On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that the Trump administration is working to formally designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. The Muslim Brotherhood is Egypt’s oldest Islamist movement, and the impetus to designate it a terror group actually came from Egypt.
“The president has consulted with his national security team and leaders in the region who share his concern, and this designation is working its way through the internal process,” Sanders said in an email, Reuters reported.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi asked President Donald Trump to make the designation in a private meeting during a Washington, D.C. visit on April 9. Sisi has already designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group. A U.S. official confirmed the meeting, first reported by The New York Times.
After that meeting, Trump praised Sisi as a “great president.” Sisi ousted the previous Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, in 2013 and was elected president the following year. He has overseen a crackdown on Islamists.
White House national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo support the designation but officials at the Pentagon and elsewhere have been opposed and have been seeking more limited action, the senior official told Reuters.
The Muslim Brotherhood claims a membership of up to one million people. It came to power in the 2012 election, after dictator Hosni Mubarak was toppled in an uprising. Under Sisi, the movement has been banned. Egypt blamed the Brotherhood for a 2013 suicide bomb attack that killed 16 people. The Brotherhood condemned the attack.
The organization was founded in Egypt in 1928 and aims to achieve a worldwide Islamic caliphate, ostensibly by peaceful means. Yet the group has inspired many terrorists, and terrorist groups like Hamas are branches of the Muslim Brotherhood. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda, was once a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
The Muslim Brotherhood also has ties to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party. Many of the group’s members fled to Turkey after the Brotherhood was banned in Egypt. Turkey remains a NATO ally.
Recognizing the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization is long overdue. The process may take some time, but Trump has already started. Last year, the administration designated two of the organization’s terror wings: Hasm and Liwa al-Thawra. Now, he’s finishing the job.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.