Analysis: Will the Muslim Brotherhood join jihadists amid crackdown?

Muslim Brotherhood founder Sheikh al-Banna introduced the concept of "the art of death" in 1947, ordering his men to prepare for jihad using the group's secret battalions. Is today's Brotherhood heading in the same direction?

Muslim Brotherhood protesters throw stones and glasses during clashes with supporters of Egypt's army and police in Cairo, January 25, 2014. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Muslim Brotherhood protesters throw stones and glasses during clashes with supporters of Egypt's army and police in Cairo, January 25, 2014.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The continuing violence against the interim Egyptian government and the possible presidential bid by Egypt’s military chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi may impel many Muslim Brotherhood members to radicalize and resort to violence, and perhaps join other jihadist groups.
Sheikh Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, introduced the concept of “the art of death” (“fan al-mawt”).
In 1947, Banna ordered his men to prepare for jihad using the group’s secret battalions, which were already trained in using weapons, according to Richard Mitchell’s The Society of the Muslim Brothers.
It was under a similar crackdown and executions that Brotherhood leader Sayyid Qutb, who was executed in 1966, wrote his famous Milestones book while in prison, setting the ideology for al-Qaida and other jihadist groups.
Under the current regime, despite ongoing military operations in Sinai and a severe crackdown on the Brotherhood, terror attacks, protests and civil disorder continue.
If Sisi becomes president, will he be able to solve Egypt’s security and economic difficulties, and if not, would that set the stage for more uprisings?
“In all likelihood, these critical masses of Egyptians will change their minds again [to oppose Sisi], because even as the rules of Egypt’s political game have been written and rewritten repeatedly, one hard law has emerged: Nothing is permanent,” Eric Trager, an expert on Egypt and a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, writes in The New Republic.
Prof. Yoram Meital, chairman of the Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies and Diplomacy at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, told the The Jerusalem Post that Egyptians, three years after the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, have temporarily dropped their dreams of democracy.
Many people are interested in seeing Sisi as president because they want stability and security, he said.
“The genie of the new political awareness of young Egyptians that came out of the bottle in 2011 will be hard to return to the bottle,” he said.
Sisi will thus have to deal with a politically active public that Mubarak did not face.
Furthermore, noted Meital, “Egyptian society is divided, the economy is struggling, terror attacks continue, and the internal crisis is increasing.”
It will be tremendously difficult for Sisi to successfully deal with these problems if he becomes president, he said.
Asked if we are seeing the radicalization of the Brotherhood similar to what happened during a crackdown in the 1950s and ’60s, Meital said yes, as the Brotherhood has growing internal divisions regarding how to proceed.
Another significant development, he said, is the expansion of the threat of terror attacks by jihadists in Sinai to other parts of Egypt, something that is greatly influencing political attitudes.