The Trump administration is apparently nearing a formal designation of the international Muslim Brotherhood, which is the ideological progenitor of modern radical Sunni Islamism throughout the world, as a terrorist group.
To put it mildly, this is very, very, very long overdue.
The Brotherhood operates all around the globe. But while the Palestinian-Arab branch of the Brotherhood, the genocidal sharia supremacist death cult of Hamas, is perhaps the best known Brotherhood franchise, Brotherhood affiliates throughout the world are based on the same underlying toxic creed. The Brotherhood operates as the mother's milk of Sunni Islamism — indeed, of Sunni jihadism — and serves as a prerequisite and proverbial "gateway drug" for more universally recognized extremist groups such as al-Qaeda, Islamic State, and Jamaat-e-Islami. Indeed, the Counter Extremism Project describes the Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, and Islamic State as "shar[ing] more than deep ideological underpinnings," and further notes that the groups' "similarities far outweigh their differences."
Consider this fabulous 2016 essay in the Claremont Review of Books from David Reaboi of the Security Studies Group and Kyle Shideler of The Counter-Islamist Grid:
Since 1928, when it was founded by Hassan al-Banna, an Egyptian, the Brotherhood has kept terrorist violence — or the threat of such violence — within its doctrinal toolkit, maintaining close ties to other sympathetic terror groups. As the 9/11 Commission reported, the Brotherhood’s comfortable association with violent jihadist terror stretches from establishing clandestine "Special Apparatus" terror cells in the 1930s — which are still active — to the deep influence of Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb upon al-Qaeda.
The Brotherhood also constitutes the ideological wellspring for nearly every current jihadist organization. As al-Qaradawi notes in "Islamic Education and Hassan al-Banna," it was the Muslim Brotherhood that invigorated and promoted a view of Jihad that had lain dormant. "The movement of Ikhwanul Muslimoon (The Muslim Brothers) breathed new life into jihad: giving it a place of honor and prominence in writings; stressing its importance in lectures, meetings, and songs; and asserting its sovereignty over individual and collective life." Where al-Banna provided inspiration and organization, Sayyid Qutb provided the roadmap. His 1964 book "Milestones" operationalized a plan for the reestablishment of totalitarian Islamic law through a skillful mixture of indoctrination and physical violence, all pegged to long-established concepts in Islamic law.
The "roadmap"-providing Islamist Sayyid Qutb, incidentally, notoriously served as an inspiration for Osama bin Laden. Indeed, although the Brotherhood was initially concerned with undermining authoritarian-oriented Arab rulers under the thinly veiled ruse of "democracy," in later decades it unambiguously spread to promoting jihadism and terrorism. This makes sense, given that the Brotherhood's founding Egyptian preacher, Hassan al-Banna, described his ideology thus: "It is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its law on all nations and to extend its power to the entire planet." As Jordan Schachtel notes, al-Banna came to admire Hitler and "called on his followers to constantly 'prepare for jihad' and be 'lovers of death.'" Today, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the Brotherhood's spiritual leader who finds a comfortable home surrounded by terror-supporting emirs in Doha, publicly endorses suicide bombings against "infidels" such as U.S. soldiers deployed in the Middle East.
Furthermore, Muslim Brotherhood-connected groups have already been found by the U.S. government to be terrorist groups. In addition to Hamas, there is the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), a Texas-based Muslim "charity" which was successfully prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2008 as part of the largest terror-financing trial in the history of the federal government, and which openly fundraised for the Muslim Brotherhood before it was shut down. (Notably, both the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Islamic Society of North America were found to be unindicted co-conspirators during the HLF trial.)
This is truly a no-brainer issue. Why in the world would the U.S. be more reluctant than anti-Islamist Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Bahrain to designate an extremist Sunni organization a terrorist group?
Finally, there is the argument, advanced by some, that the Muslim Brotherhood is too disconnected among its various outfits and franchises to coherently fall under one terrorist group label. But as Shideler carefully explained to One America News Network's Liz Wheeler, that is nonsense — the Brotherhood's guiding website carefully prescribes criteria that franchises must meet in order to qualify as official Brotherhood branches:
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has legislatively pushed for formal Muslim Brotherhood terrorist group designation for years for a simple reason: It is wholly logical and is very, very long overdue. President Trump would be wise to see this through to fruition.