Muslim Brotherhood’s Supporters Ignore Proof of Its Nefarious Aims
Some supposedly very smart, well-informed people are making ignorant and misleading claims in the debate over designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group.
The Trump administration is considering designating the nearly 90-year-old Brotherhood, which seeks a global Islamic state governed by religious law, as a terrorist organization.
Reasonable people can debate the merits of the proposal. But a recent Washington Post column by Arjun Singh Sethi, an adjunct Georgetown University law professor, illustrates the way that false information is being pushed by some Brotherhood supporters.
Designation would be “exploited and manipulated for political gain” and used to target otherwise innocent Muslim American groups, Sethi argued. It would be all the more outrageous because, “The Brotherhood doesn’t have a known presence in the US, most Muslim Americans know very little about it and no organization active in the US has been shown to have any connection to it.”
This is entirely wrong, and there are Muslim Brotherhood documents in the public domain to prove it.
Sethi takes aim at one of those documents — a 1991 “Explanatory Memorandum,” which calls for a “Civilization-Jihadist Process” — whereby Brotherhood members in America work toward “destroying the Western civilization from within.” The memorandum also suggests that Islam represents a “civilization alternative.”
“This memorandum, of which there is only one known copy, has been widely discredited and called a fantasy,” Sethi writes.
That one copy, however, was seized by FBI agents from the home of Ismail Elbarasse, whom prosecutors described as the “archivist” for the Muslim Brotherhood in America. In addition, its author played a prominent role in the Brotherhood’s US network.
Sethi mentions none of these facts. Neither did the Southern Poverty Law Center or the left-leaning commentary website Alternet, which cited Sethi’s column to dismiss those who point to Muslim Brotherhood fronts in the United States as “conspiracy theorists.”
Sethi further claims that there is no additional evidence to show that “three of the largest Muslim organizations in the country — the Islamic Society of North America [ISNA], the Council on American Islamic Relations [CAIR] and the North American Islamic Trust [NAIT] — are affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
This statement is also objectively, demonstrably false.
The explanatory memo, like most of the information known about the Muslim Brotherhood network in the United States, became public during the 2007 and 2008 Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) Hamas-financing trials held in Dallas, Texas. In that case, FBI agents seized a trove of internal documents — meeting minutes, reports and proposals — written by Muslim Brotherhood members in the United States. In addition, electronic surveillance picked up hundreds of conversations among Brotherhood conspirators.
In court papers, Federal prosecutors noted that the Holy Land trial included “numerous exhibits … establishing both ISNA’s and NAIT’s intimate relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestine Committee, and the defendants in this case.”
NAIT, a subsidiary of ISNA, served as a banking outlet for HLF’s fundraising.
“HLF raised money and supported HAMAS through a bank account it held with ISNA at NAIT…,” prosecutors wrote in 2008, citing financial records admitted into evidence. “ISNA checks deposited into the ISNA/NAIT account for the HLF were often made payable to ‘the Palestinian Mujahadeen,’ the original name for the HAMAS military wing.”
CAIR, meanwhile, is listed among the Palestine Committee’s own entities. CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad is included on a committee roster, and participated in at least one significant Palestine Committee meeting.
Other groups attracted law enforcement scrutiny due to their Muslim Brotherhood ties. The International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT), for example, was born out of a 1977 meeting of Muslim Brotherhood luminaries from the US, Europe and the Middle East, according to Growth of Islamic Thought in North America: Focus on Ism’ail Raji al Faruqi, written by Muhammad Shafiq — the IIIT chair of Interfaith Studies at Nazareth College in Pennsylvania.
A 1988 FBI report, obtained by the Investigative Project through a Freedom of Information Act request, identifies ISNA, NAIT and IIIT officials as “members and leaders of the Ikhwan [Brotherhood].”
The FBI document summarizes an interview with an unnamed source who noted that “all Muslim organizations founded under the direction of the IIIT leadership have been organized … in ‘the Ikhwan model,'” with the aim of recruiting support for an Islamic revolution in the US.
“… [H]istorically members of the MSA and subsequently NAIT, ISNA and the IIIT have been IKHWAN members,” the FBI document says.
In sum, FBI investigations and internal Muslim Brotherhood documents establish that, despite Sethi’s assertion to the contrary, there is ample evidence linking ISNA, NAIT and CAIR to the Muslim Brotherhood.
His dismissal of the explanatory memo is similarly misguided.
The memo’s author, Mohamed Akram, played a prominent role on the Palestine Committee, and was identified in an internal 1991 document as the Central Committee secretary. He sat on the “Central Committee” with Hamas political leader Mousa abu Marzook.
Akram’s name also appears immediately following Marzook’s name on the Palestine Committee’s internal telephone directory. In 1990, Akram reported on projects to the US Muslim Brotherhood’s board of directors, known as the Majlis al-Shura. The Shura councils in various countries all “report directly to the IMB [international Muslim Brotherhood]’s leadership,” a 2010 Department of Justice affidavit filed in a deportation case said.
Memo’s Ambitions Weren’t New
Sethi is not the first to try and discredit the explanatory memo. The Bridge Initiative, an arm of Georgetown University’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, argued a year ago that the document was merely “one man’s utopian vision.”
“If it occupied a central place in a Muslim movement to take over America, one would think his supporters would have taken up his idea and spread it in popular and academic circles. But that’s not so,” the Bridge Initiative Team wrote.
It’s a sweeping assertion. And it’s not true. The Brotherhood has a multi-generational plan for establishing a global Islamic state. Its US-based followers have repeatedly detailed their ideas for doing so.
The 1988 FBI FOIA document describes a “six phase … plan to institute Islamic Revolution in the United States,” which was to be executed in part by the IIIT.
The scheme was rooted in a 1983 book called The Muslim Brotherhood. Like the “Explanatory Memorandum,” the book emphasizes building institutions and Muslim evangelization (dawah) as a prelude for jihad.
“We want to make the whole world bow before the word of Allah,” author Saeed Hawwa wrote. “The command of Allah is: ‘And fight with them till no mischief remains, and the religion is all for Allah.'”
Coincidentally, Akram mentions “six elements” of a general strategic plan adopted by the US Muslim Brotherhood’s Shura council in 1987 in the “Explanatory Memorandum.” The memorandum likewise aims to unify and direct Muslim efforts to present Islam as a “civilization alternative.”
To this day, IIIT publications still denigrate Western civilization in the name of Islam.
The “problems and challenges faced by Western civilization in the contemporary era no longer find solutions on the social and economic levels of Western civilization,” Adel Husein wrote in a 2013 IIIT paper. He suggests that Islam offers the solution: “Great revolutions are usually fueled by a solid doctrine, and Islam, in particular, embodies such a doctrine.”
Officials with other American Islamist groups advocate ideas similar to Akram’s.
Shamim Siddiqi, a past dawah director for the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), has also offered Islam as the solution to America’s problems. (Siddiqi also remains recommended reading for ICNA members.)
In his 1989 book, The Methodology of Dawah, Siddiqi argued that Islam should be made “dominant in the USA” through the work of Muslim organizations. And Muslims should help Americans view Islam as “an alternate way of life” for the problems of the day, Siddiqi wrote in his 1996 book, The Revival. Evangelizing the American intelligentsia will result in a “demand for an Islamic society and state,” he wrote.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s ultimate goal is a global Islamic State, one that includes the United States. FBI agents have interviewed people with direct knowledge of those efforts and seized internal documents of a network engaged in the slow work of realizing that dream.
Those who dismiss the explanatory memorandum as one man’s fantasy either never bothered to look for corroborating evidence, or are hoping to fool the American people.