The American Pulse Foundation hosted an event last week in Washington, D.C. for congressmen and experts to discuss the possibility of the Trump administration designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.
Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX-1) led the panel discussion and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) joined via video broadcast.
Rep. Gohmert is cosponsoring a bill introduced by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) at the end of April which would “require the Secretary of State to submit to Congress a report on the designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization.”
The legislation cannot automatically designate the group as a terrorist organization, but it would force the Secretary of State to begin the process by consulting with U.S. intelligence agencies to determine if the Muslim Brotherhood meets the criteria for the designation. Consequently, either the group would be placed on the list or the Secretary would need to justify the specific criteria of the designation that was not met.
Sen. Cruz has long petitioned the government to designate the group as a terrorist organization, having introduced similar legislation in the Senate in 2015 and 2017.
Critics of the proposal argue that there is no evidence that the Muslim Brotherhood engages in violent activity and that opposition to the group is primarily led by Egyptian President el-Sisi and leaders in Saudi Arabia.
Critics also claim that these authoritarian rulers fear that any growing influence of the Brotherhood could lead to political upheaval through elections.
However, supporters of the legislation contend that the Muslim Brotherhood propogates the spread of radical Islam and has led to offshoot movements that engage in terrorist activities.
The Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas, for instance, has long considered itself as part of the “Muslim Brothers.”
In 2008, Ghassan Elashi was convicted of terrorism financing and funneling millions of dollars to Hamas through the Holy Land Foundation. Elashi was a founding member of the Texas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim Brotherhood offshoot.
He is currently serving a life sentence in federal prison.
Terrorism and national security analyst Robin Simcox, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, notes that the extreme ideology of the group makes it a clear adversary of the United States, but that a terrorist designation could cause some tricky geopolitical problems even if the label is appropriate.
The Trump administration has been actively considering labeling the group a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under the State Department’s guidelines for nearly two months now. In late April, former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated that the “designation is working its way through the internal process.”
The House bill co-sponsored by Gohmert was last referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security in the Judiciary Committee in late May.
It is unlikely to advance in the Democrat-controlled House.
Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. While recently finishing his degree in Political Science from Azusa Pacific University, he also interned in the U.S. Senate and co-authored a book on C. S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy. In his spare time, he might be reading up on Dostoevsky or attempting to write a novel.