Experts: Terror Acts May Rise With Start of Ramadan

Monday, 30 Jun 2014 12:45 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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The potential for acts of terror may rise with the start of Ramadan, LIGNET analyst Lisa Ruth and Middle East expert and author Walid Phares said on Newsmax TV's "America's Forum" on Monday.

"You're dealing with at least the ultra-conservatives fasting," Ruth said. "However, we do see an increase in things like terrorist attacks, specifically at mosques. You have large congregations of people. It makes a very large splash, if you will, to attack mosques during Ramadan, and we tend to see that happening during this period."

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Phares explained that Ramadan is the most important part of the Islamic calendar.

"It is when the fasting begins and at the end of which the greatest celebration, and the Muslims are supposed to fast from morning to late afternoon," Phares said. "They're allowed to eat and drink after that. It is a reflection of old traditions of sacrifice and purity for the soul."

"Under the Mubarak regime, the Muslim Brotherhood used mosques to gather, to recruit, to indoctrinate, and to spread a more radical message," Phares said. "The government told them you can't work inside the mosque, but come outside the mosque just to create a balance.

"For a brief time last year, mosques controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood became a mobilizing machine, creating tens of thousands of militants," Phares said. That will likely change under Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt's former military chief who has taken over as the country's president after winning 96 percent of the vote in the presidential election last month.

"The government has planned to deradicalize the mosques, helping the government to make sure that the clerics inside the mosque will spread only a message that has nothing to do with politics or with government or most importantly with Jihad," Phares said. "It is going to be difficult because the brotherhoods are well spread inside Egypt, but I think this is a new direction that we're going to see more of in Egypt."

Ruth said she is concerned about pushing the Muslim Brotherhood underground because "you're going to see increased terrorism."

"My real concern with pushing the Muslim Brotherhood underground is that you're actually going to see increased terrorism," said Ruth, who doesn't think el-Sisi will bring the extremists under control.

"He brings fear certainly to the Muslim Brotherhood, but I don't think he has the ability to impact the message the same way," Ruth said.

Phares said the Muslim Brotherhood has been in Egypt's underground since 1926, when it first came to power.

"It is a very savvy, sophisticated movement, large in numbers, about 600,000," he said. And even without el-Sisi's intervention, Egyptians are protesting.

"They did not basically choose el-Sisi first, they chose to remove the brotherhood and then el-Sisi joined them and then there were elections," he said.

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