The Brotherhood has always introduced itself as an elevated model of Muslims, but a recent crisis in Yemen has revealed the true image of the group; It does not hesitate at all to cooperate with terrorist organizations to realize its goals.
The “Yemeni Congregation for Reform” (al-Islah), viewed as the Brotherhood’s political arm in the country, is accused of cooperating with al-Qaeda terrorist group.
Al-Qaeda’s strongholds in southern Yemen are the group’s most important in the Arab region.
These ties are not the outcome of recent events, but they date back to times before the political collapse Yemen is experiencing at present, especially through the leader in al-Islah Abdul-Meguid al-Zindani, an old nexus between the two the Brotherhood and al-Qaeda.
Al-Zindani was greatly engaged with al-Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan and during the 1980s he mobilized the Yemeni youth to take part in the group’s battles. He, and the Brotherhood, were also responsible for expanding al-Qaeda influence in Yemen, setting the country as the top Arab state on the “theocratic expansion” agenda of al-Qaeda’s leader then, Osama bin Laden,
A 1993 report by the US State Department stressed the close relation between al-Zindani and al-Qaeda, or rather between al-Qaeda and Yemen’s Brotherhood.
In 2004, the US Treasury Department designated al-Zindani as a “Global Terrorist”, at the backdrop of his ties with bin Laden and al-Qaeda. He was also charged with having contacts with Ansar al-Islam (Al), a Kurdish-based terrorist organization linked to al-Qaeda. The AI was established in 2001.
The Department accused al-Zindani of exploiting Al Iman University, which he founded in Sanaa in 1993, for producing extremist graduates.
In 2006, the US demanded Yemen to hand over al-Zinadni after he was identified in a federal court as the coordinator of the October 2000 suicide attack in Aden harbor on the USS Cole, which left 17 American military personnel dead.
The relation between al-Zindani and al-Qaeda was embodied in a bilateral public understanding in 2014, when the Sheikh called for a dialogue between the Yemeni government and the terrorist group. He sought to offer al-Qaeda an opportunity to get officially engaged in Yemen’s politics. Yemeni president then, Ali Abdullah Saleh, rejected the US demand.
Yemen’s Brotherhood relations with al-Qaeda were not confined to al-Zindani’s role, as the Brothers offered safe hideouts for wanted elements of the terrorist group.
Anwar al-Awlaki (1971-2011), considered as al-Qaeda’s “God Father” in Yemen, was among the major elements that found safety in Brothers’ homes, until the US forces killed him on September 30, 2011, in a drone attack.
Al-Awlaki had been hidden in three houses of al-Islah members, among them al-Zindani’s.
In addition, American newspapers revealed obvious connections between al-Qaeda and Yemen’s Brotherhood, based on leaked information on a raid by the US Special Operations forces targeting al-Qaeda militants in the village of Yakla, al-Bayda province, on January 29, 2017.
Moreover, the US Pew Research Center said that the relation between the Brotherhood and all terrorist organizations, al-Qaeda in particular, is a complicated one of mutual effect; they were both after power, and cooperation among them was nothing but normal.
It is normal for terrorist groups that they need huge amounts of money to fulfill the mission they are tasked with, and Qatar played the financier through al-Islah, as revealed by the Paris Peace Forum, March 2018.
A report then accused Qatar of indirectly supporting al-Qaeda, through paying the terrorist group a ransom to set free a Swiss hostage, Silvia Eberhardt, in 2012.