CIA memo advises Trump not to declare Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group: POLITICO

Ahram Online , Thursday 9 Feb 2017

The logo of the CIA in the lobby of the headquarters in Langley, in a file photo (Photo: Reuters)

Experts in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) warned US President Donald Trump that declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation "may fuel extremism", a POLITICO report revealed on Thursday.

According to POLITICO, a US official gave the news website access to the CIA report that was finalized on 31 January.

The intelligence document claimed that this decision — if officially taken — will "damage relations with America's allies", pointing out that the Muslim Brotherhood has “rejected violence as a matter of official policy and opposed al-Qa’ida and ISIS.”

CIA experts admitted that "a minority o [Muslim Brotherhood] members have engaged in violence, most often in response to harsh regime repression, perceived foreign occupation, or civil conflicts.”

Yet, drawing attention to the presence of Brotherhood branches in states such as Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco and Tunisia — the CIA expected that this potential move will “probably worry that such a step could destabilize their internal politics, feed extremist narratives, and anger Muslims worldwide.”

“MB groups enjoy widespread support across the Near East-North Africa region and many Arabs and Muslims worldwide would view an MB designation as an affront to their core religious and societal values”, POLITICO quoted the CIA report as saying.

“Moreover, a US designation would probably weaken MB leaders’ arguments against violence and provide ISIS and al-Qa’ida additional grist for propaganda to win followers and support, particularly for attacks against U.S. interests.”

In late 2013, Egypt designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, after the authorities blamed a number of deadly attacks against security forces in the aftermath of the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi on the group and its supporters.

In a report published on Wednesday, the NYC-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) described the possibility of declaring the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation as a threat to "the rights to association of Muslim groups in the United States."

 The report added that "such a designation would also undermine the ability of the Muslim Brotherhood’s members and supporters to participate in democratic politics abroad."

“Designating the Muslim Brotherhood a ‘foreign terrorist organization’ would wrongly equate it with violent extremist groups like Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State and make their otherwise lawful activities illegal,” Laura Pitter HRW's, senior US national security counsel, was quoted as saying in the same report.

“The designation would also unfairly taint anyone alleged to be linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and undermine the exercise of its political rights abroad.”

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