Egypt’s former grand mufti, Ali Gomaa, announced during a television interview on Egyptian satellite channel CBC last week that the Muslim Brotherhood’s military wing was an invention of Adolf Hitler.
Gomaa claimed that all terrorist groups link back to the Muslim Brotherhood and that the group’s founder Hassan al-Banna coordinated with Hitler to establish the military wing with the help of Amin Hussein, the grand mufti of Jerusalem between 1921 and 1937.
Banna established the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928 as a grassroots movement. He later formed a military wing for the purposes of fighting the British occupation at the time and to take part in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
The armed wing was later dissolved and the Brotherhood - which has recently been undergoing an internal struggle to maintain its condemnation of violent means - has continued to use a gradualist, peaceful approach to change.
Gomaa also claimed that while Banna had initially contacted Italian dictator Benito Mussolini to establish the Brotherhood’s military wing, Mussolini advised him to reach out to Hitler instead.
According to Gomaa, Banna sent “300 people to Germany to train under Hitler”, who was allegedly responsible for setting up the wing on Banna’s behalf, said the former grand mufti.
Gomaa has previously made condemning statements against the Brotherhood and its members.
“Shoot them in the heart ... blessed are those who kill them, and those who are killed by them,” he told a group of military and police leaders in November 2013.
“We must cleanse our Egypt from these riffraff. May God destroy them,” he said, adding that that according to Islamic law the Muslim Brotherhood should be targeted and killed.
Gomaa also claimed in the televised interview that, "after coordinating with the British to provide the funds for the organisation, Banna studied communism, Masonism, Zionism and Nazism which inspired him to establish the Brotherhood as a cult that practices cultish rituals.”
The former Grand Mufti referenced the 2010 book A Mosque in Munich by journalist Ian Johnson, in which he alleges to uncover the roots of the 9/11 hijackers in the West.
The Brotherhood operated as an underground movement until the 2011 uprisings that toppled President Hosni Mubarak and allowed the group to form a political wing – the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) – which won both the presidential elections and a majority of seats in parliament.
Since the ousting of Brotherhood leader and former president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has violently cracked down on the group by outlawing them as a terrorist organisation, arresting thousands of their members and handing death sentences to several of its leaders, including Morsi himself.