Islamism in Egypt
An interview with Cynthia Farahat – Exposing the Muslim Brotherhood
Cynthia Farahat is an Egyptian author, columnist, political analyst, writer and researcher. Co-founder of the Misr El-Umm (2003-06) and the Liberal Egyptian (2006-08) parties, which stood for peace with Israel, capitalism, and the abolition of theocracy, she is on Al-Qaeda affiliated groups' hit list and was officially banned from entering Lebanon for her work for regional peace. She has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives and received an award from the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) in 2012, and the Profiles in Courage Award from ACT for America in 2013. Ms. Farahat is currently a columnist for Al-Maqal Daily Newspaper and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.
Cynthia Farahat, co-founder of a liberal Egyptian party that advocated for peace with Israel and the abolition of a theocracy, found her life in danger during the turmoil of Egypt's Arab Spring. Following Mubarak's fall and the Muslim Brotherhood's rise to power in 2012, Farahat fled to the safety of the United States. Her recently published Middle East Forum report exposes the Muslim Brotherhood's influence on American policy makers in Washington.
Farahat reflected on the vast improvements in Egypt since then under President al-Sisi, the most moderate Egyptian leader since 1952. He is the first Muslim ruler in the history of Islam to hold Muslims accountable for killing Christians, and his crackdown on the Brotherhood showed his understanding of the threat of Islamic terrorism. Al-Sisi is reviled by Islamist terror groups that include the Muslim Brotherhood, particularly in Cairo's influential al-Azhar University, a stronghold of Muslim Brotherhood and its propaganda.
Indicative of a booming Egyptian economy is a 5.3% GDP growth rate, despite the need to import 60% of its wheat supplies and a growing, restive insurgency in the Sinai. Tasked with reducing the country's bloated bureaucracy and its stifling effect on free market growth, al-Sisi faces myriad challenges as he takes measured steps to control inflation in the heavily socialist country.
The organizational dismantling of the Brotherhood in Egypt has depleted its membership rolls and loosened its formerly stringent admission requirements. According to its manifesto's bylaws, membership remains a secretive affair, and new members are assigned aliases. Operating more like a clandestine service or terror organization, the Brotherhood has spread its tentacles throughout the Middle East, with chapters in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, Turkey, and the Palestinian territories, as well as in Europe and the United States.
The Muslim Brotherhood's lobbying arm in the United States was launched by the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USMCO) in cooperation with the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Since 2015, it has held an annual event called Muslim Advocacy Day during which its activists lobby members of Congress to advance the Brotherhood's agenda. A document called "The Explanatory Memorandum" outlined that agenda.
Written in 1992 by the Muslim Brotherhood international apparatus, the memorandum was discovered by the FBI in a 2004 raid on the home of Ismael el Barasi, founder of a Falls Church, VA mosque. It details the Brotherhood's plan for a "civilizational jihad" against the West. Used as evidence in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation trial, the memorandum calls on members to infiltrate and influence American media, policy circles, intelligence agencies, educational and cultural institutions with the aim of subverting the U.S. and converting its citizens to Islam. A 1982 internal document of the Brotherhood requires members to take direct orders from the Brotherhood Guidance Bureau and commits all worldwide chapters to jihad and martyrdom.
Contacting local representatives and members of Congress is the most effective way for concerned citizens to counter the efforts of the Muslim Advocacy Day activists on Capitol Hill. Ask why U.S. policymakers would open their doors to lobbyists from Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated organizations like USMCO and CAIR, whose leaders have direct contacts with al Qaeda and ISIS. Brotherhood leaders are adept at double-speak, revealing their true aims when delivering their message in Arabic, but avoiding transparency with benign language when delivering their message in English. The Middle East Forum report exposes the Muslim Brotherhood's insidious and seditious agenda that is a national security threat to America. It should be shared with your elected officials.
Unmasking al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia
An interview with Thomas Small - Documenting the "Path of Blood"
Thomas Small, who holds a degree in Arabic & Islamic Studies from the University of London, is an author and filmmaker based in London, and co-producer of the recently released feature documentary Path of Blood, now available on iTunes.
Six years ago, a rare opportunity to present a documentary about the geopolitical phenomenon of our age emerged when the documentary's producers negotiated an agreement with the Saudi Arabian government. The Saudi Ministry of the Interior turned over video footage seized by its security services in terrorist raids conducted on al Qaeda safe houses in 2003, 2007, and 2008. Until now, little was known about al Qaeda's attempt to overthrow the Saudi royal family. The secret interior ministry's archives held hundreds of hours of film produced by al Qaeda and used to indoctrinate their recruits for suicide attacks against surveilled targets.
Small, an American living in Great Britain, drew upon his knowledge of Arabic and extensively researched the archives made available to him by the Saudi secret service. Culling through the footage to form a cohesive narrative with minimal editorializing, Small enables viewers to get into the minds of the perpetrators and experience the actions by the Saudi secret service in their raids. The Saudi secret service, comprised of dedicated professionals, shares intelligence in a strong network with Jordan, Great Britain, and the U.S. A three-part television series related to the documentary featured interviews with members of the Saudi security services and broke all records for viewership when it aired in the Middle East. Further historical material, too voluminous to cover in the film and series, is contained in the book Path of Blood, published by Simon and Schuster. The film, which appeared in selected venues, is selling briskly on iTunes.
The reaction of U.K.'s Muslims to the screenings of "Path of Blood" have been favorable. The film reveals the "war on terror" to be what is essentially a civil war being waged between Muslims within Islam. The narrative offers a unique perspective by presenting Muslims on both sides of the ideological divide.
Terror attacks in the Saudi kingdom in recent years have resembled those in the West where they have mainly been carried out by lone wolves or affiliates of terror cells. The Saudi security services have been largely effective in managing the threat within the kingdom. A decade ago, al Qaeda in the Arabia Peninsula, incensed by the security service's successes, launched an attack on Prince Mohammed bin Nayef who was responsible for their success. Al Qaeda has remained quieter in recent years while it rebuilds its networks decimated by the West's response to 9-11. Whether al Qaeda will limit its focus on rebuilding its political and military networks in the Middle East remains to be seen.
Notwithstanding the Saudi royal family's knowledge that bin Laden and his group had targeted it since the mid-90's, Al Qaeda's attack on the kingdom in 2003 was a wake-up call in that it showed the extent to which the royal family was unaware of the sizable terror network within its borders. Last year, 53 Muslim and Arab states joined together to clamp down on organized terrorist groups in a pan-Islamic Saudi-based antiterrorism center inaugurated by Prince Mohammed bin Salman and President Trump. These developments are unfolding against the backdrop of the geopolitical and military chaos in the region surrounding Saudi Arabia. In the post-Arab spring era, the conflict between Iran's growing Shia crescent and the Saudi-centered Sunni opposition movement has widened through regional proxy wars.
Currently, Islamism's spread in the politically liberal environment of the U.K. can be characterized as mixed. While the younger generation of Muslims have largely moved away from the extremist ideology of Islamism, there still remains a minority of Muslims in the West who are susceptible to the lure of radical Islamist ideology. British security services are particularly concerned with three groups: returning foreign fighters who joined ISIS abroad, locals vulnerable to internet indoctrination, and perpetrators activated to commit lone wolf attacks. The U.K. public at large, frustrated over attacks from Muslim terrorists, is convinced that the Muslim community would rather close ranks to defend its group identity than weed out bad actors. There is hope that Muslim spokespeople will be swifter in condemning attacks and will cooperate to a greater degree with the authorities. Doing so would go a long way to support the notion that a vast majority of Muslims just want to get on with their lives.
Summary accounts by Marilyn Stern, Communications Coordinator for the Middle East Forum