WASHINGTON - Before Osama bin Laden formed al Qaeda, he belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood, along with his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
The terror group Hamas also identifies itself as the Muslim Brotherhood's Palestinian branch.
So why is there such a draw to the Brotherhood? The group's official motto may tell the story. It reads:
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.
The group was eventually banned in Egypt, but for the past several decades has worked behind the scenes and is now considered the most influential Islamist organization in the world. The Brotherhood now has 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 terrorism expert and retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Joseph Myers.
He calls the Brotherhood an "insurgency movement."
"The state security services work against them because they are a subversive insurgent organization," Myers said. "They conduct terrorist acts and have been involved in violence as well, 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 agent John Guandolo told CBN News that the United States must become more aware of its growing influence.
"Here in the United States, virtually every prominent Islamic organization is controlled and led by the Muslim Brotherhood," he warned.
Experts say that's part of the Brotherhood's strategy to destroy Western civilization from within.
But the Brotherhood's immediate goal is an Islamic state in Egypt, and an end to the country's peace treaty with Israel.