Ted Cruz Renews Call to Designate Muslim Brotherhood a Terrorist Group

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, September 12, 2018:

Amidst a highly visible reelection campaign, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) renewed a call last week for the Muslim Brotherhood to be designated a terrorist organization.

This follows the Trump administration’s designation earlier this year of two affiliates of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood — Hasm and Liwa al-Thawra — as terrorist organizations:

Last year Cruz introduced S. 68, calling on the State Department to designate the group. The Senate bill is co-sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore and Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch and Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson:

The House companion bill, H.R. 377, is sponsored by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and currently has 76 House co-sponsors.

Speaking at a Capitol Hill event last week, Cruz invoked the Obama administration’s efforts to purge terror watch lists of anyone connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, and also the Justice Department’s successful arguments during the Holy Land Foundation trial in 2008 that the Muslim Brotherhood established support networks in the U.S. to support the terrorist group Hamas.

Cruz called for the designation for the “clarity” of standing with our allies (comments begins ~12:30):

I would note, that that clarity is closely related to the bill we were talking about just a minute ago. The legislation that I’ve introduced to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. You know, we live in an era of political correctness. But during the Obama regime, it was beyond political correctness. It was an Orwellian double-speak.

I chaired a hearing on the willful blindness of the Obama administration to radical Islamic terrorism. What we’ve heard, among others, is a DHS whistleblower who explained the Department of Homeland Security had edited or deleted over 800 records to remove references to jihad or Muslim Brotherhood. Simply to delete them. And that it was a purge directed by the White House in writing and they used that word — purge — purge out any references. That blindness is dangerous and makes it vulnerable.

The men and women here know the Muslim Brotherhood’s motto is “Jihad is our way and dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” This is who some in the press and some in the political world urge us to think of as a moderate group. Well, read the Brotherhood’s explanatory memorandum on the general strategic goal for the Brotherhood in North America. It says, “the process of settlement is a civilization jihad process. The Muslim Brotherhood must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believer.”

Muslim Brotherhood does not hide that they are a terrorist organization.

Here’s what the Department of Justice said about the Muslim Brotherhood during the Holy Land Foundation trial: “The government’s case includes testimony that in the early 1990’s, Hamas’ parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, planned to establish a network of organizations within the U.S. to spread a militant Islamist message and to raise money for Hamas.”

Egypt has already designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. Perhaps because they have seen firsthand what that terror looks like, and the slaughter that it can produce. We need that same clarity. So, I thank you for urging Members of Congress to pass the legislation. I would note also, the administration can do this. We need to pass the legislation, but the administration can do so on its own as well.

I continue to urge the administration. Just as with the embassy and the Iran deal, the lines remain the same. The debate remains the same. And the reason remains the same. There is a virtue to clarity. To standing unshakably with our friends and to standing unshakably against our enemies.

Among other issues covered in Cruz’s speech was his support for the Trump administration’s move of the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. After that announcement, the Muslim Brotherhood issued a statement declaring the U.S. the “enemy of the Arab world.”

The Muslim Brotherhood has bragged about heavily lobbying Congress to prevent any designation, as well as spending $5 million to derail designation efforts:

Just last year, an Arizona man Ahmed Mohammed el-Gammal was convicted of material support for terrorism for assisting a New York college student’s travel to Syria to join ISIS. El-Gammal admitted to being a Muslim Brotherhood supporter, and prosecutors claimed he used a fellow Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood contact living in Turkey to assist the NY student in crossing the border to Syria and joining an ISIS terror training camp.

Also last year, I reported details in my exclusive threepart interview in Cairo with Egyptian terrorism expert Khaled Okasha, the former head of counterterrorism in the Sinai. Okasha traces the origins of Hasm and Liwa al-Thawra to the efforts of Muslim Brotherhood Guidance Bureau leader Mohamed Kamal. Kamal was killed in a shootout with police in October 2016. Okasha explained that the terror groups are still under the effective control of the Muslim Brotherhood after Kamal’s death.

As I’ve reported here at PJ Media previously, many of our Middle East allies, including Israel, have already designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization:

Following Israel’s designation of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Shin Bet announced that the group was behind a July 2017 terror attack on the Temple Mount that killed two Israeli police officers:

A number of Western governments have also expressed concerns about the hostile actions of the Muslim Brotherhood and corrosive effect the group has in Western society. In same cases, some countries are now denying citizenship to immigrants for their ties to the Muslim Brotherhood:

Given the few legislative days left in the current Congress, it’s unlikely either Cruz’s Senate bill or the companion House bill will be considered this year.

However, given evidence that the Trump administration already has in its possession about the Muslim Brotherhood’s terror support, the Treasury and/or State Department could designate the group at any time.

Desantis Hearing Establishes the Muslim Brotherhood Must Be Designated as a Terrorist Organization – the Sooner, the Better

Center for Security Policy, 

NEWS RELEASE, July 11, 2018

For more information contact:

Deborah Hamilton, Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, 610.584.1096, ext. 102, or Patrick Benner, 610.584.1096, ext. 104.

DESANTIS HEARING ESTABLISHES THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD MUST BE DESIGNATED AS A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION – THE SOONER, THE BETTER 

Washington, DC:  It is no longer a question of whether the United States will designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization. It is only a matter of when and how.

That’s the principal take-away from a congressional national security panel this morning that addressed “The Muslim Brotherhood’s Global Threat” and what the US should do about it.

“This hearing is an opportunity to discuss what the United States’ next step should be in combatting the Muslim Brotherhood’s threat,” said Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-FL), chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security of the House oversight committee.

“The Muslim Brotherhood is a militant Islamist organization with affiliates in over 70 countries,” DeSantis said. “There’s no question that the Muslim Brotherhood’s affiliates are involved in terrorism.”

The historic hearing follows a June 28 Center for Security Policy Decision Brief that called on the Trump Administration to declare the entire Muslim Brotherhood and its fronts and affiliates as terrorist organizations.

“Thankfully the Trump Administration has discarded the Obama-era policy of treating the Brotherhood as a potential ally,” DeSantis said. “Now, the questions are focused on how expansive to make the terror designation, and whether it should be done through the State Department or Treasury Department.” 

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and a longtime associate of the Center for Security Policy, was one of the four witnesses who testified. He was the only Muslim witness, and made the case powerfully for Center-recommended policy of designating the entire Muslim Brotherhood and its fronts as terrorist entities.

In the course of his testimony, Dr. Jasser rebutted characterizations by the Brotherhood’s apologists and enablers of its critics as “haters” and “Islamophobes”:

Nothing would be more pro-Muslim than the marginalization of the Muslim Brotherhood and its direct affiliates. Making the Muslim Brotherhood radioactive would allow the light to shine upon their most potent antagonists in Muslim communities – those who reject political Islam and believe in liberty and the separation of mosque and state.

He also discussed national security risks associated with failing to designate the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates as terrorist entities. One of them is censorship of jihadist terminology in U.S. government agencies.  Dr. Jasser correctly observed that such censorship impedes analysts’ ability to protect the nation:

To think that these words and concepts, and others are off limits in the freest nation on earth, censored [in] our agencies, is just incredulous considering the growing threat we face today from violent Islamism.  It smacks of a bizarre invocation of blasphemy laws in America. It is groups like the Muslim Brotherhood that have benefited from our refusal to discuss these elements of Islam and Islamism.

The three other witnesses – Hillel Fradkin of the Hudson Institute, Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and Daniel Benjamin of the Qatar-funded Brookings Institution – agreed to varying degrees that the Muslim Brotherhood constitutes a threat.  They recommended, however, more narrow terrorist designations of specific Muslim Brotherhood entities.

Chairman DeSantis observed: “It is clear that the Brotherhood constitutes a real threat to the national security interests of the United States.  We can debate the best way to counter this threat, but simply ignoring the threat is not an acceptable answer.”

The Center for Security Policy has submitted a statement for the hearing recordendorsing Rep. DeSantis’ assessment and laying out the factual basis for designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.

Center President Frank J. Gaffney urged legislators, executive branch officials, the media and the public at large to examine particularly compelling evidence of the threat the Brotherhood poses: Its 1991 Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal of the Group in North America– a secret plan for “destroying Western civilization from within” written by a top Muslim Brotherhood operative, Mohammed Akram, and introduced by the federal government into evidence in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation et.al. v. United States terrorism financing trial.

No, Efforts To Designate The Muslim Brotherhood Aren’t Abandoned

A diverse range of voices favors Washington putting the squeeze on the Muslim Brotherhood, despite debates about to how to move forward effectively.

The Federalist, by Kyle Shideler, May 15, 2017:

If we are to believe media reports, the Trump administration has all but abandoned efforts to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. While Brookings scholar Shadi Hamid trumpeted that “American experts who study the Muslim Brotherhood unanimously oppose their designation,” a wide range of opinion on the Islamist group remains, both inside and outside the Beltway.

In fact, a diverse range of voices favors Washington puting the squeeze on the Muslim Brotherhood, even if there are debates about to how to move forward in the most effective manner. Former Ambassador Dennis Ross, co-author of a leading work on the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch, the terrorist group Hamas, recently wrote a stinging article targeting the tiny gulf state of Qatar for its role in financing the group. Ross notes,

Few countries have done more to promote the Muslim Brotherhood, including its Palestinian offshoot Hamas, than Qatar. The actions of the Muslim Brotherhood may vary from country to country, but it rationalizes attacks against American forces and interests, rejects the very concept of peace with Israel, and promotes religious intolerance.

Just so. While Ross doesn’t explicitly call for designating the group as a terrorist organization, he does poke holes in the view—prevalent during the Obama administration—that the Brotherhood represents a bulwark against Islamic terrorism rather than a network of support for it. That flawed approach has been the basis for much of the immense bureaucratic opposition from both the Central Intelligence Agency and State Department to designating the Brotherhood.

We’re Already Halfway There

Soon after Trump’s victory late last year, State Department and CIA memos opposing designation were leaked to sympathetic media, and fed into a fierce public relations campaign the Brotherhood funded abroad. An echo chamber of validators amplified these efforts, using self-proclaimed Islamist and counterterror experts whose think tanks receive lavish funding from Gulf States like Qatar.

Yet designating the Brotherhood enjoys a base of broad support among Republicans, from conservatives like Sen. Ted Cruz to traditional centrists likes Utah’s Sen. Orrin Hatch, and even a handful of Democrats. Some foreign governments have also supported a designation, including the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

Indeed, elements of the Muslim Brotherhood have already been designated. The effort began in 1993, when President Bill Clinton designated its Palestinian branch—better known as Hamas—as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Then, almost immediately following 9/11, U.S. counterterrorism efforts against the Muslim Brotherhood began in earnest. By the end of President Bush’s second term, numerous Brotherhood charities and organizations, both foreign and domestic, had been designated, and others criminally prosecuted for terrorism activity.

Additionally, a number of Brotherhood leaders were personally designated, including Yemeni Brotherhood leader Abdul Majeed Al-Zindani and one of the leaders of the International Muslim Brotherhood organization, Youssef Nada. Most of these designations took place without invoking the Brotherhood’s name, but they were still intentional blows to the group’s terror support network. While the Obama administration reversed some of these designations, others remain.

What the Trump Administration Should Do

Any effective policy to combat the Muslim Brotherhood would involve freeing the Treasury Department to once against begin designating and sanctioning the Muslim Brothers and their various front organizations and branches for terrorism finance and their other illegal activities.

This step can be taken as soon as key nominees are confirmed, a process that Democratic Senators have unfortunately slowed to a crawl. Just this week, Sen. Ron Wyden announced he would block the nomination of Sigal Mandelker to be undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence.

In addition to Treasury enforcement action, knowledgeable federal law enforcement officers within the government recognize the nature and threat of the Muslim Brotherhood. These officers investigated Muslim Brotherhood-related cases during the Bush administration, and they understand the role the Muslim Brotherhood plays in terrorism and terror finance.

This includes agents who have dedicated nearly a lifetime of federal service to investigating the Brotherhood’s terror connections. Unfortunately, the Obama administration broke up the taskforce that won key counterterrorism convictions against Brotherhood leaders, meaning some of America’s best experts on the Muslim Brotherhood have been relegated to other tasks. Restoring this taskforce for federal law enforcement is a necessary step, and could be accomplished by the Trump Department of Justice with a modicum of effort.

Perhaps most importantly, the public debate around designating the Muslim Brotherhood deserves transparency. A tranche of Brotherhood documents federal law enforcement captured, while reportedly not classified, have not been made available to the general public. They should be released immediately.

Additionally, the nature of the U.S. government’s policy towards Islamist movements like the Muslim Brotherhood over the past decade deserves clarification. Presidential Study Directive-11, which reportedly deals with U.S. policy towards Islamist movements in the Middle East, and its associated documents should be declassified and made available for examination. Former House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Pete Hokstra made this argument at a hearing in September last year.

As with the documents taken during the raid on Abbottabad when Osama bin Laden was killed, and the so-called “side deals” of the Iran deal, these documents also deserve to see light of day so a reasoned debate can begin over how the U.S. government should best respond to the threat the Muslim Brotherhood poses. These are all actions the Trump administration can begin immediately.

Finally, a role for Congress remains in this debate. Thanks to the leadership of Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and Cruz, legislation on designation remains before both the House and Senate. Hearings on the Muslim Brotherhood, its role in supporting terrorism, and U.S. policy towards the group are all not only appropriate, but well overdue as a companion to White House efforts.

It’s inaccurate to say no support exists for designating the Muslim Brotherhood, but it is fair to say the window for a successful effort is closing fast. If the Trump administration intends to keep this important part of their broader platform to make America safe again, they need to move swiftly.

Kyle Shideler is the director of the Threat Information Office at the Center for Security Policy. Kyle has worked for several organizations involved with Middle East and terrorism policy since 2006. He is a contributing author to “Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network: America and the West’s Fatal Embrace,” and has written for numerous publications and briefed legislative aides, intelligence, and law enforcement officials and the general public on national security issues.

Muslim Brotherhood in Desperate Campaign in US

U.S. Capitol building (Photo: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Clarion Project, by Ran Meir, May 4, 2017:

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is mounting a desperate campaign in the U.S. to avoid being designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, according to The Seventh Day, one of Egypt’s largest news outlets.

The political winds have changed in Washington and the Brotherhood is running scared. U.S. President Donald Trump has made clear his support of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, announcing he stands with the Egyptian president in his fight against terror and extremist groups that are threatening one of America’skey allies in the Middle East.

After tens of millions of Egyptians took to the streets to protest the abuse and power grabs of former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi (a member of the Brotherhood’s political party) in the summer of 2013, El-Sisi and the military took control of Egypt. He was elected president in 2014.

El-Sisi’s recently successful meeting with Trump in Washington set a Brotherhood plan in motion to gain support of members of Congress and academia to block a move to designate the organization as terrorists.

See Clarion Project’s Fact Sheet about the Muslim Brotherhood and its links to terrorism.

Lectures, discussions and events are being held in prominent American universities, including Harvard and Georgetown, about the “constructive contribution” the Brotherhood has made to Egypt since the Arab Spring began.

For example, speaking under the title “The Nobility in Justice,” Mahmoud a-Sharkawi, a Brotherhood official in Washington, lectured about the “positive” role the Brotherhood has played in Egypt since January 25, 2011 (the date marking the beginning of the Arab Spring in Egypt) in a conference at St. John’s University in New York.

The group is also reaching out to members of Congress, trying to re-brand the way it is perceived in Washington after al-Sisi’s successful visit.

Testifying in Congress, Tarek a-Zimer, head of the Building and Development Party, the political party of the Egyptian Brotherhood, urged Americans to change their views about the organization. Other officials of the Brotherhood who attended the hearing used their presence to incite against el-Sisi and the current Egyptian government.

Writing in a blog, A-Zimer asked, “Have the Americans internalized the lesson and fully understood the danger of the current situation to their interests?”

Sources close to the Brotherhood say the purpose of the campaign being waged on American university campuses is to put pressure on Trump in light of the negative opinions about the Brotherhood that are now prevalent in Washington due to the change in administrations.

What they fear most is a decision by the administration to designate the Brotherhood as a terror organization.

Hisham a-Naggar, an Islamic scholar, agreed. He said the purpose of the Brotherhood campaign is to confront the new negative shift in American opinions toward the Brotherhood. These opinions include support for el-Sisi and allying with him against terror – positions that include a crackdown on Brotherhood activities.

Formerly, having the support of the West (and the American president) was the Brotherhood’s “ace in the hole” – the most important card the group could play in its multi-faceted moves to take over Arab countries and their current regimes. Now that support has been taken away, and the group is reeling.

Tarek al-Bashabishi, a former Brotherhhood official who now works against the organization, commented that ever since the Brotherhood lost power in June 2013, it’s been been inciting various Arab countries and international institutions against Egypt to weaken el-Sisi so the Brotherhood can return to power.

Al-Bashabishi added that after Trump was elected, a huge political shift occurred. The U.S. administration is now against the Brotherhood and in support of el-Sisi’s fight against them. Now, he says, the Brotherhood’s only option is to try to bribe Trump’s rivals in Congress so they can be used as mouthpieces for the Brotherhood.

He said the Brotherhood is engaged in a fight for its life, playing all its cards – including using financial support from Turkey and Qatar and the Brotherhood lobby in America – to avoid being designated as a terror organization.

Al-Bashabishi also noted the same phenomenon in the UK, where he said the Brotherhood is trying to bribe members of the House of Commons to support the anti-Egypt opinions of the Brotherhood.

Ran Meir is Clarion Project’s Arab Affairs Analyst

CLICK HERE to Tell Your Members of Congress to Designate the Brotherhood as a Terror Organization

Earning its terrorist designation

Illustration on the true intent of the Muslim Brotherhood by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Yes, the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organization

, April 23, 2017:

In an April 11 Brookings Institution report titled “Is the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization?” senior fellow Shadi Hamid states that the Trump administration’s proposed designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group “could have significant consequences for the U.S., the Middle East, and the world.”

Among many astounding claims in the report, the three most misleading among them begin with his statement that the Muslim Brotherhood is a “non-violent Islamist Group,” that “there is not a single American expert on the Muslim Brotherhood who supports designating them as a Foreign Terrorist Organization,” and that President Trump’s advisors were enlisting Americans in what Mr. Hamid’s calls, “civilization struggle.”

First, there is overwhelming evidence that Muslim Brotherhood is indeed a violent terrorist organization. The Brotherhood’s slogan is “‘Allah is our objective; the Prophet is our leader; the Quran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” Thus, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that nearly every Sunni terrorist group in the world was either fully or partially founded by active or former Brotherhood operatives. Brotherhood-linked terrorist organizations include, ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hamas, and al-Gama’at al-Islamiyya. Moreover, the Brotherhood also has active militias such as, “95 Brigade,” a Brotherhood terrorist group founded in 1995, which is currently operating under the direction of the Brotherhood Guidance office. The Brotherhood also has a well-funded transnational multi-lingual propaganda machine, which makes it more dangerous.

In a series of interviews with al-Jazeera TV, Osama Yassin, a minister in former President Mohammed Morsi’s cabinet, revealed that 95 Brigade engaged in the abduction, beating, and torture of “thugs” and threw Molotov cocktails at their opponents. The brigade operatives were also implicated in the killing of anti-Brotherhood protestors. In March 2014, for example, two Brotherhood operatives were sentenced to death after an online video clip showed them killing a teenager by throwing him from a building.

Under Mr. Morsi’s leadership, current Brotherhood leaders were personally involved in torture. During an interview with al-Jazeera TV, in 2011, Brotherhood leader Safwat Hegazy, bragged about his involvement in torturing a man whom he suspected was a police officer.

Egyptian Ambassador to Venezuela, Yehyia Najm, is among the numerous victims of what is known in Egypt as the “Brotherhood’s Slaughterhouses.” Ambassador Najm stated that the room where he was held captive and tortured with 49 other people, was “like a Nazi camp.” This is Mr. Shadi Hamid’s idea of a “non-violent group.”

Second, Mr. Hamid’s claim that there are no American experts on the Muslim Brotherhood who support its designation as a terror group, is wrong. The Middle East Forum, one of the America’s most renowned think tanks that specializes in Middle East and Islamic terrorism studies, supports the Brotherhood’s terror designation. Also, Mr. Trump’s advisor, Walid Phares, one of America’s most respected experts on Islamic terrorism and the Middle East, supports the Brotherhood’s terror designation. Andrew C. McCarthy III, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, who led the 1995 terrorism prosecution against Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and 11 others, also supports the Brotherhood terror designation. Yet, Mr. Hamid chooses to ignore them, as he also chooses to ignore other facts.

Third, Mr. Hamid claimed that, “This language works to enlist Americans to join the “civilizational struggle” — an idea once reserved for those from the farthest fringes of the far right in the United States, now held by people in the very center of American power: the White House.”

Mr. Hamid may have borrowed the term, “civilization struggle,” or “A’mali Jihadia Hadaria,” (civilization jihad operation) from the Muslim Brotherhood’s International Apparatus. The nihilistic term first appeared in a 1991 document titled “The Explanatory Memorandum,” which outlined the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategic goals for North America. This memorandum was entered as evidence in the Holy Land Foundation terror funding trial in 2008, the largest terror financing case in U.S. history.

This wouldn’t be the first time the Brookings Institution engaged in misleading disinformation on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood. For example, a Brookings Institution article stated that the fourth of the Muslim Brotherhood’s 10 Thawabet (precepts) in their bylaws, specified that “during the process of establishing democracy and relative political freedom, the Muslim Brotherhood is committed to abide by the rules of democracy and its institutions.”

This is a bold misrepresentation of the fourth precept. According to the Brotherhood’s own standards and internal bylaws, the fourth precept is violent jihad and martyrdom, which the Brotherhood states is an obligation of every individual Muslim, as well as the collective obligation of their organization.

There is a civilization jihad or struggle as Mr. Hamid called it, but it’s waged against America and the western world by the very people he is defending. To answer Mr. Hamid’s question if the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organization, the answer is yes, indeed they are a terrorist organization.

Mr. Trump’s administration needs to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror group. Congress should also require think tanks to disclose any foreign funding received, while lobbying Congress. These financial disclosures will help combat disinformation campaigns targeting lawmakers, including reports like Mr. Hamid‘s.

Cynthia Farahat is an author and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

***

Sisi, Trump, and the Politics of Designating the Muslim Brotherhood

President Trump welcomes Egyptian President El-Sisi to the White House, April 3, 2017. (Reuters photo: Carlos Barria)

The group uses violent means when necessary to advance its Islamist agenda.

National Review, by Clifford Smith, April 6, 2017:

Hopes that the Trump administration will designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization have hit rough waters, with anonymous officials citing concerns about diplomatic blowback and frayed relationships with Muslims at home and abroad. The leaks come on the eve of a historic visit to Washington by Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, a key Arab ally and devoted Muslim who is locked in a life-or-death struggle with the Brotherhood.

The irony is hard to miss, particularly given that Egypt and several other Arab countries have already designated the Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

Whatever the truth behind the leaks, they underscore that the inside-the-Beltway conventional wisdom — that the Brotherhood is “moderate” and so popular that designation would be seen as “a declaration of war against . . . Islam itself” — will not die as easily as many hoped.

This thinking is rooted in a failure to understand the difference between Islamists — a sizable but distinct minority of Muslims who adhere to a totalitarian religious ideology — and the moderate majority of Muslims, who are our friends and allies. President el-Sisi, who has publicly called out extremism to clerics in Egypt, understands this. After all, Egypt is not the only state in which the Brotherhood engaged in attempts to kill its way to power. It did the same in Syria in the early 1980s.

Despite the Brotherhood’s long history of bloodshed, claims that it is “moderate,” or opposes violence, are still prominent. While above-ground Brotherhood organizations use peaceful means when effective, they are “prepared to countenance violence . . . where gradualism is ineffective,” as a 2015 report by the British government noted with significant understatement.

Claims that designation will complicate U.S. relationships with certain Arab allies are overblown. While it is true that some allies, such as Jordan, have Muslim Brotherhood–affiliated parties represented in their parliaments, this is easy enough to finesse. Members of Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, have long served in Lebanon’s parliament, but American diplomats manage to avoid contact with them and still do business with the Lebanese.

Moreover, failure to designate the Brotherhood complicates some alliances. The Egyptian public has grown deeply suspicious of the U.S. government precisely because under Obama the U.S. came to be seen as overly sympathetic to the Brotherhood. When Senator Ted Cruz introduced the Muslim Brotherhood Terror Designation Act, many Egyptians saw it as a sign the U.S. may be waking from its long slumber. A tweet introducing the bill was the subject of a segment by popular Egyptian talk-show host Amr Adib and was retweeted 17,000+ times.

Domestically, in the wake of Trump’s admittedly troubling comments suggesting a “Muslim ban” during his presidential campaign last year, some fear that designation will fuel anti-Muslim bigotry and pave the way for “a legal assault on the institutions of American Muslim life.” After all, several organizations claiming to represent U.S. Muslims, particularly the Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR), have deep Muslim Brotherhood ties.

But groups such as CAIR are hardly “institutions of American Muslim life” — they’re just pretending to be. A 2011 Gallup poll found support for CAIR among U.S. Muslims to be just under 12 percent. Britain’s inquiry into the Brotherhood found that its activists in the U.K. “appear to be unable to generate any grassroots support.”

Frankly, however, if public support for CAIR were higher, that would be all the more reason to be concerned. Notwithstanding its carefully crafted public image, CAIR was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2007–09 Holy Land Foundation terror-finance case, and was blacklisted by the FBI as a result. Unfortunately, the Obama administration failed to aggressively continue an FBI investigation into CAIR after it conspired to fund terrorist-designated organization Hamas, the Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. Indeed, the United Arab Emirates has declared CAIR itself a terrorist organization.

Trump’s rhetorical excesses cannot be understood without recalling the Obama administration’s refusal to name the problem. Using euphemisms such as “violent extremism” and feigning puzzlement as to the motives of obvious jihadists made the administration’s rhetoric concerning terrorism a national joke. In both the U.S. and Europe, when elites insist that voters must believe them, rather than their own “lying eyes,” the voters turn sharply in the opposite direction. The cure for Trump’s rhetorical excesses is increased security, not denial.

Trump laid out a number of smart proposals on radical Islam during his campaign. His administration should now use President el-Sisi’s visit to move forward with these ideas. In particular, it should follow up designation of the Brotherhood with the formation of a congressionally authorized commission on radical Islam tasked with developing a strategy for winning the war against Islamic extremists and explaining the threat of Islamism to the American people. Both are badly needed. Wrongheaded conventional wisdom won’t keep Americans, or our Muslim allies, safe.

— Clifford Smith is the Washington project director for the Middle East Forum.

***

Former Egyptian Ambassador: Trump Should Undo Obama’s Sponsorship Of Muslim Brotherhood

Breitbart, by Ali Waked, April 2, 2017:

TEL AVIV – President Abdel Fatah Sisi’s visit to the United States later this month will be an opportunity to undermine the Muslim Brotherhood’s standing in Washington, a former Egyptian ambassador to the US said.

Abdel Raouf al-Ridi told Egyptian paper Alshorouk that “Egyptian-American relations are entering a new phase, and the degree of their success relies on Egyptian efforts.”

“Presidents Trump and Sisi can break the ice created during the Obama administration,” he said. “Without doing injustice to Obama, he adopted the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

He added that during Obama’s presidency, “the Muslim Brotherhood shifted their international center of gravity from London to Washington. In recent years the Muslim Brotherhood penetrated American institutions and think tanks, and disseminated their ideology as an alternative to extremism.”

The Muslim Brotherhood forged ideas and promoted people “that were recruited even by the National Security Council, and from there they disseminated the marketable view that their Islamic model is a moderate one that serves as a counterweight to terror and extremism, and this view found resonance in the United States.”

Conversely, the former ambassador said, “Egypt should distance itself from the concept of an Islamic international, i.e. advocate a democratic nation-state, modern and knowledge-based that steers clear of extremism, and separates church and state.”

Sisi’s visit will be an “important opportunity to lay out Egypt’s vision for the region, especially after years of cool relations [with the US],” Al-Ridi said. “I think Trump is a president with original ideas, and what characterizes him is his ability to champion them bravely and resolutely.”

***

Lets hope Donald Trump listens to Sisi and not King Abdullah: