The Canadian government should consider investigating the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has entrenched itself in North America and represents a greater systemic threat than al-Qaeda, according to a newly released report on the group.
“The aim of the group in North America is to weaken and destroy the free and open societies within Canada and the U.S.A. from within and replace them with the heavily politicized views of [founder] Hassan Banna, Sayyid Qutb and the Muslim Brotherhood,” according to the report, entitled The Muslim Brotherhood in North America (Canada/U.S.).
The report, written by Tom Quiggin, a court expert on terrorism and member of the Terrorism and Security Experts of Canada Network, raises concerns about the Brotherhood’s alleged ties to Canadian organizations, some which have either been accused of being terrorist organizations or alleged to have links to extremist groups.
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Based in Egypt, the Brotherhood, which maintains it rejects violence, was labelled a terrorist organization by the interim Egyptian government last December, months after a military coup toppled the democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi. Egypt has also been cracking down on members of the organization, and an Egyptian court recently sentenced to death the group’s leader and 682 supporters.
This year, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced he had ordered an inquiry into the group’s activities in the U.K.
"What I think is important about the Muslim Brotherhood is that we understand what this organization is, what it stands for, what its beliefs are in terms of the path of extremism and violent extremism, what its connections are with other groups, what its presence is here in the United Kingdom. Our policies should be informed by a complete picture of that knowledge," Cameron said in April.
Quiggin believes that the organization’s period of relative moderation has come to an end and it is now becoming “increasingly aggressive in its actions."
But the threat facing Canadians is not so much physical but more systemic.
"This is cultural, this is political, this is a different kind of threat," he said.
The goal of the Brotherhood in North America is to establish front organizations and eventually gain political power, he said.
These front organizations are interlinked by a common ideology, set of beliefs and set of leaders, Quiggin said.
The Brotherhood has already tried to spread influence and raise money through these adherent groups, which have "sought to systematically and repeatedly circumvent and break Canadian regulations and laws," according to the report.
The report also raises a number of possible options for the government: looking into which organizations in Canada have affiliations with the Brotherhood; which adherent groups have links through their leadership; which should have their charitable status reviewed; and which have access to government.
“One of the points of this report was to say ‘Hey look, this group exists, the amount of money they’re moving around runs tens of millions of dollars, they’re funding terrorist groups all over the place. At a certain point we have to ask 'Do we want this behaviour to continue?'" Quiggin said.
The Canadian government should also consider co-operation or information sharing with the British investigation and holding its own inquiry, he said.