Often arrested, imprisoned, and beaten, and boasting little influence in the larger organization, the Muslim Brotherhood’s young members are increasingly looking to ISIS as their model in their fight against the Egyptian government. As Al-Monitor reports:
Political analysts tend to categorize most Islamist youth — especially those detained — who support and are impressed by the IS model as “IS ultras,” i.e., they only support IS principles and do not intend to act on them in Egypt. But Al-Monitor’s interviewee, on the other hand, referred to groups that have already started forming inside their prison cells and are making contacts outside prison. He said, “We will grab any opportunity to implement what we believe in.” […]So far, no group has declared its direct relationship with IS. But IS’ ideas of violence, taking up arms and beheadings as a way to return to an Islamic state have started to resonate with small groups — such as Kataeb Helwan, whose slogan is, “We are fed up with the Muslim Brotherhood’s peacefulness” — that are trying to make their presence felt.[Expert in Jihadist movements Kamal] Habib said that many reasons are driving these groups of young people to IS. “Marginalization, poverty, the failed experience of the Muslim Brotherhood in governance and the blows by the security services have become sufficient justifications for violence.”
That it’s the younger members of the Brotherhood who seem most willing to consider terrorism should give pause, given that the country is itself overwhelmingly young. Some 75% of the population of Egypt is under 25, and the conditions that sent Egypt down the path of revolution in the first place are still broadly present. As we’ve written, terrorist groups in Egypt are now trying to appeal directly to student protesters. If that message is being received and the younger affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood are willing to embrace the tactics and ideology of ISIS, then the stability in Egypt that Sisi has promised may be more fragile than it seems.