed May 14, 2015, http://carnegieendowment.org/syriaincrisis/?fa=48370. and the United Arab Emirates.Adam Schreck, “UAE backs Saudis with Muslim Brotherhood blacklist,” Associated Press, March 9, 2014, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/uae-backs-saudis-muslim-brotherhood-blacklist.

Founded in 1928 by schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna in Ismailia, Egypt, the Brotherhood began as a pan-Islamist religious and social movement, building popular support through dawa (proselytization), political activism, and social welfare. Alongside its political and social activities, the Brotherhood operated an underground violent group—the “secret apparatus”—dedicated to the eradication of British rule in Egypt and of the Jewish presence in Palestine.

The Egyptian Brotherhood’s growth spurred the formation of affiliates in nearby countries such as Syria and Jordan. Dissemination of written works by Sayyid Qutb, one of the leading Brotherhood ideologues in the 1950s and 1960s, prompted further Brotherhood growth across the Arabian Peninsula, Palestinian territories, and Africa. As Zachary Laub of the Council on Foreign Relations writes, Qutb’s writings “provided the intellectual and theological underpinnings for many militant Sunni Islamist groups, including al-Qaeda and Hamas.”Zachary Laub, “Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood,” Council on Foreign Relations, last modified January 15, 2014, http://www.cfr.org/egypt/egypts-muslim-brotherhood/p23991. Indeed, Qutb’s writings helped inform the Islamist ideology known as Qutbism, which advocates violent jihad—and the killing of secular Muslims—in order to implement sharia.

The Brotherhood has survived in Egypt despite several waves of repression by the Egyptian government. Repressive measures have included legal prohibition of the group and imprisonment and execution of large numbers of Brotherhood members, including Qutb, whom the Egyptian government executed in 1966 for his part in the conspiracy to assassinate then-President Gamal Abdel Nasser. The Egyptian Brotherhood also benefitted from intermittent periods of toleration by the government, during which the group continued its social, religious, economic, and political activities, building up organizational strength unmatched by any other Egyptian opposition group. In addition, the group’s unofficial ideologue, Egyptian cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, has been unrestrained in delivering sermons and issuing militant fatwas (religious decrees) from his pulpit in Qatar.

As the Arab Spring came to a head in 2011, the Brotherhood’s resilience and robust infrastructure left it well placed to capitalize on shifting political landscapes in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa. Several Brotherhood chapters formed political parties and performed well in their respective countries’ elections, particularly in Egypt with the Freedom and Justice Party, which ran senior Brotherhood official Mohammed Morsi as its candidate for president.“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/. In Tunisia, Ennahdha won the first elections after former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s ouster.“Ennahda wins Tunisia's elections,” Al Jazeera, October 28, 2011, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2011/10/2011102721287933474.html.

Morsi served as president of Egypt between June 2012 and July 2013, though his government alienated much of the population due to perceptions that it governed poorly and overreached—including through the group’s attempts to rush through changes to the Egyptian constitution. In July 2013, after months of mass protests against the Brotherhood-led government, the Egyptian military overthrew Morsi and seized power, calling for new presidential and parliamentary elections and arresting Morsi and hundreds of Brotherhood officials and members on various charges. Egypt’s military-run government, led by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has sought to uproot the Brotherhood entirely.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.

After Morsi’s ouster, an ideological and strategic rift widened between the Egyptian Brotherhood’s older and younger generations. While the older generation—known as the “old guard”—reiterates its platform of non-violence and hopes that the military regime will collapse due to economic decline or an internal coup, for example, the younger generation has adopted increasingly jihadist rhetoric and resorts to low-level violence in pursuit of the overthrow of the Sisi regime.Samuel Tadros, “The Brotherhood Divided,” Hudson Institute, August 20, 2015, http://www.hudson.org/research/11530-the-brotherhood-divided. In August 2020, Egyptian authorities arrested the Brotherhood’s acting supreme guide, Mahmoud Ezzat.“Acting leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood arrested in Cairo,” Reuters, August 28, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-politics/acting-leader-of-egypts-muslim-brotherhood-arrested-in-cairo-idUSKBN25O1C3. Ezzat had been the group’s acting supreme guide since the 2013 arrest of Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie.“Egypt’s Brotherhood Names New Acting Supreme Guide,” Ahram Online, August 20, 2013, http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/0/79499/Egypt/0/Egypts-Brotherhood-names-new-acting-supreme-guide.aspx. Following Ezzat’s arrest, the Brotherhood named Ibrahim Mounir its news acting supreme guide and reorganized its leadership structure. The Brotherhood has reportedly rallied behind Mounir.“Egypt Muslim Brotherhood align with new acting supreme guide,” Middle East Monitor, September 17, 2020, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200917-egypt-muslim-brotherhood-align-with-new-acting-supreme-guide/.

The U.S. government has examined a possible designation of the Brotherhood since President Donald Trump suggested it in early 2017. In a private meeting on April 9, 2019, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi reportedly urged Trump to join Egypt in branding the movement as a terrorist organization.Charlie Savage, Eric Schmitt and Maggie Haberman, “Trump Pushes to Designate Muslim Brotherhood a Terrorist Group,” New York Times, April 30, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/30/us/politics/trump-muslim-brotherhood.html?module=inline.; Mark Landler, “Egypt’s President, Hoping to Be Allowed to Stay in Office Until 2034, Basks in Trump’s Embrace,” New York Times, April 9, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/09/us/politics/trump-abdel-fattah-el-sisi.html?module=inline. Following Sisi’s visit, the White House directed national security and diplomatic officials to investigate potential sanctions against the group. However, critics of the designation claim that the Brotherhood does not meet the legal criteria for the designation and that such a designation could complicate relations with countries where Brotherhood-linked groups have a role in politics and government.Peter Baker, “White House Weighs Terrorist Designation for Muslim Brotherhood,” New York Times, February 7, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/07/world/middleeast/muslim-brotherhood-terrorism-trump.html.; David D. Kirkpatrick, “Is the Muslim Brotherhood a Terrorist Group?,” New York Times, April 30, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/30/world/middleeast/is-the-muslim-brotherhood-terrorist.html.; David D. Kirkpatrick, “Trump Considers Them Terrorists, but Some Are Allies,” New York Times, May 10, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/10/world/middleeast/trump-muslim-brotherhood.html.; Deb Reichmann, “US weighs designating Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group,” Associated Press, April 30, 2019, https://www.apnews.com/9b6ee104cb0f4e6792f593a5d4674f6a; Rebecca Ballhaus, Courtney McBride, and Jared Malsin, “Trump Administration Seeks to Designate Muslim Brotherhood as Terrorist Organization,” Wall Street Journal, April 30, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-administration-seeks-to-designate-muslim-brotherhood-as-terrorist-organization-11556631257. The Muslim Brotherhood remains undesignated as a terrorist organization in the United States.

Doctrine:

The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 to revive the caliphate, following the abolition of the Ottoman Empire by the Turkish Republic four years earlier.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.
Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna rejected the phenomenon of Western-style nationalism and espoused an ideology of “pan-Islamic nationalism” in the hopes of bringing back the caliphate.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.

“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...”“HASAN AL-BANNA AND HIS POLITICAL THOUGHT OF ISLAMIC BROTHERHOOD,” Ikhwanweb: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Official English web site, May 13, 2008, http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=17065. –Hassan al-Banna

Banna was concerned with what he considered the greatest threat to Islam: the rise of secularism and Western culture in Muslim societies. To counter this danger, Banna began dawa (proselytization) in schools, mosques, and coffee houses, spreading his pan-Islamist ideology and emphasizing the need to return to sharia.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.

Banna also subscribed to an Islamic version of irredentism—believing that lands once ruled under Muslim law cannot be transferred to non-Muslim rule and should be returned to Muslim rule.Hasan al-Banna, Five Tracts of Hasan Al-Banna: A Selection from the Majmu at Rasail al-Imam al-Shahid Hasan al-Banna, translated and annotated by Charles Wendell (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978), p. 147. This belief has informed the Brotherhood’s positions on Europe and countries that were previously governed under Islamic rule. This belief forms the basis for the Brotherhood’s attitudes toward Israel, which the Brotherhood believes is built on the Islamic land of Palestine at the core of what used to be the Islamic empire. Brotherhood thinkers such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi have reinforced an Islamic requirement to recapture such lands and return them to Islamic governance.Damon L. Perry, “The Islamic Movement in Britain,” International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence, 2020, p. 24-25, https://icsr.info/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/ICSR-Report-The-Islamic-Movement-in-Britain.pdf.

Branches of the Brotherhood have adopted various—sometimes opposing—strategies to attain this goal. The modern Brotherhood maintains it is a non-violent organization. Former Secretary-General Mahmoud Hussein insisted in a 2017 interview that “the methodology of the group is a peaceful methodology and it (the Brotherhood) does not practice violence.”Mahmoud Hussein, “Disorienting and Attrition: MB Secretary General Mahmoud Hussein,” Watan TV, January 16, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAruv43OrPU. Similarly, Qaradawi has declared that Islam will conquer the West through “preaching and ideology” rather than through violence.“Leading Sunni Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradhawi and Other Sheikhs Herald the Coming Conquest of Rome,” Middle East Media and Research Institute, December 6, 2002, https://www.memri.org/reports/leading-sunni-sheikh-yousef-al-qaradhawi-and-other-sheikhs-herald-coming-conquest-rome.

Nonetheless, the Brotherhood has historically employed violence while some of the Brotherhood’s chief ideologues have sanctioned its use. In 1940, the Egyptian Brotherhood launched Nizam al-Khass (“secret apparatus”), which carried out numerous assassinations and bombings that concluded in the 1948 murder of Egyptian Prime Minister Mahmoud an-Nuqrashi Pasha.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; “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/. Egyptian authorities have directly connected the Brotherhood to violence in Egypt since the 2013 fall of the Brotherhood-led government there.“Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood branded ‘terrorist group’ after bombing,” Telegraph (London), December 24, 2013, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/egypt/10536505/Egypt-Muslim-Brotherhood-branded-terrorist-group-after-bombing.html. The Brotherhood’s Palestinian offshoot, Hamas, has justified the use of violence in pursuit of its goal of “liberating” Palestine, carrying out suicide bombings and other such attacks.Damon L. Perry, “The Islamic Movement in Britain,” International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence, 2020, p. 24-25, https://icsr.info/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/ICSR-Report-The-Islamic-Movement-in-Britain.pdf. Qaradawi, who has otherwise decried the use of violence in achieving the Brotherhood’s goals, has previously endorsed Hamas’s use of suicide bombings and rocket attacks against Israel.“Top Sunni Muslim Cleric Al-Qaradawi Does About-Face, Opposes Suicide Bombings,” Jerusalem Post, July 29, 2015, https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Top-Sunni-Muslim-cleric-al-Qaradawi-does-about-face-opposes-suicide-bombings-410483. While in power in 2012, Egypt’s Brotherhood-led government maintained close ties with Hamas.Associated Press, “Egypt Court: Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, And Hezbollah Broke President Morsi Out Of Jail in 2011,” Business Insider, June 23, 2013, http://www.businessinsider.com/how-president-morsi-got-out-of-jail-in-2011-2013-6; “Egypt: Mohammed Morsi accused of conspiring with Hamas,” Telegraph (London), July 26, 2013, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/egypt/10205552/Egypt-Mohammed-Morsi-accused-of-conspiring-with-Hamas.html; McClatchy, “Morsi’s ouster a ‘nightmare’ for Hamas rulers in Gaza Strip,” Olympian, July 8, 2013, https://www.theolympian.com/news/nation-world/national/article25318465.html.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Brotherhood’s most notable theorist, Sayyid Qutb, promoted jihad as an offensive force to be used against secular Arab governments.Sujata Ashwarya Cheema, “Sayyid Qutb's Concept of Jahiliyya as Metaphor for Modern Society,” Islam and Muslim Societies 2, no. 2 (2006), http://www.academia.edu/3222569/Sayyid_Qutbs_Concept_of_Jahiliyya_as_Metaphor_for_Modern_Socie. Qutb argued that Muslim societies living under these governments existed in a state of jahiliyya, similar to Arabia’s pagan existence prior to the divine message of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. According to Qutb, this affliction could only be corrected by the implementation of sharia, brought about by offensive jihad and the killing of secular state officials.Dale C. Eikmeier, “Qutbism: An Ideology of Islamic-Fascism,” Parameters: The US Army War College Quarterly 37, no. 1 (Spring 2007), 89, http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a485995.pdf. Indeed, Qutb helped to re-popularize the Islamic concept of takfir, by which Muslims serving a secular ruler are rendered apostates and thus legitimate targets for execution.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, “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.

In the 1990s, the late Mohammad Ma’mun al-Hudaibi—who served as the Brotherhood’s supreme guide between 2002 and 2004—expounded upon the Brotherhood’s ideology in an interview with the Harvard International Review. Hudaibi stated that in a caliphate envisioned by the Brotherhood, daily life would be governed by Islamic teachings as interpreted by Islamic judges, with no need for a state’s rulers to impose man-made or “general laws.”“The Principles of the Muslim Brotherhood,” Ikhwanweb: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Official English web site, http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=813.

Hudaibi stressed that the holistic, Islam-centered caliphate was shattered by Western and Christian imperialism, including Britain’s rule over Egypt in the 19th and 20th centuries. While Muslim peoples eventually liberated themselves from Western rule, they were unable to reclaim the Islamic governance under which they had previously lived.“The Principles of the Muslim Brotherhood,” Ikhwanweb: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Official English web site, http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=813. Therefore, Hudaibi explained, in order to repair society after its purported deterioration into Western imperialism, “Movements of Islamic revival became active to spread the correct Islamic ideas and to demand the application of the rulings of the Islamic Shari’ah...”“The Principles of the Muslim Brotherhood,” Ikhwanweb: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Official English web site, http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=813. Among these movements was the Muslim Brotherhood. Since, according to the Brotherhood, the lack of holistic Islamic governance is the “problem,” the Brotherhood’s longstanding slogan has been that “Islam is the solution.”“A look at Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood,” Associated Press, November 1, 2013, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/look-egypts-muslim-brotherhood-0;
“Brotherhood decides to drop 'Islam is the solution' for presidential race,” Egypt Independent (Cairo), April 24, 2012, http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/brotherhood-decides-drop-islam-solution-presidential-race;
Jack Shenker and Brian Whitaker, “The Muslim Brotherhood Uncovered,” Guardian (London), February 8, 2011, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/feb/08/egypt-muslim-brotherhood-uncovered;
Bryony Jones and Susannah Cullinane, “What is the Muslim Brotherhood,” CNN, July 3, 2013, http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/03/world/africa/egypt-muslim-brotherhood-explainer.

Two Pillars

The Brotherhood has two pillars articulated by Hudaibi and published on the group’s website: 1) “The introduction of the Islamic Shari‘ah as the basis controlling the affairs of state and society” and 2) “Work to achieve unification among the Islamic countries and states, mainly among the Arab states, and liberating them from foreign imperialism.”“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.

According to Hudaibi, the Brotherhood seeks to re-establish Islamic governance from the bottom up by building a “popular base that believes in the Islamic system and is aware of its main ideas.”“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 built this popular base through grassroots efforts, including not only political organizing and religious indoctrination but also, most notably in Egypt, provision of health care, education, and other social welfare goods and services that governments often fail to deliver satisfactorily. In Egypt and elsewhere, the Brotherhood has used this popular base to obtain increased political representation and power through democratic processes, despite the group’s ultimate political goal of un-democratic, Islamist rule.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/.

The Brotherhood seeks to implement its vision in stages. Banna promoted the gradualist construction of the Muslim individual, the Muslim family, the Muslim community, and finally the Muslim government, or Islamic State, which Banna believed would bind all Muslims to God.Larbi Sadiki, “Egypt: The triumph of Hassan Al-Banna,” Al Jazeera, July 4, 2012, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/07/20127212233901118.html. Banna stressed that the Muslim Brotherhood was uninterested in revolutionary tactics, and instead operated with a slow and steady approach. Article 4, section 2 of the Brotherhood’s 1945 basic regulations stated, “The Brethren [Brothers] will always prefer gradual advancement and development.”“Hasan al-Banna and his political thought of Islamic brotherhood,” Ikhwanweb, May 13, 2008, http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=17065.

According to the Brotherhood’s official English website, Ikhwanweb, Banna would warn the Brotherhood members “who were looking for fast results that they would either have to learn to be patient and persevering or leave the movement.”“Hasan al-Banna and his political thought of Islamic brotherhood,” Ikhwanweb, May 13, 2008, http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=17065. Today, the Brotherhood is split between the old guard that champions this strategy, and the younger generation that has voiced and demonstrated its support for a revolutionary approach using violent means.Samuel Tadros, “The Brotherhood Divided,” Hudson Institute, August 20, 2015, http://www.hudson.org/research/11530-the-brotherhood-divided.

Organizational Structure:

The Brotherhood’s International Organization

The Brotherhood’s International Organization is reportedly comprised of the group’s global affiliates, which operate in at least 18 countries, including Egypt.Dr. Nathan Brown, “The Muslim Brotherhood,” Congressional Testimony, Carnegie Endowment, April 13, 2011, 10-11, http://carnegieendowment.org/files/0413_testimony_brown.pdf. Former Brotherhood Deputy Supreme Guide Mohamed Habib told Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahrar in 2008 that global Brotherhood affiliates share “the same ideology, principle, and objectives” as the Egyptian branch, but operate in a “decentraliz[ed]” fashion in order to respond to the unique challenges and contexts that each entity confronts.“Interview with MB Deputy Chairman in Al Ahrar Daily,” Ikhwan Web Homepage,” Ikhwanweb: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Official English web site, June 16, 2008, http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=17267. Brotherhood scholars suggest that the International Organization is loose and often ineffective, as domestic circumstances outweigh each affiliate’s loyalty to the larger global apparatus. In addition, there is believed to be little formal coordination between global affiliates.Robert S. Leiken and Steven Brooke, “The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood,” Foreign Affairs, March/April 2007, http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/62453/robert-s-leiken-and-steven-brooke/the-moderate-muslim-brotherhood;
Dr. Nathan Brown, “The Muslim Brotherhood,” Congressional Testimony, Carnegie Endowment, April 13, 2011, 10-11, http://carnegieendowment.org/files/0413_testimony_brown.pdf.

The Brotherhood and Brotherhood members have created networks of affiliated organizations around the world. According to a 2021 report by Austria's Documentation Centre for Political Islam, Brotherhood ideologues control these organizations to be part of the European social mainstream. In Europe particularly, these groups receive public funding for which the Brotherhood would otherwise be ineligible based on ideology or geography. According to the report’s authors, the Brotherhood maintains a presence in every European country.Tim Stickings, “Muslim Brotherhood’s influence in Europe laid bare,” National (Abu Dhabi), October 28, 2021, https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/europe/2021/10/28/muslim-brotherhoods-influence-in-europe-laid-bare/. Supporters of the Brotherhood criticize European attempts to limit the Brotherhood and political Islam as damaging Muslim civil society groups.John Esposito and Farid Hafez, “Why is Austria coming after the Muslim Brotherhood?,” Al Jazeera, June 24, 2021, https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2021/6/24/why-is-austria-coming-after-the-muslim-brotherhood.

Following the Egyptian revolution, there was disagreement as to the overall leader of the International Organization. While some reports named imprisoned Egyptian Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie as the Organization’s leader,Dr. Nathan Brown, “The Muslim Brotherhood,” Congressional Testimony, Carnegie Endowment, April 13, 2011, 10-11, http://carnegieendowment.org/files/0413_testimony_brown.pdf. others indicated that it was led by the London-based Ibrahim Mounir.Samuel Tadros, “The Brotherhood Divided,” Hudson Institute, August 20, 2015, http://www.hudson.org/research/11530-the-brotherhood-divided. After the August 2020 arrest of acting Supreme Guide Mahmoud Ezzat, the Brotherhood reconfigured its leadership structure.“Muslim Brotherhood: ‘Ibrahim Mounir is the new acting general guide,’” Middle East Monitor, last updated September 21, 2020, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200916-muslim-brotherhood-ibrahim-mounir-is-the-new-acting-supreme-guide/; “Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood forms managing committee,” Anadolu Agency, September 17, 2021, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/egypts-muslim-brotherhood-forms-managing-committee/1976780. The Brotherhood named Mounir as its new acting general guide, or deputy guide, that September. The move made Mounir the primary leader of the Brotherhood’s international and Egyptian branches.“Muslim Brotherhood: ‘Ibrahim Mounir is the new acting general guide,’” Middle East Monitor, last updated September 21, 2020, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200916-muslim-brotherhood-ibrahim-mounir-is-the-new-acting-supreme-guide/; “Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood forms managing committee,” Anadolu Agency, September 17, 2021, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/egypts-muslim-brotherhood-forms-managing-committee/1976780; George Mikhail, “Muslim Brotherhood appoints acting guide after arrest of leader,” Al-Monitor, September 18, 2020, https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2020/09/egypt-arrest-leader-muslim-brotherhood-successor.html. The Brotherhood has reportedly rallied behind Mounir’s leadership.“Egypt Muslim Brotherhood align with new acting supreme guide,” Middle East Monitor, September 17, 2020, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200917-egypt-muslim-brotherhood-align-with-new-acting-supreme-guide/, but cracks emerged the following year. In October 2021, Mounir suspended six senior members of the Brotherhood who allegedly rejected the results of the Brotherhood’s internal elections. Also that month, members of the General Shura Council of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Abroad renewed their “pledge of allegiance” to Mounir as acting director and the deputy of the Brotherhood’s general guide. Talaat Fahmi was also dismissed as the Brotherhood’s spokesman and Mounir was named the only spokesman for the group, though a replacement for Fahmi was planned.“Muslim Brotherhood suspends 6 senior members,” Middle East Monitor, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20211011-muslim-brotherhood-suspends-6-senior-members/; October 11, 2021, “Muslim Brotherhood renews confidence in deputy head Mounir,” Middle East Monitor, October 14, 2021, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20211014-muslim-brotherhood-renews-confidence-in-deputy-head-mounir/. In December, the Scholars Committee of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood called for support and cooperation with acting supreme guide Mounir in order to overcome the obstacles facing the group.“Muslim Brotherhood scholars call to support Deputy Supreme Guide Mounir,” Middle East Monitor, December 4, 2021, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20211204-muslim-brotherhood-scholars-call-to-support-deputy-supreme-guide-mounir/. On January 30, 2022, the Brotherhood accused “some members” of “violating its regulations and rejecting all attempts to unite the ranks.”“Muslim Brotherhood slams ‘members’ who bring division to group,” Middle East Monitor, January 31, 2022, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20220131-muslim-brotherhood-slams-members-who-bring-division-to-group/. The Brotherhood announced all members seeking to divide the group would be “disowned.”“Muslim Brotherhood slams ‘members’ who bring division to group,” Middle East Monitor, January 31, 2022, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20220131-muslim-brotherhood-slams-members-who-bring-division-to-group/.

Organizational Structure in Egypt

The Egyptian Brotherhood’s leadership structure is hierarchical, designed to ensure each leader’s commitment and adherence to the group’s ideology, religious practice, and general beliefs. Previously, the supreme guide (murshid)—acting as the group’s primary governor—oversaw the Guidance Office (maktab al-irshad), which consisted of 15-20 members. Each member of the Guidance Office was responsible for overseeing an area of interest, such as education, politics, and recruitment.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. A month after the arrest of acting Supreme Guide Mahmoud Ezzat in August 2020, the Brotherhood dissolved the Guidance Office and organized a new managing committee to replace the Guidance Office. The new committee operates from abroad.“Muslim Brotherhood: ‘Ibrahim Mounir is the new acting general guide,’” Middle East Monitor, last updated September 21, 2020, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200916-muslim-brotherhood-ibrahim-mounir-is-the-new-acting-supreme-guide/; “Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood forms managing committee,” Anadolu Agency, September 17, 2021, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/egypts-muslim-brotherhood-forms-managing-committee/1976780.

The Shura Council—the next rung down in the leadership hierarchy—is reportedly comprised of 100 Brothers. It is responsible for electing the members of the Guidance Office and voting on issues such as Brotherhood participation in various facets of Egyptian life.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. In addition, each region operates an administrative council similar to the larger Shura Council. Regions are comprised of usras (families), which include approximately five Brothers.“The Muslim Brotherhood – Chapter 4: The structure and funding sources of the Muslim Brotherhood,” Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, June 19, 2011, http://www.crethiplethi.com/the-structure-and-funding-sources-of-the-muslim-brotherhood/global-islam/2011/.

Power Balance in Egypt

During Mohammed Morsi’s presidency from June 2012 to July 2013,David D. Kirkpatrick, “Named Egypt’s Winner, Islamist Makes History,” New York Times, June 24, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/25/world/middleeast/mohamed-morsi-of-muslim-brotherhood-declared-as-egypts-president.html;
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.
Brotherhood Deputy Supreme Guide Khairat el-Shater and Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie—now both imprisoned—were believed to largely oversee Morsi’s political maneuvers and strategic decisions.Matthias Gebauer, Daniel Steinvorth, and Volkhard Windfuhr, “Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood: Who Really Holds the Reigns in Egypt?,” Der Spiegel (Hamburg), December 12, 2012, http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/president-mohammed-morsi-and-his-ties-to-the-muslim-brotherhood-a-872214.html. For example, every proposal made by Morsi—down to every word—had to reportedly be approved by Shater. In addition, Morsi regularly greeted Badie by kissing his hand, a gesture common among Brotherhood members to show obedience to a more powerful leader.Matthias Gebauer, Daniel Steinvorth, and Volkhard Windfuhr, “Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood: Who Really Holds the Reigns in Egypt?,” Der Spiegel (Hamburg), December 12, 2012, http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/president-mohammed-morsi-and-his-ties-to-the-muslim-brotherhood-a-872214.html.

Following Morsi’s July 2013 ouster, Sisi’s crackdown on the Brotherhood resulted in the imprisonment or execution of many of the group’s leaders and members. Those who managed to escape fled to Turkey and Qatar.Samuel Tadros, “The Brotherhood Divided,” Hudson Institute, August 20, 2015, http://www.hudson.org/research/11530-the-brotherhood-divided;
Tulin Daloglu, “Exiled Brotherhood officials may find home in Turkey,” Al Monitor, September 17, 2014, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/09/turkey-egypt-qatar-muslim-brotherhood-leaders-interpol.html.

Without coherent leadership, the Brotherhood has grown increasingly factionalized. In particular, ideological and tactical rifts have widened 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. The Brotherhood’s youth have reportedly grown impatient with the old guard’s gradualist approach, and have called 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 have carried out such violence, targeting authorities and infrastructure in small scale attacks including the use of Molotov cocktails, for example.Eric Trager, “Egypt's Invisible Insurgency,” New Republic, March 19, 2014, https://newrepublic.com/article/117072/egypts-young-islamists-use-facebook-organize-violence.

In February of 2014, the Egyptian 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 have overseen the Brotherhood’s rank and file in Egypt before his May 2015 arrest.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;
Mohamed Montaser, “Muslim Brotherhood Spokesman: Referral of Members to Military Courts Won't Stop Us,” Ikhwanweb: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Official English web site, June 21, 2015, http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=32188.
In April of 2015, Brotherhood members exiled in Istanbul 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. 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;
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.

As of 2016, the Brotherhood remained split between the old guard and the younger revolutionaries. The acting supreme guide, Mahmoud Ezzat, was a member of the old guard, though his leadership role was disputed by members of the younger generation. These members are also believed to hold important leadership positions.Samuel Tadros, “The Brotherhood Divided,” Hudson Institute, August 20, 2015, http://www.hudson.org/research/11530-the-brotherhood-divided;
Eric Trager and Marina Shalabi, “The Brotherhood Breaks Down,” Foreign Affairs, January 17, 2016, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/egypt/2016-01-17/brotherhood-breaks-down.
Ezzat’s arrest in August 2020 led to a reorganization of the Brotherhood’s leadership under Mounir. “Egypt: Wanted Brotherhood leader Mahmoud Ezzat arrested,” Gulf News, August 28, 2020, https://gulfnews.com/world/mena/egypt-wanted-brotherhood-leader-mahmoud-ezzat-arrested-1.73483156; “Muslim Brotherhood Statement on the Arrest of Acting Chairman Dr. Mahmoud Ezzat,” Ikhwanweb, September 3, 2020, https://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=32966. The international Brotherhood and the Brotherhood in Egypt have since reportedly rallied behind Mounir’s leadership.“Egypt Muslim Brotherhood align with new acting supreme guide,” Middle East Monitor, September 17, 2020, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200917-egypt-muslim-brotherhood-align-with-new-acting-supreme-guide/.

Financing

During Morsi’s year-long presidency, the Muslim Brotherhood is believed to have received large sums of money from the Qatari government. Qatar reportedly loaned Morsi’s government approximately $2.5 billion, and aided Morsi’s regime with grants and so-called “energy supplies,” according to Reuters.“Egypt to repay $2.5 bln Qatari deposit at end-Nov-Cbank source,” Reuters, November 6, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/06/egypt-qatar-deposits-idUSL6N0SW1U420141106. Also during Morsi’s presidency, Qatar’s Sheikh Hamad bin Jasim bin Jaber Al Thani reportedly secretly transferred funds as high as $850,000 to the Brotherhood.Paul Alster, “Secret Document Appears to Show Qatar Payoffs to Key Morsi Cronies,” Fox News, June 9 2013, http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/07/09/secret-document-appears-to-show-qatar-payoffs-to-key-morsi-cronies/. Numerous transfers of money between Al Thani and top Brotherhood leaders reportedly occurred in early-mid 2013.Paul Alster, “Secret Document Appears to Show Qatar Payoffs to Key Morsi Cronies,” Fox News, June 9 2013, http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/07/09/secret-document-appears-to-show-qatar-payoffs-to-key-morsi-cronies/; Al-Shahed newspaper, “Milyarat wa-sharakat al-jama’a tad’am al-khilafa al-islamiyya”, http://alshahed.net/pdf/2009/19.pdf.

In addition to relying on outside funding, the Brotherhood owns valuable assets and sources of income in the countries in which it operates. In Egypt, the group collects taxes and fees from approximately 600,000 members,Scott Atran, “Egypt’s bumbling brotherhood,” New York Times, February 2, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/03/opinion/03atran.html?_r=0. and many Brotherhood leaders own commercial enterprises such as supermarkets and furniture stores which largely profit the Brotherhood.“Government Seizes Seoudi Supermarkets, Among Other Muslim Brotherhood Assets,” Daily News Egypt (Giza), June 15, 2014, http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2014/06/15/government-seizes-seoudi-supermarkets-among-muslim-brotherhood-assets/; Zeinab Abul-Magd, “The Brotherhood's businessmen,” Egypt Independent, February 13, 2012, http://www.egyptindependent.com//opinion/brotherhoods-businessmen.

Western groups affiliated with the Brotherhood are believed to set up vast ‘charity’ and fundraising operations within their local Muslim communities, sending all collected money back to larger Brotherhood operations in Egypt and Syria.Lorenzo Vidino, “The Muslim Brotherhood’s Conquest of Europe,” Middle East Quarterly, 12 (2005): 25-34, http://www.meforum.org/687/the-muslim-brotherhoods-conquest-of-europe. Other reports suggest that Muslim Brotherhood members living in Europe are often involved in money-laundering schemes launched to finance Brotherhood activities.Lorenzo Vidino, “The Muslim Brotherhood’s Conquest of Europe,” Middle East Quarterly, 12 (Winter 2005): 25-34, http://www.meforum.org/687/the-muslim-brotherhoods-conquest-of-europe.

The government of Saudi Arabia financially supported the Brotherhood for decades but reduced its funding after the Brotherhood supported Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.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.

Throughout its nearly nine-decade history, the Brotherhood has at times imposed jizya (a tax for non-Muslims) on Christians and other religious minorities.Jessica Chasmar, “Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to Coptic Christians: Convert to Islam, or pay ‘jizya’ tax,” Washington Times, September 10, 2013, accessed September 21, 2014, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/sep/10/egypts-muslim-brotherhood-convert-islam-or-pay-jiz/.

Recruitment:

The Egyptian Brotherhood’s recruitment process is tailored to prevent security officials from penetrating the group. According to Eric Trager in Foreign Affairs, local Brotherhood leaders scout potential members “at virtually every Egyptian University.”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. The members approach potential recruits in a non-political context and engage in activities such as tutoring or soccer. Recruiters do not initially reveal themselves as Brotherhood members. According to Khaled Hamza, an editor of the Brotherhood’s English-language website, the recruitment process can last up to a year. Hamza notes, “We are an ideological grass-roots group, and we use our faith to pick members.” In some cases, children as young as nine are targeted as recruits. The children of Brotherhood members are often exposed to Brotherhood activities at an early age.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.

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood expanded its recruitment activities amidst the chaos of the Syrian civil war, setting up recruitment offices and urging members living in large Syrian cities to return to local communities and reconnect with the people there. A Syrian Brotherhood member familiar with recruitment told the Carnegie Endowment in 2013, “[there is a] real thirst for the Muslim Brotherhood inside Syria.” The Syrian Brotherhood found success in recruiting members from rebel-held areas of Syria, especially in and near Aleppo.Raphael Lefevre, “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.

Training:

Physical Training

Because the Muslim Brotherhood does not have a military arm, the group does not carry out military training. However, a 2012 piece in Der Spiegel quoted a former Brotherhood member as saying that there are training camps in Egypt that train Brotherhood members in “hand-to-hand combat,” a claim that the Brotherhood reportedly denies.Matthias Gebauer, Daniel Steinvorth, and Volkhard Windfuhr, “Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood: Who Really Holds the Reigns in Egypt?,” Der Spiegel (Hamburg), December 12, 2012, http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/president-mohammed-morsi-and-his-ties-to-the-muslim-brotherhood-a-872214.html.

In 1940, the Egyptian Brotherhood launched Nizam al-Khass, or the “secret apparatus,” largely in response to the failure of the Arab uprising in Palestine (1936-1939). The military wing was composed of civilians with varying degrees of paramilitary training.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. It carried out numerous assassinations and bombings that concluded in the 1948 murder of Egyptian Prime Minister Mahmoud an-Nuqrashi 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/. During the 1952 Egyptian revolution that brought Gamal Abdel Nasser to power, members of the secret apparatus blocked the infiltration of British troops into the Suez Canal zone and secured the highway between Cairo and Ismailia.“Profile: Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood,” Al Jazeera, February 6, 2011, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/2011/02/201126101349142168.html.

Ideological Training

The Egyptian Brotherhood’s ideological training process consists of a series of stages during which members’ philosophical beliefs are monitored, shaped, and tested. In the preliminary stage, which can last from six months to four years, Brotherhood members closely observe the new recruit’s ideology. The recruit is referred to as a muhibb, or “lover.”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.

If the muhibb’s ideology proves developed and sturdy, the muhibb enters an usra, or “family” of approximately four or five Brotherhood members. The usra meets once a week and serves to educate and strengthen the ideology of the muhibb. After graduating from the usra, the muhibb becomes a mu’ayyad, or “supporter,” a stage that lasts from one to three years. Although the mu’ayyad cannot yet vote within the Brotherhood structure, he can preach, teach in mosques, and recruit new muhibb-level candidates. A mu’ayyad also has the responsibility of studying Hassan al-Banna’s texts.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.

After graduating from the mu’ayyad stage, the member become a muntasib, or “affiliated” individual. After one year at muntasib status, the Brother graduates to become a muntazim, or “organizer.” The muntazim stage generally lasts one year, and the individual is responsible for forming usra groups as well as memorizing of the Quran. A muntazim is regularly presented with false accusations and information to test his loyalty under pressure. In the final stage, the muntazim becomes an akh-‘amil, “working brother,” and has the right to vote in Brotherhood elections and compete within the leadership hierarchy.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.

Also Known As:Toni Johnson, “Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood: Its History and Egypt's Future,” National Journal, December 5, 2012, http://news.yahoo.com/egypts-muslim-brotherhood-history-egypts-future-100348397--politics.html; Brynjar Lia, The Society of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt: The Rise of an Islamic Mass Movement, 1928-1942 (Reading, England: Ithaca Press, 1998), 167; “Ikhwanweb Homepage,” Ikhwanweb: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Official English web site, accessed September 29, 2014, http://www.ikhwanweb.com/; “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; “Profile: Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood,” Al Jazeera, February 6, 2011, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/2011/02/201126101349142168.html.

  • Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimeen
  • Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin
  • Gamaat al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin
  • Ikhwan
  • Muslim Brethren
  • Muslim Brothers
  • Society of Muslim Brothers

  • Type of Organization:
    Non-state actor, political, religious, social service provider, transnational
  • Ideologies and Affiliations:
    Islamist, jihadist, pan-Islamist, Qutbist, Sunni, takfirist
  • Place of Origin:
    Ismailia, Egypt
  • Year of Origin:
    1928
  • Founder(s):

    Hassan al-Banna

  • Places of Operation:

    Egypt; Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated groups operate in Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, the Palestinian territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and Europe.

Mohamed Montasser

Media spokesman in Cairo

Amr Darrag

Senior Muslim Brotherhood member, former Freedom and Justice Party minister, former secretary-general of Egypt’s Constituent Assembly

Senior member and co-founder of the Freedom and Justice Party

Mohamed Abdel Rahman

Head of the Higher Administrative Committee

Mohammed Morsi

Former president of Egypt and member of the Muslim Brotherhood (deceased)

Mohamed Taha Wahdan

Former head of the Crisis Management Committee in Egypt, Former Chief of Education, Former Member of the Guidance Office

The Brotherhood and Brotherhood affiliates have engaged in violence against the ruling governments in Egypt, Syria, Israel, and the Palestinian territories. Since its inception, the Brotherhood’s ideology has authorized violent resistance against unjust and secular rulers.Sujata Ashwarya Cheema, “Sayyid Qutb's Concept of Jahiliyya as Metaphor for Modern Society,” Islam and Muslim Societies 2, no. 2 (2006), http://www.academia.edu/3222569/Sayyid_Qutbs_Concept_of_Jahiliyya_as_Metaphor_for_Modern_Society. The modern Brotherhood maintains it is a non-violent organization.Mahmoud Hussein, “Disorienting and Attrition: MB Secretary General Mahmoud Hussein,” Watan TV, January 16, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAruv43OrPU. Nonetheless, the Brotherhood has been linked to a spate of violent attacks since Egypt’s 2011 revolutions. Between 2013 and 2019, for example, the Brotherhood allegedly created 13 affiliated groups that carried out terrorist attacks in Egypt.“Muslim Brotherhood suffers internal rifts, dismiss Secretary General Mahmoud Hussein,” Egypt Today, September 16, 2020, https://www.egypttoday.com/Article/1/91998/Muslim-Brotherhood-suffers-internal-rifts-dismiss-Secretary-General-Mahmoud-Hussein.

  • Designations
  • Associations
  • Media Coverage
  • Rhetoric

Designations by the U.S. Government:

  • The U.S Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designates Harakat Sawa’id Misr (HASM) and Liwa al-Thawra, two Islamist groups active in Egypt with suspected ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, as specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) under Executive Order 13224 on January 31, 2018.“OFFICE OF FOREIGN ASSETS CONTROL - Specially Designated Nationals List Update.” U.S. Department of the Treasury, January 31, 2018, https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/20180131.aspx.

Designations by Foreign Governments and International Organizations:

Ties to Extremist Entities:

As one of the oldest and broadest-reaching Islamist organizations in modern times, the Muslim Brotherhood has spawned Sunni Islamist entities which are now largely recognized as terrorist organizations.

Ties to Other Entities:

Ties to Extremist Individuals:

Media coverage/analysis of group

During the 2011 revolution that toppled Egypt’s Mubarak regime, Western media found they had to explain the Muslim... Read More

Qatar’s Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera quickly cemented itself as the Arab media champion of Egypt’s revolution, earning adulation from the masses... Read More

Largely anti-Muslim Brotherhood Media

While Al Jazeera gave prominent airtime to al-Qaradawi and other Islamists affiliated with the Brotherhood, numerous... Read More

American and Israeli Media

As Egyptians took to the streets in protest of Mubarak, the United States and Israel initially held back support for the... Read More

Ayman al-Zawahiri, April 2014

Video condemning an Egyptian crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood:

“We call on the people to put their revolution on the right track and undertake slogans calling for Islamic Sharia, the path of freedom, social justice and human dignity.”Adam Koppeser and AbdelHalim H. AbdAllah, “Al Qaeda Chief Declares Solidarity with Muslim Brotherhood, Urges Followers to Kidnap Westerners,” Daily News Egypt, April 27, 2014, http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2014/04/27/al-qaeda-chief-declares-solidarity-muslim-brotherhood-urges-followers-kidnap-westerners/.

Mohammed Morsi, Muslim Brotherhood, 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.

Message left by pro-Brotherhood hackers on Cairo International Airport’s website, August 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.

Muhammad Muntasir, spokesman, June 30, 2015

In reference to the murder of Egypt’s top prosecutor Hisham Baraket that the Brotherhood has blamed on Sisi’s regime:

“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.

Hammam Saeed, supreme guide of the Jordanian Brotherhood, July 20, 2014

“These Arab regimes have made us accustomed to taste the bitterness of defeat and now the day has come that someone (Hamas) has ended this humiliation and weakness by their heroic resistance.”Suleiman Al-Khalidi, “Jordanian stage pro-Gaza rally near Israeli embassy,” Al-Monitor, July 20, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/20/us-palestinian-israel-jordan-idUSKBN0FP0UY20140720.

Mohammed Badie, Brotherhood supreme guide, 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.

Hammam Saeed, supreme guide of the Jordanian Brotherhood, March 14, 2014

“We will not accept less than the annulment of the peace treaty and deportation the Israeli ambassador and to announce that Jews are enemies for our nation [sic].”Omar Akour, “Thousands protest Israel in Jordan over killing,” Associated Press, March 14, 2014, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/thousands-protest-israel-jordan-over-killing.

Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Brotherhood spiritual and intellectual leader, May 9, 2013

“Our whole ambition is to die on the path to Allah, and for long life to Palestine… I am sure we will conquer. Nobody thought that the people would triumph and oust the tyrants who ruled Egypt and Tunisia. And Syria will also emerge victorious, as well as Islam… Our wish should be that we carry out Jihad to death… We should seek to liberate Palestine, all of Palestine, inch by inch.”“Influential Muslim cleric Qaradawi visits Gaza,” Al Arabiya, May 9, 2013, http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2013/05/09/Influential-Muslim-cleric-Qaradawi-visits-Gaza.html; Nidal al-Mughrabi, “Influential Muslim cleric visits Hamas-controlled Gaza,” Reuters, May 9, 2013, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/08/us-palestinians-gaza-cleric-idUSBRE94714Y20130508.

Hammam Saeed, supreme guide of the Jordanian Brotherhood, January 18, 2013

Jordan will become a “state in the Muslim Caliphate.”Jamal Halaby, “Jordan election touted as start of democratization,” Associated Press, January 22, 2013, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/jordan-election-touted-start-democratization.

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