Archive for the ‘Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act’ category

Secretary of State Shills for Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar

July 25, 2017

Secretary of State Shills for Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar, Clarion ProjectRyan Mauro and Martin Mawyer, July 25, 2017

(Please see also, State Department Lawyers Removing References to ISIS ‘Genocide’ Against Christians, Other Religious Minorities. Tillerson’s affinity for the Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar and Turkey apparently cannot be blamed on Obama hold-overs. — DM)

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

Political analysts always say that Trump was elected because people wanted change from an outsider. Tillerson is not bringing change. When it comes to Islamism, it’s the same-old same-old. Possibly worse.

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The Trump Administration still hasn’t designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization as it was expected to do. Designation falls under the purview of Secretary of State Tillerson, who has chosen the Muslim Brotherhood and its backers in Qatar and Turkey over their Arab rivals.

Tillerson recently signaled his opposition to designating the Muslim Brotherhood in mid-June. He only has negative things to say about the idea.

His main point is that the Brotherhood’s political parties have representatives in governments like those in Bahrain and Turkey. That is irrelevant. If it was such a problem, Bahrain itself wouldn’t have banned the Brotherhood and the U.S. wouldn’t be dealing with the Lebanese government that has Hezbollah in it, which is designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

Tillerson also repeated the “non-violent” and “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood propaganda. He claimed that the Brotherhood’s political parties in governments “have become so by renouncing violence and terrorism.” That was false when the Obama Administration said it, and it is false now.

The disappointment in Tillerson’s position is made exponentially greater by the fact that now is an optimum time to designate the group.

The Arab world is putting unprecedented pressure on Qatar over its support of the Brotherhood and other jihadists in the Islamist swarm. Muslim foes of the Brotherhood are left wondering where the U.S.stands because Trump and Tillerson aren’t on the same page.

Counter-terrorism expert Patrick Poole goes so far as to assert that Tillerson is “sabotaging” Trump’s foreign policy and urges his departure from the administration.

While President Trump expressed his support for the Arab measures against Qatar and unequivocally described Qatar as a major terrorism-financier, Tillerson did the opposite. He described Qatar as “very reasonable” in its reaction to the Arabs’ pressure.

His spokesperson read a scripted statement accusing the Arab states of having ulterior motives, saying the U.S. is “mystified” by their complaints. The State Department even cast doubt on the credibility of the Arabs’ accusations, claiming that they haven’t provided supporting details. Qatar’s lavish sponsorship of terrorism and extremism is uncontestable.

As Poole documents, far from offering support for those Arab states opposing Qatar, Tillerson publicly made moves towards Qatar’s Turkish allies and increased criticism of Qatar’s Saudi adversaries. The Trump Administration also agreed to sell up to 36 fighter jets to Qatar right after the Arabs began their campaign.

Tillerson even signed a counter-terrorism agreement with Qatar, spitting in the faces of the Arab countries fed up with Qatar’s repeated breaking of its promises to change its behavior. Immediately after signing the deal, Qatar reiterated its firm commitment to Hamas (and therefore, the broader Muslim Brotherhoodorganization of which it is an official branch).

 

Tillerson’s Ties to Qatar

People are inevitably influenced by those they surround themselves with, especially if that interaction is lucrative. Perhaps Tillerson’s favoring of Qatar has something to do with the close relationship he had with the Qatari government as a businessman with ExxonMobil, which has a decades-long association with the rulers.

ExxonMobil was a founding member of the U.S.-Qatar Business Council in 1996, an entity created by the Qatari regime. Tillerson was a senior official at the time. Another listed founding member is Al-Jazeera, the jihadist-friendly propaganda network run by Qatar and the Brotherhood. One of the Arab states’ top demands is the closure of the network headquartered in Doha.

After becoming chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, Tillerson became a member of the U.S.-Qatar Business Council’s advisory board. He apparently held this position up until when he became Secretary of State, as his name is still listed with that title on the website.

The Vice President of ExxonMobil Production’s name is currently listed as a member of the Council’s board of directors. Al-Jazeera officials also appear on the advisory board and board of directors.

The organization’s website says that the U.S.-Qatar Business Council “played a major role in the formation of Qatar Foundation International (U.S.-based).” The Qatar Foundation headquartered in Doha is a major promoter of Islamist extremism, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, including Islamists in America.

When the Arab campaign against Qatar began, the Qataris immediately began utilizing their contacts to try to win the State Department over. It deployed its lobbyists in America and they had leverage: The West’s three biggest energy companies, including ExxonMobil, were trying to strike a deal with the Qatari government for expanding liquified natural gas production.

But Qatar isn’t the only country working aggressively to influence U.S. foreign policy in a direction favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood. Turkey’s government is also leading the Islamist charge.

 

Tillerson’s Ties to Turkey

ExxonMobil is a member of the U.S.-Turkish Business Council. The chairman is Ekin Alptekin, the very same Turkish businessman at the center of the controversy with President Trump’s former National Security Adviser, General Michael Flynn.

Alptekin’s company had a $600,000 contract with Flynn to promote the Erdogan government’s interests. Flynn’s firm registered as a lobbyist but did not register as a foreign agent. The Justice Department’s National Security Division began an investigation last November. Flynn registered as a foreign agent of Turkey after he was fired and replaced by General H.R. McMaster.

We do not currently know of direct dealings between Tillerson and Alptekin, but ExxonMobil’s involvement in the U.S.-Turkish Business Council highlights how his prior relationship with the Turkish government may influence his behavior.

At a time when Erdogan has few defenders, the Islamist dictator finds a supporter in Tillerson.

On July 9, Tillerson traveled to Istanbul to receive an award from the World Petroleum Congress. There, he heaped praise upon those who defended Erdogan against a coup attempt last year, going so far as to describe the Islamist government as a democracy. He said:

“Nearly a year ago, the Turkish people – brave men and women – stood up against coup plotters and defended their democracy. I take this moment to recognize their courage and honor the victims of the events of July 15, 2016. It was on that day that the Turkish people exercised their rights under the Turkish constitution, defended their place in a prosperous Turkey, and we remember those who were injured or died in that event.”

Tillerson doesn’t defend Erdogan in all circumstances, as he did condemn the Turkish security personnel who attacked protesters in Washington D.C. in May. But that’s not exactly a bold stand; it’s something that any public official would condemn.

When it comes to the tough issues, Tillerson has sided with Qatar and Turkey, even when it contradicts the commander-in-chief who picked him for secretary of state.

 

On designating the Muslim Brotherhood, Tillerson sides with Qatar and Turkey

When the Arab states piled unprecedented pressure on Qatar for its sponsorship of terrorism and extremism including the Brotherhood and Hamas, Tillerson sided with Qatar and Turkey.

When it comes to last year’s coup in Turkey, Tillerson sided unequivocally with Erdogan’s Islamist dictatorship. He didn’t even necessarily have to talk about it during his visit to Istanbul. He chose to.

When it comes to the Kurds, our best allies in fighting ISIS, Tillerson’s State Department sided with Turkey in criticizing the Iraqi Kurds’ referendum on independent statehood. It also implied opposition to Kurdish independence, reacting to the referendum with a statement in support of a “united” and “federal” Iraq.

Political analysts always say that Trump was elected because people wanted change from an outsider. Tillerson is not bringing change. When it comes to Islamism, it’s the same-old same-old. Possibly worse.

 

Why the MB is Still Not Designated as Terrorists in the US

May 15, 2017

Why the MB is Still Not Designated as Terrorists in the US, Understanding the Threat, May 14, 2017

(Please see also, MB Backers Hide Terror Support During Capitol Hill Visits. — DM)

It is no oversight the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood is not yet designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).  In fact, the issue has now been pushed off the table by the Trump administration as the result of a significantly successful information operation perpetrated by the International Muslim Brotherhood continually supported by media outlets.

It should be noted that the Senate bill to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) provides a significant amount of information revealing this designation is a reasonable and necessary action to protect the citizens of the United States and rid this nation of a cancer that continues to grow daily.

Read the MB Designation Bill HERE.

In the February 23, 2017 edition of the Egypt International (www.almasryalyoum.com), the International Muslim Brotherhood’s Foreign Relations Officer, Mohamed Sudan, revealed the IMB coordinated with a number of nations and entities in a massive information operation (“Propaganda campaign”) to keep the new Trump administration from designating the U.S. MB a terrorist organization.

The article states:

“The international Muslim Brotherhood succeeded in making several contacts with government officials and US Congress to convince them that the Brotherhood is not a terrorist organization and will not get involved in the commission of terrorist acts…”

“People close to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped the group access media companies and contracting, saying that those companies had a role in the completion of communications between the international Muslim Brotherhood and members of Congress, according to the terms of the contract entered into between the parties.”

In the article, the IMB’s Secretary General, Ibrahim Munir, thanked Turkey and Qatar for their assistance in this project.  The article went on to say:

“Brotherhood sources confirmed the group contracted with an American advertising company last month to oppose the bill submitted to Congress which aims to classify the MB as a terrorist organization. The sources added the international organization will pay $5 million for corporate propaganda and the publication of articles stating the group rejects terrorist acts to correct its image in the American media.”

Remembering this article was published in Egypt on February 23, 2017 about events that already took place, what was the outcome of this hostile information campaign?

On January 26, 2017, the Wall Street Journal ran a threatening article entitled “Blacklisting the Muslim Brotherhood Carries Risks.”  The article made it clear:  if the Muslim Brotherhood is designated a terrorist organization, “it could trigger unexpected consequences.”  This article was meant to strike fear into the hearts of Islam’s enemies.

On February 22, 2017, the New York Times published an article entitled “I am a Muslim Brother, not a Terrorist,” written by Gehad El-Haddad, the spokesman for the International Muslim Brotherhood who now sits in an Egyptian prison.  This was a propaganda piece that supported the idea the Muslim Brotherhood is not a terrorist organization.

It is not unusual for the New York Times to defend enemies of the United States.

This is the same New York Times, by the way, which identified Imam Hesham Shashaa – operating in Germany – as a moderate. Yet, last week Shashaa was arrested by the Germans for supporting ISIS. Weird.  Just like when the New York Times called Anwar al Awlaki a moderate, right before the U.S. drone striked him and killed Awlaki for being the Al Qaeda leader in Yemen, among other things.

What is interesting about Gehad El-Haddad is that while he was the spokesman for the International Muslim Brotherhood, he was also the spokesman for Egyptian Presidential candidate Morsi – the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate.

Oddly enough, while Gehad El-Heddad was the spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate for President of Egypt, he was on the William J. Clinton Foundation where he served from August 2007 to August 2012.

To summarize, the leadership of the International Muslim Brotherhood publicly stated they have an operation underway to influence the U.S. government, the media, and the American public not to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.  The MB reports Hillary Clinton provided support for this operation, and a key node in the operation is the spokesman for the IMB who also spent five (5) years working with the Clinton Foundation.

Treason anyone?

And, at the end of the day, the Trump administration has taken this issue off the table, thereby surrendering to our enemy and giving them a significant victory.

This is why UTT continues to say, this war must and will be won at the local level.

Muslim Brotherhood in Desperate Campaign in US

May 4, 2017

Muslim Brotherhood in Desperate Campaign in US, Clarion ProjectRan Meir, May 4, 2017

U.S. Capitol building (Photo: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Lectures, discussions and events are being held in prominent American universities, including Harvard and Georgetown, about the “constructive contribution” the Brotherhood has made to Egypt since the Arab Spring began.

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CLICK HERE to Tell Your Members of Congress to Designate the Brotherhood as a Terror Organization

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is mounting a desperate campaign in the U.S. to avoid being designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, according to The Seventh Day, one of Egypt’s largest news outlets.

The political winds have changed in Washington and the Brotherhood is running scared. U.S. President Donald Trump has made clear his support of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, announcing he stands with the Egyptian president in his fight against terror and extremist groups that are threatening one of American’s key allies in the Middle East.

After tens of millions of Egyptians took to the streets to protest the abuse and power grabs of former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi (a member of the Brotherhood’s political party) in the summer of 2013, El-Sisi and the military took control of Egypt. He was elected president in 2014.

El-Sisi’s recently successful meeting with Trump in Washington set a Brotherhood plan in motion to gain support of members of Congress and academia to block a move to designate the organization as terrorists.

See Clarion Project’s Fact Sheet about the Muslim Brotherhood and its links to terrorism.

Lectures, discussions and events are being held in prominent American universities, including Harvard and Georgetown, about the “constructive contribution” the Brotherhood has made to Egypt since the Arab Spring began.

For example, speaking under the title “The Nobility in Justice,” Mahmoud a-Sharkawi, a Brotherhood official in Washington, lectured about the “positive” role the Brotherhood has played in Egypt since January 25, 2011 (the date marking the beginning of the Arab Spring in Egypt) in a conference at St. John’s University in New York.

The group is also reaching out to members of Congress, trying to re-brand the way it is perceived in Washington after al-Sisi’s successful visit.

Testifying in Congress, Tarek a-Zimer, head of the Building and Development Party, the political party of the Egyptian Brotherhood, urged Americans to change their views about the organization. Other officials of the Brotherhood who attended the hearing used their presence to incite against el-Sisi and the current Egyptian government.

Writing in a blog, A-Zimer asked, “Have the Americans internalized the lesson and fully understood the danger of the current situation to their interests?”

Sources close to the Brotherhood say the purpose of the campaign being waged on American university campuses is to put pressure on Trump in light of the negative opinions about the Brotherhood that are now prevalent in Washington due to the change in administrations.

What they fear most is a decision by the administration to designate the Brotherhood as a terror organization.

Hisham a-Naggar, an Islamic scholar, agreed. He said the purpose of the Brotherhood campaign is to confront the new negative shift in American opinions toward the Brotherhood. These opinions include support for el-Sisi and allying with him against terror – positions that include a crackdown on Brotherhood activities.

Formerly, having the support of the West (and the American president) was the Brotherhood’s “ace in the hole” – the most important card the group could play in its multi-faceted moves to take over Arab countries and their current regimes. Now that support has been taken away, and the group is reeling.

Tarek al-Bashabishi, a former Brotherhhood official who now works against the organization, commented that ever since the Brotherhood lost power in June 2013, it’s been been inciting various Arab countries and international institutions against Egypt to weaken el-Sisi so the Brotherhood can return to power.

Al-Bashabishi added that after Trump was elected, a huge political shift occurred. The U.S. administration is now against the Brotherhood and in support of el-Sisi’s fight against them. Now, he says, the Brotherhood’s only option is to try to bribe Trump’s rivals in Congress so they can be used as mouthpieces for the Brotherhood.

He said the Brotherhood is engaged in a fight for its life, playing all its cards – including using financial support from Turkey and Qatar and the Brotherhood lobby in America – to avoid being designated as a terror organization.

Al-Bashabishi also noted the same phenomenon in the UK, where he said the Brotherhood is trying to bribe members of the House of Commons to support the anti-Egypt opinions of the Brotherhood.

Should the Muslim Brotherhood Debate Include Another Rogue Islamist Party?

April 8, 2017

Should the Muslim Brotherhood Debate Include Another Rogue Islamist Party? Investigative Project on Terrorism, Abha Shankar, April 7, 2017

A leading Islamist party recently demanded punishment for bloggers who “insult” Islam and condemned the execution of the murderer of a prominent politician who spoke up against his country’s rigid blasphemy laws. The Islamist party also blamed the U.S.-led war on terror for the rise in global jihadism and the destruction of Islamic civilization.

For those of you wondering, the Islamist party in question is not the Ikhwan al-Muslimeen, or Muslim Brotherhood (MB), whose designation as a terrorist organization is currently a hot topic of debate in Washington. Rather, it is the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), a South Asian Sunni revivalist movement that has an active network in North America and the West.

The Islamist movement often defends terrorists and rationalizes attacks against Western targets, in addition to working to advance a rigid interpretation of Islam in the U.S. and other secularly-governed nations. The debate over political action against Islamist parties, therefore, does not stop with the Muslim Brotherhood.

JI’s recent blasphemy push provides an example of that thinking in action.

In a press release, Sirajul Haq, the leader of JI’s Pakistan affiliate, condemned the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, who had killed former Punjab governor Salman Taseer, a fierce opponent of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Haq also called on Pakistan’s political leadership “not to link terrorism with Islam…to please colonial powers,” and alleged “that the enemy was trying to destroy the Islamic civilization and values and to promote its obscener [sic] and nude culture.”

Haq had earlier described Qadri’s hanging as the “darkest moment in the country’s history” and said that by executing him, the Pakistani government “had proved itself a slave of US President Obama and not a slave of the Holy Prophet.” He added that “the government had executed one Mumtaz Qadri but now every youth and [sic] grown up in the country would turn into Mumtaz Qadri.”

JI’s Ideological Similarities with the MB

The JI was founded in 1941 in Lahore, Pakistan (then part of British India) by Islamist scholar Maulana Syed Abdul Ala Maududi. Maududi is a leading pioneer of Islamic revivalism in South Asia who was inspired by the Brotherhood ideology. Maududi also had a profound influence on Sayyid Qutb, a leading Muslim Brotherhood ideologue who has been described as the “father of modern Islamist fundamentalism.” Qutb is believed to have also inspired al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

Soon after the Arab Spring protests led to the ouster of the Hosni Mubarak regime in Egypt, top Brotherhood and JI leaders met in Cairo to “strengthen the relations between the Islamic movements in different countries ” and “promote Islam.”

JI’s primary objective in Pakistan “is to implement Sharia” and “make Pakistan an Islamic welfare state” based on the “model of the state of Madina,” the multi-religious Islamic state established by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the 7th century.

Although the MB has a deeper foundation and wider network in North America, the front groups of the JI—Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and its charitable arm ICNA Relief—also have an active and long-term presence.

ICNA and ICNA Relief collaborate extensively with MB front groups in the U.S. and Canada. For example, ICNA annually partners with the Muslim American Society (MAS) to host its national conventions that feature radical speakers who advocate jihad and call for the elimination of Israel. MAS was created in 1993 as the Brotherhood’s arm in the U.S.

Both ICNA and ICNA Relief are listed as members of the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), an umbrella group featuring several groups tied to the American Muslim Brotherhood. It was launched in March 2014 to lobby Congress to enforce an Islamist agenda on U.S. counterterrorism efforts, as well as on issues concerning American Muslims and the larger Muslim ummah (community).

ICNA’s educational programs feature staunch Islamist ideologues, and Maududi’s books have been promoted on the website of ICNA’s youth division, “Young Muslims.”

After trying him in absentia, a Bangladeshi war crimes tribunal sentenced to death ICNA’s former vice president and leader of its New York chapter Ashrafuzzman Khan on charges connected to the kidnapping and murder of several intellectuals during the country’s 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. The tribunal claimed Khan was the “chief executor” of the killing squad, Al-Badr, a militant offshoot of the Jamaat-e-Islami. Following accusations of alleged war crimes against Khan, ICNA scrubbed the names of executive board members, including Khan, from its web page.

Khan still is believed to be in New York. But others convicted by the tribunal have been executed, drawing criticism from ICNA as a “shameful act of judicial killing which is part of the ongoing brutal persecution of political opponents” in Bangladesh.

The Muslim Brotherhood also condemned the executions and called on the global community to “reject and condemn these unjust and unfair trials that violate all international norms and conventions….”

The Brotherhood’s website described JI leader Mir Quasem, who was executed in September after being convicted of running the lethal Al-Badr militia, as an “icon of freedom and resistance against tyranny.”

Quasem’s “martyrdom” was compared to that of MB ideologue Sayyid Qutb in 1966: “When the Egyptian regime executed Sayyid Qutb in 1966, they thought they killed his ideas and ideology; but—as tyrants do in every era and place—they unintentionally immortalized him, inadvertently spread his ideas, and unwittingly introduced the people to his call—his ideology.”

JI Leaders Featured As Speakers at ICNA Events

Yusuf Islahi, a leader of JI’s Indian affiliate (JI Hind), is scheduled to speak at the upcoming MAS-ICNA convention in Baltimore. Islahi, a chief patron of ICNA’s dawah or proselytizing project, WhyIslam, has spoken at past MAS-ICNA conferences. In a 2009 interview, Islahi criticized the Western interest-based economic system: “A society where interest is accepted and becomes widespread is disliked to such an extent that both Allah and His Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, are at war with them.”

At a 2001 JI Hind event hosted in the Indian city of Aligarh, Islahi reportedly blamed Jews for the 9/11 attacks, which he described as a fitting response to American arrogance: “[T]he September 11 event is a well-planned conspiracy to defame Islam. Muslims are being blamed for it without any evidence. Everyone knows who is the real culprit, Jews …. The United States has unjustly and arrogantly ruled the world for too long. Allah has destroyed that arrogance on September 11. God willing, this will also inaugurate the age of Islam the world over.”

ICNA’s invitations to JI leaders to speak at its events goes back a long way. Former JI leader Qazi Hussein Ahmed, for example, was a featured speaker at ICNA’s 1999 convention in Baltimore. In an interview the same year with ICNA’s newsmagazine Message International, Ahmad spoke about the role Islamist movements such as the JI and MB play in creating an Islamic state: “The Islamic movements through out [sic] the world under the guidance of Maulana Syed Abdul A’la Maudoodi (r) and Shaheed Hasan al-Banna (r) and many other prominent Muslim leaders and scholars and Mujahideen have adopted the same attitude and the same process which was evolved by the Prophet of Allah. Call the people towards Allah and to train and purify them, organize them into Jama’ah and work for the service of mankind. In this process we will create an Islamic society, an Islamic government and an Islamic state.”

The late Ghulam Azam, a former leader of JI’s Bangladesh chapter, also spoke at the 1999 convention. Azam was sentenced to 90 years in prison for committing war crimes during Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence. Hamas leader Sheikh Muhammad Siyam also was part of the 1999 convention.

JI’s Support for Terror

JI affiliates in Bangladesh and Pakistan criticize the United States, openly voice support for terrorist groups and praise their leaders. For example, people like Osama bin Laden never die, former JI Pakistan leader Syed Munawar Hasan said in a 2014 video. They continue to live in the people’s hearts people and give voice to their people, he said. Hasan described Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud’s killing of in a U.S. drone strike as “martyrdom.” He called the U.S. an enemy of Pakistan: “America was our enemy yesterday, it is so today, and tomorrow too it will not refrain from enmity against us.”

The JI has provided an ideological platform and recruiting base for terrorist groups in South Asia. One example is the Hizb-ul Mujahideen (HuM), a Kashmiri jihadist group that emerged in 1989 as JI’s militant wing.

The U.S. designated HuM as a foreign terrorist organization in 2004. In a recent video, HuM commander Zakir Rashid Bhat noted that the Kashmiri people’s struggle for independence was “nationalistic” and was “haraam” (“not permissible”) in Islam. “Nationalism and democracy are not permissible in Islam,” he said. HuM has been behind several terrorist attacks in Kashmir. In 2013, HuM claimed responsibility for an attack on an Indian police camp in Kashmir that killed five security personnel.

JI’s former student wing in India, the Student Islamic Movement of India or SIMI has been implicated in some of the deadliest terror attacks in the country. The group has been banned in India and is alleged to have links to terrorist groups such as the Indian Mujahideen (IM) and the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

Nurul Islam Marzan, one of the masterminds behind the July terror attack on a Dhaka café that killed 17 foreigners, helped lead a group with alleged ties to the banned Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and was active in JI’s student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir (ICS) at Chittagong University. Suspects in the 2013 murder of blogger and activist Ahmed Rajib Haider reportedly acted on orders from an ICS leader.

The Jamaat-e-Islami global network’s support for a totalitarian Islamist ideology provides an environment conducive to the radicalization of future terrorists. The Islamist movement’s active presence in the U.S. and the West, its defense of terrorists, condemnation of U.S. foreign policy, justification of terror attacks against the U.S. and its allies, and rejection of Western democratic values and ideals make it relevant in the debate about designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group. The Islamist threat is not isolated to one source.

Sisi, Trump, and the Politics of Designating the Muslim Brotherhood

April 6, 2017

Sisi, Trump, and the Politics of Designating the Muslim Brotherhood, National Review, Clifford Smith, April 6, 2017

President Trump welcomes Egyptian President El-Sisi to the White House, April 3, 2017. (Reuters photo: Carlos Barria)

Hopes that the Trump administration will designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization have hit rough waters, with anonymous officials citing concerns about diplomatic blowback and frayed relationships with Muslims at home and abroad. The leaks come on the eve of a historic visit to Washington by Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, a key Arab ally and devoted Muslim who is locked in a life-or-death struggle with the Brotherhood.

The irony is hard to miss, particularly given that Egypt and several other Arab countries have already designated the Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

Whatever the truth behind the leaks, they underscore that the inside-the-Beltway conventional wisdom — that the Brotherhood is “moderate” and so popular that designation would be seen as “a declaration of war against . . . Islam itself” — will not die as easily as many hoped.

This thinking is rooted in a failure to understand the difference between Islamists — a sizable but distinct minority of Muslims who adhere to a totalitarian religious ideology — and the moderate majority of Muslims, who are our friends and allies. President el-Sisi, who has publicly called out extremism to clerics in Egypt, understands this. After all, Egypt is not the only state in which the Brotherhood engaged in attempts to kill its way to power. It did the same in Syria in the early 1980s.

Despite the Brotherhood’s long history of bloodshed, claims that it is “moderate,” or opposes violence, are still prominent. While above-ground Brotherhood organizations use peaceful means when effective, they are “prepared to countenance violence . . . where gradualism is ineffective,” as a 2015 report by the British government noted with significant understatement.

Claims that designation will complicate U.S. relationships with certain Arab allies are overblown. While it is true that some allies, such as Jordan, have Muslim Brotherhood–affiliated parties represented in their parliaments, this is easy enough to finesse. Members of Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, have long served in Lebanon’s parliament, but American diplomats manage to avoid contact with them and still do business with the Lebanese.

Moreover, failure to designate the Brotherhood complicates some alliances. The Egyptian public has grown deeply suspicious of the U.S. government precisely because under Obama the U.S. came to be seen as overly sympathetic to the Brotherhood. When Senator Ted Cruz introduced the Muslim Brotherhood Terror Designation Act, many Egyptians saw it as a sign the U.S. may be waking from its long slumber. A tweet introducing the bill was the subject of a segment by popular Egyptian talk-show host Amr Adib and was retweeted 17,000+ times.

Domestically, in the wake of Trump’s admittedly troubling comments suggesting a “Muslim ban” during his presidential campaign last year, some fear that designation will fuel anti-Muslim bigotry and pave the way for “a legal assault on the institutions of American Muslim life.” After all, several organizations claiming to represent U.S. Muslims, particularly the Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR), have deep Muslim Brotherhood ties.

But groups such as CAIR are hardly “institutions of American Muslim life” — they’re just pretending to be. A 2011 Gallup poll found support for CAIR among U.S. Muslims to be just under 12 percent. Britain’s inquiry into the Brotherhood found that its activists in the U.K. “appear to be unable to generate any grassroots support.”

Frankly, however, if public support for CAIR were higher, that would be all the more reason to be concerned. Notwithstanding its carefully crafted public image, CAIR was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2007–09 Holy Land Foundation terror-finance case, and was blacklisted by the FBI as a result. Unfortunately, the Obama administration failed to aggressively continue an FBI investigation into CAIR after it conspired to fund terrorist-designated organization Hamas, the Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. Indeed, the United Arab Emirates has declared CAIR itself a terrorist organization.

Trump’s rhetorical excesses cannot be understood without recalling the Obama administration’s refusal to name the problem. Using euphemisms such as “violent extremism” and feigning puzzlement as to the motives of obvious jihadists made the administration’s rhetoric concerning terrorism a national joke. In both the U.S. and Europe, when elites insist that voters must believe them, rather than their own “lying eyes,” the voters turn sharply in the opposite direction. The cure for Trump’s rhetorical excesses is increased security, not denial.

Trump laid out a number of smart proposals on radical Islam during his campaign. His administration should now use President el-Sisi’s visit to move forward with these ideas. In particular, it should follow up designation of the Brotherhood with the formation of a congressionally authorized commission on radical Islam tasked with developing a strategy for winning the war against Islamic extremists and explaining the threat of Islamism to the American people. Both are badly needed. Wrongheaded conventional wisdom won’t keep Americans, or our Muslim allies, safe.

Reports On Creation Of Muslim Brotherhood Lobby In U.S. To Prevent Trump Administration From Designating The Movement A Terrorist Organization

March 17, 2017

Reports On Creation Of Muslim Brotherhood Lobby In U.S. To Prevent Trump Administration From Designating The Movement A Terrorist Organization, MEMRI, March 16, 2017

(As I understand the Muslim Terrorist Designation Act, passage would impair CAIR and other Islamist organizations in America previously supported by the Obama administration and its “countering violent extremism” program. That would be a good thing. — DM)

Introduction

Following Donald Trump’s election to the U.S. presidency, the issue of designating the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) a terrorist organization resurfaced. During and after his presidential campaign, Trump’s Middle East advisor Walid Phares repeatedly stated that the new president would act for the passage of a bill doing so. For example, following Trump’s September 2016 meeting with Egyptian President ‘Abd Al-Fatah Al-Sisi on the margins of the UN General Assembly, Phares told the Egyptian daily Al-Watan that Trump had promised Al-Sisi that he would promote a bill that is already before Congress that designates the MB a terrorist organization.[1] After the election, Phares reiterated these remarks to the press.[2]

It should be mentioned that in November 2015, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) announced that they had introduced a bill designating the MB a terrorist organization.[3] In January 2017, Cruz tweeted that he and Diaz-Balart had reintroduced the bill on this matter: “Proud to introduce Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act w @MarioDB [Mario Diaz-Balart]. It’s time to call the enemy by its name.”[4]

Ted Cruz’s tweet

In light of this bill, and in light of statements by Trump administration officials about its intent to promote it, the MB began preparations to confront the bill and prevent its passage. Launching a widespread informational media campaign, including the hiring of U.S. lobbying and legal firms, outreach to the press in the U.S., and dissemination of informational content aimed at improving its image in the West, particularly in the U.S., the MB attempted to convey that it is not a terrorist organization, but rather an ideological movement whose methods of operation are peaceful.

On the other hand, the Egyptian regime has been working to persuade the new U.S. administration that the MB is indeed a terrorist organization, as well as an umbrella organization for other terrorist outfits. In addition it was reported that Egyptian intelligence too had hired an American lobbying firm to improve the image of the Egyptian regime in the U.S.[5] Egyptian parliamentary representatives met in January 2017 with U.S. members of Congress to impress upon them the necessity of designating the MB as terrorist. Another visit by an Egyptian parliamentary delegation was scheduled for January but has apparently been postponed to April. Additionally, the Egyptian daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’, which is close to the regime, has in recent weeks been criticizing Western media, particularly The New York Times, for providing a platform for the promotion of MB ideas. The Egyptian press in general expressed criticism of the regime for failing to sufficiently counter the MB’s media campaign.

This report will review MB media efforts to counter U.S. legislative and legal moves to designate it a terrorist organization, efforts by the Egyptian regime and official media to prove that it does indeed engage in terrorism, and claims by Egyptian writers that the regime is not doing enough to combat the MB’s campaign in the West.

MB Works To Create U.S. Lobby

In fact, already in November 2016, immediately after Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential elections, the movement began preparing to counter U.S. moves to designate it terrorist. The Egyptian Institute for Political and Strategic Studies, which belongs to the MB and operates from Turkey under the directorship of Amr Darrag, who served as minister of planning and international cooperation in the administration of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, published a document by Dr. Badr Shafi’i on November 26 with recommendations for the movement on how to deal with America’s intent to promote a terrorist designation of the MB. The recommendations include: Appointing elements within the movement to supervise these steps and make contact with experts on international relations; contacting politicians, clerics, and countries that could sympathize with the MB in order to improve its image in Congress; establishing a legal-media team and hold ties with members of Congress; hiring a U.S. law firm and public relations teams; and establishing a substantial Islamic lobby in the U.S., while strengthening ties with movements opposing Trump’s policy.[6]

Recommendations published by the Egyptian Institute for Political and Strategic Studies (Eipss-eg.org, November 2016)

In January and March 2017, the institute published two more documents by Shafi’i that also dealt with this issue, in which he reiterated his recommendations.[7]

In addition, in recent months, the Arab press in general, and the Egyptian press in particular, reported on MB efforts to prevent the Trump administration from listing it as a terrorist organization. Thus, for example, MB sources outside of Egypt told the daily Al-Shurouq that the global MB organization was conducting widespread activity to this end. According to these sources, the movement was being assisted by the governments of Turkey, Tunisia, and Morocco, and by the governments of countries where the MB has substantial parliamentary blocs such as Kuwait, Jordan, and Algeria. The sources also disclosed that the movement’s steps, not only in Egypt but in 82 countries around the world, as well as its contacts with members of Congress and senior U.S. writers and civil society organizations, are meant to prevent the decision.[8]

Evidence of these moves could be seen in comments by London-based MB official Mohamed Soudan, who said in late January that MB elements were speaking to American politicians, State Department officials, members of Congress, and academics, in order to explain the nonviolent history of the movement since its establishment in 1928.[9]

In other statements to the media, Soudan said that most of the MB’s contacts in the U.S. were done via a public relations firm, and added: “We will defend our history and the movement’s future with all possible legitimate and legal means.” According to him, the MB will not sit idly by but rather operate on all fronts and conduct meetings with all American parties in order to prevent a U.S. decision designating it a terrorist organization.[10]

On February 5, the Saudi website Elaph reported that the MB had signed a contract with an American lobbying firm, paying it $4.8 million to help it establish ties with Trump administration officials in order to improve its image in U.S. media. According to the report, the contract included organizing meetings with Trump administration officials, submitting documents on Egyptian government mistreatment of the movement and its members, publishing articles in American media, and providing platforms for movement officials in American print and TV media. Elaph added that elements close to the Obama administration had helped the movement sign the contract with this firm, whose officials include figures close to Obama’s election campaign  and to Hillary Clinton. According to Elaph, the firm employs dozens of former White House and State Department staffers who have extensive ties to members of Congress and political and strategic research centers in the U.S.[11]

Furthermore, former MB official Tareq Abu Al-Sa’ad claimed that as part of its efforts to improve its image in the U.S., the movement relies on specific American families who are members of the MB and have close ties to the U.S. administration. He mentioned a family which he said has ties to American officials and research institutes, as well as other MB officials that are expected to contact human rights organizations to help improve its image in Washington.[12]

One example of the MB’s efforts on this front is a New York Times article by Gehad Al-Haddad, a former Egyptian MB spokesman who was arrested in 2013 and is currently incarcerated in Tora Prison in Egypt. Gehad is the son of Essam Al-Haddad, an aide to former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.[13] In the February 22 article, titled “I Am a Member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Not a Terrorist,” Al-Haddad rejected claims that the MB was a terrorist organization, stating that its ideology stems from the Islamic interpretation based on social justice, equality, and rule of law. He stressed that despite the Egyptian regime’s hostility, the movement always fought for the weak in society and that it believes in democracy and pluralism, adding that during the Mubarak era, it even worked together with democratic movements to prevent him from bequeathing the presidency to his son Gamal. He added that the MB opposes violence and has always operated peacefully, and that violent movements that are said to have grown out of the MB actually left the movement because it could not accept their violent methods.[14] Elements close to the movement said it had chosen Gehad Al-Haddad to pen the article because he had held close ties with U.S. officials during Morsi’s presidency.[15]

Al-Haddad’s New York Times article (New York Times, February 22, 2017)

Another New York Times article on February 20, by Declan Walsh, argued that a terror listing for the MB, which has millions of followers, could have negative consequences, especially for countries where MB-linked parties are in power or are prominent in Parliament, with serious implications for domestic politics, American diplomacy and the broader fight against Islamist extremism.  It stated further that marginalizing this movement could mean discouraging some of its moderate branches that have won wide praise for their democratic engagement, while empowering jihadist groups. Moreover, the proposed designation would reaffirm Trump’s embrace of Egyptian President Al-Sisi, who has faced severe international criticism for Egypt’s dismal human rights record in recent years and its ruthless persecution of the MB.

It should be mentioned that on February 23, Al-Masri Al-Yawm quoted Mohamed Soudan as saying that the MB had managed to convince Congress to not designate it a terrorist organization. The report quoted Soudan as saying that the global MB organization had managed to hold contacts with administration and Congress officials and had used documents to convince them that the MB was not and would never be involved in terrorist attacks, and that it routinely issues condemnations for attacks that take place in most countries of the world.”[16] However, the following day Soudan denied the statements attributed to him by Al-Masri Al-Yawm, and posted an article from the Egyptian daily Al-Misriyyoun on his Facebook page with the comment: “I know nothing of this statement and these comments, and I don’t know where they (Al-Masri Al-Yawm) got this fiction.”[17]

Al-Sisi Regime Responds To MB Media Campaign

The Egyptian regime does not seem to working as intensively to promote the U.S. Congressional bill to designate the MB terrorist as the MB is to prevent such a designation. In January 2017, Mohamed Al-‘Orabi, former Egyptian foreign minister and current member of the Egyptian parliament’s foreign relations committee, and Ahmed Al-Fadaly, head of the Independent Party Current, attended President Trump’s inauguration, and also met with members of Congress and administration officials. They presented President Trump with a memo demanding quick action to designate the MB as terrorist. Al-‘Orabi said during the visit that the Egyptian parliament would soon launch a widespread campaign to advance this issue.[18]

However, besides this visit, and MP statements about their intentions to act on the matter, no actual measures are reported to have been taken to promote the U.S. Congress’s anti-MB bill.

In mid-January 2017, it was reported that a delegation on behalf of the Egyptian parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee would travel to the U.S. later that month to meet with members of Congress and deliver a report on “the MB’s violent and terrorist acts.” Tarek Radwan, a representative of the committee, said that attempts were being made to arrange a meeting between the delegation and Sen. Cruz and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.[19] The visit, however, apparently never took place. On March 6, it was reported that delegation would visit the U.S. in April.[20]

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, asked by the daily Al-Watan whether he had discussed the designation of the MB as terrorist during his late February 2017 visit to the U.S., responded: “I did not address this matter, but I told [U.S. officials] that it was important to note that the MB provides the philosophical and religious basis for radical ideology, and that we cannot combat terrorism [solely] by designating [organizations] in different ways, since all terrorist organizations are interconnected. Thus, [for example] even if ISIS is eliminated, new groups will continue to spring up as long as the source of radical ideology exists.” Shoukry added that the U.S. officials had grasped his point, that he was following the efforts of several members of Congress on the issue, and that the issue remains controversial.[21]

Egyptian Daily: New York Times Supports Terrorism, Slandered Egypt

In contrast to Egyptian officials, the daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’, which is close to Egyptian authorities and intelligence apparatuses, dealt extensively with the issue of designating the MB as terrorist, publishing a number of articles attacking the organization. It also criticized the U.S. media, particularly The New York Times, stating that it was enabling MB terrorism. On February 23, the day after The Times published Gehad Al-Haddad’s op-ed, Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ published an article titled “New York Times Supports MB Terrorism, Publishes Article by Gehad Al-Haddad…”[22] On February 24, it published an article titled “Questionable MB Plot to Slander Egypt in Western Media… Islamist [elements]: Organization Spending Millions of Dollars to Spread Its Poison.”[23]

On March 2, Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ published an article headlined “New Disgrace for New York Times: Paper Refuses to Publish Article Proving MB Terrorism; [Egyptian-American journalist and researcher] Michael Morgan after His Article Was Rejected for Publication…: ‘The Paper Has Become an [MB] Movement Platform and the U.S. Will Pay the Price.”[24]

Another Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’  article, published March 12, stated: “Since the onset of the June 30 [2013] revolution that ousted the MB regime, The New York Times has specialized in improving the MB’s image and slandering Egypt.” It quoted Islamic affairs expert Ahmed ‘Atta as saying that the MB International Organization secretary-general Ibrahim Munir Mustafa had paid global media outlets, chiefly the Times, $50 million to continue its attacks on Donald Trump because of Trump’s anti-MB stance.[25]

Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ February 24 article attacking the New York Times

Egyptian Journalists To Al-Sisi Regime: Be More Decisive In Countering MB Media Campaign

Several Egyptian writers criticized the regime’s inertia in the face of the MB’s media campaign. On February 22, Al-Ahram columnist Ahmed ‘Abd Al-Tawab wrote that the MB’s media campaign shows that the movement fears being designated a terrorist organization. He wrote that it is “Egypt’s responsibility” in this matter, “due to its decades-long experience with MB crimes, to provide the Trump administration with information and historical and current evidence that will help it combat the movement on the legal, political, and cultural levels, in accordance with the human rights [principles] that the MB endangers…”[26]

Al-Ahram writer Muhammad Salmawi also wrote of the need for Egypt to step up its activity vis-à-vis the U.S. on the MB issue. In an article titled “The Voice of the MB – and Our Silence,” Salmawi wrote of his surprise  at Egypt’s feeble reaction to Gehad Al-Haddad’s New York Times article. The MB, he said, realizes that the way to influence American society is through public relations and lobbying firms, and the Egyptian regime needs to do likewise: “Those who follow the American press at this time cannot help but notice the intense campaign to improve the MB’s image and cleanse them of any blood spilled now or in the past in the name of Islam. This campaign has a specific goal – to stop the Trump administration from designating the movement a terrorist organization, thus fulfilling one of [Trump’s] campaign promises. To this end, the campaign twists facts with reckless abandon, made possible by the absence of an opposing viewpoint that could have corrected the erroneous information and responded to [the MB’s] notorious lies. How much longer will we remain silent in light of a campaign that has raised its voice and spread throughout the American media since the onset of the June 30, 2013 revolution?

“Last week I read the article by the former official MB spokesman [Gehad Al-Haddad], penned from his Egyptian prison cell and published by The New York Times. I was surprised that some of the few [Egyptian writers] who addressed this matter settled for pondering how such a message was smuggled out of prison in Egypt… The problem is not how it was leaked, but how we could not deliver a similar message [in Western media]…

“How easy it is to criticize security measures that allow messages to be smuggled out of Egyptian prisons and given to newspaper offices… in New York. How easy it is to step up measures against all the prisoners [as a result]. But the MB continues to be heard in the American press – while our position cannot be found in the international arena…

“First, we must examine how the other side managed to gain such a noticeable presence in Western media – and such an examination is not difficult. The ongoing publication of pro-MB positions in Western media, and [this media’s]  disregard for the Egyptian popular will, stems not from some global plot against us or global sympathy with the mother movement that birthed all the groups that accuse others of heresy – but mostly from [the MB’s] accurate grasp of how to operate vis-à-vis American social institutions, and of the active role played by large PR firms in society – whether in the press, the media, in Congress, or elsewhere…

“The way to actively operate in the U.S. is by arriving at an understanding with these large institutions – whether during a presidential or congressional campaign, or in the fight to influence decision-making circles by means of the press and media, or by means of members of Congress. Such a campaign is undoubtedly costly, but losing is costlier still…”

Salmawi, who is known for his antisemitic views,[27] added: “The Jewish lobby in the U.S. has already understood the power of the PR institutions and the influence they wield over American society on all levels. Using this and other methods, they control the political decision[-makers] in the U.S. The MB and the other international elements that fund them have [also] understood this. Is it not time for us to understand what our enemies already have?!”[28]

* C. Meital is a research fellow at MEMRI; H. Varulkar is Director of Research at MEMRI.

 

[1] Al-Watan (Egypt), September 20, 2016.

[2] Al-Ahram (Egypt), November 11, 2016.

[3] Cruz.senate.gov, November 4, 2015.

[4] Twitter.com/SenTedCruz, January 10, 2017.

[5] Rassd.com, March 5, 2017.

[6] Eipss-eg.org, November 26, 2016.

[7] Eipss-eg.org, January 28, March 3, 2017.

[8] Al-Shurouq (Egypt), February 8, 2017.

[9] Aa.com.tr, January 31, 2017.

[10] Elaph.com, February 5, 2017; Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), February 23, 2017.

[11] Elaph.com, February 5, 2017. Elements in Egypt affirmed the reports about the MB’s efforts to form a lobby. Gamal Al-Minshawi, an Islamic affairs researcher and former official in Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiyya, told the daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ that the MB pays millions of dollars to foreign newspapers and news sites for positive coverage. Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), February 24, 2017.

[12] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), February 17, 2017.

[13] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), February 24, 2017. It should be mentioned that in 2007-2012 Al-Haddad was director of the Clinton Foundation’s Climate Initiative in Egypt. Washingtontimes.com , September 18, 2013.

[14] New York Times (U.S.), February 22, 2017.

[15] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), February 24, 2017. It should be mentioned that after Al-Haddad’s article was published, a website close to the MB reported that Egyptian prison authorities had penalized him by placing him in solitary confinement. Rassd.com, February 27, 2017. MB associates also said that Al-Haddad and other MB prisoners manage to smuggle writings out of prison with the help of their lawyers, but an Egyptian security source said that Al-Haddad did not pen the article himself, and that smuggling such writings out of prison was impossible. Al-Watan (Egypt), February 23, 2017; Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), February 24, 2017.

[16] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), February 23, 2017.

[17] Al-Misriyyoun (Egypt), February 24, 2017; Facebook.com/FreedomJusticeFrMohamedSoudan, February 25, 2017.

[18] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), January 20, 2017; Al-Watan (Egypt), January 22, 2017.

[19] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), January 12, 2017.

[20] Motamemservice.com, March 6, 2017.

[21] Al-Watan (Egypt), March 10, 2017.            `

[22] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), February 23, 2017.

[23] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), February 24, 2017.

[24] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), March 2, 2017. Michael Morgan is an Egyptian-American researcher at the London Center for Policy Research, who promotes the designation of the MB as a terrorist organization.

[25] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi’ (Egypt), March 12, 2017.

[26] Al-Ahram (Egypt), February 22, 2017.

[27] In an article he published in the French-language Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram Hebdo, titled “Look for the Jews,” Salmawi criticized  the French law criminalizing antisemitism and Holocaust denial, stating that it does not forbid denying crimes against humanity but only crimes against six million Jews who “allegedly” suffered a holocaust during World War II. He also wrote that whoever wants to understand the connection between the Monica Lewinsky affair in the U.S., the trial against “French thinker” Roger Garaudy (who was convicted in 1998 of Holocaust denial) and the barring of Holocaust denier David Irving from several countries needs to “look for the Jews.” Al-Ahram Hebdo, Egypt, February 4-10, 1998.

[28] Al-Ahram (Egypt), March 5, 2017.