WASHINGTON, July 11, 2013 — Founded in Egypt in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood is a secretive organization that has spread to more than a dozen countries. The organizational credo says in part “Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope” belying the organization’s goals. Egyptian news reported that Egypt’s General Prosecution office had issued arrest warrants for the “Supreme Guide” Mohamed Badei and nine other leaders of Muslim Brotherhood in response to pro-Morsi riots, attacks, and even the murder of two teenagers protesting against deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.
“There are two options,” says Gehad El-Haddad, a high ranking individual and spokesperson for the Muslim Brotherhood. “We reverse the coup, we reinstate the president, and then he leads the dialogue and discussion of the road maps ahead. Or we die trying.”
On Friday, Badie announced at a pro-Morsi rally that “millions” would be mobilized until Morsi was reinstated. Subsequent clashes have killed more than fifty across Egypt, spurring the arrest of Badie and his compatriots in the Muslim Brotherhood. Immediately before Morsi was unseated, he was criticized for failing to investigate rampant attacks against the country’s native Shi’ite Muslims. An American citizen was also killed in the violence leading up to the Egyptian President’s ouster.
While the incidents are troubling, such unrest is not new to the Muslim Brotherhood. In 1952, Egypt’s monarchy was overthrown with support from the Muslim Brotherhood. Months after the establishment of the new government, which the Muslim Brotherhood unsuccessfully lobbied to join, it assassinated Egypt’s second Prime Minister. Shortly later, the group also assassinated Egyptian President Jamal Abd-al- Nasir.
In the 1970s, breakaway members from the Muslim Brotherhood united with other radicals to form a group called “Egyptian Islamic Jihad,” which later assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. The current leader of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, joined the Muslim Brotherhood at the age of 14.
In Bahrain, the Muslim Brotherhood controlled Al Menbar party passed legislation in 2009 outlawing “witchcraft and sorcery,” a charge often made against Shi’ite Muslims, whom the Bahraini government is cracking down on. In Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood has attempted to capitalize on the unrest, attempting to establish itself as a dominant group in the rebel forces.
The Washington Post quotes Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute for Near East policy, speaking of the Muslim Brotherhood, stating that the far greater concern to the United States and other Western countries are recent indications that extremists are seeking to muscle their way into the revolt.
The Brotherhood has expanded throughout the Middle East and North Africa. In Jordan, it plays a major role in the government; its Iraqi branch had Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi as a member, until he fled the country on murder charges; and it maintains power bases in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Algeria, Somalia, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, and Mauritania.
Declaring an explicit and public relationship in its public charter, “[Hamas] is one of the wings of Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine.”
Russia bans the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, blaming it for terror attacks, drug trafficking, and a host of other crimes.
The Muslim Brotherhood has made public statements condemning violence and terrorism throughout its past. The denunciations, however, have not dissuaded its supporters from engaging in assassinations throughout the organization’s history, nor have they had any effect on the ongoing strife in Egypt today. Muslim Brotherhood Spokesperson El-Hedadd’s vow to “die trying” to reverse the coup, does little to allay fears about the organization.
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