For several years many in the West debated if the Muslim Brotherhood was a moderate or a radical group. In fact, the Brotherhood managed to convince several decision makers in the U.S. and Europe that they are their "moderate" political partner.
This has contributed to accepting such a group by U.S. decision makers despite the fact that the same group is the closest ally and shares the same ideology of Hamas, which is correctly classified by the U.S. as a terrorist organization.
Several reasons contributed to the inability of many Westerns to understand the true radical nature of the Brotherhood:
First: According to the beliefs of the Brotherhood, they achieve their ideological goals via the following four sequential steps:
Step 1 — Al-Daawa (Preaching); Step 2 Al-Musharaka (Sharing power with others); Step 3 Al-Tamkeen (Consolidating power); Step 4 Al-Mughalab (Enforcing Sharia upon the others by force).
These sequential steps simply mean that an outside observer will not be able to see the violent nature of the group in the first three stages. In fact, the reason why most Egyptians turned against the Muslim Brotherhood was that they realized that the group was in Stage 3 and the next step for them, Stage 4, would have been Sharia rule, like the Taliban.
Had they reached Stage 4 in Egypt, it would have been impossible to remove them from power. Many Westerners simply could not see these stages, and thus continued to support the Brotherhood in the first three stages thinking that they are not a violent group.
It also worth mentioning that the Muslim Brotherhood is ready to accept things that contradict their true ideological beliefs such as allowing alcohol or freedom of women to dress as they want long as this can help them reach Stage 4.
Such temporary sacrifice ideologically is based on the Sharia principle of Tequia (deliberate deception of others until the person achieves power).
These stages also make it more difficult to recognize their reality before they reach their final stage that shows their reality (Stage 4).
Second: The Brotherhood has a policy of not doing the dirty work themselves, i.e. terrorism. They simply support other radical groups in a variety of ways to do this job on behalf of them. The pro-terrorists agenda of the Brotherhood can be elucidated in the release of hundreds of terrorists from Egypt prisons (while leaving pro-democracy activists in the prisons!). It can also be seen in trying to decrease international pressure on the radicals in Mali when Morsi objected to France’s “interference” against them despite their heinous crimes against their population.
The Brotherhood’s strategy of committing the violent acts themselves makes them look like a "moderate" group, however, a deeper analysis of their behavior shows clearly that they are pro-radicals.
Third: Various unusual tactics made it more difficult for outsiders to detect the real threat of this group.
Some of these tactics include "covertly" encouraging a radical group such as Hamas to attack Israel while "overtly" positioning itself as the peace negotiator to gain trust of Westerners. The ability of Hamas to reach the depth it did into Israel with their rockets for the first time only after Morsi came to power casts doubt on the common believe that the Muslim Brotherhood was truly interested in stopping Hamas from attacking Israel.
Using words with two meanings is another tactic that allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to deceive many in the West. For example, many Brotherhood members can insist that it is the right of any individual to choose his religion.
This is likely to be interpreted by many in the West as support for “Freedom of Religion,” however, Brotherhood members will refrain from saying that, "It is also the right of any individual to leave his faith" as this will contradict their basic believe in the Redda Law of Sharia which allows killing those who convert from Islam to another believe system.
The use of such a tactic, allowed the Brotherhood to portray itself as a moderate group to many in the international community.
In this context it is vital to mention that Saiid Qutb, who promoted the use of violence to enforce Islam, is still the main spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. It is hard to believe that the Brotherhood is truly moderate while their main ideologue is the same person of the spiritual leader of Ayman Al-Zawherri.
This would be like believing that a man is not anti-Semitic while his spiritual leader is Adolf Hitler! In fact, the similarity between the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamic groups was made clear when former President Naser of Egypt said in one of his speeches that the first thing that the spiritual leader of the Brotherhood asked him to do when he met with him in 1953 was to force women to wear the hijab.
The second request was to close all movie theaters and ban movies. These are typically the first two things that Islamic radical groups from Mali to Somalia to Taliban do when they come to power.
The above reasons partially explain why many have failed to detect the real threat of the Muslim Brotherhood. This failure has resulted in political decisions that empowered them. Understanding the dynamics of the Muslim Brotherhood and how they work is fundamental to taking correct decisions regarding the Brotherhood organization.
Dr. Tawfik Hamid is an Islamic thinker and reformer, and one-time Islamic extremist from Egypt. He was a member of a terrorist Islamic organization JI with Dr. Ayman Al-Zawaherri who became later on the second in command of Al-Qaeda. Hamid recognized the threat of radical Islam and the need for a reformation based upon modern peaceful interpretations of classical Islamic core texts. Dr. Hamid is currently a Senior Fellow and Chair of the study of Islamic Radicalism at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.