A House bill introduced last year by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist entity cleared the House Judiciary Committee today.
The bill details many links of the Brotherhood to terrorism, including the endorsement of violence in Egypt last year in response to a “war against Islam’s principles.” It notes that Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain have banned the Brotherhood.
Not more than 60 days after enactment of the bill, the State Department would have to submit a report to Congress on whether the Muslims Brotherhood meets the criteria to be designated a foreign terrorist organization — and if not, explain why not.
The legislation has 28 bipartisan co-sponsors. A companion bill from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) sits in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
At today’s Judiciary Committee markup, in which the vote was 17-10 to move the bill to the House floor, Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said he was “troubled” to learn that the State Department never considered the Muslim Brotherhood an FTO.
Since its founding in 1928, Goodlatte noted, “the Brotherhood’s strategic goal ‘in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.'”
The chairman stressed that under the designation “this administration would actually have to deny admittance to aliens tied to the Muslim Brotherhood rather than continue to proclaim to the world that the Brotherhood is a moderate and secular organization.”
“The administration can’t waive the terrorism grounds of inadmissibility with respect to aliens who are members or representatives of designated terrorist organizations or have received military training from such organizations,” he said. In addition, people who provide support to the Brotherhood would be subject to federal criminal penalties and financial institutions would be blocked from dealing with members of the group.
“It is the right thing to do,” Goodlatte said. “And designation will make it less likely that the Muslim Brotherhood will be able to further infiltrate the United States.”
Diaz-Balart stressed that the Brotherhood “continues to pose a global threat.”
“The jihadist movement actively supports and finances terrorist networks around the world, including al-Qaeda and Hamas,” said the Florida congressman. “The United States must recognize and sanction the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization as part of our national security strategy.”
The Obama administration, which continues to call on the Egyptian government to release Muslim Brotherhood members, is sure to oppose the bill.
“We are deeply troubled by the politically motivated sentences that have been handed down against former President Morsi and several others,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters last June after the deposed Muslim Brotherhood leader was sentenced to life in prison.
“The United States has repeatedly raised concerns about the detention and sentencing of a variety of political figures in Egypt and we are concerned that the proceedings have been conducted in a way that is not only contrary to universal values but also damaging to the stability that all Egyptians deserve,” Earnest said.
Former Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson, reviled by many demonstrators during secular democracy protests for appearing to side with the Muslim Brotherhood, has since been promoted to Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.