The Muslim Brotherhood: Terrorists or moderates?

The Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S. tries to present a moderate image, but Egyptians know better. Photo: Muslim Brotherhood: Terrorists or moderates/AP

CHARLOTTEJanuary 2, 2013 — The Muslim Brotherhood wants it both ways. The organization wants to be seen as moderate to give it political legitimacy while it continues to stir up trouble around the world.

Egyptians understand how the MB, and groups like them, play the game, but Western eyes often see things differently. Ryan Mauro of The Clarion Project explains why the group seemingly gets a pass from American media. It is an interesting recipe that is one part ignorance, one part ambivalence, and another part tolerance. When stirred together and mixed into the melting pot of the Middle East, the result is a dangerous combination.

The apathy is manifest immediately; Mauro’s story does not raise eyebrows the way the New York Times did with its recent investigative report on Benghazi. Mauro’s insight is the sort of solid background material that should be read, saved and referred to as a resource when it inevitably does become major news again.

Keeping up with the constantly shifting turmoil in the Middle East is like playing political Twister. The contortions of alliances and enemies alternate so rapidly that it is almost impossible to follow the action.

Attaching the terrorism label to the Muslim Brotherhood matters because of their efforts to infiltrate other organizations with their “moderate” image. The “wolf in sheep’s clothing” strategy has worked well for the Brotherhood — so much so that our own government has placed significant trust in having advisors inside the White House who are either members or have ties to it.

The idea of “keeping your friends close and your enemies closer” can be a useful tactic, but in the volatile world of Islamic jihad there are probably better alternatives.

Mauro points out that by refusing to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist entity, “The result is a realignment in alliances that pushes the Arab world into the arms of Russia.”

Barack Obama likes to talk about “teachable moments,” which is why Mauro’s article is so relevant. “The State Department says there are three criteria a group must meet to be designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization,” he writes: The group must be foreign; it must threaten U.S. nationals or national security; and it must “engage in terrorist activity or retain the capability and intention to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism.”

The Muslim Brotherhood was created in Cairo in the late 1920s. Today it operates out of Tunisia, Turkey and Qatar, and none of those are represented by stars on the American flag.

With regards to the second criterion, Mauro notes that the Brotherhood’s “regional ambitions for a Caliphate undoubtedly threaten U.S. security. As for nationals, the Brotherhood has justified attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also steadfastly supports the terrorism of Hamas and other groups against U.S. allies.”

The Palestinian “wing” of the Muslim Brotherhood, as it says in its charter, is Hamas, which carries the designation of a Foreign Terrorist Organization. This means the Brotherhood fulfills the third condition as well.

If the Muslim Brotherhood meets the State Department’s requirements to be categorized as a terrorist organization, why isn’t it?

Mauro provides three reasons: influence, ignorance and fear.

Thanks to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), all of which present moderate images to the American media and public, the political clout they wield far outweighs any serious effort to minimize their power.

Such an abundant lack of concern ultimately perpetuates the ignorance and naïveté that comprises the second aspect of the problem.

Finally, be it political correctness or fear or some combination of both, there remains a “let sleeping dogs lie” philosophy about radical jihad in the United States. The prospect of Islamic uprisings across the country and Arab outrage throughout the Middle East carries significant weight whether it is real or imagined.

As Mauro so accurately says, “None of these excuses are acceptable.” Which is exactly why Westerners should read as many informational pieces about the background and motivations of Islamic jihad as possible.

Education and understanding from an Islamist’s perspective is the only way to effectively combat the problem.


Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club ( Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at The Washington Times Communities.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club ( and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.


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