American presidents from Eisenhower to Obama have been responsible for the phenomenal rise of Islamist forces throughout the Muslim World. Hillary Clinton and some top American diplomats and politicians have publicly admitted that the Cold War exigencies had led their country to support Islamist forces, including the Afghan Mujahedeen and those who later founded al-Qaeda. We also know that in 1953, while Eisenhower flirted with the ayatollahs on the eve of the CIA-led military coup that toppled a democratically elected government in Iran, both Carter and Reagan legitimised General Zia ul-Haq's pro-Jamaat-e-Islami Islamist military dictatorship in Pakistan (1977-1988). American leadership during Eisenhower and Nixon years preferred the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) to Nasser, for the latter's avowedly anti-Western and anti-Israeli stand, and his close ties with the Soviet Union. America continued to support the soft-on-Islam President Anwar Sadat and the MB till the killing of Sadat by Islamist radicals in 1981. Some critics of American foreign policy also portray the MB as an offshoot of the CIA. MB founder Hassan al-Banna's son-in-law Said Ramadan (father of Tariq Ramadan) is said to have been a CIA agent in the 1950s.i Many analysts believe that the Cold War understanding between America and Islamists -- the MB, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Afghan Mujahedeen -- did not end with the end of the Cold War. They believe that MB leaders in Egypt and Syria, including Dr. Morsi, are pro-American.ii As a Western analyst puts in plain words, America and its allies are “funding, arming, while simultaneously fighting al-Qaeda from Mali to Syria” to serve their long-term geo-political interests in the Muslim World.iii In view of the controversial role America, Nato and its allies have been playing in the various conflict zones of “jihad” and “counter-jihad” in northwest and east Africa, Middle East and Afghanistan, one has reasons to believe that the West has been playing a dubious role. As for example, on the one hand we find top US leaders, Nato and ISAF commanders telling the world that they are fighting terrorists/insurgents in Afghanistan, and on the other, we find them acquiescing in to the public cultivation of poppy and narcotic trade in and beyond Afghanistan, which benefit drug lords, Taliban and al-Qaeda.
The understanding of Islamist “flashpoints” of “global jihad” requires an understanding of major Islamist movements, their brief history, ideologies and strategies. We may begin with the MB or Ikhwanul Muslemeen, the most prominent Islamist party in the world, which may be considered as “the mother of al-Qaeda.” It had a humble beginning. Hassan al-Banna (1906-1949), son of an imam and mosque teacher in Cairo, used to repair watches, and having interest in Islamic traditions wrote books on Islam. In March 1928, the 22-year-old Banna founded the Society for Muslim Brothers and within ten years it drew 500,000 Egyptians as active members. By 1945 the figure rose to two million. Thanks to 9/11 al-Qaeda seems to have stolen the thunder, while the MB remains the most organised and largest transnational Islamist organisation in the world.