he Trump administration could soon declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, a move that would greatly restrict the controversial group’s global reach and would come despite its insistence that it has peaceful intentions.
Trump himself was often critical of President Obama’s outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has proposed a bill to call for declaring the Brotherhood a terror organization. In the past, it has been accused of supporting terrorist groups around the world, and several countries, including Muslim nations, have banned them.
If the U.S. declares the Brotherhood a terrorist organization, it would make it a criminal act for Americans to fund the group, ban banks from processing money for it, bar people with ties to the group from coming to the United States and make it easier to deport immigrants who have worked with the organization.
“It is time to call this enemy by its name and speak with clarity and moral authority,” Cruz said in a statement introducing the bill.
“The Muslim Brotherhood is an organization that preaches moderate Islam in peaceful means,” he said. “We stand firmly against extremism and terrorism and we share common values such as democracy, freedom and pluralism with the rest of the free world. Also, [the bill] will enhance extremism throughout the Islamic world.”
Whatever its current posture, the Muslim Brotherhood has been steeped in controversy – and linked to violence – for decades. It was formed in Egypt in the 1920s with the stated goal of establishing a worldwide Islamic Caliphate, or empire ruled under Sharia law. The Brotherhood’s motto reads in part: “the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; death for the sake of Allah is our wish.”
Perhaps most notably, it was militants from a Muslim Brotherhood spin-off that assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981, shortly after Sadat had sought peace with Israel.
The Palestinian terror group Hamas was founded by Muslim Brotherhood members and has been responsible for hundreds of terror acts in Israel that have claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians, including Americans.
Russia and the Syrian regime consider the Brotherhood a terror group. Cruz’s bill notes that Syria banned it “in 1980, following a wave of assassinations targeting government officials and the… massacre of 83 [Syrian] military cadets in Aleppo.”
Several U.S. allies – Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia – have also declared the Brotherhood a terror group.
Egypt declared it a terror group in 2013 after the government blamed it for a bombing of a police headquarters that killed 16.
The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia declared it a terror group in 2014 as part of a broader push to contain radical Islam.
Asked about those designations, Walid said he hoped those countries would reconsider the ban on his group.
“We think that the decision taken by those countries was hasty and unwise and we call upon them to reevaluate their decision. Every now and again, we hear unofficial leaks indicating that those countries are reconsidering this matter,” he said.
Despite the Brotherhood’s protestations, the Trump administration has signaled it is taking a hard line with the group.
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, during the Rising Tide Summit at the US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (AP Photo/Scott Morgan)Expand / Contract
Cruz has proposed legislation that would designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. (AP)
In his confirmation hearings, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson mentioned the group in the same breath as Al Qaeda, referring to “agents of radical Islam like Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and certain elements within Iran.”
As far back as 2012, Trump condemned the Muslim Brotherhood, penning more than two dozen tweets critical of President Obama’s friendly foreign policy toward the group.
“This is a total disaster,” Trump wrote in 2012 when news broke that the Obama administration would send 20 F-16s fighter planes to Egypt after Mohamed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, became president. Morsi had already begun rapidly consolidating power by imprisoning critics and replacing judges, leading critics to fear he was steering the powerful Arab nation toward Islamization.
Morsi was overthrown in a 2012 military coup and has been replaced by then-Army Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has imprisoned and executed Brotherhood leaders after they were found guilty, often in mass trials. Morsi himself was convicted of several crimes, including inciting violence and torturing protesters. His initial sentence of death was overturned, but he remains in prison awaiting a new trial.
Al-Sisi, a staunch critic of the Muslim Brotherhood who later stood for election and won, spoke with Trump by phone on Jan. 23.Share