- The Washington Times - Friday, February 11, 2011


When America’s top intelligence officer calls the Muslim Brotherhood a “largely secular” organization, it’s appropriate to wonder what the intelligence community is doing with its generous budget. The spooks might get a clue from the organization’s name, if nothing else. 

The White House is engaged in a full-court press to sell the idea that there is nothing to worry about if Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood takes power. On Thursday, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in testimony to the House Intelligence Committee that the Muslim Brotherhood “is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam.” He added that they “have pursued social ends, a betterment of the political order in Egypt, et cetera.” Nothing to worry about according to the intelligence chief, just a public spirited band of community organizers.

Propaganda aside, the Muslim Brotherhood is anything but secular. Founded in 1928 by Islamist radical Hassan al-Banna, the Muslim Brotherhood has worked to realize their dream of establishing hard-line shariah law in Egypt and export their extremist views globally. The brotherhood’s most influential thinker was Sayyid Qutb, the godfather of contemporary jihadism and a preeminent theorist of Islamic revolution. The brotherhood has been an illegal political party for decades and has had to steer clear of openly advocating violence. This is typical of underground parties that seek to coexist with strong-armed regimes. Those radicals who have preached and openly practiced violence, such as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, have been ruthlessly suppressed. Either way, whether extremist Islam is imposed by force or realized by the ballot, it’s a threat to U.S. interests and the cause of human rights.

The Muslim Brotherhood is doing its part to distract attention from its agenda, issuing a statement claiming they want to work for an Egypt that represents everyone, Muslims, Coptic Christians, secularists and so forth. Such smoke and mirrors go against every aspect of their program but it reveals a modus operandi that is common for extreme revolutionary movements that need to temporarily hide the extent of their intentions to gain power.

The Muslim Brotherhood is employing the “united front” strategy – most notably used by Russian communist leader Vladimir Lenin – in which a small but committed band of extremists makes common cause with larger, more moderate groups in order to gain entree into the halls of power. Once part of the ruling order, the extremist faction then proceeds to subvert from within, gaining more influence by degrees until the time is ripe for a full implementation of their revolution. Then, it’s murder and mayhem to get their way. This was how the Bolsheviks – who, like the Muslim Brotherhood, were a small, radical and ruthless part of the political scene – managed to seize power nine months after the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II. Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini also used this technique to consolidate power after the downfall of the Shah. 

For some reason, the White House dispatched Mr. Clapper to try to put the best face on the Muslim Brotherhood. It’s not in the interests of the United States to see these Islamists in power; neither is it in the interests of Egyptians, who don’t want to live under suffocating Islamic fundamentalist rule. If the Obama administration does its homework, it is still early enough to correct Mr. Clapper’s intelligence failure regarding the brothers. It should be obvious that an organization whose symbol is the Koran flanked by two swords doesn’t have freedom and democracy at heart.

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