The White House is considering designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group, The New York Times is reporting.
According to the newspaper, President Trump’s advisers are debating the move, which would cut off funding to the Muslim Brotherhood and related groups in the U.S.
An announcement that had been planned for as early as Monday of this week was recently delayed while the debate continues.
According to The Times, some members of the National Security Council and career State Department officials are critical of the designation, which would place the Muslim Brotherhood in the same category as ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, and dozens of other violent groups.
Unlike those groups, Muslim Brotherhood is more loosely organized and does not directly embrace terrorism. While it has some violent offshoots, namely Hamas, other Muslim Brotherhood affiliates are purely political or civic in nature.
The Muslim Brotherhood functions as an umbrella group with a presence in virtually all Middle Eastern and Arabic nations. The Obama administration was allied with Egypt when it was controlled by Mohamad Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood figure who took over as president from Hosni Mubarak following his forced resignation in 2011. Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is also allied with the organization.
The Muslim Brotherhood also has connections to the U.S. through Muslim organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim American Society and the Islamic Circle of North America all have foundational ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Most of the groups have downplayed those links to the Muslim Brotherhood or denied that such links currently exist.
Any executive branch move on the terrorism designation would have at least some congressional support.
Last month, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart re-introduced bills in their respective chambers calling on for the Muslim Brotherhood terror designation.
“I am proud to reintroduce these bills that would codify needed reforms in America’s war against radical Islamic terrorism,” Cruz said in a statement last month. “This potent threat to our civilization has intensified under the Obama administration due to the willful blindness of politically-correct policies that hamper our safety and security.” (RELATED: Republicans Propose Bills Designating Iranian Guard and Muslim Brotherhood As Terror Groups)
Several White House advisers are believed to be supportive of a terror designation for Muslim Brotherhood.
Steve Bannon, the former chairman of Breitbart News and Trump’s chief strategist, has been heavily critical of the Muslim Brotherhood. As The Times notes, a film that Bannon developed in 2007 called the group “the foundation of modern terrorism.”
Sebastian Gorka, Trump’s deputy national security assistant and a former Breitbart editor, has also tied the Muslim Brotherhood to terrorist activity.
On his now-defunct website, Gorka lists the Muslim Brotherhood under a “Terrorism” header.
Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser, has also praised Egyptian president Abdel Fatteh el-Sisi, a former general who took over in 2013 after a coup ousted the Muslim Brotherhood from power. (RELATED: Michael Flynn Flip-Flopped On Turkish Coup In Recent Months)
Reached by The Daily Caller, the White House declined to comment further on The Times report.
Not surprisingly, groups like CAIR oppose any terror designation for the Muslim Brotherhood.
“We believe it is just a smokescreen for a witch hunt targeting the civil rights of American Muslims,” CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper told The Times.
He argued that the designation would be used in a political campaign “to attack” groups and individuals accused of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and “to marginalize the American Muslim community and to demonize Islam.”
CAIR was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation terror financing case. The Texas-based Holy Land Foundation funneled money to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot.