Just a few years ago, the conventional wisdom in Washington, DC, was that the Muslim Brotherhood would be a moderating force in the Middle East and bring democracy to the region. But not three years after the beginning of the “Arab Spring,” the people of countries like Egypt and Tunisia removed their Muslim Brotherhood- led governments. Other Middle Eastern nations have taken measures to designate the organization as a terrorist group and banned their activity entirely. Even our British allies have opened an official investigation into the group’s activities and connection to violent extremism.
For the past 20 years and in three different administrations, the US government has identified and designated branches of the Muslim Brotherhood as terrorist organizations.
US government officials have testified under oath before Congress that the Muslim Brotherhood has supported terrorism internationally and here at home.
From it’s earliest days, the Muslim Brotherhood used violence as a strategy. It formed a “secret apparatus” to attack government officials and foreigners in Egypt, even killing two Egyptian prime ministers.
Richard Clarke, the counterterrorism “czar” to both president Bill Clinton and president George W. Bush, testified before the Senate Banking Committee in October 2003 that the common link shared by al-Qaida, Islamic Jihad and Hamas was “the membership and the ideology of the Muslim Brothers.” As was recognized in the 9/11 Commission Report, virtually every Islamic terrorist group has built their organization on the ideological bedrock the Muslim Brotherhood established.
Some have tried to paint al-Qaida as a great enemy of the Muslim Brotherhood, but whatever differences they have are tactical, and there are many reports of the groups cooperating and endorsing each other’s terrorist activities.
A February 1993 House Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare reported that various branches of the international Muslim Brotherhood regularly took part in conferences with al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The senior clerical leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, led by the group’s Qatar-based top jurist Yousef al-Qaradawi, issued a fatwa in November 2004 authorizing the killing of Americans in Iraq.
Many of al-Qaida’s leaders also came through the Muslim Brotherhood’s ranks. Mohamed Atta, the ringleader of the 9/11 terrorist attack, according to The Washington Post was radicalized while part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s engineering syndicate in Egypt. It is fair to say that rather than being opposed to al-Qaida, the Muslim Brotherhood has been an open gateway to it.
One of the enduring myths about the Muslim Brotherhood is that the group has renounced violence.
Then how can one explain the Muslim Brotherhood’s longtime support for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas? In fact, Hamas identifies itself in its 1988 Covenant as the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood – a fact recognized in the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism. It was president Bill Clinton who designated Hamas a terrorist organization in 1995.
It is myopic to look at Hamas as it rains down thousands of missiles on our ally Israel without considering its role in the larger context of the global Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, the Justice Department in 2007 and 2008 successfully argued in federal court that the international Muslim Brotherhood had directed it’s affiliates in the United States to organize to provide “media, money and men” to Hamas.
As federal prosecutors showed during the Holy Land Foundation trial, the largest terrorism financing trial in American history, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee raised millions for Hamas here in the United States. The judge in the case wrote in an opinion that there was “ample evidence” establishing the association between Muslim Brotherhood groups here in the US with Hamas. The convictions of the Holy Land Foundation executives have been upheld by the US Supreme Court.
This was one of the reasons why FBI director Robert Mueller testified before Congress in February 2011 that “elements of the Muslim Brotherhood both here and overseas have supported terrorism.”
The US government has designated branches, charities and leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. US government officials have said that the Muslim Brotherhood around the world has supported terrorist groups. And the Justice Department has prosecuted elements of the Muslim Brotherhood here in the US for materially supporting terrorism.
It is long overdue to act on what the US government has already acknowledged. It is time to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.
The author, a Minnesota Congresswoman, is a member of the House Intelligence Committee and a former US presidential candidate.