US corrects intelligence chief for claiming Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is secular

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Washington, Feb.11 (ANI): The Obama administration has corrected its own intelligence chief after he claimed that Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is "largely secular."

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the US Congress that the organization has "pursued social ends" and a "betterment of the political order," and downplayed its religious underpinnings.

"The term 'Muslim Brotherhood' ... is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam," Clapper said.

But the DNI later issued a statement to "clarify" that claim.

"To clarify Director Clapper's point, in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood makes efforts to work through a political system that has been, under Mubarak's rule, one that is largely secular in its orientation. He is well aware that the Muslim Brotherhood is not a secular organization," Fox News quoted DNI spokesperson Jamie Smith, as saying.

While the Brotherhood has renounced violence, one of its goals is to pursue the creation of an Islamic state. The CIA's own website lists the Brotherhood as a "religious-based" party.

Clapper's claim quickly drew scrutiny on Capitol Hill, even before his office walked back the statement.

"I am concerned that the DNI's assessment does not agree with recent public statements by senior leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood nor does it agree with the organization's publicly stated goals," Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois said in a written statement, describing the group as "radical."

Meanwhile, a number of U.S. officials have expressed concern about the possibility of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is officially outlawed under Mubarak, seizing political power in the state.

This isn't the first time Clapper has stumbled on the public stage.

During a televised interview in December alongside other top security officials, Clapper was stumped when asked about a major set of terror arrests in Great Britain.

The White House later acknowledged that Clapper had not yet been briefed about the sweep, while defending him as "the consummate DNI."(ANI)

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