Bill Roggio, writing yesterday about the death of a Jordanian al-Qaeda member in a U.S. airstrike in Pakistan, described the Muslim Brotherhood as a "gateway to al-Qaeda."
The Muslim Brotherhood advocates the imposition of Islamic State using political means. Disaffected members of the MB who think that method is too soft often join more radical groups, such as Hamas, al Qaeda, etc. The Egyptian Islamic Group broke off from the MB.
Statistically speaking, if the Brotherhood is a gateway to terrorism, it's a damn ineffective one. The Muslim Brotherhood has had millions of members throughout its history; only a small fraction of them joined radical groups.
And if we're using Roggio's analytical framework, I wonder if he would agree that the Catholic Church and the Republican Party are gateways to terrorism? They both advocate the abolition of abortion in the United States through political means. Disaffected members who think both groups are too soft occasionally resort to violence to further their aims.
That's an absurd line of thinking -- and not one I endorse. But it's really no different than Roggio's argument.
If you want to argue that the Muslim Brotherhood is an ideological predecessor to al-Qaeda, fine. You can draw a line from Sayyid Qutb's writings to modern-day salafi thought.
But it's ridiculous to call the Brotherhood a "gateway" to al-Qaeda. Every ideological movement has fringe elements. They will try to move the entire movement towards the extremes (see: Republican Party, circa 2009-2010). If they fail -- and they often do -- they break off and form splinter groups. You can't blame the original group for the actions of a few extremists.