US Intelligence Largely Unaware of Truth about the Muslim Brotherhood

US Intelligence Largely Unaware of Truth about the Muslim Brotherhood

Concerned about a potentially volatile Middle East, the US’s top intelligence officer James Clapper was forced last week to clarify a statement he made about Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, as the previous week he said the Muslim Brotherhood was a "secular" group. This week he noted that it sought to ‘work within secular political systems’.

In his opening statement to Congress, Clapper stated that the group itself is not secular. Questions poured in to which Clapper answered with uncertainty, as doubts were raised concerning the role of the Brotherhood with regard to the Middle East process, ties to Iran and smuggling of weapons into Gaza.

According to Clapper’s assessment, the Brotherhood is not in favor of a peace treaty, adding that it remains to be seen how the group will deal with Iran and he surmised they supported bringing weapons into Gaza.

The question about the role of the social media in monitoring the Muslim Brotherhood was also discussed with discussion on challenges of how to sift through and determine trends in twitter, Facebook, Youtube and various websites. With the massive amount of information, Congress questioned whether the intelligence community was adequately following clues in social media in the lead up to the uprisings.

The Muslim Brotherhood was the largest and most organized opposition movement in Egypt during the Mubarak era and despite many obstacles being put in their way by the Mubarak regime, Brotherhood candidates ran as independents in the 2005 election winning 88 of 444 parliamentary seats.

The Muslim Brotherhood has exerted great effort to promote democracy and supported the 2011 Egyptian Revolution calling for peace, unity and a peaceful transfer of power to a civil government. The Brotherhood has also reiterated that it does not intend to field a candidate for president of Egypt. It has also made public statements to dispel fears that it would push for an Islamic state in a post-Mubarak era.