A debate is under way in the Trump administration about whether the United States should declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization and subject it to U.S. sanctions, according to U.S. officials and people close to President Donald Trump’s transition team.
A faction led by Michael Flynn, Trump’s National Security Advisor, wants to add the Brotherhood to the State Department and U.S. Treasury lists of foreign terrorist organizations, the sources said.
“I know it has been discussed. I’m in favor of it,” said a Trump transition advisor, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.
The advisor said Flynn’s team discussed adding the group to the U.S. list of terrorist groups but said it was ultimately unclear when or even if the administration ultimately would go ahead with such a move.
Other Trump advisors, as well as many veteran national security, diplomatic, law enforcement and intelligence officials argue the Brotherhood has evolved peacefully in some countries, according to officials and people close to Trump’s entourage.
They worry that a U.S. move to designate the entire Brotherhood a terrorist group would complicate relations with Turkey, a key American ally in the fight against Islamic State, and where the Islamist-rooted AKP Party that dominates the Turkish government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in power. Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda Party has also participated in democratic elections.
The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the country’s oldest Islamist movement, was designated as a terrorist organization in that country in 2013.
It is not clear which faction within the U.S. administration has the upper hand, and Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Mario Diaz-Balart this month introduced legislation to add the Brotherhood to the terrorist list.
There was no immediate comment from the White House.