Legislation branding the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organisation in the United States has been green-lighted by the Republican-dominated House Judiciary Committee with a 17-10 vote. The bill, obliging the US Secretary of State to take action unless he comes up with justifications not to do so, will now go before the House and will require rubber-stamping by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
In the event the bill is signed into law, Brotherhood leaders will no longer receive the red-carpet treatment at the Obama White House. They will no longer be able to take selfies in front of the State Department logo, flashing Rabaa hand signs (a hand gesture used by Muslim Brotherhood supporters). In fact, they will be denied entry into the United States and its banks will be obliged to block their transactions, according to Fox News.
Moreover, it’s likely that Britain and other European Union member-states will follow suit. British Prime Minister David Cameron authorised a probe into Brotherhood activities within the United Kingdom, but delayed the report’s publication until recently. Although it was scathing, acknowledging that the organisation has not adhered to peaceful means of opposition, has proscribed to known terrorist groups, while its ideology and tactics are contrary to Britain’s values, the group wasn’t banned. Instead, Cameron announced: “The government will continue to refuse visas to Brotherhood-linked extremists, ensure charities linked to the group are not misused to finance it instead of their ‘lawful charitable purpose’ and will keep the organisation’s legal status under review.” Perhaps his decision was promoted by the Brotherhood’s warning that a ban could trigger terrorist attacks on UK soil.
The Brotherhood has fought hard to present itself to the world as non-violent and has run a professional PR campaign lapped up by the Left-wing media. Even as its membership was rampaging across Egypt, terrorising the population, burning churches, torching state-owned buildings, planting bombs and attacking the police and the military, its westernised spokespersons were given platforms on western networks almost to the exclusion of Egyptian government officials.
Should America decide to label the Brotherhood a terrorist organisation, Egypt will be vindicated in the eyes of the world with regard to its crackdown on the group. Banning the Muslim Brotherhood, the mothership of Al Qaida, should be a non-contest. It holds no loyalty to any country. It has a presence in more than 60 nations. Its aim is and has always been the same as Daesh (the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) — to dominate the Arab world for the purposes of creating a ‘caliphate’.
It may take a different approach to Daesh premised on political infiltration, but its endgame is similar. There is no doubt that US public opinion will be supportive of the bill, but there’s many a slip between the cup and the lip. Until now, US President Barack Obama, who backed the Brotherhood’s power grabs in Egypt and Tunisia, has not only declined to utter any condemnation of the group, but a leaked document titled Presidential Study Directive-11 shows that it was (or perhaps still is) the Obama administration’s policy to support the Brotherhood as “a moderate alternative” to Al Qaida, its clones and affiliates.
Indeed, several high-profile members of the US administration are known to be sympathetic to the Brotherhood and espouse their positions. An aide to his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, was alleged by five Republican lawmakers to have extensive ties to the Brotherhood.
Obama’s policy was wrongly conceived because although it presents a moderate visage, the reality is otherwise. Former president Ronald Reagan’s assistant secretary of defence Frank Gaffney has described it as “among President Obama’s worst security policy legacies”.
Obama is unrepentant. In February last year, he met with 14 Muslim leaders in the White House, several of whom are known to have ties to the Brotherhood. Initially, a White House spokeswoman attempted to mislead reporters, saying they were invited by a college — a claim the spokeswoman was forced to retract when the college in question denied.
A “We the People” petition that garnered more than 200,000 signatures, calling upon Obama to declare the Brotherhood as a terrorist outfit, was met with: “We have not seen credible evidence that the Muslim Brotherhood has renounced its decades-long commitment to non-violence.” That’s open to question when the Egyptian government has disseminated videos showing its leaders calling for martyrs to launch attacks and its members firing from AK47s and hurling firebombs.
It will be interesting to watch how the current US Secretary of State, John Kerry, reacts if the bill passes the floor. Obama will be obliged either to turn his back on his friends or increasingly cement his image as being soft on terrorism. The axe is lowering on the Brotherhood. Whether it will fall during Obama’s tenure only time will tell.
Linda S. Heard is an award-winning British political columnist and guest television commentator with a focus on the Middle East.