London, Dammam and Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Many of the Muslim Brotherhood members expelled from Qatar on Saturday will likely travel to Turkey or Malaysia, the head of the organization’s international wing has told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Speaking via telephone from Morocco, Ibrahim Mounir, the secretary-general of the International Muslim Brotherhood Organization, said he expected most of the members asked to leave Qatar by the government to head to Malaysia or Turkey since many of them had already obtained visas or residency permits to either of these countries, “which will make their living or residing there an easy matter.”
This comes as the Muslim Brotherhood said on Saturday that seven of its members currently residing in Qatar had been asked to leave the country by the authorities.
There has as yet been no official confirmation from Doha regarding the decision, but Brotherhood sources speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat said there had been “outside pressure” on Qatar to make the move, one seen as an attempt to appease regional neighbors such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and Egypt, who have been angered by Doha’s willingness to host senior members of the Brotherhood.
Egypt said it now expects more Brotherhood figures to be expelled from Qatar, which became a prime destination for many of the group’s members fleeing Egypt following the ouster of former president and senior Brotherhood figure Mohamed Mursi.
In a press conference in Cairo on Sunday, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said Egypt would contact Interpol regarding those men, as some of them are still wanted in Egypt in connection with a number of criminal cases.
An Egyptian security source with knowledge of the situation, and who requested anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat on Sunday that Egypt will “use Red notices [international arrest warrants] for these wanted individuals, and . . . we have already informed Interpol about their names . . . so they can be arrested once they are moving between countries.”
Ibrahim said Egypt expected the members expelled on Saturday could head to London or Turkey, “as there are no agreements between these countries and Egypt for the arrest of individuals wanted [in Egypt] for criminal [acts].”
But Secretary-General Mounir told Asharq Al-Awsat he thought it unlikely London—as well as Switzerland—would be a next destination for the members, “unless they had already obtained the necessary paperwork to enter and reside in these countries.”
London is a traditional hub of the Brotherhood’s diaspora, with many of those fleeing the regime of former president Hosni Mubarak, and those departing Egypt following the ouster Mursi and the banning of the group in the country, heading to the British capital, which Mounir called “a natural environment” for the group and its ideology.
Mounir added he was unaware if Brotherhood Secretary-General Mahmoud Hussein, the second-highest ranking member of the organization after Deputy General Guide Mahmoud Ezzat—and also on the list of those expelled from Qatar—had obtained a visa to enter the UK.
In addition to Secretary-General Hussein, the list of those figures expelled also includes Amr Darag, a former planning minister in the government of Hisham Qandil under Mursi, and Hamza Zobag, the official spokesman for the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the group’s now-dissolved political wing.
The Brotherhood currently maintains an office in the London borough of Cricklewood, which Egyptian officials believe it uses to coordinate its political activities.
However, according to London newspaper the Daily Telegraph, the British government is seeking to curb the Brotherhood’s presence and activities in the UK, though stopping short of an outright ban, the paper reported on Monday.
“We won’t ban the Muslim Brotherhood,” the paper quoted a senior British diplomat as saying. “There are other things that can be done, but not a ban.”
In particular, the movement’s charitable organizations are likely to face extra scrutiny and tighter regulation of their activities, the paper reported. This development follows the delivery of a report into the Muslim Brotherhood commissioned earlier this year by British Prime Minister David Cameron, and overseen by the UK’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sir John Jenkins.
The paper reported that the report accuses the movement of complicity with armed groups in the Middle East and elsewhere, but recommends against an outright ban in the UK.
Mirza Al-Khuwaildi contributed reporting from Dammam, and Waleed Abdul Rahman contributed reporting from Cairo.