Canada has produced a series of individuals who have become suicide bombers, ISIS propagandists and jihadist fighters in a variety of conflict zones. How this radicalization is occurring is unclear to many observers. It is worth noting, however, that Canada has a series of deep networks which have the ideology, money and infrastructure to support their objectives of developing extremism. They have the ability to create the political, social and cultural spaces for extremism to flourish. Radicalization and political violence (terrorism) are the two most visible offshoots of this overall process.1
The most advanced networks in Canada are operated by the Muslim Brotherhood, the Iranian sponsored Khomeneists, Hizb ut-Tahrir and the organizational structures bought through Wahhabist money. Of these, the most systemic threat to Canada may come from the Muslim Brotherhood. Intelligence and law enforcement agencies appear to have become focused on catching ‘terrorists’ but have not disrupted the networks producing them.
The Muslim Brotherhood
The Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni aligned extremist organization, may be the largest and most effective of these groups in Canada. With some 700 oath of allegiance or bay’at2 swearing members3 and thousands more followers in Canada, the front organizations of the Muslim Brotherhood operate a series of mosques, prayer rooms, schools5, cultural centres and federally registered charities.6 Members of the Muslim Brotherhood (al-Ikhwān al-Muslimūn) are often referred to as Ikhwani and the group as “The Ikhwan.”
The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928 during the fall out of World War One, the redrawing of Middle East borders and the final collapse of the Ottoman Caliphate in 1924.7 The founder, Hassan al-Banna, is one of the most quoted and revered figures in the world of extremist, politicized Islam. The Muslim Brotherhood’s ideological sister organization, Jamaat- e-Islami, was founded by Abul A’la Maududi in 1941.8 The Muslim Brotherhood currently has a structured presence in some 70+ countries.9
It is critical to understand the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islami as they are the well spring of ideology for almost all other major Islamacist supremacist organizations,10 including ISIS.11 Abū Bakr al-Baghdādi 12 is the first Caliph of the ISIS Caliphate. He quotes ideas and beliefs from al-Maududi and from the Brotherhood’s Sayyid Qutb (and others)13during his only public sermon in Mosul in July of 2014. This was immediately following the ISIS victories in Syria and Iraq in June of 2014.14 Of note, al-Maududi himself is a former Muslim Brotherhood member15, along with other key extremist figures such as al Qaeda’s Ayman Zawahiri16 and al Qaeda co-founder Abdullah Azzam.17
The ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood is Islamacist and political, that is to say that its objective is to impose its interpretation of Islam over all of society18, to the exclusion of all other religions, political systems, economic methods and social structures. Hassan al-Banna’s well-known edict on this world view was reduced to the simple motto “Islam is the solution.”
Secrecy and Violence
Almost since its founding, the Muslim Brotherhood has struggled with the issues of secrecy and violence. The organization has frequently maintained a set of secret sub-groups, most of them related to violent activities. The founder, Hassan al-Banna, struggled with the concept of whether the organization should employ a ‘ground up’ approach, growing itself through social works in the community or by using force and taking over from the ‘top down’. But even by the 1930s, the Muslim Brotherhood had a ‘secret apparatus’19 and was sending armed groups to fight in the Palestinian Governate. This issue would later emerge and cause huge upsets when another Muslim Brotherhood theorist, Sayyed Qutb (1906-1966), advocated openly for the larger use of violence.
In one notable event in the early 1970s, the Muslim Brotherhood publicly stated that it renounced violence.20 However, this view was officially reversed following a policy review after the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt was ejected in 2013. On 28 January 2015, the Muslim Brotherhood stated it would return to violence with the following statement:
“It is in incumbent upon everyone to be aware that we are the process of a new phase, where we summon what is latent in our strength, where we recall the meanings of jihad and prepare ourselves, our wives, our sons, our daughters, and whoever marched on our path to a long, uncompromising jihad, and during this stage we ask for martyrdom.”21
Civilization Jihad: The Muslim Brotherhood in Canada and the United States
In 1991, following a controversial year-long internal policy review, the Muslim Brotherhood in North America announced its “Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Brotherhood in North America.” The detailed plan, signed by Dr. Mohamed Akram, described their objectives, strategies and what was expected of its members and front groups. Key among those statements was: “The process of settlement is a “Civilization-Jihadist Process” with all the word means. The Ikhwan 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 is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions. Without this level of understanding, we are not up to this challenge and have not prepared ourselves for Jihad yet. It is a Muslim’s destiny to perform Jihad and work wherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hour comes, and there is no escape from that destiny except for those who choose to slack.”22
A number of Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers have attempted to downplay the significance of this document, claiming that it represents the view of one individual at a point in time.23 The reality, however, is that the document was released by the Shura Council (governing body) of the Muslim Brotherhood in North America. During the Holy Land Relief terrorism funding trials in the USA, the document itself was entered as evidence.24 In the following years, Dr. Mohammed Akram, its signatory, was promoted to be head of the Al Quds International Foundation, which itself is a specially designated terrorist organization. Al Quds has been identified as being “controlled by and acting for or on behalf of Hamas” according to US Presidential Executive Order 13224.25The foundation is run by Yusef Qaradawi, who has been identified as the “most important leader of the Global Muslim Brotherhood and is the de facto spiritual leader of the movement.” He is also considered to be the ‘spiritual guide’ for HAMAS and his fatwas support suicide bombings.”26
We Will Conquer America
As noted, Yusef Qaradawi is the leading cleric and inspirational leader for the Muslim Brotherhood and he is also the subject of an Interpol Red Notice.27 Initially in 199528 and again in 200729, he stated that the Muslim Brotherhood will gradually takeover both North America and Europe.
“This means that Islam will come back to Europe for the third time, after it was expelled from it twice… Conquest through Da’wa that is what we hope for. We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America! Not through sword but through Da’wa.“30
Canadian Front Groups
The 1991 Explanatory Memorandum also directed that the Muslim Brotherhood would operate through a series of front groups and sympathetic organizations. Zeid al-Noman, a Masul of the Executive Committee31of the Muslim Brotherhood of North America made the following observations on the issue of front groups in the overall plan:
By God, fronts are one method …., one method for grouping and are one method to communicate the Ikhwan‘s thought. They are one method to communicate the Ikhwan’s point of view. A front is not formed until after a study and after an exhaustive study. I mean, the last front formed by the Group is the Islamic Association for Palestine.
For instance, the brothers in Egypt don’t have fronts in the same broad way we have in America and the fronts are one of the means and so on. Then, Ikhwans, our means are really different. They might carry the same name but the content is different.32
In Canada, the highest profile of these organizations are the Muslim Association of Canada, the National Council of Canadian Muslims, (formerly CAIR CAN), IRFAN and Islamic Relief Canada.33 IRFAN (International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy) is now defunct, having lost its charitable status in 2011 for funding terrorism and having been listed as a terrorism entity in 2014.34
Another Muslim Brotherhood front group, formed in the USA but now active in Canada as well, is the Muslim Student Association (MSA). This student group was formed as an educational and recruiting program for the Muslim Brotherhood. In Canada, some of its better known alumni are al Qaeda financer Ahmed Sayed Khadr (University of Ottawa MSA), suicide bomber Salman Asrafi (University of Lethbridge MSA), and ISIS propagandist John Maguire (University of Ottawa MSA). Other from the MSA have also gone on to take significant leadership roles in Muslim Brotherhood front groups as well as Ikhwani positions overseas. 35
Beating Women is a Sign of Love and Concern
The Muslim Student Association of York University handed out free books for its annual Islam Awareness Week in February 2015. One of the books, Women in Islam, has a chapter on ‘Wife Disciplining’ and advises that wives should only be beaten as part of a three stage correctional process. It also notes that there are different kinds of women, including the view that: “Submissive or subdued women. These women may even enjoy being beaten at times as a sign of love and concern.”36
This book, and other similar statements, are an indication of just how misogynistic extremist Islamacists can be, even in public. Other recent examples by extremist Imams in Canada include the view that “beating women is a form of education in Islam.”37
The Muslim Association of Canada
Of note, the Muslim Association of Canada openly states its support for the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna, on their webpage. “In the Arab world, this revival culminated in the writings of the late Imam Hassan al-Banna and the movement of the Society of Muslim Brothers (commonly known as the Muslim Brotherhood). Al-Banna’s core messages of constructive engagement in society, focus on personal and communal empowerment, and organizational development had a deep impact on much of the Muslim world.”38
The Muslim Association of Canada operates a series of schools and mosques across Canada. They can be seen in this chart:39
Chart Copyright: QMI Agency
Intelligence and law enforcement agencies have often been focused on ‘terrorists’ and ‘terrorism’ which are but two manifestations of extremism. Here in Canada (and in the USA) the over focus on terrorism has come at the expense of not examining the extremist networks that feed the radicalization. The Muslim Brotherhood, with its variety of front groups, is well positioned to continue its activities in support of its primary objective of using ‘civilization jihad’ to increasingly impose its Islamacist beliefs and influence on Canada.
The Government of the United Kingdom has struggled for years with its program to “Prevent Violent Extremism” which has had mixed to weak results and is now changing strategies and working towards its “Confronting Violent Extremism” program, with greater hopes for success. Other governments in Europe are also struggling with NO GO zones and isolated communities due to the success of extremist networks there. Denmark, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany are examples
What is not clear is whether the Government of Canada is prepared to produce a sufficient response to both terrorism and the networks behind the growth in extremism. At this time, it appears that another intelligence and policy failure is in the making.
- See the article Who Runs Canada’s Extremist Networks? which is available online at: http://tsecnetwork.ca/2015/09/24/who-runs-canadas-extremist-recruiting-networks/
- A bay’at is an oath of allegiance to an emir or leader. In the case of the Muslim Brotherhood, the oath is sworn to the organization and to its Supreme Guide. For a general definition, see http://www.thefreedictionary.com/bayat. For more on the oath of allegiance to the Muslim Brotherhood see the recent article of January 7, 2015 by Hamad Al-Majid which can be seen online at: http://english.aawsat.com/2015/01/article55340148.
- The number of 700 members in Canada comes from Tharwat Kherbawi, a former leadership figure of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. In 2015, he estimated the number of Ikhwani members in Canada in the early 2000s at 700, based on his earlier financing and travel arrangement work for the Muslim Brotherhood. However, he also believes that the number could be greater now, given the outflow of Muslim Brotherhood members since the collapse of their government in Egypt in 2013. For more on Kherbawi and his profile, see Inside the Ikhwan, Interview with Tharwat El-Kherbawy; an insider’s look at the Muslim Brotherhood first posted on November 20, 2012. http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2012/11/20/inside-the-ikhwan/.
- For instance, Dr. El-Tantawy Attia of the Masjid Toronto (Dundas Street) and the Muslim Association of Canada made it clear when he emphatically told the press “Here, we follow the teachings of the Muslim Brotherhood.” For more on this see the National Post Story Cancelled debate highlights tension among Canadian Muslims which is available online at: http://news.nationalpost.com/holy-post/cancelled-debate-highlights-tension-among-canadian-muslims
- For a partial listing of properties and schools see both the list provided and the chart at: http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/2015/01/29/muslim-group-linked-to-terror-organization-buying-buildings-across-canada See also the charts on properties and schools at: http://www.ottawasun.com/2015/01/29/canadian-muslim-group-linked-to-terror-financing-denies-wrongdoing
- Ian MacLeod, The Ottawa Citizen, Beware of the Muslim Brotherhood, expert warns. Published on May 16, 2015. The article is available online at: http://ottawacitizen.com/news/politics/beware-of-the-muslim-brotherhood-expert-warns. The article was based on the Senate of Canada testimony by Dr. Lorenzo Vidino. For a full transcript of Dr. Vidino’s testimony on the Muslim Brotherhood in Canada see: http://www.parl.gc.ca/content/sen/committee/412/SECD/52124-E.HTM
- For a short overview of the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood, see the Federation of American Scientists article at: http://fas.org/irp/world/para/mb.htm. See also the BBC Profile of the Muslim Brotherhood at: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-12313405 See also see the Council on Foreign Relations report at: http://www.cfr.org/egypt/egypts-muslim-brotherhood/p23991
- Martín, Richard C. (2004). Encyclopedia of Islam & the Muslim World. Granite Hill. p. 371. See also Choueiri, Youssef M. (2010). Islamic Fundamentalism 3rd Edition: The Story of Islamist Movements (3rd ed.), Bloomsbury. p. 100. In this book the author states "... all the major contemporary radicalist movements, particularly the Tunisian Islamic Tendency, led by Rashid Ghannushi, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad organization and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, derive their ideological and political programmes from the writings of al Mawdudi and Sayyid Qutb." See also The New Republic "The roots of jihad in India" by Philip Jenkins, December 24, 2008.
- See, among many others, Raymond Ibrahim, The Muslim Brotherhood: Origins, Efficacy, and Reach. The article is available online at: https://www.worldwatchmonitor.org/research/2594227
- For more on how vanguard ideology is based around the Muslim Brotherhood, see Fuller, The Future of Political Islam, (2003), p.194-5.
- For more on the ideological links between ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood, see the Ryan Mauro article of October 19, 2014: Egyptian Gov't Says ISIS Came from Muslim Brotherhood. The article is available online at: http://www.clarionproject.org/analysis/egyptian-govt-says-isis-came-muslim-brotherhood
- For more on al-Baghdadi, see the BBC profile at: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-27801676. See also the Brookings Institute research essay of him at: http://www.brookings.edu/research/essays/2015/thebeliever
- Farhang Jahanpour Al-Baghdadi, Self-Proclaimed Caliph of the Islamic State - Part 2, 10/27/14. http://www.payvand.com/news/14/oct/1154.html The author notes: His sermon touched on some of the key militant Sunni doctrines, going back to the strict Salafi Hanbali doctrines, the writings of Ibn Taymiyyah who lived at the time of the Mongol invasion of Iraq, to the views of the militant Egyptian ideologue Sayyid Qutb, the Lebanese-Egyptian Salafi preacher Rashid Rida, and Pakistani militant theologian and political activist Abul Ala Maududi.
- Kevin MacDonald, The Guardian, Tuesday September 9, 2014 12.59 BST: Isis jihadis aren’t medieval – they are shaped by modern western philosophy. The article can be seen online at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/09/isis-jihadi-shaped-by-modern-western-philosophy
- William McCants, Brookings Institute research essay, The Believer, September 01, 2015. See this article online at: http://www.brookings.edu/research/essays/2015/thebeliever
- Among many other sources, see the BBC Profile of Ayman al-Zawahiri at: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-13789286
- Thomas Hegghammer, “Introduction: Abdallah Azzam, Imam of Jihad,” in Al Qaeda in Its Own Words, Gilles Kepel and Jean-Pierre Milelli (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2008), 81–101.
- For a larger discussion and definition of Islamicism, see the article by Maajid Nawaz of the Quilliam Foundation. It is available online at: http://www.quilliamfoundation.org/press/maajid-nawaz-speaks-about-journey-from-extremism-to-democratic-awakening/
- On 28 January 2015, the Muslim Brotherhood referred to its founder Hassan al-Banna and its earlier years when it stated it would return to violence with the statement: “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.” The statement can been seen at the Muslim Brotherhood’s own website or an English language version can be seen at: http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/8446.htm
- Zachary Laub, Online Writer/Editor, Council on Foreign Relations, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, Updated: January 15, 2014 http://www.cfr.org/egypt/egypts-muslim-brotherhood/p23991
- Mohammad Akram and Explanatory Memo Still Matter, Center for Security Policy, 18 May 2015. The article is available online at: https://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/2015/05/18/mohammad-akram-and-explanatory-memo-still-matter/ .
- See documents from the Holy Land Relief Trial, in particular the 2009 order on Holy Land Foundation unindicted coconspirator list. In this ruling, the court stated: Government Exhibit. 3-85 (1991 memorandum authored by U.S.-Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council member Mohamed Akram Adlouni, recognizing ISNA and NAIT as Muslim Brotherhood organizations.) Government’s Exhibit 3-85, entitled An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal of the Group, described the Brotherhood’s strategic goal as a kind of “grand Jihad.” See the ruling at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/43380629/2009-order-on-Holy-Land-Foundation-unindicted-coconspirator-list
- US Department of the Treasury, Treasury Sanctions Two Hamas-Controlled Charities, 10/4/2012 http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg1725.aspx
- Youssef Qaradawi, The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch, http://www.globalmbwatch.com/youssef-qaradawi/. For more on Qaradawi, see http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/A-portrait-of-Muslim-Brotherhoods-supreme-authority
- John Mintz and Douglas Farah, Washington Post, Saturday, September 11, 2004: In Search Of Friends Among The Foes. The article can be seen online at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A12823-2004Sep10.html
- Sheik Yusuf Al-Qaradhawi: Islam's "Conquest of Rome" Will Save Europe from Its Subjugation to Materialism and Promiscuity, Qatar TV - July 28, 2007 - 02:44. The clip can be seen at: http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1592.htm .
- For a transcript of the speech and for his identification as a Masul, see the Holy Land Relief Foundation terror funding trial document at: http://www.investigativeproject.org/redirect/Ikhwan_in_American-Zeid_Al-Nomann.pdf
- The Ikhwan in America, Zeid al-Noman. For an explanation of al-Noman’s speech in this issue, see, among others: http://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/misc/26.pdf
- Ian MacLeod, The Ottawa Citizen, Beware of the Muslim Brotherhood, expert warns. Published on: May 16, 2015. The article is available online at: http://ottawacitizen.com/news/politics/beware-of-the-muslim-brotherhood-expert-warns . The article was based on the Senate of Canada testimony by Lorenzo Vidino. For a full transcript of his testimony on the Muslim Brotherhood in Canada see: http://www.parl.gc.ca/content/sen/committee/412/SECD/52124-E.HTM
- See the TSEC Network article on the MSA: Is the Muslim Student Association of Canada/USA a Recruiting Point for Extremism? http://tsecnetwork.ca/2015/09/25/is-the-muslim-student-association-of-canadausa-a-recruiting-point-for-extremism/
- The title of the book was Women in Islam & Refutation of some Common Misconceptions. To see pictures and an explanation of the event see: http://jonathanhalevi.blogspot.ca/2015/03/book-legalizing-wife-beating-is-being.html and http://www.blogwrath.com/canada-islam/muslim-week-at-york-university-with-wife-beating-tips/6971/
- For more examples of advocating violence against women in Canada, see the article A Tale of the Handmaidens – Violence against Women in Canada. The article is available online at: http://tsecnetwork.ca/2015/10/04/a-tale-of-the-handmaidens-violence-against-women-in-canada/
- The chart was originally a part of a Sun Media article which can be seen at: http://www.ottawasun.com/2015/01/29/canadian-muslim-group-linked-to-terror-financing-denies-wrongdoing