Muslim Brotherhood's activities in UK to be probed, PM David Cameron says

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 April, 2014, 4:26am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 April, 2014, 4:26am

The Muslim Brotherhood's activities in Britain will be reviewed over concerns about possible links to violence, Prime Minister David Cameron said, widening pressure on a veteran Islamist movement facing an intensifying crackdown in the Arab world.

The Brotherhood and affiliated organisations and parties are part of the political landscape in many Arab and Islamic states, where they have placed deep roots in society thanks to their involvement in social and charitable works.

The group also gained political power in some Arab nations after the 2011 uprisings that toppled long-entrenched autocratic regimes. But the Brotherhood has been crushed in Egypt after the military overthrew an elected Islamist president in July, declared a terrorist organisation in Saudi Arabia, and subjected to a wave of prosecutions and jailings in Gulf Arab kingdoms leery of any spread of Islamist influence since the Arab Spring.

Britain, where many Brotherhood-influenced organisations are based, said its review would include looking at allegations made by authoritarian Arab leaders that the group was linked to violence, a charge it has repeatedly denied.

The probe would include an assessment of claims that the Islamist group was behind a suicide bus bombing that killed three South Korean tourists in Egypt's south Sinai in February and several other attacks, The Times newspaper reported.

"What is important is to make sure we fully understand what this organisation is, what it stands for, what its links are, what its beliefs are in terms of both extremism and violent extremism, what its connections are with other groups, what its presence is here in the United Kingdom," Cameron said.

A spokeswoman for Cameron said the review would examine the philosophies and values of the Muslim Brotherhood and how it operated in different countries around the world, including in Britain, as well as its impact on Britain's national security.

Both the British domestic and foreign intelligence agencies, MI5 and MI6, would be consulted as part of the review, she added, which would focus on the activities of the Brotherhood in the wider region, not Egypt alone.

Britain hopes the review, being led by John Jenkins, its ambassador to Saudi Arabia, will report findings by July.

Egypt's foreign ministry said it welcomed the investigation.