It is hard to envisage that the Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper truly believes that the Muslim Brotherhood is mainly “secular” if not for the influence the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) is under from either naive officials or officials with a specific agenda to appease.
Many of us who follow Middle East politics have been accustomed, ever since a new US administration ascended to power, to illogical decisions mostly based on naive thinking. But what makes Clapper’s remarks dangerous is that it adds a new twist to the melodrama of watching appeasers at work: It has shown, possibly, how much influence the Islamists may have come to exert on the Obama team.
There are three ways to get to know the Muslim brotherhood.
The first is to read books about them, which most avid readers tend to do for lack of any other mean. What one reads frames one’s understanding. Tarek Heggy’s piece probably frames it as well as any I have read lately.
The second is to have someone tell you what the Muslim BrotherhoodÂ is all about. Again, if the storyteller is informed and harbors no agenda, one may get a reasonably well-framed understanding of the organization; but if the storyteller is a Muslim Brotherhood member with an agenda, then we have a “Houston, we have a problem” moment. Sorting it out is not that difficult if the listener is also attentive to other reasonable arguments and does not rush to judgments by making oxymoronic statements on national TV (i.e. Muslim and secular).
The third and most important one, I believe, is to actually deal with the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, as I have, over a period of five years starting in late 2003. If you combine some of what you know about body language, eye movement, choice of words uttered, and manipulation for a certain outcome using what everÂ means available to you, then you really get to know the Muslim Brotherhood.
If you can imagine what an inverted onion looks like with its sweet interior on the outside and the decrepit skin on the inside, then it is a good start.
The faces leading the organization of the Muslim Brotherhood are educated, soft-spoken, congenial, well-spoken, and have the gift of projecting a favorable image of the organization. They represent the Sweet Exterior or the leadership. You see them on TV, you see them meeting with officials, and you see them man the phones, the emails, and the campaign in pursuit of their goals.
The Sweet Exterior are hand-picked to play that role by the Tough Layer, which has the intellect, the dexterity, and the rigidity required to manage both the Sweet Exterior and the Decrepit Skin that exists at the bottom.Â The Tough Layer is acclimated to adversity, and most often stays behind the scene creating opportunities and possibilities for the leadership to gain more ground, more followers, and more supporters. They are also dangerous because they are the link to the Decrepit Skin of the onion.
The Decrepit Skin, using information relayed to me by individuals in the Syrian opposition I spoke to who were members of the MB, is where the danger lies. These are the ultra extremists who fund, direct, and promote violence in the name of religion. Totally secretive and hidden from the public, they play an essential role in keeping the MB afloat and maintaining a grip unto its ultimate goals of creating one earth all populated by Muslims. Think one kind of fruit tree on earth yielding just apples.
So when Mr. Clapper says the MB is mainly “secular”, I cannot but think how far we have to go to educate those officials before they realize the folly of their actions.
To a Syrian who wants to see Syria prosper by separating religion from politics, nothing is more dangerous than to allow the MB to take command of our country. Anyone has the right to free speech and free association; with the MB, those are the tools to muffled speech and one fruit tree.
This is a superb article. Well done Farid.