Qatari Ambassador Plays Semantics With Definition of Terrorism

by John Rossomando
IPT News
April 23, 2018

Hamas is not a terrorist organization and his country has nothing to do with terrorism, Qatari counterterrorism envoy Ambassador Mutlaq Al-Qahtani told the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT). But it all depends on your definition of terrorism. Al-Qahtani spoke April 9 at the National Press Club at an event sponsored by the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) – a group that works to undermine the appeal of ISIS using counter-messaging videos.

“Qatar has not, does not, and will never support terrorism in any form,” Al-Qahtani said.

Terrorism is a subjective term, he said, and there is no globally-accepted definition. Qatar views Hamas as a “legitimate political force and governing party,” ICSVE founder Anne Speckhard wrote on her group’s website in January. Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in 2014 that Hamas was not a terrorist group because it is “a very important component of the Palestinian people.”

Qatar has been a stalwart supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood for decades and especially since the 2011 Arab Spring. This support alienated Qatar from its neighbors and led to the decision last June by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to impose a land, sea and air blockade of Qatar. They issued a list of 59 terror-linked people and 12 allegedly terror-linked groups that they claimed Qatar supported. The blockade would continue, the three Gulf states said, until Qatar took action against them. Many of the people listed are also blacklisted by the U.S. government and by the United Nations.

Ending support for the Muslim Brotherhood was among the 13 demands Qatar’s Gulf neighbors imposed on it, as was Qatar taking action against the people on the Gulf States’ terror list.

Al-Qahtani seemed to say the Brotherhood was being targeted solely because it is an opposition group. Opposition parties often are unfairly tarred with the terrorist label, Al-Qahtani said. He vigorously argued that the Muslim Brotherhood likewise faced unjust accusations of being connected with terrorism in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Mutlaq Al-Qahtani is Qatar’s foreign affairs special envoy for Combating Terrorism and Mediation in Dispute Resolution.

“I think the most important [thing] for anybody if you want to make a good argument against any country to classify this entity or that individual as a terrorist is try to make sure that the Security Council of the United Nations to sanction that individual or that entity…,” Al-Qahtani said. Since that has not happened, “Hamas is not a terrorist organization.”

Qatar’s “explanation for HAMAS not being a terrorist organization is distinctly unimpressive and inconsistent,” terrorism researcher Kyle Orton told the IPT.

Hamas became famous for sending suicide bombers to blow up Israeli civilians, the most recent being a 2016 attack on a bus in Jerusalem. It also encouraged stabbing attacks against Israelis in the fall of 2015. Rocket attacks by Hamas against Israeli civilian targets also have been commonplace. Additionally, Hamas has praised car-ramming attacks against Israelis.

Al-Qahtani questioned the Gulf States’ standing to accuse others of supporting terrorism, saying Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE have terrorism records “worse than ever.” He cited a connection between Bahrain’s royal family and ISIS’s late top religious scholar, Turki Binali, and Egypt’s blocking of the addition of ISIS affiliates in several countries to the U.N.’s terror list as examples. His list of examples also included findings by the Henry Jackson Society last year that Saudi interests funded Islamist extremists in the U.K.; however, he omitted that the report also pointed the finger at Qatar. The 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, he said, adding that some of their funding came through the UAE.

Al-Qahtani’s remarks connecting Saudi Arabia with 9/11 weren’t accurate, Orton said.

“One of al-Qaeda’s founding missions is to overthrow the House of Saud. That these people were originally Saudi citizens is really irrelevant,” Orton said via Twitter.

Al-Qahtani failed to mention Qatar’s own connection to 9/11.

Khaled Sheikh Mohammed took a Qatari government job at the suggestion of Qatar’s current Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalid bin Hamad al-Thani, the 9/11 Commission found. U.S. intelligence officials also said al-Thani helped Mohammed escape from Qatar in 1996 before American authorities could capture him. Osama bin Laden personally visited with al-Thani in Qatar several times between 1996 and 2000. Bin Laden’s declaration of war against the United States was issued in 1998.

Qatar’s interior ministry published a list of terror financiers that it sanctioned in March in response to pressure from its neighbors, but the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) noted that groups like Hizballah and al-Qaida were conspicuously absent. Two al-Qaida linked financiers with ties to Qatar’s government also were not included.

Not only does Qatar reject terrorism labels for Hamas, the country provided significant support to the group. Hamas’s top leaders lived in Doha until last June when “external pressures” forced their expulsion following the announcement of the blockade. As recently as 2015, Qatar’s foreign minister described then-Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal as a “dear guest.” But Qatar no longer funds Hamas, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley told Congress in December. It previously pumped millions of dollars to fund Hamas’ governmental infrastructure in Gaza. Qatar claimed that it routed its money through the United Nations, but Israeli press reports indicate that Qatar agreed to directly fund the construction of a new Palestinian government building in Gaza.

Even if Qatar has backed off funding Hamas, it remains a major source of anti-Israel terrorist incitement.

The ADL complained April 10 that Qatar remains a hotbed of anti-Semitic rhetoric. For example, the imam of Doha’s state-run main mosque in December called Jews “your deceitful, lying, treacherous, fornicating, intransigent enemy” in a sermon called the “Liberation of Al-Aqsa.”

Al-Qahtani rejected the charge of religious extremism.

“…[Extremist] religious doctrines pose an undeniable challenge to all of us. They exist in every culture and Islam has no monopoly on them. If actors continue to twist religious doctrines to poison the minds of desperate people in our region and beyond, it’s clear that we are obliged to fight the compact religious extremism,” Al-Qahtani said.

Yet for decades, Qatar’s royal family gave Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi a platform for his hate-filled, pro-terrorist ideas. Qaradawi considers non-violent definitions of jihad – those which cast it as primarily spiritual – as “unacceptable,” a belief he shares with Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna.

Jihad as a spiritual struggle diminishes “Jihad in the Way of Allah, and play[s] down its status and virtues in Islam, and its necessity in defending the being of the Ummah (Muslim nation) and its holy sites, if attacked by aggressors and affected by arrogant tyrants,” Qaradawi wrote in a 2016 article.

Qaradawi preached support for suicide bombings and hatred of Jews for years on Qatar’s state-owned Al-Jazeera network.

The Holocaust “was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers,” Qaradawi said in a 2009 Al-Jazeera broadcast.

He also sanctioned attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq. In 2014, Qaradawi expandedhis fatwa supporting suicide bombings to Syrians. He dialed back his support for Palestinian suicide bombings in 2016, saying Palestinians could use rockets to attack Israel instead.

“Suicide bombing has been normalised in a way it could not have been without the support of someone with Al-Qaradawi’s stature,” the UAE-based National newspaper said in November.

After President Trump announced the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Qaradawi called for jihad and hurled anti-Semitic barbs.

“The Quran does not devote as much space to the Persians and Romans as it does to the Jews, whose crimes and depraved deeds it exposes. They are the greatest of liars when they speak, the greatest of villains when they quarrel, and the most treacherous of people when they make pacts,” Qaradawi wrote on Twitter, a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) shows.

Qaradawi’s International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) also issued a communiqué in October calling for the end of Qatar’s isolation and reaffirming the “importance of armed struggle and resistance in all its forms to liberate Palestine and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.” Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is an IUMS member.

Qatar reportedly used an associate of Qaradawi’s as a conduit to coordinate the flow of Qatari arms and money to al-Qaida linked rebels belonging to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).

Qaradawi and IUMS Secretary General Ali Mohiuddin Qaradaghi have close ties with terror-linked charities connected with Qatar’s royal family. These include Qatar Charity and the Sheikh Eid al-Thani Charity. Qatar’s Gulf neighbors placed both on their list of terror-connected groups.

Qatar Charity, formerly the Qatar Charitable Society, belongs to Qaradawi’s Union of Good, a global alliance of Islamic charities in 21 countries, that facilitates financial transfers between its member charities. U.S. Treasury officials described the Union of Good as a “broker for Hamas” in 2008 when it blacklisted it.

U.S. court documents showed that Osama bin Laden used Qatar Charity as a terror funding source during the 1990s. Qatar Charitable Society helped finance the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, according to the U.S. government.

Reports suggest these connections persist. Maliweb reported that Qatar Charity funded terrorists belonging to the al-Qaida linked group Ansar Dine in 2013, a claim corroborated by French intelligence. The other Gulf States also accuse Qatar Charity of assisting AQAP in Yemen.

Al-Qahtani downplayed Qaradawi’s continued presence in Qatar and how it squares with its “soft-power approach to terrorism” – the subject of the conference. Qaradawi “is quite old. His health is not that good,” and his Al-Jazeera program went off the air years ago, he said.

All of these pieces of evidence show that Qatar’s approach to terrorism is confused at best. Standing with ICSVE against ISIS is one thing, but terrorism is more than just ISIS.

90 Years In, The Muslim Brotherhood Faces An Uncharted Future

by Hany Ghoraba
Special to IPT News
April 19, 2018

The Muslim Brotherhood has managed to weather many storms during nine decades in Egypt. Presidents Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak all tried to contain and suppress the Islamist movement, which ultimately seeks a global Muslim Caliphate. But opportunity suddenly presented itself after Mubarak’s fall in 2011, and the Brotherhood won power a year later. Any high hopes among voters led to an ill-fated year under President Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted from power when millions of frustrated Egyptians took to the streets during the June 30, 2013 revolution.

A resulting military crackdown put top Brotherhood leaders in jail and sent others into exile. As a result, the Brotherhood celebrated its 90th anniversary April 1 in Istanbul, Turkey, one of the group’s last strongholds in the region. It attracted Ibrahim Munir, the group’s London-based secretary general and de-facto supreme guide, and Khaled Meshaal, the former head of the Hamas political bureau. The two leaders bragged about the Brotherhood’s survival  under what they labeled tyranny and oppression.

And they tried to project a united front to supporters despite factors that prove otherwise.

The first is an internal struggle over tactics exposed by communiqués denouncing members, such as former Secretary General Mahmoud Hussein, for criticizing deadly Muslim Brotherhood attacks on Egyptian police and the army.

Hussein, an official Brotherhood communiqué said, “not only sought to stop any attempt at rapprochement, he would occasionally go out in the media to reignite the atmosphere of disagreement and strengthen division within the ranks of the Brotherhood without regard to circumstances or regulations.”

Egyptian public opinion toward the Brotherhood changed radically after Morsi’s failed tenure, dropping from 80 percent support at the start of the Arab Spring to less than half of that by 2014. “When Egyptians voted in the MB in 2012, it was because they believed they would bring a better life to all,” said Azza Radwan Sedky, a Canadian-based Egyptian political analyst and author of Cairo Rewind: The first two years of Egypt’s Revolution. “It proved to be a sham.”

The group’s future never looked bleaker. According to Egyptian political strategist Ahmed Sarhan, “the group’s local organization in Egypt has suffered severely under continuous successful security crackdown over the past 5 years, and it is now safe to assume that the leadership has been completely wiped off, most of the senior leaders are serving jail sentences, and [a ]few managed to escape to Qatar and Turkey.”

Sedky agreed, saying that she doubts that the Muslim Brotherhood can survive as a powerful organization that can galvanize the majority of Egyptians behind it. Although the group managed to survive previous security crackdowns, it now lacks the public support that it relied on to endure the hard times. This is due to its open war strategy that it is accused of waging against the Egyptian armypolicepublic officials and even common citizens.

A loss of public support isn’t the Brotherhood’s only challenge. Financial and political support from countries such as Turkey and Qatar could be affected by mounting pressure from states opposed to the Brotherhood, such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose affinity for the Muslim Brotherhood is well known, defended Brotherhood activities in Turkey labeling them as  “ideological and not terrorist.”

But that support for the Brotherhood isolates Turkey and Qatar politically and economically from neighboring states. Turkey’s ailing economy and worsening relations with the EU pose immediate threats. That situation is not sustainable long-term, Sarhan said.

“Turkey and Qatar have offered safe haven to many of the MB middle level leaders, where they have helped establish media outlets to spread their message. Nevertheless, the future of the support given to MB members in these countries [is] questionable,” Sarhan said.

Meanwhile, intellectual and organizational stagnation has the Brotherhood pushing the same political agenda it offered during the 1970s. That program focused on infiltrating Egypt’s Parliament, vocational syndicates and student unions while promoting archaic social programs that don’t fit modern times. This included attempts to ban forms of arts such as opera and ballet. During its one year in power, an aggressive program of “Brotherhoodization” of the Egyptian state was pursued through major government appointments of Brotherhood-aligned officials.

“Islamists in general, and MB sympathizers in particular, will always find their ways through the different political organizations in Egypt, especially labor syndicates and parties of the left movement,” Sarhan said. “The only way [to stop that] is to open up the political landscape to the liberal parties, while keeping the pressure on Islamists.”

Techniques that helped the Brotherhood survive for 90 years, when little was known about its activities, may be less effective under Egypt’s current crackdown. Egyptians recoiled from Morsi’s rule, and the Brotherhood’s influence has suffered, both at home and abroad. The Brotherhood’s past success fooling Western sympathizers into believing it was a moderate force in a chaotic region may be more difficult to preserve.

“MB groups in exile will eventually wither away,” Sarhan said, “since they won’t be allowed to return home. We can take lessons from Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiyyah in the 1990s, which collapsed under the security forces pressure, and their affiliates abroad ceased to exist.”

All of these factors indicate that the Muslim Brotherhood in its traditional structure and cultural impact may fade away. It is possible that it will split into smaller entities.

“It will take the MB years to build a new hierarchical organization,” Sarhan said. It may be able to build an organization in exile, biding time until conditions in Egypt are more favorable. He cited the example of Tunisia’s Ennahda movement, whose leader Rached al-Ghannouchi lived in exile in London for decades before returning to lead the government coalition in 2011.

As Sedky said, “The dream of reigning supreme across the Muslim World and the whole world doesn’t die easily.”

Hany Ghoraba is an Egyptian writer, political and counter-terrorism analyst at Al Ahram Weekly, author of Egypt’s Arab Spring: The Long and Winding Road to Democracy and a regular contributor to the BBC.

Calling for Violent Jihad in Australia

By Mark Durie, APRIL 11, 2018

There is not a Bible, Jewish or Christian, containing such incendiary commentary as populates page after page of ‘The Noble Qur’an’, which for four years has preached to the faithful in Canberra Airport’s prayer room. The ideology it promotes is violent jihad. It is a book to start a war.


The Saudis, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt recently cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed sanctions, accusing the Qataris of supporting terrorism. The Saudis have demanded that Qatar close Al-Jazeera and cut all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and the Islamic State. Qatar’s long-standing and well-known support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which aims to unify Muslim nations under an Islamic caliphate and has networks of supporters across the Middle East, is now perceived as a serious threat its neighbours.

This is the pot calling the kettle black, for Saudi Arabia itself has a long record of exporting Islamic radicalism. Among its most notable exports are millions of Korans in translation, which, through commentary (mainly in footnotes) and accompanying materials, incite Muslims to wage violent jihad to establish an Islamic state.

Among the Saudis’ exported Korans is an English-language edition, TheNoble Qur’an, which can be found in mosques, prayer rooms and meeting places around the world. Anyone who applies to the Saudi embassy in Canberra will be sent a copy gratis.

The Noble Qur’an can be found in the musallah or prayer room of Canberra’s airport. What is apparently the same edition, with “AIRPORT MUSALLAH” written in black marker pen on the page ends, has been sitting there for the past four years, ever since the new airport was built. The Noble Qur’an is also publicly available in other “multi-faith” spaces that have been springing up in institutions across Australia in recent years, in universities, hospitals and other public places.

Canberra airport’s Noble Qur’an was printed by the order of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who ruled from 2005 to 2015. It includes the Arabic text, and, side-by-side, the English translation by Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din al-Hilali and Muhammad Muhsin Khan. There is also an endorsement by Shaikh Abdul-Aziz ibn Baz, Chief Justice of Saudi Arabia from 1993 to 1999, and a foreword by Shaikh Salih ibn Abdul-Aziz al-Shaikh, the current Saudi Minister for Islamic Affairs. After the Koranic text there are a hundred pages or so of appendices, and under the text there are footnotes, which offer a commentary. There are also frequent interpolations in brackets to help clarify the meaning in translation.

Marked “not for sale”, vast numbers of The Noble Qur’an printed by the Saudis are exported around the world. The King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Medina has printed over one hundred million Korans in thirty-nine languages since it was established in 1985. The handsomely gilded Noble Qur’an is distributed as part of the Saudis’ global da’wa or effort to propagate Islam. It appears to target two kinds of readers.

First, The Noble Qur’an seeks to enlist Muslims in violent jihad against non-Muslims, to establish an Islamic caliphate. Second, it aims to engage with Christians. The longest essay in the appendices is an argument that Jesus was a prophet of Islam, and commentary throughout The Noble Qur’an—in the explanatory footnotes, the interpolations in brackets and the appendices—challenges and “corrects” Christian teachings.

Sometimes it is said that when people use verses from the Koran to justify violence, they have taken them out of context. This criticism cannot be applied to The Noble Qur’an, which follows a traditional Islamic method of interpreting the Koran in the light of Muhammad’s example and teachings, known as the Sunna. In keeping with this tradition, citations from the Sunnasupply the great bulk of the explanatory footnotes.

On non-Muslims
The footnotes in The Noble Qur’an are repeatedly derogatory of non-Muslims. 

For example, a note to Sura 10:19 (p. 272, fn1) quotes Muhammad to say that human beings are born Muslims, and are “converted” away from Islam by non-Muslim parents. For Jewish or Christian parents to raise their child in their own faith is like mutilating them:

Every child is born on al-Fitrah, but his parents convert him to Judaism or Christianity … An animal gives birth to a perfect baby animal. Do you find it mutilated?

The Arabic phrase al-fitrah refers to the doctrine that the innate state of human beings is to be a Muslim.

The Arabic text of the Koran calls non-Muslims unclean (Sura 9:28), using a derogatory word (najas). The footnote to this verse explains about non-Muslims that:

Their impurity is spiritual and physical: spiritual because they don’t believe in Allah’s Oneness and in his Prophet Muhammad … and physical, because they lack personal hygiene (filthy as regards urine, stools and [menstrual] blood). [p. 248, fn 2]

Sura 3:85 states that “whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers”. In the footnote commentary on this verse, The Noble Qur’an quotes Muhammad to explain that Christians and Jews who die disbelieving in Muhammad will end up in Hell:

there is none from amongst the Jews and Christians … who hears about me and then dies without believing in the Message with which I have been sent … but he will be from the dwellers of the (Hell) Fire. [p. 84, fn 1]

Sura 4:47 warns Christians and Jews that they should believe in Muhammad, or else their faces will be taken away in hell, to which the translators add, in brackets, “by making them like the back of necks; without nose, mouth, eyes”. The footnote commentary explains further:

This Verse is a severe warning to the Jews and Christians, and an absolute obligation that they must believe in Allah’s Messenger Muhammad … and also in his Message of Islamic Monotheism and in this Qur’an. [p. 115, fn 2]

The Koran has verses which exhort tolerance of Christians and Jews. Yet The Noble Qur’an takes pains to emphasise that such verses have been cancelled by later verses, following the Islamic contextual principle of abrogation (naskh). Here are two examples:

First, Sura 2:62 states that a Christian or Jew who “believes in Allah and the Last Day and does righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve”. This could be taken to imply that Christians and Jews will be accepted by God if they follow their faith properly. However, the commentary on this verse clarifies that:

This Verse (and Verse 5:69) … should not be misinterpreted by the reader … the provision of this Verse was abrogated by Verse 3:85 “And whosoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter, he will be one of the losers” (i.e. after the coming of Prophet Muhammad … on the earth, no other religion except Islam, will be accepted from anyone). [p. 13, fn 2]

What this footnote is actually asserting is that Christians and Jews will go to Hell unless they accept Islam, because earlier verses which seemed to counsel tolerance have been superseded and cancelled by later verses.

Second, Sura 2:109 states that Muslims should “forgive and overlook” the Christians and Jews, “till Allah brings His Command”.Yet the footnote makes clear that “the provision of this verse has been abrogated” (p. 21, fn 1) by Sura 9:29. The later verse commands Muslims to fight (that is, kill) Christians and Jews unless or until they surrender to Muslims and pay tribute:

Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad …) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. [Sura 9:29, p. 248]

Here again, a more tolerant verse is claimed to have been abrogated by a later verse which commands violence against non-Muslims.

The meaning of jihad
Some Muslims have proposed that the basic meaning of jihad is peaceful struggle. In contrast, The Noble Qur’an defines jihad as waging war against non-Muslims to make Islam dominant in the world. This jihad is obligatory for all Muslims, and rejecting this obligation will lead to hellfire.
This interpretation is made clear in the glossary, where the entry for jihad is:

Holy fighting in the Cause of Allah or any other kind of effort to make Allah’s Word (i.e. Islam) superior. Jihad is regarded as one of the fundamentals of Islam. See the footnote of (V.2:190) [p. 873]

The footnote referred to is a comment on Sura 2:190, “And fight in the Way of Allahthose who fight you …” This footnote reads:

Al-Jihad (holy fighting) in Allah’s Cause (with full force of numbers and weaponry) is given the utmost importance in Islam and is one of its pillars (on which it stands). By Jihad Islam is established, Allah’s Word is made superior, (His Word being La ilaha illallah which means none has the right to be worshipped but Allah), and His Religion (Islam) is propagated. By abandoning Jihad (may Allah protect us from that) Islam is destroyed and the Muslims fall into an inferior position; their honour is lost, their lands are stolen, their rule and authority vanish. Jihad is an obligatory duty in Islam on every Muslim, and he who tries to escape from this duty, or does not in his innermost heart wish to fulfil this duty, dies with one of the qualities of a hypocrite. [p. 39, fn 1]

Here The Noble Qur’an is saying that the purpose of jihad is to make Muslims dominant over non-Muslims, and Islam dominant over other religions; Islamic warfare against non-Muslims is a kind of missionary enterprise to spread the faith, and any Muslim who does not fulfil this obligatory duty is a “hypocrite”.

What is bad about being a “hypocrite” is made clear by The Noble Qur’an on page 906 of the appendices: a hypocrite will end up in the lowest depths of Hell, the place of worst punishment. The Noble Qur’an is teaching here that any Muslim who does not engage in and support warfare to establish the dominance of Islam is destined to occupy the hottest place in Hell, worse even than that occupied by non-Muslims.

In its footnote on Sura 27:59, The Noble Qur’an quotes a tradition of Muhammad which refers to jihad (p. 512 fn 1). (Here again jihad is defined as “holy fighting”.) The footnote emphasises that fighting non-Muslims is the best possible pious deed for a Muslim, second only to becoming a Muslim.

The caliphate and universal war against non-Muslims
Sura 2:252 (p. 55, fn2, running on to p. 56) refers to Muhammad as a messenger of Allah. The footnote to this verse reports that Muhammad’s prophethood was distinguished by certain characteristics. Three of these are:

(i) Muhammad was victorious through fear or terror for a distance of one month’s journey: “Allah made me victorious by awe (by His frightening my enemies) for a distance of one month’s journey.”
(ii) He was the first prophet from Allah given permission to take booty from his enemies: “The booty has been made Halal (lawful) to me yet it was not lawful to anyone else before me.”
(iii) Unlike previous prophets, he was sent to all mankind, not just to a specific group: “Every Prophet used to be sent to his nation only, but I have been sent to all mankind.”

The implication of this third point is that everyone, everywhere is obligated to accept Muhammad as their prophet, and the first two points show that he was uniquely commissioned to wage war against disbelievers, by terrorising and looting them. Muhammad is considered to be the best example for Muslims to follow, including, it becomes clear, in these aspects of his prophetic career. The Noble Qur’an emphasises these aspects of Muhammad’s mission to activate them for jihad.

In its footnote on Sura 3:55 (p. 76, fn 1), The Noble Qur’an states that when Jesus returns he will impose Islamic law and break the cross (that is, destroy Christianity). At that time Jesus will do away with toleration of non-Muslims, so that “all people will be required to embrace Islam and there will be no other alternative”. In other words they will be compelled to convert by force if required.
This teaching about Jesus’s return is repeated in a commentary on Sura 8:39 (p. 236, fn 1), and a comment on Sura 61:6 (p. 761, fn 2), which states that this tradition is intended as “a severe warning to Christians who claim to be the followers of ’Isa (Jesus) …” In essence The Noble Qur’an tells its Christian readers that when he returns Jesus will compel them to embrace Islam, and all people on the earth will have to choose between Islam and death.

In its commentary on Sura 9:29 (p. 248, fn 2) The Noble Qur’an cites a tradition of Muhammad about the Jews, which states, “The Hour (i.e. the final hour) will not be established until you fight against the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say, ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.’” So, at the end, creation itself will cry out for Jewish blood.

In an interpolation in Sura 8:73, The Noble Qur’an states that Muslims of the world must not ally themselves with non-Muslims, but join together “to make victorious Allah’s religion of Islamic monotheism” (p. 242). It is explained in commentary that if Muslims do not do this, there will be terrible disorder and tribulation in the world, with wars and battles and calamitous breakdown of civil society. This is because of the deleterious effects of non-Muslim rule. Moreover, it is also wrong to have “many Muslim rulers”, because Muslims should unite under one ruler, the caliph: “it is a legal obligation … that there shall not be more than one Khalifah for the whole Muslim world …” Furthermore, anyone who works to divide Muslims into different groups under different rulers should be killed, according to Muhammad, who is reported to have said, “When you all [Muslims] are united … and a man comes up to disintegrate you and separate you into different groups, then kill that man” (p. 242, fn 1). This can be taken to imply that anyone who upholds the division of Muslims into distinct nation-states, which is the international order today, stands under a death sentence.

The Noble Qur’an paints a supremacist vision of an ultimate Islamic victory over non-Muslim religions, in which all non-Muslims will be converted to Islam or killed. The text of Sura 3:110 reads:

You (true believers in Islamic monotheism …) are the best of people ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin al-Mahruf (Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar (polytheism, disbelief, and all that Islam has forbidden), and you believe in Allah. [Sura 3:110]

The footnote commentary on this verse explains:

“You … are the best of people ever raised up for mankind” means, the best of the people for the people, as you bring them with chains on their necks till they embrace Islam (and thereby save them from the eternal punishment in the Hell-fire and make them enter paradise in the Hereafter) … The people referred to here may be the prisoners of war who were captured and chained by the Muslims and their imprisonment was the cause of their conversion to Islam. So, it is as if their chains were the means of winning Paradise. [p. 89, fn 1]

This footnote is a reference to a tradition of Muhammad which states that Allah is pleased to see people entering Paradise in chains. This justifies making war on non-Muslims, and forcing them into Islam through enslaving them; enslaving non-Muslims is a kindness to them, because it enables them to attain Paradise.

This interpretation of Sura 3:110 is based on Muhammad’s teaching. Could it have any application in today’s world, or is it just a dead letter?

The very same tradition was cited by the Islamic State in the October 2014 edition of its magazine Dabiq, which included an article titled “The Return of Slavery Before the Hour”:

[Muhammad] said, “Allah marvels at a people who enter Jannah in chains.” The hadith commentators mentioned that this refers to people entering Islam as slaves and then entering Jannah [Paradise]. Abu Hurayrah … said while commenting on Allah’s words, “You are the best nation produced for mankind” … “You are the best people for people. You bring them with chains around their necks, until they enter Islam.”

The same sentiment was also expressed by a Dutch Islamic State fighter, Israfil Yilmaz, who blogged about the correct Islamic motivation for sex slavery:

People [who] think that having a concubine for sexual pleasure only have a very simple mindset about this matter … The biggest and best thing of having concubines is introducing them to Islam in an Islamic environment—showing them and teaching them the religion. Many of the concubines/slaves of the Companions of the Prophet … became Muslim and some even big commanders and leaders in Islamic history and this is if you ask me the true essence of having slaves/concubines.

The translators who crafted the commentary in The Noble Qur’an, and the Saudi leaders who endorsed the text, no doubt desired that readers would take to heart the teachings they had laboured hard to present. The evidence is that many have done so. The investment by the Saudis of billions of dollars to spread the kinds of ideas found in The Noble Qur’an has not been in vain, and the Islamic State provides the proof.

Evidence for their success is found in Israfil Yilmaz’s justification for sex-slavery. This not only aligns with official ISIS propaganda: it also is fully in line with the teachings of The Noble Qur’an. Another sign of the influence of The Noble Qur’an’s ideas has been the river of thousands of ISIS recruits flowing from Western nations to join the jihad in Syria and Iraq.

What does all this mean?
Ahmed Farouk Musa, a graduate of Monash University medical school in Melbourne, told a forum on Muslim extremism in Kuala Lumpur on December 7, 2014, that The Noble Qur’an incites violence against Christians and other non-Muslims: “I believe that propaganda such as the Hilali-Khan translation and other materials coming out of Saudi Arabia are one of the major root causes that feed extremist ideas among Muslims, violence against Christians and other minorities.”

There is not a Bible in print, anywhere in the world, Jewish or Christian, which contains such incendiary commentary as is found on page after page of The Noble Qur’an. This is a book with which to start a war. The ideology it promotes is primed to light the fuse of violent jihad.

Given its contents, it might seem surprising that a copy of The Noble Qur’an has been sitting in the Canberra airport prayer room for the past four years. The theological characteristics of this edition of the Koran are not a secret. Yet it seems no Muslim who used the musallah has objected, or if they did, the Canberra airport authorities paid no attention. Canberra’s politicians and their many advisers also regularly pass along the corridor where the musallah is located, but none of them seems to have thought to check what version of the Koran was being used in their airport’s prayer room.
Earlier this year the Public Health Association of Australia asked the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade to reject the “notion” that there is any inherent link between Islam and terrorism. It seems that Public Health Association of Australia officials have also not visited the Canberra airport musallah to read its Koran.

There has been much discussion and sometimes puzzlement about how young Muslim men have become radicalised enough to fight for ISIS. Reading and believing the messages implanted in The Noble Qur’an in the Canberra airport prayer room would be sufficient to convert some people to the key points of the ideology of ISIS.

The message of The Noble Qur’an is no marginal phenomenon. It is not an opinion from the extremities of the Islamic world, but from its heartland, presented as a gilt-edged free gift from the Saudi king, the Guardian of the Two Holy Mosques. The political theology of The Noble Qur’an aligns with the official dogma of Saudi Arabia, and it has been endorsed by the Saudi king and the nation’s chief justice, the Grand Mufti.

It is necessary to grasp the authenticity of The Noble Qur’an and its message to the world. Those behind The Noble Qur’an manifestly believe that justice will be served only when Muslims rule the world, and that warfare necessary to achieve this goal is not only justified: it is a divinely instituted, inescapable obligation incumbent on every Muslim, because Muhammad and his Koran are, as Sura 21:107 puts it, “a mercy to the worlds”.

One sometimes hears the view that it is not up to non-Muslims to express opinions about Islam or its canonical texts, such as the Koran. But The Noble Qur’an’s running commentary on the text, because it has so much to say about non-Muslims, especially Jews and Christians, therefore gives non-Muslims, especially Jews and Christians, every right to form their own opinions about it. If a book talks about you, you have a right to make up your own mind about what it has to say.

In 2002 Christopher Hitchens fielded a question from Tony Jones on ABC’s Lateline as to why young, mostly well-educated men committed the 9/11 atrocity. Hitchens’s answer was, “Well, it could be they believe their own propaganda.” We have to assume that those responsible for The Noble Qur’an believe their own propaganda too, and that some who have read it have been influenced to believe it too.

What should Australians make of the fact that the Saudis have been presenting an open and unashamed apology for violent jihad, even commending the practice of enslaving enemies, in our own backyard for years, not to show Islam in a poor light, but to glorify it?
The fact that The Noble Qur’an is in the Canberra airport musallah is no accident. This edition of the Koran and the teachings it promotes can be found in Islamic bookshops, public libraries, prayer rooms and Sunni mosques all over the English-speaking world.

The British historian Tom Holland recently produced a documentary on ISIS called The Origins of Violence. A scathing review by the English journalist Peter Oborne was published in the Middle East Eye. Oborne excoriated Holland for suggesting that the problem with ISIS lies with Islam. Oborne found it repugnant to suggest that there is anything about Islam that might be considered a “threat”, and he railed against Holland’s suggestion that there could be anything in the example and teaching of Muhammad (whom Oborne respectfully calls “The Prophet”) which could have guided the actions of the Islamic State.

Such ignorance is the fruit of religious illiteracy. Or might fear be the issue? Has Muhammad, praised in the pages of the Koran for being “victorious by awe”, now extended his reign of fear, not just for the distance of one month’s journey as Muhammad declared he had achieved in seventh-century Arabia, but across fourteen centuries to Australia and the rest of the world?

Of course many Australian Muslims would, like Ahmed Farouk Musa, find the messages promoted through the footnotes and glosses of The Noble Qur’anutterly repugnant. It is disappointing that these well-meaning Muslims have not been able to determine which version of their own scriptures is to be placed in a public prayer room designated for their use. They could have lobbied Canberra airport to have this version of the Koran replaced by another, but if they have done so, their attempts must have failed.

The message contained in The Noble Qur’an and its widespread public distribution are matters Australians have every right to be concerned about. Its message has been promoted in public for years with hardly a whisper of objection coming from those who should know better.

It would be inappropriate, and indeed irrelevant if our leaders were to respond to the message of The Noble Qur’an with statements like “True Islam does not promote terrorism” or “No true religion supports violence”. For Australian officials to dare to instruct the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia or the Guardian of the Two Holy Mosques on what is true Islam would be ludicrous and offensive. But the leaders of our nation, against whose non-Muslim citizens The Noble Qur’an incites such undisguised enmity, have every right to say, “Not in our backyard!”

Dr. Mark Durie is an academic, human rights activist, Anglican pastor, a Shillman-Ginsburg Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and Adjunct Research Fellow of the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.

This article was first published by the Quadrant in November 2017. 

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Inside Qatar’s $20+ million a year lobbying effort in Washington

U.S.-Islamic World Forum | Flickr

Conservative Review, by Jordan Schachtel,  Sept. 13, 2017:

The small Gulf nation of Qatar is investing millions of dollars into influential Washington, D.C., lobbying groups in order to rehabilitate its image with the American people and the Western world. As proven ties to terrorist groups and actors continue to mount, Qatar is now relying on an aggressive public relations campaign to solve its predicament.

Qatar is in the middle of a fierce diplomatic row with its neighbors over its alleged support for terrorist groups and its coziness with the terrorist regime in Iran. Neighbors such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE contend that Qatar is playing a double game with its allies, and the two nations have joined Arab nations in imposing a diplomatic and economic boycott of Doha.

Qatar refutes the allegations by claiming that they act as an intermediary for groups that would otherwise be unreachable to Western governments, such as the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and Hamas.

The diplomatic issue has put the United States in an uncomfortable position, given that Doha’s Al-Udeid Air Base serves as the headquarters of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and hosts over 11,000 U.S. personnel. But Qatar’s dealings with nefarious actors and clear-cut jihadists has not only infuriated neighbors, but caused many Americans (such as President Trump himself) to demand that our CENTCOM partner stop providing safe haven to terrorists and their enablers.

Time and time again Qatar has promised to address these concerns and rein in the extremist elements inside its borders. However, intelligence continues to trickle out supporting detractors’ claims that Qatar not only continues to support terrorists, but also has high-ranking members of its government and society involved in arming and funding jihadists in Syria, Gaza, and elsewhere.

Western officials have alleged that Qatar is not only the foremost supporter of Hamas and the al-Qaeda-connected Al Nusra front, but also the Islamic State.

Currently, according to the UAE government, there are at least six different entities and 37 al-Qaeda operatives living in Qatar. Ryan Mauro of the Clarion Project reports that “Qatar is so hospitable to Al-Qaeda that Osama Bin Laden advised his son, Hamza, to move there as he prepared to step into his father’s shoes.”

Qatar is currently home to Egyptian Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who has called for suicide bombings against American soldiers stationed in the Middle East. Moreover, Qatar has long been the established residence of the chairman of Hamas. In June, Interpol listed 26 terrorists residing in Qatar who were wanted by foreign governments for extradition.

Given that Qatar hasn’t shown much interest in reforming its most fundamentalist elements, the cash-rich ruling monarchy there has decided to dump millions of dollars into a P.R. effort in the United States to boost its image with the decision makers in Washington.

Qatar now has multi-million dollar lobbying contracts with seven different Washington lobbying firms. Lobbyists are tasked with smoothing over (whitewashing) Qatar’s record on various issues, from its troubling terror ties to its diplomatic positioning to even its relationship with the Jewish community (which is troubled by its overt support for Hamas, which seeks to wipe out the state of Israel).

Republican, Democrat, and non-partisan focus firms have been deployed to work on Qatar’s behalf. Politico reports that Qatar was spending over $1.7 million a month ($20 million annually) on its lobbying — and that was before it inked its seventh contract on Sept. 3 with Stonington Strategies.

Doha is also moving boatloads of cash over to D.C. think tanks, seeking to influence the debate within Washington’s academics and elitist society.

Between 2011 and 2014, Qatar pledged at least $21.6 million to the center-left Brookings Institution. In 2014, Qatar agreed to “donate” another $14.8 million over four years to Brookings. Scholars there have admitted on the record that they cannot take “positions critical of the Qatari government in papers,” accordingto The New York Times.

In addition to Brookings, the influential, relatively non-partisan Rand Corporation recently completed a decade-long partnership with Qatar.

While Qatar’s lobbying efforts are centered in Washington, they’re also determined to reach a broader audience in the academic world, through collaborative projects with some of America’s top universities.

With mounds of evidence showing direct ties to terror, and having a leadership that does not intend on entertaining true reform, it remains to be seen whether Qatar will succeed in efforts to pay its way out of its current image crisis.

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

Exploiting the fault lines of Islamic terrorism

Family Security Matters, by Lawrence Sellin, Sept.8, 2017:

The U.S. has largely viewed Islamic terrorism as a monolithic threat with varying degrees of extremism distributed among various geographic locations.

We have often not adequately appreciated the historical, ideological and geopolitical subtleties underlying Islamic terrorism and, consequently, missed opportunities to enhance our national security by effectively pitting one faction against another, if not by defeat, then by disruption.

For example, an extraordinary and mostly unnoticed diplomatic démarche occurred in Kabul on August 7, 2017, when the senior Saudi diplomat in Afghanistan, Charge d’affairs Mishari al-Harbi, accused Qatar of supporting Taliban “armed terrorists” even though Saudi Arabia itself had long been a financial backer of the Taliban and, together with Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), officially recognized the group when it assumed control of Afghanistan in 1996.

At a high level, that event can be traced back to the centuries-old conflict between Sunni and Shia Islam upon which modern geopolitical interests are layered.

The basis of the Saudi action, however, was a continuation of the June 2017 diplomatic breakdown among Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and isolation of Qatar, initially by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Eqypt, that included severing of diplomatic ties, border closing, an embargo and the expelling of Qatari diplomats and residents expelled from GCC countries. Qatar was accused of sponsoring terrorism and meddling in the affairs of other GCC countries, specifically through its support of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

Although Qatar is indeed a major supporter of radical Islam, the root cause of the conflict is Qatar’s amicable relationship with Saudi Arabia’s Shia nemesis, Iran, with whom Qatar shares a natural gas field in the Persian Gulf. Because Qatar’s major export is gas not oil, it is less under the political domination of Saudi Arabia, often pursuing an independent foreign policy, which is not appreciated in Riyadh.

The Saudis’ hostile rhetoric in Kabul was meant to discourage independent Saudi donors from supporting the Taliban and, by de-legitimization of the Taliban, undercut Qatar’s effectiveness as a mediator between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

One factor contributing to the Saudi break with the Taliban is the increasing support the Taliban have accepted from Iran. In addition, the ambassador to Afghanistan of Saudi ally, the UAE, was wounded and five of its diplomats were killed in the January 2017 Kandahar bombing, which was allegedly planned at the Afghan Taliban-linked Mawlawi Ahmad Madrassa in Chaman, Pakistan.

Over the last decade, there has also been a shift in Saudi funding to Pakistan away from Deobandi groups like the Taliban to the more extreme Ahl-i-Hadith sect, the Pakistani equivalent of Wahhabism. Local sources in Pakistan have reported that Saudi Arabia is providing funding for Jihadi training camps in order to launch attacks on Iran from Balochistan.

All of the above accentuates the importance for U.S. policy makers to understand and exploit elements of the Sunni-Shia struggle, the divisions among Sunni extremist groups and the geopolitical vulnerabilities of the nations who sponsor terrorism.

The ideology that sustains radical Islamic terrorism is really an amalgamation of ideologies, whose inherent incompatibilities can be exploited to create conditions whereby the ideologues attack each other or, at a minimum, are kept continuously off balance.

That is what a winning strategy looks like, not troop levels and nation building.

Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired colonel with 29 years of service in the US Army Reserve and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. Colonel Sellin is the author of “Restoring the Republic: Arguments for a Second American Revolution “. He receives email at lawrence.sellin@gmail.com.

State Dept. Hosts Muslim Brotherhood Coalition

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, Aug. 14, 2017:

Islamist groups still have an open door to the State Department under Secretary Tillerson. A coalition of Muslim Brotherhood groups is boasting that it was granted a visit to the department to provide their perspective on the Temple Mount crisis.

The U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) is an umbrella of Islamist extremist groups that was formed in 2014 so they can operate as a single body. The U.S. Muslim Brotherhood had been hoping to achieve such unification since at least 1991 when the Brotherhood expressed this desire in a secret memo uncovered by federal investigators.

Most of the groups in the USCMO are listed by the Brotherhood as being fronts for its “Islamic Movement” in America. The memo described “their work in America as a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within.”

The USCMO says it met with State Department officials to influence them to pressure Israel. As documented by the Clarion Project, USCMO and other Islamists in America are lying about the recent Temple Mount crisis.

The coalition said it discussed “Israel’s denial of religious freedom in Jerusalem.” USCMO was pleased with the reception it got from the State Department, saying it was “encouraged by the constructive dialogue.”

Secretary of State Tillerson opposes designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and has been siding with Qatar, contradicting President Trump in the process. Qatar is spending hand over fist to hire lobbyists, particularly former Trump campaign officials.

The USCMO organizations represented at the meeting included the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Circle of North AmericaAmerican Muslims for Palestine, the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California and the Muslim Ummah of North America.

The Justice Department says CAIR is an entity of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and designated it as an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation, another Brotherhood entity convicted for financing Hamas. ICNA’s own texts show its subversive radical agenda.

The representative at the State Department meeting for the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, Muzammil Siddiqi, said in 1996 that Muslim involvement in U.S. should be geared towards establishing theocratic sharia (Islamic) law everywhere. Siddiqi used to be the president of the Islamic Society of North America, another group that was designated as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land trial and listed as a Brotherhood entity.

As for AMP, some of its officials previously served with the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s pro-Hamas Palestine Committee. Congressional testimony in 2016 pointed out the “significant overlap between AMP and people who worked for or on behalf of organizations that were designated, dissolved or held civilly liable by federal authorities for supporting Hamas.”

Perhaps the strongest evidence linking USCMO to the Brotherhood is the fact that it enlisted a known member of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood for its political efforts in Illinois named Sabri Samirah. The Jordanian Brotherhood is very radical and linked to Hamas. Samirah used to be the chairman of a now-defunct Hamas front in the U.S., the Islamic Association for Palestine.

The U.S. government was concerned enough about him to ban him from coming back to the U.S. from Jordan in 2003, even though he lived in America as a non-citizen since 1987. The U.S. government revoked his work visa in 1999 and denied his appeal in 2001. He then lied on his application for residency.  He was permitted to return in 2014.

Other radical organizations in the USCMO coalition include the Muslim Alliance in North AmericaMuslim American Society, the Muslim Legal Fund of America, the Mosque Foundation, the American Muslim Alliance, Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center, the Islamic Society of Boston and the North American Imams Federation.

Its board is full of Islamists from these organizations. One is Siraj Wahhaj, the radical imam of the Masjid Taqwa mosque in New York. Another is Mazen Mokhtar, who was jailed on charges related to tax fraud (but whose indictment laid out his connections to terrorism). Mokhtar has declared support for Hamas and suicide bombings and ran a website that helped fundraise for Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

USCMO is an ally of the Islamist government of Turkey. Another member is the Turkish American Cultural Society. In September, it hosted Turkish President Erdogan and the USCMO president was there to show his “respect and love” to Erdogan. Erdogan is now essentially a dictator and state sponsor of terrorism, particularly of Hamas and the Brotherhood.

USCMO is openly supportive of Erdogan. In 2015, the coalition took a stand against Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. One USCMO member, the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center, promoted a rally on that same exact day to thank Erdogan for supporting the Brotherhood.

The Center for Security Policy has published a comprehensive study of the USCMO’s links to Islamic extremism and terrorism, including the Brotherhood and Hamas.

It is not known who USCMO met with at the State Department or what vetting process took place (if any).

This story is the latest in a series about concerning developments within the Trump Administration.

Major danger signs for Israel are emerging, particularly from the State Department and National Security Adviser McMaster.

It is also concerning that the Department of Homeland Security praised CAIR in a letter in May, with the author claiming it was written at the behest of then-Secretary of Homeland Security Kelly, who is now Trump’s chief of staff.

Hopefully, the attribution to Kelly was just a consequence of standard procedure, but that still wouldn’t excuse Kelly from failing to change DHS policy towards CAIR during his six months there. However, CAIR’s condemnation of Kelly is an encouraging sign.

The Trump Administration is still young and many positions are still not filled. Almost one-third of senior State Department spots are still empty. And as the strike on a Syrian airbase showed and multiple firings have shown, the administration is very capable of rapid changes. These problems don’t have to be permanent. 

The Trump Administration needs an across-the-board education in these matters and oversight by those who understand Islamism so problematic policies, processes and personnel can be identified. Reviewing this meeting with the USCMO would be a good place to start.

Qatar Is Playing a Dangerous Game of Political Chicken

Saudi Arabia and its allies are right to pressure Qatar to end its support for the Muslim Brotherhood.

The National Interest, by Nawaf Obaid, August 6, 2017:

Last month a Saudi-led group of nations that includes Egypt, UAE and Bahrain modified the thirteen demands it had made on Qatar over a month ago and instead insisted on six principles. These principles are an attempt to convince the Qataris to combat extremism and terror, to prevent the expression of incitement to violence, to stop interfering in the internal affairs of other states, and to refrain from supporting illegal entities, among other things. And while moving from making demands to urging an acceptance of principles is being spoken of as a reconciliatory gesture on the part of the anti-Qatar bloc, the central contentious issue remains: Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood. The Saudi coalition knows what the experiences of numerous Muslim governments have long proven: the Muslim Brotherhood is an oppositionist movement that does not represent a sustainable form of governance, offers little in the way of social or economic programs, and some of its members have been linked to political violence and jihadist terror.

The current crisis has a geopolitical and historico-religious context. Qatar is a small island nation of 2.5 million people (of which fewer than 10 percent are nationals) that has long felt begrudgingly subordinate to larger Arab states like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Its ruling family, Al Thanis, also trace their roots to the Salafist cleric, Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab, who allied with the Saudi ruling family in the eighteenth century to establish the first Saudi state (the current Kingdom is the third manifestation of the Saudi state).

Fueled by a desire to exercise outsized influence and a sense of its own importance within the original lineage of Islam, Qatar has long harbored Muslim Brotherhood leaders and supported its attempts to seize power in various Arab nations. The former emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who is the father of the current emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, is very close with the Muslim Brotherhood’s current spiritual leader, Egyptian-born cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has lived in Qatar since 1961. In addition, Qatar has funded the Al Jazeera network, which has long provided a global platform for Sheikh Qaradawi and others to promote the movement’s rigid political theocratic manifesto.

The Muslim Brotherhood was formed in Egypt in 1928 and spread via affiliate organizations into Tunisia, Morocco, Syria, Jordan and Palestine, among others. Yet, in almost every case, it has proven incapable of working successfully and/or peacefully within established sovereign political systems. This has been largely due to three factors: its emphasis on religious ideology over developmental economics has alienated Arab populaces who have a growing preference for secular and effective governance; its inability to keep its numerous affiliates in step has led to the perception that it is too riddled with infighting to coherently govern; and it has been unable to quell suspicions regarding its connection to extremist violence.

The Muslim Brotherhood has never gained power in Egypt, save for a short period after the so-called Arab Spring when it proved even more inept than the Mubarak regime at solving the economic and social problems of the country, and the army, with large popular support, removed it from power. With certain Muslim Brotherhood elements having carried out terrorist attacks against its security officers, Egypt’s Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs has called the Muslim Brotherhood “the progenitor of the Islamic State and similar terrorist groups.”

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