John Guandolo is the author of Raising a Jihadi Generation: Understanding the Muslim Brotherhood Movement in America. He is also the founder of UnderstandingTheThreat.com.
In 1996, Guandolo left the Marines to join the FBI’s Washington Field Office, focusing mostly on narcotics investigations until 2000. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, he began an assignment to the Counterterrorism Division.
In 2006, Guandolo created and implemented the FBI’s first Counterterrorism Training/Education Program focusing on the Muslim Brotherhood. He was designated a “Subject Matter Expert” by the FBI and his program was praised by the FBI Executive Assistant Director in a brief to the Vice President’s National Security Staff.
The following is Clarion Project National Security Analyst Ryan Mauro’s interview with John Guandolo:
Ryan Mauro: In your new book, you estimate that about 2,000 non-profits in the U.S. are linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. How did you come up with this estimate?
John Guandolo: First, we must begin by remembering that the Islamic community in America continues to be led by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) here. The first national Islamic organization in the U.S., the Muslim Students Association (MSA), was created by the Brotherhood in 1962-1963.
When the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development was indicted in November 2001, it was the largest Islamic charity in America, and it was a MB/Hamas entity. Hamas is the MB in Palestine.
In 2004, the FBI raided the residence of a senior Hamas/MB operative, Ismail Elbarasse, in Annandale, Virginia. In his home, the FBI discovered the archives of the Muslim Brotherhood in America. Much of the evidence, as you know, was entered into the U.S. v. HLF trial—the largest terrorism-financing trial ever successfully prosecuted in U.S. history.
Of the many documents, records and other items that were discovered, one was a recording of a senior MB leader—Zeid al-Noman—speaking to a group of Brothers in Missouri in 1981. This tape and the corresponding transcript were entered into evidence at the HLF trial and stipulated to by the defense.
While there are numerous documents discovered that make my point, this recorded discussion is, in my opinion, one of three pivotal finds at the Elbarasse residence. Al-Noman tells the entire story of how the Muslim Brotherhood came to America.
They first settled in Indiana, Michigan and Illinois, which explains why the MB’s largest organization, the Islamic Society of North America, is headquartered in Plainfield, Indiana. It explains why Detroit and Dearborn are points for significant jihadi activity, and why Chicago is the hub for Hamas in the U.S.
The MB set up “Usras” about 150 miles apart across the U.S. An Usra consisted of a few men. Each Usra would grow and establish itself in an area and as Muslims came from overseas, the Muslims already there would incorporate them into what was already going on.
As these small pockets of activity grew, the MB did exactly what their By-Laws said they would do. They established schools, mosques, clinics, shelters and the like to expand their influence in the community. By the early 1980s, nearly all of the Islamic organizations in America were established by the MB. A powerful beginning.
In 1983, the MB established the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) to be the “nucleus” of their movement and, within the year, about 100 “Islamic Societies” were established across the U.S. In 1991, the Brotherhood published an "Explanatory Memorandum"—the strategic plan for North America. Following that, they approved and published the “Implementation Manual” which put into action the strategic plan.
When you track the number of Islamic non-profits created against the years in which they were created, there is a direct correlation between the MB strategic actions and the creation of Islamic non-profits.
Prior to 1983, very few Islamic non-profits were created except those that were created by the MB. In 1983, there is a spike of about 100, all of which are subsidiaries of ISNA. In 1992, after the publication of the strategic plan and Implementation Manual, there is a large spike in the creation of Islamic non-profits that never comes down again.
From that time to today, between 60 and 120 Islamic non-profits are created each year. A large number of those organizations match the organizations that the MB said it would create.
Here is an easy snapshop: There are over 2,100 Islamic Centers in the U.S. today. From investigation and research, we know a large portion of them are controlled by the MB. Through land ownership by the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT)—the bank for the MB—or through known MB leaders at these Centers, we know that a large percentage of the Islamic Centers belong to MB.
Today, there are over 600 MSAs on nearly every college and university campus. There are over 320 Islamic Societies and several hundred chapters of the Muslim American Society (MAS), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim Communities Associations, Islamic Teaching Centers and professional organizations like Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers and Association of Muslim Social Scientists.
You see, “2,000” is an extremely conservative number.
Mauro: How much decentralization is there in the American Islamist networks? For example, could a CAIR or MAS chapter leader be a non-Islamist who agrees with the groups’ humanitarian and political work?
Guandolo: No. While there are people employed by these organizations who have varying levels of enthusiasm for the MB movement, the leadership of all of these organizations does not suffer from that problem.
Colleagues of mine have worked/studied at various military institutions, the National War College for instance. On several occasions, officers from Islamic countries have remarked on the significant and overtly-noticeable control the MB has here in the U.S. over the Muslim community.
The State Department has a program where they pay for imams to fly from overseas to the U.S. to meet with “Islamic leaders” here—almost all of whom are MB. One imam from Indonesia who is not supportive of the MB movement reported back to the U.S. Ambassador that this program should be shut down because the U.S. government, in this imam’s opinion, was paying for jihadis overseas to meet with jihadis here in America that have “control” over the Islamic community.
In my professional opinion, this aspect of the threat cannot be overstated. Prominent Muslim Dr. Zuhdi Jasser commented a few years ago that the MB controlled the access to the Iftar dinners at the White House and kept him out for several years.
Mauro: Is it possible that the Brotherhood-linked groups have evolved and become moderate over time? Some of their officials have admitted that Brotherhood ideologues set them up, but claim that they have since gone their own way.
Guandolo: This is utter rubbish. There is not one shred of evidence that they have slowed down their movement at all. All of the evidence points to a rapid acceleration of their plans. The influence of easily identifiable MB leaders inside our national security apparatus is evidence enough of their massive influence.
Men like Sayyid Syeed, Muzammil Siddiqi, Ishan Bagby, Mohammed al-Hanooti, Iqbal Unus, Ahmad Totonji, Hisham al-Talib, Yaqub Mirza and the children of the first-generation MB leaders (e.g. Suhail Khan and Zainab Alwani) are all heavily involved in the most prominent Islamic organizations in North America.
The U.S. Muslim Brotherhood is more powerful today than it has ever been.
Mauro: There is a quote in your book that I took note of. It’s from Islamist scholar Shamim Siddiqi in 1989. He said, “The revolutionary aspect of Islam is rarely brought before the new converts.” Can you explain what this means?
Guandolo: There is actually a lot of meat behind this. In short, he explains that non-Muslims are brought to Islam without being told of the obligation to wage jihad. They only need to be told enough to say the Shahada with reverence and they become a Muslim. Over time, all of the teachings are given to the individual.
The concept of “abrogation” or “progressive revelation” needs to be understood. The prophet Mohammed had 23 years to bring the world of Jahaliyyah (gross ignorance and unbelief) to Islam. For 13 years in Mecca, he moved slowly. According to Islamic sources, in the first six or seven years, only a handful of people converted to Islam.
In the entire first 13 years, approximately 200 people converted to Islam. During this time, there was no mention of jihad. When Mohammed made the trip (hijrah) to Medina, he became a political leader and a military commander. We first see defensive jihad, then offensive jihad for a limited number of reasons.
There is no disagreement among Islamic scholars that jihad is obligatory for all Muslims until the entire world is subordinated to Islamic law (sharia). 100% of published Islamic law says this.
So, when Shamim Siddiqi says the revolutionary aspect of Islam is not explained to the new convert, he is simply restating doctrine.
Mauro: In June 2011, you gave a presentation about the MB to over 100 national security professionals. An FBI counterterrorism supervisor said that he had never heard the information you provided. No one else did either, except those that took your class.
Why are most national security personnel unaware?
We need to take the enemy at their word and then begin assessing the threat from there. This would necessarily require us to look at sharia Law. If we did, we would see that Al-Qaeda is not “perverting” sharia. They are accurately citing it.
We have MB figures advising our senior leaders that there isn’t really any sharia that is written down. I always respond to the first comment by asking the person to show me just one book of sharia Law that says what he is telling me it says. So far, no takers.
This is because the mysterious “other version” of sharia does not exist. Those that say sharia isn’t written down only need to go to Amazon.com, type in “Islamic Law,” and order 10 or 20 books. Most are in English by the way, because many of the largest Islamic countries in the world were once under British rule and the legal language was English.
Having said all that, I am still amazed at how this enemy has truly rendered our national security apparatus witless and unable to identify and name our enemy twelve years after 9/11. All of this is the intentional outcome of the MB’s 50+ year movement here.
Mauro: Do you believe the Islamists are capable of taking over the U.S. or soon will be? If not, then what is the threat this network poses?
Guandolo: It is clear they believe they have already won. They are waiting for the game clock to run out. Part of the problem in getting Americans to see the imminent threat is that they, like the U.S. security services, are completely focused on the kinetic stuff—bombings, shootings, etc. We need to worry about these, but it isn’t how they intend to defeat us.
The MB strategic plan says they are waging “Civilization Jihad” to destroy our civilization and that they will use our leaders to do their work for them (“by their hands and the hands of the believers”). When the U.S. wrote constitutions in Iraq and Afghanistan imposing sharia and created two Islamic Republics; that is civilization jihad by our hands.
When the MB launches a revolution, overthrows numerous governments and kills scores of people, our government calls it a “freedom movement” organized by “students on Twitter” and then proceeds to financially and materially support the MB in Egypt, and then Al-Qaeda/MB in Libya and Syria. That is “civilization jihad” by our hands.
When the Hamas and MB entities in America tell the White House they are “offended” over training about this movement and its doctrinal basis in sharia law and that training is shut down and replaced by training from MB organizations, that is “civilization jihad” by our hands.
I could go on, but I think your readers will get the point. As I see it, we’re five minutes into the first quarter of the football game. The MB is out on the field and they are winning 72-0. We are on the sidelines in baseball outfits wondering what inning it is.
The MB has a strategic plan and an operational plan to implement it. They are well-organized, well-funded and disciplined. They have thousands of organizations working daily to overthrow our governmental system and erode our society of the basic founding principles.
We cannot even speak about the threat for fear of offending our MB and Hamas advisers. Who do you think is going to win this war if it continues this way?
Ryan Mauro is the ClarionProject.org’s National Security Analyst, a fellow with the Clarion Project and is frequently interviewed on top-tier TV stations as an expert on counterterrorism and Islamic extremism.