Bill introduced in US Congress to designate Muslim Brotherhood as terrorist organization

On January 9, Representative Mario Diaz Balart (R-FL), introduced a bill (H.R. 377) to ask the Secretary of State to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization. The following day,  Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced an identical bill (S. 38) in the Senate titled the The Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act. The bill states that the group has met the criteria of a terrorist group, and thus should be designated as such.

The House bill was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary and already has twenty cosponsors. The Senate bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and has three original cosponsors.

Senator Cruz stated, "The U.S. has officially listed individual members, branches, and charities of the Muslim Brotherhood as terrorists, such as Hamas, al Qaeda, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, but has not designated the organization as a whole."

Both Senator Cruz and Rep. Diaz Balart introduced similar bills in the 114th Session. The House version was passed by the Judiciary Committee but neither made it to a floor vote.

How an obscure U.S. policy effort could hurt American Muslims: Washington Post

Not surprisingly the Washington Post and the Huffington Post were quick to point out the real motives behind the bills related to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Washington Post said it is also likely to have a far-reaching impact on American Muslims at a time when Muslim community leaders say the religious minority is facing the worst harassment it has seen since the aftermath of 9/11.

The Huffington Post pointed out that American Muslim advocates contend that the real intent of Cruz’s bill has little to do with foreign policy rather the legislation would enable the U.S. government to target domestic Muslim groups that Cruz and others earnestly believe are part of a massive, covert conspiracy to destroy the U.S. from within.

"Proponents of the measure, including members of Trump’s incoming administration, have long used the Muslim Brotherhood label as shorthand for Muslim organizations, politicians and government officials with whom they disagree, and civil rights advocates fear those allegations could be used as pretext to investigate and alienate those who challenge the government’s treatment of Muslims" the Washington Post said adding:

"Supporters of the designation have wielded it most frequently against advocacy groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which regularly files lawsuits on behalf of Muslims over alleged discrimination, as well as against charities. They have also used it to attack Democratic members of Congress, Muslim government officials, longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin and the Gold Star father Khizr Khan, who criticized Trump at the Democratic National Convention in the summer."

Ted Cruz vs. the Muslim Brotherhood Boogeyman: The Huffington Post 

The Huffington Post pointed out that for years, anti-Muslim groups have claimed that CAIR, the country’s largest Muslim civil rights organization, and other pro-Islam groups in the U.S. are, in fact, fronts for the brotherhood.

J.M. Berger, a counterterrorism analyst at George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, was quoted as saying:“This initiative is concerned with controlling American Muslims, not with any issue pertaining to the Muslim Brotherhood in any practical or realistic sense.”

Lana Safah, a spokeswoman for the Muslim American Society, another high-profile Muslim advocacy group, told Huffington Post that her group has “no affiliation with any foreign or international organization.” Yet, she said, “in the Trump era, and in the most Islamophobic atmosphere the American Muslim community has ever experienced, it seems we should expect the unexpected, such as this unprecedented designation, which no former administration has made. It would cripple the operations of any Muslim organizations linked, however circumstantially, to the Brotherhood.

Nathan Lean, author of the 2012 book The Islamophobia Industry, says, designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group could give government officials cover to effectively dismantle U.S. Muslim groups. And that, he fears, would lead to “the wanton violation of American Muslim civil rights.”

The election of Donald Trump, who has surrounded himself with anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists, and with Republicans in control of the Senate and House, the proposed Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act has a chance of passing and being signed into law, the Huffington Post added.

Not surprisingly, during his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump's national security advisers included the Center for Security Policy’s founder and president, Frank Gaffney, and its vice president, Clare Lopez.

Under the helm of Gaffney, the Center for Security Policy  (CSP)has done more than any other group to push the “civilization jihad” conspiracy theory. The CSP is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, whose website describes Gaffney as “gripped by paranoid fantasies about Muslims destroying the West from within.

Gaffney has also baselessly accused multiple political figures ― including Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin and conservative activists Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan ― of infiltrating the U.S. government on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood.

According to the Washington Post, calls for Trump to “deport,” “annihilate” or “expel” the Muslim Brotherhood — along with a list of other organizations, CAIR in particular — have lit up social media in the weeks since the November election, and CAIR officials said their offices have been inundated with calls and emails warning them that their time is almost up.

“I think President Trump should expel every member of CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood on day one. Send them back to their sandbox,” tweeted one person under the screen name “housecracka.”

Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America ( email: asghazali2011 (@)