SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) Britain is set to impose curbs on Muslim Brotherhood-linked organisations and block activists moving to London after a report by a senior diplomat raised concerns over the group’s links to extremists in the Middle East.
David Cameron asked Sir John Jenkins, the ambassador to Saudi Arabia,to compile a full report on the Muslim Brotherhood after Gulf allies put pressure on the government to curtail the movement’s London-based operations.
Critics of the movement accuse it of links to jihadist groups and of pursuing divisive sectarian politics that infringe the freedom of other religions and Islamic interpretations.
A lobbying campaign by Gulf states angry at the Muslim Brotherhood’s role in the Arab Spring has seen several of its senior figures forced to leave Qatar in recent days.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia have spearheaded diplomatic pressure on host governments to shut down Muslim Brotherhood operations in Qatar, London and Istanbul.
Among those forced out of Qatar are Mahmoud Hussein, the secretary general of the Muslim Brotherhood, and other leading figures in the political wing of the movement.
Amr Darrag, a senior Brotherhood leader, wrote on Facebook that the activists had complied with a request to leave “to avoid causing any embarrassment for the state of Qatar”.
Officials privy to the drafting of Sir John’s report said it had been handed over to Downing Street and a statement on its findings would be published before the end of the year.
While it stops short of proposing a ban on the Brotherhood, it accepts some of the movement’s activity amounts to complicity with armed groups and extremists in the Middle East and elsewhere.
“We won’t ban the Muslim Brotherhood,” a Foreign Office diplomat told The Telegraph. “There are other things that can be done but not a ban.”
A senior British official involved in the process said parts of the report are too sensitive to publish. “It’s a very comprehensive look at the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in many countries. There have been submissions that have been given to us that are very sensitive. We couldn’t go back to those places again if some of this information was put in the public domain.”
The Muslim Brotherhood organisation was established in Egypt in 1928 and was ousted from government there last year.
One of the main areas of concern raised with Sir John was Muslim Brotherhood charities that now face renewed scrutiny by the Charity Commission.
It is known to have opened inquiries into alleged suspicions over funding to overseas terrorist organisations by at least three British-based Muslim Brotherhood charities.
A spokesman for the Commission told The Telegraph that Sir John had asked for its findings but would not discuss the nature of the information on the organisations under investigation.
Broader political activities, including media and propaganda branches, also face tighter regulation.
Following the removal of Egypt’s Mohammad Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s elected president, from power in a military coup last year most of the organisation’s leadership was placed under arrest.
Egyptian officials believe much of its ongoing political activities have shifted to London, where the Brotherhood maintains an international office in Cricklewood.
Ashraf Elkholy, Egypt’s ambassador to Britain, said that the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood in his country had largely stopped functioning after senior figures were imprisoned.
He warned of the danger the group would use its London-based establishment to revive its influence in areas where it has come under pressure.
Speaking to Telegraph, Mr Elkholy said the ideological nature of the organisation and its financial links to a wide range of British groups was open to abuse. “The leadership here should be put under review by your side to be sure they have not incited things to be done in Egypt or in the Middle East,” he said. “We take our own steps and our own plans to ensure our national security.
“London can be a hub. They are planning activities, such as opening a TV station and newspapers from here, that are part of their aims against us.”
Other predominantly Muslim countries allow Muslim Brotherhood operations, including Tunisia, Libya and Kuwait.
“It’s a nonsense to say we could ring fence a ban that punished the Brotherhood in one country but allowed us to keep good ties elsewhere,” said the British official. “The report is thorough in pointing out the pitfalls of the Muslim Brotherhood but also its mainstream appeal and continuing role in the region.”