Zawahiri rebukes Muslim Brotherhood for trusting democracy


Just one day after the Egyptian military overthrew the elected Muslim Brotherhood government, Shabaab was at the forefront of those arguing that the Brotherhood made the mistake of attempting to gain power and impose sharia, or Islamic law, by following the democratic process. Shabaab’s argument was predictable; it reflected al Qaeda’s primary complaint with the Brotherhood. Although both groups seek to impose sharia and establish a caliphate, the Brotherhood has attempted to attain its goal through the political process, but al Qaeda has said this can be done only by waging jihad, or holy war.

Yesterday, in a statement released on al Qaeda-linked forums, Ayman al Zawahiri made the same argument that Shabaab and jihadists made immediately after the Egyptian coup. Below are excerpts of Zawahiri’s speech, which was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group. I believe these excerpts get to the core of al Qaeda’s disagreement with the Brotherhood:

The government of Mohamed Morsi was not attacked because it was the government of the Brotherhood; rather, it was an attack on any Islamic direction, for the Brotherhood government had sought to appease America and the secularists with what it could, but they did not approve of it and they did not trust it, because they did not forget the slogan of the Brotherhood: “Jihad is our path and death in Allah’s Cause is our highest wish”.

The Brotherhood had abandoned this slogan and replaced it with the slogan of “Islam is the solution”. However, the Crusaders and the secularists did not forget. What happened is the greatest proof of the failure of taking the democratic path to reach power in Islam. What happened was unprecedented in terms of its magnitude and ugliness, for it was larger and uglier than the failure in Algeria and Palestine. This time, the Brotherhood reached the presidency of the republic and the ministry, and they got the majority in the senate and Shura [consultative] councils, and despite all that they were removed from power by force.

Zawahiri then says the Brotherhood lost its way by immersing itself in a political fight instead of a religious war:

You have ignored two extremely dangerous matters in the conflict: The first is the creed-based nature of the conflict, and that it is a conflict between infidelity and faith, between surrendering to the rule of Allah, glorified be He, or giving it to someone other than Allah; it is not a conflict between political parties that are bound by the nationalist unity.

The second matter you ignored is the actual nature of the conflict. It is not a conflict between competing nationalist parties, but it is a conflict between Crusaderhood and Zionism on the one side and Islam on the other.

He then makes the appeal for members of the Brotherhood, and all Muslims, to abandon democracy and Western influence, and wage jihad. He even invokes the name of Hassan al Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood:

I do not say this to take pleasure in the misery of others, may Allah forbid it. But I am describing the disease to get to the description of the medicine. I call every honorable, loyal person who loves the victory of Islam to unify the words of the Muslims around the word of tawhid [monotheism]. I call upon all my brothers to shun all methods and ways that oppose the rule of Shariah, and to unite in a mass preaching and inciting movement so that Shariah is ruling and not ruled, commanding and not commanded, leading and not led, and that the Ummah rejects the surrender treaties and normalization with Israel, and the security arrangements with America and all the pictures of perversion from Islam and submission to its enemies.

I call the soldiers of the Qur’an to wage the battle of the Qur’an that the martyr Imam Hassan al- Banna had called for.

I will restate what I said on July 4, one day after the Egyptian coup:

The effects of the Egyptian coup may not be fully understood for years, but one thing seems clear: the event has provided al Qaeda and other jihadists with plenty of grist for the propaganda mill. It remains to be seen how effective this argument may be, but it is likely that some disaffected Muslim Brotherhood members will be swayed by these arguments.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • mike merlo says:

    unlike many in the West at least Zawahiri is consistent

  • Mr T says:

    Well Zawahiri, you keep ignoring the fact that your jihadis are not even coming close to establishing a caliphate using your method either. You keep getting your butt kicked everyday but I guess you don’t worry because your butt is not the one dying. You hide behind the women and children while sending many men to their death for your version of jihad. It doesn’t work either. It will never work. Give up your murderous ways and repent. Quit sending men to die for a cause that will never be achieved except in your own feeble little mind.

  • mike merlo says:

    @Mr T
    What makes you think Zawahiri is actually 100% serious about establishing a Caliphate? Because he & his comrades say so?

  • donowen says:

    Dr. Zawahiri is totally correct. Egypt did indeed prove they will never politically win long term. Militant/ radical Islam and the rest of the world have been in conflict for ~1200 years. They had good run for awhile (1100’s-1700’s) when East/ West technologies were very similar. Unfortunately for Dr. Zawahiri,the technology gap is increasing and al Qaeda’s natural desires to return to the 17th or 18th century do not help their cause. Aggressive Jihad is also not working. Indeed, with the wrong guy (e.g. wrong for Dr. Zawahiri) in the White House, who allows USA energy independence to occur, drone activity without regard to collateral damage (i.e., as we did in WWII bombing) and the immediate elimination of Saudi (some others as well) al Qaeda support money, the whole house of cards will collapse. Militant Islam will never be defeated because in reality it is the only Islam. However, it can be returned to its cicada-like cycle emerge of every 200-300 years- God willing or more appropriately “Insha’Allah”.

  • Joe M. says:

    Ayman Al Zawahiri has always chosen to hide behind others while calling on them to do the work and do the dying. He should come out of hiding and lead an attack to show others the perfect method for winning jihad. He should wear the suicide vest and carry the weapons and not send children to do that. He prefers to hide in safety and send others to attack Islamic weddings with bombs because he says they are not truly Islamic.

  • Raj says:

    @Donowen I take offense to your claim that “militant” islam is the only Islam when in reality this version being practiced by this CIA front organisation does not represent true Islam.
    Cutting of peoples heads or shooting them because they don’t follow your specific version of the faith is not what true islam is about you have the internet at your disposal yet you choose to make false allegations.
    These people spend most of their time drinking whisky and using drugs then when the cameras roll shout out “Allah hu Akbar” which is just an act there is more to making this one shout to being a Muslim please refrain from insulting the faith of 1.3 billion people just because 0.0001% of its “followers” choose to smile for the cameras

  • Isak A. Wøien says:

    They seem to forget that it took the western hemisphere approx. 2000 years to forge a functioning democracy, mostly of the peoples bloodshed, and their unbending will to freedom!
    Democracy is a continuous fight, never ending! But it is worth it!


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