Is the Muslim Brotherhood Operating in America?
Critics of the campaign to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization argue it will have a damaging impact on Muslim civil rights organizations operating in the United States.
Several of the leading Muslim civil rights organizations are in fact dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. As we wrote previously, this does not mean they are necessarily part of a coordinated central command structure, but that’s not the end of the story.
An excellent investigative piece by Peter Skerry in Foreign Affairs magazine argues despite the lack of a centralized Muslim Brotherhood, “since the 1950s and 1960s, when Muslims began arriving as students at U.S. universities, individual Muslim Brothers and the Brotherhood itself have been critical in the establishment of the country’s various Islamic institutions and organizations. These include virtually all of the major entities representing Muslims in contemporary American politics: the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim Student Association (MSA), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the Muslim American Society (MAS), and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).”
Among the pieces of evidence he cites is the website of the Muslim American Society (MAS) which acknowledges that “many immigrant organizations that were established early on would likely have had some founders who formerly had some involvement or even membership in the Ikhwan [Brotherhood].”
In January 2012, Abdurrahman Alamoudi, an admitted U.S. Muslim Brotherhood operative convicted on terrorism-related charges in 2004, stated, “Everyone knows that MAS is the Muslim Brotherhood.” In so doing, he echoed a 2008 statement to the same effect by Dr. Mamdouh Mohamed, the educational adviser for American Open University.
In 2011 the group reacted to the death of al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden by describing him as “a visionary who believed in the possibility of an Islamic state in Afghanistan, and the possibility that this thing might someday be,” although they did condemn 9/11 in the statement. They later retracted the press release.
Do They Support Terrorism?
Figures connected to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood have also been linked more directly to terrorism financing.
In 2008, the Holy Land Foundation was shut down for funneling money to the Palestinian Muslim-Brotherhood-affiliate Hamas.
The trial was the largest terrorism financing trial in American history. Five senior executives of the Holy Land Foundation, at the time the largest Muslim charity in the United States, were convicted of funneling millions of dollars to Hamas. An earlier trial in 2007 was declared a mistrial, and an appellate court upheld the sentences in 2011.
A number of other individuals and organizations, including the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) were listed as unindicted co-conspirators at the Holy Land Foundation trial. CAIR grew out of the Islamic Association for Palestine, a group founded by a Hamas member as a way to support Hamas in the United States.
The designation was upheld by a judge, despite a legal appeal launched by CAIR to have it removed, because of “ample” evidence linking CAIR to Hamas.
A large number of documents were submitted as evidence in that trial, including an official document from a 1991 meeting outlining the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategic goals for North America.
According to this Explanatory Memorandum, those goals include “establishing an effective and a stable Islamic Movement led by the Muslim Brotherhood which adopts Muslims’ causes domestically and globally, and which works to expand the observant Muslim base, aims at unifying and directing Muslims’ efforts, presents Islam as a civilization alternative, and supports the global Islamic State wherever it is.”
What Does All This Mean?
This is just a small snapshot of the various pieces of evidence linking these groups to the Muslim Brotherhood. Taken together, they show that while there is no centralized coordinated Muslim Brotherhood entity, there are a variety of organizations in the United States founded by Muslim Brotherhood members and/or which at least partially subscribe to the Muslim Brotherhood’s totalitarian ideology, even though not all members of those organizations may be fully signed up to that ideology.
That ideology remains committed to establishing a global Islamic caliphate and should therefore be taken seriously as a danger to the United States.