President Donald Trump is considering placing Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood on a U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations, the White House said Tuesday.
"The president has consulted with his national security team and leaders in the region who share his concern, and this designation is working its way through the internal process," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders wrote in an email to reporters.
Naming Egypt’s oldest Islamist movement a foreign terrorist organization would allow Washington to impose sanctions on any individual or group with links to the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Muslim Brotherhood responded by saying it is stronger than any politician’s decision.
"We will remain... steadfast in our work in accordance with our moderate and peaceful thinking in what we believe to be right, for honest and constructive cooperation, to serve the communities in which we live and humanity as a whole," a Brotherhood statement reads.
The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt more than 90 years ago. It came to power when its candidate, Mohammed Morsi, won the 2012 presidential election. Morsi had led the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak a year earlier.
Current Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sissi toppled Morsi in 2013, outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood, and threw Morsi and many of its leaders in jail.
El-Sissi has shown little tolerance for the opposition and any dissent.
Trump hosted el-Sissi at the White House three weeks ago, praising him as a “great president” and asserting that U.S.-Egypt relations had never been stronger.
Many U.S. lawmakers and human rights groups have blasted al-Sissi for what they say have been numerous abuses and the recent successful referendum extending presidential terms which could allow him to rule until 2030.
Organized opposition to the referendum in Egypt was almost nonexistent.