Saudi Arabia identified the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group along with al Qaeda and others Friday, March 7, warning those who join them or support them they could face five to 30 years in prison, the Associated Press reports.
A Saudi Interior Ministry statement said King Abdullah approved the findings of a committee entrusted with identifying extremist groups referred to in a royal decree earlier last month. The decree punishes those who fight in conflicts outside the kingdom or join extremist groups or support them.
The king's decree followed the kingdom enacting a sweeping new counterterrorism law that targets virtually any criticism of the government.
The Muslim Brotherhood has been targeted by many Gulf nations since the July 3 military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in Egypt, himself a Brotherhood member. Saudi Arabia has banned Brotherhood books from the ongoing Riyadh book fair and withdrew its ambassador from Qatar, a Brotherhood supporter, along with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
Friday's statement, carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, identified the other terrorist groups named as al-Qaida's branches in Yemen and Iraq, the Syrian al-Nusra Front, Saudi Hezbollah and Yemen's Shiite Hawthis. It said the law would apply to all the groups and organizations identified by the United Nations Security Council or international bodies as terrorists or violent groups. It said the law also would be applied to any Saudi citizen or a foreigner residing in the kingdom for propagating atheism or pledging allegiance to anyone other than the kingdom's leaders.
The counterterrorism law bans meetings of the groups inside or outside of the kingdom and covers comments made online or to media outlets.