(Politico) — During a House Intelligence Committee hearing Thursday, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called Egypt’s branch of the Muslim Brotherhood movement “largely secular.”
In response to questioning from Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.) about the threat posed by the group, Clapper suggested that the Egyptian part of the Brotherhood is not particularly extreme and that the broader international movement is hard to generalize about.
“The term ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ . . . is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam,” Clapper said. “They have pursued social ends, a betterment of the political order in Egypt, et cetera. . . . In other countries, there are also chapters or franchises of the Muslim Brotherhood, but there is no overarching agenda, particularly in pursuit of violence, at least internationally.”
The Brotherhood uses the slogan, “Islam is the answer,” and generally advocates for government in accordance with Islamic principles. The movement has as a broad goal unifying what it perceives as Muslim lands, from Spain to Indonesia, as a “caliphate.”
Myrick interrupted Clapper at one point, saying her concern isn’t simply with the violence but with the Brotherhood’s beliefs regarding government.
“The danger of the Muslim Brotherhood is not just encouraging terrorism through their ideology, but also trying to take over government, so everyone has to succumb and live under their ideology,” Myrick said.
Clapper said later in the hearing that the Brotherhood in Egypt runs 29 hospitals “not under the guise of an extremist agenda.” He said the group fills a vacuum cause by the absence of government services, but added, “It is not necessarily with a view to promoting violence or overthrow of the state.
FBI Director Robert Mueller said some branches of the Brotherhood have engaged in violence, but he declined to go into detail in a public session. “Obviously, elements of the Muslim Brotherhood here and overseas have supported terrorism,” he said.
Update: Here’s the video (via RCP)