Egypt`s Brotherhood still operates secretively
Jordan Times Online
Friday, February 22, 2013
Dec. 1, 2012 file photo, supporters of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi arrive by bus to a rally in front of Cairo University in Cairo, Egypt. For most of the 85 years since its inception, the Muslim Brotherhood operated secretively as an outlawed group, working underground and often repressed by governments. But even after its political success since Hosni Mubarak`s ouster, the group is still suspected of carrying on secretive operations. (AP Photo/Samuel Mohsen, El Shourouk Newspaper, File)
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi says he has firsthand knowledge of opponents who allegedly plotted against him at a meeting.
A few months earlier, the most powerful man in his Muslim Brotherhood group, Khairat El Shater, said he had access to recordings of former military rulers and electoral officials engineering his disqualification from last year-s presidential race.
In Egypt, those statements are seen by security officials, former members of the Islamist group and independent media as strong hints that the Brotherhood might be running its own intelligence-gathering network outside of government security agencies and official channels.
Such concerns dovetail the Brotherhood, which has a long history of operating clandestinely, to suspicion that it remains a shadowy group with operations that may overlap with the normal functions of a state.
The Brotherhood emerged from Egypt-s 2011 uprising as the country-s dominant political group and Morsi was elected president in June of last year as the group-s candidate.
The motive for setting up parallel operations could be rooted in the fact that many government bodies, such as security agencies and the judiciary, are still dominated by appointees of the ousted regime of longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak or anti-Islamists with long-held suspicions of the Brotherhood.
`The problem with the Brotherhood is that they came to power but are still dealing with the nation as they did when they were in the opposition,` said Abdel-Jalil El Sharnoubi, former editor-in-chief of the group-s website who left the Brotherhood in May 2011.
`Because they cannot trust the state, they have created their own,` he added.
In Egypt, the situation reflects a chasm that has emerged since the uprising over the nation-s future. In one camp is the Brotherhood, their Islamist allies and a fairly large segment of the population that is conservative and passively inclined toward the ideas of Islam as a way of life.
The Brotherhood denies that any of its activities are illegal or amount to a state within a state.
`The Brotherhood is targeted by a defamation campaign, but will always protect its reputation and these immoral battles will never change that,` said spokesman Ahmed Aref, alluding to claims that the group was running a parallel state.
For most of the 85 years since its inception, the Brotherhood operated secretively as an outlawed group, working underground and often repressed by governments.
The Brotherhood counters that it has legitimacy on its side, having consistently won at the ballot box since Mubarak-s ouster. And they accuse the opposition of conspiring with former regime members in an attempt to overthrow a democratically elected administration.
The two most powerful Brotherhood figures, wealthy businessman El Shater and spiritual leader Mohamed Badie, are seen by many in Egypt as the real source of power -- wielding massive influence over Morsi and his government.
Morsi was also seen as suggesting that the Brotherhood was spying on critics when he spoke to supporters outside his presidential palace in November. He said he had firsthand knowledge of what transpired in a meeting of several of his critics.
`They think that they can hide away from me,` he said.
The words of El Shater and Morsi were taken as strong hints that the Brotherhood has its own intelligence gathering operation. But in a country fed on a steady diet of conspiracy theories, no hard evidence has come to light, only suspicion and talk.
A former Brotherhood member, Mohammed El Gebbah, claimed the group had six `mini intelligence centres,` including one housed in its headquarters in the Cairo district of Moqqatam.
He did not provide evidence to back his claim and another Brotherhood spokesman, Murad Ali, denied that the group has such capability.
Brotherhood stalwart Essam El Aryan said last October that Morsi-s presidential palace secretly records all `incoming and outgoing communications`. The president-s spokesman swiftly denied it.
But it only fed the notion of a Brotherhood parallel intelligence gathering operation with Morsi-s support and cooperation.
A member of the Muslim Brotherhood punches an anti-Brotherhood protester at Tahrir Square, in Cairo 12 October 2012. (Photo: Reuters – Mohamed Abd El Ghany)
Another concern that has arisen is whether the Brotherhood might be running its own militias outside of government security agencies.
That fear arose from a wave of mass protests that turned violent in December. Protesters for and against Morsi faced off over decrees, since rescinded, which gave the president near absolute powers.
In early December, the Brotherhood posted a `general alert` on its official Facebook page and the next day, groups of armed Brotherhood supporters attacked opposition protesters staging a sit-in outside Morsi-s palace.
Thousands of Morsi supporters and opponents poured into the area and street fighting continued well into the night.
At least 10 people were killed and 700 injured in the clashes on December 5.
The next morning, groups of Morsi supporters staged military-style drills in residential areas near the palace.
`We have no military or non-military formations. None whatsoever,` Ali, the group-s spokesman said.
Aref, the other spokesman, disputed the version of events outside Morsi-s palace on December 5, saying 11 of the group-s supporters were killed by thugs and nearly 1,500 injured, including 132 who were shot.
Arrayed against the Brotherhood is a bloc of comparable size that includes those who served under Mubarak in the state and security structures, moderate Muslims, liberals, secularists, women and Christians who account for about 10 percent of the population.
(Description of Source: Amman Jordan Times Online in English -- Website of Jordan Times, only Jordanian English daily known for its investigative and analytical coverage of controversial domestic issues; sister publication of Al-Ra`y; URL: http://www.jordantimes.com/)
© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.
Egypt`s MB Official Interviewed on Opposition Practices, Egyptian-Israeli Ties
Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Interview via email with Dr Mahmud Husayn, secretary general of the Muslim Brotherhood; by Mustafa al-Disuqi in Cairo, Date not given: The Muslim Brotherhood`s Secretary General to Al-Sharq al-Awsat: The Calls To Topple Muris Are Worthless. Dr Muhamud Husayn: I Say to the Salvation Front Fear God While Dealing With Egypt and Its People and Carry Out Real and Constructive Opposition.
Dr Mahmud Husayn, secretary general of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and member of the Guidance Bureau, has said in an interview with Al-Sharq al-Awsat that the guided media are launching a campaign of lies against the MB, pointing out that “he who reads the daily press can easily disccover their lies; however, we are confident that the truth will be unveiled no matter how much the falsehood tries to hide it.” The MB Guidance Bureau member emphasized that the calls for toppling President Muhammad Mursi are worthless “because the real opposition is a political opposition, viewpoints, and suggestion of alternatives, but the present opposition is an absurdity and an attempt to cause chaos and promote violence.” The MB secretary general called on the Salvation Front to fear God while dealing with Egypt and its people and to carry out a real and constructive opposition and present practical solutions to solve the country`s many problems, stressing that the people will not forgive them for their support for violence and calling for it. On the preparations by the MB and the Freedom and Justice Party for the next parliamentary elections, Mahmud Husayn, who is working as a professor at the Engineering College at Asyut University, expects that the liberal political forces would not accept the ballot results unless they are in their favor.
The MB secretary general denied the charge by some Egyptian political forces to Engineer Khayrat al-Shatir, the official in charge of the development file in the MB and the deputy general guide, that he is directing the Egyptian economy from behind the scenes and that he is the main guide of the Egyptian leadership, stressing that “all these charges are lies and fabrications in an attempt to distort the image of Al-Shatir, and also to tarnish the image of the president by alleging that someone behind the scenes is guiding him, and all know and all the indications of the events proved this, that the president is running the state through its establishments, and his aides and consultants in the state and the MB has nothing to do with this.” On his personal stand and the stand of the MB on the Egyptian-Israeli relations after President Mursi assumed the presidency, Dr Husayn, who was born in the city of Yafa (Jaffa) in Palestine on 16 July 1947, said: “The group`s stand supports the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people until they restore their full rights, and my personal stand is identical with the group`s stand because we believe that the people`s rights will not be wasted as long as they demand them.” He pointed out that “the presence of the Zionists on the land of Palestine is temporary and evanescent.” The interview was conducted via email as follows:
(Al-Disuqi) “The MB real battle is the media, and the calls for toppling President Mursi are worthless,” this is what you have recently told the Egyptian press. Why have you described the MB`s relations with the media as a battle? Why do you not say that the MB has failed to win the media to its side?
(Husayn) First, what has been attributed to me in the media is inaccurate. As for the talk that the MB has failed to win the media to its side, if what is intended is some guided media tools which launch campaigns of lies against the MB, these have not sided with the people and have not opted for professionalism in carrying out their tasks. As for the honest media which convey the facts, they are not against the MB and we are not against them. As for the calls to topple the president, they are worthless because the real opposition is a political opposition and the suggestion of viewpoints, alternatives, and solutions, but to speak about toppling a president who was elected by the people is something that has mechanisms which are mentioned in the Constitution. Therefore, what is going on now by many who are described by the media men as opposition is an absurdity and is causing chaos and promoting vi olence. They seek to topple the state and the legitimacy and not only the president. He who reads the daily press can easily see this. We are not concerned with who are behind this because this is the duty of the official establishments, but we are confident that the truth will be unveiled no matter how much the falsehood tries to hide it, and this what history has always proven.
(Al-Disuqi) President Mursi, and before him Engineer Khayrat al-Shatir, have spoken about the success of the renaissance project, and the observer of the economic, political, and social conditions in Egypt does not see the signs of a renaissance. What are the reasons of this in your opinion?
(Husayn) I think that he who tries to promote violence and call for it and to obstruct the production and do similar actions is the one who tries to block the renaissance in Egypt regardless of the project. It is illogical in such liquid circumstances that exist at present, the short period of the president (in power), and the instability to lead to a solution for the economic and social problems that have been founded by corruption and political tyranny throughout centuries.
(Al-Disuqi) What is your comment on what is said that Engineer Al-Shatir is the official in charge of the development and the actual dynamo of the MB`s relations with the outside world and is the one behind the renaissance project? Where is the truth behind the facts or rumors about Al-Shatir`s personality and what is his real role in the group and the presidential establishment?
(Husayn) All these are lies and fabrications in an attempt to distort the image of Engineer Al-Shatir, and also to tarnish the image of the president by alleging that someone behind the scenes is guiding him, and all know and all the indications of the events proved this, that the president is running the state through its establishments, aides, and consultants in the state and the MB has nothing to do with this. Furthermore, the group is run by its establishments through shura (consultation) and is not run or steered by an individual. The fact that Al-Shatir is in charge of the development file does not mean that he is the decisionmaker in it, but the contents of the file are presented to the Guidance Bureau to approve or amend them, and the file`s main aspects are presented to the Shura Council to approve or amend them, and this is the case with all the files that the members of the Guidance Bureau supervise.
(Al-Disuqi) The Salvation Front calls for toppling the president and the Constitution, and for demonstration against the government and the authority. They speak about injustice and tyranny, and cite as example those killed outside Al-Ittihadiyah (Palace) and in Al-Tahrir Square. What do you say to the Salvation Front`s leaders?
(Husayn) I say to the Front, fear God while dealing with Egypt and its people and carry out a real and constructive opposition and present practical solutions for the country`s many problems. And you should know that the people will not forgive you for your support for violence and for calling for it, and history will record this whether it is for you or against you, and Egypt will be saved by God from any evil or harm.
(Al-Disuqi) Political forces called for dismantling the MB or amending its legal status. What is your response to these demands?
(Husayn) The MB has a legal status since its founding during the previous regimes, but when a law for the grouping establishments is issued, these establishments, including the MB, should adapt their conditions in accordance with the new law. As for the source of financing, it is a self financing from the pockets of its members and the group does not receive any financial backing from any side or establishment, whether it is domestic or foreign and whether it is an Arab country or a foreign country.
(Al-Disuqi) What is your comment on what is said that the group has renewed the deliberations on suggesting a file for establishing a parallel grouping for the female members and a guidance bureau for women? Is there an intention to establish a grouping for women, particularly after the unveiling of a women organization for the MB in the United Arab Emirates, and the MB`s effort to ikhwanize (consolidate the power of the Muslim Brotherhood) the Gulf states?
(Husayn) This talk is baseless and it is one of the repeated allegations against the MB members. However, there is a file for the work of the sisters within the framework of a development plan to cope with the change in the climate in Egypt. This issue is being implemented, and the MB members in any country work in accordance with the laws of this country and for the interest of its people. These people (MB members facing charges in the UAE) are present there for long years, and throughout this period, no one of them, as it has been proven, has done anything illegal in the country in which he lives.
(Al-Disuqi) Do you expect that the Freedom and Justice Party would win the majority in the next parliament? And if the MB wins the majority, do you expect that the political forces would accept the results of the elections?
(Husayn) The political forces will not accept the ballot boxes results unless they are in their favor. Therefore, about what democracy they are speaking?
(Al-Disuqi) You are born in Palestine; therefore, what is your personal stand, in your capacity as a leader in the MB, on the Egyptian-Israeli relations, and what is your vision for ending the crisis of the Palestinian people?
(Husayn) The group`s stand supports the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people until they restore their full rights, and my personal stand is identical with the group`s stand because we believe that the people`s rights will not be wasted as long as they demand them, and no state can be established on a land of others and then this state can enjoy stable conditions. Therefore, God willing, the presence of the Zionists on the land of Palestine is temporary and evanescent. As for the Egyptian-Israeli relations, these are relations between countries that are governed by agreements, and the officials should be asked about them and about their vision of these relations.
(Description of Source: London Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online in Arabic -- Website of influential London-based pan-Arab Saudi daily; editorial line reflects Saudi official stance. URL: http://www.asharqalawsat.com/)
© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.