The similarity in philosophy between the Muslim Brotherhood and violent Islamists such as ISIS and al-Qaeda is quite pronounced, according to a new study carried out in the UK.
“The evidence now shows that there is considerable ideological overlap in how Islamic scripture is used by [political] Islamists, like the Muslim Brotherhood, and violent jihadists, such as ISIS and Al Qaeda,” said Dr Emman El-Badawy, head of research at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.
The institute’s new study, “Struggle Over Scripture: Charting the Rift Between Islamist Extremism and Mainstream Islam,” was based on an examination of more than 3,000 documents culled from extremist and mainstream sources.
“Understanding the ideological proximity of non-violent Islamist and Salafi-jihadism has never been more urgent, as the Muslim Brotherhood is increasingly under the spotlight. The fact remains that extremist voices have had an impact on Islam that is wildly disproportionate to their numbers,” El-Badawy added.
The reports also found that claims by terror groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda that there is theological backing for their actions are going all but unchallenged by mainstream Islamic scholars.
In fact, the study notes, 85 percent of the time scriptural sources are cited by jihadists, no religious counter narrative is offered.
The study calls on mainstream Islamic scholars to offer alternative interpretations of the texts to “prevent extremists from defining the rules of the game in the battle of ideas.” It also says governments should fund and establish online sites where “credible religious voices” can provide an alternative to extremist interpretation of Islamic sources.
The findings of the study about the close ideological connection between jihadists and the Muslim Brotherhood were borne out historically as well as noted in current events.
In the recently released CIA documents seized during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, papers show bin Laden’s ideology from the beginning was affiliated with the Brotherhood.
“I was committed to the Muslim Brotherhood, despite their limited curriculum,” bin Laden said in hand-written notes. “I was religious from a young age…There was no one guiding me like the Brotherhood was. It was just natural instinct.”
In a recent appearance, Palestinian-Jordanian historian Husni Ayesh, a former member of Jordan’s Board of Education, said ISIS and al-Qaeda developed from the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The leader of al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen also recently said in a statement that his group has formed alliances with other Sunni jihadists in the country, including the Muslim Brotherhood.
In addition, despite Hamas’ apparent attempt to distance itself from its own terrorist past and its parent body, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian Brotherhood insists the two are still connected.
Watch Clarion Project’s Shillman Fellow and National Security Analyst Ryan Mauro on why the Brotherhood should be designated as a terror organization: