WASHINGTON — An Islamist organization sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood defended the Brotherhood’s mission of “uncompromising jihad.”
The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy hosted a press conference Thursday afternoon at the National Press Club, in an effort to stifle legislation sponsored by Texas Sen. [crscore]Ted Cruz[/crscore] that would designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. Panelists specifically criticized Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who took the country’s presidency following a 2013 coup of Egypt’s then-Muslim Brotherhood government.
Radwan Masmoudi, a panelist at the press conference, insisted to The Daily Caller the necessity of “uncompromising jihad” saying that not all jihad is violent.
“I think we need uncompromising jihad against all terrorist regimes in the Arab world. Jihad is not just violence. This is another miscommunication or misunderstanding. Jihad is struggle. That’s the correct interpretation for jihad in the Arab world language,” Masmoudi said. “Look it up in the dictionary. Jihad is struggle. It could be violent. It could be peaceful. It could be many forms of jihad. And, yes, we’re calling for jihad, because of oppression — not just in Egypt but everywhere. Jihad is non-violent. Jihad is peaceful resistance…”
Fellow panelist Nader Hashemi took offense to TheDC’s question. He responded, “You seem to be only interested in one form of terrorism — one group’s education of terrorism. You mention 2015 — the website from the Muslim Brotherhood. Do you know what’s been happening in Egypt since the coup up to 2015? I just quoted from the Human Rights Watch report. It described General al-Sisi’s coming to power in an orgy of violence as a ‘likely crime against humanity.’ That’s far worse than terrorism. Are you willing to condemn that? I don’t think so, because I don’t think you’re really interested in questioning terrorism.”
Angrily, he added, “You’re interested in defending an ideological position. You have every right to do so. You have the First Amendment, but I just don’t take your question seriously if you’re going to frame it in such a narrow way. And trying to condemn the Muslim Brotherhood in 2015 for what they put up on their website, while not talking about or acknowledging what happened and what is happening over the last 2 ½ years in Egypt, which human rights watch wrote is a likely crime against humanity and possibly the biggest killing of civilians in human history. That’s Human Rights Watch’s characterization of General Al Si Si’s rise to power. Unless you acknowledge that I cannot take your question seriously.”
Counter-terrorism expert Patrick Poole calls Hashemi’s and Masmoudi’s defense of the Muslim Brotherhood’s mission of jihad laughable.
“When the MB called for ‘uncompromising jihad in the way of martyrdom’ they weren’t talking about yoga classes and self-improvement. For them to claim that the Jan 2015 call is anything but a call to violence is fundamentally dishonest. The statement published last May by the Muslim Brotherhood clerics un-mistakenly authorized retribution against politicians, judges, security officials and supportive media personnel in Egypt. To interpret that as anything but a call for violence is equally dishonest,” Poole told TheDC in a statement.
Poole notes that Hashemi’s comments regarding jihad against the Egyptian state “is nothing short of a restatement of the violent takfiri doctrine established by Muslim Brotherhood theorist Sayyid Qutb in his book, ‘Milestones,’ that the MB apologists are now trying to say they reject.”
Qutb, a late Egyptian fundamentalist scholar, is known as the man who helped inspire 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden to ideas on jihad.
“This is precisely the doctrine that the 9/11 Commission report identified as inspiring Al-Qaeda’s worldview authorizing violence against Muslims and non-Muslims alike,” said Poole. “We see here that it doesn’t take much for them to drop their mask of moderation and return to their roots of the tactical use of terror, which is exactly why Cruz is right that they should be designated.”
Masmoudi also argued earlier that despite Muslim Brotherhood affiliate organizations from various countries being determined as engaging in or supporting terrorism by the U.S. government, the Brotherhood at large does not condone violence.
“The Muslim Brotherhood is an international movement and maybe school of thought. These groups are not organized or linked in any direct way. They’re mostly — they started fifty years ago as members of the Muslim Brotherhood whether in Kuwait or Palestine or Morocco or in Tunisia. Since then, they’re independent Islamic movements,” Masmoudi said.
He added, “Now some of them like Hamas or others may have joined or committed terrorist activities or acts but to come and say that all Muslim Brotherhood — all groups that are associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, that this school of thought, from Morocco to Jordan to Egypt to everywhere, this is not very untrue, because the people that are involved are very small in number compared to the majority.”
“In Egypt—the Muslim Brotherhood has an official position of denouncing violence. It’s clear. You can read all of their statements. Their official position is they’ve never advocated violence. They’ve never encouraged their [supporters] to violence. In fact, they always condemn violence. Now its possible that some of their members, especially younger members and younger generations after the coup were involved in activities or terrorist activities or violence or whatever,” he said.
Poole called Masmoudi’s claim that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has never engaged in violence as false.
“During the 1930s, 40s and early 50s, the MB in Egypt operated a terror cell called the ‘secret apparatus’ that killed foreigners, judges, and eventually the Prime Minister. That’s what prompted Nasser to crack down on them in 1954. Even the New York Times back then reported on their terrorist activity. The MB there has essentially returned to those days,” Poole said.