A UK government report accuses the Muslim Brotherhood of being sympathetic to terrorists and a risk to British national security, striking a contrast with the Obama administration’s more conciliatory approach – and fueling criticism that the U.S. government should wake up to the threat.
“I think the report is a damning indictment of the Muslim Brotherhood, and it’s a very realistic assessment of the nature of the Brotherhood itself,” Nile Gardiner, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, told FoxNews.com. “The British government has taken a far more serious approach compared to the Obama administration’s.”
Prime Minister David Cameron in April 2014 ordered the internal review of the Muslim brotherhood and while the report is classified, Cameron ordered the main findings of the report to be made public.
The report found that supporting Hamas was an important priority for the Brotherhood. It noted that while the group at times has renounced violence, senior figures have repeatedly defended Hamas attacks on Israel and justified attacks against coalition forces in the U.S. and Afghanistan.
Also, while the Muslim Brotherhood has criticized Al Qaeda, leaders have claimed that the 9/11 attacks were fabricated by the U.S. government, and that the war on terror is merely a pretext to attack Muslim countries.
The report concludes that while the Brotherhood has preferred non-violent methods on the grounds of expediency, “they are prepared to countenance violence – including, from time to time, terrorism – where gradualism is ineffective.”
“Aspects of Muslim Brotherhood ideology and tactics, in this country and overseas, are contrary to our values and have been contrary to our national interests and our national security,” the report says.
Egypt’s military-backed government labeled the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group in December 2013, a matter of months after the military helped topple the government of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi.
Morsi’s overthrow put western countries like the U.S. and Britain in an awkward spot, after having spoken in favor of Arab Spring revolutions in Egypt and beyond. But in a written statement to the House of Commons after the release of the report, Cameron told MPs that association with the Brotherhood “should be considered as a possible indicator of extremism.”
He also said the U.K. would continue to refuse visas to those associated with the group who have made extremist comments, and would continue to review whether the group should be banned.
The Obama administration, by contrast, often has taken a more neutral stance toward the organization. In January, the State Department met with members of the Egyptian Freedom and Justice Party that was established by the Muslim Brotherhood.
In 2011, the Obama administration also had to correct Director of National Intelligence James Clapper after he described the group as “mostly secular” at a Capitol Hill hearing.
“To clarify Director Clapper’s point, in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood makes efforts to work through a political system that has been, under Mubarak’s rule, one that is largely secular in its orientation. He is well aware that the Muslim Brotherhood is not a secular organization,” DNI spokesperson Jamie Smith said.
When asked in an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly in 2011 if the Brotherhood was a threat to the United States, Obama said “they are well organized and there are strains of their ideology that are anti-U.S.” but did not call them a threat. Also in 2011, when asked if the U.S. should fear the Muslim Brotherhood, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “the jury is out.”