- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate has not voted
- The house has not voted
Committee on the JudiciaryCrime, Terrorism and Homeland SecurityIntroducedApril 30th, 2019
- house Committees
What is House Bill H.R. 2412?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 2412
In-Depth: Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) introduced this bill to encourage the Muslim Brotherhood’s designation as a foreign terrorist organization. In a letter to his Congressional colleagues seeking cosponsors for this bill, Rep. Diaz-Balart wrote:
“Regrettably, the Muslim Brotherhood is a foreign entity that has advocated for violence to advance its mission of destabilizing the West. As stated in its Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Brotherhood in North America, which was discovered as part of the Holy Land Foundation trial, ‘The process of settlement is a Civilization-Jihad process… The Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of believers…’ Toward that end, the Muslim Brotherhood continues to support terrorist organizations that are responsible for acts of violence around the world. Important Middle East allies have expressed profound concern regarding the destabilizing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood. Designating it a foreign terrorist organization would be subject to tough sanctions that would hinder its ability to spread violence and hate-filled ideology around the world. Although the United States has designated individual members, branches, and charities of the Muslim Brotherhood as terrorists, including Hamas, al Qaeda, the Holy Land Foundation, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, it has not yet designated the organization as a whole. Designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization is long overdue.”
Coptic Solidarity expressed its support for designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization in 2017 when Rep. Diaz-Balart and Sen. Cruz respectively introduced this legislation in the House and Senate. At that time, Coptic Solidarity’s president, Dr. George Gurguis, said, “The Muslim Brotherhood poses a threat not only to Copts but to the entire Egyptian society and the West, and seeks to undermine the work of the last two revolutions.” In its press release, Coptic Solidarity added:
“It is unconscionable that the United States still has not made this designation when countries such as Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries, as well as Russia, have all declared the Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist organization, and a report by the UK House of Commons reached a similar conclusion… It is time for the U.S. Government to finally acknowledge the Muslim Brotherhood for what it is; a terrorist organization whose ideology inspired all murderous Jihadist organizations in the world, and which pursues a subversive strategy to establish an Islamic caliphate worldwide. Indeed, the war against Islamist terrorism cannot be won without combating the ideology behind it.”
In a March 2017 Foreign Policy article, Raymond Tanter, a senior National Security Council (NSC) staff member in the Reagan-Bush administration, and Edward Stafford, a retired Foreign Service officer who served in Political-Military Affairs at the State Dept. and as a diplomat at the U.S. embassy in Turkey, argued against designating the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization:
“[D]esignating the [Muslim Brotherhood], a non-state, multinational, and multifaceted organization would be imprudent: risks of designating the MB as a terrorist organization outweigh the benefits… [T]here are significant risks to designating the Muslim Brotherhood as an FTO. First, while MB-affiliated Hamas is a state-sponsored organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel by any means, the MB more generally is a political movement. As Laura Pitter of Human Rights Watch notes, ‘The Muslim Brotherhood is a large and complex political organization operating in many countries.’... [C]alling the whole group a terrorist organization… would be making a wide policy determination that, experts warn, could harm participation of Muslim groups in democratic processes. Since only some groups connected to the MB are engaged in violent activities, the large number of peaceful groups pursuing legitimate activities raises the question of whether designation would meet statutory criteria.”
Given these considerations, Tanter and Stafford concluded that a targeted approach to designating parts — not the:
“Because risks of designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization outweigh the benefits, there is no need to rush the process. Possible executive orders and congressional bills need careful consideration of benefits and risks… [Lawmakers] should review options to craft a targeted form of designation. Going after parts that are violent have a higher likelihood of success against the MB and enjoy backing of foreign partners and American skeptics alike than going after the ‘mothership,’ per Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury and senior vice president at Foundation for Defense of Democracies. There’s a better path forward that painting with a broad brush, too hastily.”
This bill has 31 Republican House cosponsors in the 116th Congress. Last Congress, it had 77 Republican House cosponsors and its Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), had four Senate Republican cosponsors. Neither bill received a committee vote in the 115th Congress.
Of Note: The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928 as a religious, social and political organization. The group promotes moving away from secularism and returning to a governing system run by Islamic law. Although it used violent tactics at one point, it currently rejects the use of violence and seeks to be involved in the mainstream political process.
Conservatives allege that the Muslim Brotherhood is a breeding group for radical Islam. Over the past 40 years, Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia and some other nations have described the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. In the U.K., Brotherhood-affiliated groups were once allied with the British government in fighting terrorism. This changed in 2014, when then-British Prime Minister David Cameron commissioned an inquiry into whether Brotherhood-inspired organizations in the U.K. were a threat to national security. Ultimately, the report concluded that “membership of, association with, or influence by the Muslim Brotherhood should be considered as a possible indicator of extremism," but didn’t recommend banning the Brotherhood.
In 2018, the Trump administration declared two affiliates of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood — Hasm and Liwa al-Thawra — as terrorist organizations. In March 2019, Austria took the unprecedented step of adding the Muslim Brotherhood’s logo to its list of symbols banned in the country.
Farid Hafez, a senior research scholar at the Bridge Initiative at Georgetown University, argues that efforts to ban the Brotherhood, which is already weak and politically defeated in many Arab countries, are actually efforts to threaten civil society activists and politicians with a Muslim background in the West.
- Sponsoring Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) Dear Colleague Letter
- CBO Cost Estimate
- Coptic Solidarity Press Release (In Favor, 115th Congress)
- Foreign Policy (Opposed)
- Tri-City Herald (Context)
- Foreign Affairs (Context)
- Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (Context)
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: theglobalpanorama via Creative Commons)