Top US intelligence figures on Wednesday gave the impression during a Senate hearing that they are largely ignorant regarding the background, current views and goals of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.
CIA Director Leon Panetta said it was difficult to give a clear reading on the Muslim Brotherhood because, according to Panetta, the group is not “monolithic.” Panetta tried to downplay the radical nature of the Muslim Brotherhood by saying it contains “extremist elements,” suggesting that the bulk of the movement is reasonable and moderate.
US National Intelligence Director James Clapper acknowledged that he had been wrong to describe the Muslim Brotherhood as “largely secular” in a hearing last week. But Clapper also asserted that it is “hard at this point to point to a specific agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood as a group.”
Clapper also maintained that the Brotherhood is “only one voice” in a broad Egyptian opposition, and that the group itself is not homogenous.
When asked about the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, Clapper admitted that the Brotherhood “does not favor” the treaty, but failed to acknowledge that the group’s leadership has threatened to return Egypt to an official state of war with Israel if it ever came to power.
As is often the case, the holes in understanding created by Western attempts to define Middle East groups according to a Western agenda can be easily filled in by the Arab groups themselves.
The Muslim Brotherhood has never been secretive about what it stands for and what its goals are for Egypt, the region and the world. The Muslim Brotherhood stands first and foremost for establishing a strict Muslim society that lives under Sharia Law. It wants to see that society spread until a new Islamic caliphate is established over first the Middle East, and then the entire world.
In its adherence to this goal, the Muslim Brotherhood is on the same path as Hamas, Al Qaeda and a host of other terrorist organizations that sprung up thanks to the inspiration of the Muslim Brotherhood.
But, Western leaders are correct in that much of the Brotherhood is critical of sensationalist terrorist operations by groups like Al Qaeda. The Brotherhood’s position is that the masses must first be brought back into a strict devotion to Islam so that a caliphate established through jihad will have a worthy population.
Western officials like Clapper and Panetta mistake the Brotherhood’s social and seemingly secular activities as evidence that the group does not have a radical agenda, when in reality those activities are laying the foundation for the Islamist’s eventual takeover.
There is growing concern in Israel that for some reason the US either wants or has no problem with the Muslim Brotherhood rising to power. The thinking goes that men like Clapper and Panetta cannot possibly be ignorant of the Muslim Brotherhoods true long-term goals, and so are inexplicably creating a smokescreen for the fundamentalists.