Yes: Brotherhood provides spiritual grounding for jihadist terror
The Muslim Brotherhood is an organization dedicated to the overthrow of the United States and its values.
Since its inception, the organization’s foundational objective has been to re-establish a caliphate, which it defines as a geographic territory ruled by a caliph and governed by sharia law. More importantly, the Muslim Brotherhood has consistently embraced violent jihad as a core part of its strategy for success.
Founded in 1928, the Brotherhood has been an inspiration and has provided spiritual grounding for the ideology and violence of many radical jihadist groups, including Hamas, al-Qaida and the Islamic State.
The Muslim Brotherhood, whose core values pose a dire threat to U.S. national security, should be formally identified as the terrorist group it so clearly is.
With the recent horrific attacks in London, Manchester and Kabul, and with violence spreading to the Philippines and Indonesia, it is imperative to highlight the global threat posed by radical Islamic jihadists. The recent attacks have come on top of the slaughter of Muslims, Christians and others in regions such as the Middle East, Northern and Central Africa, and Europe.
The United States needs to recognize and identify those who seek the demise of our country and must take every legal step to confront, contain and ultimately defeat the threat posed by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Designating a group a terrorist organization is a hard and laborious process for the State Department. However, a thorough analysis must be done. Undoubtedly, the examiners would declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group.
The evidence is overwhelming.
From stealth tactics to violent jihad, the Brotherhood has used various strategies to advance its goal of establishing a caliphate. And the group embraces the concept of taqiya, in which deception is permitted as a means of advancing one’s mission.
More directly, the International Islamic Relief Organization provided funding to al-Qaida. The CIA linked the organization to Osama bin Laden and Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. The United Arab Emirates identifies it as part of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Union of Good, designed to support Hamas and sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2008, is another international terrorist network connected to the Muslim Brotherhood. Its board once included a Yemini Muslim Brotherhood cleric named Sheikh al-Zindani, who was designated a terrorist in 2004 for his work as an al-Qaida recruiter.
Further, the UAE, understanding the Brotherhood’s capabilities and intentions, has designated the group a terrorist organization.
Those who oppose the U.S. making that designation claim the Muslim Brotherhood renounces violence. Yet in recent years, the citizens of Egypt and Libya have suffered tremendously under Brotherhood-affiliated regimes.
The Muslim Brotherhood has done an exceptional job burying its violent ideology through its use of taqiya, front organizations and other subterfuge to hide and conceal its true intentions.
It is the responsibility of the State Department to work with U.S. allies and the intelligence community to gather the information necessary to make this indispensable designation.
After almost 90 years of the group spreading a lethal and evil ideology, it is time to step up to the plate, to identify the threat and separate the notion of good versus evil. It is time to finally designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.
A former chairman of the U.S. House intelligence committee, Pete Hoekstra is a senior fellow at the Investigative Project on Terrorism and the author of “Architects of Disaster: The Destruction of Libya.” Readers may write him at IPT, 5614 Connecticut Ave. NW, suite 34, Washington, D.C., 20015.
No: Denouncing the peaceful group will set back the war on terror
Islamophobes — people who mischaracterize and malign Islam, one of the three great Abrahamic religions — are at it again.
In January, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., introduced the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act in the Senate and House, marking the fifth consecutive year such legislation has been proposed.
Designating a group a foreign terrorist organization authorizes a host of U.S. government sanctions, including criminal prosecution of anyone providing the group with material support, whether in the U.S. or abroad.
Most responsible experts inside and outside government do not consider the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group, and that view, to this point, has prevailed.
The difference this year? The current occupant of the White House, who has an unfortunate history of stoking hostility toward Islam. With that, and Republicans controlling Congress, the Brotherhood being wrongly designated a terrorist group has become much more likely.
In fact, President Donald Trump has reportedly been contemplating an executive order that would slap the label on the group.
He has been egged on by the anti-Islam Faith Leaders for America group, which held a news conference just days before his inauguration advocating such action.
Egypt’s military dictator, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, praised by Trump as “a fantastic guy,” is also urging our president to brand the Brotherhood as terrorists, which would enable el-Sissi to further isolate and repress his domestic political opponents.
The Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928 and has generally espoused governance in accordance with principles of Islam. It has inspired as many as 1,500 spinoff groups and political movements in the Middle East attracting millions of adherents. The few that have engaged in violence have, for the most part, been acting against foreign occupation (such as the Palestinian Hamas group), harsh regime repression, or other internal disputes.
But the Brotherhood leadership publicly renounced violence decades ago, and the group is not suspected to have resumed it.
A CIA analysis leaked in late January concluded that the Brotherhood had “rejected violence as a matter of official policy and opposed (al-Qaida) and (the Islamic State).” In Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, Turkey and elsewhere, Brotherhood-affiliated parties and individuals regularly join governments and engage in fully legal and open political activity.
Why, then, is the Muslim Brotherhood, which has never been known to commit any act of violence on U.S. soil or against Americans, the object of so much attention in Washington?
Because Islamophobes need ammo in accusing organizations such as the Council on American Islamic Relations, the Muslim Public Affairs Committee and others of acting as Brotherhood fronts in the U.S. These groups, those with twisted perspectives argue, want to impose sharia law in America.
There is, of course, no credible evidence supporting such a wild conspiracy theory, and all of these groups have been under relentless law enforcement scrutiny since 9/11, if not before.
The politicians behind the Brotherhood designation campaign, who may be simply engaging in cheap political grandstanding, should know that taking action on this matter would undoubtedly complicate diplomatic relations with Arab and Muslim governments with Brotherhood-affiliated members.
We should be even more concerned about the potential grave consequences for Muslim Americans, including chilling their rights of expression, association, religious practice and charitable giving.
In a truly effective effort to negate the genuine threat of terrorism, we must cultivate, not alienate, our Muslim communities as vital sources of intelligence. We owe them, and ourselves, nothing less.
George Bisharat is an emeritus professor of law at the University of California at Hastings College of the Law. A singer-songwriter and blues harmonica player, he has recorded two acclaimed albums as “Big Harp George.” Readers may write him at UC Hastings, 200 McAllister St., San Francisco, CA, 94102.