CAIRO: The U.S. administration is reviewing a statement by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), in which the group calls its supporters for “Jihad.” State Department spokesperson Marie Harf stated “we would condemn any call for violence” according to a daily press briefing Thursday.
Harf responded Thursday to journalists’ questions about the recent MB statement calling for a “new phase” of a “long-term Jihad” in pursuit of “martyrdom.” Harf said that the U.S. government is “looking into the specific statement about jihad to get some more information.”
On Jan.30, the Brotherhood published a statement in English and Arabic condemning violence and offering condolences for the families of the victims of the Jan. 29 deadly attacks that claimed the lives of over 30 army personnel in North Sinai. However, the Brotherhood removed an Arabic statement it had published Jan. 27, in which it called for “uncompromising Jihad.”
Harf did not provide more details on a question about whether there would be a change in the U.S. policy dealing with the group in the future, and briefly answered that the U.S. is engaged with a variety of parties in Egypt and that the “Muslim Brotherhood is not designated as a terrorist organization – the United States.”
Labeled as a “terrorist group” in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the Brotherhood has been under crackdown by the Egyptian government following wide-scale attacks against the state since the ouster of the Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 3, 2013.
Days prior to the Brotherhood’s call for “Jihad,” the U.S. State Department received an Egyptian delegation of members of the Brotherhood Freedom and Justice Party; criticism ensued the meeting. On the Jan. 30 daily briefing, State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters such meeting were “fairly routine.”
Psaki added the U.S. strongly condemns the latest Arish attacks, the responsibility of which was claimed by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM.) The Sinai-based group was designated as a “terrorist” organizations by the U.S in April 2014.
During Thursday’s briefing, the discussion tackled a video broadcast by a new anti-Egyptian government group dubbed “Revolutionary Punishment,” which was formed a day before the fourth anniversary of the January 25 Revolution.
First statement by so-called Revolutionary Punishment group
On Jan. 29, the group threatened to target foreign nationals and companies in Egypt and gave them a time limit until Feb. 11 to leave the country otherwise “they will be targeted by Revolutionary Punishment movements.”
The message, broadcast by the pro-Brotherhood TV channel Raba’a, also advised foreign companies and tourists to leave Egypt, and countries supporting the Egyptian government to abandon their position.
For her part, Harf clearly condemned calls of violence by the group.
The group, whose members are not identified, has announced it conducted a number of attacks in four governorates Jan. 30.