Thursday,21 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1339, (6 - 12 April 2017)
Thursday,21 February, 2019
Issue 1339, (6 - 12 April 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Brotherhood off-shoots

Amany Maged reports on this week’s terrorist attack targeting an Interior Ministry training centre in Gharbiya

As Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani defended the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood during the Arab Summit in Jordan the Revolution Brigade, which many experts on Islamist affairs believe to be an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, claimed responsibility for a bomb attack against the Interior Ministry training centre in Gharbiya.  

The Revolution Brigade issued a statement claiming their “fighters” had “withdrawn” after the attack. The Ministry of Interior stated that “examinations of the scene have established that an explosive device planted on a motorcycle was detonated, killing one and wounding 13 members of the police force and three civilians who were in the vicinity of the attack.”

The attack and the fact that it coincided with the Qatari emir’s remarks bring to the fore the question of the actions of the small movements affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhoods.  

The Revolution Brigade has previously used its Twitter account to claim responsibility for the assassination of Brigadier General Adel Ragaai, commander of an artillery division deployed in Sinai. Ragaai was shot as he was leaving his home in Obour satellite city in Greater Cairo.  One of the movements that the Hasm militant organisation claimed to have created, the Revolution Brigade’s first claimed attack was against the Al-Agizi checkpoint in Sadat City in Manoufiya in which two policemen were killed, and three policemen and two civilians wounded.

Hasm and the Revolution Brigade are the latest additions to the list of militant Islamist movements that emerged following the 25 January and 30 June revolutions. They join Hazemoon, Revolutionary Retribution, Ahrar, Popular Resistance, the Helwan Brigades, Molotov, Execution, Thugs against the Coup and Anonymous: the names of the offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood may vary but their aims are the same. They seek to undermine security, spread instability and chaos and overthrow the government. They use the same strategies: lone wolf attackers or small cells of no more than five people, carrying out their violent attacks without any need for direct instructions or contact with those higher up in the Muslim Brotherhood’s chain of command.

These movements openly espoused violence in the wake of the break-up of the Rabaa and Nahda squares sit-ins. Muslim Brotherhood leaders who fled abroad, leaving field and operational command to the group’s younger members, claim that they had “lost control” over the Brotherhood’s youth wings.  

There is evidence of the Revolution Brigade’s affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood. The group’s third video posting included appearances by four men thought to have been killed by security forces and who the Brotherhood had acknowledged as its members. They are: Hassan Galal, whose name appeared in the Interior Ministry statement announcing the elimination of four members of the Revolution Brigade; Ahmed Mahfouz, a student at Al-Azhar Faculty of Science; Ragab Ahmed, a student at the Faculty of Engineering at Alexandria University and Abdallah Hilal, a student at the Al-Azhar Faculty of Engineering.

In the video Ahmed and Hilal address their families and recite their last will and testimony followed by some Quranic verses and an appeal not to mourn them. There also is a scene of Galal and Mahfouz making explosive devices. The images, together with previous statements by the Revolution Brigade, suggest they are part of the movement’s bomb-making unit.  

The Muslim Brotherhood’s propaganda machine orchestrated a campaign covering the deaths of the four. Brotherhood television stations featured images of huge funeral processions. A channel operating out of Istanbul also brought on Galal’s mother and Hilal’s father to level accusations against the Egyptian Ministry of Interior.  

The Revolution Brigade closely echoes the Muslim Brotherhood’s media discourse, focusing on the same incidents and uttering the same accusations against the Interior Ministry. It regularly quotes Brotherhood ideologues. Mohamed Rashed’s maxim, “People have a predilection for the easy and delightful and an aversion to the difficult and unpleasant. Elevate yourself, as much as possible, to what is difficult but beneficent so that you grow familiar with noble matters, aspire to their lofty heights and spurn all that is base,” is one such staple, as is Sayed Qotb’s “it is difficult to imagine how we can attain a noble end by using vile means… the noble end can only thrive in a noble heart so how can that heart bear to use a vile means?”  

 The Qatari emir, who has supported, protected and promoted the Muslim Brotherhood since the 30 June Revolution in Egypt, told Arab heads of state during the summit in Jordan that “it is not fair that we work to rank political movements that differ with us as terrorist when they are not so… Is our purpose to increase the number of terrorists in the world?”  

He argued the fight against terrorism is a strategic issue with economic, social, cultural and, of course, security dimensions. It is too grave an issue to be subjected to rival political interests and the tug-of-war between regimes. He added that terrorism is not the monopoly of a single faith or sect. There are many terrorist militias that subscribe to different religious schools and that perpetrate crimes against civilians to attain political ends, sometimes with the knowledge and approval of their governments.

Many observers believe the Qatari leader’s defence of the Brotherhood will have given the organisation a major boost. Ali Bakr, an expert on Islamist affairs, argues the Qatari emir’s remarks give the Muslim Brotherhood an incentive to sprout new terrorist movements with a “made by the Muslim Brotherhood” label. Such encouragement, warns Bakr, could herald an escalation in the activities of Brotherhood-linked groups, the proliferation of more groups and a new wave of terrorist attacks. (see pp. 14&15)

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