A high-level delegation of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood recently held a first-of-its-kind visit to the Gaza Strip, following up on meetings with top Hamas officials held in Cairo.

Issued on: 30/10/2011 Type: Article



Hamas Political Bureau Chief Khaled Mash’al (right) meets with Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Muhammad Badi’ in Cairo
Hamas Political Bureau Chief Khaled Mash’al (right) meets with Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Muhammad Badi’ in Cairo (www.janobiyat.com, August 10, 2011)

Overview

1. In late October 2011, a high-level delegation of the Muslim Brotherhood visited the Gaza Strip for the first time. Since the fall of the Mubarak regime, a number of earlier meetings were held in Cairo between top officials of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the Hamas leadership. The Muslim Brotherhood, which has gained political legitimacy and a position of power in Egyptian politics, is now seeing a chance to solidify its contacts publicly made with Hamas, its Palestinian branch. The Muslim Brotherhood’s relations with Hamas during the Mubarak regime needed to be kept to a bare minimum due to internal security considerations (the Mubarak regime had concerns about the possibility of the Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip exporting terrorism, subversion, and radical Islam to Egypt).

2. The solidification of public relations between the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas is driven by a coincidence of interest:

a. The Muslim Brotherhood movement is interested in improving its status and image with the Egyptian regime and public. It does so by positioning itself as a movement that can help the regime advance its interests on the volatile Palestinian-Israeli scene while boosting its popularity with the Egyptian public, whose deep-rooted support for the Palestinians is well known to the Muslim Brotherhood. It may also be interested in using Hamas’ administrative experience as part of the process of integration into the Egyptian political system.

b. In Hamas’ view, there are numerous advantages in solidifying its relations with the Muslim Brotherhood. First and foremost, it is a means of strengthening its position vis-à-vis the Egyptian army and administration with the purpose of gaining more power and making substantial gains, such as scaling down Egypt’s security activity against the tunnels that are vital for smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip; receiving more consideration for the positions of Hamas vis-à-vis Fatah and the Palestinian Authority in the internal Palestinian dialogue (where Egypt plays the role of mediator); and alleviating pressure exerted by Egypt on Hamas with regard to its policy in the Gaza Strip while restraining Israel’s reactions to terrorist attacks launched from the Gaza Strip. Hamas is also interested in using its relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and the solidification of its status with the Egyptian government to improve its internal position vis-à-vis Fatah and the PA and strengthen its position in the Arab world (particularly in light of the growing difficulties in its relations with Syria).

3. Despite the moderate image that the Muslim Brotherhood is trying to project both in Egypt and abroad (particularly to the Western world), when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict its top officials continue to publicly support the "resistance” (i.e., terrorism). In their statements and activities, they repeatedly voice unequivocal support for Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations, calling on the Arab and Muslim world to help the Palestinian terrorist organizations ("resistance”) in the Gaza Strip with money, weapons, and equipment.

4. Practically, the Muslim Brotherhood, including its branches in the Arab world and Europe, is involved in providing financial assistance to Hamas (through the Union of Good, headed by Sheikh Qaradawi). Cooperating with radical left-wing activists in the Western world, the movement’s activists play a major role in the anti-Israel delegitimization campaign. The involvement of the Muslim Brotherhood and radical Islam activists is particularly evident in the flotilla campaign (the Mavi Marmara flotilla, for instance) and other activities, such as sending aid convoys to the Gaza Strip, initiating anti-Israel propaganda campaigns in Western countries, the BDS campaign to boycott Israel, and so forth.

The visit of the Muslim Brotherhood delegation to the Gaza Strip

5. In late October 2011, a delegation on behalf of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood held a first-of-its-kind visit to the Gaza Strip. The delegation was headed by Muslim Brotherhood Deputy General Guide Jum’ah Amin, who was accompanied by two top Muslim Brotherhood officials.1

6. The Muslim Brotherhood delegation met with top Hamas officials, including Isma’il Haniyah, head of the de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, who praised Egypt for its part in the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap.2 Speaking at a press conference held in the Gaza Strip, Jum’ah Amin stressed that jihad and the "resistance” (i.e., terrorism) proved themselves useful, while the path of negotiations had failed. Therefore, according to Amin there is no other way but the "resistance” to create facts on the ground in the conflict with Israel.3

The port of Kismayo in south Somalia
Mahmoud al-Zahar and Isma’il Haniyah (right) holding a photograph of the Temple Mount, with Jum’ah Amin standing on the left (from Jum’ah Amin’s website)

 
Jum’ah Amin (right) raising his hands, with Isma’il Haniyah at his side (from Jum’ah Amin’s website)
Jum’ah Amin (right) raising his hands, with Isma’il Haniyah at his side (from Jum’ah Amin’s website)

Public meetings between senior Muslim Brotherhood officials and Hamas 

7. Prior to the recent visit of the Muslim Brotherhood delegation to the Gaza Strip, this past year several public meetings were held in Cairo between top officials of Hamas (and other Palestinian terrorist organizations) and the Muslim Brotherhood. Several examples follow:

  1. October 13, 2011: a high-level Hamas delegation consisting of Hamas leader Khaled Mash’al, Moussa Abu Marzouq, Osama Hamdan, and Muhammad Nasr visited Cairo. The purpose of the visit was to finalize the details of the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap, but it also included a meeting between Khaled Mash’al and Muhammad Badi’, the General Guide of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. Muhammad Badi’ congratulated Hamas for the prisoner swap, describing it as a victory for the "resistance”.4

  2. August 10, 2011: Khaled Mash’al came to Cairo to hold talks with the Egyptian authorities on resolving the differences of opinion between Fatah and Hamas, as well as the Egypt-Hamas relations. During his visit to Cairo he also met with Muhammad Badi’, the General Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood

Muhammad Badi’ (right) and Khaled Mash’al at a meeting
Muhammad Badi’ (right) and Khaled Mash’al at a meeting
on August 10, 2011 (www.baddawi.com)

c. Mid-September 2011: a delegation of the de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip came to Egypt to meet with Muhammad Badi’. The latter announced that "lifting the siege” on the Gaza Strip was a matter of the utmost urgency. He also stressed the importance of guarding the holy sites of Islam, particularly Jerusalem, which according to Badi’ is the victim of a "worldwide Zionist conspiracy [aimed] to destroy it”.5

d. May 4, 2011: a PIJ delegation headed by its leader Abdallah Ramadan Shalah visited Cairo. The delegation met with Muslim Brotherhood officials, including one of its senior leaders, Essam al-Arian, who had praise for the positions of the PIJ. Both parties said that the Palestinian problem will remain at the core of the Muslim nation’s being.6

e. February 19, 2011: Isma’il Haniyah, head of the de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, called Sheikh Dr. Al-Qaradawi and invited him to visit the Gaza Strip. Al-Qaradawi resides in Qatar and is considered the highest religious and ideological authority for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, even though he is not the movement’s official leader. Isma’il Haniyah said that he and the Hamas administration appreciated Al-Qaradawi’s support for the Palestinian cause, and his call for lifting the "siege” on the Gaza Strip at a mass rally in Cairo (February 18). The Hamas website reported that Al-Qaradawi accepted the invitation and promised to honor it (Palestine-info, February 19, 2011). Al-Qaradawi has not visited the Gaza Strip so far.

The motives of the Muslim Brotherhood

8. The Muslim Brotherhood’s support for Hamas stems primarily from the ideological affinity between the two movements. Hamas grew out of the Muslim Brotherhood infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, and with the exception of several uniquely-Palestinian themes, its ideology is based on the teachings of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas’ education systems, mosques, preaching, and indoctrination (da’wah), as well as their immense significance for the movement, are clearly based on the Muslim Brotherhood model. Hassan al-Banna himself is considered a role model by Hamas, and his portrait adorns many of the movement’s posters.7

9. However, despite the ideological affinity, before the fall of the Mubarak regime the Muslim Brotherhood kept a low profile regarding its political relations with Hamas. This stemmed mainly from the policy pursued by the Mubarak regime, which strove to keep the relations between the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas to a bare minimum due to internal security considerations. The Mubarak regime was seriously concerned about the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip and the Islamization process which the Gaza Strip then underwent, and feared that the Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip could export terrorism, subversion, and radical Islam to Egypt.

10. Mubarak’s fall marked the beginning of a new era in the history of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The movement, which until then was banned, was given political legitimacy. It intends to participate in the parliament elections and become an important—perhaps even central—political power in Egypt. One of the expressions of this new age is the solidification of public contacts between the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas (as well as other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip) and the cessation of the overly cautious approach that was characteristic of its relations with Hamas in the Mubarak era.

11. We believe that the public change in the Muslim Brotherhood’s relations with Hamas has to do with a number of reasons:

a. The Muslim Brotherhood’s interest in improving its status with the Egyptian government, which includes positioning itself as a movement that can help the regime promote its interests on the volatile Israeli-Palestinian scene (obviously, from a pro-Hamas standpoint).

b. As part of its preparations for the coming parliament elections in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood wants to establish a positive image among the public as a movement that works for the Palestinian cause. It does so by emphasizing its contacts with Hamas and its public support for Hamas and its way, understanding the importance of the Palestinian issue for the Egyptian public.

c. The Muslim Brotherhood may also be interested in using Hamas’ political experience in the Gaza Strip (as well as the experience of such Islamic parties as the AKP, Turkey’s ruling party) to prepare for the process of integration into the Egyptian political system.

The motives of Hamas

12. It is our assessment that the issues discussed at the meetings included the Muslim Brotherhood’s practical assistance to Hamas. In Hamas’ view, the significance of such assistance is mostly political, being a means of strengthening its political position vis-à-vis the Egyptian army and government (which are obliged to give more consideration to the Muslim Brotherhood than in the past). In addition, these relations help improve Hamas’ political standing on the internal Palestinian scene vis-à-vis Abu Mazen and the PA (between which Egypt mediates to promote a reconciliation) and strengthen Hamas’ position in the Arab and Muslim world, particularly in light of the growing difficulties in its relations with the Syrian regime.

13. It is also our assessment that Hamas seeks to translate the growing political status of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood into immediate, substantial gains vis-à-vis the Egyptian authorities to promote its vital interests, such as scaling down Egypt’s security activity against the tunnels to make it easier to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip; easing the passage of Palestinians and aid convoys to the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing;8 receiving more consideration for Hamas’ position in such events as the Shalit prisoner swap deal or the reconciliation talks with Fatah and the PA, where Egypt plays an important role as mediator; alleviating pressure exerted by Egypt on Hamas after terrorist attacks launched against Israel from the Gaza Strip (as the Mubarak regime used to exert on Hamas); and restraining Israel’s reactions to terrorist attacks carried out from the Gaza Strip or via Sinai.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s support for Hamas’ path of "resistance” (terrorism)

 

14. The Muslim Brotherhood also provides Hamas with assistance in publicity—the battle for hearts and minds—motivated by the two movements’ identical worldviews on the Palestinian conflict with Israel. They are both ideologically opposed to the State of Israel’s right to exist; strive to establish a Palestinian state on the entire territory of "Palestine”; support an uncompromising jihad (holy war) against Israel; and oppose any agreement or arrangement that acknowledges Israel’s right to exist. The Hamas charter begins with a verse attributed to Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, according to which "Israel shall be established and continue to exist until Islam erases it just like it erased what came before it”.

15. Senior Muslim Brotherhood officials in Egypt often express this worldview and particularly their support for the "resistance” (i.e., terrorism). They publicly call for providing "resistance” (i.e., terrorist) organizations in the Gaza Strip with weapons and funds. For instance:

a. As already mentioned, Muslim Brotherhood Deputy General Guide Jum’ah Amin said during a visit to the Gaza Strip held in late October 2011 that jihad and the "resistance” proved themselves (within the context of the Shalit prisoner swap deal). He added that there is no other way but the "resistance” to create facts on the ground in the conflict with Israel.

b. Following Gilad Shalit’s liberation in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Muhammad Badi’ said in his weekly newsletter released on October 20, 2011 that the prisoner swap demonstrated the success and effectiveness of the "resistance” option, and confirmed that the only language Israel understands is the language of power. He noted that without the determination to adhere to the method of "resistance”, and without capturing Shalit, the resistance would not have had a "bargaining chip” to play against Israel and liberate the prisoners.9

c. On April 8, 2011, Dr. Muhammad Mursi, a member of the General Guidance Office of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, called on Arab and Islamic nations to support the Palestinian "resistance” in the Gaza Strip with money, equipment, and weapons. To publicly condemn Israel for its activity against the Palestinians is not enough, he said.10

d. An announcement released on May 2, 2011 following the killing of Osama Bin Laden said that the Muslim Brotherhood opposes such assassinations, and that a trial is the correct course of action. Also according to the announcement, resistance to the occupiers is a "legitimate right”, and the Zionist enemy is interested in avoiding the distinction between "legitimate resistance” (i.e., Palestinian terrorism) and the murder of innocent people. The Western world must soon declare that the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has come to an end, and recognize the "legitimate rights” of the Palestinian people, the announcement said.11

e. In June 2010, about six months before the fall of the Mubarak regime and shortly after the Mavi Marmara flotilla, Muhammad Badi’ called on the rulers of Arab and Muslim countries "to open the borders of Egypt for jihad warriors [Mujahedeen]”. He noted that jihad is the personal duty of every Muslim (fard ‘ayn), a central theme in the thought of Abdullah Azzam, Osama Bin Laden’s spiritual teacher.12

16. Furthermore, on July 24-25, 2011 a "founding conference” was held in Cairo in support of the so-called "resistance” (i.e., terrorism). It was attended by representatives from 14 Arab and Muslim countries and from various terrorist organizations (including Hamas, Hezbollah, PIJ, and PRC). There was some evidence to suggest that the Muslim Brotherhood was involved in the conference, at which an attempt was made to use the popular protests in the Arab world to support terrorism ("the resistance”).13

17. Such statements, made in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, go beyond the moderate line which the Muslim Brotherhood attempts to demonstrate in Egypt and abroad, as well as towards the United States. In this context, it should be noted that William Taylor, the U.S. special coordinator for Middle East transitions, said on November 4 that the American administration would be "satisfied” if the Muslim Brotherhood won the Egyptian elections, provided that the process leading up to its victory was "a free and fair election”. In the broader context, Taylor stressed that the administration would maintain relations with any Egyptian party (which can be understood to include the Muslim Brotherhood) that would renounce violence. Secretary of State Clinton previously said that the United States would be willing to work with any government in Egypt whose representatives would renounce violence and be committed to human rights and democracy.

18. The statements made by senior officials of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood in favor of the "resistance” and the movement’s growing ties with Hamas illustrate that the Muslim Brotherhood has not renounced its support for violence and terrorism in the context of the conflict with Israel, and that it supports Hamas, defined in the United States and by the European community as a terrorist organization.

The assistance provided by the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe and Arab countries to Hamas as part of the delegitimization campaign

19. Even before the upheaval in the Middle East, the Muslim Brotherhood in Middle Eastern and West European countries mobilized to support Hamas, and it still plays a central and sometimes leading role in the anti-Israel delegitimization campaign. An important role in the campaign is played by organizations affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood in Western countries, particularly Britain. The Muslim Brotherhood’s integration in the delegitimization campaign involves cooperation with European organizations and activists affiliated with the radical left, based on a shared platform of strong hostility towards Israel (referred to as the "green-red alliance” by the media).

20. One example of radical Islam joining forces with the radical left can be found in the conspicuous involvement of organizations and activists affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe and the Middle East in the campaign to send flotillas and convoys to the Gaza Strip, perceived as a means to strengthen Hamas in the Gaza Strip and challenge Israel. Muslim Brotherhood representatives and radical Islamic activists were strongly represented on the Mavi Marmara, which carried activists from Egypt and Jordan as well as radical Islamic elements from Turkey’s IHH and Western countries. In addition, the Muslim Brotherhood supports Hamas by raising funds through a global network of Muslim foundations supervised by the Union of Good, headed by Qatar-based Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

Dr. Muhammad al-Baltaji, chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood parliament faction,
Dr. Muhammad al-Baltaji, chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood parliament faction,
giving a speech on board the Mavi Marmara, with Bulent Yildirim standing at his side
(photographs seized by the IDF on board one of the vessels)

21. Of particular note in the publicity field are those organizations affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood in Western countries, notably Britain,14 which conduct intensive, manifestly anti-Israel and pro-Hamas campaigns and propaganda activities and cooperate with radical left and human rights organizations. Such activity is geared towards local public opinion in Western countries (with the purpose of changing their attitudes on Israel), and also towards Arab and Muslim communities in the various Western countries (with the purpose of indoctrinating them with the Islamic ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood)


1 Safa, October 29, 2011.

2 Al-Resalah, October 29, 2011.

3 Safa, October 29, 2011.

4 akhbarak.net

5 jamhiri.ps, September 18, 2011.

6 paltoday.ps

7 See our June 19, 2011 Information Bulletin: "The Muslim Brotherhood is an Islamic mass movement whose worldview is based on the belief that "Islam is the solution” and on the stated aim of establishing a world order based on Islamic religious law (a caliphate) on the ruins of Western liberalism. With extensive support networks in Arab countries and, to a lesser extent, in the West, the movement views the recent events in Egypt as a historic opportunity. It strives to take advantage of the political process for gradual, non-violent progress towards the establishment of political dominance and the eventual assumption of power in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries.

8 The Egyptians allow aid convoys such as Miles of Smiles free access to the Gaza Strip.

9 tahrirnews.com, October 20, 2011.

10 Palestine-info, April 8, 2011.

11 www.ikhwanonline.com, May 2, 2011.

12 aljazeera.net, June 3, 2010.

13 For more information, see our August 1, 2011 Information Bulletin: "Cairo recently hosted a conference in support of the "resistance” (i.e., terrorism). It was attended by Palestinian and Shi’ite terrorist organizations (Hamas and Hezbollah), and representatives from Arab and Muslim countries. There were indications that the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist groups attempted to use the popular Arab protests to support terrorism.”

14 For example, see our March 8, 2011 Information Bulletin: "The Palestinian Return Centre: London-based center for anti-Israeli propaganda, affiliated with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, outlawed in Israel. It promotes the demand of the Palestinian refugees to return as a way of destroying Israel. Senior PRC figures send flotillas and convoys to the Gaza Strip and transfer funds to Hamas.”

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