the brotherhood americas next great enemy

Table of Contents
Title Page
Copyright Page
Dedicated to my beautiful girls, Lori, Juliana, and Leah.
“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband.”
—Proverbs 12:4
“Children are a heritage from the LORD.”
—Psalm 127:3
“I have set watchmen upon your walls,
O Jerusalem, who shall never hold their peace day nor night:
you that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence.”
—Isaiah 62:6
he alleged leader of Germany’s Muslim Brotherhood punched me.
It was actually more of a playful nudge of my right shoulder, something an old friend might do while busting your chops. Yet I had met Ibrahim el-Zayat only minutes before.
“You should have asked me for some names,” el-Zayat said as we stood in the lobby of a Cologne hotel. “I could have put you in touch with all the right people.”
I had just informed him that I had contacted a few leading Islamist figures in his home base of Cologne and gotten no response. Hence, the nudge and a look of feigned exasperation.
How long must I suffer this infidel?
In reality, I wasn’t too upset at the lack of response from Cologne’s Islamists. El-Zayat was the one I really wanted. He’s been called “one of the most influential Islamists in Europe”
and “a quintessential New Western [Muslim] Brother.”
Likewise, the
Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report
, a comprehensive intelligence digest, regularly refers to el-Zayat as “the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Germany.”
Since I was writing a book about the Brotherhood, el-Zayat seemed a good place to start. But in the run-up to our meeting in late June 2012, I had all but given up on interviewing him. For weeks, I had sent el-Zayat emails saying I was coming to Germany and would love to get together. His responses were infrequent and noncommittal. Finally, on my last night in Germany and after a long day of interview shoots, my cell phone rang as I was heading back to my hotel. To my great surprise, it was Ibrahim el-Zayat.
“I can meet you at your hotel in thirty minutes,” he said. “But I can’t stay long.”
My cameraman and I grabbed a quick bite, set up for the interview shoot and waited. And waited. Just when we thought el-Zayat might not show, he came bounding through the hotel’s front entrance. Clad in a smart suit and designer eyeglasses and sporting a wavy, salt-and-pepper mane and neatly trimmed beard, el-Zayat looked more like a European diplomat than “a spider in the web of Islamist organizations,” as one German security official described him.
That alleged web has many strands. El-Zayat, according to
Wall Street Journal
reporter Ian Johnson, “seemed to have either founded or been closely involved with every recently established Muslim Brotherhood–related group in Europe.”
The list includes The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE)—widely considered the Brotherhood’s lobbying arm on the Old Continent—as well as the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), a Saudi-created group for which el-Zayat acted as European representative. El-Zayat also served for nearly a decade as head of the Islamic Society of Germany (IGD), an organization with longtime ties to top Brotherhood leaders in Germany and abroad.
In short, Ibrahim el-Zayat is an extremely well connected mover and shaker who, despite his youth, has been a major player on Europe’s Islamist scene for years. Born in Germany in 1968 to an Egyptian Muslim father and a German mother who converted to Islam, el-Zayat has spent most of his life in Deutschland but is well traveled and speaks fluent English. After studying law and economics at German universities, he went on to become a successful businessman and marry a doctor (his wife is the niece of famed Turkish Islamist Necmettin Erbakan).
Needless to say, Germany has been very good to el-Zayat. Yet he seemed to have little affinity for his homeland as he spoke to me of Germany’s supposed intolerance for its 4.3 million-strong Muslim community.
“From the Muslim community’s side, it is that you feel not part of the country,” he told me as we sat in a small conference room. “Because many people have the deep understanding that they have done the utmost to be part of Germany, but the society is refusing them.... Germany has a lot of parts now which are no longer multicultural but now monocultural, and this is a challenge for everybody.”
A challenge indeed: particularly for non-Muslims in places like London, Madrid, and Boston who’ve seen Muslim immigrants unleash deadly terror on their cities in recent years.
I’ve visited many of the type of unassimilated, “monocultural” Islamic communities el-Zayat describes and have reported on them extensively. From Berlin to Brussels to suburban Paris to Dearborn, Michigan, Muslim immigrants are segregating themselves from their host societies and setting up Islamic enclaves that are often no-go zones for non-Muslims, including police.
It’s hard to see why a committed Islamist like el-Zayat would frown on this development. The Muslim Brotherhood’s leading global ideologue and Spiritual Guide, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi (whom el-Zayat praises effusively), is the driving force behind the Brotherhood’s state-within-a-state strategy for the West. And el-Zayat himself is helping to spearhead the rapid construction of mosques throughout Europe.
A Cologne newspaper featured a profile of el-Zayat describing him as the chief representative of an organization called European Mosque Construction and Support. In that capacity, el-Zayat reportedly maintains more than six hundred mosques across Europe and helps with the construction and renovation of countless others.
According to the Muslim Brotherhood’s own documents, mosques, or “Islamic centers,” are meant to serve as the “beehives” of the parallel Muslim societies the Brotherhood envisions in Europe and the United States .
When el-Zayat’s involvement in a mosque project becomes known, locals often protest—his reputation as a Muslim Brotherhood–connected figure precedes him. He is well aware of the baggage he carries in the eyes of non-Muslims and shared a simple, very Brotherhood-esque solution in an interview with the
Wall Street Journal
’s Ian Johnson:
If a plan to build a mosque is made public, everyone is against it. Mosques must always be built secretly... if it’s not public, you can build any mosque, regardless of who’s behind it. You just have to keep it secret.
This strategy of deception—or
—has paid big dividends for el-Zayat. It has also attracted the attention of German authorities, who have investigated his business dealings over the years but have yet to indict him on any charges.
Although the government scrutiny and ensuing bad press have forced el-Zayat to keep a lower public profile, once we began our interview, he settled almost immediately into his familiar role of crafty spokesman for the Islamist cause.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi had been declared the victor in Egypt’s presidential election just hours earlier, and el-Zayat was clearly pleased.
“I think it is a big success for Egypt and for the democratic change process that you have Mohammed Morsi now as president,” he crowed.
To hear “Mohammed Morsi” and “democratic change” uttered in the same sentence now sounds absurd, given Egypt’s wholesale descent into Islamist chaos under Morsi’s rule. Of course, to those of us who’ve long warned that the Muslim Brotherhood is a radical, anti-American organization that spawned al-Qaeda and Hamas and actively calls for the destruction of Israel, the idea of Morsi as Cairo’s version of Thomas Jefferson has always been not only ludicrous, but downright dangerous.
Yet at the time of Morsi’s election in 2012, Western media and governments were still enraptured by the so-called Arab Spring (some still are, despite its disastrous results) and had much invested in the notion of a supposedly moderate, pragmatic Muslim Brotherhood taking the reins in Egypt.
Whether el-Zayat assumed I was among this sizable, pro-Brotherhood camp is unclear. Regardless, he plowed ahead with talking points that would leave the average
New York Times
or BBC journo positively smitten (as if the playful love tap on the shoulder wouldn’t have already done the trick).
“I believe that for many years we had only a lot of misinformation and misconceptions about... the Muslim Brotherhood,” el-Zayat said. “You had information mainly filtered by governments who have been oppressive ... and I think that this should be overcome and I hope that it’s overcome.”
He needn’t have worried. Ever since the outbreak of the Egyptian revolution in January 2011, the Obama administration and its mainstream media minions have been hard at work recasting the Brotherhood as (in el-Zayat’s words) a “reform movement” that is “evolving” and worthy of more than a billion dollars in American taxpayer aid, even given our massive debt.
“I think what is special about the Muslim Brotherhood in the end. . . ,” el-Zayat continued, now clearly hitting his stride, “is what you could describe as a thought which is combining Islam with modern life. And this starts with [Jamal al-Din] al-Afghani and Rashid Rida and it comes to Hassan al-Banna—who had been the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood but who had a completely different stance on things.”
Al-Afghani and Rida were two seminal Islamists who helped inspire al-Banna’s “stance on things” prior to his formation of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928—a stance that included, as we’ll see shortly, a hatred for the West and Jews and a desire to reestablish the global Islamic caliphate, with an Egypt ruled by sharia law as its centerpiece.
When I pressed el-Zayat on al-Banna’s clear directives for Muslim Brothers to wage armed jihad against non-believers, he didn’t skip a beat.
“The concept of jihad as it has been presented by al-Banna—as the ‘Big Jihad’—is the jihad
us,” el-Zayat calmly explained. “As to fight... against all the bad evil that is within you. This is the real jihad that you have to overcome.”
The hundreds of millions of men, women, and children who have lost their lives to jihad—as in, holy war for Allah, it’s traditional and primary meaning—over the past 1,400 years would likely beg to differ with el-Zayat’s assessment. But the Brotherhood’s good friends on the political Left, most of whom know not a shred of Islamic history and have never picked up a Koran in their lives, simply nod in mindless agreement. After all, this jihad stuff sounds like it would fit in perfectly at their next yoga class.
Polished, eloquent, and charming, el-Zayat would seem the ideal spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and its agenda in the unsuspecting West. The only hitch is that he steadfastly denies being a member of the group. In 2007, the MB’s official English-language website, Ikhwanweb, identified him as a Brotherhood member but later retracted the claim and published a denial from el-Zayat.
Additionally, when a German parliamentarian said that el-Zayat was “clearly a functionary” of the Brotherhood, he sued her (unsuccessfully).
The Egyptian government under Hosni Mubarak also maintained that el-Zayat belonged to the Brotherhood. In 2008, it convicted him in absentia and sentenced him to ten years in prison on charges of funding the MB in Egypt (the Brotherhood was banned under Mubarak). As you might have suspected, el-Zayat’s conviction was thrown out after the Mubarak regime was toppled, and he received an official pardon from Morsi in July 2012.
Member or not, el-Zayat plays a unique role in the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideological universe. He’s forged close connections with top global Brotherhood leaders and clearly shares and promotes the movement’s worldview. Still, he, like other MB-connected individuals in the West whom I’ve interviewed—some of whom you’ll meet in this book—disavows any sort of formal relationship with the Brotherhood.
Doing so has helped these “New Western Brothers”—as Italian terrorism expert Lorenzo Vidino calls them
—largely avoid the stigma that the Muslim Brotherhood carries. Or used to carry. Indeed, the MB’s much-deserved reputation for violence, radicalism, anti-Americanism, and anti-Semitism is rapidly disappearing in the Age of Obama. The concept of engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood is no longer only whispered about at D.C. cocktail parties—it has become the official policy of the United States government.
We’re nearing a point where el-Zayat and his Western cohorts may not even have to bother playing a double game anymore. The Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates are coming to power throughout the Middle East and North Africa, with the full support of Western governments—the Obama administration chief among them. In essence, the Brotherhood, which had moved in the shadows for most of its existence, has suddenly gone mainstream.
When an organization’s members (and “non-members”) become frequent guests at the White House and European Parliament and lead governments that receive billions in Western funding and weaponry, it’s safe to say that any stigma that once existed is out the window. As a result, the day is fast approaching in Europe and the United States when allegations of membership in the Muslim Brotherhood will be greeted with a collective shrug of the shoulders by Islamists and Western officials alike.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the granddaddy of them all when it comes to modern-day Islamic terrorist groups, is now considered polite company in Western capitals. In the process, it hasn’t had to change its core beliefs one iota: America as we know it must still be destroyed, Israel must still be wiped from the face of the earth, the global Islamic super-state, or caliphate, must still be reborn, and Islamic sharia law must still be imposed upon one and all—whether we want it or not. In other words, the Brothers espouse the same platform today that they did upon their founding nearly a century ago—a fact that seems not to bother President Obama and his foreign policy team in the least.
“Let me know when your report airs,” Ibrahim el-Zayat said as he prepared to depart our interview and move on to yet another appointment. “I look forward to seeing it.”
The wind was at el-Zayat’s back as he bade me farewell and strode off into the warm Cologne night. His side was winning. And he knew it.
he Arab Spring will weaken al-Qaeda. Of that, I am sure.”
Strike one.
It was June 2012, and I was at the Council of the European Union in Brussels, chatting with one of the EU’s top counterterrorism officials as we prepared to do an interview. He holds a position that is central to securing Europe from a rising tide of jihadist mayhem, much of which stems from its own growing Muslim communities. An important man, for certain: with zero understanding of the Islamist ideology that drives terrorism and animates a large slice of the Muslim world.
“The Muslim Brotherhood will work against the terrorists,” he continued, offering the standard view of Western bureaucrats, led by the Obama White House, that have doubled as cheerleaders for the MB and its supposed “moderate” brand of Islamism.
Strike two.
As we sat down to begin the interview, our distinguished Eurocrat asked what we would be discussing. “Iran, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, and the Muslim Brotherhood,” I replied. “Let’s just focus on al-Qaeda,” he answered. “I’m not as strong on the others.”
My cameraman had to stop me from falling out of my chair. This was one of the European Union’s top counterterrorism officials, and he wasn’t up to speed on the world’s number one state sponsor of terrorism (Iran), its most lethal terrorist paramilitary organization (Hezbollah), and its number one purveyor of jihadist ideology (the Brotherhood)?
Automatic strike three. And the interview hadn’t even started yet.
Our European friend’s tunnel vision regarding al-Qaeda is a sickness that is endemic to Western capitals. In focusing the overwhelming bulk of their counterterrorism energies on stopping al-Qaeda, U.S. and European officials have watched impotently as Iran, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood—all three even greater threats than AQ, for different reasons—have grown in strength and influence.
Incidentally, so has al-Qaeda—President Obama’s disingenuous message to audiences during the 2012 presidential campaign, that “al Qaeda is on its heels,” “decimated,” and “on the path to defeat” notwithstanding.
He continued to trumpet this false narrative and shamelessly mislead the American people even after al-Qaeda–linked jihadists rampaged the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, on September 11, 2012—killing four Americans—and stormed U.S. Embassies in Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen that same week.
What President Obama conveniently left out of his campaign stump speech was the fact that al-Qaeda and its affiliates and allies now cover more geographical ground than they did on 9/11. From its main base in Pakistan’s tribal regions, AQ has spread its tentacles into Yemen, Somalia, Sinai, Syria, Nigeria, Libya, Iraq, Europe, and the Sahara desert region encompassing northern Mali and southern Algeria. At the same time, the terror group’s murderous ideology has inspired a wave of homegrown and immigrant jihadists to attack their host countries in the West.
Don’t worry though, folks: Osama bin Laden is dead. Which means Bush’s bogus War on Terror is over. We can pack our bags and go home now. That little flare-up in Boston? An isolated incident carried out by two lone wolves who misinterpreted the inherently peaceful teachings of a great religion. Anyway, this “violent extremism” stuff is distracting our president from much more pressing matters at home, like instituting Obamacare and keeping his promise to “fundamentally transform America.”
While he’s busy doing that, Islamists are fundamentally transforming large swaths of the Middle East and North Africa. And we’ve decided to cast our lot with the most dangerous of them all: the Muslim Brotherhood.
“The shari’a, then the shari’a, and finally, the shari’a.”
Mohammed Morsi was on a roll. It was May 2012, just prior to his victory in Egypt’s historic presidential election, and Morsi was providing an adoring audience of Egyptian Islamists a vision of things to come under his leadership.
“This nation will enjoy blessing and revival only through the Islamic shari’a,” he bellowed. “I take an oath before Allah and before you all that regardless of the actual text [of the Egyptian constitution] ... Allah willing, the text will truly reflect [the sharia], as will be agreed upon by the Egyptian people, by the Islamic scholars, and by legal and constitutional experts.”
Thick-necked, humorless, and podium-pounding, Morsi represents the polar opposite of the dashing and verbose Ibrahim el-Zayat. The differences extend into the tactical realm as well. Whereas el-Zayat has always followed the trusted Muslim Brotherhood blueprint of slow, stealthy Islamization, Morsi and his ironically named Freedom and Justice Party have thrown gradualism out the window since taking power in Egypt. The result has been a headlong dive into sharia madness for the Arab world’s most populous and influential country.
The Islamic sharia system that Morsi and the Brothers so lustily desire for Egypt—and are well on their way to achieving—means a few things: women will be oppressed, Christians and other religious minorities will be persecuted, homosexuals will be executed, political dissidents will be imprisoned and tortured, the extinction of Israel will become a chief foreign policy goal, and the West—the United States in particular—will be demonized as the eternal enemy of Islam and a tool of the hated Jews.
At least four of these sharia harbingers are already occurring with alarming frequency in the new, Muslim Brotherhood–dominated Egypt—and things promise to get worse, quickly. The implementation of Islamic sharia law means that freedoms of speech, conscience, religion, and thought, if they existed before, are brutally repressed. For examples, look at Iran, northern Sudan, and the mini-Islamic emirate of Gaza, run by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch, Hamas. Such was life under the Taliban in Afghanistan as well, and such will be life in Egypt one day, probably soon, unless civil war, economic collapse, and famine tear the country apart first. You can take it to the bank (no interest allowed, since we’re staying sharia compliant).
“Listen, the Muslim Brothers fought for 84 years to reach power and impose sharia,” Israel’s former ambassador to Egypt, Zvi Mazel, told me during an interview in his Jerusalem home in late 2012. “Now that they are in power, will they say, ‘Okay, now we are going to become modern people. We are going for high tech and Allah is not important’? No, it’s impossible.”
Indeed. During his aforementioned “Sharia Speech” in May 2012, Morsi shared a bit more of his worldview and the kind of modernizing, forward-thinking policy prescriptions he would bring to the office of Egypt’s presidency:
Mohammed Morsi:
[In the 1920s, the Egyptians] said: “The constitution is our Koran.” They wanted to show that the constitution is a great thing. But Imam [Hassan] al-Banna, Allah’s mercy upon him, said to them: “No, the Koran is our constitution.”
The Koran was and will continue to be our constitution. The Koran will continue to be our constitution! The Koran is our constitution!
The Koran is our constitution!
The Prophet Mohammed is our leader!
The Prophet Mohammed is our leader!
Jihad is our path!
Jihad is our path!
And death for the sake of Allah is our most lofty aspiration!
And death for the sake of Allah is our most lofty aspiration!
Above all—Allah is our goal.
Is it any wonder that Egypt’s beleaguered Coptic Christians—who not long ago comprised 10 percent of the country’s population—are leaving in ever-growing numbers now that Morsi is in power?
Incidentally, Morsi’s harangue was neither spontaneous nor original. He simply—and intentionally—paraphrased the longtime motto of the Muslim Brotherhood:
Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.
In other words: total, unwavering devotion to imposing fundamentalist Islam—by the sword if necessary—upon the world, with a ghoulish veneration of violent death to boot. The slogan is the same today as it was eighty-five years ago. And it will be the same eighty-five years from now. The Brotherhood, unlike the flatlining Western societies it is slowly helping transform from within, does not compromise on its core beliefs. It does not do tweaks or reboots. It’s all Allah, Mohammed, the Koran, jihad, and violent martyrdom, all the time—take it or leave it, infidels. Americans, meet your new “ally” in the Middle East.
What Mohammed Morsi did in his May 2012 speech—one which was utterly ignored by Western media—was the same thing that a long succession of Brotherhood leaders have done before him. He simply laid down the gauntlet and reiterated the Brotherhood’s longstanding, bedrock principles to Egyptians and to the world. All who are shocked by Morsi’s subsequent moves as president have no one to blame but themselves. They weren’t listening.
If they were, they would have known that the Brotherhood’s official rallying cry has remained the same ever since its founding by a fervently Islamist schoolteacher named Hassan al-Banna in the Egyptian port city of Ismailia in 1928. Al-Banna, who was heavily influenced by the extremist Wahhabi Islam of Saudi Arabia, was disgusted by British colonial rule and the non-Muslim influence it brought to Egypt. He blamed the country’s downtrodden state of affairs on what he perceived as its drift away from Islam.
Al-Banna’s slogan, “Islam is the answer,” spread like wildfire and the Brotherhood—also known as the
or the Society of the Muslim Brothers—went from seven members at its founding to as many as two million by the late 1940s.
Indeed, al-Banna’s anti-Western message of Muslim superiority (which also included generous doses of jihad incitement and anti-Semitism) resonated to such a degree that by 1948—just twenty years after its founding—the Ikhwan had become arguably the most powerful political and cultural force in all of Egypt.
Today, although Egypt remains its main power base, al-Banna’s movement knows no national boundaries. The Brotherhood’s relentless focus on
, or proselytization, has helped it make major inroads on six continents. One of its main “settlement” techniques has been its control of mosques, including across the United States and Europe. These frequently mammoth, multi-million-dollar Islamic centers, run by Brotherhood acolytes, are built largely with funds supplied by wealthy donors in the Persian Gulf region, particularly from Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Thanks to this disciplined, dawa-and-settlement strategy, the Muslim Brotherhood is now present in at least eighty countries, and according to one longtime Brotherhood leader, boasts some 100 million adherents worldwide. The vast majority are not official “members” but all have one thing in common: tireless, fanatical devotion to the Brotherhood’s radical ideology.
That’s bad news for the United States, not to mention Europe, Israel, and any secular-minded Muslim or religious minority who has the misfortune of living under Ikhwan rule.
The seeds for the Ikhwan’s meteoric global rise were planted by al-Banna. Above all, he was devastated by the collapse of the Islamic caliphate, which ended with the disbandment of the Turkish-led Ottoman Empire in 1924. The caliphate joined the Muslim world—
or ummah
— into one unified, Islamic state governed by sharia law and pitted against the West. Al-Banna’s ultimate goal was to transform Egypt into an Islamic state en route to reviving this global caliphate and the glories of Islam’s heyday. As described in the Brotherhood’s seven-point pledge of allegiance, which he devised:
. . . the Muslim Brotherhood should collectively work to restore the international position of the
. To this end, it will be necessary to liberate occupied Muslim regions. The Brotherhood should restore Muslim honor and superiority; it should promote its civilization and re-establish its culture. A new spirit of oneness should be instilled until the entire
becomes a heartwarming unity.
In this way the crown and throne of the caliphate of the world can be regained.
[emphasis added]
Translation: world domination. By the way, those “occupied Muslim regions” that must be liberated include any nation that was once part of the Islamic caliphate, including Spain, Sicily, Greece, Bulgaria, the former Yugoslavia, and Israel, among others. In the Islamist worldview, if a nation was conquered and existed under the banner of Islam for even a short amount of time, it must eventually return to the fold: by force, if necessary.
No such force will be needed, however, to cajole the nations of the Middle East and North Africa into caliphate-hood. An April 2013 Pew Forum poll showed that a majority of Muslims throughout those two regions, as well as in South Asia, want sharia law to govern their countries.
The numbers are even more stunning when you consider that, as National Review Online’s Andrew McCarthy noted, the poll did
include Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan, arguably the top three sharia hotbeds in the world.
The bottom line, if the results of the Pew poll are any indication, is that the Brotherhood’s aspirations seem to be supported, at least in a general way, by a majority of Muslims around the world. The Arab Spring has brought these forces newfound power, and they have never been closer to achieving al-Banna’s caliphate dream than they are today. And make no mistake: today’s Muslim Brothers are fully committed to al-Banna’s vision of a modern-day caliphate. During a May 2012 rally to launch the presidential campaign of Mohammed Morsi, leading Brotherhood cleric Safwat Hegazy delivered a thunderous sermon declaring that the dawn of a revived Islamic super-state was at hand:
We can see how the dream of the Islamic Caliphate is being realized, Allah willing, by Dr. Mohamed Morsi and his brothers, his supporters, and his political party. We can see how the great dream, shared by us all—that of the United States of the Arabs ... will be restored, Allah willing. The United States of the Arabs will be restored by [Morsi] and his supporters. The capital of the Caliphate—the capital of the United States of the Arabs—will be Jerusalem, Allah willing.
In case you were wondering how Jerusalem—currently the capital of Israel—could possibly become the centerpiece of a new caliphate, Hegazy (who has also promised that the Muslim Brothers will one day be “Masters of the World”)
filled in the blanks:
Our capital shall not be Cairo, Mecca, or Medina. It shall be Jerusalem, Allah willing. Our cry shall be: “Millions of martyrs march toward Jerusalem.” Millions of martyrs march toward Jerusalem.
Throughout this tirade, Mohammed Morsi sat directly behind Hegazy on stage, smiling and nodding his head in affirmation. Egypt’s soon-to-be-president was absolutely enthralled with both Hegazy and the event’s master of ceremonies, who led the frenzied audience in chants of “Banish the sleep from the eyes of all Jews” and “Come on, you lovers of martyrdom, you are all Hamas,” all under Morsi’s watchful eye. It was a fitting coming out party for a man who would soon become the equivalent of a modern day jihadist pharaoh.
Yes, our new “asset” in Cairo is a real piece of work. Video unearthed by the invaluable Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) in January 2013 captured some of Morsi’s greatest hits from his appearances on Arabic television. In one lighthearted clip, he called Jews, “blood-suckers, who attack the Palestinians . . . warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs.”
The “Jews-as-apes-and-pigs” reference is an old Islamist favorite. Another is armed jihad, which Morsi also encouraged in the video, saying of Israel, “We should employ all forms of resistance against them. There should be military resistance within the land of Palestine against those criminal Zionists.”
Interestingly enough, our new partner for peace in the Middle East also referred to America as being among Egypt’s “enemies,” and called for a worldwide Muslim boycott of U.S. goods. Morsi made these comments in 2010, just two years before his newly elected government would become the recipient of massive U.S. aid.
Morsi, like many top Brotherhood leaders in Egypt, is also an unabashed 9/11 “Truther” who denies that al-Qaeda was behind the deadliest terrorist attack in American history. As Robert Satloff and Eric Trager recounted in the
Washington Post
In a May 2010 interview with Brookings Institution scholar Shadi Hamid, Morsi dismissed al-Qaeda’s responsibility for the attacks. “When you come and tell me that the plane hit the tower like a knife in butter, then you are insulting us,” Hamid reported Morsi as saying. “How did the plane cut through the steel like this? Something must have happened from the inside. It’s impossible.” Similarly, in 2007, Morsi reportedly declared that the United States “has never presented any evidences [sic] on the identity of those who committed that incident.” In 2008, he called for a “huge scientific conference” to analyze “what caused the attack against a massive structure like the two towers.”
Of course, Morsi has kept mum about his views on 9/11 since assuming the Egyptian presidency. Why jeopardize all that high-tech American weaponry and cash? Besides, he knows from firsthand experience how easy it is to deceive naïve American
. According to Morsi’s wife, he joined the Muslim Brotherhood not in his Egyptian homeland, but in America, while he was a student at the University of Southern California in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
It’s a good bet that Morsi hooked up with some of Cali’s finest “Amerikhwan,” or U.S.-based Muslim Brothers.
After earning a doctorate in rocket engineering (an area of expertise which could come in handy for his rocket-happy Hamas friends in Gaza), Morsi worked for three years as an assistant professor at Cal State University, Northridge. Two of his children were born in the United States and are U.S. citizens. But by 1985, Morsi had returned to Egypt, where he went on to steadily climb the Brotherhood’s ranks and spend time in prison under the Mubarak regime.
Morsi’s trajectory—a few years in America, followed by time in Egyptian prisons for his Brotherhood activities—mirrors in some ways that of one of the Brotherhood’s greatest icons. Sayyid Qutb lived in the United States from 1948 to 1950, bouncing from New York City to Washington, D.C., to Greeley, Colorado, where he studied at a teachers’ college. His hatred for America and for what was, in his eyes, its endless moral vice, grew with each new stop. In Greeley, an idyllic small town where alcohol was banned, Qutb saw a den of iniquity. After attending a dance at a local church, he wrote in disgust:
The room convulsed with the feverish music from the gramophone. Dancing naked legs filled the hall, arms draped around the waists, chests met chests, lips met lips, and the atmosphere was full of love.
Remember, this was the late 1940s, not exactly known as one of the more hedonistic periods in American history. If Qutb visited the United States today, he might spontaneously combust from shock. Instead, he was hanged in Egypt in 1966 after various stints in prison for participating in Brotherhood plots to overthrow the Egyptian government. His ideas, however—cultivated over his years as the Muslim Brotherhood’s chief propagandist—still inspire legions of Islamic suicide bombers to combust themselves and others.
Qutb was a frail, bookish introvert who never married. Yet if there were a Jihadist Mount Rushmore carved somewhere deep in the wilds of the Saudi desert, his profile, along with al-Banna’s, would surely be among those included. Qutb’s writings have played a critical part in the genesis of the entire modern jihadist movement—particularly al-Qaeda (AQ). AQ heavyweights like Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Anwar al-Awlaki (the American-born jihadi cleric killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011) have all cited Qutb as a major inspiration, and Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has translated Qutb’s books from Arabic to Farsi.
Qutb’s seminal work was called
. In it, he called for Muslims to return to Islam as practiced in the seventh century. He considered the Muslim societies of his day and their rulers to be living in
, the state of ignorance that supposedly existed before Islam’s prophet Mohammed. Qutb’s solution to jahiliyya was endless jihad: first to overthrow insufficiently Islamic rulers and institute sharia states, and then to conquer the entire world for Islam.
Qutb’s goal was a global caliphate where non-Muslims (that is, those who survived) lived as oppressed, second-class citizens, or
. This philosophy of worldwide Islamic revolution was laid out in a chapter from
, titled, simply, “Jihad”:
It would be naïve to assume that a call is raised to free the whole of humankind throughout the earth, and it is confined to preaching and exposition.... Since the objective of the message of Islam is a decisive declaration of man’s freedom ... it must employ jihad. It is immaterial whether the homeland of Islam ... is in a condition of peace or whether it is threatened by its neighbors.
“Freedom,” to Qutb, meant submission to Allah and to sharia law, and throughout the chapter, he criticized the concept that holy war should be a last resort used only for defensive purposes. Islam, he believed, must always be on the offensive, always attacking, always seeking to subjugate, until no opposition remained, because “this struggle is not a temporary phase but an eternal state—an eternal state, as truth and falsehood cannot co-exist on this earth . . . the eternal struggle for the freedom of man will continue until [Islam] is purified for God.”
Qutb’s violent playbook, which became known as “Qutbism,” has been followed by countless Islamic terrorist organizations, most notably, al-Qaeda. As a result, the Brotherhood today often distances itself from him, while at the same time trying to rationalize his incendiary rants. The MBers I’ve interviewed usually offer something along the lines of, “Many of Qutb’s writings have been taken out of context. While some of his ideas are extreme, you have to consider the conditions in which he wrote them, under torture in an Egyptian prison. This experience changed Brother Sayyid and hardened him.”
has caused more death and misery than any prison-produced “literature” in history since Hitler’s
Mein Kampf
. Nevertheless, it’s not hard to read between the lines that the Brothers believe Qutb is a genius and martyr who is unfairly demonized. They condemn his wanton calls to jihad and global insurrection only because they seek to maintain a moderate veneer before Western audiences. For instance, official Brotherhood websites still feature glowing tributes to Qutb, and the Ikhwan’s current Supreme Guide and global leader, Mohammed Badie (who was imprisoned with Qutb in Egypt), has been described as a “devoted disciple” of the jihadi mastermind.
During a February 2013 interview, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Eric Trager, who has interviewed Mohammed Morsi face to face, told me that the current Egyptian president is also an adherent of Qutb:
[Morsi] was considered within the Brotherhood a hardliner—somebody who was there to enforce the Brotherhood’s most hardline ideas, whether it came to saying that women and Christians can’t even run for the presidency of Egypt, whether it was their foreign policy ideas or their hostility towards Israel.... Morsi is considered the icon of the Qutbists, as one former young Muslim Brother told me . . . [today’s Ikhwan] have re-interpreted Sayyid Qutb as being less focused on violence, less focused on violent revolution, but still focused on revolution and the idea that the only way to achieve a renaissance is through establishing an Islamic state that can then pursue more global aims.
Those global aims begin with “Cali” and end with “phate.”
How did we come to the point where a brazen 9/11 Truther who reveres Sayyid Qutb, considers Jews “apes and pigs,” and calls America an enemy is now Egypt’s most powerful man—with U.S. backing to boot? There have been a few important, ahem,
along the way. The most significant may have occurred on February 18, 2011, when Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Brotherhood’s celebrated Spiritual Guide, appeared in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. It was the first time al-Qaradawi, who was banned under the Mubarak regime, had set foot on Egyptian soil in thirty years. In a triumphant return, he led Friday prayers for a crowd of hundreds of thousands and gave a sermon calling for the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem .
The young, secular Egyptians so adoringly promoted by the Western media as the Facebook-and-Twitter-savvy face of the revolution—and the future leaders of a new, democratic Egypt—were nowhere to be found. Just a week before, when Mubarak was still desperately clinging to power, al-Qaradawi’s presence in Cairo would have been unthinkable. But al-Qaradawi’s speech was proof that the Muslim Brotherhood, long the most organized, influential, and ruthless political movement in Egypt, was now firmly in the driver’s seat, and would take Egypt in a harshly Islamist direction.
■ In January 2012, Egypt held its first post-Mubarak parliamentary elections. Despite assurances from liberals in the press and academia as well as the State Department that Islamist parties would be marginalized and a secular consensus would emerge, the exact opposite happened—and in stunning, decisive fashion. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party won 48 percent of the seats, while the al-Nour Party, an even more hardline Salafist faction, won 25 percent. Which meant Egypt’s parliament would now lie firmly in the hands of sharia-breathing, anti-Western, anti-Semitic Islamists, as voted on by the Egyptian people, as some of us had warned was inevitable. Ain’t Middle East “democracy” grand?
■ In April 2012, a delegation from the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party visited the White House to meet with Obama administration officials—during Easter week, no less. Then-Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor explained the White House visit by stating: “We believe that it is in the interest of the United States to engage with all parties that are committed to democratic principles, especially non-violence.”
Yes, he was talking about the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Obama team’s view of the Brotherhood as a force for good—a view which flies in the face of reality, facts, and history—has been reflected in the administration’s policy of promoting the Islamist organization’s interests, not only in Egypt, but everywhere from Libya to Tunisia to Syria to right here in the United States. Indeed, the Obama administration’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood has gone a long way toward making the world’s first modern Islamic terrorist group mainstream, even as the MB pushes for a new, global Islamist superpower.
■ After months of Muslim Brotherhood officials repeatedly promising that they would not present a candidate for the Egyptian presidency, the MB’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) did exactly that. At first, the FJP offered Khairat el-Shater, a wily and charismatic Brotherhood veteran who has helped formulate much of the movement’s current game plan. When Egypt’s interim military government, flexing what was left of its waning influence (it also tried to dissolve the newly elected Islamist parliament), disqualified el-Shater as a candidate, the Brotherhood put Mohammed Morsi in his place. Morsi went on to win a narrow, controversial victory in the June 24, 2012, Egyptian presidential election. The rest, as we’ve seen, is Islamist history.
■ The idea that Egypt’s military could neutralize Morsi and the fledgling Islamist parliament suffered a severe setback on August 12, 2012, when Morsi forced the retirement of Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi—Egypt’s defense minister and a Mubarak-era power broker—as well as the army chief of staff and other senior generals.
It was a bold, unexpected move that stunned observers—but it shouldn’t have. Morsi and the Brothers were clearly playing for keeps and consolidating power quickly (on the same day as the sackings, Morsi also issued a declaration expanding his powers as president). The Egyptian military’s response to these developments was submissive silence—even after Morsi replaced Tantawi with General Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, a known Brotherhood sympathizer.
The military’s lack of response did not surprise National Review Online’s Andrew McCarthy, who wrote:
The Egyptian military is a reflection of Egyptian society which, as we have now seen in election after election, is dominated by Islamists. Indeed, despite the good relations some top Egyptian military brass have had with the Pentagon, the fact is that some of the most important members of al Qaeda and other jihadist organizations have served in the Egyptian armed forces.
In March 2013, the
Washington Times
reported that the Brotherhood was attempting to stack the military and police forces with Islamists and that overt Islamists were for the first time being admitted to Egypt’s military academy.
■ On September 11, 2012, a mob of Egyptian Islamists—led by the brother of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri—rioted outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. Several of them scaled the walls and tore down the American flag, replacing it with the black flag of al-Qaeda.
Morsi made no public statement of condemnation or regret until three days after the incident, and only after pressure from the Obama White House.
On the same day that the American Embassy in Cairo was stormed, a mob of al-Qaeda–linked terrorists carried out a well-planned, coordinated assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Then, on September 13 and 14, Islamist mobs stormed the American embassies in Yemen and Tunis, with the Tunisians, like their Egyptian counterparts, raising the black flag of al-Qaeda over the building.
Egypt. Libya. Yemen. Tunisia. All four are so-called “Arab Spring” countries in which the Obama administration supported “regime change”—to disastrous ends.
■ On November 22, 2012, just one day after the
New York Times
published an article in which Obama administration officials praised Morsi effusively for his role in helping to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the budding pharaoh made a move for absolute power. Morsi issued a decree banning any opposition to his laws and decisions as president.
The announcement sparked riots and violence in Egypt that, as I write this in May 2013, are still flaring up from time to time around the country. Reports have also surfaced of Brotherhood and Salafi thugs raping women in Cairo,
setting up torture chambers to brutalize Morsi’s opponents,
and enforcing sharia law. In December 2012, Morsi signed into law a new constitution enshrining sharia principles. It was written by the Islamist parliament and approved by 64 percent of Egyptian voters. Tellingly, the sessions during which the constitution was drafted were boycotted by Christians and secularists, who claimed—rightly—that the process had been hijacked by the Brotherhood and its Salafist allies.
For Christians and secularists, things promise only to get worse. But no worries. According to the
New York Times
, “Mr. Obama told aides he was impressed with the Egyptian leader’s pragmatic confidence. He sensed an engineer’s precision with surprisingly little ideology.” Obama, the
reported, considered Morsi “a straight shooter.”
No American president has so sorely misjudged an Islamic leader since Jimmy Carter praised Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini as a “fellow man of faith.”