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The Brotherhood in London

Why the Cameron government is concerned.

Jun 2, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 36 • By OLIVIER GUITTA
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But assume for a moment that Saudi Arabia in particular had pushed for Cameron’s inquiry. It is true that by appointing Jenkins, the sitting ambassador to a country that has banned the Brotherhood, to head part of the investigation, Cameron opened himself to criticism. But if the reason for the inquiry were actually related to commercial and financial interests, then Qatar, the largest and most vocal supporter of the Brotherhood, would also have come into the picture and would have opposed any investigation. Indeed, Qatar is one of the main foreign investors in Britain, having poured an estimated $11 billion into Royal Dutch Shell, $2.8 billion into Barclays Bank, $2.5 billion into Harrods, $2.3 billion into Sainsbury, $1.7 billion into the London Stock Exchange, and over $8.4 billion into prime London real estate. 

In light of this massive commercial relationship, it was not in London’s interests to anger Qatar. So why would Cameron move forward?

What is also at play and has been underappreciated in the coverage is the potential discontent of Britain’s European allies, in particular France. Many European nations must have been displeased to see London becoming a major MB hub, especially at a time when even Tunisia was refusing MB leaders asylum. 

Though foreign influence must have played a role in Cameron’s decision, domestic considerations cannot be discounted. Yes, the MB in England has been peaceful for the past 40 years, but no one knows how the arrival of members of the global MB will affect the local Islamist scene. This is relevant to possible developments in Egypt and the rest of the Arab world, but also to concern over  the large number of British citizens joining the jihad in Syria, estimated at some 700.

Another troubling development is that on April 26 al Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al Zawahiri, expressed support for the incarcerated members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and called for the kidnapping of non-Muslims all over the world. Also, according to terrorism expert Aimen Dean of the Five Dimensions consulting group in Dubai, there are strong indications that the MB is supplying intelligence, information, and money to two al Qaeda-related groups in Egypt, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis and Ajnad Masr. This could spell trouble for foreign nationals and in particular Britons there.

The British government has a responsibility to ensure its citizens’ safety at home and abroad. Therefore it needs to make sure that members of the MB newly arriving in Britain will not get involved in any type of violence on, or launched from, British soil. This too is what is at stake in Cameron’s move.

Olivier Guitta is the director of research at the Henry Jackson Society, a think tank in London. Camelia Assem assisted in researching this article.

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