CAIRO - Crushed by the former regime of Hafiz Al-Assad after challenging his rule decades ago, the Muslim Brotherhood is planning to open offices in Syria to accelerate the uprising against his son.
In the beginning we said this is a time for revolution, not ideology, Riad al-Shafqa, the exiled leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, told The Financial Times on Thursday, April 25 in the group's offices in Istanbul.
Now there are many groups inside so we feel we should reorganize.
He said the decision to open offices in Syria aims to revive the group's organizational structures in Syria.
The Syrian Brotherhood is a branch of the Sunni Muslim movement founded in Egypt in 1928.
It was a minor political player before a 1963 Baath Party coup but its support grew under the authoritarian 30-year rule of Hafez al-Assad, as his minority Alawite community dominated the majority Sunni country.
The group led a revolt against Assad's rule in 1982, prompting the government to launch a bloody crackdown on the town of Hama, leaving tens of thousands of people dead.
The Brotherhood became a dominant force in the 14-month revolt against the 12-year rule of Assad's son, Bashar, in which thousands of people have been killed.
The group is an active member in the umbrella opposition Syrian National Council (SNC).
Opposition sources say the Brotherhood is financing the Turkey-based free Syrian Army, the armed wing of the Syrian opposition against Assad's rule.
The group is also seen reviving its base among small Sunni farmers and middle class Syrians.
The decision to open offices in Syria follows criticism of the Brotherhood's role on the uprising against Assad's regime.
Those who attack us have no influence on the ground, al-Shafqa told The Financial Times.
They are media personalities and are trying through their attacks to create influence for themselves.
The Brotherhood has recently faced accusations of seeking to control the umbrella opposition group.
"Our aim is not to tear apart but to unite the (Syrian) opposition," al-Shaqfa told reporters in Istanbul earlier this month.
Tensions within the opposition rose last month with the election of Ghassan Hitto as interim prime minister for the opposition.
Critics claimed the Muslim Brotherhood orchestrated the choice of Hitto, a Syrian-born US citizen and a little-known figure prior to his election.
The Brotherhood leader blamed the accusations against his group on "lies and fabrications" that he said were spread by Assad's regime.
Divisions inside the Syrian opposition are seen hampering the success of the two-year uprising against Assad's regime.
More than 70,000 people have been killed in more than two years of fighting between Assad's security forces and opposition forces.
The fighting has forced more than one million Syrians to flee their home to neighboring countries in addition to the displacement of two millions others inside the country.
There is no end in sight to the conflict in Syria, which has divided world powers.
Russia and Shiite Iran support Assad, while the United States, along with some European and Sunni Muslim Gulf Arab nations back a fractured opposition.Damascus and some of its opponents have said they will consider peace talks, but no meetings have been arranged.