TRENDS Research and Advisory has published the third issue of its “Political Islam Trends” titled “The Danger of the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe: Infiltration Strategy, Funding Tools and Countermeasures”
The study reveals that the efforts of the Muslim Brotherhood to infiltrate European societies are based on a well calculated strategy which relies on a variety of tools, including religion, media, digital platforms, and electronic applications. It explains that the Muslim Brotherhood funds their activities in Europe through a number of sources, some of which are legal and others illegal, such as money laundering, and currency trading, whose sources are difficult to trace.
The study shows that Turkey plays a significant role in supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in the various European countries with a view to using the group to serve its own interests. The rise of the Justice and Development Party to power in 2002 has turned Turkey into a base for the group to infiltrate Europe.
It indicates that with the growing manifestations of extremism and terrorism in Europe and the increasing scrutinization of the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities, Europe has acted against the group in what could be described as a “European uprising”. Some European countries have taken a number of measures to tighten controls on the group’s activities and its affiliated institutions. However, these measures have been taken individually, not as a concerted European move, which renders them less effective, and none of the countries has banned the group completely
The study reveals that the Muslim Brotherhood employs many of its affiliated Islamic councils in various European countries to spread its ideologies among European Muslim communities. In the Britain, for example, there are a number of Islamic councils which are affiliated or linked to the group, such as the European Council for Fatwa and Research and the Muslim Council of Britain. In addition, there more than 500 Islamic bodies in Britain which have undeclared links to the Muslim Brotherhood.
It explores the sources of funding of the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe, which include banks, capital investment companies of Islamic nature, investment in so-called “halal trade”, financial donations from charitable institutions, and financial offshore companies operating in islands close to Europe.
The study mentions that it is only recently that the European countries have understood the danger of the Muslim Brotherhood when they began to suffer the consequences of the wave of extremism and terrorism fueled by political Islam in general and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular. This late realization of the Muslim Brotherhood’s threat can be attributed to main factors: the first factor is related to the policy of Taqiya (dissimilation) pursued by the group, which is one of the most important strengths its project and a key tool to infiltrate societies. The second factor is the lack of direct evidence at the beginning that link the Muslim Brotherhood to the violent and terrorist incidents witnessed by the European societies in the past. There are also views that portray the group as a moderate political current as opposed to the more extremist groups.
In its recommendations, the study stresses the need to curtail the Muslim Brotherhood’s infiltration in Europe; politically, economically, educationally and culturally. This can be done by confronting the group’s discourse in Europe intellectually; deconstructing and criticizing the sympathetic discourse with the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe; cracking down and drying up the group’s sources of funding, especially given that the group relies on its projects and investments there in halal trade to secure sufficient funding for expand its ideological and political project.