Merchant of Death
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Yousef Qaradawi and the Brotherhood Offer Olive Branch to Shi'ites: Bless Jihad for Iran
Yousef Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the international Muslim Brotherhood, is reprising his role as mediator between the Sunni and Shi'ite groups. This time he is calling on all Muslims to defend Iran in case of a U.S. attack.

Qaradawi's interview with Islamonline Radio last week highlights the sheikh's role-and the role of the Muslim Brotherhood-in trying to bring about unity of the Muslim umma, regardless of one's affiliation.

"It is obligatory on all Muslims to resist any possible attack the US might launch against Iran," Qaradawi said. "Iran is a Muslim country which all Muslims should defend while the US is an enemy of Islam that has already declared war on Islam under the disguise of war on terrorism and provides Israel with unlimited support."

In the past, the Ikhwan collaborated closely with the regime of Ayatollah Khommeini, according to the accounts of Yousef Nada and other Brotherhood leaders. There was a falling out, but the Brotherhood has consistently maintained that the Sunni-Shi'ite differences are "minor" issues that should not interfere with the larger strategy of restoring the caliphate.

This has been one of the main issues dividing the Brotherhood from many of the _jihadist_ groups, particularly al Qaeda in Iraq under the leadership of Zarqawi. Zarqawi specifically targetted Shi'ites as apostates and killed them as unbelievers.

Perhaps Qaradawi's position in favor of _jihad_ in Iran was also born of the desire in part to resolve the issues that have consistently placed the Ikhwan on the outer margins of the current Islamist struggle.

In another step that could bolster his standing among more militant members of the Ikhwan and enhance the Brotherhood position among the _jihadists_, Qaradawi also took the unusual step of contradicting the Grand Mufti of Sauid Arabia, who had recently stated that young men should not wage _jihad_ outside of their national borders without permission from their governments. This position was taken at the urging of the United States, in an effort to halt the flow of Saudi men and material support for the insurgency in Iraq.

"When a Muslim country is invaded by some other country, all Muslims who are capable of doing _jihad_ should spare no efforts in defending the invaded country," Qaradawi said. "It is not true that Muslims should not go outside their countries to defend their fellow Muslims unless they get permission from the ruler of their country."

The irony of past U.S. and Saudi support for _jihadists_ was not lost on the cleric.

"Why did governments of Muslim countries allow their young people to go to Afghanistan to defend it against the former Soviet Union? Was it just because they got a green light from the US to do so?" he asked.
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