In her new book, Souad Sbai warns the West about the red thread of jihad connecting Qatar and Turkey. And not even Italy can feel safe.
The threat of Islamist extremism does not affect the Middle East and the Gulf region alone. Over the last few decades, the influence of organizations and figures linked to the Muslim Brotherhood has increased in Europe as well, thanks to the financial and political support of Qatar and Erdogan’s Turkey. The journalist and writer Souad Sbai speaks about the so-called “Ikhwanis”, their objectives, and operational modalities in her new book, The Muslim Brotherhood and the Conquest of the West. From Istanbul to Doha, the Red Thread of Jihad (Curcio, 2018).
Former Member of Parliament, and a life devoted to the fight against extremism, Souad Sbai chairs the Association of Moroccan Women in Italy and the “Averroes” Study Center, which carries out research, formation, and information activities on crucial issues such as radicalization and terrorism. Because of the repeated threats she has received, Souad Sbai knows extremism and the Muslim Brotherhood very well. Nevertheless, she has never stopped denouncing the real intentions of this organization, and she has clearly exposed them in her work.
The book begins as a detective story, with the discovery, shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, of a programmatic document called the “Project” during a search in the Swiss home of an Egyptian banker. The man, considered a prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe, was under investigation on charges of being among Al Qaeda’s financiers. The document featured the guidelines for the conquest of the West, and we examine its contents in detail with Souad Sbai.
Who are those who would like to conquer the West?
The Muslim Brotherhood is the major Islamist transnational organization, in which the ideological roots of Al Qaeda, ISIS, and the entire galaxy of the contemporary jihadist extremism and terrorism are laid. Founded in the 1920s in Egypt by Hassan Al Banna, the Muslim Brotherhood has always had the Middle East as its main field of action. Today, however, its vast network is increasingly extended in the West as well.
How was this possible?
Following the directions of Al Banna and, subsequently, Sayyid Qutb, who was also an Egyptian, the “Ikhwanis” have put in place a long and patient work of penetration into the religious, social, cultural, political, and economic fabric of the countries of the Arab world. Maghreb, Mashrek, Gulf: the Muslim Brotherhood has gradually gained enough strength throughout the region to support their aspiration to seize power, with the goal to establish fundamentalist dictatorships as a platform for their expansion on a global level.
Is the “Arab Spring” also part of this scheme?
The uprisings that inappropriately went down in history as “Arab Spring” were the result of a plan specifically designed to bring the “Ikhwanis” to the government of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Syria, triggering a domino effect that was supposed to sweep across the entire Middle East.
To fulfill its ambitions of conquest, did the Muslim Brotherhood act alone?
No. The unholy alliance with Qatar and Turkey provided the financial drive, political legitimacy, and media coverage – just think of the role played by Al Jazeera – essential to ensure that any coup would have been regarded as a democratic revolution, especially in the West. The plan failed, but the ambitions of the Muslim Brotherhood and of the countries sponsoring it are still alive, both in the Middle East and in the West.
Why in the West?
The West refuses to recognize the true nature of the Muslim Brotherhood – which is anything but moderate, as the supporters of the organization in Europe and the United States are claiming – and continues to legitimize its representatives even in the institutional sphere. All this was foreseen by the “Project”, which is the proof of how the Muslim Brotherhood had a plan also for the West, and not only for the Arab world.
What are the contents of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “Project” for the West as described in your book?
The “Project” is a 14-page document that dates back to 1982, but after its discovery it has never been published. The Franco-Swiss journalist Sylvain Besson analyzed its contents in the book The Conquest of the West: The Secret Project of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the result of his investigative work published in 2005. Those contents are even more disturbing.
Because they correspond to what is happening today in Europe without the Muslim Brotherhood encountering any obstacle on their way. With articles, interviews, and conferences, I have been raising for years in Italy the same alarm launched by Besson. The idea of dedicating a new book to this subject comes from the need to keep the debate alive and to spread, among the public opinion and the community of experts, a greater awareness of the danger that the Muslim Brotherhood represents also in the West.
The “Project”, as we read in your book, is composed of 25 points…
The first part deals with organizational aspects, and provides the rules of conduct to be followed: create networks of “Ikhwanis”; maintain an appearance of moderation; infiltrate other Islamic organizations to realign them to the purposes of the “Project”; avoid open conflicts with the authorities of Western countries; use the “taqiyya”, or dissimulation, the mechanism by which it is licit to lie and behave in a Western manner until almost breaking the religious precepts for the superior purpose of deceiving “the unfaithful”.
Then, there is the operational phase. What is it about?
Collection of information and creation of databases; control of the media; establishment of think tanks and pressure groups; publication of university studies legitimizing the Muslim Brotherhood’s positions and its specific view of history. And again, to create social support networks – schools, hospitals, philanthropic organizations – in order to spread the Islamist vision, while infiltrating elements of the Muslim Brotherhood into the Western democratic institutions, parties, NGOs, and trade unions, so as to put them at the service of the Islamist cause.
Why does the “Project” have a long-term vision?
The goal is to carry the “Project” forward generation after generation, ensuring that Muslims living in the West will keep a constant jihadist mindset. The forging of alliances with progressive Western political forces is instrumental to the achievement of the goals of the “Project”. Thanks to these alliances, the approval of laws and the implementation of favorable measures can be attained. The “mainstream” and “politically correct” thinking of the European so-called elites is, therefore, of implicit support to the plans of conquest of the Muslim Brotherhood.
How does the Muslim Brotherhood operate in Italy?
More than one hundred associations refer to the “Ikhwanis” as their operational arm in Italy. They are very active in the social, welfare, youth, cultural, and political fields.
What is their aim?
To ensure that the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood establishes its hegemony over the Italian Muslim community, permeating the institutions and other key sectors to advance the Islamist agenda. These associations and their representatives have always refused to adhere explicitly to the principles of freedom, tolerance, and equality between men and women enshrined in the Italian Constitution. Nevertheless, they have benefited from the legitimation and support of political parties and cultural circles, which have enabled members of the organization to join the institutions, from the Parliament to the local authorities. In particular, the youth sector is a pool where the Italian left has not stopped recruiting ambiguous figures to launch as political-religious leaders, despite their ill-concealed affinity with extremism.
Can you give us some examples?
The Internet holds plenty of compromising material disclosing their “sympathy” for Hamas, the former Egyptian President Morsi, and the main living ideologists of the Muslim Brotherhood: Sheikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi, the notorious cleric and preacher tied to Qatar and Turkey, and leading face of Al Jazeera; Tariq Ramadan, who is the nephew – as chance would have it – of Hassan Al Banna, and is currently on trial in France for sexual violence.
In recent times, however, these associations and their representatives have shown themselves to be more favorable to the acceptance of the secular State. Is it correct?
It is only a deceptive opening. The goal is to exploit from within the wide room for maneuver offered by democracy and pluralism in order to carry on with the work of influencing the various centers of power, as per the guidelines of the “Project”. In reality, behind the veil of the “taqiyya”, the Muslim Brotherhood in Italy, as much as in the rest of Europe and throughout the West, firmly keep their typical radical and strongly identitarian standpoints, which are opposed to an authentic integration and continue to be conveyed by self-styled imams in many places of worship and prayer centers tied to the organization. These places are not officially recognized by the state, and proselytism activities are conducted inside their walls. These activities are mainly funded by Qatar, and they are meant to generate terrorism.
Is this the red thread of jihad you described in your book? The thread that starts in Doha and leads to Istanbul?
Qatar, dominated by the Al Thani family, and Erdogan’s Turkey sought to get their hands on the Middle East by using the Muslim Brotherhood as a picklock. This is the essence of the “Arab Spring”. The thread connects the various areas in which Doha and Istanbul, the true capital of Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman Turkey, have operated since 2011, by supporting terrorist organizations such as ISIS and Al Qaeda, militias and armed groups of all sorts, as well as political parties and movements tied to the “Ikhwanis”. They are all pawns in the great game for the conquest of the throne of new Sultan of the Arab-Muslim world: a throne shared between the Al Thani family and Erdogan, with the Muslim Brotherhood managing the new Caliphate.
The plan, however, eventually failed, don’t you think?
Yes, the plan failed, but the ambitions remain the same and are giving rise to new schemes and dynamics also involving Iran, with which a growing geopolitical realignment is underway. This realignment has a solid base in the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Khomeinist regime is the Shiite version thereof. The Arab Quartet against terrorism, including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt, is making major efforts in the attempt to cut the red thread of jihad. This thread is red like the blood of the victims that it has caused so far, and now binds together Doha, Istanbul, and Tehran in the new “pole” of global Islamism.
Why does the West continue to ignore the calls of the Quartet?
The Quartet has been enforcing against Qatar an air, land, and sea blockade for over a year. However, instead of contributing to the isolation of Qatar, the West keeps its eyes shut, and prefers to yield to the flattery of the economic and financial “investments” by Doha’s regime. Especially in Europe, Qatar is buying everything and everyone in return for silence on its policies aimed at destabilizing the Middle East and supporting terrorism, and in return for indifference towards the violations of human rights feeding the organizing machine of the 2022 World Cup. From this point of view, Italy is a case in point.
The recent visit of the Emir of Qatar to Italy has stirred much controversy. Why do you define the relations between Italy and Qatar as “dangerous”?
They are dangerous because the “sweet” colonization to which Qatar is submitting Italy – with the complacency of its ruling class – will produce bitter fruits for the country. Doing business while leaving the field to the extremism propagated by the Muslim Brotherhood with Qatar’s financial backing is certainly not a good deal. The growth of the Muslim Brotherhood’s proselytism activities has been prompting the escalation of the terrorist threat in Italy, as shown by wave of arrests, expulsions, and foiled attacks across the entire country occurred during this year.
It is legitimate, therefore, to wonder how long the security forces will be able to prevent what is happening in France.
The attack in Strasbourg, the latest in a long series, highlights the increasing difficulties of the security forces in containing the terrorist threat. Probably, Paris is also paying for the support provided to the moderate Arab world, while Italy seems to have passively accepted the “submission” denounced by the French author Michel Houllebecq. In this scenario, my new book is not only an indictment, but also an instrument to awaken the conscience of the Italian and European peoples, so that they come to reject the Islamist yoke, gaining a full awareness of Qatar’s intention: namely to reduce Europe to a vassal state, supporting the implementation of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “Project” of conquest.