September 13, 2021 Special Dispatch No. 9543

Arab Journalists, Columnists: Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood And Hizbullah Share A Similar Ideology

September 13, 2021
Lebanon | Special Dispatch No. 9543

Following the Taliban's recent rise to power in Afghanistan, articles in the Arab press, especially the Saudi and Emirati press, claimed that the Taliban shares many similarities with other extremist organizations in the Arab and Muslim world, including Al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), Hamas and Hizbullah. The articles claimed that the MB's ideology, shaped by its ideologue Sayyid Qutb and its founder Hassan Al-Banna, which involves directing accusations of heresy against all Muslims who are not MB members, gave rise to the ideologies of other extremist Islamist organizations that emerged in later periods. This includes Al-Qaeda, whose leaders Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri were influenced by the writings of Sayyid Qutb.

The articles claimed that it is therefore not surprising that branches of the MB in various countries hurried to congratulate the Taliban when it recently rose to power in Afghanistan, despite the historic hostility that prevails between the Taliban and the Afghan MB. They added that all these organizations are similar not only in their ideology but in their mode of operation: they purport to be devout and exploit the religion to deceive the peoples, they brandish false slogans in order to create a positive image in the eyes of the world, but after rising to power they adopt policies that are diametrically opposed to these slogans, and which promote only their own objectives.

Cartoon in Egyptian paper: "Remember the differences between the three: Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Taliban" (Al-Wafd, Egypt, August 24, 2021).

The following are translated excerpts from some of these articles: 

Emirati Writer: The Ideology Of The Muslim Brotherhood Inspired All The Islamist Terror Organizations

Emirati researcher and political analyst Dr. Salem Humaid argued in his August 29, 2021 column in the Al-Ittihad daily that many extremist Islamist organizations, including ISIS, Hamas the Houthis and Al-Qaeda, are ultimately rooted in and inspired by the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, and therefore it is not surprising that the MB in several Arab countries congratulated the Taliban on its rise to power in Afghanistan. He wrote: "The MB, ISIS, Hizbullah and many other organizations differ from one another in their source of authority, their goals and their policy. But one thing they have in common is their use of religion as a means to deceive the peoples. These organizations, which speak of returning to the shari'a, will [always] adapt it to their objective of controlling the mind of the man on the street.

"The influence of the MB on terrorist organizations that purport to be Islamic was considerable. The ideas of its ideologue Sayyid Qutb[1]  were a source of authority for many of these organizations. Qutb directed accusations of  heresy against [all] Muslims who disagreed with his approach and ideas or with his interpretation of religion, just like the leaders of the extremist organizations in many countries, and just like MB founder Hassan Al-Banna, who divided Muslims into two categories: the camp of the believers, which included [only] the MB, and the camp of falsehood, which included everybody else. This is precisely the position of all the other extremist organizations that accuse the other, [namely] anyone who differs from them, of heresy. Although they developed along different lines, the organizations of political Islam were influenced by each other's ideas, so much so that some say that the leaders of Al-Qaeda, such as Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri, regarded Qutb's writings as their source of authority.

"I say this because the MB in more than one Arab country welcomed the Taliban's rise to power [in Afghanistan] and its arrival in Kabul. The MB in Syria issued a statement congratulating the Taliban on what it termed 'the Afghanistan victory,'  calling it a real celebration for all honorable people. The MB in Gaza, known as Hamas, also congratulated the Taliban in a phone conversation between Hamas political bureau head Isma'il Haniya and his counterpart in the Taliban, Mullah 'Abd Al-Ghani Baradar. The MB in Egypt has courted the Taliban as well, because, after Turkey began preparing to expel [the Egyptian MB members] who had fled there, these [MB members] started to think of Afghanistan as a place to which they can flee and from which they can continue their policy of incitement.    

"In order to understand the broader picture, it is important to note that the MB in Afghanistan itself is now wooing the Taliban, for the MB [branch] there, [called] Al-Islah, welcomed the Taliban's rise to power, hoping to receive a piece of the Afghan [government] pie – especially since the Taliban, in its new guise, promised to share power with other elements. [But] will this come to be, given the problematic history between the two movements?...

"In short, despite the historic hostility between the MB and the Taliban, the MB in various countries hastened to court [the Taliban] after it took over the Afghan capital and rose to power [there], trying to open a new page in  the relations [between the two movements]. Messages of congratulations came from several countries where the MB is active, and even from countries where [its members] are staying in exile. But this is not unusual, in light of the MB's history, which is replete with opportunism and deception."[2] 

Saudi Writer: MB No Different Than Taliban, Hamas, Hizbullah; Has Perceptions In Common With Al-Qaeda

Saudi journalist Mashari Al-Dhaidi wrote in a similar vein in his September 3, 2021 column in the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily: "I asked a senior Arab security forces member who was more dangerous in his opinion, Al-Qaeda or ISIS, and he replied without hesitation: definitely Al-Qaeda. Why? Because it is more deeply committed to the great 'plan' of the MB. In this context, they say that Bin Laden himself is a protégé of the MB – as explained in detail by American researcher Lawrence Wright  in his well-known book The Looming Tower – and that most of Al-Qaeda's top leaders are basically products of the MB. We must also remember that Osama [Bin Laden] and his deputy [Ayman] Al-Zawahiri welcomed the MB's hijacking of the Arab Spring in 2011.

"In some ways Al-Qaeda is the executive arm of the MB, regardless of their mutual criticism… Al-Qaeda and the MB share certain perceptions regarding the nature of Islam, the Muslims and the world. Al-Qaeda [also has] ties with the Khomeinist Shi'ite movements of political Islam, ties that serve the shared interests and activity of both sides. And the same sort of relations also exist between the MB organizations and the Iranian Khomeinist regime and organizations subordinate to it in Iraq and Yemen.

"ISIS, for all its barbaric cruelty, does not have this [network of] ties and alliances. It hijacked the long-term plan of the MB, namely the plan of [establishing] a caliphate. We remember how prominent MB ideologue Yousuf Al-Qaradawi rebuked  ISIS for calling to establish a caliphate without consulting the [relevant] authority, meaning the MB, of course.

"In Afghanistan today we can discern no difference between the current version of the Taliban and the activity, language and spirit of the MB organizations, as they developed in the recent years – developed for the worse, of course. Nor is there any difference between [the Taliban] and the Palestinian Hamas or even the Lebanese Hizbullah in terms of their political cunning and the quality of their alliances. 

"The U.S. is now trying to explain that the root of the problem in Afghanistan is 'ISIS-Khorasan.' General Mark Alexander Milley, chairman of the [U.S.] Joint Chiefs of Staff, even said recently, when asked whether the U.S. would cooperate with the Taliban against ISIS-Khorasan, that it is a possibility![3]

"[But] nobody is talking about Al-Qaeda, even though it is now an ally of the Taliban. It was the first to congratulate the Talaba – as Osama Bin Laden used to call them – on their rise to power… Iran, too, continues to shelter and train the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda leadership. This is well known, and requires no elaboration.

"There is nothing new under the sun, except the fact that the clerics of [the Afghan provinces of] Kandahar and Helmand have become much better trained and much more proficient, militarily and politically. Good luck to Afghanistan and to everyone else."[4] 

Palestinian Writer On Saudi Website Elaph: Taliban, Hizbullah, Hamas, MB Sold False Slogans To The World And Exploited Their Positions In Power To Promote Their Agendas

Palestinian journalist Fadel Al-Munasifa, a regular contributor on the Saudi website, wrote on August 28 that the Taliban is similar in many ways to Hizbullah, Hamas and the MB: they all use false slogans to create a positive image for themselves in the world, but after they attain positions of power they adopt the opposite policy, which serves their agenda. He wrote: "…Although the Taliban is now trying to present a more moderate face [to the world], promising… to respect human rights and especially women's rights, in accordance with 'Islamic values'… the pictures coming out of Kabul – such imposing restrictions on Afghan women journalists and banning them from entering the media offices – completely contradict this promise. In addition, many hair salons have been closed down and billboards showing women have been destroyed.

"This is not surprising coming from the Taliban, for the statements it is [currently] making at gatherings are meant only for the short-term consumption of the media. We have not forgotten that, during their rule in 1996-2001, [the Taliban also] tried to market a positive image to the foreign media, as though it was interested in a moderate Islamic rule which is not at odds with the ways and customs of the land. But it soon imposed its strict version of the Islamic shari'a, which banned women from learning and working, forced them to wear a burka in public and  did not allow them to leave their homes without a [male] relative [acting as their] guardian. Floggings and executions took place in sports stadiums and public squares, including stoning [punishments] for adultery…

"There are points of similarity between the Taliban and its Arab equivalents, in terms of the way it rose to power. Hizbullah in Lebanon used many slogans for local consumption – including a promise to provide a dignified existence to the people of the south, as well as slogans of liberation and resistance – in order to gain  popular legitimacy and convey to the international community that it had not come to power by force but rather because the Lebanese people in the south had endorsed the idea of resistance. It also promised that its presence [in South Lebanon] was meant only to defend Lebanese soil [against Israel], and that it had no intention of fulfilling a regional role. But it was soon dragged into alliances with corrupt elements in the government, became mired in politics, far removed from the ideals it had initially declared, and acquired  significant weight in the Lebanese arena.

"Not far from Lebanon, the Hamas organization took over the political arena in Gaza, and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt [did the same], using religious discourse to promote political agendas [while championing] ideals of resistance, steadfastness, defeating the enemy and ruling wisely based on the principles of the shari'a. But the enchantment soon wore off, and it became clear that the methods used by these organizations to rise to power serve nobody but them."[5] 


[1] Egyptian author and Islamic scholar Sayyid Qutb was a leading member of the MB in the mid-20th century.

[2] Al-Ittihad (UAE), August 29, 2021.

[3] Milley said in a September 1, 2021 press conference that it is "possible" that the U.S. will coordinate with the Taliban in acting against ISIS-Khorasan. See, September 1, 2021.

[4] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), September 3, 2021.

[5], August 28, 2021.

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