Exclusive: The Muslim Brotherhood: Islam, Anti-Semitism and Totalitarianism (Part Two of Four)
by ADRIAN MORGAN
December 11, 2009
Youssef Nada and the Al-Taqwa Bank
In Part One, I briefly mentioned veteran Muslim Brotherhood member Youssef Nada and the essay entitled "The Project." The document was discovered in Nada's villa in Campione d'Italia while it was being searched on November 7, 2001. On the same day, Nada was designated as a terrorist under US Executive Order 13224. Nada's home was being searched because the Al-Taqwa bank, which he co-founded in 1988, was said to have been used to finance terrorism.
While Swiss police were examining the items in Youssef Nada's home, President George W. Bush declared: "Al-Taqwa is an association of offshore banks and financial management firms that have helped al-Qaida shift money around the world." Two days later, Youssef Nada would also be designated as a terrorist by the UN.
Subsequently, the Al-Taqwa bank was similarly designated, along with its numerous branches. A constellation of related companies were also designated by the U.S. Treasury Department. Records (PDF) list these as Al-Taqwa Bank (Nassau, Bahamas), Al-Taqwa Management Organization (Lugano, Switzerland), Al-Taqwa Trade Property and Industry (Lichenstein, Italy), Al-Taqwa Trade Property and Industry Company Ltd (Lichenstein, Italy), Al-Taqwa Trade Property and Industry (Lichenstein, Italy), Nada International Anstalt (Lichenstein), Youssef M. Nada & Co. Gesellschaft MBH (Vienna, Austria).
On August 29, 2002 (PDF) the Nada Management Organization SA (Switzerland) was added to the list, along with assets connected to another figure within the Al-Taqwa Bank, Ahmed Idris Nasreddin, who was designated as a terrorist by the G7 nations on April 17, 2002 and by the United Nations on April 24, 2002. These additional companies included: Akida Bank Private Ltd, Akida Investment Co Ltd, Nasredin Group International Holding Ltd, Nasco Nasreddin Holding AS, Nascotex SA, Nasreddin Foundation, and BA Taqwa for Commerce and Real Estate Company Ltd and others. Three years after being designated, Nasreddin continued to trade in Nigeria.
The Treasury stated: "They (Youssef Nada and Ahmed Nasreddin) have been involved in financing radical groups such as the Palestinian Hamas, Algeria's Islamic Salvation Front and Armed Islamic Group, Tunisia's An-Nahda, and Usama bin Laden and his Al Qaida organization."
Tunisian An-Nahda, also called Hizb al-Nahda, Ennahda, has since renamed itself as the Renaissance Party. Nasreddin was removed from U.S. and UN lists of terror financiers on November 17, 2007.
Nada denied knowledge of the 14 pages that comprised the "Project". Swiss journalist Sylvain Besson, who worked for Le Temp newspaper, wrote of the Project in his book "La Conquete de l'Occident" (The Conquest of the West), published in 2005. Within this book is a translation from the original Arabic into French (pp 192 - 205). Scott Burgess made an English translation from the French, which can be found here. My translation of the first pages of Besson's text, concerning the 12 "points of departure" is below. I will be presenting the rest in a supplemental account later.
In the name of Allah the forgiving, the merciful
Towards a global strategy for Islamic politicization (Points of departure, elements, methods and missions)
This report presents a global vision of an international strategy for Islamic politicization. On the authority of the guidelines*, and in agreement with them the local Islamist politics are elaborated within different regions. It serves, above all, to define the points of departure of his political ethos, then to posit the component features of each point of departure, by which the most important procedures are bound by each point of departure; finally we suggest certain missions, for example only, may Allah protect us.
Listed below, the chief points of departure of this politics:
Point of departure 1:
To understand the terrain and to adopt a scientific methodology for planning and implementation.
Point of departure 2:
To act seriously in this work
Point of departure 3:
At a local level, to reconcile international engagement with flexibility
Point of departure 4:
To reconcile political engagement with the need to avoid isolation on one hand, permanent education of generations and institutional work on the other.
Point of departure 5:
Working to establish the Islamic state, simultaneously making progressive efforts to take control of local centers of power by the expedient of institutional work.
Point of departure 6:
To work with loyalty on the side of Islamic groups and institutions in diverse fields, agreeing on common ground to "co-operate on points of convergence and to lay aside the points of divergence."
Point of departure 7:
To accept the principle of temporary cooperation between nationalist and Islamic movements in general areas and sure of the points of agreement such as the fight against colonization, preaching and the Jewish State without forming alliances. This requires, on the other hand, limited contacts with certain leaders, case by case, so that these contacts do not contravene the law.* However, one must not swear allegiance with them or take them into one's trust, aware that the Islamic movement must be the origin of initiatives and of directions taken.
Point of departure 8:
To master the art of the possible, in a provisional perspective, without neglecting basic principles, knowing that the rules of Allah are all applicable. One must order that which is suitable and forbid that which is wrong, while providing a documented** opinion. But one must not seek a confrontation with our adversaries, on a local or global scale, which would be disproportionate and could lead to attacks against the dawa (Islamic missionary activity) or its disciples.
Point of departure 9:
To continually build the strength of Islamic dawa and support the movements in the Islamic world who are engaged in jihad, to various degrees and as much as possible
Point of departure 10:
Assist diverse and varied surveillance systems, in several places, to gather information to adopt an informed and effective communication, able to serve the Global Islamic Movement. Indeed, surveillance, policy decisions and effective communications complement each other.
Point of departure 11:
Place the Palestinian cause within a global Islamic map, a map that is political and from the perspective of jihad, because this is the keystone of the renaissance of the Arab world today.
Point of departure 12:
Learn to cover self-criticism and permanent evaluation of global Islamic politics and its objectives, content and development procedures. It is a duty and a necessity according to the precepts of sharia.
** backed up by scripture
* the word "loi" (law) here is ambiguous. Burgess took it to mean sharia
Each point of departure would be fleshed out with "procedures" and "missions." Two of the six "missions" suggested for Point of Departure 11 are undoubtedly anti-Semitic.
The first is this: "Fight against the sentiment of capitulation among the Ummah, to refuse defeatist solutions, and show that conciliation with Jews would undermine our movement and its history."
The second has no ambiguity: "To nurture a feeling of rancor in regard to the Jews, and to refuse all coexistence."
This uncompromising approach to Jews is also reflected in the Hamas Charter, written in 1988, six years after the "Project" was typed out. Even though the "Project" was found in his home, its exhortations to exploit anti-Semitism as a policy do not explain why Nada should be openly connected to Nazis in his business dealings.
The Nazis and the Muslim Brotherhood's Swiss Bank
When Nada founded the Al-Taqwa bank with the full approval of the Muslim Brotherhood, two Swiss individuals were involved who were more than sympathetic to Nazis. One of these was Francois Genoud (1915 – 1996), a prominent Swiss Nazi who met Hitler in 1932 and later said of the dictator: "I personally have the highest regard and admiration for Hitler. He was a great man." In 1958 Genoud had set up the Arab Commercial Bank in Geneva, so his experience was useful in establishing the Muslim Brotherhood's bank in 1988. The Al-Taqwa ("piety") bank was originally incorporated in Lugano in Switzerland.
It has even been suggested that Genoud's suicide on May 30, 1996 may have been connected with an inquiry into Swiss wartime involvement with Nazi loot, and his accumulation of wealth may have been derived from brokering sales of stolen Nazi gold. Some of this legendary "Nazi gold" did not come from banks, but was extracted from the teeth of murdered Jews.
Genoud remained closely linked with Nazis long after the end of WWII. He would fund the defense case in the trial of Adolph Eichmann in Israel in 1961, as well as paying the legal fees of Gestapo war criminal Klaus Barbie (the "butcher of Lyons), who was found guilty in 1987 of committing crimes against humanity.
Genoud claimed to own the copyright on the diaries of Goebbels, and for a period in the 1980s exchanged friendly correspondence with David Irving, a man famous for minimizing the scale of the Holocaust. Genoud also funded the defense fees of "Carlos the Jackal" in his trial in Paris in 1997. Before being kidnapped to go to trial, the "Jackal" had been sheltering in Sudan, with the official approval of Hassan al-Turabi, who led the Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood. The Jackal would become a convert to Islam.
As well as claiming to own copyright on the Goebbels diaries, on behalf of Goebbels family, Genoud also held certain notes that were penned by Hitler. He gained these after signing a contract with the dictator's sister Paula in 1952. Genoud additionally claimed to own the rights to autobiographical material by Martin Bormann. Genoud's works that were apparently penned by Hitler were published in 1959, but a row with Irving ensued when the latter discovered that certain passages had been written by Genoud himself.
When he was asked in 1990 by a journalist for the Independent on Sunday newspaper whether he was a Nazi, Genoud had replied: "I was Swiss. I was never a member. But, like millions of people I had sympathies with the ideology." On publishing Hitler's "Last Testament," Genoud said: "I did it for Hitler. I think he's a very great man. All those who say he was not will soon be forgotten. Stalin will be forgotten. Churchill will be forgotten, but Hitler will never be forgotten. I met him once, in 1932, before he came to power. I was very impressed. He spoke a few words to me, telling me my generation would have to construct a new Europe."
Ahmed Huber (1927 – 2008), another Swiss Nazi sympathizer, also assisted in the setting up and running of the Al-Taqwa bank. Born in the canton of Fribourg in 1927 Huber worked as a journalist. Until the 1950s, Huber had been a socialist. In an interview given to French newspaper Le Monde in 2002, Huber described his conversion. He stated that he had given sanctuary to three members of the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) in November 1959. These were on the run from police for purchasing weapons. Huber said: "It was an order of the party. These three brilliant men enlightened me. From their mouth, I heard for the first time about the Muslim Brotherhood."
The armed wing of the FLN had been fighting the French since 1954. The Arab Commercial Bank in Geneva was set up in 1958 by Genoud to channel funds to the Algerian rebels. Ahmed Huber apparently gained most of his wealth from selling weaponry, and it is almost certain that the involvement of Genoud, Huber and Youssef Nada in the formation of a "Muslim Brotherhood bank" was to channel money and weaponry to jihadist factions around the globe – a practical implementation of the Project's "Point of departure 9." U.S. Treasury reports maintain that the Al-Taqwa bank was never a bank in a true sense, but only a shell, by which money could be shifted and dispensed under a quasi-legal cover.
In 1962 Huber became a convert to Islam at the Islamic Centre of Geneva, run by Said Ramadan (who is generally assumed to have written the "Project" document). The present mosque had not been built at that time. Huber's to Islam did not stop his Nazi activities. Piotr Smiolar of Le Monde noted that 74-year-old Huber had in his car audio tapes of Third Reich chanting amongst lectures of Khomeini and the music of Richard Clayderman. Huber had met Youssef Nada for the first time in 1988 in Iran.
Ahmed Huber proudly told his interviewer of the time in 1965 when he had met Johannes von Leers in Cairo, Egypt. Leers had been Goebbels' deputy, and he also had been a convert to Islam (renamed Omar Amin von Leers) after fleeing from Germany. Leers' writings against Jews are visceral in their contempt. An essay Leers wrote in 1942 entitled "Judaism and Islam as Opposites" showed his approval of Islam's "eternal service to the world: it prevented the threatened conquest of Arabia by the Jews..."
Though nowadays exponents of Islam appear to have strong alliances with left-wingers, the links with Nazism should never be forgotten. Egypt, the birthplace of the Muslim Brotherhood, was a place where such unions would become strong. Even when the Muslim Brotherhood had lost the support of Gamel el-Nasser, many Nazis would still be made welcome in Egypt. Many, like Leers, would become converts.
Alois Brunner was an assistant to Eichmann. He worked as an arms dealer in the country from 1954, before moving on to Syria. Dr. Hans Eisel, an SS doctor, arrived in Egypt in 1958. Joachim Daumling, former Gestapo chief in Dusseldorf, became an adviser to the Egyptian ministry of the interior.
Leopold Gleim had been a leading SS figure in Warsaw who became head of Gestapo in Poland and fled to Egypt, where he served as head of secret police using the name Ali al-Nasher, apparently a convert to Islam. Historian Kurt Tauber claims that the Egyptian ministries of defense and information employed former SA and SS officers, such as Louis Heiden, Walter Bollmann and Wilhelm Bocker.
The most recent revelation involving Nazi refugees to Egypt concerned the fate of Aribert Heim, known as the "Butcher of Mauthausen." As noted by Dr. Andrew Bostom, Heim ran the Mauthausen camp in Austria. Josef Kohl, an inmate, reported in 1946 that Heim would examine teeth of new arrivals. If the teeth were perfect, the inmate would be killed, decapitated, the head cooked until the flesh could be removed, and the skull would be made into desk decorations. Heim died in 1992, but his death was only reported in February 2009. In Egypt, Heim was a Muslim who attended the Al-Azhar mosque and was fondly remembered as "Uncle Tarek."
The founder of the Muslim Brotherhood acknowledged that fascism appeared to have "answers" to society's ills. In an essay entitled "The Way of Jihad," Hassan al-Banna wrote that "Nazism came to power in Germany, Fascism in Italy and both Hitler and Mussolini began to force their people to conform to what they thought; unity, order, development and power. Certainly, this system led the two countries to stability and a vital international role. This cultivated much hope, reawakened aspiration and united the whole country under one leader."
Banna subsequently pointed out the failings of these ideologies (they were not based upon Sharia), but in order to understand why Pan-Arabists (such as Nasser) and leading figures within the Muslim Brotherhood seemed to embrace Nazism, it is important to examine the terrain from which both movements grew.
The establishment of the Muslim Brotherhood (Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimeen) happened four years after the secular Turkish government of Kemal Ataturk had caused the Ottoman Caliphate to be officially disbanded. The demise of centuries of Ottoman rule took place on March 3, 1924.
The Caliphate of the Ottomans had become corrupt in its last decades. There were two responses to the fading moral influence of the Caliphate, and both of these were to play an important part in the history of the Middle East through much of the 20th century, particularly in Egypt. Both of these movements would inform the ideological outlook of Hassan al-Banna and his associates. One was Salafism, from which Hassan al-Banna drew his main influences, and the other was pan-Arabism. Sometimes these ideologies would work in harmony, sometimes in conflict.
In an essay originally written in 1978 called "Pan-Arabism" (published in "From Babel to Dragomans") Bernard Lewis wrote (pp 198 - 201) that Pan-Arabism was conceived by 'Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi (c.1849-1902), who wished for an Arab Caliphate to supercede that of the Turkish Ottomans. Another early ideologue of Pan-Arabism was an anti-Semitic Syrian Christian, Negib Azoury (d. 1916), but Lewis claims that Muhammad Rashid Rida (1865 - 1935) would be less obsessed with Arab resurgence and focused on an Islamic renaissance. All three were Syrian-born, but lived and wrote in Egypt.
Salafism for its part derived its inspiration from the early years of Islam ("first principles") and the examples of the prophet Mohammed's companions (salaf). The two early ideologues of Salafism rejected Western materialism and colonialism, but did not reject modernity. These were Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (c. 1838 - 1897) and the Egyptian-born Muhammad 'Abduh (1849 - 1905). Abduh objected to the complacent and unquestioning attitudes of many clerics (ulema). The two men met at Al Azhar university in Cairo in 1872, and a few years later in Paris they collaborated on a periodical called The Firmest Bond (al-Urwah al-Wuthqa). This publication was aimed against the British. Their relationship had foundered during the 1880s, but their writings were to prove inspirational to an emerging pan-Islamic movement.
From 1898 onwards Muhammad 'Abduh worked together with Rashid Rida (pictured) on a periodical called "Al-Manar" (The Beacon). Rida continued to produce this publication until his death in August 1935.
In October 1906, Hassan al-Banna was born into the family of a devoutly religious watch-repairer in al-Mahmudiyya in southern Egypt. Hassan would be the eldest of five sons. In 1923, aged 16, Hassan al-Banna went to the Dar al-Ulum (House of Knowledge) teacher training college in Cairo. This had been set up in 1872 by Ali Pasha Mubarak. At this time, al-Banna would assiduously read copies of Rida's "Al-Manar" journal. Hassan al-Banna graduated, becoming a teacher in 1927, aged 21. The following year, accompanied by six associates, al-Banna declared a lifelong commitment to Islam. This shared vow, which took place in a private house in Ismailiya, would mark the foundation of the Muslim Brotherhood.
At first the movement existed mainly as a social enterprise, attempting to prevent young Muslims from becoming secularized or falling prey to Western decadence. Soccer activities were balanced by Islamic study. In 1932, Al-Banna was offered a teaching job in Cairo. Relocated in a busy city, the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood spread quickly, and it adopted a more political agenda. The ideologies of fascism, which were challenging the colonial Western states, seemed appealing to many.
Hassan al-Banna supported actions against the British. These had occupied Egypt but even after independence in 1926, they retained their troops in the nation. Under the terms of the Palestine Mandate, the British were seen to be "colonizing" the Transjordan/Palestine. The British had also assisted Abdul Aziz ibn Saud to take control of Arabia, and the new "Saudi" monarch and his Wahhabist followers had not ingratiated themselves with Egyptians. The Balfour Declaration of 1917, which promised the restoration of lands to Jewish people, had already been ratified by the League of Nations in 1922.
Within this climate, the forces of nationalism, pan-Arabism and a new Islamism, would flourish. During the 1930s, the Muslim Brotherhood dramatically expanded its numbers and spread its influence.
In Part Three I will describe how these forces would all assist the Muslim Brotherhood to grow as a religious and political entity. Some Muslim Brotherhood members would take the concepts of anti-Zionism that were abounding in the region, and translate them into an ideology of hatred against Jews. This hatred would even lead to alliances with Hitler and the Nazi party.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Adrian Morgan is a British based writer and artist. He has previously contributed to various publications, including the Guardian and New Scientist and is a former Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Society. He is currently compiling a book on the demise of democracy and the growth of extremism in Britain.