BREAKING: Major Confrontation Between Saudi, Egypt, UAE Against Qatar Over Terror Support

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, June 4, 2017:

Several countries took major moves against Qatar today over its support for terror. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain severed diplomatic ties, setting off a major crisis in the Middle East.

The move also cuts Qatar’s transit rights with these countries:

The BBC reports:

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of destabilising the region.

The countries say Qatar is supporting terrorist groups including the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Saudi state news agency SPA said Riyadh had closed its borders, severing land, sea and air contact.

It cited officials as saying it was to “protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism”.

Egypt has also closed its airspace and ports for all Qatari transportation, the foreign ministry said.

The United Arab Emirates has given Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave the country. Abu Dhabi accuses Doha of “supporting, funding and embracing terrorism, extremism and sectarian organisations,” state news agency WAM said.

Bahrain’s state news agency said the country was cutting ties with Qatar over “shaking the security and stability of Bahrain and meddling in its affairs”.

Kuwait and Oman are sitting this one out for the moment:

Which leaves Iran as Qatar’s main lifeline:

And with transit rights cut off, they’re going to need one:

Of course, Qatar’s support for terrorism is no secret in the Middle East:

And the behind-the-scenes activity may have been behind reports over the weekend regarding Qatar’s sponsorship of Hamas:

It remains to be seen if Qatar will invoke its joint defense agreement with Iran in response to these measures.

Apparently it was Qatar’s close ties with Iran and siding with the Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen that contributed to this crisis.

Read more

Also see:

Muslim Brotherhood Incites More Terror Attacks Targeting Egypt’s Coptic Christians

Women cry during the funeral for those killed in a Palm Sunday church attack in Alexandria Egypt, at the Mar Amina church, Monday, April 10, 2017. Egyptian Christians were burying their dead on Monday, a day after Islamic State suicide bombers killed at least 45 people in coordinated attacks targeting Palm Sunday services in two cities. Women wailed as caskets marked with the word “martyr” were brought into the Mar Amina church in the coastal city of Alexandria, the footage broadcast on several Egyptian channels. (AP Photo/Samer Abdallah)

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, May 29, 2017:

This past Friday I reported here at PJ Media on the attack just hours before the beginning of Ramadan on Coptic Christian pilgrims in Upper Egypt who were on their way to pray at a remote monastery in the desert.

Three vehicles full of gunmen opened fire on a bus with mostly women and children, killing 28. Only three children survived the attack.

This most recent attack, claimed Saturday by the Islamic State, comes amidst a rising tide of anti-Coptic incitement by leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood here and abroad.

Over the weekend Eric Trager of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy published an article at Foreign Policy identifying some of the recent examples of Muslim Brotherhood incitement and encouragement of terrorism targeting Coptic Christians.

Among the examples Trager discovered after Friday’s attack on Coptic pilgrims was a Facebook post by Muslim Brotherhood youth leader Ahmed El-Moghir:

That comment has caught the attention of several Middle East media outlets. Here in the U.S., not so much.

Read more

Ramadan begins with ambush slaughter of Egyptian Christians

NordNordWest | Wikimedia Commons

Conservative Review, by Jordan Schachtel, May 26, 2017:

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began Friday with the attack of unidentified militants on a bus carrying Egyptian Coptic Christians. At least twenty-six people were killed and many others wounded in the terror attack.

Passengers were en route to St. Samuel the Confessor, a monastery in the city of Minya (located roughly 150 miles south of Cairo), when the gunmen ambushed the bus, according to Egypt’s Al-Masriya. Three SUVs reportedly pulled alongside the bus and sprayed ammunition into the bus. CNN reports that some fifty ambulances are on the scene to deal with the carnage. Egypt’s Al-Ahram reports that there were as many as 40 children on the bus. Church officials fear the death toll is even higher than reported, saying some 35 Copts were killed in the ambush.

Photos of the deadly assault’s aftermath have emerged on social media.

Just three days ago, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo warned about a potential terror threat.

As of now, no group has taken immediate credit for the killings. The murderers reportedly wore masks and were dressed in military uniforms. However, the Islamic State has repeatedly attacked Copts in past months.

In April, ISIS jihadis carried out two major suicide bombings on Coptic churches in Alexandria and Tanta, Egypt, leaving 46 dead.

In December, ISIS terrorists targeted Cairo’s St. Mark’s Cathedral, killing 29 and injuring 49 more.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has pledged to fiercely combat radical Islam, has called his security cabinet into an emergency meeting, state media reports.

Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of the Egyptian population. Minya province, where the attack occurred, has the highest concentration of Copts throughout Egypt. Though their religion and their entry into Egypt predate Islam, Copts are brutally persecuted by the nation’s Islamist groups, which include the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic State, among others.

Every year, there is a noticeable increase in the number of Islamic terror attacks during the month of Ramadan, when practicing Muslims fast every day from morning to sunset. Ramadan commemorates the revelation of the Quran to Muhammad, according to the religion. Groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda use Ramadan to call for acts of terrorism against Westerners, Jews and Christians, and other non-Islamic groups

Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.

***

***

Also see:

Former Egyptian Terrorism Official Exposes the Muslim Brotherhood’s Terror Networks (Part 1)

Supporters of the ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi chant slogans and raise their hands with a four-fingered anti-government gesture that commemorates the deadly crushing by police of a 2013 Islamist protest camp, in the Faysal district of Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 25, 2016. The Muslim Brotherhood is the only group who have called on its supporters to take to the streets this Monday, the anniversary of the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Poster reads, “Military rule is a shame and a betrayal.” (AP Photo/Hesham Elkhoshny)

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, May 15, 2017:

On my recent trip to Egypt, I met with Col. Khaled Okasha (ret), one of Egypt’s top former counter-terrorism officials, to discuss the developing security situation and to address a question that has received a lot of international media attention:

Is the Muslim Brotherhood directly engaged in terrorism?

Okasha, the director of the National Center for Security Studies, has literally written the books on the development of militant networks in Egypt. He graciously met with me for five hours upon my arrival in Cairo to discuss these issues.

He later sat down for a three-hour, on-the-record interview on the Muslim Brotherhood’s terror networks, the transcript of which is presented below.

The night previous to our second meeting, one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s terrorist groups, Hassm, killed three policemen at a checkpoint in Nasr City:

We met in between two of his international media interviews on the Nasr City incident, and we had limited time as he had a scheduled BBC appearance later that day.

In the first part of this three-part interview, Col. Okasha talks about:

  • The Muslim Brotherhood’s long-time double game with terrorism
  • The crisis caused by Egypt’s rejection of Muslim Brotherhood rule and the massive June 30, 2013 Tamarod protests
  • The Muslim Brotherhood’s attempt to provoke a sectarian war by launching attacks on Egypt’s Coptic Christian community
  • And the development of Muslim Brotherhood’s terror networks under Guidance Bureau leader Mohamed Kamal and the two-front war targeting Egypt’s military and police forces

I’ve previously reported here at PJ Media on the Muslim Brotherhood attacks on churches in Upper Egypt, and the killing of Mohamed Kamal last October:

In Parts 2 and 3 of this interview with Col. Okasha, we will discuss Mohamed Kamal’s terror networks in depth, and also the Muslim Brotherhood’s role in setting up Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which we know today as the Islamic State’s Sinai affiliate.

*****

Thank you, Mr. Okasha, for meeting with us again today. Could you briefly describe your professional career?

I started beginning in 1987 as special forces in the counter-terrorism unit active around Cairo until the early 1990s in the suburbs of Cairo, including Imbabah, Ain Shams, and Haram where the Gamaa Islamiya were very active back then.

You mentioned earlier about Gamaa Islamiya in the 1990s. Could you talk about your role when you were stationed in Upper Egypt, and what your later role was in Sinai?

After I served in Cairo there, a movement from the Gamaa Islamiya in Upper Egypt, specifically in Assiut and Minya, they were working on two perspectives. One of them was to wage a political war on the regime of Egypt, and the other was to recruit more jihadis to join the Afghanistan war. And that ended with the Luxor massacre in 1997, where I was stationed.

And Sinai?

I served in Sinai from 2008 until 2012, and I quit about six months after Morsi took office. Since then I’ve dedicated my time to research and to publish a lot of material on the jihadis and the militant Islamists.

In the U.S. we hear repeatedly from the media that the Muslim Brotherhood renounced violence in the 1970s. Is that really the case?

Back at the time, the Brotherhood had a strategy to play a double game so that they could earn a place in the Arabic community all over the region before they started their armed militias.

That’s why at the beginning the Brotherhood began approaching the syndicates and political parties creating coalitions to push new faces into the political community and to play the card that they are only trying to be a political partner in ruling the country.

But in terms of their overall strategy, violence still remained a component to their activity?

Violence back then was based on the strategy of using other groups — other terrorist groups — to conduct their operations on their behalf.

Especially at this time was the peak of the Arab-Afghan jihadi and mujahideen network. That’s why they could use others to conduct their business.

At the same point, they were introducing themselves to the political and intelligence communities in the Arab world that they are the moderate face of Islamists, and they offered to work with them because they’re the peaceful face. They used the same tactic with the West, especially in the U.S., UK, and Germany, of course.

When we spoke the other day, you mentioned that after the June 30 protests and Morsi’s removal on July 3, and then the clearing of the Rabaa and Nahda protest sites, those events caused a crisis within the Brotherhood. Could you explain that?

At the beginning of the Arab Spring the Brotherhood were working to gain their dominance in the countries that were infected by the Arab Spring. They succeeded in some countries, they failed in others, and they’re suffering in some countries. In Egypt and Tunisia they politically succeeded in securing the Parliament and then the presidential elections.

Egypt is very special when it comes to the Brotherhood, because the Supreme Guide comes from Egypt, and according to their own constitution the Supreme Guide is the highest spiritual guidance for the Brotherhood all over the world. So they worked hard to maintain their power grabs on the establishments in Egypt.

When they were attacked by the people themselves and felt threatened, they were very afraid to lose all that they had been working on over the last two years to secure their power grab. So it was a real disaster for them because Egypt is the place where they started and the place where they had their headquarters.

And as we discussed the other day, the Brotherhood established two different fronts in response to Morsi’s removal that was a divided effort between Upper Egypt and Sinai. Could you start off discussing the role of Mohamed Kamal, who was a senior Muslim Brotherhood leader, and his role in establishing the terror networks and cells operating in Upper Egypt?

As a matter of fact Mohamed Kamal was one of the youngest members of the Guidance Bureau, and he originally came from Assiut. He was responsible for memberships, and running the Brotherhood all over the governorates of Egypt. He had very wide connections with the Brotherhood in Assiut, and during the time that the Brotherhood was in power politically he was very careful not to establish any terror cells so that he wouldn’t attract the attention of the security apparatus in Egypt.

So at that time, the Brotherhood worked hard to present themselves to the Egyptian establishment that they are working politically to advance their position with the Gamaa Islamiya and the remnants of Islamic Jihad. They allowed them to establish their own political parties, and these political parties were used as a cover for the militants. At that time the Brotherhood would use the Gamaa and Jihad to conduct their militant operations and keep their hands clean of any terror attacks that were taking place at the time because they were in power politically.

How did Mohamed Kamal structure his terror cells, and what were some of the groups that were under his control?

The terror cells that are blatantly Brotherhood were formed after June 30 by Mohamed Kamal. It was a mix between the Gamaa Islamiya youth that were ready and trained to deal with a crisis like what happened on June 30 for the Islamists, and the other group of people he used were the Muslim Brotherhood youth. Some of those were at Rabaa and Nahda, while others were elsewhere, but they were shocked that they were ejected. They were not equipped, or they couldn’t form any sort of reaction to what happened, so he made his cells between those components, the Gamaa Islamiya and the Brotherhood youth.

He used them throughout 2013 and 2014, and the remnants of them are still active on the streets. Some of the groups were called Ajnad Misr, Helwan militias, Civil Resistance, another group called the Molotov Movement, another called Walaa, and then lately Hassm and Liwa al-Thawra.

Another very important component was the Hazemoon group, led by Hazem Salah Abu-Ismails, who was actually one of those political allies of the Brotherhood. He had a trained and armed group within his political group. The alliance between him and the Brotherhood started from 2011, and he was entrusted with sending the mujahedeen youth to Syria. So after June 30 Kamal used the Hazemoon group with the other two components to train and equip the Brotherhood youth who were not very familiar with the militant activity. That’s why in a matter of weeks you had active and operating terror cells all over Egypt. They were very focused on Cairo, Giza, and Alexandria.

Two of the other groups we heard a lot about during this period of time was Revolutionary Punishment and Popular Resistance. Were they also part of Mohamed Kamal’s network?

Yes, Popular Resistance is the Civil Resistance I mentioned earlier. Revolutionary Punishment was of course part of the groups I just listed, I just forgot to mention it, but it’s the same MO, it’s the same formation, it’s the same activity, and of course they both belong to the cells that Mohamed Kamal established.

What kinds of activities were these cells involved in?

They had two main targets when they started: security forces and security personnel, and also the armed forces that were stationed to protect public buildings. They conducted more than 25 to 30 successful operations that resulted in casualties, and they conducted more than 50 operations that had no casualties. The other main target was any public service establishment, like power stations, communications towers, railways, and subways. The point was to keep the pressure on, and to let the people know that they will always be under terror attacks, and these operations would go on at least weekly to keep the people in a constant panic mode.

One of the things we saw after August 14, when Rabaa and Nahda were cleared, were the attacks on the churches, particularly in Upper Egypt. What exactly was the strategy for the Brotherhood in the attacks on the churches?

After June 30 the larger strategy of the Muslim Brotherhood was composed of three main points.  Number one was Sinai, and that entails all the terror cells in Sinai, and their main target was to control the cities like Al-Arish and Rafah and establish an Islamic emirate on the borders with Gaza. The second strategy was creating many terrorist cells all over Egypt. That plan failed so they decided to focus on the central cities like Giza and Cairo as I said before. And number three they targeted the Christians, their buildings and business in order to start a sectarian war in Upper Egypt to put the new regime after June 30 in the midst of a sectarian war in Egypt.

But it doesn’t appear that strategy worked?

They were betting that Christians would fight back with arms, and that is what they were hoping would take place to destabilize the new government. But the pope went on television and told the Christians and June 30 supporters to not defend the churches the Brotherhood was attacking, saying that the churches could be rebuilt but not human lives.

***

PART TWO

PART THREE

Why the MB is Still Not Designated as Terrorists in the US

Understanding the Threat, by John Guandolo, May 14, 2017:

It is no oversight the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood is not yet designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).  In fact, the issue has now been pushed off the table by the Trump administration as the result of a significantly successful information operation perpetrated by the International Muslim Brotherhood continually supported by media outlets.

It should be noted that the Senate bill to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) provides a significant amount of information revealing this designation is a reasonable and necessary action to protect the citizens of the United States and rid this nation of a cancer that continues to grow daily.

Read the MB Designation Bill HERE.

In the February 23, 2017 edition of the Egypt International (www.almasryalyoum.com), the International Muslim Brotherhood’s Foreign Relations Officer, Mohamed Sudan, revealed the IMB coordinated with a number of nations and entities in a massive information operation (“Propaganda campaign”) to keep the new Trump administration from designating the U.S. MB a terrorist organization.

The article states:

“The international Muslim Brotherhood succeeded in making several contacts with government officials and US Congress to convince them that the Brotherhood is not a terrorist organization and will not get involved in the commission of terrorist acts…”

“People close to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped the group access media companies and contracting, saying that those companies had a role in the completion of communications between the international Muslim Brotherhood and members of Congress, according to the terms of the contract entered into between the parties.”

In the article, the IMB’s Secretary General, Ibrahim Munir, thanked Turkey and Qatar for their assistance in this project.  The article went on to say:

“Brotherhood sources confirmed the group contracted with an American advertising company last month to oppose the bill submitted to Congress which aims to classify the MB as a terrorist organization. The sources added the international organization will pay $5 million for corporate propaganda and the publication of articles stating the group rejects terrorist acts to correct its image in the American media.”

Remembering this article was published in Egypt on February 23, 2017 about events that already took place, what was the outcome of this hostile information campaign?

On January 26, 2017, the Wall Street Journal ran a threatening article entitled “Blacklisting the Muslim Brotherhood Carries Risks.”  The article made it clear:  if the Muslim Brotherhood is designated a terrorist organization, “it could trigger unexpected consequences.”  This article was meant to strike fear into the hearts of Islam’s enemies.

On February 22, 2017, the New York Times published an article entitled “I am a Muslim Brother, not a Terrorist,” written by Gehad El-Haddad, the spokesman for the International Muslim Brotherhood who now sits in an Egyptian prison.  This was a propaganda piece that supported the idea the Muslim Brotherhood is not a terrorist organization.

It is not unusual for the New York Times to defend enemies of the United States.

This is the same New York Times, by the way, which identified Imam Hesham Shashaa – operating in Germany – as a moderate. Yet, last week Shashaa was arrested by the Germans for supporting ISIS. Weird.  Just like when the New York Times called Anwar al Awlaki a moderate, right before the U.S. drone striked him and killed Awlaki for being the Al Qaeda leader in Yemen, among other things.

What is interesting about Gehad El-Haddad is that while he was the spokesman for the International Muslim Brotherhood, he was also the spokesman for Egyptian Presidential candidate Morsi – the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate.

Oddly enough, while Gehad El-Heddad was the spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate for President of Egypt, he was on the William J. Clinton Foundation where he served from August 2007 to August 2012.

To summarize, the leadership of the International Muslim Brotherhood publicly stated they have an operation underway to influence the U.S. government, the media, and the American public not to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.  The MB reports Hillary Clinton provided support for this operation, and a key node in the operation is the spokesman for the IMB who also spent five (5) years working with the Clinton Foundation.

Treason anyone?

And, at the end of the day, the Trump administration has taken this issue off the table, thereby surrendering to our enemy and giving them a significant victory.

This is why UTT continues to say, this war must and will be won at the local level.

***

Egyptian lawmakers reject attacks on Al Azhar

Al Azhar is engaged in reform efforts aimed at combating the spread of extremist ideology

Gulf News, by Ramadan Al Sherbini, May 11, 2017:

Cairo: A group of Egyptian lawmakers this week visited grand imam of Al Azhar Shaikh Ahmad Al Tayyeb in a sign of solidarity with the leader of the venerable seat of Islamic learning against increasing criticism from secularists.

The lawmakers significantly labelled their visit “Al Azhar and its imam are a red line”.

“The visit emphasises unqualified support for the holy Al Azhar and the grand imam for their efforts in confronting the extremist and terrorist groups,” MP Ahmad Idriss, a member of the visiting delegation, said following Tuesday’s visit.

A press statement from Al Azhar, meanwhile, said the visiting legislators expressed “rejection of any affront to the exalted institution and its symbols”.

In the wake of suicide attacks at two churches in Egypt that killed 46 people last month, Al Azhar has been harshly criticised in pro-government media for teaching curriculum allegedly promoting radicalism and sectarianism.

The detractors also accused Al Azhar of failing to respond to repeated calls by President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi to update the religious discourse in order to help fight violent militancy.

“There is a group inside Al Azhar that is loyal to the [now-banned] Muslim Brotherhood and its ideology,” Khalid Montasser, a well-known secular writer, said.

“Why is this group allowed to continue to control Al Azhar until now? The Shaikh of Al Azhar has to declare his position about whether he is on the side of the civil state or the Brotherhood group controlling Al Azhar,” added Montasser in a recent TV interview.

Al Azhar has repeatedly denied having any sympathisers for the Brotherhood that was outlawed in Egypt months after the army’s 2013 overthrow of Islamist president Mohammad Mursi.

Shaikh Al Tayyeb, an eminent moderate Islamic scholar, has in a recent appearance on Egyptian state television condemned criticism of his institution as a “systematic campaign” aimed at wrecking “original” centres in the Islamic nation, mainly Al Azhar.

The campaign against Al Azhar also came after the Council of Senior Scholars, an affiliate of the 1,000-year-old institution, rejected a suggestion by Al Sissi for legislation to ban verbal divorce by Muslim men of their wives amid high rates of divorce in the Muslim-majority country.

The council said verbal divorce has been a tradition since the days of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

There has been no official comment on the council’s snub.

However, Mohammad Abu Hamed, a pro-government parliamentarian, has disclosed a draft law that would put a cap on the tenure of Al Azhar head and make his unseating possible.

Currently, Al Azhar Shaikh is elected by the 50-member Council of Senior Scholars with no limit on the terms he can serve.

Abu Hamed suggests in his draft that Al Azhar head holds the post for eight years with a maximum second term. The lawmaker also proposes separating faculties teaching non-religious subjects from Al Azhar and instead putting them under secular academic institutions in the country.

Under a 1961 law, Al Azhar has expanded its education role and set up faculties majoring in medicine, science and pharmacology.

Abu Hamed has defended his draft against increasing opposition inside the parliament.

“The draft bill is aimed at developing Al Azhar and infusing fresh blood into it,” he said in press remarks. “There should be a set of governance rules regulating the election of Al Azhar Shaikh and the relation between Al Azhar Mosque and Al Azhar University.”

He vowed to go ahead with presenting the draft, saying that he has secured the quota required for putting it up for parliamentary debate.

The assembly has set no date for the debate.

Al Sissi, a Muslim, has repeatedly called Al Azhar a “bastion of moderate Islam” and urged it to lead efforts for religious reform.

Late last month, Al Azhar hosted an international conference addressed by Pope Francis of the Vatican in a sign of warming ties between the two institutions.

‘The Real Bomb Is in Islam’s Books’

Front Page Magazine, by Raymond Ibrahim, May 3, 2017:

During his visit to Egypt last week, “Pope Francis visited al-Azhar University, a globally respected institution for Sunni Islamic learning,” and “met with Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the imam of the government-run Al-Azhar mosque and an Islamic philosophy professor.”  This has been reported by several media and with much fanfare.

The problem is that Sheikh Tayeb, once voted “world’s most influential Muslim,” and Al Azhar, the important madrassa he heads, are part of the problem, not the solution.  Tayeb is a  renowned master of exhibiting one face to fellow Muslims in Egypt—one that supports the death penalty for “apostates,” calls for the totality of Sharia-rule, refuses to denounce ISIS of being un-Islamic, denounces all art as immoral, and rejects the very concept of reforming Islam—and another face to non-Muslims.

Consider, for instance, the words of Islam al-Behery—a popular Egyptian Muslim reformer who frequently runs afoul of Islamists in Egypt who accuse him of blasphemy and apostasy from Islam.  The day after the suicide bombings of two Coptic Christian churches in Egypt, the Muslim scholar was interviewed by phone on a popular Egyptian television program (Amr Adib’s kul youm, or “Every Day”).  He spent most of his time on the air blasting Al Azhar and Ahmed al-Tayeb—at one point going so far as to say that “70-80 percent of all terror in the last 5 years is a product of Al Azhar.”

The reformer knows what he speaks of; in 2015, al- Behery’s televised calls to reform Islam so irked Al Azhar that the venerable Islamic institution accused him of “blaspheming” against Islam, which led to his imprisonment.

Now Behery says that, ever since President Sisi implored Al Azhar to make reforms to how Islam is being taught in Egypt three years ago, the authoritative madrassa “has not reformed a single thing,” only offered words.  “If they were sincere about one thing, they would have protected hundreds, indeed thousands of lives from being killed in just Egypt alone, said al-Behery.

By way of examples, the scholar of Islam pointed out that Al Azhar still uses books in its curriculum which teach things like “whoever kills an infidel, his blood is safeguarded, for the blood of an infidel and believer [Muslim] are not equal.”  Similarly, he pointed to how Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb claims that ISIS members are not infidels, only deluded Muslims; but those whom they kill—such as the bombed Christians—are infidels, the worst label in Islam’s lexicon.

Debating Behery was an Al Azhar spokesman who naturally rejected the reformer’s accusations against the Islamic madrassa, adding that the source of problems in Egypt is not the medieval institution, but rather “new” ideas that came to Egypt from 20th century “radicals” like Hasan al-Bana and Sayyid Qutb, founding leaders/ideologues of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Behery’s response was refreshing; those many Western analysts who follow the same line of thinking—that “radicalism” only came after thinkers like Bana, Qutb, Mawdudi (in Pakistan) or Wahhab (in Arabia) came on the scene—would do well to listen.  After saying that “blaming radicalism on these men is very delusional,” the reformer correctly added:

The man who kills himself [Islamic suicide bomber] today doesn’t kill himself because of the words of Hasan al-Bana or Sayyid al-Qutb, or anyone else.  He kills himself because of what the consensus of the ulema, and the four schools of jurisprudence, have all agreed to.  Hasan al-Bana did not create these ideas [of jihad against infidels and apostates, destroying churches, etc.]; they’ve been around for many, many centuries….   I am talking about Islam [now], not how it is being taught in schools.

By way of example, Behery said if anyone today walks into any Egyptian mosque or bookstore and ask for a book that contains the rulings of the four schools of jurisprudence, “everything that is happening today will be found in them; killing the people of the book [Christians and Jews] is obligatory.  Let’s not start kidding each other and blaming such thoughts on Hassan al-Bana!”  Moreover, Behery said:

There is a short distance between what is written in all these old books and what happened yesterday [Coptic church bombings]—the real bomb is in the books, which repeatedly call the People of the Book “infidels,” which teach that the whole world is infidel…  Hassan al-Bana and Sayyid al-Qutb are not the source of the terror, rather they are followers of these books.  Spare me with the term Qutbism which has caused the nation to suffer terrorism for 50 years.

Behery does not blame Al Azhar for the existence of these books; rather he, like many reformers, wants the Islamic institution to break tradition, denounce the rulings of the four schools of law as the products of fallible mortals, and reform them in ways compatible to the modern world.  He said that, whereas Egypt’s former grand imam, Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi (d. 2010), had “without even being asked removed all the old books and placed just one introductory book, when al-Tayeb [who days ago embraced Pope Francis] came, he got rid of that book and brought all the old books back, which are full of slaughter and bloodshed.”

In short, Behery called on the Egyptian government—and here the Vatican would do well to listen—not to rely on Al Azhar to make any reforms, since if anything it has taken Egypt backwards.

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a CBN News contributor. He is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007).