Civilization Jihad

Good Cop, Bad Cop: Islamic State Critiques Muslim Brotherhood in New Magazine

Even while they criticize the Muslim Brothers for their gradualist approach, ultimately Islamic State remains a beneficiary of that approach, which has produced numerous jihadist fighters for their effort.

BY Kyle Shideler · @ShidelerK | April 13, 2016

The recent release of Islamic State’s English language magazine Dabiq #14 focuses on the Islamic State’s ideological disagreements with the Muslim Brotherhood, and features an image of Muslim Brotherhood leader and ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi casting a ballot on the front cover. The issue is titled “The Murtadd [apostate] Brotherhood.”

This is not the first time Islamic State has called out the Muslim Brotherhood [see an examination of Dabiq 8], and its primary criticisms remain largely the same, notably that: Brotherhood participation in elections represents shirk [the mortal sin of associating others with Allah], that the Brotherhood represents a heretical form of Islam comparable to the historical Murji’ah sect [which placed belief in Allah as principle requirement above fulfilling religious obligations and upholding Shariah law], that it is willing to cooperate with the Shiites in Iran [which Islamic State describes using the slur “Rafidah”] and that it cooperates with the Muslim secular states [Taghut], and the Crusader West generally.

Perhaps ironically this includes recognition by the Islamic State that Western law enforcement and security officials are cooperating with Muslim Brotherhood organizations in the West, a criticism also made by counterterrorism thinkers and practitioners critical of the current countering violent extremism (CVE) trend favored by the Obama Administration.

Its religion was a hodgepodge of deviance bequeathed by the Ottomans combined with the various tenets and rites of democracy, liberalism, pacifism, and socialism borrowed from the pagans of the West and the East. Its ultimate goal was to serve the short-term individual and partisan interests of its leaders and members. Ir would claim to be working for the implementation of Shari’ ah, the revival of khalifah, and the fulfillment of jihad, while waging war against Islam and the Muslims! The cancer would ultimately cooperate with the tawaghit and the crusaders in this regards in Afghanistan, Iraq, Algeria, the Philippines, Somalia, Yemen, Tunisia, Libya, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, and elsewhere. Its servitude to the crusaders reached the point of hosting Western intelligence agents in the “‘Islamic” centers of the West to partake in the war against jihad!

Dabiq #14 goes on to criticize Al Qaeda for its links and association with the Muslim Brotherhood, expending substantial time critically quoting the late veteran Al Qaeda strategist Abu Musab Al-Suri, a former Muslim Brotherhood member who became an elite Al Qaeda operative, responsible for the 7/7 train bombings in Britain.

The Islamic State disagrees with Al-Suri’s affirmation that the Ikhwan represents the chief supporter and incubator of jihad in the 20th century, a position widely held by Muslim Brotherhood luminaries.

The Islamic State’s criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood is both practical and ideological. From the ideological perspective, the Islamic State maintains the strict position that the Caliphate and jihad on its behalf are obligatory [fard], and quranic requirements to wage offensive jihad against non-believers and hypocrites abrogate prior methods of spreading Islam through Dawa [preaching and proselytizing].

He also said, “The Muslim Brotherhood movement was the main natural incubator from which it was possible for jihadi thought to spread, for the dawah of Hasan al-Banna was an appropriate environment for such development. Nothing shows such as much as the Brotherhood slogan that described the Ikwani methodology in brief: ‘Allah is our goal. The Messenger is our role model. The Qur’an is our constitution. Jihad is our path. Death for Allah’s cause iour greatest aspiration. .. Its initial jihadi practicess were also a proof of it being the appropriate incubator for the birth of the jihadi movement and ideology from itwomb” [Da’wat al-Muqawamah].

It does not accept the position supported by many Muslim Brotherhood thinkers that Islam should be implemented in stages [or Milestones to use the phrase of Muslim Brotherhood thinker Sayyid Qutb] and that the practice of dawa to spread Islam is an acceptable precursor for the eventual imposition of Islamic law. Islamic State also does not accept the Muslim Brotherhood position that Dawa is sufficiently acceptable reason for Muslims to reside in Dar al-Harb [literally the land of war, areas controlled by non-Muslims], and argues that all Muslims are obliged to make hijra [migration] to territories controlled by the Islamic State.

This is an element of the interplay between Islamist groups which Western counterterrorism thinkers are largely locked out of, because of a refusal to adequately examine Islamic law and how it is understood.

From a practical standpoint, the Islamic State is reliant upon the flow of foreign fighters travelling to its territories. To the extent that it is Brotherhood’s position that the obligation to make hijra can be discharged instead by working to establish Islam in the West, the two groups are operating at cross-purposes.

Islamic State also takes an opportunity to issue a “hit list” of Muslims it accuses of cooperating with the West, including both imams, and those who have actually worked for the U.S. Government under the heading “Kill the Imams of the Kufr in the West”.

The segment interestingly features an image of Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) executive director, and Hamas-linked U.S. Muslim Brotherhood member Nihad Awad, although Awad is not actually named in the piece.


It proceeds to list numerous individuals, several of whom have themselves been credibly accused of extremism and/or for having an affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood, and accusing them of engaging in apostasy.

While Brotherhood supporters in the West are likely to jump on Dabiq #14 as evidence in support of their position that the Muslim Brotherhood should be regarded as moderate, in reality the Islamic State’s criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood, and its supporters in the United States should be taken with a grain of salt.

To begin with despite their criticism of the Brotherhood, Islamic State has been known to cooperate with its Palestinian faction Hamas in the Sinai. And while Islamic State lambasts the Brotherhood for their cooperation with Iran, Islamic State lauds their predecessor, Al Qaeda in Iraq founder Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, who was sheltered by Iran and supported by Iranian ally Bashar Assad whose intelligence services supported AQI as well. Thus while it may hold propaganda value to criticize the Brotherhood for these behaviors, it appears Islamic State is not itself above engaging in them.

Additionally, While Islamic State censures Brotherhood’s “Islamic Centers” in the West, those very same centers and organizations have been responsible for the indoctrination of numerous individuals who joined Islamic State.

Of note, Islamic State propagandist Ahmad AbouSamra was associated with the Islamic Society of Boston, a network of Brotherhood affiliated mosques where Suhaib Webb, [whom Islamic State explicitly criticizes in Dabiq #14] was an imam. The Islamic State claimed the San Bernardino shooters, who were attendees of the Islamic Center of Riverside (ICR), a member organization of Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Islamic Shura Council of Southern California. The Garland Texas shooters, also claimed by Islamic State, were affiliated with the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix (ICCP), a mosque whose deed is held by the Brotherhood affiliated North American Islamic Trust (NAIT). Two Mississippi would be jihadists who sought to join Islamic State in Syria were linked to the Islamic Center of Mississippi (ICM). A would be Islamic State bomb plotter arrested by the FBI in New York City had ties to the Brotherhood-affiliated Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA).

In Molenbeek, the Belgian district that sheltered the Islamic State network responsible for the Paris massacres and Brussels bombings, the most influential mosque is associated with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, considered a hotbed of radicalization.

And as Muslim Brotherhood ideologue  has noted, like many jihadist leaders before him, “Caliph” Abubakr Al-Baghdadi is himself a former Muslim Brother.

Even while they criticize the Muslim Brothers for their gradualist approach, ultimately Islamic State remains a beneficiary of that approach, which has produced numerous jihadist fighters for their effort.

The Muslim Brotherhood will continue to play “Good Cop” to Islamic State’s “Bad Cop”, and to oppose any of the law enforcement and intelligence techniques necessary to defeat Islamic State. They will continue to fulfill their self-perceived role as the trainers and incubators of jihadists, some of who will opt to join Islamic State or other terror organizations.

While the Islamic State and the Muslim Brotherhood may disagree on aspects of jihadist theory and Islamic law, for the purposes of the West, both organizations ultimately pose a threat, and ultimately, it is the Muslim Brotherhood which represents the more long term and sophisticated challenge.





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