By Bruce Phillips
In his three most recent columns, Bruce Phillips, who has nearly 40 years of experience in Middle East affairs, examined whether or not the Palestinian party Fatah is really as moderate is it is often portrayed by media an government. Part 1 provided an analysis of Fatah’s own trademark logos and posters while Part 2 looked at recent statements and actions of Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas and current Fatah leadership. In his third column, he spotlighted “The word that motivates global Islamic jihad.”
[Note from the author: As with all of my articles, none of the terms or phrases used here are of my own invention; every term or phrase is derived from primary Islamic sources, such as the Quran, Hadith, Tafsir and Shariah. I encourage everyone to access the hyperlinked references, then evaluate each for accuracy and completeness.]
This is the latest in an ongoing series of articles dealing with complex, sometimes abstract, subjects, which are often counterintuitive to those of us in the non-Islamic West. By counterintuitive, I mean there are times when it is almost impossible for us to believe that the authorized Islamic sources mean exactly what they say. Nonetheless, if we hope to preserve any chance of victory against the escalating threat we face, we must endeavor to master this sometimes unpleasant subject; we must, as Abraham Lincoln said, “disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall help save our country, the last best hope on earth.”
The purpose of this article is to introduce the concept of “expanding the observant Muslim base” (al-Qaida al-Islamia al-Moltzema), which is a tactical term found in a 1991 Muslim Brotherhood document known as the Explanatory Memorandum. In Arabic, the document is a concise, densely written manifesto – not a word is arbitrary or incidental. Saturated with iconic language, it distills 1,400 years of strategy and tactics used since the time of Muhammad to advance the “global Islamic state.” (Also see “The Quranic Concept of War“).
Since 9-11, we’ve heard the term al-Qaida (“the base,” or القاعدة in Arabic) almost every day. However, al-Qaida is not just the name of a hydra-like global terrorist organization. It is also an abstract concept, with a deep ocean of Islamic history behind it.
For example, after Muhammad established his final Qaida in Medina in A.D. 622, it became the power base of Islam for the next hundred years, initially under Muhammad’s leadership and then under four “rightly guided caliphs.”
The Muslim Brotherhood has maintained a highly visible leading role in the global effort to “expand the observant Muslim base” since it was founded in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna in close collaboration with Sayyid Qutb.
After these two “founding fathers” summarized and published the goals and operational tactics of Islam, they began attracting thousands of dedicated followers from countries all over the world. To this day, the Muslim Brotherhood remains the largest and most well-organized Islamic organization on earth. Not only that, but it continues providing a solid, reliable theological and political base to fellow members in nearly every country in the world.
Meanwhile, as a relatively small but financially influential Islamic community began to coalesce in North America, a group (see Figure 1 above) of respected Muslim Brotherhood leaders summarized the same strategic goals and tactics discussed by al-Banna and Qutb in a format tailored to fit the theological and socio-political challenges faced by Muslims living in a wealthy, predominantly non-Islamic region. These members of the Shura Council and the Organizational Conference called this carefully crafted strategic and tactical communiqué the “”An Explanatory Memorandum On The General Strategic Goal For The Group In North America.”
It is important to recognize that the Muslim Brotherhood summarized the goals and tactics for “expanding the observant Muslim base” more than 10 years before Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri helped form a global coalition of 12 Islamist groups called the World Islamic Front (aka the global jihad front or al-Qaida), then declared jihad on America and Israel on Feb. 23, 1998.
In fact, Zawahiri, who is the current leader of al-Qaida, was not only a member of the Brotherhood in his native Egypt but also bases his operational templates on the views of prominent Islamic theorists like al-Banna and Qutb.
Despite the fact that the Explanatory Memorandum was introduced as prima facie evidence in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation trial, many today still do not realize that the ideology of a wide spectrum of Islamic macro-groups, such as Al-Shabaab, Hamas, ISIS and the World Islamic Front are all based on exactly the same aggressive goals and concepts that were summarized and endorsed in 1987 by the Muslim Brotherhood in North America.
In simple terms, every Islamic group mentioned above is engaged in their own regional version of “expanding the observant Muslim base.”
Finally, as I discussed earlier in “The word that motivates global Islamic jihad,” much of the catalyst for this expansion comes from “push back” (aka “Islamophobia”) encountered by the Muslim community in North America. The Explanatory Memorandum is very concise and comprehensive, and includes tactical principals – “operative verbs” –designed to overcome and neutralize this “push-back,” which is also described as a “civilizational alternative” or “civilizational jihad.”
Here is how the Explanatory Memorandum addresses the problem of “push-back” from the resistant, non-Muslims they encounter: “The process of settlement is a Civilization-Jihadist Process with all the word means. The Ikhwan (‘brothers’ in Arabic) must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it (fitnah) is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”
As discussed in my column on fitnah, or “resistance,” the concept is derived directly from Quran 2.193 and 8.39.
How the Explanatory Memorandum was discovered
In August 2004, a Maryland Transportation Authority police officer conducted a traffic stop after observing someone videoing the support structures of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. As it turns out, the driver was Ismail Selim Elbarasse, who was already wanted in connection with fundraising for Hamas. The FBI subsequently executed a search warrant on Elbarasse’s residence, where agents found 80 boxes of archived documents hidden in a sub-basement.
The search led to a remarkable discovery. Among the thousands of documents found, one of the most revealing was “An Explanatory Memorandum On The General Strategic Goal For The Group In North America.”
Originally commissioned in 1987 by the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood in North America, it was not officially released to the board of directors until 1991. It may just be a coincidence, but it is plausible that the same Muslim Brotherhood members who commissioned the memorandum also authorized the 1988 Hamas Charter. In any event, Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, pursues the exact same goals and objectives found in the document and even uses the same slogan as the Muslim Brotherhood: “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Quran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”
Approved by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Shura Council, or organizational conference, for internal use only, the document was never mean to become public. For this reason, it is both an Enigma Code and the Rosetta Stone of the global Islamic movement
Like the Enigma Code, it was meant to remain hidden but now provides the key to deciphering the strategy and tactics of the movement. And, like the Rosetta Stone, it enables those of us in the non-Islamic world to discern the commonly held strategic and tactical doctrines of every Muslim organization in the world.
The Explanatory Memorandum was written by a former U.S. resident and still-active senior Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas leader, Mohamed Akram (aka Mohamed Akram Adlouni, aka Muhammad Akram Al-Adlouni). To this day, Muslim apologists insist Akram is an obscure, “self-described” fringe member of the Brotherhood and that the document is the “product of either of the Muslim lunatic fringe or of the Islamophobic lunatic fringe.”
However, Akram is currently the president of an organization listed by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, Al-Quds International, which not only remains a co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial but is a well-known fundraiser for Hamas in Asia and Europe. Akram was also listed in a 1992 “phonebook” included as evidence in the discovery phase of the Holy Land Foundation trial, where he is listed as a member of both the board of directors and the executive office (See page 3 and 15, respectively).
Regarding the “lunatic fringe” argument, the Explanatory Memorandum will never become obsolete or outdated, because it is based entirely on the Quran and Hadith. The strategy and tactics described in the document are exactly the same today as they were 30 years ago when it was written and exactly the same as they were 1,400 years ago, when Islam was founded.
Relevant current events
On Jan. 28, we learned that high-level officials at the U.S. State Department had hosted meetings with several “former” members of the Freedom & Justice Party, the well-known political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Samuel Taros of the Hudson Institute observed that the visit served two goals: “First, to organize the pro MB movement in the US” and, second, to “reach out to administration and the policy community in DC.”
He added that the delegation’s composition was designed to portray “an image of a united Islamist and non-Islamist revolutionary camp against the [Abdul Fattah al-Sisi] regime.”
Just two days later, it was revealed that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt posted a message on its official website stating that it “is incumbent upon everyone to be aware that we are in the process of a new phase … where we recall the meanings of jihad and prepare ourselves … to a long, uncompromising jihad, and during this stage we ask for martyrdom.”
The official announcement also referred to Muslim Brotherhood founder al-Banna, stating “Imam Al-Banna prepared the Jihad brigades that he sent to Palestine to kill the Zionist usurpers, and the second [Supreme] Guide Hassan Al-Hudaybi reconstructed the ‘secret apparatus’ to bleed the British occupiers.”
In retrospect, these sharply contradictory statements – saying one thing in English and something entirely different in Arabic – are common and are very similar in nature to the Jan. 11 appearance of Mahmoud Abbas at the Charlie Hebdo solidarity march while on the same day his Fatah organization posted violent pictures and statements on its official website.
Despite claims by the State Department that the meetings were “routine,” on Jan. 31, 2014, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shokry said that the reasons for the meetings were “not understandable, as they are not a political party, and according to the Egyptian law they should be treated as a terrorist group.”
The verse reads: “Prepare for them whatever force and tethered horses you can, to terrify thereby the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others besides them that you know not.”
In other words, preparing forces to terrify your enemies is the iconic theme of a supposedly moderate Muslim organization, which currently enjoys unprecedented direct access to the highest levels of the U.S. government.
To finish up this section, there is a revealing point of contact, a nexus, between the Freedom & Justice Party representatives who met at the State Department, the Muslim Brotherhood members who posted the call to jihad on their website and the ideology found in the Explanatory Memorandum.
The point of contact is al-Banna, an open advocate of offensive jihad who was honored in the Explanatory Memorandum in the following concluding passage: “This paragraph was delayed … to stress its utmost importance as it constitutes the heart and core of this memorandum. … It suffices to say that the first pioneer of this phenomenon [i.e., doing Jihad] was our prophet Muhammad … as he placed the foundation for the first civilized organization, which is the mosque. … And this was done by the pioneer of the contemporary Islamic Dawah (“promotion of Islam”), Imam martyr Hasan al-Banna … when he and his brothers felt the need to re-establish Islam and its movement anew, leading him to establish organizations with all their kinds.”
At this point, it would be fair to ask whether or not the Muslim Brotherhood’s efforts to “expand the observant Muslim base” in North America have been successful. The objective answer would be an unqualified yes.
Despite the constant focus on “Islamophobia” by Muslim Brotherhood front groups such as the Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR, there has actually been a wave of conversions to Islam, while the population of Muslims in America has nearly doubled since 9/11. In addition, the number of mosques has also nearly doubled since 9/11.
More importantly, the less visible strategic goals of creating a “central political party, [influencing] local political offices and political symbols, [building] relationships and alliances, and establishing an American Organization for Islamic Political Action ” have probably succeeded far beyond what Muhammad Akram Al-Adlouni and the other members of the Shura Council in North America ever expected.