A proposal to finally designate the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as terrorist organizations may be put forward by the Trump administration, according to the New York Times, which heard from current and former officials briefed on the decision-making process.
The move to send a message to Iran has strong support in the White House, but the Muslim Brotherhood portion has reportedly been stalled over the past few days, courtesy of career officials at the State Department and the National Security Council. They claim that the designation is without legal basis and would potentially upset allies in the region.
Last month, a group of congressional Republicans reintroduced legislation that pressured the State Department to either designate the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization or put forward the case as to why they refuse to do so.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz sponsored the legislation along with Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart. Cruz wrote on Twitter according to the Times: “It’s time to call the enemy by its name.”
The New York Times reported:
From 2013 through mid-2015, a former American official said, every interaction with Egyptian leaders included pressure on the issue. At one point, a senior Egyptian intelligence official personally brought a dossier to Secretary of State John Kerry, though it had no new information, according to the former American official. The State Department decided the Brotherhood did not meet the legal requirements for the designation because there was no evidence that its leaders had systematically ordered terrorist attacks.
A similar review released by Britain in 2015 found that the Brotherhood “selectively used violence and sometimes terror in pursuit of their institutional goals,” and that it emphasized engagement in English but jihad in Arabic. Its leaders have defended Hamas’s attacks on Israel and justified attacks on American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, the review said. But it did not recommend that it be designated as a terrorist organization, either.
It is unclear what form a presidential order would take. Presumably, Mr. Trump could direct Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson to review whether the Brotherhood should be designated. At his confirmation hearing, Mr. Tillerson grouped the Brotherhood and Al Qaeda together as “agents of radical Islam.”
But officials may try to narrow the scope of such an order to avoid affecting Brotherhood affiliates outside Egypt, or they may shelve the order in favor of waiting for legislation from Congress.
“The goals of the Muslim Brotherhood,” Center for Security Policy founder Frank Gaffney Jr. explained in a recent NYT interview, are “exactly the same as the Islamic State, exactly the same as the Taliban, exactly the same as, you know, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Al Nusra Front, on and on, Al Shabab. It’s about Islamic supremacism. It’s about achieving the end state that is their due.”
Guess what group is in opposition to the measure? Why, that would be none other than the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a group that has its own disturbing ties to radical Islamic terror and has been designated by the UAE as a terrorist organization.
The NYT reported that “Mr. Gaffney and others have accused it [CAIR] of being a front for the Brotherhood, which the council denies.”
Trump has already had phone conversations with numerous Arab allies who want to see the designation put in place, and has also spoken with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose Justice and Development Party has a long history of support for the Brotherhood.
The Times reported:
A top Arab official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity according to diplomatic protocol, declined to discuss what was said on the calls, but added, “It’s safe to assume since U.A.E., Saudi and Egypt have all designated the M.B. as a terrorist organization, that decision would be welcome by those countries and several others in the region.”