The White House said on Tuesday that the United States is working to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization.
The decision will bring harsh sanctions against the world’s oldest Islamist movement, which has more than a million members across the Middle East.
“The President has consulted with his national security team and leaders in the region who share his concern, and this designation is working its way through the internal process,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in an email, responding to a report in the New York Times.
The move would impose “wide-ranging economic and travel sanctions” on entities who do business with the Muslim Brotherhood, Sanders added.
The shift in policy comes after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi asked U.S. President Donald Trump to proscribe the Muslim Brotherhood during an April 9 visit to Washington, a senior U.S. official said.
The New York Times claims that the proposal has prompted a robust debate within the Trump administration. Though White House National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo support the designation, officials at the Pentagon and elsewhere have expressed legal and policy objections.
Responding to the news on its website, the Islamist organization said, “We will remain (…) steadfast in our work in accordance with our moderate and peaceful thinking and what we believe to be right, for honest and constructive cooperation to serve the communities in which we live, and humanity as a whole.”
The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan El Banna, a Muslim cleric and intellectual. The global Islamist movement advocates a move away from secularism and a return to the rules of the Quran.
Though the Brotherhood claims to be a non-violent movement, the group is the parent organization of the Gaza-based terrorist group Hamas, which supports violent jihad to destroy the State of Israel. A host of Arab states, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, have already designated the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas terrorist organizations, leading them to outlaw the groups in their countries.
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