Saudi Arabia’s Council of Senior Scholars last week served a significant blow to Hamas when it declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group “that does not represent the conception of Islam.”
Hamas in the Gaza Strip is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Saudi clerics stated in a proclamation that “the Muslim Brotherhood is a group that has deviated from the path of Islam” and that provokes controversy in the Arab and Muslim world and uses methods of violence and terrorism.
“The Muslim Brotherhood does not operate for the religion and the Sunnah but for the government, and out of its womb came terrorists,” the statement said, warning of any contact with members of the extremist movement.
In response to the harsh words, the Muslim Brotherhood issued a statement rejecting the Saudi proclamation and emphasizing that “it is a reformist movement that works for correction and not for terrorism.”
It should be noted that in recent years, Saudi Arabia has worsened its attitude toward the Muslim Brotherhood, and especially Hamas. It arrested dozens of Hamas members in the kingdom last year, including Hamas’ most senior representative, on charges of financing terrorism. 14 of them will be tried in Saudi Arabia in the near future.
Meanwhile, in another move that harms the Muslim Brotherhood, the Austrian government has decided to confiscate 20 million euros in assets and cash from organizations affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
This move by the Austrians comes after a lengthy investigation, which proved a connection between the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorism. The investigation lasted more than a year and included tracking and documentation of meetings among the Muslim Brotherhood groups.
Austria recently raided 60 businesses and arrested 30 Brotherhood activists on terrorist charges.
A few months ago, Sudan’s security forces arrested a senior Hamas official and a member of the Intelligence Department in the “Construction Administration,” Ahab Muhammad Ramadan ‘Abd al-Rafor. It became apparent that Hamas has been working for the past two years to establish terrorist networks in Africa, and its activities were exposed after al-Rafor’s arrest.
He was run by senior members of the organization from Turkey and Beirut under the guise of activities for students, which he sent to locate Israeli targets in Africa. He has previously worked for Al Qaeda.
Sudan also recently arrested a cleric, a Gazan preacher who has lived there for about two years, for expressing support for the return of the Muslim Brotherhood under the leadership of General Omar Bashir.
It was recently reported that the Sudanese transitional government is considering closing down Hamas and Hezbollah offices in its territory, in order to leave the list US’ list of terror-supporting countries. Hamas and Hezbollah have a number of “political” offices in Sudan.
In 1982, Syria became the first country to declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.
In the summer of 2013, following the coup in Egypt, Muhammad Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, came to power. Then-Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted the Brotherhood government, imprisoned their senior officials and executed others.
Egypt subsequently declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, followed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain.
On the other hand, the “Brothers”, including Hamas, have enjoyed in recent years political and economic support from Turkey and Qatar.
Qatar has been home to senior members of the movement for several decades, led by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qardawi, now considered the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Emails from former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently revealed in the US showed warm ties between the US and the Brotherhood, even at the expense of moderate Arab states.
US journalists have also accused Muslim Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of supporting the movement.