The United Arab Emirates released a list of designated terrorist groups and organizations over the weekend, with more than 80 different groups from around the world blacklisted. The list covers a variety of well-known names, including the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, al Shabaab, and Boko Haram.
Daily Caller The United Arab Emirates has officially designated 83 groups as terrorist organizations, including two based in the U.S., the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim American Society. UAE’s cabinet made the announcement following a meeting on Saturday.
CAIR’s designation is interesting given its high profile here in the U.S. The group was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case in 2007. Leaders of the Holy Land Foundation were found guilty of aiding Hamas, which the U.S. has designated as a terrorist organization.
Starting in 2008, the FBI adopted a strict policy against dealing with CAIR in its investigations. Last year, the Department of Justice inspector general issued a report showing that the FBI had in some instances failed to maintain that arms-length requirement.
According to Reuters, which reported on UAE’s new terrorist designations, the country is at odds with Qatar over the latter’s relationship with Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood. In the Holy Land foundation case, CAIR was listed as a member of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee.
The Muslim American Society (MAS), founded in 1993, also has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. A 2004 Chicago Tribune article laid out how MAS was created in secret by U.S. Muslim Brotherhood leaders who feared attention being drawn to some of their members who were supportive of Hamas.
Both organizations have long denied having any ties to terrorist groups and say that they are civil rights organizations.
Washington Post CAIR put out a statement that said they were seeking clarification on their “shocking and bizarre” inclusion on the list, while the Muslim American Society said that they had had “no dealings with the United Arab Emirates” and were “perplexed by this news.”
CAIR and the Muslim American Society are not alone in their shock. Diverse groups across Europe were also added to the list, leaving many observers perplexed at the scope and sheer scale of the list. Norway’s foreign ministry has already publicly requested an explanation as to why one of the country’s largest Islamic groups, the Islamic Organization, was included, and on Monday, the U.S. State Department said they would be seeking more information from the U.A.E.
It’s true that some of these groups have been involved in controversy in the past. For example, CAIR, an Islamic civil liberties advocacy group, was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2007 trial of the Holy Land Foundation in Texas. Officials from the Holy Land Foundation were later found guilty of diverting funds to Hamas, which has led some American lawmakers to refer to CAIR as a terrorist organization.
U.A.E.’s list seems to be driven by something closer to home, however: The very first name included is the U.A.E. Muslim Brotherhood, and a significant number of the more surprising inclusions on the list appear to have ties to the transnational Sunni Islamist group: The Muslim American Society, for instance, was founded by Muslim Brotherhood members in the 1990s. Rumors about links to the Muslim Brotherhood have also dogged CAIR.
The U.A.E. has long been vocal in its criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood, and earlier this year jailed dozens of people over their alleged links to the group, a conviction that earned the criticism of groups such as Amnesty International. The type of political Islam advocated by the group is at odds with the federation of hereditary absolute monarchies that rule the emirates, and the U.A.E. appears to have been shaken by the Muslim Brotherhood’s quick ascent to power in Egypt.
The move also plays into regional politics: Neighboring Qatar has been criticized by its neighbors for its support of the Muslim Brotherhood, prompting a backlash from countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, both of whom had preempted U.A.E. in listing the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.
Neither CAIR nor the Muslim American Society are designated terror groups by the U.S. government, which is a major ally and trading partner of the U.A.E., and their inclusion on the list surprised many analysts.