Al Qaeda often agitated for Omar Abdel Rahman’s release from US prison

blind-sheikhLONG WAR JOURNAL, BY THOMAS JOSCELYN, | February 19, 2017:

News broke yesterday that Omar Abdel Rahman, an Egyptian jihadi ideologue, died in a US prison. Within hours of the reports, al Qaeda re-released a copy of Rahman’s last “will,” in which Rahman asked his “brothers” to exact “revenge” for his death.

The US District Court for the Southern District of New York convicted Rahman (seen on the right) on terror-related charges in 1995 and he was subsequently sentenced to life in prison. Rahman was convicted for his role in a conspiracy to launch terror attacks against several New York City landmarks, including the George Washington Bridge, the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, the FBI’s main office in Manhattan, and the United Nations building. Investigators also found that he was involved with the jihadists responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

The ninth issue of al Qaeda’s Al-Nafir newsletter, which was released online after news of Rahman’s death spread, carried a version of Rahman’s “Will to the Islamic Ummah.” In the text, Rahman complained of the treatment he was allegedly subjected to in an American prison, writing that the US is purposefully “eliminating the scholars who speak the truth.” (This is a common al Qaeda talking point, as the jihadis frequently accuse the Americans of targeting their “scholars.”)

Rahman claimed that the Americans will “eventually kill me,” either through poisoning, or by giving him spoiled medicine, or with an overdose of drugs. Rahman warned that the Americans will lie about the causes of his death, so the jihadis shouldn’t believe them.

Rahman, who was 78, died of natural causes, according to American officials.

His “will” has been a piece of jihadi propaganda since the 1990s.

“My brothers, if they [the Americans] kill me, and they eventually will do so, then perform my funeral and give my corpse to my family,” Rahman wrote, according to a translation of Al-Nafir obtained by FDD’s Long War Journal. “Do not forget my blood and do not squander it, but exact a severe and fierce revenge on them for me.” Rahman called on others to remember that he was their “brother” and that he “spoke the truth” in the cause of Allah.

Al-Nafir’s version is similar to the text that was distributed in 1998. In The Osama bin Laden I Know, Peter Bergen wrote that copies of Rahman’s “will” were distributed at a press conference hosted by Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri on May 26, 1998.

Rahman’s sons handed out a laminated card with their father’s will, as well as a fatwa authorizing attacks against the US, written on it. The text of Rahman’s last will described by Bergen appears to be the same as Al-Nafir’s, meaning Rahman first warned that the Americans were slowly killing him almost twenty years ago. He eventually died — and now al Qaeda is using his death to call for retribution.

According to the translation obtained by Bergen, Rahman’s fatwa read: “Cut all relations with [the Americans, Christians, and Jews], tear them to pieces, destroy their economies, burn their corporations, destroy their peace, sink their ships, shoot down their planes and kill them on air, sea, and land. And kill them wherever you may find them, ambush them, take them hostage, and destroy their observatories. Kill these infidels.”

Rahman’s fatwa has been credited with providing theological justifications for al Qaeda’s attacks, as not many sheikhs endorsed bin Laden’s early vision of global terror. At the May 1998 conference where Rahman’s fatwa and will were handed out by his sons, bin Laden announced that he had formed the “World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders.” It was this front, which Rahman’s sons supported, that brought the war to American targets in Aug. 1998, when the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed.

Al Qaeda frequently took up Rahman’s cause through the years. Bin Laden often cited Rahman’s case as an example of America’s supposed injustice towards Muslims.

In his 1996 declaration of war against America, Bin Laden portrayed Rahman’s imprisonment as part of an alleged campaign against Islamic scholars. In 1997, according to the Washington Post, bin Laden accused the US of fabricating “a baseless case against [Rahman] even though he is a blind old man.”

A Presidential Daily Brief delivered to President Bill Clinton on Dec. 4, 1998 warned that bin Laden and his men were working with Rahman’s group, Gama’at al-Islamiyya (IG), to orchestrate an “aircraft hijacking.” The intent behind the putative plot was to force the US to free Rahman and others. The plot didn’t progress, but it was later seen as an early harbinger of the 9/11 hijackings.

In Sept. 2000, Al Jazeera’s satellite channel aired footage of a meeting of several jihadi leaders in Afghanistan. All of them, including bin Laden and Zawahiri, pledged to free Rahman from jail. “We promise to work with all our power to free our brother [Rahman],” bin Laden said, with one of Rahman’s sons by his side.

Zawahiri also spoke, asking: “Which one of us today would not sacrifice himself for this man who has supported every righteous stand and has been an unshakable leader?” Zawahiri continued: “We have a duty towards Dr. Omar Abdel Rahman, who has never abandoned a righteous stand. Do we now abandon giving him support and rewarding him?”

Al Qaeda and other actors continued to seek Rahman’s release in the years since.

After the revolution in Egypt swept Hosni Mubarak from power in 2011, Rahman’s cause became even more popular. Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood figure who briefly served as Egypt’s president, promised his supporters that he would try to free the blind ideologue.

Members of Gama’at al-Islamiyya who were closely allied with al Qaeda also helped stage a protest outside the US Embassy in Cairo on Sept. 11, 2012. The protest was pro-al Qaeda, with the group’s black flag flying high and chants of “Obama! Obama! We are all Osama [bin Laden]!” ringing out. Some of the protesters cited Rahman in their rallying cries.

In Jan. 2013, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a notorious Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) commander, orchestrated a major raid on a natural gas field in Algeria. His men took dozens of foreign nationals hostage and demanded the release of Rahman in exchange for some of them. Authorities did not comply with the demand.

Al Qaeda still uses images and clips of Rahman in its propaganda.

On Feb. 18, the same day that Rahman’s death was announced, al Qaeda released Ayman al Zawahiri’s lengthy eulogy for one of Rahman’s longtime comrades, Rifai Ahmed Taha Musa, who was killed in an American airstrike in Apr. 2016. Taha and Rahman were both Gama’at al-Islamiyya leaders. Zawahiri praised Taha for taking part in the aforementioned Sept. 2000 conference in Kandahar, during which the jihadis called for Rahman’s release.

“Sheikh Rifai Taha, may God have mercy on him, took interest in the release of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman in deed, and not by merely begging America” to free him, Zawahiri said. Taha agreed with bin Laden that Rahman should be freed and said so during the conference, Zawahiri remarked.

Zawahiri’s video eulogy for Taha includes footage from the Sept. 2000 gathering, during which they praised Rahman. As Sahab, al Qaeda’s propaganda arm, used images of Rahman alongside Zawahiri and Taha to promote the video. (One such image can be seen above.) It may be the case that al Qaeda waited to release Zawahiri’s commemoration of Taha until Rahman died, as the timing of the video’s online distribution is especially conspicuous.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), both of which are openly loyal to Zawahiri, released a joint eulogy for Rahman earlier today. The statement was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group. The al Qaeda branches specifically mentioned Rahman’s will.

“We call upon the sons of Islam and its honorable knights, who were not successful in liberating the sheikh from his imprisonment, to earnestly and honestly work hard to execute his will, and to build from his blood a lighthouse that inspires the generations…to viciously avenge the sheikh against his oppressors and his wardens,” the statement from AQAP and AQIM reads, according to SITE’s translation. “This would be the least of what his brothers in Islam and pride should do,” the statement continues, as Muslims should “rescue…our scholars and our leaders who were faithful to Allah and never deviated from his path.”

Rahman’s teachings had a significant influence on the development of al Qaeda and modern jihadism. For more than 20 years, al Qaeda’s leaders made him a central part of their cause. The jihadis will almost certainly continue to use him in their productions in the years to come.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD’s Long War Journal.

Klein: New York Times Lobbies for Muslim Brotherhood

Daniel Berehulak/Getty

Daniel Berehulak/Getty

Breitbart, by Aaron Klein, February 10, 2017:

TEL AVIV – The New York Times in recent days has run numerous articles and opinion pieces advocating against designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization amid reports the Trump administration is debating doing just that.

The Muslim Brotherhood openly seeks to establish a worldwide Islamic caliphate based on Sharia law. While many Brotherhood wings reject the use of violence as a strategic tactic, preferring instead a sophisticated gradualist strategy to achieve their aims, the Brotherhood has spawned terrorist organizations – most notably Hamas – that adhere to its philosophy of a world order based on Islam. The Brotherhood was also a central player in the so-called Arab Spring, revolutions punctuated by violence across the Arab world.

Designating the Brotherhood a terrorist organization would add the U.S. to the growing list of nations to do so, including Muslim countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The Times’ propagation of the Brotherhood culminated in an editorial board piece published Thursday titled, “All of Islam Isn’t the Enemy.”

In the editorial, the newspaper warned designating the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization “would be seen by many Muslims as another attempt to vilify adherents of Islam.”  The paper claimed that the possible designation “appears to be part of a mission by the president and his closest advisers to heighten fears by promoting a dangerously exaggerated vision of an America under siege by what they call radical Islam.”

The Times’ advocacy for the Brotherhood is particularly noteworthy since it separately posted a full Arabic document from 1991 in which an Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood member set forth a strategy for “eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within,” with emphasis on operations inside the U.S.

In Thursday’s editorial, the newspaper laid out its case for the Brotherhood:

There are good reasons that the Brotherhood, with millions of members, doesn’t merit the terrorist designation. Rather than a single organization, it is a collection of groups and movements that can vary widely from country to country. While the Brotherhood calls for a society governed by Islamic law, it renounced violence decades ago, has supported elections and has become a political and social organization. Its branches often have tenuous connections to the original movement founded in Egypt in 1928.

Addressing the Brotherhood’s support for the electoral process and purportedly becoming a political organization, an extensive report on the Brotherhood by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at Israel’s Center for Special Studies explained the group’s use of some tools of democracy to advance the aim of achieving a world ruled by Sharia law, which is by definition anti-democratic.

Drawing from founding Brotherhood documents and original literature by Brotherhood leaders, the Center explained:

Unlike the militant factions of other Islamist movements, which completely rule out democracy on the basis of it being a Western, pagan, and ignorant idea, the Muslim Brotherhood does use the term “democracy.” In its view, however, it has two main connotations: a tactical, instrumental means of taking over countries through the use of the democratic process, and an “Islamic democracy” based on Sharia law (i.e., Islamic religious law) and a model of internal consultation within the leadership

[Brotherhood Founder Sheikh Hassan] Al-Banna listed seven stages to achieve these objectives, each to be carried out in a gradual fashion. The stages are divided into social and political: the first three are based on educating the individual, the family, and the entire society of the Muslim world to implement Sharia laws in every aspect of daily life. The next four stages are political in nature, and include assuming power through elections, shaping a Sharia state, liberating Islamic countries from the burden of (physical and ideological) foreign occupation, uniting them into one Islamic entity (“new caliphate”), and spreading Islamic values throughout the world.

Sharia law is explicitly anti-democratic. For example, under Sharia, non-Muslims cannot rule over Muslims; a Caliph can come to rule through force and seizure of power; a woman inherits half that of a man and non-Muslims cannot inherit from Muslims.

In the Times editorial, meanwhile, the newspaper claimed that those “advising Mr. Trump seem unwilling to draw distinctions” between the Brotherhood and its violent adherents.

The paper continued:

Stephen Bannon, the chief White House strategist, once called the Brotherhood “the foundation of modern terrorism.” And Frank Gaffney Jr., an anti-Muslim analyst who heads a small think tank, recently told the Times that the Brotherhood’s goals are “exactly the same” as those of the Islamic State and Al Qaeda.

Both of these statements are true. The Brotherhood’s historic ideological principles of establishing a worldwide Caliphate are indeed shared by the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, although their tactics greatly differ. And Brotherhood ideology has served as the foundation for groups like al-Qaeda.

The defining works of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader, ideologue and theorist Sayyid Qutb, considered the Brotherhood’s intellectual godfather, greatly influenced Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda doctrine.

An extensive March 23, 2003, article in the New York Times magazine by Paul Berman dissected Qutb’s writings as they relate to terrorist ideology.

In the article titled “The Philosopher of Islamic Terror,” Berman documented the centrality of Qutb’s influence on al-Qaeda:

The organization (al-Qaeda) was created in the late 1980’s by an affiliation of three armed factions – bin Laden’s circle of ”Afghan” Arabs, together with two factions from Egypt, the Islamic Group and Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the latter led by Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda’s top theoretician. The Egyptian factions emerged from an older current, a school of thought from within Egypt’s fundamentalist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, in the 1950’s and 60’s. And at the heart of that single school of thought stood, until his execution in 1966, a philosopher named Sayyid Qutb – the intellectual hero of every one of the groups that eventually went into Al Qaeda, their Karl Marx (to put it that way), their guide.

In recent days, the Times has featured numerous other articles arguing against branding the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

An article on Tuesday warned, “Officially designating the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization would roil American relations in the Middle East. The leaders of some American allies — like Egypt, where the military forced the Brotherhood from power in 2013, and the United Arab Emirates — have pressed Mr. Trump to do so to quash internal enemies, but the group remains a pillar of society in parts of the region.”

“Critics said they feared that Mr. Trump’s team wanted to create a legal justification to crack down on Muslim charities, mosques and other groups in the United States,” added the Times. “A terrorist designation would freeze assets, block visas and ban financial interactions.”

A Times article on February 1 was titled, “Trump Pushes Dark View of Islam to Center of U.S. Policy-Making.”

The article lamented a worldview that “conflates terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State with largely nonviolent groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots and, at times, with the 1.7 billion Muslims around the world.”

A January 26 editorial titled “‘I Think Islam Hates Us’” informed readers the Trump administration “reportedly is considering designating the Muslim Brotherhood, which is involved in Muslim politics in a number of countries, as a terrorist organization. Some experts see the move as a chance for the Trump administration to limit Muslim political activity in the United States.”

 Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.

VIDEO: Former Al-Qaeda Leader Says Obama-Aligned Muslim Brotherhood ‘Is One of the Most Dangerous Organizations’

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, September 8, 2015:

I had the opportunity to escort a U.S. congressional delegation to Egypt last week — we were sponsored by the Cairo-based Center for North Africa and Near East Security Studies.

One of the common themes we heard from senior government officials and experts was the active role of the Muslim Brotherhood in the ongoing terror campaign targeting military, police, and government officials, as well as  in the sabotage of infrastructure. I reported here at PJ Media back in June on the Brotherhood’s escalating violence.

There have been a number of signs this past year indicating that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has effectively dropped its non-violent mask, including:

Despite media reports that the group is “divided” over the use of violence, the group has unmistakably made its position clear.

One expert very familiar with the workings and ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood is the founder and former head of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Sheikh Nabil Naeem. He lived with both Osama bin Laden and current al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri, and witnessed the formation of al-Qaeda. In Afghanistan, he served as bin Laden’s personal bodyguard, and was Zawahiri’s long-time “right arm.”

On my last trip to Cairo, my colleague Steve Coughlin and I had the opportunity to interview Sheikh Nabil at his office for more than nine hours over two days.

During that interview we discussed a number of topics, including the trajectory of the global jihadist movement, the development of terrorist organizations in the Sinai, and his experience with EIJ and al-Qaeda until his arrest and eventual rejection of jihadist ideology.

ShNabilNaeem2

But at the end of our interview with Sheikh Nabil, he began explaining how the Muslim Brotherhood is “one of the most dangerous organizations.”

In response to that statement, I requested that we video record Sheikh Nabil’s response to our questions on this issue as well as his previous statements on the group, which we exclusively present in translation here.

Along the way, he explodes commonly held myths among the Washington, D.C., foreign policy community, including the claim that the Muslim Brotherhood has renounced violence and that there are no connections between the Brotherhood and terror groups in Sinai.

Q: Why do you believe the Muslim Brotherhood is one of the most dangerous organizations?

Nabil: First we accuse the Obama administration of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood to rule Egypt and supporting Morsi’s presidential campaign. Senator McCain also admitted his support to the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi.

Accordingly, it is not expected from the Obama administration to neither acknowledge Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization nor acknowledge their ties to other terrorist organizations. That would mean the Obama admin and the Democrats acknowledge and support a terrorist group.

But we know that the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organization and all their confessions are available at the prosecution office. And I can tell you how the prosecution process work because I have been through questioning for 35 years.

If any torture takes place it might happen in the police station, but never the prosecution and they are very careful in regards to the legal procedure. That is why any confessions at the prosecution are called the matter of all evidence.

I personally know ABM are improvised, as well as AQ too. What they use is Muslim Brotherhood money and they admitted this repeatedly.

Q: The Muslim Brotherhood present themselves in the United States as moderate Islam and the only alternative to al-Qaeda. Since you have witnessed the formation of al-Qaeda, do you believe this is true?

Nabil: First the Muslim Brotherhood presented themselves to Mubarak as the alternative to all the takfiri/terrorist groups in Egypt, but the truth is Muslim Brotherhood are the main sponsors of them alland that is the Muslim Brotherhood’s way in promoting themselves as the alternative.

Like they did with Luxor massacre, they sponsored and supported terrorist groups to attack tourism in Egypt. Back in the 1990s Abu Walid, a Muslim Brotherhood leader who used to live in Germany, traveled to Afghanistan and met with Refaie Taha and Ayman Al-Zawahiri to arrange with them what was later known as the Luxor massacre.

At the same time the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt condemned the attack to convince the audience of their moderation.

This is a simple tactic: in order for the Muslim Brotherhood to appear as moderate group, they need the terrorists to commit acts of terrorism so the people would see the difference.

However, knowing the Muslim Brotherhood means knowing they are devil’s allies.

Q: Back in the 1970s the Muslim Brotherhood renounced violence, but we still see other groups ideologically bound to them like Hamas still using violence. What do you believe?

Nabil: The Muslim Brotherhood are double-faced liars, they claim they renounced violence but I will cite a conversation between Ghassan bin Jiddo and Abdul Monem Abul Fotouh that will sum them up.

Ghassan said you (the Muslim Brotherhood) claim that you renounced violence and you said that you don’t topple regimes, although you used violence with Abdul Nasser in Egypt and when Hamas and Fatah had a disagreement, Hamas committed the Gabalya massacre and their mufti, Youssef Al-Astal, endorsed killing Fatah members and Hamas killed 700 of them in a single day.

It is their deeds versus their words, which would you believe?

The Muslim Brotherhood are terrorists and they killed too many people, even after June 30 and I myself witnessed the Al-Itehadia massacre when they killed 13 innocent citizens — one of them a child because he was carrying Sisi’s poster. They shot him in the back of his head.

Even Ibn Khaldoun Center that is sponsored by the U.S. released a report about the Rabia sit-in and documented about 44 cases of Muslim Brotherhood torturing innocent citizens, 33 of which died of torture.

Q: We are trying to declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. What do you believe the Americans should know?

Nabil: I would advise the Americans to read books written by the Muslim Brotherhood about themselves. Dots on Letters by Ahmed Adel Kamal where he proudly documented the Muslim Brotherhood terror attacks calling them jihad. The other book is by Mahmoud Al-Sabbagh called The Truth About the Secret Organization where he listed all the facts about the Muslim Brotherhood militias and how they were used to attack the opposition.

For the present times, Americans should monitor the Muslim Brotherhood and what they do in Syria, Egypt, Libya and everywhere they are.

————————

I will be reporting more from Egypt later this week.

Islamic State Affiliate Attacks Sinai as Muslim Brotherhood Calls for Jihad

The flag of the Sinai-based terror group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis flag. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The flag of the Sinai-based terror group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis flag. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

CSP, by Aaron Kliegman, Jan. 30, 2015:

Islamic State’s Sinai Province, formerly known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, took credit via Twitter for coordinated attacks against the Egyptian military and police on Thursday killing at least 26 people and wounding 60 more.

According to security officials, the terrorists first targeted a military base, military hotel, and police offices in el-Arish, the capital of North Sinai. A car bomb went off by the rear of the military base while militants fired rockets at each building. Army checkpoints were also attacked throughout the city.

The terrorists targeted two additional towns, nearby Sheik Zuwayid and Gaza-bordering Rafah.

Despite the claim of responsibility, Egypt’s military spokesman blamed the Muslim Brotherhood, with whom the military has been locked in a struggle with since the military ousted the Muslim Brotherhood-led government of Mohammed Morsi. There is a potential historical link between the Brotherhood and Sinai Province.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (ABM) was inspired by al-Qaeda and formed during the January 2011 uprisings against Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s long-time ruler. Some believe the Muslim Brotherhood is connected to Sinai Province and that the former was and is instrumental in creating and aiding the latter.

This is in part because the ISIS-affiliated group increased its activity after Morsi was brought down, with one security expert stating that the group was “avenging the Brotherhood.” Additionally, Nabil Naeem, founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, said in a 2013 article that ABM had been funded by the Brotherhood. Refaat Said, leader of the Socialist Party, Tagammu, went further to say that Morsi himself placed ABM in Sinai and released some members from prison. Moreover, Brotherhood Without Violence, a group with Brotherhood ties, states that ISIS in Sinai is the Brotherhood’s military wing.

The Egyptian government does have motivation to lay an ISIS-affiliated group at the Brotherhood’s feet but the possibility is important to note.

The Brotherhood also relates to the developing Sinai situation due to a recent visit to the U.S. State Department this week by a delegation of its leaders. This group met with State Department officials in Washington, DC to discuss their continuous opposition to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government.

Soon after the State Department meeting and just two days before the coordinated terror attacks in Sinai, the Muslim Brotherhood called for a “long, uncompromised jihad.” It is unclear if there is a link between this call for jihad and ISIS affiliates causing violence in Sinai, but the timing certainly makes for an interesting coincidence considering the Obama Administration’s insistence that the Muslim Brotherhood maintains a commitment to non-violence.

Egypt is an important ally for the West in its fight with global jihad and President Sisi’s efforts in this endeavor are essential, but his government is being challenged by this entrenched insurgency. The United States should be working with al-Sisi to fight jihad in all forms, whether from the Muslim Brotherhood or the spreading Islamic State.

Why It Matters Who Wins in Egypt

egypt-cairo-man_2645464b-448x350By Daniel Greenfield:

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.

Read more at Front Page

 

Egypt Pursues Hezbollah

Hezbollah supporters at a rally in Lebanon (Photo: Reuters)

Hezbollah supporters at a rally in Lebanon (Photo: Reuters)

By Clare Lopez

Sunnis and Shi’ites are literally at each others’ throats these days in Syria, much as they have been for over 1300 years of Islamic fitna, but elsewhere rapprochement may be the word of the day. The Egyptian ambassador to Lebanon was quoted in a December 29, 2012 Daily Caller interview talking about pursuing a relationship with Hezbolllah, Iran’s Shi’ite terror proxy.

Calling Hezbolllah a “real political and military force” on the ground in Lebanon,” Ashraf Hamdy, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s envoy to Beirut, provided the latest signal that a new Cairo-Tehran axis of jihad may be taking shape.

Of course, contrary to what sometimes passes for conventional “wisdom” among some so-called “national security experts,” this would hardly be the first time that Sunnis and Shi’ites have found common cause based on pan-Islamic ideology. As Mehdi Khalaji, senior fellow at the Washington Institute, pointed out in a remarkable 2009 essay, “Iran has maintained informal ties to the Muslim Brotherhood for many years.”

The Ayatollah Khomeini was named Time Magazine's Man of the Year (seen here on the January 7, 1980 cover of the magagzine).

The Ayatollah Khomeini was named Time Magazine’s Man of the Year (seen here on the January 7, 1980 cover of the magagzine).

The most visible cross-sectarian relationship may be the mullahs’ longstanding support for HAMAS, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was founded in 1987. Personal relationships among Brotherhood members who later would found some of the most savage of all Islamic terrorist organizations — such as Al-Qaeda and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad — and Shi’ite cadres who would become the Ayatollah Khomeini’s anti-Shah shock troops likely began in the Beka’a Valley in the 1970s when the Soviet KGB was running terror training camps for an array of the world’s militants.

Indeed, the Iranian regime’s operational collaboration with Al-Qaeda in the attacks of 9/11 demonstrably can be traced back to those early relationships, later solidified at the Khartoum Jihad Jamboree gatherings of the early 1990s that were co-sponsored by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and his sometime collaborator, Hassan al-Turabi, a key Sudanese Brotherhood figure.

Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri (both found safehaven in Sudan in those years and were introduced while there to Iranian regime leadership figures including then-President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, intelligence chief Ali Fallahian and Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps commander Mohsen Reza’i.

The intellectual affinity between Iranian Shi’ite clerics such as the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini or current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and pivotal Brotherhood theoreticians such as Sayyed Qutb rests on the conviction that intra-Islamic sectarian differences must be set aside so that Muslims may form a united front to wage jihad against Christians, Jews, the West in general and, ultimately, the entire Dar al-Harb (non-Muslim world).

Hassan al-Banna2As elaborated by Mehdi Khalaji (here) and Tom Joscelyn (here), it was a young Iranian cleric named Nawab Safawi who, in the early 1950s, introduced the Ayatollah Khomeini to the pan-Islamic, jihadist ideology of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Perhaps equally little known is the scholastic course that brought current Supreme Leader Khamenei to translate two of Qutb’s books, Al-Mustaqbal li hadha al-Din (The Future of this Religion) and Al-Islam wa Mushkelat al-Hadharah (Islam and the Problems of Civilization).

The 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat by Islamic jihadis and the subsequent clamp-down on the Brotherhood by Sadat’s successor, Hosni Mubarak, temporarily put a damper on overt expressions of Khomeinist-Brotherhood mutual admiration, but by 2009, former Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Muhammad Mahdi Akef, openly asserted that “The Muslim Brotherhood supports the ideas and thoughts of the founder of the Islamic  Republic.”

The Iranian regime was quick to claim an inspirational role once the 2011 Al-Qaeda/Muslim Brotherhood revolutions broke out, although the Ikhwan did not immediately (or publicly) embrace the overture.

It is true that Khomeini’s 1979 revolution in Iran did capture the imagination of the entire Muslim world, both Shi’ite and Sunni, and nowhere more enthusiastically than among Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and two of its offshoots, Omar Abdel-Rahman’s Gama’at Islamiyya and Ayman al-Zawahiri’s Egyptian Islamic Jihad, both later to become founding members of Al-Qaeda.

But the Shi’ite-Sunni face-off in Syria that began in 2011, followed by the HAMAS departure from longtime headquarters in Damascus, brought Islam’s perennial sectarian strife back to the front pages, while tending to obscure the simultaneous but less visible developing potential for a diplomatic thaw between Iran and Egypt.

Now, however, with the Brotherhood in firm control of Egypt and the three-decades-old peace treaty with Israel no longer a given, indicators like Ambassador Hamdy’s remarks about Hezbolllah may take on a more ominous cast.

A reported August 2012 meeting between the then-head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Service, Maj. Gen. Murad Muwafi, and a senior official of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) was followed by a August 22 statement from Iran’s foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, that indicated Egypt and Iran are moving towards restoring diplomatic relations.

Salehi said that Iran seeks ties of “friendship and brotherhood” with Cairo. Then, at the late August 2012 Non-Aligned meeting in Tehran, Morsi and his Iranian host, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, exchanged pledges as “strategic allies” and discussed enhanced bilateral cooperation in the areas of “science and technology.”

Egypt scholar Raymond Stock noted in a stunning September 7, 2012 Gatestone Institute essay that such cooperation could possibly include an Iranian offer to share nuclear technology with Morsi’s Brotherhood regime. Coupled with statements from Muslim Brotherhood and military figures about an Egyptian desire to acquire a “nuclear weapon,” the Iranian model of revolution, terror and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) looks increasingly likely to metastasize to the Arab heart of the Islamic Middle East.

The advantages of rapprochement with Egypt for Iran, which is currently facing crushing financial sanctions, a grueling and probably losing struggle to shore up the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, plus at least some measure of international opprobrium over its nuclear weapons program, are obvious.

Read more at Radical Islam

Clare Lopez is a senior fellow at RadicalIslam.org and a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on the Middle East, national defense and counterterrorism. Lopez served for 20 years as an operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

 

 

Ansar al Sharia Egypt founder ‘honored to be an extension of al Qaeda’

Ahmed Ashush, a high-profile jihadist who has longstanding ties to al Qaeda and who has founded Ansar al Sharia Egypt. Image from Al Arabiya News.

Ahmed Ashush, a high-profile jihadist who has longstanding ties to al Qaeda and who has founded Ansar al Sharia Egypt. Image from Al Arabiya News.

By Thomas Joscelyn

In an interview with the Cairo-based publication Al Shuruq al Jadid  in late October, Ahmed Ashush, the founder  of Ansar al Sharia Egypt, praised al Qaeda and defended the terrorist  organization against criticisms. Ashush also named Mohammed al Zawahiri, the  younger brother of al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri, as one of the jihadist  leaders who remained true to his ideology during his time in prison.

The interviewer asked, “Does Egyptian Salafi-jihadism represent an extension  of the al Qaeda organization?”

Ashush first offered to “correct the view of the al Qaeda organization,”  according to a translation obtained by The Long War Journal. Ashush  proceeded to call al Qaeda the “House of Honor,” the “Title of Glory,” and the  “Home of the Nation’s Dignity.”

“We must perpetuate [Osama] bin Laden whether alive or dead,” Ashush  continued. “If the revolutions of the Arab Spring were fair they would have  adopted bin Laden as the symbol of heroism and sacrifice.”

Ashush declared, “We are honored to be an extension of the al Qaeda  organization in its beliefs, principles, and concepts.”

The senior Egyptian jihadist went on to describe al Qaeda itself as an  “extension” of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), which has long been headed by  Ayman al Zawahiri and merged with Osama bin Laden’s terrorist group prior to the  Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Ashush named two EIJ leaders, Abu Ubaidah al  Banshiri and Abu Hafs al Masri, as co-founders of al Qaeda. Both served as al  Qaeda military chiefs prior to their demise.

Ashush’s embrace of al Qaeda is consistent with his past rhetoric and  behavior. Since his release from an Egyptian prison, Ashush has repeatedly  praised al Qaeda.

And Ayman al Zawahiri is so fond of Ashush that clips of the Ansar al Sharia  Egypt leader are frequently included in al Qaeda’s videos. A Sept. 10 video  starring Ayman al Zawahiri featured a clip of Ashush praising Osama bin Laden. A  two-part al Qaeda video released on Oct. 24 included nine video clips showing  Ashush and other Egyptian jihadists.

During his interview with Al Shuruq al Jadid, Ashush did not shy  away from al Qaeda’s terrorism.

Al Qaeda is “fighting a criminal enemy,” Ashush claimed, and only the  terrorist group has prevented Muslim countries from being divided “into  mini-States” ruled by “the Jews and the Christians.” The US has authored this  anti-Muslim conspiracy, according to Ashush. “Al Qaeda is the one that stopped  the American scheme aimed at splitting Egypt into four States and dividing all  Islamic countries.”

Ahush’s organization, Ansar al Sharia Egypt, is dedicated to implementing  sharia law and rebuilding the Islamic Caliphate. As he made clear during his  interview, Ashush is also deeply hostile to the West.

“We are at war with the United States and Israel and all the Worldly Rulers  whom they appointed in the countries of the Muslims to carry out their  imperialist blueprint in our countries,” Ashush said.

Ashush has used the name “Salafi Vanguard” to describe his efforts and those  of his compatriots. Ashush described the group as part of the jihadist  “current,” explaining that they chose this name to prevent any jihadist who has  renounced his ideology from speaking for them.

“Those who speak in the name of the current are those who remained firm and  did not change inside prison,” Ashush said. “Sheikh Mohammed al Zawahiri is  among them.”

Read more at the Long War Journal

 

Al Qaeda-linked jihadists helped incite 9/11 Cairo protest

Osama bin Laden, Mohammed al Zawahiri, and  Sheikh Tawfiq Al ‘Afani, as seen in the Al Faroq video on the protest at the US  embassy in Cairo on Sept. 11, 2012. Courtesy of SITE Intelligence Group.

 

By Thomas Joscelyn:

Several al Qaeda-linked jihadists helped incite the protest outside the US  embassy in Cairo on Sept. 11. The jihadists include senior members of Egyptian  Islamic Jihad (EIJ), a group that merged with al Qaeda, and a senior Gamaa  Islamiyya (IG) leader who has longstanding ties to al Qaeda’s senior leadership.

Spontaneous anger over an obscure anti-Islam video titled “Innocence of  Muslims” has been widely cited as the cause of the embassy protest in Cairo. But  clear evidence shows that these al Qaeda-linked jihadists used clips from that  film that were televised on Egyptian television as a pretext to incite a mob.

The most conspicuous of these jihadists is Rifai Ahmed Taha Musa, an IG  leader who was named as a signatory on al Qaeda’s infamous February 1998 fatwa  announcing an Islamic Front for Jihad against Jews and Crusaders. The fatwa  justified terrorist attacks against American civilians and others. Musa would  later disavow his participation in the Islamic Front, but his al Qaeda ties are  well established.

Al Faroq media video

The role of al Qaeda’s allies, including Musa, in the embassy protest was  documented in a video released by Al Faroq media earlier this month. Al Faroq,  which is based in Egypt, is not an official al Qaeda media outlet, but it  clearly espouses al Qaeda’s ideology and frequently trumpets the terrorist  organization’s message. Al Qaeda has also used clips from Al Faroq’s productions  in its own official videos.

The Al Faroq video of the Sept. 11 US embassy protest in Cairo was first  obtained and translated by SITE Intelligence Group.

The Al Faroq video attempts to brand the protest as an al Qaeda event. And  indeed pro-al Qaeda sentiment was rampant. Flags commonly used by al Qaeda in  Iraq are shown throughout the al Faroq video. The protesters chanted, “Obama, Obama! We are all Osama!” And the Al Faroq video splices together footage of al  Qaeda’s senior leaders with clips of the senior al Qaeda-allied jihadists at the  embassy protest.

Osama bin Laden is heavily featured. Specifically, Al Faroq shows a clip from  the deceased terror master’s March 2008 message concerning cartoons that  insulted the Prophet Mohammed. “In closing, I tell you: if there is no check on  the freedom of your words, then let your hearts be open to the freedom of our  actions,” bin Laden threatened, according to SITE’s translation.

The video ties bin Laden to two men who took part in the embassy protest:  Mohammed al Zawahiri, who is the brother of al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri, and  Sheikh Tawfiq al ‘Afani, an EIJ leader who does not hide his pro-bin Laden  views.

Mohammed-Zawahiri-Cairo-Embassy-Faroq-Video.jpg
Mohammed al Zawahiri at the US embassy  protest in Cairo on Sept. 11, 2012.

Mohammed al Zawahiri

Mohammed al Zawahiri is shown at the embassy rally during the Al Faroq video.  In fact, Mohammed al Zawahiri admittedly helped stage the Cairo protest.

“We called for the peaceful protest joined by different Islamic factions  including the [Egyptian] Islamic Jihad (and the) Hazem Abu Ismael movement,”  Zawahiri has explained, according  to CNN.

During his appearance in the video, according to SITE’s translation, Mohammed  al Zawahiri calls for the makers of the film “Innocence of Muslims” to be  prosecuted and “demand(s) the questioning of all of those and to stop that film  that is calling for trouble.”

Mohammed al Zawahiri has been coy about his al Qaeda ties. For instance,  during an interview on Egyptian television earlier this month he tried to  distance himself from the al Qaeda organization, while admitting that he adheres  to the group’s ideology.

“I do not belong to al Qaeda or any other organization, but ideologically  speaking, I am in agreement with all these organizations,” Zawahiri said, according to a  translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). “Our common  denominator is the Islamic sharia,” Zawahiri continued, reiterating that he  agrees with al Qaeda’s “ideology, but I’m not involved in its activity.”

On other  occasions, Mohammed al Zawahiri has used the word “we” when speaking about  al Qaeda and has attempted to justify the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The Wall Street Journal has  reported that US intelligence officials think Mohammed al Zawahiri put one of the suspects responsible for the terrorist attack in Benghazi in touch with  his brother.

The Journal’s sources identified “fighters” tied to Muhammad Jamal Abu Ahmad, an EIJ member who was released from prison last year, as participants  in the Benghazi attack. Abu Ahmad “has long ties” to Ayman al Zawahiri, the Journal reported, and he “has petitioned” al Qaeda’s emir “for  permission to launch an al Qaeda affiliate and has secured financing from al Qaeda’s Yemeni wing.”

Ahmad “is building his own terror group, say Western officials, who call it  the Jamal Network,” according to the Journal. EIJ members are suspected of funneling Egyptian militants to training camps in Libya as well.

The Journal added: “US officials believe [Mohammed al Zawahiri] has  helped Mr. Ahmad connect with the al Qaeda chief.”

Read more: Long War Journal