A senior Muslim Brotherhood official Mohammed Sudan told an Arab newspaper that the group’s international leadership has launched a major PR campaign to influence the U.S. media and members of Congress to oppose the designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
The Brotherhood official predicted that the group would not be designated by the Trump Administration and that the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act introduced into Congress would fail.
He claimed that his organization had made contact with governmental officials and members of Congress and convinced them that the Brotherhood is opposed to terrorism, even though the Brotherhood’s Palestinian wing—Hamas—is designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department.
The author of the article reports that, according to sources within the Brotherhood, the group has spent $5 million on the PR campaign, with contracts being signed last month. The effort to influence American media included having articles and essays published to argue against designation of the Brotherhood.
Indeed, a slew of articles defending the Brotherhood were published as it was reported that the Trump Administration was planning to designate the Brotherhood. Most of these argue that the Brotherhood is opposed to terrorism and violence. As I wrote in December 2014, this notion is patently false.
The Brotherhood also thanked the leaders of Turkey and Qatar for defending the organization. Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have designated the Brotherhood as a terrorist group.
The Egyptian government warned that the Brotherhood has a lobby in the U.S. disguised as civil society organizations. An Egyptian government website cited a study done by a think-tank in Cairo that concluded that the Brotherhood is trying to influence U.S. policy using affiliates in America that “aim to spread the Muslim Brotherhood’s extremist ideologies in the U.S.,” in the words of the website.
A senior UAE official likewise said that the Brotherhood’s American lobby was responsible for political blowback over his country’s previous designation of the Brotherhood and two of its U.S.-based entities, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and theMuslim American Society (MAS).
The allotment of money for this campaign is an indirect acknowledgement by the Brotherhood that it exists in the U.S., and its activity in the country is important enough to fight for. The claim that the Brotherhood has an American wing will earn you a branding as a bigoted “Islamophobe,” but it isn’t so controversial in the Arab press (even though the Brotherhood insinuates the same thing there).
Foreign influence operations are at the top of the news right now in the U.S., but they center about Russia. Why is it acceptable to say that Russia would try to influence our policy, but it is bigoted to suggest that the Brotherhood—the largest Islamist movement in the world—would do the same?