Is the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, or one of the world’s foremost bulwarks against terrorism? Numerous mainstream terror analysts in Washington contend that it is the latter.
They have to ignore a mountain of evidence to do so.
Arguing in the Washington Post that Congress should not designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, Marc Lynch of George Washington University and the Project on Middle East Political Science asserts:
The Muslim Brotherhood’s firewall against extremism [was] a very real thing in the decade following 9/11.
However, Lynch thinks that, because of the al-Sisi government’s crackdown on the Brotherhood:
… the key mechanisms by which the firewall operated have now dramatically eroded.
More from Lynch:
Prior to the Arab uprising, I argued that mainstream Islamists served as a firewall against more violent extremists … [because] the Brotherhood publicly articulated an ideology of nonviolence and democratic participation. It competed with al-Qaeda for recruits and for public influence, and kept its members tightly embedded within its institutional structures. The Brotherhood could compete with al-Qaeda and other extreme groups in ways that liberals and state elites could not.
Lynch is apparently unaware that al-Qaeda founders Abdullah Azzam and Osama bin Laden, as well as its current leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, were all members of or trained by the Muslim Brotherhood. Even more importantly, in building his case that the Muslim Brotherhood is a competitor to and bulwark against al-Qaeda and other jihad terror groups, Lynch ignores the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda have exactly the same ultimate goal.
In his 2002 letter to the American people, Osama bin Laden wrote:
The first thing that we are calling you to is Islam. … You are the nation who, rather than ruling by the Shariah of Allah in its Constitution and Laws, choose to invent your own laws as you will and desire. You separate religion from your policies, contradicting the pure nature which affirms Absolute Authority to the Lord and your Creator.
The Muslim Brotherhood shares the goal of replacing democratic rule with Sharia, as even CNN acknowledged in 2013:
The Muslim Brotherhood is a religious and political group founded on the belief that Islam is not simply a religion, but a way of life. It advocates a move away from secularism, and a return to the rules of the Quran as a basis for healthy families, communities, and states.
The key difference between the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda — and other jihad groups — is that the Brotherhood works through the democratic process in order to undermine that process and ultimately destroy it. The jihadis choose the path of violently attacking the installations of democratic governments, but with the same goal of ultimate destruction.
For Lynch and other Washington policy analysts, this is an all-important distinction. In reality, it is a distinction without a difference. The Brotherhood and the jihad groups are two sides of the same coin, working for the same goal via different means.
What’s more, the assertion that the Brotherhood eschews violence is egregiously false.
[D]espite post-coup propaganda and arrests by the Egyptian regime, there is very little to substantiate the charge that the Brotherhood behaved like a terrorist organization during Egypt’s transition or embraced violence either ideologically or strategically.
Beltway fantasy, meet reality: Egypt’s El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence documented 359 cases of torture by the Muslim Brotherhood regime during its one year in power. By way of comparison, this was ten times more than the number of cases documented annually during the notoriously brutal Mubarak regime — the regime Obama and his Beltway terror analysts helped replace with the Brotherhood.
Even worse, when the Brotherhood was toppled from power, it blamed its failure on Egypt’s Christians – and that’s when Lynch’s “bulwark” against terror really began its campaign of, yes, terror.
Brotherhood members and supporters burned and looted nearly seventy churches, and destroyed 1,000 Christian businesses and homes. According to the Rev. Khalil Fawzi of Kasr El Dubarrah Evangelical Church, the Middle East’s largest evangelical church:
The Muslim Brotherhood were the ones who called for aggression. They are responsible.
In light of the Brotherhood’s willingness to engage in violence to further its ends, and the Sharia goal it shares with violent jihad organizations, Lynch’s recommendation that the U.S. work to strengthen the Brotherhood as a bulwark against al-Qaeda is the height of folly. It would be tantamount to aiding Mussolini in order to defeat Hitler, or electing Hillary Clinton to roll back the policies of Barack Obama.
By contrast, the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act is more realistic. It quotes testimony from former FBI Director Robert Mueller:
[E]lements of the Muslim Brotherhood both here and overseas have supported terrorism.
Supporters of terrorism richly deserve the terrorism designation. Mainstream analysts such as Mark Lynch have led the U.S. down numerous policy blind alleys. His viewpoint needs to be decisively rejected now.