This article is reprinted from CBN.com.
Many analysts believe that the radical organization known as the Muslim Brotherhood will gain great influence with a change of government in Egypt.
A closer examination of the secretive group provides insight as to why its possible climb to power has Western observers so uneasy.
Before Osama bin Laden formed al Qaeda, he belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood. So did his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri and the 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
In addition, the terrorist group Hamas identifies itself as the Muslim Brotherhood's Palestinian branch.
Why are there so many jihadists drawn to the Brotherhood? The group's official motto may tell the story.
- Allah is our objective.
- The prophet is our leader.
- Qur'an is our law.
- Jihad is our way.
- Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.
The Brotherhood was founded in 1928 in Egypt, with the goal of spreading Islamic Sharia law worldwide and uniting all Muslim nations into one Islamic super state. It was eventually banned in Egypt, but for the past several decades has worked behind the scenes to the point where it's now considered the most influential Islamist organization in the world -- with chapters in more than 100 countries.
"It has been repressed in Egypt and in many other countries where the Brotherhood has affiliates and entities," said retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Myers, who has called the Brotherhood an "insurgency movement."
"The state security services work against them because they are a subversive insurgent organization and they conduct terrorist acts and have been involved in violence as well," Myers told CBN News. "Seeking to overthrow and change the governments where they're represented."
Although the group has been severely repressed in Egypt for years, it represents that country's most organized and powerful opposition force.
Former FBI Special Agent John Guandolo told CBN News the United States must become more aware of the Brotherhood's growing influence.
"Here in the United States, virtually every prominent Islamic organization is controlled and led by the Muslim Brotherhood," said Gunadolo. "Why this is key, is because they see that they are going to destroy our Western civilization from within."
The Brotherhood's immediate goal, though, is an Islamic state in Egypt -- and an end to that country's peace treaty with Israel.
Erick Stakelbeck has been a correspondent and terrorism analyst for CBN News since 2005. He covers the global war on terror, U.S. national security, the Middle East, and the growth of radical Islam at home and abroad for the CBN News Bureau in Washington, D.C.