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The U.K. government has launched an investigation into the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood to determine whether the organization is using London as a base for planning extremist attacks after the Egyptian military has cracked down on the Islamist movement, and Egyptian courts have outlawed it.
The New York Times notes that while the British government has cracked down on what it regards as terrorist and extremist organizations, the Muslim Brotherhood had not been regarded as such, especially after it had won the parliamentary elections in Egypt in December 2011 and the presidential elections in June 2012, which made Muhammad Morsi the president of Egypt.
The Egyptian military removed Morsi from power in July 2013, and he is now standing trial on various charges.
A spokeswoman for Prime Minister David Cameron said the Brotherhood “has risen in prominence in recent years, but our understanding of the organization — its philosophy and values — has not kept pace with this.”
“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,” she said.
According to HLS News Wire the inquiry in to the Brotherhood will be led by Sir John Jenkins, Britain’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and he is expected to complete it by midsummer.
Word of the inquiry was first reported in the Times of London, which said leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood met in London last year to plan their response to Morsi’s overthrow.
The Times says that the inquiry would draw on information from MI5, the domestic security service, and MI6, the foreign intelligence agency. MI5 will investigate the extent to which people associated with the Brotherhood have been able to take refuge in Britain since Morsi’s ouster. MI6 will report on any involvement by the organization in terrorist activities, like an attack in February on a busload of tourists in the Sinai Peninsula.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia have both designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, and both countries have put pressure on Britain to outlaw the organization. A U.K. government official, however, told the Times that the aim of the inquiry was “not about establishing evidence to proscribe” the group.