British Prime Minister orders investigation of Muslim Brotherhood

Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo on January 24, 2014.

Story highlights

  • British PM David Cameron has commissioned a government review of the group
  • The review is to look at the movement's effect on British interests
  • Egypt has declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group
  • The Egyptian army ousted President Mohamed Morsy, of the Brotherhood, last year

British Prime Minister David Cameron has ordered an investigation of the Muslim Brotherhood over concerns about its alleged links to violent extremism, his Downing Street office said Tuesday.

Cameron has commissioned an internal government review of the "philosophy, activities and impact" on British national interests at home and abroad and the UK's policy toward the movement.

"The Muslim Brotherhood has risen in prominence in recent years but our understanding of the organization -- its philosophy and values -- has not kept pace with this," a Downing Street spokesman said in a written statement.

"Given the concerns now being expressed about the group and its alleged links to violent extremism, it's absolutely right and prudent that we get a better handle of what the Brotherhood stands for, how they intend to achieve their aims and what that means for Britain."

The review will be led by Britain's Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sir John Jenkins.

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The Brotherhood has long had a presence in London, but there have been reports that a significant number of prominent members have fled to the British capital from Egypt.

On its official English Twitter account, the Muslim Brotherhood said it "welcomes any investigations by the British government into its UK activities, past & present, which are all within the law."

Egypt crackdown

Cairo's military-installed government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group. Saudi Arabia has followed suit.

The Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928 and, despite years of repression, remains the largest Islamist movement in the Middle East. It returned to prominence during the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011.

There has been a crackdown on the movement, and ensuing political turmoil, since the army ousted Mohamed Morsy, Egypt's first democratically elected president, in July.

Egyptian authorities have blamed the Brotherhood for a campaign of violence since.

The group insists it remains an entirely peaceful organization, but is accused of being behind a wave of deadly attacks on the police and military. A separate militant group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which the United States has designated a terrorist group, has been blamed for attacks in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. It claimed responsibility in January for four blasts that killed at least six people in and around Cairo.

Morsy and many other senior figures are imprisoned, facing charges that could lead to the death penalty.

Mass trials of his supporters, which have already resulted in an unprecedented number of death sentences, have drawn widespread criticism from international human rights groups.

What is the Muslim Brotherhood?

528 Muslim Brotherhood supporters sentenced to death in Egypt