The Muslim Brotherhood, an Egypt-based Sunni Islamist organization, remains a problem in the U.K., where members of the group receive funds by Qatar, a British army veteran has alleged.
Tim Collins, a retired British Army colonel who famously served in the Iraq war, said the group’s ideology is contrary to British democratic principles and poses a threat to U.K. society.
“[The Muslim Brotherhood] has been a problem and continues to be a problem in the United Kingdom and we need to challenge it—and indeed it is challenging our response to terrorism,” he told Arab News.
“In fairness to Turkey they are not actively promoting it in this country. I understand why they would have a close relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood given the nature of Turkish politics, but the Qataris are actively funding this, what do they think they are doing?”
Collins, who now runs a private intelligence-base security service company, said “I believe they are a terrorist organization.”
What is the Muslim Brotherhood?
Muslim Brotherhood originated in Egypt in 1928 and advocates for the Koran as the only reference to rule a state. The group gained prominence following a wave of pro-democracy unrest across the Middle East, known as the Arab Spring, that began in 2011.
Following the fall of then president Hosni Mubarak, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi became Egypt’s first democratically elected president in 2012. However, he was ousted in 2013 and replaced by a military government led by current President Abdel Fattah el-Sis, who is still the country’ s president.
“The Brotherhood is one of the biggest religious movements with huge overt political appetite and a long term agenda to infiltrate every democratic system with the aim of implanting its Sharia-based agenda,” counter-terrorism David Otto told Newsweek.
“The brotherhood was an ‘ISIS that had made it’, as the sect resorted to promoting Islam from a ‘Koranic perspective’ without a contextual analysis in time and circumstantial differences.”
Muslim Brotherhood is today regarded as a terrorist organization by several countries, including Russia, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. The U.K. ordered an investigation—led by Britain’s former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sir John Jenkins—into the extent of the group’s influence on British soil in 2014.
The report by the Jenkins Commission did not label Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization itself, but called for a greater monitoring of the group and its affiliates. In response, Muslim Brotherhood said it would legally challenge the report, according to the Guardian.
“Muslim Brotherhood promotes everything that is against British values of free speech, association and tolerance,” Otto said.
“Influential Muslim Brotherhood movements in the U.K. advocate the use of Jihad through political activism. The danger is that that these groups receive huge amount of funding from local and international donors in the name of Islamic charity work.”
Qatar’s alleged links
Qatar has been long accused of sponsoring terrorism, a claim Doha has strongly denied.
The country is facing increasing isolation by other Gulf countries, which cut diplomatic and trade ties with Doha last year, amid accusations the country threatens political stability in the area.
“Qatar has always insisted that it does not fund terrorism but it funds humanitarian and charity work overseas,” Otto said.
“The problem is that Qatar does not have the capability, and refuses to take responsibility, to ensure that these charitable funds are not used or channeled to extremist organisations affiliated to Muslim Brotherhood or other radical Islamic sects.”
Qatar has also faced criticism for its alleged support of rebel groups involved in the war in Syria, and its ties with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival.
In July, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt issued Qatar with 13 demands it had to meet to end its isolation.
The demands included closing state-funded news outlet Al-Jazeera and reducing ties with Muslim Brotherhood.
According to some analysts, Al-Jazeera represents “a thorn” for some countries in the Middle East as it has interviewed opposition elements and given a platform to Muslim Brotherhood.
Doha claims it has been targeted by a media campaign that aims to smear the country’s reputation. It said the 13 demands it was asked to meet were not actionable and some of them violated the country’s sovereignty.
David Otto Institutional Representative of SECINDEF (Security Intelligence and Defense) Israel-USA International Consulting Counterterrorism in the United Kingdom and collaborating analyst of OCATRY (Observatory against the Terrorist Threat and the Jihadist Radicalization) David Otto is the Director of TGS Intelligence Consultants Ltd and the Preventing Radicalisation and Violent Extremism Programme – Step In Step Out (SISO) – based in the United Kingdom. He is also Senior Counter Terrorism Advisor for Global Risk International.