Proposed ban on Muslim Brotherhood in US and its far-reaching implications for Muslim Americans

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Donald Trump, Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (2nd L) and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (L) (three Illuminates) put their hands on an illuminated globe during the inauguration ceremony of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on May 21, 2017.

By Dr. Aslam Abdulah

A possible executive order or a congressional bill that would have a severe impact on the Muslim American community is in the offing as President’s special advisor, John Bolton, and the secretary of the State Department, Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, who as a member of Congress co-sponsored a bill to ban the Muslim Brotherhood are eager to ensure that the organization known as Ikhwanul Muslimeen in Arabic is declared as a terrorist organization and banned before the end of Trump’s first term. Seemingly, Both seem to enjoy support for their crusade amongst pro-Israel lobbyists and evangelical Christians, the two major groups who have adopted the Trump agenda in totality.

Behind the move of banning the organization is the influence of religious ideas of evangelical Christians and the pressure of the Israeli Prime Minister. Of the two Pompeo reflect the religious ideas openly and loudly he is on a crusade to put it in action. Not long ago, he is reported to have told the well-known Islamophobe Frank Gaffney “There are organizations and networks here in the United States tied to radical Islam in deep and fundamental ways, They’re not just in places like Libya and Syria and Iraq, but in places like Coldwater, Kansas, and small towns all throughout America.”

Pompeo is an evangelical Christian, and in an interview that he gave to a Christian broadcasting network in March this year, he responded to a question around Biblical mythological story about a queen who saved Jews from a Persian official said: Mr. President Trump had been “raised to help save the Jewish people from the Iranian menace?” He further explained: “I am confident that the Lord is at work here.”

Later, while attending the American Israeli Public Affairs Council’s annual convention, the secretary of state asserted: “As secretary of state and as a Christian, I’m proud to lead American diplomacy to support Israel’s right to defend itself.

As an evangelical Christian, he believes that Israel fulfills a biblical prophecy because of God promised land to the Jews and that the gathering of Jews in Israel is foretold in the prophecy of the rapture — the ascent of Christians into the kingdom of God.

In a rally in 2015 on God and country, he said that  “We will continue to fight these battles, until “the rapture.” Pompeo believes that any territorial concession to Palestinians would violate the Biblical prophecy, hence he is opposed to a Palestinian state on theological grounds. He believes that that the Muslim Brotherhood is the main Muslim organization that has kept the idea of a Palestinian state alive globally since 1947 interfering in the divine plan. He believes that a ban on the organization would weaken the Palestinian resistance for a statehood.

But this is not the only reason the Trump Administration is keen to ban the organization. The dictators and monarchs have also been advocating a ban on Muslim Organization in the US. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Russia, and the United Arab Emirates have already declared the organization as a terrorist organization. The dictators are apparently opposed to any movement that wants to restore democracy in their countries. Even though the US Administration vows to promote democracy in the region, it has sided with dictators and monarchs always even when it was evidently known that pro-democracy elements were brutally crushed by them.

The case to ban the organization was made by Egyptian dictator General Sisi recently when he visited Washington recently. During a private conversation with Trump, General Sisi reportedly urged US President to join Egypt in designating the group a terror organization. Trump told Sisi that the plan would make sense, which some officials said could be interpreted as a commitment. Designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization would mean that the members or supporters, as well as humanitarian organizations linked with it, would face economic and travel sanctions.  White House press secretary Sanders has acknowledged in a statement that the administration was looking into the designation.

On the other hand, John Bolton is a hardliner and believes in flexing muscles to force the opponents to yield to the US. He believes that by exerting force against groups, like the Muslim Brotherhood, the US can dictate its terms on the Middle East. He believes that force alone will ensure continued U.S. dominance in the international system. He sees diplomacy and negotiations, particularly through the U.N., as a tactic for weak states to tie the hands of stronger states.

The two have the support of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and his main supporters in the US, Evangelical Christians for their plan to ban the organization. The Republicans are 100 percent behind the plan while the Democrats have their majority congressional delegate supporting it.

The Muslim Brotherhood was formed in 1928 in Egypt by Hassan al Banna to challenge the military and monarchic powers and to introduce Islam as a way of life in a democratic setup. The organization was described by the Egyptian government as a violent group. However, the groups declared in its early years that it believed in nonviolence.  The organization has thousands of supporters and sympathizers all over the world including the United States. The possible ban would impact such supporters and sympathizers in the United States. The news circulating in Washington states that the Administration is identifying individuals, groups, and companies associated with Muslim organizations with closer ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.  Seemingly, a task force has been established informally to define measures to be taken against such individuals and companies. There are several Muslim organizations in the US who reportedly identify with the ideas of Ikhwanul Muslimeen leaders or supporter and use their literature to create a better awareness of Islam. The Republican leadership has often accused many Muslim organizations as supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and sought to ban them. The Democrats are not as forthright but have their sympathy with the Prime Minister Netanyahu’s position on the Muslim Brotherhood.

If the organization is banned, it would pose a serious challenge to Muslims in general in the US as anyone can be identified as a supporter or sympathizer of the Muslim Brotherhood based on their attendance of mosques and Islamic centers run by people known for their support or ties to the organization. It would also impact those who have visited the web sites associated with the organizations and those who believe that their understanding of Islam is built on the ideas of Hasan al Banna, the founder of the group or Syed Qurb, its main ideologue.

Its an issue that should alert Muslim American organizations for a unified response in cooperation with leading civil rights organizations because if they failed to take actions in defense of their constitutional rights, they and the Muslim community might face grave consequences whose limits cannot be imagined at this time because the hated promoted by the President under the influence of evangelical Christians and the Prop-Netanyahu lobbyists.  In 2002 the Lashkar decided to get aggressive. In October 2002, 14 men were sent to Pakistan for training. Various reasons like the liberation of Hyderabad and the demolition of the Babri Masjid were given to brainwash these men. In 2007, when the Lashkar gave a call for jihad, the likes of Bilal and Rehman Khan became full-fledged terror operatives. They were among the 14 men who had been sent to Pakistan and told to set up Lashkar networks in the city.

 

At the time, during a meeting of FBI agents and Indian security officials, it emerged that 21 terrorists operating in Pakistan, including Abu Jundal, had Hyderabad origins. Hyderabad, the IB sources say, has surpassed Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh and Kerala as a breeding ground for Indian terrorists. Intelligence Bureau sources say Bilal was gunned down in Karachi, Pakistan, on August 30, 2007, along with his brother Samad.

But the story of south India as epicentre – terror remains incomplete without mention of Mohd. Amjad, the HuJI boss who completed the triad along with Yasin Bhatkal and Shahid Bilal. Arguably one of the most dangerous, in January 2010, days ahead of Republic Day, Mohammed Amjad alias Khaja, the south India chief of terror outfit HuJI who was tasked by ISI to carry out some attacks was arrested by Hyderabad police.

Twentyseven year-old Khaja, a native of Malakpet, had close links with Jaish and Lashkar. Jamestown Foundation (a Washington-based institute which educates policy makers about events and trends, which it regards as being of current strategic importance to the United States) writes that IB officials achieved a breakthrough on January 17 when they arrested a self-styled HuJI commander identified as Mohammad Abdul Khwaja (a.k.a. Amjad) from Chennai.

 

The 27-year-old native of Andhra Pradesh had intended to strike major installations in South India during the forthcoming Republic Day (January 26) celebrations. According to his confessional statements, he planned to target the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) depot on the outskirts of Hyderabad city as well as refineries in Visakhapatnam and Chennai. Besides these installations, he also plotted to carry out assassinations in Hyderabad, mostly targeting police officers involved in terror investigations.

For these activities, Khwaja scouted at least 25 other Muslim youths from south India and reportedly sent them for terror training in Pakistan. The most disturbing aspect of Khwaja’s activities was the transnational linkages he had established over the years. Khwaja was found to be operating in and out of India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the past few years, coordinating with the LeT, Jaish-e Muhammed (JeM) and IM leadership and establishing close ties with IM’s elusive mastermind, Riaz Bhatkal (a.k.a. Ismail Shahbandri).

Khwaja, who had worked closely with HuJi’s slain operative Shahid Bilal and underwent terrorist training in Pakistan, was found to be using three passports – Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani – in three different names.

Neutralising this trinity meant that the terror network in south India was well on its way to walking the road to peridition.

 

 

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