This summer, the government of Egypt asked INTERPOL to issue Red Notices on six members of the banned group the Muslim Brotherhood. The accused include figures such as Mahmoud Hussein, the movement’s secretary general until 2020, and strongman in Istanbul. It also includes Medhat Ahmed al-Haddad, former official of the Brotherhood in Turkey, Mohamed Zenati, Assem Mohamed Hussein, Ahmed Yasser and Moaz Abdel Azim.
The designation as a terrorist group
Egyptian officials banned the group after the Brotherhood blaming the group for a suicide bombing at a police headquarters that killed sixteen people. The government deemed the Brotherhood responsible for the bombing despite another terrorist group called Ansar Bait al-Maqdis claiming responsibility. Deputy Prime Minister Hossam Eissa said that, in response to the bombing, the government decided to classify the organization as a terrorist group. According to The Washington Post, Eissa did not provide evidence that the Brotherhood was involved in the bombing or any other recent attacks on security forces in Egypt.
The underlying charges
The named leaders of the Brotherhood group are being accused of smuggling funds abroad to finance terrorism. The charges in court contain allegations that the men assumed leadership of a terrorist group and joined the group with knowledge of its purposes.
The political element
These claims of the Muslim Brotherhood being a terrorist group do not appear to be backed by evidence. Evidence instead points to the Brotherhood being a political opposition to those in power. INTERPOL’s Red Notice system allows member states to request that worldwide law enforcement locate and arrest a person, and while criminals have been caught using this system, autocratic regimes have used Red Notices to target dissidents living abroad. Since the military overthrow in July of 2013 of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, the regime of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has engaged in the systematic repression of the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Morsi is a member.
The Sisi regime was aware of the political threat the Muslim Brotherhood posed, and it began the narration of the Muslim Brotherhood being a terrorist group shortly after Mr. Siss assumed power in 2014. Because of this, tens of thousands of people are facing charges of participating in a banned terrorist organization and more are being detained without a warrant or have been disappeared.
In the next post, we’ll take a closer look at the international community’s observations on the Muslim Brotherhood.
As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.
*Special thanks to Sophia Estlund, a contributing guest author in this series.