10 questions with the editors of the Global Muslim Brotherhood Report

As a result of this global dispersal, the Muslim Brotherhood today has become a global network, referred to by us as the Global Muslim Brotherhood, and the Egyptian “mother branch” is not necessarily the most important part of the movement. In fact Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi, resident in Qatar, is the most important leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood network and in 2004 turned down the offer to lead the Egyptian Brotherhood after the death of its leader, known as the Supreme Guide. Much remains to be learned about the Global Muslim Brotherhood network, its funding, and how it is coordinated.

Meanwhile, following the attempt on Nasser’s life, many members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood were held in prison where they were sometimes tortured. Following a minor thaw in 1964, Sayyid Qutb, one of the imprisoned Muslim Brothers, was released from prison and subsequently developed a new ideology, arguing that since the Muslim states were no longer authentically Islamic, they must be overthrown by violent revolution. Although Qutb was executed in 1966, his thought became highly influential and many analysts believe was important to al-Qaeda leaders such as Ayman Zawahiri, who went on to become a member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and later a mentor of Osama bin Laden. The Egyptian Brotherhood tried to distance itself from Qutb’s thought and has since maintained that it holds a non-violent ideology, but some have questioned this distinction and it should be noted that the current leader of the Egyptian Brotherhood is known to be favorable toward Qutb.

Anwar Sadat, who succeeded Nasser in 1970, began releasing the imprisoned Muslim Brotherhoods whom he saw as a useful ally against Communism and other leftist forces. Sadat turned against the Brotherhood after they opposed his signing of the 1979 peace treaty with Israel and was assassinated by a violent Islamist group on October 6, 1981.

Under the Mubarak regime, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood once again began gaining strength in the 1980s and came to dominate many of the professional and student associations. In 1992, the government began a new round of action against the Brotherhood including mass arrests. Despite these actions, Brotherhood candidates, forced to run as Independents due to a prohibition on the group, enjoyed some parliamentary successes and in the 2005 parliamentary election, won 88 seats (20% of the total) to form the largest opposition bloc. In the November 2010 elections, the Brotherhood won virtually no seats in what was widely acknowledged to be a rigged election.