The angry and often violent pro-Gaza demonstrations were orchestrated by a dangerous, unrepresentative organization: the Muslim Brotherhood.
The often violent demonstrations that rocked Europe and the US during Protective Edge looked very much like the spontaneous outrage of Muslim communities in the West • The truth, however, is that they were arranged and engineered by the Global Muslim Brotherhood, a well organized but far from representative organization • Their success lies not only in organizing these hate-fests but in gaining the ear of Western governments as representative of the “moderate Muslim” faction – especially in the Obama administration • An insightful interview with Steven Merley, Muslim Brotherhood expert
The virulent pro-Hamas and anti-Semitic demonstrations in Europe and the US were well-reported, but less so was the role of Hamas’ parent movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, in orchestrating them. Mida spoke to Steven Merley, an investigator, researcher and intelligence analyst with extensive experience in investigating the complex and covert networks and organizations of the Muslim Brotherhood throughout the Western world and its corridors of power.
Mr. Merley is a Senior Analyst at Kronos Advisory LLC, where he is responsible for analysis of the global networks of the Muslim Brotherhood, and is the editor and sole writer for the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch, an intelligence digest covering the daily developments in the worldwide MB network.
To what extent were Muslim Brotherhood-linked organizations involved in the many, sometimes violent, anti-Israel and pro-Hamas demonstrations we saw throughout Europe during the recent war?
“Let’s look at the country which is the most important hub for all of this – the UK. There is absolutely no doubt that the Brotherhood is the prime mover behind the demonstrations, because the coalitions, they are always the same people, the same organizers. Primarily, they are the British Muslim Initiative, Friends of Al-Aqsa, the Palestine Forum in Britain – those are all Brotherhood/Hamas groups. They’ve been behind the demonstrations for years, together with far-left coalition partners such as Stop the War Coalition and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Every time there’s a problem with Gaza, it’s the same sponsors, same groups, same signs. […] Some people would then say that these organizations are not the same as the Brotherhood, but they are part of the larger Global Muslim Brotherhood (GMB), that is, something more than these individual groups but less than a structured, hierarchical organization. In other words, a network. In general, the Brotherhood plays a big role in the demonstrations in Europe, but in terms of sheer political agitation and as a country serving as the command and control node.
The UK is much more important than any other European country such as France or Germany. The Islamist-far-left coalition seems to be unshakeable and it doesn’t seem like the leftists are fazed by the overtly anti-Semitic and jihadist tones of the demonstrations. The Brotherhood groups, however, will always deny being anti-Semitic and say they are anti-Zionist – and bring in Neturei Karta as proof.”
Did the Brotherhood play any role in the various flotillas to Gaza?
“First of all, the Brotherhood has been instrumental in instilling the language of the debate: they’ve been hammering on the themes: “massacre,” “genocide,” “slaughter,” “siege on Gaza,” etc. In 2010, I showed that the GMB was behind the first flotilla, and the same goes for the second flotilla and the people behind the proposed next flotilla. It’s all the same network of Brotherhood/Hamas and left wing groups.
The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza, the International Campaign to Lift the Siege on Gaza – they are all Brotherhood/Hamas, no doubt. The IHH [the Turkish organizer of the first flotilla] is also close to the Brotherhood/Hamas and just signed a strategic agreement with Qatar Charity – just goes to show Turkey and Qatar’s roles as the two major MB/Hamas sponsors.”
Do the various Brotherhood organizations throughout Europe represent the Muslim communities?
“They clearly don’t. They always claim to represent, but there has never been any evidence to suggest they enjoy large, numerical support among the communities. They are the best funded and best organized. For example, I believe the average Muslim in Europe has never even heard of Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi’s European Council for Fatwa Research, yet it claims to be the theological body representing Islam in Europe, despite the fact that most of its members don’t even live in the EU.”
Does the Muslim Brotherhood network wield any influence over public opinion and government in Europe and the US?
“Yes, to the extent to which they are considered to be representatives of the Muslim community – that’s always the issue. So, if a group comes out and makes a statement about the Gaza conflict and the media treats them as so-called mainstream Islamic organizations, then they are going to have an impact. Research needs to be done into what extent the Brotherhood’s point of view influences general audiences, but, clearly, it’s not helpful.
That relates back to your previous question: European governments are always looking for interlocutors, partners to dialog with, when they are looking to deal with a problem in the [Muslim] community. One of the Brotherhood’s strategic priorities is to become recognized as the legitimate spokespersons of the Muslim community within the country in which they’re operating, so that they can be in a position to influence the debate. You need to take a look at each specific country and see to what extent the media and the government are cooperating with them.
I mean, in the UK for example, the government took the [London] Finsbury Park Mosque away from Abu Hamza and gave it to the Brotherhood, which is really egregious. In the US, it’s a different situation: CAIR is “out”, but ISNA is “in”, and ISNA’s President speaks to Obama [the two met prior to Obama’s 2013 visit to Israel and the PA – D.O.]. They could be very influential, in that sense. [In 2007, ISNA was labeled by the US Justice Department as an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation, Hamas’ fundraising arm in the US. Ex-President Jimmy Carter was the keynote speaker at ISNA’s Annual Convention last weekend -D.O.].
Other individuals tied to the Brotherhood are also serving as officials and advisors in the Obama administration. In fact, the most interesting development in the Global Muslim Brotherhood in recent years is their formation of pseudo human rights organizations, pseudo-media organizations and pseudo Egyptian and Syrian opposition groups to try to influence Western policy. This is a very dangerous trend because analysts and the media seem incapable of discovering who they really are.”
To what extent does the Brotherhood bear responsibility for the radicalization of young Europeans and Americans who go off to join jihadi groups in Iraq and Syria?
“Well, there has always been a camp which includes the US government, and most strongly, under the Obama Administration, which is of the position that we need to work with so-called “moderate” Muslim groups like the Brotherhood, that will serve as a bulwark against more radical groups. That has never worked out well.
The Brotherhood is a significant contributor toward the idea that the West is at war with Islam, and, if young people are encased in that milieu of belief, then that surely helps contribute to the radicalization process. European and American Brotherhood members might not be going off to fight in Syria, although the Brotherhood clearly supports their factions in the fight, but if you believe that Hamas is a radical terrorist organization, then the MB is critically important.
Palestine itself has always been a critical and central rallying point for the Brotherhood, as you can see in Qaradawi’s pronouncements. It is not true that there is a “firewall” between Hamas/the Brotherhood and Al Qaeda/global jihad movements. That’s what the media would like us to believe, because that’s the simplest thing to understand. It’s as if you’re saying the Shiites never cooperate with the Sunnis. It’s ridiculous.
For example, take the Global Anti Aggression Campaign, which is a body where jihadists sit down happily with the Brotherhood, as part of one organization. They are certainly in competition, more than anything else, but not as morally or constitutionally opposed as they would like to portray themselves. Gaza is a case in point.”