US intelligence unsure over Muslim Brotherhood agenda

CIA director tells senators Egyptian group not "monolithic" but that intelligence services were closely following the organization.

February 17, 2011 03:45
1 minute read.
CIA head Leon Panetta

Panetta 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)


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Top US intelligence officials faced tough questions from lawmakers Wednesday over Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, acknowledging the spy agencies lack certainty on the opposition group's views.

Top US intelligence on Wednesday struggled to answer questions about the agenda of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, amid accusations the spy services were caught off-guard by protests in Cairo that forced Hosni Mubarak to step down as president.

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CIA Director Leon Panetta told senators the Muslim Brotherhood was not "monolithic" but that the intelligence services were closely following the organization, which he said included "extremist elements."

US National Intelligence Director James Clapper told senators at a hearing that he was unsure about the Muslim Brotherhood's stance on Iran, the Egypt-Israel peace treaty and weapons smuggling into Gaza.

"It's hard to at this point to point to a specific agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood as a group," he said.

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"This is obviously something we're going to watch. We're going to have to step up our observation," he said.

Clapper admitted he made a mistake when last week he described the Muslim Brotherhood as "largely secular."

"The Muslim Brotherhood is obviously not secular. What I had hoped to convey, and would like to clearly state here, is that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt tries to work through a political system that has been largely secular in its orientation," he said.

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