For many Americans, the morning of September 11, 2001 made the threat of Islamic Fundamentalism a grave reality. It was an unthinkable act, but before Osama Bin Laden were other men who saw America as the ultimate evil. Their roots can be traced to a shadowy movement known as the Muslim Brotherhood.
A Review by D. S. Thurlow
2005's "Brotherhood of Terror" is a short (50 minutes) history lesson on the Muslim Brotherhood, the ideological father of al-Qaeda and other modern radical Islamic groups. This DVD is a standard History Channel product interweaving documentary footage, interviews, still photography, and a few short dramatizations to recapture critical points in a fascinating historical narrative.
The Muslim Brotherhood had its roots in the 1920's in a corrupt Egypt ruled by a playboy king but still dominated by the presence of British military forces securing the interests of the British Empire. For an unhappy but articulate schoolteacher named al-Banni, the British presence represented a Western decadence that was corrupting both the Government of Egypt and its Muslim people. The necessary response was a return to fundamental Islam and the rule of Sharia. Al-Banni founded the Muslim Brotherhood, which would grow exponentially both inside and outside Egypt and would feature both a public, peaceful face and a private militant arm. The Brotherhood would cooperate with the military coup that removed the King of Egypt in 1952, but the failure to gain a share of power would lead to rebellion and then to government crackdowns. Ironically, the inprisonment of large numbers of the organization both bonded and radicalized the members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Muslim Brotherhood would repeatedly test the strength of the Egyptian Government under Nasser and under Sadat, and would repeatedly lose. It would ultimately split into at least two factions, one advocating continuing violent jihad, the other a more peaceful path to power and reform through existing political processes. The violent faction, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, would help fight the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980's. It ould contribute both skilled personnel and an ideology to al-Qaeda when it was formed by Osama bin Laden after the Soviets departed Afghanistan in 1989. It emphasizes how much Osama bibn Laden is influenced by the violent ideas of his deputy, al-Zawahiri, a founding member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad.
While there are no great revelations about radical Islam in this film, it nicely captures the historical progression that led by stages to al-Qaeda's present war against the West. Its short length makes it suitable as a classroom aid and a springboard for discussion on the roots of the global war on terrorism. It is therefore recommended as a useful adjunct to current studies on terrorism.