Homeland Security

CIA That Funded the 'Moderate Muslim Brotherhood' Narrative Opposed to the Group's Terror Designation

The CIA has published an analysis claiming that designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization could “fuel extremism,” Politico is reporting today.


Quite conveniently, this internal CIA analysis found its way into the hands of Politico reporters.

But oddly, the article fails to mention that the CIA and the U.S. intelligence community were directly involved in funding the experts who pushed the bogus “moderate Muslim Brotherhood” narrative beginning in the latter end of the Bush administration.

This hand-wringing is in response to reports that the Trump administration is actively discussing such a designation.

Needless to say, the Washington, D.C. foreign policy “smart set” and the media who have been openly disdainful of the White House’s considerations are wetting themselves at news of the CIA’s analysis.


According to our late PJ Media colleague Barry Rubin, the CIA paid for the research and travel expenses for then-Nixon Center researcher Robert Leiken and his younger colleague Stephen Brooke to travel around the Middle East and Europe meeting with Muslim Brotherhood leaders. They reportedly met with Muslim Brotherhood members in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Tunisia, the UK, Spain, and elsewhere.

This resulted in a still-classified paper commissioned by the National Intelligence Council and, according to Barry Rubin, paid for through a CIA contract. Barry Rubin was hired to write the rebuttal to the Leiken/Brooke paper.

This became the basis for an article by Leiken and Brooke in the March/April 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs entitled, “The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood.” This one article became the basis for virtually every single talking point in support of the Muslim Brotherhood parroted by the “smart set” and the media.

At the time, I wrote a three-part criticism of the Leiken/Brooke Foreign Affairs article. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)


There is proof of Barry’s claim about the U.S. intelligence community’s role in hyping the “moderate Muslim Brotherhood” narrative, namely the admission by Leiken himself.

With their Foreign Affairs article in hand, Leiken and Brooke were tasked to push compliance with this narrative throughout the Bush administration agencies.

A June 2007 New York Sun report by Eli Lake tells of an event Leiken hosted by the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research that reveals:

Earlier this year, the National Intelligence Council received a paper it had commissioned on the history of the Muslim Brotherhood by a scholar at the Nixon Center, Robert Leiken, who is invited to the State Department meeting today to present the case for engagement.


Mr. Leiken’s Foreign Affairs paper and classified study for the National Intelligence Council has gotten the attention of senior National Security Council officials and Secretary of State Rice, according to two administration officials.

“The NIC asked me to provide an analysis of the Muslim Brotherhood and I was happy to oblige,” Mr. Leiken said.

The intelligence community has not always been so sold on the Muslim Brotherhood’s so-called moderation.

After 9/11, a joint U.S.-European intelligence analysis on the Muslim Brotherhood that raised concerns about the organization’s global goals was obtained by reporters Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball, then at Newsweek :


As the spread of Islamic radicalism began to accelerate a few years ago, a team of U.S. and European intelligence agency officials collaborated on a secret study of a sensitive subject: the global operations of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Their classified report highlighted what its authors saw as disturbing trends. Founded by fundamentalists in Egypt in 1928, the Brotherhood has grown rapidly in recent years and established beachheads in over 70 countries, including virtually every major nation in Europe and the Middle East, as well as many parts of Africa. According to the report, a copy of which was obtained by NEWSWEEK, the group’s members “frequently communicate and meet in secret” and appeared to have access to hundreds of millions of dollars.

The group’s leaders now publicly disavow violence, and in many countries, operate openly in the political process. But the Brotherhood’s goals, the report states, have remained constant: the creation of a worldwide Islamic caliphate that would govern according to sharia, or Quranic law.

“Regardless of any moderate statements to the contrary,” the report states, Muslim Brotherhood members “still abide by the following radical theme proudly displayed on their Web site: Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Quran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”


To my knowledge, that report has never been made public beyond Isikoff and Hosenball’s reporting on it.

Other intelligence agencies have warned about the operations of the global Muslim Brotherhood.

One Dutch AIVD study warned of the Brotherhood’s corrosive and subversive agenda in the West that encourages the use of various levels of violence:

Just this week domestic German intelligence sources have reportedly been taking note of Muslim Brotherhood activities:

It’s a good thing Germans are paying attention to this problem, since the 9/11 plot was hatched out of a Muslim Brotherhood mosque in Hamburg led by Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood member Mohammed Atta.

So far, many of the arguments against the Muslim Brotherhood by the foreign policy and media establishment have ranged from the non sequitur (“if you call the Muslim Brotherhood terrorists they will become terrorists), the patently false (“the Muslim Brotherhood renounced violence in the 1970s”), to the histrionic (“designating the Muslim Brotherhood is declaring war on all American Muslims”).


Virtually all of these articles at some point parrot the worn out and largely debunked talking points of the Leiken/Brooke Foreign Affairs article, as does the Politico piece.

But given the CIA and the U.S. intelligence community’s role in funding and marketing the “moderate Muslim Brotherhood” narrative from its inception, to have this new CIA analysis fall into the lap of D.C. reporters at the very moment that the White House is debating the move raises serious questions about the intelligence community’s continued interference in domestic and foreign policy discussions.

That would seem to be an important issue that new CIA Director Mike Pompeo—who as a congressman co-sponsored the House bill calling for the designation of the Muslim Brotherhood—should look into.


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