Trump Admin, Congress Ready to Designate Muslim Brotherhood a Terror Group

Trump views Brotherhood as a key national security threat

Donald Trump
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May 1, 2019

The Trump administration and its allies in Congress are working to finalize an effort to designate the international Muslim Brotherhood organization as a terrorist group, the culmination of a years-long effort to strangle the radical organization and choke off its resources, according to multiple U.S. officials who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon about the matter.

Senior Trump administration officials confirmed to the Free Beacon this week that President Donald Trump views the Muslim Brotherhood as a key national security threat and has ordered his White House to forward efforts aimed at designating the group as a terrorist organization, which critics of the Islamist group have been pushing for years.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), who has long pursued efforts to realize this designation, is already working on a series of legislative packages that would initiate an investigation into the Brotherhood's activities and its leadership. These pieces of legislation would set the stage for the Trump administration and Congress to formally designate the organization in the near future, sources said.

The designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group jibes with ongoing efforts by the Trump administration to crackdown on international terror supporters, including the Iranian regime and its proxy organizations such as Hezbollah. The administration recently took the unprecedented step of designating Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, as a terrorist outfit. Now, officials are turning their attention to the Brotherhood, sources confirmed.

"President Trump has always been clear that the safety of Americans is his top priority and he takes the threat of terrorism seriously, highlighted recently by his decision to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a Foreign Terrorist Organization—an unprecedented action exposing the Iranian regime's institutionalization and use of terror as a tool of statecraft," a senior administration official, speaking only on background, told the Free Beacon.

"The president has heard the concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood from our friends and allies in the Middle East, as well as here at home," the official said. "Any potential designation would go through a robust, deliberate, and inclusive interagency process."

To this end, Cruz is crafting legislation that will help the administration identify the Brotherhood's multiple networks, affiliates, and assets.

One piece of legislation, sources confirmed, would focus broadly on the Brotherhood's destabilizing activities and help identify which parties to sanction and designate. A second piece of legislation would act as a compliment and seek to identify destabilizing activities spearheaded by the Brotherhood overseas.

"Sen. Cruz believes that the Muslim Brotherhood maintains a global network of Islamists and Islamist groups, including terrorist groups," a spokesman for the senator told the Free Beacon. "His legislative push will include a range of reports and mandates that will ensure that American lawmakers and the American people have the information and authorities they need to respond and protect American national security."

These legislative efforts represent the culmination of several years of work by the Trump administration and its congressional allies to officially designate the Brotherhood as a terror group, which would have global ramifications for the Islamist organization and its allies in the region.

White House Spokeswoman Sarah Sanders confirmed in public remarks that the designation is working its way through appropriate internal channels.

"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.

One senior congressional official familiar with the effort told the Free Beacon that it will take some time for U.S. officials and the relevant investigatory bodies to provide a thorough accounting of the group's activities, members, and assets across the globe.

The Brotherhood, these sources explained, operates a series of separate networks in several countries.

"The Cruz idea is that the Muslim Brotherhood isn't the same everywhere so you can't just have a blanket solution," said the congressional official, speaking only on background about the legislative angle. "They have this line they pass around about a comprehensive approach instead of a one-size-fits-all approach."

"One of the bills essentially says that yes, sometimes what we're going to need is a terrorism designation," the source said. "Another one of the bills sets up helping allies that are being threatened. The overall approach is just different than what's been tried in the past."