US Senator Ted Cruz said he is planning to introduce "enhanced" legislation to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation “in the short future," in remarks made to a panel held Thursday on the issue.
Cruz sponsored legislation in 2017 that would require the White House to decide whether the Brotherhood fit the criteria for terrorist designation.
During the panel, held at a US Senate building, Cruz dismissed calls to think of the Brotherhood as a moderate group and said the organisation “does not hide they are a terrorist organisation.”
Egypt designated the Brotherhood a terrorist organisation in 2013, months after the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi following mass protests.
Cruz said Cairo has done so “perhaps because they have seen first-hand what that terror looks like and the slaughter that it can produce."
“We need that same clarity," he said in a video message to the panel, which was organised by American Pulse, an Egyptian media company that produces a weekly TV programme from New York. It was also attended by Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas.
Cruz said the intent of the Brotherhood is stated within its Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Brotherhood in North America which, according to him, 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 civilisation from within.”
The White House said in April that US President Donald Trump's administration is pushing to designate the Brotherhood a terrorist group, a move that would bring US sanctions against the movement.
Officials in the Pentagon and State Department have raised objections to the plan, saying that the group does not meet the legal definition of a terrorist group and that the designation might have unfavourable consequences.
Cruz slammed what he described as the Obama administration’s “willful blindness” to radical Islamic terrorism, saying it is “dangerous and makes us vulnerable.”
“The Obama administration had edited or deleted over 800 records to remove any reference to jihad or Muslim brotherhood… it was a purge” directed by the White House,” he said.
He urged the Congress to pass the legislation, and continued to urge the Trump’s administration to “act right now on its own today.”