The New York Times and Washington Post newspapers have published pieces critical of ongoing considerations aimed at designating the transnational Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization, Anadolu reports.
“Is the Muslim Brotherhood a Terrorist Group?” the New York Times asks. “Even experts critical of the Brotherhood agree that the organization does not meet the criteria for a terrorist group.”
The newspaper pointed to legal difficulties the decision poses, noting that the Trump administration would have to present evidence the group engages in “terrorist activity” that threatens America or its interests, and that rationale would have to be vetted through an interagency process that includes the State, Justice and Treasury departments.
After the designation is made Congress would have a week to block it, and the brotherhood would have a month to appeal the decision in court.
The White House confirmed Tuesday the Trump administration is seeking to blacklist the group following a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Trump’s push to designate the brotherhood would open the door to US sanctions for any group, nation or entity that does business with it, or otherwise provides loosely-defined material support to the group.
It is unclear if the administration is seeking to designate Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, its worldwide offshoots or a combination thereof.
Ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who had the brotherhood’s backing, won Egypt’s first democratic elections in 2012, but was removed from power by the Egyptian military following mass demonstrations roughly a year later.
Sisi helped lead the coup that removed Morsi from power.
Trump first mulled the idea of designating the Muslim Brotherhood when he assumed office in 2017, but then decided to drop the matter.
In addition to Sisi, the designation would squarely place the US alongside Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain who all oppose and have blacklisted the Muslim Brotherhood.
In its op-ed, the Washington Post said: “While the Brotherhood may be accused of promoting political extremism, it cannot be equated with organizations such as al-Qaeda, the Islamic State or Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that actually carry out acts of terrorism.”
“While the Brotherhood’s commitment to democracy remains uncertain, there is a good case to be made that it’s better to co-opt relatively moderate Islamists rather than push them into the arms of terrorists,” it said. “That is, in fact, the argument that Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi made before he was murdered by the Saudi regime.”