US embassy cable - 88CAIRO19680 (original version)

MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD DEVELOPMENTS AND PERSONALITIES (original version)

Identifier: 88CAIRO19680
Wikileaks: View 88CAIRO19680 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Cairo
Created: 1988-08-18 16:40:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PINS PINR PREL EG
Redacted: This cable was redacted by Wikileaks. [Show redacted version] [Compare redacted and unredacted version]
R 181640Z AUG 88
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 8545
INFO AMCONSUL ALEXANDRIA
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 CAIRO 19680 
 
E.O. 12356:   DECL:OADR 
TAGS:  PGOV, PINS, PINR, PREL, EG 
SUBJECT:  MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD DEVELOPMENTS AND 
PERSONALITIES 
 
REF: ALEXANDRIA 1019 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
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2.  SUMMARY:  A MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD (MB) JOURNALIST 
(STRICTLY PROTECT) REPORTED TO EMBOFF THAT THE 
ORGANIZATION IS ANGERED AT THE AUTHORITIES OVER THE 
FIRST RECENT ARREST OF A "PROMINENT MEMBER" OF THE 
ORGANIZATION, COINCIDING WITH THE INTERIOR MINISTRY'S 
RENEWED CRACKDOWN ON ISLAMIC GROUPS.  THE JOURNALIST 
CRITICIZED THE POLICE FOR PROVOCATIVE AND UNNECESSARY 
BRUTALITY AGAINST THE JIHADISTS AT AINS SHAMS A FEW 
DAYS PREVIOUSLY, BUT SAID THE MB MEMBERS "HAVE ORDERS" 
TO MAINTAIN THEIR DISTANCE FROM THE SUCH GROUPS' 
ACTIVITIES.  THE JOURNALIST ALSO IDENTIFIED  "EXTREMELY 
ANTI-AMERICAN" ABDEL MONEIM SELIM HABBARA AS THE 
SUCCESSOR TO THE LATE GABIR RIZK AS THE MB'S CHIEF 
JOURNALIST/PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER.  THE JOURNALIST 
EMPHASIZED THE MB'S ORGANIZATIONAL INDEPENDENCE FROM 
IBRAHIM SHUKRY'S SOCIALIST LABOR PARTY (SLP, UNDER 
WHICH MB DEPUTIES WERE ELECTED TO PARLIAMENT), BUT HE 
IDENTIFIED THE MB'S BASES OF SUPPORT WITHIN THAT 
PARTY.  HE SINGLED OUT "AL-SHA'AB" (SLP NEWSPAPER) 
EDITOR ADIL HUSSEIN AS "CLOSE" TO THE MB AND A 
PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT FIGURE IN ISLAMIC POLITICS, 
COMBINING INTELLECTUAL LEADERSHIP WITH STRONG POPULAR 
CONTACT AND SUPPORT.  END SUMMARY. 
 
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3.  NEW MB "SPOKESMAN":  A VERY ACTIVE AND COMMITTED MB 
JOURNALIST (STRICTLY PROTECT) WELL KNOWN TO EMBOFFS 
COMMENTED FRANKLY ON MB-RELATED ISSUES DURING A RECENT 
VISIT TO THE EMBASSY FOR A VISA INTERVIEW.  HE REPORTED 
THAT THE MB LEADERSHIP HAD SUMMONED ABDEL MONEIM SELIM 
HABBARA FROM (EVIDENTLY SELF-IMPOSED EXILE IN) THE GULF 
TO SUCCEED THE LATE GABIR RIZK AS THE MB'S "LIASON" 
OFFICER AND EDITOR OF THE MB'S MONTHLY "LIWA' 
AL-ISLAM".  THE JOURNALIST CONFIRMED THAT "LIWA' HAS 
REPLACED IL-DA'AWA" AS THE MB'S MOUTHPIECE.  "SELIM" 
NOW RUNS "LIWA'" FROM ITS MID-TOWN OFFICE, WHICH IS 
SEPARATE FROM THE MB HQ AT THE FORMER LOCATION OF 
"AL-DA'WA".  HOWEVER, THE NAME OF BADR MOHAMMED BADR, 
NOT SELIM, WILL CONTINUE TO APPEAR ON "LIWA'S" 
MASTHEAD, BECAUSE SELIM IS NOT REGISTERED WITH THE 
JOURNALISTS' SYNDICATE AND THEREFORE IS UNLICENSED. 
SELIM IS UNLIKELY TO WELCOME CONTACT WITH U.S. 
DIPLOMATS, THE JOURNALIST SAID, BECAUSE HE IS 
EMOTIONALLY BOTH ANTI-SOVIET AND ANTI-AMERICAN.  SELIM 
IS OF THE OLDER GENERATION OF MB LEADERS, HAVING BEEN 
IN PRISON CONTINUOUSLY FROM 1954 UNTIL SADAT RELEASED 
HIM FROM HIS LIFE SENTENCE IN 1974.  HE HAD BEEN IN THE 
GULF FROM 1974 UNTIL SUMMONED BACK TO SUCCEED RIZK, 
ACCORDING TO THE JOURNALIST. 
 
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4.  (COMMENT: A JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR HIMSELF, RIZK HAD 
OFTEN SAT IN ON OUR CONTACTS WITH THE MB LEADERSHIP, 
AND HAD BECOME WELL KNOWN TO THE FOREIGN PRESS CORPS 
DURING THE 1987 PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION CAMPAIGN AS THE 
MB "SPOKESMAN" AND PRESS LIAISON MAN.  SELIM HAS NOT 
YET BECOME WIDELY-KNOWN AS RIZK'S SUCCESSOR.  THOUGH IT 
IS TOO SOON TO DISCERN WHETHER SELIM WILL PROVE AN 
ACTIVIST PR MAN, THE FACT THE AGING MB LEADERSHIP CHOSE 
A RELATIVELY UNKNOWN AND THUS FAR RECLUSIVE SUCCESSOR 
FOR THIS POST INDICATES ITS CONTINUED PREFERENCE FOR 
MATURITY AND PERSONAL LOYALTY OVER YOUTHFUL DYNAMISM OR 
PROVEN JOURNALISTIC OR PUBLIC RELATIONS SKILLS.  THIS 
MAY BE ANOTHER INDICATION OF THE GENERATIONAL SPLIT 
BETWEEN THE MORE PR-CONCIOUS, OUTWARDLY LOOKING MB 
YOUTH AND A MORE AUTHORITARIAN AND CONSPIRATORIAL OLD 
GUARD, AND THE CONTINUED UNCHALLENGED DOMINANCE OF THE 
LATTER.  END COMMENT.) 
 
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5.  MB-GOVERNMENT RELATIONS:  THE JOURNALIST REPORTED 
THAT THE AUTHORITIES HAD ARRESTED WITHOUT CHARGE 
MOHAMMED ABDEL MONEIM, "ONE OF OUR PROMINENT PEOPLE 
FROM ALEXANDRIA," AND HARRASSED THREE ACCOMPANYING MB 
FIGURES UPON THEIR ARRIVAL AT THE AIRPORT FROM A RECENT 
MB CONFERENCE IN THE FRG.  (REFTEL REPORTS FURTHER ON 
THIS INCIDENT.)  BECAUSE THEY ENJOYED PARLIAMENTARY 
IMMUNITY, PEOPLE'S ASSEMBLY DEPUTIES 'ESAM EL-'ARIAN, 
MOKHTAR NOH, AND MOHAMMED MAHDI KESHEF WERE NOT 
ARRESTED.  THE JOURNALIST SAID THIS WAS THE FIRST 
ARREST OF ONE OF THEIR SENIOR FIGURES IN RECENT TIMES. 
THE INCIDENT HAS ANGERED THE MB, HE SAID, WHICH VIEWS 
IT AS A SIGNAL OF STEPPED-UP GOVERNMENT PRESSURE ON 
THEM, PROBABLY CONNECTED TO INTERIOR MINISTER ZAKI 
BADR'S CRACKDOWN ON THE ISLAMIC GROUPS SINCE THE ESCAPE 
OF THE JIHADISTS LAST MONTH.  AS FOR BADR, HOWEVER, THE 
MB BELIEVES ON THE BASIS OF "RELIABLE INFORMATION" THAT 
MUBARAK WILL DUMP HIM SOON, ONLY TO REPLACE HIM WITH 
SOMEONE "EVEN TOUGHER, BUT MORE CLEVER."  FOR ITS PART, 
THE JOURNALIST CONFIRMED, THE MB CONTINUES ITS EFFORTS 
TO ESTABLISH A LEGAL POLITICAL PARTY.. 
 
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6.  THE JOURNALIST WENT ON TO CRITICIZE THE PROVOCATIVE 
ATTACKS OF THE POLICE ON THE ISLAMIC GROUPS, STORMING 
MOSQUES WITH THEIR BOOTS ON, FOR EXAMPLE, AS THEY HAD 
DONE AT THE JIHADISTS' "ADAM" MOSQUE AT AIN SHAMS A FEW 
DAYS AGO.  SO WANTON WERE THE ARRESTS IN THAT INCIDENT, 
THE JOURNALIST ASSERTED IRONICALLY, THAT "THREE OF OUR 
COPTIC BROTHERS WERE ARRESTED WITH THE JIHADISTS".  THE 
RECKLESS POLICE ACTION, RESULTING IN THE DEATH OF 
CHILD, HAD PROVOKED NEIGHBORHOOD SYMPATHY FOR THE 
JIHADISTS, HE SAID.  THE MB CONDEMNS SUCH POLICE 
OPPRESSION AGAINST THE ISLAMIC GROUPS, THE JOURNALIST 
SAID, BUT ALSO "DISAPPROVES OF VIOLENCE" (BY SUCH 
GROUPS); THE MB LEADERSHIP HAS ISSUED "STRICT ORDERS TO 
STAY AWAY FROM UPRISINGS AND ACTIVITIES" OF THE ISLAMIC 
GROUPS. 
 
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7.  MB AMBIVALENCE TOWARD U.S.:  THE JOURNALISTS SAID 
THE MB LEADERSHIP HAD DECLINED TO NOMINATE AN MB MEMBER 
OF THE PEOPLE'S ASSEMBLY AS ONE OF TWO SLP MEMBERS 
INVITED TO JOIN A PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION TO THE U.S., 
SIMPLY BECAUSE THE USG HAD NOT ADDRESSED AN INVITATION 
TO THE MB DIRECTLY AND FORMALLY.  EVIDENTLY UNCONSCIOUS 
OF ANY IRONY, THE JOURNALIST STATED, HOWEVER, THAT THE 
MB LEADERSHIP AT THE SAME TIME REMAINS WARY OF ANY 
OFFICIAL CONTACTS OR INVOLVEMENT WITH THE USG IN 
CONNECTION WITH MB TRAVEL TO THE U.S.  HE REMARKED THAT 
MB MEMBERS OFTEN VISIT THE U.S. AT THE INVITATION OF 
ISLAMIC GROUPS THERE.  (COMMENT: EMBASSY HAD INVITED 
SLP LEADER AND OPPOSITION SPEAKER IBRAHIM SHUKRY TO 
NOMINATE TWO SLP DEPUTIES OF HIS CHOICE TO PARTICIPATE 
IN THE PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION INVITED TO THE U.S. BY 
A PRIVATE U.S. ORGANIZATION.  EMBASSY EXPRESSED NO 
OBJECTION TO SHUKRY'S INITIAL INQUIRY WHETHER MB 
MEMBERS COULD BE NOMINATED.  SHUKRY LATER ADVISED US 
THAT THE MB HAD DECLINED TO PARTICIPATE, WITHOUT 
OFFERING A REASON.  END COMMENT.) 
 
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8.  THE JOURNALIST FURTHER EMPHASIZED THE MB'S 
ORGANIZATIONAL INDEPENDENCE FROM THE SLP, BUT SAID THAT 
FOUR FIGURES IN THE SLP LEADERSHIP ARE STRONG 
SUPPORTERS OF COOPERATION WITH THE MB:  SLP CHAIRMAN 
SHUKRY, HIS DEPUTY HILMY MURAD, PARTY ASSISTANT 
SECRETARY FOR YOUTH MAGDY HUSSEIN,  AND SLP NEWSPAPER 
EDITORIALIST 'ADIL HUSSEIN.  (COMMENT: MAGDY HUSSEIN 
RETURNED TO EGYPT VERY FAVORABLY IMPRESSED BY HIS VISIT 
TO THE U.S. IN THE PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION.  HILMY 
MURAD -- WHO PERIODICALLY "RESIGNS"  FROM HIS PARTY 
POST PURPORTEDLY IN PROTEST OF ANTI-DEMOCRATIC 
GOVERNMENT POLICIES -- HAD PRIVATELY INDICATED TO US 
STRONGLY SECULARIST, ANTI-MB VIEWS AT THE OUTSET OF THE 
SLP-MB ALLIANCE IN 1987.  THE FOUR SLP FIGURES CITED 
ARE RELATED BY BLOOD AND/OR MARRIAGE TO EACH OTHER AND 
TO THE LATE AHMED HUSSEIN, ISLAMIC/NAZI FIREBRAND OF 
THE 1930'S AND 40'S.  END COMMENT.)  FURTHERMORE, THE 
JOURNALIST SAID, THE MB ENJOYS STRONG SUPPORT AMONG THE 
YOUNGER SLP CADRES.  HOWEVER, THE MB FACES STRONG 
ANTAGONISM FROM THE "MIDDLE RANKS" OF THE OLD-TIME SLP 
MEMBERSHIP, WHICH INCLUDES "NASSERISTS AND 
COMMUNISTS,"  AND OTHERS, SUCH AS PEOPLE'S ASSEMBLY 
MEMBER DR. SALAH ABDULLAH, WHO MERELY "DON'T SUPPORT 
THE ISLAMIC TREND VERY MUCH."  (COMMENT: JOURNALIST 
IMPLIED CONFIDENCE OF THE MB THAT ITS SUPPORT FROM THE 
TOP SLP LEADERSHIP AND THE YOUNGER ISLAMIC CADRES 
EVENTUALLY WOULD PREVAIL OVER THE LEFTIST SECULARIST 
ELEMENTS.  END COMMENT.) 
 
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9.  'ADIL HUSSEIN:  RESPONDING TO EMBOFF'S OBSERVATION 
THAT MANY OUTSIDERS QUESTION 'ADIL HUSSEIN'S RELIGIOUS 
SINCERITY IN VIEW OF HIS PAST AS A MARXIST, THE 
JOURNALIST VIGOROUSLY ASSERTED THAT HUSSEIN HAD 
EXPERIENCED A PROFOUND CONVERSION AS A RESULT OF HIS 
NEAR-DEATH UNDER SEVERE TORTURE WHILE IN PRISON, WHERE 
HE HAD COME TO KNOW MB MEMBERS.  THE JOURNALIST CLAIMED 
THAT 'ADIL HUSSEIN IS NOT MERELY AN INTELLECTUAL OR 
IDEOLOGUE, BUT HAS GOOD RAPPORT WITH ORDINARY PEOPLE, 
ENJOYING GREAT POPULARITY AMONG YOUTH.  HOWEVER, 
HUSSEIN IS NOT A MEMBER OF THE MB, "THOUGH HE IS VERY 
CLOSE TO US."  (COMMENT: HUSSEIN IS INFAMOUS AS THE 
LEADING PROPONENT OF AN AMALGAMATION OF 
NASSERISM/MARXISM AND ISLAM, THROUGH HIS AUTHORSHIP OF 
BOOKS ON THE SUBJECT AND HIS WEEKLY, HIGHLY POLEMICAL 
EDITORIALS IN THE SLP'S "IL-SHA'AB".  END COMMENT.) 
 
 
WISNER 

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