Former U.S. Muslim Brotherhood Leader Confirms: The ‘Islamophobes’ Were Right All Along

News & Politics

For years, national security experts and freedom activists have sounded the alarm about Muslim Brotherhood activity in the United States, only to be tarred and dismissed as hysterical “hatemongers” and “Islamophobes.” Now, however, an internationally prominent former Brotherhood activist has confirmed the warnings. Is he, too, a “hatemonger” and “Islamophobe?”


In a June 6, 2024, interview, Sami al-Arian, a former Palestinian Islamic Jihad organizer, stated that “there was a Muslim Brotherhood movement in America… whose early beginnings were in the late 1960’s.” Asked if it was “registered officially,” al-Arian responded, “No, no. This turned into a problem later on.” Nevertheless, he said, “the Muslim Brotherhood movement existed in America. It consisted of people who were Muslim Brotherhood members in their countries and came to the U.S. to study, or people who studied there.”

Al-Arian was a part of it all: “I officially joined the movement… Ideologically, I considered myself part of this, but I officially joined in 1978.” He immediately encountered friction within the movement: “In 1978, there was a clear and major dispute in the organization, between people who settled in America and wanted to open the movement, and turn it into a local movement…They called it ‘localization of the dawa.’ They had a dispute with people who wanted to keep it clandestine.” 

Remember: organizations that are engaging in entirely legal and above-board activities have no need to be clandestine. The Brotherhood was thus not engaged in legal and above-board activities. Al-Arian makes this even clearer when he explains that those who favored making the U.S. Brotherhood “a public movement with the ‘localization of the dawa’” were those who were not planning to return to their home countries, while those who were planning to return wanted to keep the group undercover, so that they would not encounter trouble for having belonged to it when they returned to Muslim countries where the governments opposed the Brotherhood’s efforts to impose Sharia. 


Al-Arian states that those who favored “the localization” plotted a coup, but were foiled: “a Sudanese brother was coming [to America] and he was very familiar with professional unions. He foiled the coup and showed very impressive leadership skills so he was immediately elected to be the leader. He developed a major plan for the future. That was in 1979-1981. Under his leadership, the movement in America progressed significantly.”

All this comes from a man who was well situated to track the progress of the Brotherhood in the United States. Sami al-Arian was deeply involved in clandestine activities along with the Brotherhood: he was deported from the United States in 2015 after pleading guilty to a charge of “conspiracy to make or receive contributions of funds to or for the benefit of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Specially Designated Terrorist” organization. His description of the Brotherhood as initially a clandestine organization that developed a coherent program for the future in the late 1970s and early 1980s corresponds exactly to what counter-jihad organizations and individuals have been saying about it for decades.

The first indication of the activities of this clandestine Brotherhood organization came in September 2007, with the revelation during the Holy Land Foundation Hamas terrorism funding trial of a document dating from May 1991, “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Brotherhood in North America.” It stated that “The process of settlement is a ‘Civilization-Jihadist Process’ with all the word means. The Ikhwan [Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions” (p. 7).


The frankly subversive goals delineated in this document make it clear why many Brotherhood leaders wanted, as al-Arian explains, to keep the group “clandestine.” Also corresponding with al-Arian’s 2024 interview is the fact that this plan did not originate in 1991. In 2016, the Center for Security Policy published a “lecture by a top-level Muslim Brother before a closed Brotherhood audience [that] serves as an authoritative oral history of the Muslim Brotherhood and their efforts in the United States in their own words. The talk took place in Missouri in the early 1980s, yet it foreshadows issues mentioned in the Explanatory Memorandum almost a decade later – including references to the Brotherhood’s efforts to engage in ‘settlement,’ which the Memorandum will later come to define as a ‘Civilizational-jihadist’ process.” 

The Explanatory Memorandum, in fact, is further confirmed by al-Arian’s recent interview in that it discusses efforts at what al-Arian called “localization of the dawa” as well as subversive activity, and thus appears to have represented an attempt to heal the split in the U.S. Brotherhood between those who wanted to focus on proselytizing (dawa) and those who wanted to maintain an underground organization dedicated to destroying the nation. The Memorandum states, “we would like for the Islamic center to become ‘The House of Dawa’ and ‘the general center’ in deeds first before name” (p. 11). This would involve Islamic centers becoming “a place for study, family, battalion, course, seminar, visit, sport, school, social club, women gathering, kindergarten for male and female youngsters, the office of the domestic political resolution, and the center for distributing our newspapers, magazines, books and our audio and visual tapes” (emphasis added). 


      Related: Coptic Bishop Sounds a Warning for the West. But Will Anyone Heed?

Yet despite abundant evidence that the Explanatory Memorandum expressed the program of the Brotherhood, it became a new basis for wholesale defamation of foes of jihad violence and Sharia oppression in the U.S. The Huffington Post sneered in 2018 that “the Islamophobia network unfailingly refers to the memorandum as an official declaration of Muslim Brotherhood strategy. Frank Gaffney, head of the Center for Security Policy and perhaps the country’s most prominent Islamophobe, called it ‘the Muslim Brotherhood secret plan for taking down our country.’ Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, two other leading voices in the anti-Muslim chorus, have written that ‘the Brotherhood lays out a plan [in the document] to do nothing less than conquer and Islamize the United States.’”  

The Southern Poverty Law Center asserted that former FBI agent John Guandolo “claims that the foreign political group the Muslim Brotherhood is working to infiltrate and overthrow the U.S. government.” It likewise charged that Frank Gaffney was “gripped by paranoid fantasies of foreign entities such as the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrating and supplanting the U.S. from within.” It states that I myself am “a frequent guest on Gaffney’s ‘Secure Freedom Radio’ and ‘Securing America TV.’ Spencer appears frequently to swap conspiracy theories with Gaffney ranging from the Biden administration’s alleged efforts to criminalize dissent to the Muslim Brotherhood’s attempts to implement Sharia law in America.” The ADL likewise claims that “Gaffney has promulgated a number of anti-Muslim conspiracy theories over the years. Chief among them is the allegation that the U.S. government has been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood and that a number of political figures have actual ties to the group.”


Will the Huffington Post, the SPLC, and the ADL now take note of Sami al-Arian’s interview and apologize to those whom they smeared as “Islamophobes” for calling attention to the Muslim Brotherhood threat? It is much more likely that they will ignore what al-Arian has confirmed and continue their defamation. But al-Arian’s interview once again makes it clear, to any neutral observer, that these far-left entities have no credibility, and cannot be trusted. 

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