President Trump moved to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror group following a visit from the president of Egypt earlier this month.
The designation would impose severe travel and economic sanctions on those who associate with the group, which has millions of members across the Middle East. Trump has asked his administration to figure out a way to make the designation happen, The New York Times reports. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the news, which the New York Times reports has sparked internal debate in the administration. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security advisor John Bolton support the move, while others at the Pentagon are opposed and are working to propose a more moderate action.
“The president has consulted with his national security team and leaders in the region who share his concern, and this designation is working its way through the internal process,” she told The New York Times.
The group is politically opposed to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Sisi asked Trump to join his country in designating them a terror group when the two talked in an April 9 meeting at the White House. Trump reacted positively to the idea, saying it would make sense for the U.S. to make the designation, and some of his aides reportedly interpreted his response as a commitment.
The move would be complicated because of the Muslim Brotherhood’s size and reach, including into the United States. Some political parties associate loosely with the group, but disavow its violent extremism. The designation could also strain already tense relations with Turkey, whose president is an avid supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood. Americans would likely be caught up in the move as well, and American humanitarian organizations affiliated with the group. (RELATED: Omar Advocates For Egyptian Woman With Alleged Muslim Brotherhood Ties)
Seven countries, including Russia and Saudi Arabia, have made the designation. The sanctions imposed would punish those who fund the group or provide banking services, and ban members or those with ties to the group from entering the United States.