These days and weeks of bloody struggle in Egypt have implications that go far beyond the country and the region.
The conflict between the Muslim Brotherhood and its opponents will determine whether an Islamic terrorist group will run Egypt.
Forgotten in all the Arab Spring cheerleading is the simple fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist group. And not only is it a terrorist group but it is the single most influential Sunni Islamic terrorist group in the world, spawning entire networks of terrorist organizations; including Al Qaeda.
Egypt holds great resources and great wealth, advanced weapons and even limited nuclear capability. But beyond that it is also where the modern age of terror began, where Western ideas crossbred with the ancient Jihad of Islam to create a new strategic threat.
The Arab Spring, the Islamist Winter and the Military Summer are more than just seasons for Egypt, they are also transformative phases for the country that long stood at the crossroads of terrorism.
The road to America’s modern confrontation with Islamic terrorism began in Egypt. The World Trade Center bombing was spawned by a leader of the Egyptian Islamic Group, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. Mohamed Atta, the key figure in the September 11 attacks, was an Egyptian member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Today the Engineers Syndicate, the Brotherhood front group that Atta was a member of, is holding rallies in support of Morsi.
The Syndicate is one of many front groups that the Muslim Brotherhood uses to recruit new members. That same process takes place at most American colleges through front groups such as the Muslim Students Association; four of whose chapter presidents became high-ranking Al Qaeda members. One of whom co-founded Al Qaeda.
The clash between the Egyptian military and the Muslim Brotherhood is at the heart of the War on Terror. Al Qaeda may often be associated with Saudi Arabia, but its real roots lie closer to Egypt.
Before Ayman al-Zawahiri became the leader of Al Qaeda, he was a member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and headed up the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist organization spun off from the Muslim Brotherhood that eventually merged into Al Qaeda.
Membership in the Muslim Brotherhood is a biographical note that Ayman al-Zawahiri shared with Osama bin Laden. Al Qaeda’s interim Emir after Bin Laden’s death was Saif al-Adel, an Egyptian member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, maintaining the Egyptian identity of the new Al Qaeda leadership.
Zawahiri was described as the “brains” of Al Qaeda while Bin Laden was its purse and its public image. That organizational and interpersonal relationship mimics the greater one between the Muslim Brotherhood and its wealthy Gulf oil backers.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and other oil kingdoms may fund terrorism, protect terrorists and fill out their ranks; they may spread the corrosion of its clerics into the West, but they aren’t its brains.
Al Qaeda after Bin Laden is more “Egyptian” and more “Brotherhood” than ever. It draws its rank and file Jihadists from the usual sources, but its orientation has shifted away from Azzam’s global Jihad against the infidels and toward the Islamic civil wars that Zawahiri had sought to fight all along.
There have been no major Al Qaeda operations launched against America. Instead Al Qaeda has reemerged as a loosely aligned group of franchises fighting to take over Muslim countries.
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