PFI threat: Why India should not underestimate Muslim Brotherhood's tentacles

The government of India cannot afford to remain indifferent to the grave danger PFI poses to national security

Zahack Tanvir July 19, 2022 20:17:07 IST
PFI threat: Why India should not underestimate Muslim Brotherhood's tentacles

The Kerala government in 2012 claimed that PFI was ‘nothing but a resurrection of the banned outfit SIMI in another form’. PTI

Last week, Bihar Police exposed a hideous agenda of the Islamist organisation, Popular Front of India (PFI), which pledges to convert India into an Islamic State by the year 2047 which marks 100 years of India's Independence.

The explosive document, ‘India-2047 towards the rule of Islam in India’, which is meant ‘not for circulation’, speaks in a clear-cut tone to the PFI members — about how they can “subjugate the coward Hindu community and bring the lost glory of Islamic rule back to India”.

I won’t be going into the particulars of the document — as it's already available on the internet. However, I would like to bring up some of the shocking aspects about the PFI's Muslim Brotherhood methodology and its deceptive shades in India, the exploitation of victim mentality, PFI's 'Bayyah' system that is similar to Al-Qaeda and ISIS, its recruitment and working pattern, and the countries that financially and ideologically support PFI.

Moreover, India should not be overlooking these dangers, as its Arab counterparts namely Egypt, Libya, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen have already faced the colossal damage when they underrated the Muslim Brotherhood's anarchist policies. Later, they had to use brute force to outlaw the group including its literature, its influence in schools, universities, Islamic seminaries, TV programmes, charity organisations, and other public spheres. 

PFI threat Why India should not underestimate Muslim Brotherhoods tentacles

Members of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood in Amman, Jordan on 31 July, 2015. AFP

Muslim Brotherhood and its infiltration in India

The story started when the Ottoman Empire collapsed and was officially abolished in 1922. Most Muslims who lived under the British and French colonial powers started adopting Western systems, while turning their backs to their ancestral and cultural practices.

In 1928, Hassan al-Banna, who was a Sufi preacher in the Islamia region of Egypt, established an organisation called as ‘Jamia Hasafia al-Khairiyyah’ with the sole aim to restore the Caliphate. He deemed the sole purpose of Muslim’s existence is to establish ‘Khilafah’ or Caliphate, and to rebel against the non-Islamic or non-divine systems — this is contrary to the traditional Muslim belief which states that one's existence is to establish ‘Tawheed’, not rebelling against the governments for the sake of Caliphate.

PFI threat Why India should not underestimate Muslim Brotherhoods tentacles

Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. Wikimedia Commons

However, Banna’s group didn’t appeal much to the Shiites and Salafi Muslims, as the name had a Sufi connotation. So he changed the name of the organisation to ‘Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimeen’ — The Muslim Brotherhood.

The organisation gained fame and followers in Egypt — and it spawned into various groups. However, in 1949, Hassan al-Banna was killed in retaliation to the assassination of the then ruler, Mahmood Nokrashy Pasha.

Syed Qutb took control of the organisation, and became the chief ideologue. Qutb was a dangerous cocktail of India’s Syed Abul Ala-Maududi and Iran’s Nawab Safavi of Fidayeen Islam — as assassin cult infamous for murdering political leaders. Later Qutb became a source of inspiration for Khomeini to carry out the 1979-Iranian revolution against the Pahlavi family.

PFI threat Why India should not underestimate Muslim Brotherhoods tentacles

Sayed Qutb in court in 1966. AFP

Syed Qutb’s exegesis of the Quran, known as ‘Under the Shade of Quran’, and his literature became the most primary source of the roadmap for the formation of Al-Qaeda and later ISIS.

Most of the Western political scientists have wrongly accused Salafism and Mohammed bin Abdulwahab for promoting the radical version of Islam. While the matter of fact is the hands behind the curtain who pulled the strings are Muslim Brotherhood, Banna, Maududi, and Syed Qutb.

Osama bin Laden’s mother Hamida al-Attas talked about how Muslim Brotherhood recruited her son when he was studying at the King Abdul-Aziz University in Jeddah, specifically by Palestinian Brotherhood member Abdullah Azzam.

Current Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri is a former Muslim Brotherhood chief.

All terrorist and Islamist groups, whether white-collar or radical, derive their source of guidance from Muslim Brotherhood.

Talking about the Indian context, it is no way different from the Western political theatres.

Lorenzo Vidino wrote a detailed analysis piece for Hudson Institute — ‘The Rise of Woke Islamism in the West’ — wherein he argued and proved the deep collaboration between the communists and the Islamists.

Vidino highlighted the influence of India’s Jamaat-e-Islami and Turkey’s Millî Görüş in formulating the core Islamist ideology that connects the Left and Islamists under one umbrella.

Whether it is India or Europe, whether it is the Arab world or the United States, the Brotherhood members have almost infiltrated the educational institutions, universities, media, charity organisations, and the religious schools.

Jassim Mohamad Bonn, who is the Head of the European Centre for Counterterrorism and Intelligence Studies, quoted German Intelligence BfV that warned Berlin about how the “Muslim Brotherhood are concentrating on infiltrating institutions such as universities”.

Interestingly, most anti-state protests painted as a religious cause are mostly carried out through universities in India. Then all the media personalities launch a Twitter barrage to amplify the protests. All this doesn’t happen without the collaboration of Brotherhood and the wokes.

Further, Muslim Brotherhood mainly employs victim cards to gather support. Religion Card, Palestine Card, Blasphemy Card, West Card, Jihad Card, Islamophobia Card, Hijab Card, Muslim Victimhood Card, Martyrdom Card, Ummah Card, etc, are some of the causes mostly exploited for political reasons. 

PFI's Working Pattern and Muslim Brotherhood

Not to forget, Syed Abul-Ala Maududi, one of the radicals who inspired Syed Qutb, was from pre-Partition India, He later migrated to Pakistan purposefully. Moreover, his organisation Jamaat-e-Islami has been proactive in various socio-political activities in India and Pakistan.

PFI threat Why India should not underestimate Muslim Brotherhoods tentacles

File image of Syed Abul-Ala Maududi. Twitter/ @syedurahman

Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) which used to be a militant group was initially part of Jamaat-e-Islami, however they had disagreements with senior JI members over Palestine’s Yasser Arafat and PLO.

SIMI grew as an extreme and radical face of JI — which the seniors saw the transition as being ‘too outspoken’.

The Indian government banned SIMI in September 2001, shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Later, in 2006, Kerala-based National Development Front (NDF) was merged with Karnataka Forum For Dignity (KFD), giving birth to PFI.

PFI threat Why India should not underestimate Muslim Brotherhoods tentacles

Popular Front of India flags. PTI File

In fact, the Kerala government in 2012 claimed that PFI was “nothing but a resurrection of the banned outfit SIMI in another form”.

PFI’s women’s wing is National Women’s Front (NWF). Its campus wing is Campus Front of India (CFI), and its political wing is Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI).

Additional wings are Imams’ wing, known as All India Imams Council (AIIC), and lawyers’ wing as National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (NCHRO).

PFI’s operational style is: It has at least two to three units at the grassroots level, which report to an Area, Areas report to a Division, while Divisions reports to the District level. Districts report to a level known as the State Executive Council; multiple SECs report to the National Executive Council (NEC). Moreover, they refer to the chief as National Chairman, not President.

The new recruits at Level-1 are brainwashed emotionally, mostly through sensitive communal issues. The visuals and footage of the conflict zones like Palestine, Gaza, Kashmir, etc, are used to create a sense of grievances and responsibility in order to stand up for the 'Ummah'.

At Level-2, the recruits are taught Islamic history interpreted by the Muslim Brotherhood ideologues.

At Level-3, they are brainwashed into believing that only PFI can provide solution to all the challenges the Muslim community is facing.

Finally, at Level-4, the members are fully enrolled into the organisation, where they are obliged to give ‘Bayyah’ to the chief by keeping their hands on their chests. I will address this Bayyah issue in the later stage.

Most of the PFI meetings are clandestine, with no permission to carry cell-phones or to record any kind of conversation.

Let’s now talk about PFI’s Hamas methodology.

Hamas is the militant wing of the Muslim Brotherhood organisation, which was preceded by Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood. In 2012, Hamas headquarters subsequently moved to Doha, Qatar.

PFI threat Why India should not underestimate Muslim Brotherhoods tentacles

Members of the Ezz-Al Din Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Hamas movement, parade in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip in May 2021. AFP

Germany’s Arndt Emmerich, who is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Max Weber Institute for Sociology at the University of Heidelberg, wrote about PFI’s core inspiration.

In his book, Islamic Movements in India (Chapter: ‘Islamic Pragmatism and Legal Education’, page-153), he stated, “The PFI chairman advised me to study ‘what kind of Islam has influenced our movement: Why are we not like the Tablighi Jamaat or the Salafis? We are more like Hamas, a religiously inspired community organization’.

PFI threat Why India should not underestimate Muslim Brotherhoods tentacles

Hamas supporters in Gaza City in April 2021. AP

Moreover, PFI’s India-2047 document page-4 talks about “use violence selectively to demonstrate our strength and terrorise our opponents, while limiting exposure of our trained cadres to security forces. From all the cadres who are being given PE, those with talent are to be spotted and recruited to be given advanced training on weapons including firearms and explosives”.

Secret training of arms and explosives, and to use them against the adversaries to demonstrate the strength and to engage them into a futile war to exhaust the opponent’s resources and military might — these have also been one of the strategies of Hamas. Interestingly, ISIS boasted the same strategy in its Dabiq magazine in 2015. 

PFI's 'Bayyah' or Pledge of Allegiance System like that of ISIS and Qaeda

As I mentioned earlier, PFI has a cultist ‘Bayyah’ system like that of ISIS and Al-Qaeda, where the recruits after reaching the Level-4 have to take the pledge of allegiance to the PFI chief.

This piece of private information became known after I personally interacted with the former.

In the Islamic jurisprudence, Bayyah is called as the pledge of allegiance, which was historically given to Prophet Mohammed, and later to his companions to stay united and rally behind the one true leader —during the national crisis. It is usually given to the King, Crown Prince, Military leader or decision maker.

PFI leaders —accused of criminal activities like money laundering, inciting communal sentiments leading to murdering of innocents—cannot be counted in the reliable and sound category, which could be trusted by the Muslims to give the pledge.

Moreover, traditional Muslim scholar like Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan called all such Bayyahs as “innovated and self-motivated, and among the causes of division”. According to his verdict in Al-Munataqa Min Fatawa Al-Shaykh Saalih Al-Fawzaan 1/367: “The Muslims who are living in one country or one kingdom should have one allegiance to one leader; it is not permissible to have several kinds of Bayyah.”

Technically, pledge of allegiance is given to the leader of the country like the Prime Minister or President, not to the leaders of self-proclaimed cults.

In fact, the primary reason for the public schism of Al-Qaeda and ISIS was Bayyah. Al-Qaeda members already chose a leader and gave him Bayyah, while ISIS annulled Al-Qaeda's Bayyah and chose Abu Bakr Baghdadi as their chief. 

Countries who support PFI

John Rossomondo in his detailed analysis of Muslim Brotherhood in his book The Arab Spring Ruse: How Muslim Brotherhood Duped Washington has always highlighted the role of two countries — Qatar and Turkey — as the chief financiers of Muslim Brotherhood.

Interestingly, PFI’s India-2047 document, page-7, stated, “In the last few years, PFI has developed friendly relationship with Turkey, a flag-bearer of Islam. Efforts are on to cultivate reliable friendship in some other Islamic countries”.

On 20 October 2018, two key PFI leaders EM Abdul Rahiman and Professor PKoya met Turkish charity organisation İnsani Yardım Vakfı’s (IHH) Vice President Hüseyin Oru, the meeting was also attended by IHH Secretary-General Durmuş Aydın.

According to The Investigative Project on Terrorism in the Middle East Forum, IHH has helped fund the Hamas military wing, which used the money to buy weapons and build training facilities.

According to Abhinav Pandya, a Cornell University graduate in public affairs, and a policy analyst specialising in counterterrorism: “Erdogan has good reason to invest in Indian Muslims. Support from the world’s third largest Muslim population would be a welcome boost to Erdogan’s claim to be the modern-day leader of the Muslim world.”

Turkey also plays a key-role in spreading the Kashmir conflict. According to a report published by Hindustan Times, on 18 September 2020, titled 'Intel agencies to probe new Turkish NGO outreach in Kashmir'. It says that Indian intelligence agencies started running security checks on Turkey-linked charities that have suddenly become active in Jammu and Kashmir".

Hence, it is no secret that Turkey has played a key role in backing PFI — at least ideologically. 

How to contain PFI and other strains of Muslim Brotherhood

Banning would bring a heavy impact against PFI. However, it may rise again under a different banner and different name with the same Muslim Brotherhood ideology.

An ideological warfare has to take place against Muslim Brotherhood and all its strains.

A counter-narrative influence through conferences, seminars, TV news-debates, Friday sermons, books and flyers, etc, can serve as a best means to tackle the Brotherhood influence.

For instance, a counter-extremism conference was held at a hockey ground in Hyderabad on 8 May 2022, where scholars from the Muslim community publicly named and warned against the Muslim Brotherhood and PFI. It faced a heavy backlash from PFI, but it served the purpose. 

Mistakes to avoid

There is chalk and cheese difference between Muslims and Islamists, Islam and Islamism. The difference is often miscalculated. Islam is a religion with spiritual values, like Oneness of God, prayers, fasting, charity, Haj, etc. Islamism is a divisive political ideology that uses Islam as a tool for political purposes.

If Camp-A belongs to Muslims, Camp-B belongs to Islamists. Islamists are not in majority. Since they hold key positions in the media and public outreach, they are quick in hijacking the issues of Muslims, or sometimes they create issues to keep the vulture activism alive.

In case Islam as a religion or Muslims in general come under public criticism, Islamists gain the upper hand in pulling them from Camp-A to Camp-B.

The cynical language and the eccentric attitude of far-Right or far-Left groups spoil the broth. Islamists enjoy such opportunities to justify their existence.

The complicated and tough battle against the diabolical political ideology, requires the support of Camp-A. This continuous struggle requires alliances, not foes.

Zahack Tanvir is a Saudi-based Indian national. He is Director of Milli Chronicle Media London. He holds a PG-Diploma in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI-ML) from IIIT. He did a certificate programme in Counterterrorism from the University of Leiden, Netherlands. He tweets under @ZahackTanvir. Views expressed are personal.

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