Once again taking its cues from the anti-Muslim movement, the Trump Administration is reportedly weighing options to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.
In an interview on Breitbart radio just hours after Donald Trump’s November victory speech, Frank Gaffney, one of America’s most influential and notorious anti-Muslim figures, repeated a battle cry that he and his organization, the Center for Security Policy (CSP) had sounded for more than a decade.
Critical for Trump will be, “stopping, designating, rolling up the Muslim Brotherhood in America as the terrorist organization it is” Gaffney said. His friend Sen. Ted Cruz increased the heat on Trump a week later, introducing a bill to designate the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, claiming the group espouses “a violent Islamist ideology with a mission of destroying the West.”
The White House is reportedly weighing options to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, according to several news outlets. Such a move would amount to a powerful policy win for America’s anti-Muslim movement, whose leaders have worked tirelessly to smear American Muslim civil rights organizations, in particular the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), by calling them “fronts” for the Brotherhood.
Critics of the designation are quick to point out a lack of evidence to support the claim.
“No evidence supports this view, apart from a single memorandum prepared in 1991 by a man affiliated with the Brotherhood, which discussed Muslim American organizations “march[ing] according to one plan,” explained Georgetown University law professor Arjun Singh Sethi in a recent Washington Post column. “This memorandum, of which there is only one known copy, has been widely discredited and called a fantasy.”
Cited ad nauseam by anti-Muslim groups who consider the memo as the Brotherhood’s grand plan for “civilization jihad” –– a clandestine effort to overthrow America from within –– Gaffney and others see examples of this plot everywhere, be it Hillary Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin, Muslim members of Congress or even conservatives such as Grover Norquist.
While quick to compare the Brotherhood’s ideology to that of ISIS or Al Qaeda, dismantling or at least severely damaging some of America’s largest Muslim civil rights groups as well as closing the doors of as many of America’s mosques as possible remains the anti-Muslim movement’s ultimate goal.
This was evidenced at a speaking engagement in 2011 when John Guandolo –– a disgraced ex-FBI agent and head of the anti-Muslim hate group Understanding the Threat (UTT) –– claimed that mosques in Nashville, Tennessee, are fronts for the Muslim Brotherhood, have no right to exist, and “do not have the first amendment right to do anything.” In 2016 Guandolo told the right-wing conspiracy theorist website WorldNetDaily that the U.S. should arrest “all of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders in the U.S., shutting down their organizations and all Muslim Brotherhood mosques, which is 80% of them.”
Guandolo helped draft the first bill designed to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, which was introduced in 2014 by anti-Muslim champion and now former U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota.
Cruz’ 2017 bill is similar to Bachman’s, and may have been influenced by the former presidential candidate’s friend and advisor Frank Gaffney.
Pressure from the anti-Muslim movement for this designation has only increased since the election. A new coalition of mostly anti-Muslim religious figures, dubbed “Faith Leaders of America,” descended upon the National Press Club the day before Trump’s inauguration to implore him to take action on the Muslim Brotherhood. Part of the coalition’s “call to prayer” read, “When you label the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, we support you.”
Trump’s initial executive actions, amounting to a Muslim immigration ban, were an attempt to control Muslims’ comings and goings to the United States. His rumored future action on the Muslim Brotherhood is aimed at American Muslims and controlling them while at the same time continuing to demonize Islam.
As J.M. Berger, a counterterrorism analyst at George Washington University’s Program on Extremism recently put it, “Let me be extremely clear. This initiative is concerned with controlling American Muslims, not with any issue pertaining to the Muslim Brotherhood in any practical or realistic sense.”