A powerful report by the U.K. government accuses the Muslim Brotherhood of being sympathetic to terrorists and a risk to British national security, striking a contrast with the Obama administration’s more conciliatory approach – and fueling criticism that the U.S. government should wake up to the threat.
“I think the report is a damning indictment of the Muslim Brotherhood, and it’s a very realistic assessment of the nature of the Brotherhood itself,” Nile Gardiner, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, told FoxNews.com. “The British government has taken a far more serious approach compared to the Obama administration’s.”
The internal review of the Muslim Brotherhood was ordered by Prime Minister David Cameron in April 2014 and while the report is classified, Cameron ordered the main findings of the report to be made public.
The report found that supporting Hamas was an important priority for the Brotherhood. It noted that while the group at times has renounced violence, senior figures have repeatedly defended Hamas attacks on Israel and justified attacks against coalition forces in the U.S. and Afghanistan.
Also, while the Muslim Brotherhood has criticized Al Qaeda, leaders have claimed that the 9/11 attacks were fabricated by the U.S. government, and that the war on terror is merely a pretext to attack Muslim countries.
The report concludes that while the Brotherhood has preferred non-violent methods on the grounds of expediency, “they are prepared to countenance violence – including, from time to time, terrorism – where gradualism is ineffective.”
“Aspects of Muslim Brotherhood ideology and tactics, in this country and overseas, are contrary to our values and have been contrary to our national interests and our national security,” the report says.
Egypt’s military-backed government labeled the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group in December 2013, a matter of months after the military helped topple the government of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi.
Morsi’s overthrow put western countries like the U.S. and Britain in an awkward spot, after having spoken in favor of Arab Spring revolutions in Egypt and beyond. But in a written statement to the House of Commons after the release of the report, Cameron told MPs that association with the Brotherhood “should be considered as a possible indicator of extremism.”
He also said the U.K. would continue to refuse visas to those associated with the group who have made extremist comments, and would continue to review whether the group should be banned.
The Obama administration, by contrast, often has taken a more neutral stance toward the organization. In January, the State Department met with members of the Egyptian Freedom and Justice Party that was established by the Muslim Brotherhood.
In 2011, the Obama administration also had to correct Director of National Intelligence James Clapper after he described the group as “mostly secular” at a Capitol Hill hearing.
“To clarify Director Clapper’s point, in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood makes efforts to work through a political system that has been, under Mubarak’s rule, one that is largely secular in its orientation. He is well aware that the Muslim Brotherhood is not a secular organization,” DNI spokesperson Jamie Smith said.
When asked in an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly in 2011 if the Brotherhood was a threat to the United States, Obama said “they are well organized and there are strains of their ideology that are anti-U.S.” but did not call them a threat. Also in 2011, when asked if the U.S. should fear the Muslim Brotherhood, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “the jury is out.”
In a 2013 address to the United Nations, Obama said on the issue of Egypt that America had been both accused of “supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and engineering the removal of power. In fact, the United States has purposely avoided choosing sides.”
In a response to a 2013 petition to call the group a terrorist organization, the White House pushed back. “We have not seen credible evidence that the Muslim Brotherhood has renounced its decades-long commitment to non-violence,” the White House said in a statement.
Questions also have long been raised about the group’s connections inside the U.S. While some critics claim the Council on American-Islamic Relations is tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, CAIR has called such accusations “false and misleading.”
“Undoubtedly this report will embarrass the Obama administration because the White House has gone out of its way to try to appease the Muslim Brotherhood, and so this report I think dramatically undercuts the Obama presidency’s weak-kneed approach on this matter,” Gardiner said of the U.K. findings.
The State Department did not respond to a request for comment by FoxNews.com. A spokesman for 10 Downing Street said they were not prepared to comment on any difference of opinion with the United States.
Other analysts suggest the report shows the fundamental difference in the understanding of the Islamic threat between the two governments.
“The Muslim Brotherhood plays word games, they know how to pretend to be moderate,” Ryan Mauro, national security analyst at The Clarion Project, told FoxNews.com. “If the Obama administration is saying the Muslim Brotherhood is non-violent and democratic then they do not understand the Muslim Brotherhood and do not understand the overall threat of radical Islam.”
Mauro says this misunderstanding has been present in both the Bush and Obama administrations, and could ultimately drive a wedge between America and European countries.
“We’ve already been seeing this wedge between Europe and the U.S. where our politically correct approach — where we describe the threat as generically violent extremism — is very different from what Europe has been talking about, about striking at the ideology,” Mauro said.