By contrast, the Brotherhood has supported al Qaeda’s attacks against U.S. personnel operating in Islamic countries — a straightforward application of classical sharia. Yet, many jihadist outfits besides al Qaeda now conduct those attacks. For purposes of the cost/benefit analysis the Brotherhood calculates on everything it does, al Qaeda’s contribution to that effort is welcome, but it is not necessary to sustain the effort.
Consequently, the U.S. attacks on al Qaeda served the interests of both Obama and the Brotherhood. From Obama’s perspective, they were popular politically and they insulated him from claims that he was weak on national security, which gave him a wide berth to cultivate the Brotherhood and Islamists overseas. From the Brotherhood’s perspective, there was much advantage in being courted by an American administration, and if the price tag on that was to mute their criticism of Obama’s attacks on al Qaeda, it was a price they could afford to pay: the Brotherhood’s stealth efforts have profited greatly from the atmosphere of intimidation created by al Qaeda’s violent campaign, but that atmosphere was already well established by 2008 — they didn’t need al Qaeda for that anymore.
Again, in making these points, I never came close to suggesting that Obama somehow thought he needed the Brotherhood’s permission to kill bin Laden. I pointed out the obvious yesterday: The United States remains at war with al Qaeda, and Obama is the commander-in-chief; in that connection, Obama approved the mission to kill bin Laden. The Muslim Brotherhood had no bearing on, or involvement in, that mission or its approval. Obviously, bin Laden’s killing is a fact that had consequences for the Brotherhood, just like it has consequences for all of us who were not involved in its occurrence. The Brotherhood could have protested. Indeed, the Brotherhood did complain a bit for public consumption in the Middle East (since bin Laden was largely celebrated in Islamist circles there). But the Brotherhood did not complain much, nor did it cut off its ties with the Obama administration, which now serve the Brotherhood’s purposes more than al Qaeda’s savagery does.
For the Brotherhood’s present purposes, bin Laden was expendable.