The impact of the unexpected death of Ibrahim Munir, the Deputy Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, will eventually spill beyond the group’s walls. Munir’s death marks the end of the political rhetoric of the Muslim Brotherhood, paving the way for the rise of the violent jihadist factions to leadership positions in the guidance bureau.
Inevitably, this could lead to perilous alteration of the Muslim Brotherhood’s collective perception of their conflicts with the Arab governments that worked hard to weaken the group in the past few years. The recent ‘war of documents’ between the conflicting factions of the Muslim Brotherhood enhances this argument. It could also help observers predict the group’s future after Munir’s death.
In mid-October, the London-based front, led by Munir, published a ‘Political Document’ to forestall the announcement of the Change Front’s document. While Munir’s document called for reconciliation with the Egyptian state and society, the Change Front incited the group’s bases in Egypt to wage jihad against the Egyptian leadership.
The Political Document and the Change Document are almost identical in terms of the goals and priorities proposed for the group’s future in Egypt. However, Munir’s document is carried through a reconciliatory tone, while the Change Front’s document is loudly voicing a jihadist revolutionary approach. Munir’s document is mainly addressing the Egyptian people from a political perspective, which they believe is likely to be accepted among the Egyptian grassroots citizens, who previously rebelled against the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule in 2013.
In contrast, the revolutionary approach of the Change Front’s document is mainly talking to the young members of the group, who still live in Egypt. The Change Front is a youth-led jihadist faction inside the Muslim Brotherhood that introduces itself as an alternative to the fighting elders. They have been active since 2015, under the title of ‘Kamalists.’ In late 2020, they changed their title to the Change Front, ran internal elections, and designed their own bylaws separate from the rules set by the group’s leadership.
The Kamlaists are a group of Muslim Brotherhood youth, who were trained by Mohamed Kamal, one of the most prominent middle leaders of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Kamal organized several violent attacks on civilians and state facilities in Egypt, between 2013-2014, to avenge the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood regime from power. He used the anger of the group’s youth to fuel those attacks. His goal was to cause extreme chaos that forces the military to return the Muslim Brotherhood regime back to power.
After he was killed in a clash with the Egyptian police forces in late 2014, his affiliated youth groups went on to form their own militias. The most famous of these militias are HASM and Liwa Al-Thawra, which are designated as foreign terrorist organizations in the United States. HASM leaders fled to Turkey, in early 2015.
Therefore, it was not a surprise to see two leaders of the HASM terrorist organization speak at the Change Front’s conference, held in Istanbul in October. They endorsed the Change document and asserted the importance of “waging jihad against the Egyptian state.”
The death of Ibrahim Munir, in early November, and the inability of the London-based front to assign a new leader, up till today, will make the Istanbul-based front stronger. This will indirectly enhance the position of the Change Front and increase its ability to recruit more supporters for its violent agenda. Meanwhile, those who adopt the political methodology inside the group will be sidelined. In such a scenario, the return of random acts of violence in the anti-Muslim Brotherhood Arab states is highly expected.
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