Muslim Brotherhood Convention Comes to Chicago

By Ryan Mauro

For the second time in two months, stars of the Islamist movement in America will come together in the Chicago area, parading as the moderate Muslims we need to guide us. This time, it’s the 11th annual convention of the Muslim American Society and the Islamic Circle of North America on December 21-25.

Both the Muslim American Society (MAS) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) are in a 1991 internal Muslim Brotherhood list of “our organizations and the organizations of our friends.” Imprisoned Brotherhood operative Abdurrahman Alamoudi testified that “everyone knows that MAS is Muslim Brotherhood.” ICNA is closely linked to a Pakistani Islamist group called Jamaat-e-Islami and its 2010 handbook laid out a five-step strategy that culminates in a “united Islamic state, governed by an elected khalifah in accordance with the laws of shari’ah (Islamic law).” A former president and secretary-general of ICNA, Ashrafuzzaman Khan, is accused of committing war crimes by Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal.

The theme of the event is, “Toward a Renaissance: Believe, Act & Engage.” The “Arab Spring associated with the Islamic Awakening in many parts of the Muslim world” is given as an example of this “renaissance.” By “renaissance,” MAS-ICNA means the Islamist ideology. That is the message an expected audience of 9,500 will hear.

The roster of speakers is filled with Islamists, one of which is even called an Islamist in his biography on the convention website. The page for Sheikh Abdelfattah Mourou, a founder of the Tunisian political party Al-Nahda, says he “started his Islamist activities in the 1960s.” He worked alongside Rashid al-Ghannouchi, another one of the party’s founders, who has a very extreme past but is still consistently described as a “moderate” in the Western media.

One major speaker is Tariq Ramadan, who was banned from entering the U.S. in 2004 because of a donation he made to a Hamas front. The ban was lifted in 2010 on orders from Secretary of State Clinton. He is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood and the son of Said Ramadan, who was a major Brotherhood leader in Europe.

Read more at Front Page

Tariq Ramadan and the Islamization of Europe

By Jacob Thomas/June Engdahl:

…Ramadan and other serious Islamic scholars, enjoying the benefits of that heritage, are offering Islam as an alternative to the West’s loss of faith and excess worldliness. Western leaders, in the name of political correctness, denigrate their own honorable traditions — both religious and secular. Sensitivity to its past mistakes lingers even after they have been remedied. The many past and present benefits the West has brought to mankind are ignored. Tolerance has lost its true meaning of allowing for all ideas to get an airing. It has been replaced with a definition of tolerance that allows only for ideas that are currently politically correct. How convenient for Tariq Ramadan’s purposes is such a society so guilt-ridden and infected with political correctness that it often stands wide-eyed and accepting of the alternative, absolutist faith that is Islam.

It is well known that political correctness is pervasive on both sides of the Atlantic in all aspects of society. The liberal intelligentsia in government, academia and the professions has determined what kind of discourse is reasonable and appropriate and what is not. They are becoming ever more self-consciously cautious in all they say about Islam and what they will tolerate others saying about it. The same self-censorious attitude prevails in much of the Western mainline media. Fear of being charged with Islamophobia by the reigning principalities and powers is stronger than the love of truth.

But there are still many who do not abide by the strictures of political correctness. Thanks to the Internet, many in the closed world of the Islamic Ummah can read online in their native Arabic, the works of secular reformist thinkers. Topics of great interest are discussed with utter frankness, unrestrained from the usual governmental controls that suffocate the freedom of the conventional print press.

An article I recently found in Al-Awan[1] which was actually written just over three years ago (26 August 2009) is a good example of positive trends from secular Arab intellectuals. The writer is a member of “The Secular Center for the Study of Islamics,” and his topic was the role of Tariq Ramadan, in “The Islamization of Europe.” He has very perceptive things to say about this very influential shaper of the West’s understanding of Islam. They are still pertinent today.

Before I present his remarks, and make some reflections on them, a little background on Tariq Ramadan is in order for those not yet familiar with his Islamic pedigree.

He is a direct descendent of Hassan al-Banna, whose legacy is unparalleled in the modern history of Islam.[2] Al-Banna may be regarded as the father of Political Islam. Some of his followers over the years engaged in assassinations of prominent Egyptian leaders.

Two years after Colonel Gamal abdul-Nasser toppled the monarchy in July, 1952; the Muslim Brotherhood attempted his assassination as he was delivering a speech in Alexandria, in October, 1954. It was foiled and the organization was banned, and many of its members were given long prison sentences. Others managed to flee to Europe and America, where they continued their subversive activities in the promotion of their radical agenda.

One of those young members of the banned organization, Said Ramadan (pronouncedSa’eed) who found refuge in West Germany, was a son-in-law of Hassan al-Banna. Eventually, Said settled in Switzerland, where his son Tariq was born! The role of Said in the “importation” of radical Islam to Europe after the Second World War is detailed in a fascinating book, “A Mosque in Munich,” by the investigative journalist and author, Ian Johnson. A review of the book, “Will Islamic infiltration of Europe Succeed in Transforming it into the House of Islam?[3] was posted on this website and may be accessed on the link mentioned in the endnote.

After settling in Switzerland, Said Ramadan continued his activities as a shrewd propagandist for Islam. With an evident seriousness of purpose, he named his son Tariq after the North African Muslim leader Tariq ibn Ziyad, who led his armies in the crossing of the narrow strait between Africa and Europe, and began the conquest of Spain in 710 A.D. The strait was named Gibraltar, the westernized term for Jabal Tariq, i.e.Tariq’s Mountain. Thus Islam gained a foothold in southwestern Europe which lasted until 1492!

Tariq Ramadan is certainly unique. Living in the liberal, secular West and dealing with both it and the harsh, exclusive, often irrational dictates of his Islamic faith is a huge challenge. Will he succeed in bringing his forebears’ goals to fruition? He has shown up in cartoons with a forked tongue. What he says in lectures depends on whether his audience is Western or Muslim. Many Western academic institutions, often recipients of largesse from Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern money, promote him on their campuses and on the lecture circuit.

Read more at Islam Watch

 

The Origins of the Muslim Brotherhood “Project”

By: Patrick Poole
FrontPageMagazine July 24, 2008
In May 2006, when I first introduced American readers to the Muslim Brotherhood strategic plan known as “The Project” (including the first complete English translation of such, published here at FrontPage), very little was known about the document beyond what had been reported in the European press and Swiss journalist Sylvain Besson’s book, La conquête de l’Occident: Le projet secret des Islamistes (Paris: Le Seuil, 2005).

We knew at that time from Besson’s research that the document had been recovered from the home of Yousef Nada, the head of the Al-Taqwa Bank in Lugano and the de facto Foreign Envoy for the international Muslim Brotherhood movement, during a raid of his compound in November 2001 investigating Al-Taqwa’s involvement in terrorism financing. The strategic plan has received considerable discussion and analysis in the Western intelligence community ever since. As Besson notes in his book, Nada admitted that the document was genuine but declined to elaborate about the circumstances of its drafting.

A new book, however, sheds fresh light on the background of “The Project” and offers new details on the fundamental realignment of Muslim Brotherhood strategy and doctrine that it represents. The book in question, HAMAS: A History from Within (Northhampton, Mass.: Oliver Branch, 2007), is authored by a well-known international Muslim Brotherhood operative and HAMAS insider, Azzam Tamimi, who heads the Institute of Islamic Political Thought HAMAS front organization in London.

Tamimi outlines the circumstances and dramatic changes inside the Muslim Brotherhood that led to the adoption of “The Project” strategic plan at the historic 1983 Amman conference of international Muslim Brotherhood leaders. Here’s what Tamimi wrote about that event and the formation of “The Project”:

It is now known that Palestinian Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood – ed.] members in the diaspora had also been pressing for military action. Their efforts were assisted by the unification of their organizations at the end of the 1970s, a project that reached its culmination in the historic conference convened secretly in Amman in 1983. Representatives of the Palestinian Ikhwan attended from within Palestine, both from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, as well as from Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the other Gulf countries, Europe, and the United States. The purpose of the meeting was to lay the cornerstone for what became known as the Islamic “global project for Palestine,” a project proposed to the conference by the delegates from Kuwait. At this conference, a unanimous decision was taken to give financial and logistic support to the effort of the Ikhwan in Palestine to wage jihad. (p. 45)

What Tamimi describes in his book is that “The Project” represented several fundamental shifts in both ideology and methodology of the global Muslim Brotherhood leadership. Rather than waiting for the creation of an Islamic state that would undertake the liberation of Palestine, they would militarize the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood organization by reviving the terrorist “secret apparatus”, which would eventually culminate in the announcement of the creation of HAMAS in December 1987 and the unveiling of the HAMAS charter in August 1988.

Thus, the claims of a spontaneous creation of HAMAS at the beginning of the first intifada are entirely myth, as Tamimi claims that military preparations had been long underway and the secret cells made operational years prior to 1987. According to Tamimi’s account, the Palestinian Committee of the Muslim Brotherhood established the Jihaz Filastin (the Palestinian Apparatus) in 1985 to coordinate global activities in support of the new jihadist movement in accordance with “The Project”. Two other organizations were also created by Palestinian Ikhwan leader (and HAMAS founder) Sheikh Ahmed Yasin within the territories along the lines of the : the al-Majahidun al-Filastiniyun (the Palestinian Mujahidin), which would conduct terrorist operations against Israeli military targets; and Majd (glory), an internal security force which would target and kill non-cooperative Palestinians. These would later become active arms within the HAMAS infrastructure.

Two factors contributed to this shift: 1) the failure of outside Arab armies to effect liberation; and 2) the creation of the competing Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The catastrophic military failures of 1967 and 1973 led to Egypt, who bore the brunt of those defeats, signing the Camp David Accords in September 1978 and the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty of 1979. Those developments dashed the hopes of continued outside military assistance and led to the abandonment of what Tamimi describes as the “Messianic fatalism for the emergence of the Islamic state that would lead the jihad to liberate Palestine” (p. 47).

Inside the Palestinian territories, Fathi Al-Shiqaqi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, had launched Al-Tal’I’ Al-Islamiyah (the Islamic vanguards), which later was renamed Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Adopting Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb’s revolutionary methodology, Al-Shiqaqi began recruiting for jihad amongst the members of the Ikhwan (which led to his expulsion) and forged an alliance with Saraya al-Jihad, which was already conducting terrorist operations against Israeli military personnel. Among Saraya al-Jihad’s leadership was future Al-Qaeda founder Abdullah Azzam. This new organization and their terrorist operations quickly gathered the attention and support of the younger Palestinians, and threatened the Ikhwan’s position of leadership inside the territories.

The realignment in ideology and methodology amongst the Muslim Brotherhood global leadership by institutionalizing Qutb’s top-down, revolutionary approach also permanently secured Qutb’s ideological dominance throughout the organization. The crackdown in Egypt on the Brotherhood in the 1950s and 1960s led to the scattering of the membership across the Middle East and into the West, which removed the immediate pressure to moderate their ideology. From these new locations, they could fully embrace Qutb’s vanguardist ideology.

The push of the organization into the West was largely the result of the efforts of Said Ramadan, son-in-law of Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Brotherhood (see Ian Johnson’s recent essay on the establishment of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West). Meanwhile, Ikhwan leaders who had sought refuge in Saudi Arabia forged a theological link with Salafi/Wahhabism that has marked the group ever since. Through these leaders in diaspora came the international organizations (Muslim World League, World Assembly for Muslim Youth), financing (various “charities” and the Al-Taqwa Bank, headed by Yousef Nada, in whose possession “The Project” document was found), and ideology that would not only result in the formation of HAMAS, but would influence and support virtually every Islamic terrorist organization in the world.

For this reason, understanding the historic role of “The Project” as part of the global strategy of the Muslim Brotherhood is essential. Fortunately, Azzam Tamimi’s account fills in several blanks that had gone unreported:

  • Its adoption at the 1983 Amman Conference;
  • Its actual title – the “global project for Palestine”;
  • Its origination by the Kuwaiti Ikhwan leadership (Tamimi also reports that they donated $70,000 in start-up money for the Palestinians to buy arms and to send leaders to Jordan for military training);
  • Its strategic role in defining how the Muslim Brotherhood would focus its efforts and resources to Palestine to make that a key issue in advancing their global Islamic supremacist agenda;
  • Its ideological importance representing the shift in methodology to a more revolutionary approach and the embrace of Sayyid Qutb’s vanguardist vision by the organization globally.

Tamimi’s account provides new details about “The Project”, and his status as a high-ranking international Muslim Brotherhood figure adds considerable weight to authenticate much of what had already been reported, notwithstanding some of his revisionist history elsewhere in his book. An examination of that strategic plan, as well as the many exhibits that came from the Holy Land Foundation terrorism finance trial last summer in Dallas (see my colleague LTC Joseph Myers’ overview of those documents) gives us a glimpse at the Muslim Brotherhood’s global playbook and how far they have come in achieving their long-term goals of infiltrating the West and establishing a global Islamic state ruled by Islamic law. What we find by those measures and from seemingly daily reports is that their relentless coordinated campaign for Islamic global dominance has met with astounding success.


Patrick Poole is a regular contributor to Frontpagemag.com and an anti-terrorism consultant to law enforcement and the military.


Washington’s Secret History with the Muslim Brotherhood

Please note the date of this article. I am posting it to shed light on the fact that the United States foreign policy of courting the Muslim Brotherhood goes back as far as the Eisenhower administration in the 1950′s. The attitude that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” does not help you if that enemy plans to conquer you in the end! This demonstrates a profound ignorance of the ideology of Muslim Brotherhood. Dupes then, dupes now. Even this author, Ian Johnson, seems to think the Muslim Brotherhood can be trusted to be moderate! Why is nobody taking the Muslim Brotherhood Memorandum of Understanding or The Project seriously?

By Ian Johnson Feb. 5, 2011 at NYR blog:

As US-backed strongmen around North Africa and the Middle East are being toppled or shaken by popular protests, Washington is grappling with a crucial foreign-policy issue: how to deal with the powerful but opaque Muslim Brotherhood. In Egypt, the Brotherhood has taken an increasingly forceful part in the protests, issuing a statement Thursday calling for Mubarak’s immediate resignation. And though it is far from clear what role the Brotherhood would have should Mubarak step down, the Egyptian president has been claiming it will take over. In any case, the movement is likely to be a major player in any transitional government.

Journalists and pundits are already weighing in with advice on the strengths and dangers of this 83-year-old Islamist movement, whose various national branches are the most potent opposition force in virtually all of these countries. Some wonder how the Brotherhood will treat Israel, or if it really has renounced violence. Most—including the Obama administration —seem to think that it is a movement the West can do business with, even if the White House denies formal contacts.

If this discussion evokes a sense of déjà vu, this is because over the past sixty years we have had it many times before, with almost identical outcomes. Since the 1950s, the United States has secretly struck up alliances with the Brotherhood or its offshoots on issues as diverse as fighting communism and calming tensions among European Muslims. And if we look to history, we can see a familiar pattern: each time, US leaders have decided that the Brotherhood could be useful and tried to bend it to America’s goals, and each time, maybe not surprisingly, the only party that clearly has benefited has been the Brotherhood.

How can Americans be unaware of this history? Credit a mixture of wishful thinking and a national obsession with secrecy, which has shrouded the US government’s extensive dealings with the Brotherhood.

Consider President Eisenhower. In 1953, the year before the Brotherhood was outlawed by Nasser, a covert US propaganda program headed by the US Information Agency brought over three dozen Islamic scholars and civic leaders mostly from Muslim countries for what officially was an academic conference at Princeton University. The real reason behind the meeting was an effort to impress the visitors with America’s spiritual and moral strength, since it was thought that they could influence Muslims’ popular opinion better than their ossified rulers. The ultimate goal was to promote an anti-Communist agenda in these newly independent countries, many of which had Muslim majorities.

One of the leaders, according to Eisenhower’s appointment book, was “The Honorable Saeed Ramahdan, Delegate of the Muslim Brothers.”* The person in question (in more standard romanization, Said Ramadan), was the son-in-law of the Brotherhood’s founder and at the time widely described as the group’s “foreign minister.” (He was also the father of the controversial Swiss scholar of Islam, Tariq Ramadan.)

Eisenhower officials knew what they were doing. In the battle against communism, they figured that religion was a force that US could make use of—the Soviet Union was atheist, while the United States supported religious freedom. Central Intelligence Agency analyses of Said Ramadan were quite blunt, calling him a “Phalangist” and a “fascist interested in the grouping of individuals for power.” But the White House went ahead and invited him anyway.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Oval Office with a group of Muslim delegates, 1953. Said Ramadan is second from the right.

By the end of the decade, the CIA was overtly backing Ramadan. While it’s too simple to call him a US agent, in the 1950s and 1960s the United States supported him as he took over a mosque in Munich, kicking out local Muslims to build what would become one of the Brotherhood’s most important centers—a refuge for the beleaguered group during its decades in the wilderness. In the end, the US didn’t reap much for its efforts, as Ramadan was more interested in spreading his Islamist agenda than fighting communism. In later years, he supported the Iranian revolution and likely aided the flight of a pro-Teheran activist who murdered one of the Shah’s diplomats in Washington.

Cooperation ebbed and flowed. During the Vietnam War, US attention was focused elsewhere but with the start of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, interest in cultivating Islamists picked up again. That period of backing the mujahedeen— some of whom morphed into al-Qaeda—is well-known, but Washington continued to flirt with Islamists, and especially the Brotherhood.

In the years after the September 11 attacks, the United States initially went after the Brotherhood, declaring many of its key members to be backers of terrorism. But by Bush’s second term, the US was losing two wars in the Muslim world and facing hostile Muslim minorities in Germany, France, and other European countries, where the Brotherhood had established an influential presence. The US quietly changed its position.

The Bush administration devised a strategy to establish close relations with Muslim groups in Europe that were ideologically close to the Brotherhood, figuring that it could be an interlocutor in dealing with more radical groups, such as the home-grown extremists in Paris, London and Hamburg. And, as in the 1950s, government officials wanted to project an image to the Muslim world that Washington was close to western-based Islamists. So starting in 2005, the State Department launched an effort to woo the Brotherhood. In 2006, for example, it organized a conference in Brussels between these European Muslim Brothers and American Muslims, such as the Islamic Society of North America, who are considered close to the Brotherhood. All of this was backed by CIA analyses, with one from 2006 saying the Brotherhood featured “impressive internal dynamism, organization, and media savvy.” Despite the concerns of western allies that supporting the Brotherhood in Europe was too risky, the CIA pushed for cooperation. As for the Obama administration, it carried over some of the people on the Bush team who had helped devise this strategy.

Why the enduring interest in the Brotherhood? Since its founding in 1928 by the Egyptian schoolteacher and imam Hassan al-Banna, the Brotherhood has managed to voice the aspirations of the Muslim world’s downtrodden and often confused middle class. It explained their backwardness in an interesting mixture of fundamentalism and fascism (or reactionary politics and xenophobia): today’s Muslims aren’t good enough Muslims and must return to the true spirit of the Koran. Foreigners, especially Jews, are part of a vast conspiracy to oppress Muslims. This message was—and still is—delivered through a modern, political party-like structure, that includes women’s groups, youth clubs, publications and electronic media, and, at times, paramilitary wings. It has also given birth to many of the more violent strains of radical Islamism, from Hamas to al-Qaeda, although many of such groups now find the Brotherhood too conventional. Little wonder that the Brotherhood, for all its troubling aspects, is interesting to western policy makers eager to gain influence in this strategic part of the world.

But the Brotherhood has been a tricky partner. In countries where it aspires to join the political mainstream, it renounces the use of violence locally. Hence the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt says it no longer seeks to overthrow the regime violently—although its members there think nothing of calling for Israel’s destruction. In Egypt, the Brotherhood also says it wants religious courts to enforce shariah, but at times has also said that secular courts could have final say. This isn’t to suggest that its moderation is just for show, but it’s fair to say that the Brotherhood has only partially embraced the values of democracy and pluralism.

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qardawi

The group’s most powerful cleric, the Qatar-based Youssef Qaradawi, epitomizes this bifurcated worldview. He says women should be allowed to work and that in some countries, Muslims may hold mortgages (which are based on interest, a taboo for fundamentalists). But Qaradawi advocates the stoning of homosexuals and the murder of Israeli children—because they will grow up and could serve as soldiers.

Qaradawi is hardly an outlier. In past years, he has often been mentioned as a candidate to be the Egyptian branch’s top leader. He is very likely the most influential cleric in the Muslim world—on Friday, for example, thousands of Egyptian protesters in Tahrir Square listened to a broadcast of his sermon. He has also declared those demonstrators who have died defying the government to be martyrs.

That is an indication of the Brotherhood’s growing influence in the wave of protests around the region. In Egypt, the Brotherhood, after a slow start, has become a key player in the anti-government coalition; on Thursday, the new vice president, Omar Suleiman, invited the Brotherhood for talks. In Jordan, where the group is legal, King Abdullah met with the Brotherhood for the first time in a decade. And in Tunis, the Islamist opposition leader Rachid Ghanouchi, who has been a pillar of the Brotherhood’s European network, recently returned home from his London exile.

All of this points to the biggest difference between then and now. Half a century ago, the West chose to make use of the Brotherhood for short-term tactical gain, later backing many of the authoritarian governments that were also trying to wipe out the group. Now, with those governments tottering, the West has little choice; after decades of oppression, it is the Brotherhood, with its mixture of age-old fundamentalism and modern political methods, that is left standing.

* The appointment book and details of Ramadan’s visit are in the Eisenhower presidential archives in Abilene, Kansas. See my book A Mosque in Munich, pp. 116-119, for details of the visit. On the use of the Brotherhood post-9/11, see pp 222-228.

See also by Ian Johnson: