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Brothers In Arms

This is a cross-post by Abu Faris from The Spittoon

Much time has been understandably spent in recent weeks exposing the links between Anwar al-Awlaki and international jihadi terrorism. Of considerable interest then should be the extensive links that can also be shown to exist between al-Awlaki and the Muslim Brotherhood – an organisation that likes to dub itself a “moderate Islamist” group, committed to exclusively democratic and peaceful political reform, far removed from the terrorism and extremism of other Islamists.

It is public knowledge that the Brotherhood’s British arms, the Muslim Association of Britain and the Young Muslim Organisation, have previously promoted al-Awlaki. He was the main speaker at the latter organisation’s “Remaking of a Great Nation” fundraiser for “the people of Iraq” back in June, 2003. The MAB website address being prominently displayed on the posters for the same.

However, the connections between al-Awlaki and the Muslim Brotherhood are far deeper than his speaking at their events in the UK. Writing in the Washington Post, Susan Schmidt commented that:

Tax records show that in 1998 and 1999, while in San Diego, Aulaqi [sic] served as vice president of the now-defunct Charitable Society for Social Welfare Inc… Three years ago [2005], federal prosecutors in a New York terrorism-financing case described the charity as “a front organization” that was “used to support al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.”

That al-Awlaki should have been involved with al-Qaida front groups is surely of no surprise. However, the fact that the Charitable Society for Social Welfare was the US arm of a Yemeni charity, set up by the leader of the Yemeni branch of the Muslim Brotherhood is perhaps less well-known.

That man is Shaykh Abdul Majeed al-Zindani, present leader of at-tajammu al-yemeni lil-islah (Yemeni Congregation for Reform), the Yemeni branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Shaykh al-Zindani is also the founder of the Iman University in Sana’a, Yemen. According to the NEFA foundation’s profile of al-Awlaki:

Al Awlaki’s connection to al Zindani extends beyond CSSW, as he also took classes and lectured at Iman University in Sanaa, Yemen, which al Zindani heads. While al Zindani claims that the university has a robust science department where they have discovered a cure for AIDS, others believe that the curriculum deals exclusively with the study of radical Islam

Iman University students allegedly were involved in numerous attacks, including the assassination of three American missionaries and the assassination of one of the leaders of the Yemeni Socialist Party. Al Zindani asserted that the accusations were unfounded.

John Walker Lindh [the “American Taliban”] is a former student of Iman University.

Al-Zindani is a known associate of al-Qaida, as well as being the head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen. In 2004, the US Treasury Department identified al-Zindani as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist”. The Department said it had credible evidence al-Zindani had a “long history of working with bin Laden, notably serving as one of his spiritual leaders”, that he “served as a contact for Ansar al-Islam (Al), a Kurdish-based terrorist organization linked to al-Qaeda”.

Al-Zindani’s name subsequently appeared on the UN 1267 Committee’s list of individuals belonging to or associated with al-Qaeda.

There is little point in apologists for the Muslim Brotherhood trying to argue that al-Zindani represents another Brother gone to the bad (as they have with al-Awlaki). Writing in Ashraq Alawsat, Mshari Al-Zaydi points out that:

The Muslim Brotherhood’s ties to Yemen go back a long way and they have a special relationship with the country. Since the time of the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen [1918 – 1962] the Muslim Brotherhood has displayed special attention to Yemen. Anybody reading about the coup which was carried out against Imam Yahya Muhammad Hamidaddin in 1948 and which ended with his assassinations at the hands of Abdullah Alwazir and a group of Yemeni officers will know that a prominent Muslim Brotherhood figure was the dynamo behind this revolution. We are talking about well-known Algerian Muslim Brotherhood member al-Fudhail al-Wartalani who traveled to Yemen from Egypt after he was ordered by Hassan al-Banna to lead the revolution. The coup proved successful and al-Fudhail served as adviser to the Yemeni revolutionaries. However it was not long before Imam Ahmad Bin Yahya reclaimed power from them, and had the group arrested, and its leaders executed. Al-Fudhail al-Wartalani received a death sentence, but he managed to escape, only to die many years later in Turkey…

Hassan al-Banna’s ties to Yemen are well known to those who have read about this period, and the Muslim Brotherhood has not tried to conceal these ties. In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood takes pride in the fact that the “Sacred National Pact” which was the official document of the Yemeni revolution against Imam Yahya, had been drafted at the Muslim Brotherhood’s headquarters in Cairo, according to Muslim Brotherhood historian Mahmoud Abdul Halim.

In short, the Muslim Brotherhood has been intimately involved in attempts to overthrow the Yemeni government by main force in order to install an Islamist regime with them at the helm. If historically facts have given the lie to the Muslim Brotherhood’s propaganda that it is a moderate Islamist party purportedly dedicated to peaceful and democratic change, then present realities in Yemen suggest that the Muslim Brotherhood is a leopard that still has not changed its spots. The Saudi journalist, Hamad Al-Majid, comments:

Wise politicians say that not taking a position on an issue is a position in itself. I believe this applies to the position taken by the Yemeni Congregation for Reform [YCR] on the Huthi crisis in Saada. The YCR is an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Yemen, and the party’s position on the Huthi crisis is… dominated by partisan interests, and it is being governed by selfish political considerations.

I browsed the YCR website, skimmed through their articles, and read interviews with their leaders searching for a position that would reduce the danger that Yemen is currently facing from the Huthi rebellion, but I found nothing more than ambiguous decorative phrases, and attempts to twist the Yemeni regime’s arm [in order to make political gains].

To conclude: there an extensive body of evidence linking the fugitive jihadi militant, al-Awlaki to both al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood. This in itself fatally undermines the Muslim Brotherhood’s claims to have repudiated violence and extremism.

However, there is also a growing body of evidence showing how, despite their best propaganda to depict themselves as peace-loving moderates, the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen (as elsewhere) are intimately involved in jihadi violence designed to overthrow the existing regime and install an anti-democratic and authoritarian Islamist regime. In so plotting, they are heavily involved in exactly the sort of al-Qaida associated Islamists with which they, with standard duplicity, claim to have no truck.

If there were any doubts about the linkage between Islamism and violence, these are surely now dispelled.