Cameron Orders Investigation into Muslim Brotherhood
British Prime Minister David Cameron has ordered an investigation into the Muslim Brotherhood over concerns the group is planning radical activities from a base in London, his Downing Street office said Tuesday, according to the AFP news agency.
The intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6 have been tasked to gather information on the "philosophy and activities" of the group after several leaders fled to London following the toppling of Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi last year, according to the report.
The probe would include an assessment of claims that the group was behind a suicide bus bombing that killed three South Korean tourists in Egypt's south Sinai in February and several other attacks.
The probe could reportedly lead to a ban on the Muslim Brotherhood in Britain.
"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 statement to AFP.
"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," according to the statement.
The review is being led by Britain's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, John Jenkins.
The Muslim Brotherhood did not immediately respond to a request for comment by AFP, but a spokesman quoted by The British Times said it was a "religious obligation for any Muslim Brotherhood member" to cooperate with the review and to respect British laws.
Morsi, the group's former leader, became Egypt's first elected civilian president following the toppling of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, but he was ousted by the army last July after a single year in power. He now faces trial for treason.
Egypt's military-installed government in December declared the Brotherhood a terrorist organization. Saudi Arabia followed suit last month.
In Egypt more than 1,400 people have been killed in street clashes and thousands imprisoned, including the Brotherhood's top leadership. A judge triggered a global outcry last month for sentencing 529 convicted Brotherhood leaders to death for rioting.
The British government acted following reports that Brotherhood leaders had met in London last year to decide their response to the Egypt crisis, The Times said.
They gathered in a flat above an Islamic charity office in the drab northwest London suburb of Cricklewood, the report said.
The Times quoted officials as saying it was "possible but unlikely" that the investigation would lead to a ban, with some in the Foreign Office reportedly believing it would only serve to radicalize and drive members underground.
Islamic radicalism has been a cause for concern in Britain. Just last week it was reported that England's Department of Education is beginning to take "special measures," in the wake of a systemic campaign of an organized takeover of public school by Islamists in the city of Birmingham.
One major issue causing concern is the number of British citizens who have travelled to Syria to fight alongside the rebels trying to oust Bashar Al-Assad’s regime.
Britain’s Information Minister recently said that the "security concern" for the UK posed by individuals who have trained and fought in Syria is "a big problem" for MI5 and the police.