Iran, Saudi Arabia
Iran, Saudi ArabiaiStock

A new Middle East Forum (MEF) report on Islamic Relief - a Sunni international charity with chapters in the US, UK, and dozens of European and Middle Eastern countries - reveals connections not only to Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas-affiliated NGOs, but also Khomeinist Shi’a organizations, reports Irina Tsukerman in The Herald Report. "Regardless of the historical Sunni/Shi’a divide or the sectarian bloodshed in Syria," she writes, "Islamists of all persuasions are increasingly making common cause."

One prominent example Tsukerman cites is Essam El-Hadad, co-founder of the Islamic Relief franchise and previously the senior foreign policy advisor to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, the since-deposed Egyptian president. "Haddad helped build Egypt’s links with Iran. He met with Qasem Soleimani, Iran’s spy chief and head of the regime’s Al Quds Force, according to the Times, to 'advise the Government on building its own security and intelligence apparatus, independent of the national intelligence services.'

Subsequently, Morsi hosted the then-Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; and El Haddad, along
with other Muslim Brotherhood representatives, traveled to Iran.

"At the time, these connections were puzzling. Iranian-backed Hizbullah fighters and Sunni rebels
(including Muslim Brotherhood affiliates) were locked in an intra-Islamist battle in Syria that seemed to be affecting relations elsewhere. Muslim Brotherhood fronts mostly stopped participating in the Iran-
sponsored Al Quds Day, an annual march in North American and European cities in support of Hizbullah and the future 'liberation' of Jerusalem.

"It now appears that Sunni and Shi’a Islamists’ differences over Syria did not cause them to sever
fundraising links or end political coordination in the West," the paper says.

Tsukerman concludes her report saying "although Sunni and Shi’a Islamists have pledged their allegiance to state and non-state actors with divergent theologies, histories, and goals, ultimately both groups are infused with a revolutionary zeal, support jihadist terrorists and ideologues, and are willing to join forces to damage the United States, Israel, and stable Middle Eastern and African governments. They use charities to run joint political campaigns, align with radical leftists, and lobby the US Government, benefiting foreign actors - all at the expense of US national security interests."