The inter-relational dynamics between separate Sunni Muslim groups is very difficult for westerners to understand. Consider the relationship between ISIS and Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi. When ISIS front man Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared himself Caliph of an Islamic State, al-Qaradawi denounced him; ISIS then denounced the Muslim Brotherhood, as Shoebat.com reported.
Yet, the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria is reportedly standing by ISIS:
A Syrian Muslim Brotherhood spokesman says attacks on the Islamic State by the United States and its allies are not the answer.
“Our battle with ISIS is an intellectual battle,” Omar Mushaweh said in a statement published Sept. 9 on the Syrian Brotherhood’s official website, “and we wish that some of its members get back to their sanity, we really distinguish between those in ISIS who are lured and brainwashed and they might go back to the path of righteous, and between those who has foreign agendas and try to pervert the way of the [Syrian] revolution.”
Rather, the first target for any Western intervention should be dictator Bashar al-Assad’s regime, Mushaweh asserts, according to a translation of his comments by the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
Such comments should reinforce Western concerns about the Syrian Brotherhood, whose members are prominent among the Free Syrian Army (FSA), one of the supposedly moderate factions in the Syrian civil war which receive U.S. training and weapons. And it shows the challenge of finding truly moderate allies on the ground in Syria. Compared to ISIS, the FSA might be considered moderate. Then again, ISIS was so ruthlessly violent that al-Qaida disavowed the group in February.
In addition, the Syrian Brotherhood openly mourned the death last week of a commander in Ahrar Al Asham, a Syrian faction with ties to al-Qaida.
The duel between al-Qaradawi and al-Baghdadi has primarily been about turf, means, timing, and size of a caliphate. Al-Qaradawi has a much larger vision – an Ottoman caliphate.
Speaking of al-Qaradawi, he doesn’t support U.S. military action against ISIS, which indicates that he too is more concerned with removing Assad:
Yusuf Al Qaradawi, an influential Brotherhood cleric living in Qatar, joined in criticizing the American military campaign against ISIS. “I totally disagree with [ISIS] ideology and means,” he wrote on Twitter, “but I don’t at all accept that the one to fight it is America, which does not act in the name of Islam but rather in its own interests, even if blood is shed.”
While both are Sunni Muslim movements, each seeking to establish a global Islamic Caliphate, ISIS views the Brotherhood as too passive, while the Brotherhood sees ISIS as being unnecessarily violent in pursuing its aims.
The nexus between the larger Muslim Brotherhood, its Syrian branch, and groups connected to it in the U.S. seems to come together at the notorious Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, VA. Last year, as IPT points out, a man who spoke there last year – Hassan Al Hashimi – mourned a man with very close connections to al-Qaeda.