Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are renewing a years-long push to designate the international Muslim Brotherhood organization as a terrorist organization due to its support for terror organizations that threaten U.S. security interests across the globe, according to conversations with U.S. officials spearheading the effort.
The congressional effort to target the Muslim Brotherhood will kick off early Wednesday, when lawmakers on the House's Subcommittee on National Security gather for a hearing to "examine the threat that the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates pose to the United States and its interests and how to most effectively counter it, including potential next steps for U.S. policy," according to the committee.
The hearing is expected to set the stage for Congress to follow through on efforts that begun in 2015 to convince the Obama administration to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror group following its violent, and eventually failed, takeover in Egypt.
The State Department has opposed formal designation of the Brotherhood for some time due to efforts by the Obama administration to make diplomatic overtures to the group, particularly during its coup in Egypt. Although the Trump administration has designated various offshoots of the Brotherhood as global terror groups, the organization as a whole has escaped U.S. scrutiny.
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), the National Security Subcommittee's chair, told the Washington Free Beacon that U.S. policy has failed to address the Brotherhood's radical behavior and support for terror groups. Multiple countries, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, have already designated the Brotherhood as a terror group.
"The Muslim Brotherhood is a malevolent force, and American policy needs to reflect this truth," DeSantis told the Free Beacon. "Designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization is overdue."
Key U.S. allies such as Turkey and Qatar continue to work alongside the Muslim Brotherhood, sparking concern among lawmakers such as DeSantis who view these countries as working at a crossroads with the Trump administration as it works to eradicate radical forces in the Middle East.
"The Muslim Brotherhood is a radical Islamist organization that has generated a network of affiliates in over 70 countries," the House committee notes on its website promoting the upcoming hearing.
In addition to hearing from Muslim Brotherhood experts on the group's ongoing support for radical terror groups, lawmakers participating in the hearing will keep a close eye on exposing the roles that both Qatar and Turkey play in bolstering the group's radical ideology, according to those briefed on the hearing.
While the Trump administration, as early as January 2017, indicated that it was considering a terror designation for the entire Muslim Brotherhood, little action has been taken, motivating Congress to lead the charge.
Past efforts to designate the Muslim Brotherhood failed to gain traction during the Obama administration due to its explicit policy of working with the group in Egypt, a policy that was met with much protest in the region.
U.S. Muslim advocacy organizations such as the Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR, have galvanized their supporters to oppose a Muslim Brotherhood designation.
In early 2017, groups affiliated with CAIR and its supporters launched a series of attacks on Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), who, at the time, was pushing his own effort to formally designate the Brotherhood as a terror entity.