Is the Muslim Brotherhood Still a Threat Today?
(Cynthia Farahat, February 13, 2020)
About the speaker
Cynthia Farahat is a Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a founder of the Egyptian Liberal party, which was the first secular classical liberal political party in the history of modern Egypt.
She co-authored Desecration of a Heavenly Religion, which analyzed and criticized Egypt’s blasphemy law. The book was officially banned in Egypt by al-Azhar University in Cairo in 2008. Cynthia’s work on countering Islamic terrorism has lead Lebanon’s intelligence officials to officially bar her from entering the country. She also received hundreds of death threats from Islamists and was placed on an al-Qaeda affiliated hit list. Recently she has briefed over 120 Congressional offices on the threat of the Muslim Brotherhood by discussing her personal story as well as her research, from a cache of thousands of previously undisclosed documents, into the nature of the Brotherhood.
In 2011, the abduction of her brother, the assassination of her friend, and numerous threats to her life prompted her to flee to the United States where she was granted political asylum. She is currently writing a book on the Muslim Brotherhood’s involvement in transnational terrorism.
Robert R. Reilly:
I am happy to welcome Cynthia Farahat, who is a Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a founder of the Egyptian Liberal party, the first secular classical liberal political party in the history of modern Egypt. She co-authored Desecration of a Heavenly Religion, which analyzed and criticized Egypt’s blasphemy law. This is something about which she is to be congratulated as the book was officially banned by none other than Al-Azhar University, that center of regression in the Arab world.
Also her work on countering Islamic terrorism lead Lebanese intelligence officials to bar her from entering that country. As a result of her work she has received multiple death threats [and she] made the al-Qaeda death list. Unfortunately, in Egypt her brother was abducted, a friend was assassinated, and other threats on her life lead her to flee to the United States where she was given political asylum.
She is currently writing a book on the Muslim Brotherhood’s involvement in transnational terrorism. She has written multiple articles in both English and Arabic for National Review, Middle East Quarterly, and other publications. Tonight, she will speak on the subject, “Is the Muslim Brotherhood Still a Threat Today?” Welcome, Cynthia.
Thank you so much for having me and thank you for the wonderful introduction, Robert. It is usually better than the introductions that I used to receive in Egypt. Once, during a debate with a Muslim Brotherhood operative, I was introduced as “the firewood of Hell, Cynthia Farahat.” So this is pretty flattering. They are not very good at talking to women. It is not their strongest attribute.
Today’s talk is particularly special to me because I have had a year off from my work because I was dealing with the Big C. I am doing so much better now. To the Muslim Brotherhood, to my stalkers who are watching this, I do not want you to enjoy it or celebrate it because in 2006 I vowed during the discussion with the Muslim Brotherhood Member of Parliament and leaders of Salih that I will continue to fight them as long as I live and from beyond the grave. So it is actually going to be worse if I die. I have a network set up and everything is there.
Muslim Brotherhood vs Muslims
First, I would like to point out a clear distinction between Muslims and the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood has always strived to hijack representation of Muslims and speak on behalf of Muslims. The truth is that the vast majority of my allies and the strongest and fiercest against this terrorist group are Muslims. My biggest supporters, my biggest fans, are Muslims. That is a clear distinction.
The title of the talk today, “Is the Muslim Brotherhood Still a Threat,” is intended to demonstrate how dire the situation is because if academia and the media were doing their jobs, we would know the correct answer to the question, but unfortunately, this is not the case and the problem goes beyond that. It is not just a problem of inaccurate information. The American people are targets of misinformation and disinformation.
For instance, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper incredibly described the organization as “largely secular” while Islamist apologist John Esposito of Georgetown University claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated movements and parties have been a force for democratization and stability in the Middle East. Esposito calls the incubator of modern terrorism and its affiliated groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda ‘forces for democratization and stability’ in the Middle East and this is the person who is teaching your children and your future leaders about Islamic terrorism and the Middle East.
Before I get into the discussion about it, I would like to point out that there is going to be a lot of historic background and we absolutely need to discuss history when we discuss the Middle East and Islamic terrorism. It is impossible to understand it out of its historic context. A doctor does not treat a symptom or diagnose an ailment without taking into account the patient’s medical history. It is just as critical also to be able to analyze and predict the course of Sunni Islamic terrorism, such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
First, history protects from repeating the same mistakes and it also helps us identify behavioral patterns, trends, and tendencies of these groups and their agents to preemptively try to stop them. Second, it is a fact that Islamists believe that it is a religious-cultist duty to reincarnate and regurgitate almost everything in early Islamic history from the wardrobe, from the facial hair, the eating habits, and of course, the early wars and jihad.
According to the fundamentalist Sunni Orthodox Hanbali school of jurisprudence, which is adhered to by the Muslim Brotherhood and the vast majority if not all Sunni terrorist groups, it is a mandatory religious obligation to engage in what they call dawah ul-jihad, which is the permanence of jihad. This is why the Muslim Brotherhood is religiously obligated to engage in terrorism, which they have unleashed on the world for a century.
The founder of the Muslim Brotherhood is Hassan al-Banna. From an early age, he was only twelve years old in 1918, and he started to engage in antisocial, criminal behavior. While studying at an Islamic madrassah, he founded a group called the Vice Prevention. This lovely group used to write threatening letters and death threats to Muslims who were not religious enough, to women who wore makeup and Western clothes. At one point little pyromaniac Hassan al-Banna set Christian properties on fire. Just a lovely young man, and it only escalated and got worse from this point.
His father was a very religious man and he indoctrinated him and his children in the Hanbali Orthodox school of jurisprudence. He engaged in a lot of activism until he founded the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928 in Ismailia in northeast Egypt.
Now, this is fun, okay? During the early founding of the organization, Brotherhood leaders were intrigued by the secret Shia theology known as Al Bataniya, which means inner esoteric or hidden theology. This theology was adopted by the Ḥashashiyan, the assassins, the murderous medieval Shia Ismaili cult in the late 11th century. According to the Brotherhood co-founder Ali al Mashawi, the assassins were the biggest influence on the formation of the group. The Muslim Brotherhood was indeed a project to revive the assassins. This is what we are dealing with today.
The word assassins is from the medieval Latin assassinus from Arabic Ḥashashin, so it should not be a surprise that in 1936, Hassan al-Banna and his group decided to found what they called the “Secret Apparatus” or the “Special Apparatus,” and this group was mainly concerned with terrorism and clandestine activities.
Interestingly, the terror apparatus soon became an ally of Adolph Hitler, and Hitler’s regime was among the donors that funded Hassan al-Banna. Banna repaid the favor by glorifying Hitler. In 1938, there was an article that Banna wrote in a Muslim newspaper called al-Nazir where he said that Hajj Muhammad Hitler converted to Islam. Shortly after, the Muslim Brotherhood went out, chanting in the streets, “Allah hiye, Allah, hiye, al-Hajj Muhammad Hitler gaye,” which means ‘God is alive, God is alive, Hajj Muhammad Hitler is coming’.
I would like to make a side-note here because before Hajj Muhammad Hitler, there was another Western Hajj as well. In 1898, forty years prior to Hajj Hitler, the Kaiser Wilhelm II gave a speech in Damascus at the tomb of Saladin, proclaiming himself a friend of Islam, and a decade later he was known as Hajj Wilhelm. One-hundred and eleven years later, in 2009, there was another individual who was known in the Arabic blogosphere as Hajj Barack Obama after he gave a similar speech at Cairo University in 2009. It shows you how history is just repeating itself.
The Muslim Brotherhood Secret Apparatus of course perpetrated horrific crimes and attacks in Egypt. A few of them are in 1946, they bombed eight police stations in Cairo. They also did the same thing – the same apparatus, which is still functional, by the way – did the same thing in 2012 and 2013; they burned numerous police stations, including horrific torture of several police officers, and it was so gruesome that they even forced them to drink acid.
In 1947, the Brotherhood’s Secret Apparatus assassinated Judge Ahmed Khazinder Bey, and in 2015, the same Apparatus assassinated the Prosecutor General of Egypt, Hisham Barakat. In 1945, they perpetrated a wave of bombings such as the 1945 bombing of the British Club in Egypt. In recent decades, they perpetrated countless bombing attacks, including the bombing of a Cancer Center in Cairo in 2019. In 1948, the Brotherhood bombed several Jewish homes in Cairo and many Jewish-owned businesses and cinemas, and in 2012 and in 2013, they burned over seventy churches in Egypt. And some American experts will tell you that the Secret Apparatus does not exist, it is a thing of the past.
The wave of terror that the early operatives of this Apparatus perpetrated on Egypt resulted in the 1949 assassination of Hassan al-Banna. The next stage was focused on infiltration activity and subversive activities of the Apparatus, which is still ongoing until today across the world, including in the United States of America. The Secret Apparatus was able to infiltrate a group of officers from the Egyptian military.
Among them was the future president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, who gave the pledge of allegiance to Hassan al-Banna on the Qur’an. He soon joined the Secret Apparatus and formed his own unit called Dubbāṭ al-Ikhwān, the Brotherhood Officers. They kept operating until 1950. After all of the terrorism, Egypt basically hated the Muslim Brotherhood, so he decided to change the name of the unit to the Free Officers instead of the Brotherhood Officers. And two years later, he perpetrated the 1952 Socialist Islamic military coup on Egypt, which turned it from one of the freest and tolerant countries in the Middle East at the time to what we see today.
But something else happened after Nasser took power in 1952. Although he came out of the Brotherhood, there were some disagreements and issues, and he asked the Muslim Brotherhood to dismantle the Secret Apparatus. They were not very keen on doing so. Hassan al-Banna’s successor, Hassan al-Hudaybi, decided to perform taqiyyah, dissimulation, and said that they had indeed dismantled the Secret Apparatus.
At the same time they were plotting to assassinate Nasser. They formed a terrorist group in 1965 called Tanzeem Khamsasitin, which is the Organization of 65. They attempted to kill Gammel Abdel Nasser the same year, which, of course, resulted in the execution of the Brotherhood’s foremost ideologue, Sayyid Qutb, in 1966 with two other leaders.
Hudaybi’s taqiyyah to deny the existence of the Secret Apparatus became a strategy that the Muslim Brotherhood is still practicing today, and not only that, they started to franchise terror under different banners. For instance, the International Apparatus was led by Banna’s son-in-law, Said Ramadan, who moved to Geneva in 1958, where he established the International Apparatus under the guidance of the Secret Apparatus leader Mustapha Mashour, who later became General Guide. And by the way, Said Ramadan is the father of Islamist agitator Tarek Ramadan.
In the 1960s and early ’70s, the Brotherhood formed several groups under different banners. The first of these groups was Jama’at al Muslimeen, commonly known as the Tafik wal Hijra, which is ‘excommunication and immigration’, which was formed by leaders of the Secret Apparatus. They also founded al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya or GI, which was responsible for the October 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and one of Sadat’s assassins was Abbud al-Zumar, who was an officer in Egyptian military intelligence. Again, the infiltration.
The International Apparatus was not fully operative until the mid-1980s when the head of the Secret Apparatus Mustapha Mashour settled in Germany in 1986 where he re-established the Apparatus under the guidance of GI leader Omar Abdel-Rahman, also known as the Blind Sheikh. And he ordered Omar Abdel-Rahman to relocate to the United States. Omar Abdel-Rahman was also Osama bin Laden’s mentor, and in my personal opinion, he is the most important terror theologian of the century.
You might wonder how an international terrorist like Rahman was allowed to enter and live in the United States. Rahman was issued a tourist visa to visit the United States by the Consulate of the United States Embassy in Khartoum in Sudan despite his name being on the list of U.S. State Department Terrorist Watch List. Rahman was allowed to enter the United States in July 1990. The State Department then revoked his tourist visa on 17 November of the same year. Despite this, in 1991, he obtained a green card from Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) office in Newark, New Jersey. There is a serious problem in Newark, New Jersey, by the way. You will see later it is the stuff of nightmares.
In 1992, the U.S. government revoked his green card, but it only allowed him to apply for asylum afterwards. And then, of course, during that time he was allowed to roam the United States freely. [He] declared fatwas and stated that it was lawful to rob banks and kill Jews in the U.S. His sermons condemned Americans as “descendants of apes and pigs who have been feeding from the dining tables of Zionists, Communists, and Colonialists,” these are his words.
He also urged Muslim Americans to cut the transportation of their countries, tear it apart, destroy the economy, burn their companies, eliminate their interests, sink their ships, shoot down their planes, kill them on sea, air, or land. Rahman was still allowed to preach in three mosques in New York City, and his devout followers included a person who was responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and in October 1995 he was convicted of seditious conspiracy, solicitation to murder Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, conspiracy to commit murder, solicitation to attack U.S. military installations, and conspiracy to conduct bombings. In 1996, he was sentenced to life in solitary confinement without parole until he died in 2017.
Civilization Jihad Operation
Similar failures happened that allowed the nineteen terrorists to come to this country and ultimately perpetrate 9/11. The International Apparatus’ most critical mission though was the founding of Al Qaeda. But it is not only the violent jihad, they also have another critical mission, which is to subvert and infiltrate and destroy American and Western institutions from within, such as the media or education systems or academia. You name it, they are there.
They call this process amalayah jihadiyah hadarayah, which means ‘civilization jihad operation’. This term dates to a 1991 document titled Explanatory Memorandum, drafted in a meeting that outlined the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategic goals for North America, and it was entered into evidence in the Holy Land Foundation trial in 2008. That was the largest terror financing trial in the history of America.
In 2009, five Muslim Brotherhood leaders were charged with providing material support to Hamas and the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch and a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in the United States. It is also important to mention that the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) was an un-indicted co-conspirator in this case. And in 2017, for their wonderful work, they were rewarded with a $100,000 DHS grant from taxpayers’ money.
If that is not enough, the Muslim Brotherhood also founded Al Qaeda. In the early 1980s, Maktab al-Khadamat, which is MaK, the Service Bureau, also known as the ‘Service Bureau Arab Jihadists’, flocked to Afghanistan and Pakistan to fight the Soviet occupation, and the Brotherhood was busy recruiting jihadists through the service of MaK offices throughout the Middle East.
In 1984, Brotherhood operative Abdullah Azzam established the MaK office in Jordan, and Azzam’s later position in the Brotherhood’s International Apparatus helped establish what the Brotherhood called the ‘Global Jihad Movement’ and earned him the alias ‘the father of global jihad’. Osama bin Laden was Azzam’s student in Saudi Arabia. In 1985, Azzam, bin Laden, and Ayman al Zawahiri, the leader of Takfir wal Hijra, founded the MaK office in Pakistan, which later officially evolved to become Al Qaeda.
Meanwhile, the Amman MaK office was busy recruiting mass-murderers, psychopaths, serial killers, and terrorists. Among them was Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the man who decapitated Nick Berg in 2004 on video. He was the one who started the gruesome trend of video decapitation. He was recruited by the Muslim Brotherhood, the ‘force of modernization and democratization’.
The Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS
Of course, after Zarqawi was killed in 2006, his group morphed into the Islamic State or ISIS. But this is not the only Muslim Brotherhood connection to ISIS, of course. In a 2014 interview reported in Al Arabiya, the Muslim Brotherhood Spiritual Guide Yusuf al Qaradawi admitted that the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi was indeed a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. And, of course, several Muslim Brotherhood leaders publicly announced their support for ISIS, including the Qatar-based Sheikh Wagdi Ghoneim, who is famous in Egypt for his TV episode where he was teaching children how to adequately decapitate an infidel.
After bin Laden’s death, al Zawahiri argued that bin Laden’s affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood was severed in 1980 due to differences over the anti-Soviet Afghanistan campaign, but this claim was discounted by Tharwat Kherbawy, the highest ranking Muslim Brotherhood leader to ever defect from the organization, and Al-Kherbawy put out evidence that indeed, bin Laden remained a member of the Muslim Brotherhood until the day he died.
After Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood President Muhammad Morsi was ousted from power in 2013, Zawahri issued a videotape statement on his behalf where he criticized Egyptian Salafist jihadis for not formally joining the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party to help it uphold Shari’a law, another direct connection between the Brotherhood and Al Qaeda.
Furthermore, the Muslim Brotherhood Secret Apparatus remains intact, and in 1995, they founded a new terrorist group called the 95 Brigade, which played a critical role in the January 2011 riots that lead to the downfall of Hosni Mubarak.
A Political Party or a Jihadi Group?
In a series of interviews with Al Jazeera, Osama Yassin, a former minister in Morsi’s cabinet, revealed that members of the Brigade – and I quote – “engaged in the abduction, beating, and torture of ‘thugs’ and threw Molotov cocktails on their opponents.” That is a ‘force of democratization’?
According to the Brotherhood’s own standards and internal bylaws, there are ten, solid, unchangeable thawabit, which are precepts, in the organization’s bai’a, which is the Islamic oath of allegiance process. The fourth of these precepts is violent jihad and martyrdom, according to their documents, and it states that it is an obligation of every individual Muslim, as well as the collective obligation of their organization to engage in jihad and martyrdom.
Unfortunately, many American specialists are agents of the Muslim Brotherhood or receive foreign funding from the Brotherhood or are otherwise useful idiots or oblivious to these facts, actively engaged in a disinformation campaign against the American people. And one example is a Brookings Institute article turned the meaning of the “fourth precept” of the Brotherhood’s bylaws on its head, stating that it stipulated that “during the process of establishing democracy and relative political freedom, the Muslim Brotherhood is committed to abide by the rules of democracy and its institutions.”
I cannot read that with a straight face. I do not know what to say. I am speechless. How do you turn jihad and martyrdom to a commitment to the rules of democracy? I am not a native English speaker, but I do not think that this is the correct translation. Thus, you should not be surprised after all this when I tell you that Muslim Brotherhood operatives directly involved with ISIS and Al Qaeda engage in lobbying the United States Congress.
Islamists With Ties To Terror Lobby Congress
For the past four years, Islamists with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorist groups have gone to Capitol Hill to lobby members of Congress on what they call National Muslim Advocacy Day. It is an annual event organized by CAIR, the un-indicted co-conspirator CAIR, and the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations, USCMO. According to the Muslim Advocacy Day website, almost 400 participants visit congressional offices. This year advoacy day is scheduled to take place on March 30 and 31.
I published a detailed report about this atrocity in the Middle East Forum and it has irrefutible evidence, mostly pictures, and I urge you to check it out. You will be shocked by the information you read in there, but for now I am just going to give you a few examples, the wonderful individuals involved in this event. These people mostly reside in New Jersey and New York City.
The first of those is the Secretary General of the USCMO, Oussama Jammal. Jammal is also the Director of the Muslim American Society (MAS) Public Affairs and Civic Engagement, MAS-PACE, a division of the Muslim American Society (MAS), which has been identified in court testimony as a front organization for the Muslim Brotherhood. Jammal is also Vice President of the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, and in 2003, Jammal raised $50,000 at the Mosque Foundation prayer service for terrorist operative Sami al-Arian, the then-North American representative of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. In 2012, under Jammal’s leadership, the Mosque Foundation hosted an official delegation of al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya, the Lebanese branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the delegation included GI officials who were in direct communication with Hamas and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
But it gets worse.
The Mosque Foundation also invited Jordanian Islamist Anjem Qourshah to give sermons at its mosque. Qourshah was imprisoned in Jordan in 2016 for promoting jihadist propaganda. In his lectures, Qourshah has defended ISIS members as “decent men.”
The second interesting character – who lobbies Congress – is Mazen Mokhtar. He is a USCMO board member, the executive director of the Muslim American Society (MAS), and an organizer of Muslim Advocacy Day. In August 2004, the U.S. government accused Mazen Mokhtar of fundraising for al-Qaeda. Mokhtar allegedly operated a mirror website for al-Qaeda’s www.azzam.com, which solicited funds and recruited for the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and Chechen terror groups. Mokhtar’s site was used as a backup for Azzam.com when it was shut down after 9/11. The website was also affiliated with a Chechen terror group – the Islamic Army of the Caucasus, and its field commander, Shamil Basayev, who masterminded the Beslan school massacre in Russia, during which 334 people—including 186 children—were slaughtered. He was basically Al Qaeda and bin Laden’s webmaster.
Mokhtar was arrested in 2007 and charged with tax fraud, which investigators hoped to use as an entry point for further terrorism charges. But in 2008, the then-US Attorney Chris Christie inexplicably dropped the charges without explanation. Today, Mokhtar continues to raise funds for Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA)—an organization accused of links to Hamas. And if you read my report, you are going to see a lovely selfie of Mokhtar with Senator Cory Booker.
It just gets worse.
The third interesting character is a Yemeni-American man called Yahya Almontaser, who is a self-proclaimed member of the Muslim Brotherhood. He is an activist affiliated with a Brotherhood group called Egyptian Americans for Freedom and Justice (EAFAJ). And on his Facebook page, I saw that Almontaser spent several years regularly corresponding with a man called Mohamed Sayed Taha. Mohamed Sayed Taha is a self-proclaimed ISIS terrorist, that is how he identified on his Facebook page.
He is currently incarcerated in a military prison in Egypt for trying to bomb the Police Academy in Cairo. Taha referred to Almontaser, who lobbies Congress, as “ustadhi”, which means “my mentor” or “my teacher” in Arabic. Almontaser, in my opinion, was most probably his recruiter. He is still in prison in what is called “Qadiat Da’ish al-Kubra” (the Big ISIS Case) in Egypt, but it still gets worse.
Ahmed Abdel-Basit Mohamed
In 2017, a Washington-based organization called Alliance for Egyptian Americans brought an Egyptian convicted terrorist, a New Jersey-resident, and Muslim Brotherhood operative called Ahmed Abdel-Basit Mohamed, who is also known as Basit, to meet members of Congress. If you go to his Facebook page, you see pictures with the late Senator McCain. Basit is a Physics teacher in a rising star academy in New Jersey. He is teaching American children.
Basit was sentenced to death in Egypt along with several others because he was implicated in several terrorist attacks. He was involved in one of the biggest – if not the biggest – terrorist attacks in Egypt where 506 people were murdered and maimed. Basit proudly gloated on his Facebook page about his role in this atrocity.
In April 2011, he was arrested by ICE, but, of course, Amnesty International intervened and defended him, and called the terrorist charges which he admitted to on Facebook ‘egregious and grossly unfair’. Prior to his arrest, by the way, he was offered a job at Hostos Community College in New Jersey. So you would have had a mass-murderer teaching your children. Once after his incarceration, an immigration judge granted him asylum in the United States and now he is teaching Physics to American children, and god knows what else. The example of Basit is similar to the Blind Sheikh, the nineteen terrorists in 9/11, and I assume so many more that we cannot just mention them all.
Now that we are all depressed, I will finish on a positive note.
A lot of people mock me when I say that there is a solution to deal with Islamist terrorism and I get a lot of ridicule for it, but we do not need to reinvent the wheel because like we have touched upon, the history of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorists, American history is filled with glorious, heroic successes that we need to not only be proud of, but use as a manual, and I am going to give you an example on how to destroy Islamist aggression from the history of the United States.
During the early shaping of the American spirit, America fought two wars for her sovereignty from Islamist aggression. The first war was in 1803, and this war was lost. It was not until the second war of 1815 that America’s victory granted her independence and safety from Islamist aggression until 1979.
Over two hundred years ago the U.S. made the first attempt to fight an overseas battle to protect its private citizens by building an international coalition against what historians call an unconventional foe of pirates and piracy. Yet these terms do not exist in Arabic and Arabic literature because Arabic literature describes them as Muslim militants and jihadists.
While America was still shaping her sovereignty, strategy, and foreign policy, President George Washington and President Addams both paid jizyah, which is infidel ransom tax to North African-Ottoman colonies, especially to the Bey of Algiers, which is currently Algeria and Tripoli in Libya, which is understandable because he had a lots on his hands, and given the international circumstances, it made sense at the time that they would follow the European foreign policy tradition at the time.
But as early as 1785, Congress followed the status quo of paying $80,000 in jizyah tax to the Ottomans. Thomas Jefferson and John Addams began the process of negotiating with the Algerians until while they were negotiating with the Algerians, they captured two American ships. A year later the ruler of Algiers held the crew of twenty-one people for ransom of nearly $60,000.
Jefferson wrote to Addams in July 11, 1786, saying that paying tribute would merely invite more demands. And when Jefferson became President in 1801, he refused to consent to Tripoli’s demand of an immediate payment of $225,000 and an annual payment of $25,000. The pasha of Tripoli then declared war on the United States, and on October 31, 1801, the U.S.S. Philadelphia Brigade ran aground on an uncharted reef near Tripoli Harbor, and after a failed attempt to refloat the ship, she was captured and the crew was imprisoned by Tripoli’s forces and they were enslaved by the pasha. The Philadelphia was refloated by her captors and displayed as a trophy.
But how do you think the heroic Founding Fathers dealt with that situation? Do you think maybe they asked what difference does it make? I do not think so because you are not speaking Arabic and the lovely ladies here are not in Burkhas, so that did not happen. The response was the United States retaliated by capturing a Tripoli ketch called Mastico and renamed her Intrepid. On the evening of February 16, 1804, in the guise of a ship in distress, Intrepid was sailed by 80 volunteers, most of them were marines under the leadership of my hero, Lieutenant Stephen Decatur. Decatur and his men audaciously stormed the shores of Tripoli and set ablaze The Philadelphia, denying its use to the corsairs and its display as a trophy.
In 1815, President Madison directed military forces where the U.S. defeated the Ottoman Empire. The war brought an end to the American practice of paying tribute or jizyah ransom to Islamist states and marked the beginning of the end of piracy or marine jihad, which has reigned and been rampant since the sixteenth century. Just like that, it was gone.
That is why we do not need to reinvent the wheel. We have heroic examples from American history on how exactly to fight against Islamist aggression, and in August 1816, President James Madison sent a letter to the Dey of Algiers and he said it is a settled policy of America that peace is better than war, war is better than tribute. The United States while it wishes war with no nation, it will buy peace with none. Thank you.
Thank you for your presentation. I am an American of Syrian descent, so I totally align with your views on Islamism, especially what is happening in Syria. How can we reduce the influence of Muslim Brotherhood organizations operating in the United States? Looking at the Muslim Brotherhood coming from the conservative culture of those countries back there, I understand that the Muslim Brotherhood hijacked the idea of Islam and took it to another level.
However, when they attack Muslim Brotherhood organizations without providing an alternative, we are mobilizing all of those communities that are conservative, traditionally conservative, religiously conservative, and even fiscally conservative, so what are your suggestions of alternatives to separate between traditional Islam – as they mobilize and give those messages to those conservative people, and at the same time, trying to win those communities that live in the United States and abroad? As you know, Muslim communities in the West are different from those communities in the Middle East.
How do you divide the Muslim Brotherhood and its extremism from the traditional Muslim perspective? In other words, how do you defeat political Islam without positioning yourself as anti-Muslim?
Well, Muslims know better than anyone else the difference between Islamism, terrorists, and regular religious Muslims. They know that. In 2012, a Gallup poll had support for the Muslim Brotherhood and CAIR among American Muslims at 12%. It is only 12% of American Muslims that support CAIR or even think it represents Muslims, so yes, there is a vacuum but America has free laws. Anyone who wants to build an alternative can easily do so.
I do not think that designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization is a good enough excuse that it would radicalize regular Muslims. If someone would be radicalized by that, they are already radical.
There was a point available a while ago about how the Brookings Institution put out an article very favorable to the Brotherhood. Just using that as a launch point for my question, the Brookings Institution is one of the major think tanks that everybody thinks is basically centralized in America like Iran that the Qataris call their aircraft carriers because they have so heavily invested in them. They make it clear they invest in Brookings and RAND as their aircraft carriers to get the United States to institute their policies, thinking they are getting this from traditionally center-left or center right organizations.
The question I have is Turkey, Qatar, and Iran are acting together in many respects right now; CAIR and the USCMO are acting direct relationship with AKP, Turkey, so you can make the argument that the Brotherhood in America is under the operational control of Turkey. Can you speak to that situation, ranging from the Brookings Institution, ‘that has nothing to do with the Brotherhood’ (of course it does), that operates at one level? The Persian Gulf States are flooding with special interests groups at 100-to-1 money they are spending for those influence campaigns.
Well, thank you for your comment. That is absolutely spot on. If you go to the Middle East Forum website and read the report that I wrote about the Muslim Advocacy Day, you actually see pictures of the head of USCMO with Erdogan, more than one picture, so they are heavily involved with Turkey, they are heavily involved with Qatar.
And I believe the solution is they need to be registered as foreign agents, the Brookings Institution and all of these foreign entities that are working as agents for foreign, hostile governments to the United States. I think that is the way it should be done.
Yes, I have a question about the Constitution of Egypt. What does it say about Islam and to what extent does the Muslim Brotherhood use the Egyptian Constitution to justify what it does? Do you have any differences from their interpretation?
Well, the Constitution of Egypt has a lot of problems because the first article states that Egyptian laws should be based on Islamic jurisprudence, so it is basically a constitutional theocracy, and that is something that was put in the Constitution in 1971 by President Anwar Sadat, who was also a member of the Secret Apparatus of the Muslim Brotherhood. Prior to 1971 that was not the case, Shariah law was nowhere near the Constitution, so, of course, it does play into the broader picture of the Muslim Brotherhood. But they as an organization in Egypt are incredibly unpopular and weak. There are maybe two members left there that support them. It is really bad for them. So yes, the Constitution needs a lot of work, and it is going to be a very tough battle, but they need to fight it.
I am Faith McDonnell from the Institute on Religion and Democracy. Thank you so much, Cynthia, that was terrific. You talked about the infiltration – for years we had the resistance from Islamists, saying, ‘Oh, we are not persecuting people’, because you know I work on advocacy for persecuted Christians.
Now, the way that they are doing it has changed, coming into the religious freedom movement and taking it over basically, sucking up all of the oxygen in the room. You talked about using the example from the past, using the Marines and the pirates as a way to overcome the militant kind of Islam. How do we overcome the victimization part?
Thank you for being here, Faith, you know I am a big admirer of your work. There are two parts to the problem. First is the general culture that glorifies a state of victimhood, and the Brotherhood is taking huge advantage of that. They are playing on all of the talking points of the radical far Left, and that is a problem, but at the same time, I believe the way to pull the rug out from under their feet is to consistently expose them.
I never say the word ‘CAIR’ when mentioning that they are an un-indicted co-conspirator in the biggest terrorism case in U.S. history. They need to be constantly held accountable with who they are, what they stand for, their general mission. They should not be allowed to sugarcoat stuff, and we just sit there and take it.
And also, I believe that if the Muslim Brotherhood is designated as a terrorist organization, all of these subversive groups that are associated with it – that will really, really hurt them. And that will open the scene for moderate Muslims to take charge. I get countless, literally countless, messages from Muslims. Do you know what they say? Thank you for doing this because we are afraid. Do you know what happens? They get beaten up at mosques controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood. They get death threats. They are terrorized. Muslim Americans who are opposed to terrorism are victims. These are the real victims. And when the United States government says enough is enough, these guys will be able to take control as we want them to.
There are a couple points you made which surprised me, that the Free Officers came out of the earlier Muslim Brotherhood because down the road Nasser put the Muslim Brotherhood in jail and hanged Sayyid Qutb and others. The other point that you made was that the Brotherhood borrowed philosophy from the assassins, which suggests an amalgamation of Sunni and Shia, which seems to me rather novel.
These are great questions. Thank you very much. As I said, the rift between Nasser and the Muslim Brotherhood in 1965 was not ideological at all. It was because he asked the Supreme Guide of the Brotherhood to dismantle the Secret Apparatus because Nasser’s reasoning was he came to power, I am now controlling the military, what do you need it for? So that was the point of contention.
The Brotherhood’s traditional wing, the non-military wing, believed at the time that the Free Officers should hand them power, that they should give power and the Presidency to the Muslim Brotherhood, so that is when the rift started. When they attempted to assassinate Nasser to control the country in 1965, that is why Sayyid Qutb was executed in 1966, so they were allies.
The second question is fantastic of course. These are their own words, not my analysis or opinion, the own words of Ali al Mashawi, the co-founder of the Muslim Brotherhood and a founder of the Secret Apparatus. He is the one who wrote in his biography that early on they were inspired by the Shia Ismaili Assassins and modeled their group after that.
The relationship between Shias and Sunnis is not a conventional one. It is hard to understand from a Western epistemological viewpoint. There is a saying in Arabic that says my brother and I against my cousin, my cousin and I against a stranger. There have been episodes of collaboration between Sunnis and Shias that date way back even to a few days after the prophet of Islam died, before his burial when they started fighting for who should be his successor, whether Ali or Umar al Khattab. The same time they decided to put their war aside and after Umar told Ali ‘I am going to set your house on fire’, they collaborated to fight what we call the Wars of Ridda, which is the Wars of Apostasy.
They have collaborated for the past fourteen centuries. Let me give you an example. When Khomeini visited Egypt in 1935, can you guess his first destination? The Muslim Brotherhood’s office. He met with Hassan al-Banna in 1935. You will read it in my book. There is a whole chapter about that. Who considered the Jaffarite sect, Shia sect, as a fifth sect of Sunni Islam? It was Al Azhar University, a Sunni entity. It is not black and white at all., Qassem Soleimani who just died was in Egypt in 2013, training Muslim Brotherhood militants to start besiege wars. I can give you numerous examples of the collaboration.
Who are the principal funders of the Muslim Brotherhood? How are they financed? Where does the money come from?
Traditionally, they are financed by Sheikhs and princes and emirs from Saudi Arabia. Now, Saudi Arabia is going through a huge reform and it almost stopped. Right now the main funding is coming from Qatar, and also a little bit of it is coming from Turkey, from the Turkish government, and Iran as well, and, of course, charities in the United States and Europe.
Thank you for your presentation. As a matter of fact, they did a lot of crimes in Egypt during Hassan al-Banna. He assassinated several judges and at last a Prime Minister, Nokrashy. The Prime Minister of Egypt was killed by Hassan al-Banna’s group. That is why he himself was killed.
As a matter of fact, there are a lot of resources available for them still running even in the United States. You can find a lot of mosques, preachers, a lot of preachers even in the jails. The American jails are a source of generating a new terrorist. You are overlooking what is going on in teaching. You mentioned professors teaching our children these principles. There are in jails, in schools, in universities.
The United States government supports a lot of terrorist-supporting governments, especially Turkey. Turkey was the main path of fighters and weapons to ISIS. They support the continuous supply of fighters, weapons, and money to ISIS through Turkey, and so I do not know what is the deep authority in the United States supporting such things. Probably they started to fight the Soviet Union.
A few years ago when President Sisi took power in Egypt, he went address the entirety of the senior officers and professors at Al Azhar, and made what some of us consider to be a dramatic statement that challenged the people in the room. I was very struck by that. I was also very struck by the reaction in the West. I thought it was a non-reaction. Do you agree with that and how would you analyze or characterize or attribute the reasons for reactions in the West?
Well, the reaction in the West is basically they have picked a side, and it is not the side of persecuted Christians, moderate Muslims, and enlightened people in the Middle East. I will give you an example. On October 9, 2011, I was still in Egypt and I was supposed to participate in a protest for religious freedom with friends of mine. I was supposed to go but I got a fever that day. I told my friends you can go and then have dinner with me in my house. What happened that day was my friend got shot execution style, a military vehicle crushed him and almost severed his legs, and almost thirty people were killed in the most gruesome, vicious way possible.
How did American press and President Obama deal with it? President Obama made a statement at the time where he said, “I urge all sides to restrain themselves.” That was a signal to the Muslim Brotherhood, slaughter them, kill them on TV cameras and we will continue to funnel political support and money to you. So that is the side that a lot of politicians, unfortunately, are on and, hence, I had to flee for my life to the United States. This is unfortunately the case. If you remember when Stalin was committing his atrocities, Walter Duranty of The New York Times wrote a very nice article about Stalin, so apparently, Walter Duranty is all over the media right now.
As far as what Al Sisi said at Al Azhar, I think it was historic. He is the only Muslim leader in history in fourteen centuries to criticize the theology concept of perpetual jihad. This has never happened before. He funded from Egyptian taxpayer money the rebuilding of churches that the Muslim Brotherhood destroyed. He has collaborated with the most moderate Muslims – even the name, Mu’tazila Muslims, in Egypt. I think very good things are happening.
When Morsi was elected, a lot of us were surprised, so my question is can you please give some insight on how the Muslim Brotherhood put forth to ensure that Morsi had the best chance of getting elected? A lot of people say he was democratically elected by Egypt at that time, so what were the different ways that the Muslim Brotherhood ensured that that happened? What was the most effective thing that they used? Thank you.
Well, thank you for your question. He was not elected at all. Mohammed Morsi was a prison-escapee and he was mentally challenged, actually. He literally had a lobotomy. It is not something that is widely known, but he did have a lobotomy. He had a lot of health issues.
I wrote at the time a few articles with Dr. Daniel Pipes, the President of the Middle East Forum, proving with evidence, overwhelming evidence, that it was a sham election and that he was installed by Brotherhood operatives in the Egyptian Army, and that he was not elected.
While I take a backseat to no one in my admiration of Stephen Decatur, I wonder how practical that solution is about setting forth the Marines to go battle the Muslim Brotherhood. I wonder if there might be some other historical examples that might be more on point. Specifically, have you looked at the de-Nazification that was done after World War II? A couple of salient points emerge from that.
One, German think tanks and charitable organizations were banned from taking money overseas, even neighboring France. If you look at the funding for a lot of these front groups in Europe and the United States, they receive a tremendous amount of money from the Gulf, from Iran, from Turkey, and elsewhere.
Secondly, they had to swear an oath of loyalty to the democratically-elected government of Germany, so obviously they could swear an oath to the United States, that should not be a problem for them, and they had to renounce violence. The other thing the U.S. did for de-Nazification is actually finance think tanks, which exist to this day, for example, Friedrich Naumann Stiftung, to invite intellectuals into debates to present a series of counter-ideas, to actually debate these extremist ideas and defeat them.
We know from the prison debates in Cairo and to a lesser extent in Yemen that when these ideas are debated, the radical Islamists actually know very little about the Qur’an, and their ideas quickly fall apart. Why do you not advocate a similar approach here?
Well, I apologize for the misunderstanding. When I was talking about Stephen Decatur, I did not mean that the Marines will storm the shores of the Mediterranean. I thought that was metaphorical of fighting – to use Osama bin Laden’s words – it is fighting the strong horse versus the weak horse, and it is the strong horse approach where you do not compromise with your enemy because this is death.
When the Muslim Brotherhood and Mubarak’s regime abducted my brother in Tahrir Square, and they made me listen to him get tortured, so that I can compromise, guess what I did? I refused to compromise. That is what I mean by the Decatur solution because if I had compromised and said ‘Oh my God, I will do everything you want’, he would have been killed. He came an hour later back home with his jaws shattered, but he was alive, and that is what I mean by the Decatur solution: you do not negotiate with terrorists, you do not become submissive to them because it only invites more aggression. That is what I meant. And I do believe in the de-Nazification solution, and I actually have written extensively about this in Egyptian media. So yes, we do not really disagree.