In August 1996, al-Qaeda declared war on America, the West, Christians, and Jews. Almost nobody paid attention. Last month, says Barry Rubin, the Muslim Brotherhood, a group with one hundred times more activists than al-Qaeda, issued its declaration of war, endorsing anti-American jihad and much of the rest of al-Qaeda’s dogma.
The declaration is contained in a speech called, “How Islam Confronts the Oppression and Tyranny.” You can read the speech, as translated by MEMRI, here. Among its key points are:
Arab and Muslim regimes are betraying their people by failing to confront the Muslim’s real enemies, not only Israel but also the United States. Waging jihad against both of these infidels is a commandment of Allah that cannot be disregarded.
All Muslims are required by their religion to fight: “They crucially need to understand that the improvement and change that the [Muslim] nation seeks can only be attained through jihad and sacrifice and by raising a jihadi generation that pursues death just as the enemies pursue life.” (Notice that jihad here is not interpreted, as it is so often in the West, as spiritual striving. The clear meaning is one of armed struggle).
The United States is immoral, doomed to collapse, and “experiencing the beginning of its end and is heading towards its demise.”
Palestinians should back Hamas in overthrowing the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and unite in waging.
Will those who matter pay attention to this declaration? Probably not. For as Rubin points out, the Muslim Brotherhood is a group that many in the West, some in high positions, are saying should be engaged as a negotiating partner because it is “moderate.” Once a group, any group, is deemed moderate by the liberal elite, its immoderate pronouncements, if noticed, are explained away.
But it would be criminally foolhardy not to take the Muslim Brotherhood’s declaration of war at face value. First, it comes directly from the group’s “Supreme Guide”, Muhammad Badi. And Rubin notes that Badi ascended to that position just a few months ago. Thus, his declaration reflects current thinking.
Second, according to Rubin “everything Badi says is in tune with the stances and holy books of normative Islam; it is not the only possible interpretation but it is a completely legitimate interpretation.” Thus his declaration is best viewed as deeply held religious belief, not rhetoric.
Third, the Muslim Brotherhood is a huge deal. As Rubin explains:
The Brotherhood is the group that often dominates Muslim communities in the West and runs mosques. Its cadre control front groups that are often recognized by Western democratic governments and media as authoritative. Government officials in many countries meet with these groups, ask them to be advisers for counter-terrorist strategies and national policies, and even fund them.
What, then, are the likely consequences of its declaration of war? Rubin lists the following, among others:
1. Increased internal conflict in Egypt, the start of a decade-long struggle for power in the Arabic-speaking world’s most important country.
2. Even more radical indoctrination–preparing people for future extremism and terrorism–in the mosques and among groups they control.
3. A probable upturn in anti-American terrorist attacks in the Middle East and Europe.
The Muslim Brotherhood is ready to move from the era of propaganda and base-building to one of revolutionary action. At least, its hundreds of thousands of followers are being given that signal. Some of them will engage in terrorist violence as individuals or forming splinter groups; others will redouble their efforts to seize control of their countries and turn them into safe areas for terrorists and instruments for war on the West.
The Muslim Brotherhood is ready, but is the West? As I said above, probably not.