A bill to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization was reintroduced by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) December 1, 2020. The act calls on the U.S. State Department to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).
Clarion Project has been at the forefront of a push for this move since Cruz introduced a bill to designate the Brotherhood in 2015. The bill, which enjoyed bipartisan support, included comprehensive documentation about the Muslim Brotherhood‘s involvement in terrorism.
The current bill is co-sponsored by Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS), Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Ron Johnson (R-WI).
“I am proud to reintroduce this bill and to advance America’s fight against radical Islamic terrorism,” said Cruz. “I commend the current administration’s work calling terrorism by its name and combating the spread of this potent threat, and I look forward to receiving the additional information this new bill requests from the Department of State. Many of our closest allies in the Arab world have long ago concluded that the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist group that seeks to sow chaos across the Middle East.”
The Brotherhood has been designated as a terrorist group and banned by the governments of Egypt, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Syria.
The U.S. designated the Brotherhood’s Palestinian wing — Hamas — as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997, but the group as a whole is allowed to operate in the U.S.
Most Islamist groups in the U.S. — including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim American Society (MAS), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and the Muslim Students Association (MSA) — have links to the Brotherhood or are front groups for the Brotherhood.
In November 2014, CAIR and MAS were designated as terrorist organizations by the United Arab Emirates along with a host of other Brotherhood-linked groups.
On April 30, 2019, then White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders announced the Trump administration planned to designate the Brotherhood as a FTO and that the designation was “working its way through the internal process.”
The designation was met with opposition by the Pentagon, whose officials favored a more limited approach.
Shortly after the announcement, The New York Times, as well as other mainstream media outlets, came to the defense of the Brotherhood. Despite the historical and recent use of violence by the group, the Times wrote an article claiming that the Brotherhood was a “missionary” group that has eschewed violence for decades.
Particularly disingenuous was The Washington Post, which published an op-ed authored by human rights lawyer and Muslim personality Arsalan Iftikhar titled “Calling the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization will scapegoat all Muslims.” The article postulated that “Nearly 7 million American Muslims would become the primary domestic target of such a designation.”
Putting aside the fact that the Muslim population in the U.S. is about 3.5 million, this suggests that all American Muslims are affiliated with or sympathetic to the Brotherhood. According to the logic of the article, any criticism or stain on the Brotherhood is the same as condemning the entire American Muslim population and therefore “Islamophobic.”
“Many people believe that this Muslim Brotherhood designation is simply a political smokescreen to criminalize Muslim civic life,” Ifikhar wrote.
A 2011 Gallup poll found that no national American Muslim organization represented a large percentage of the American Muslim population, including no Muslim-Brotherhood-linked organization. According to the poll:
- CAIR was reported as representing 12 percent of males and 11 percent of females
- ISNA represented four percent of males and seven percent of females
- MPAC represented 6 percent of males and 1 percent of females
- MAS represented zero percent of males and two percent of females
- ICNA represented 2 percent of males and zero percent of females