A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the Musl

"Science," the Greek word for knowledge, when appended to the word "political," creates what seems like an oxymoron. For who could claim to know politics? More complicated than any game, most people who play it become addicts and die without understanding what they were addicted to. The rest of us suffer under their malpractice as our "leaders." A truer case of the blind leading the blind could not be found. Plumb the depths of confusion here.

Re: A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:05 pm


By THE MID-1950s, most of the displaced persons in Germany had found homes. Foreign prisoners had been sent home, Jewish survivors had emigrated, many to the United States or Israel, while millions of ethnic Germans had been resettled, mostly in West Germany. Only one major group remained living in camps: stateless foreigners with no place to go. A German newspaper dubbed them "homo barrackensis," people consigned to live in camps. And they were, by and large, Muslims. One social worker visiting a group of two hundred Albanians in the southern Munich suburb of Ottobrunn said they lived eight to a room, without electricity and with the only source of water a six-hundred-meter walk away. Tuberculosis had infected several of the children. A sign outside the building said DILAPIDATED: ENTER AT OWN RISK.

Not all Muslims in Munich lived in such conditions. Many had found homes, started businesses, or begun working with the American Committee. But many others needed help. To their rescue came Ibrahim Gacaoglu, a gruff, poorly spoken, but honest imam. During the war, Gacaoglu had been a trusted Muslim headman. Born in the North Caucasus in 1903, he was fiercely loyal to the Germans. Most of the Germans' Muslim soldiers had been young, many of them teenagers. But Gacaoglu was old enough to be their father. Simple and poorly educated, he relied on friends to write letters for him. Yet he was pious and his age commanded respect.

In 1953, he founded a religious group called Islam: The Moslem Religious Society in Western Europe. Its goal was to keep the religion alive among the estimated three thousand Muslims still living in German camps for displaced persons. When Gacaoglu formed the group Islam, he said his goal was to prevent the soldiers from losing their loyalty to Germany; the camps, he thought, were so squalid that they were causing many to give up and return to the Soviets.

Von Mende initially supported Gacaoglu's new group, but for reasons that are not clear he distanced himself relatively quickly. It could be that Gacaoglu seemed too crude and unsophisticated to lead Munich's Muslims or simply that von Mende didn't yet see the importance of cultivating Islam as a force to use in the Cold War -- although he had helped many Muslims, he had done so as part of a broad effort to help all emigres. Or perhaps U.S. officials offered Gacaoglu more money and lived closer at hand -- von Mende was up in Dusseldorf, while Amcomlib was right there in Munich. Within a couple of years, Gacaoglu was handing out food packages from the U.S. humanitarian organization CARE. Some Muslims said he had received the packets from the U.S. consulate in Munich. He was also distributing goods from the Tolstoy Foundation, a charity aimed at helping Soviet refugees that also had links to the intelligence community. By 1955, Amcomlib was funding Gacaoglu directly. It paid for the community's Bairam, a major event on the Muslim calendar. Gacaoglu held the festival in the Deutsches Museum, a cavernous building of exhibits that trumpeted German industrial and scientific prowess. He invited scores of Muslims and attracted local media attention.

Gacaoglu seemed like a good catch. A Chechen who taught at the CIA school in Bavaria strongly backed his fellow Caucasian. Gacaoglu also commanded a wide following because of his charitable work. Alex Melbardis, who was Amcomlib's deputy head of emigre relations at the time, said Gacaoglu once called him at 4 A.M. to ask for a lift to visit a dying man outside Munich. Melbardis was impressed by his dedication and hopped in his car to pick up Gacaoglu for a two-hour drive to the village where the man lived. "Gacaoglu administered the last rites;' he said. "He was a decent man."

Soon, Gacaoglu was firmly in the U.S. camp. "We helped him and he helped us," Melbardis said. "He did propaganda for us." The United States now had a man who could lead Munich's Muslims -- a counterbalance to the Muslims used by the Soviets. There was an inherent absurdity to this effort: Moscow controlled millions of Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Tatars, and Azerbaijanis; at best, Bonn and Washington might claim a few hundred or thousand in Munich as under their sway. But in the media age all that mattered was to have a spokesperson who could attend the Hajj or a conference, declare himself a Muslim leader from the West, talk up the freedoms back home, and criticize Soviet repression. Gacaoglu was at least credible and clearly had a following in Munich, where hundreds had signed up as members of his group.

But dissatisfaction lingered. Gacaoglu might have been a decent man and able to connect with the Muslims in the camps, but did he have the authority to credibly represent Western Muslims on the world stage? Could he stand up as their leader and attack the Soviets? The staff at Amcomlib's headquarters in New York were skeptical. They began casting about for other options --looking for a quick-witted, charismatic figure who could work in the fast-paced propaganda wars.


At first, Robert H. Dreher had little use for Muslims, but by the late 1950S, he would become the man most closely identified with cultivating them in Munich. Early in the decade he was a confirmed Russophile, reveling in aspects of that culture that matched his own interests. Tall and good-looking, he had joined Amcomlib as a way to get back to Germany and the good times he had known there as a CIA man. He spoke Russian, liked vodka, and could keep up with the best of his Russian friends at dancing. But Islam? Like most Amcomlib officials, Dreher had no idea what to make of it.

That would soon change, thanks to the influence of one of his colleagues, B. Eric Kuniholm. Kuniholm was senior to Dreher and, initially at least, more influential. He headed Amcomlib's political wing, one of its three main branches of operations, along with the radio station and the institute. The political operations oversaw Amcomlib's covert propaganda efforts, which were increasingly directed toward Muslims around the world.

Kuniholm had been born to Swedish and Finnish parents and was fluent in both those languages as well as German and Russian. His cosmopolitan background -- both his facility with languages and his outlook -- made him special among Amcomlib's U.S. staff. Kuniholm was skeptical of Russians and doubted they would overthrow the Soviet Union. He thought the minorities were the key. He often spent time with non-Russians, inviting Tatars, Uzbeks, and others back home for dinner, drinks, and stories about the homeland. West German intelligence pegged Kuniholm as a "splittist" -- eager to split the Soviet Union by pitting the non-Russians against the Russians.

Kuniholm had long experience in intelligence work overseas. While working for the U.S. government, he had observed and reported on the Nazis' anti-Jewish pogrom in 1938, called Kristallnacht, and witnessed antimonarchy riots in Tehran, where he had supervised Lend-Lease shipments to the Soviet Union during the war. Later he had observed protests in Palestine as the state of Israel was being born. At Amcomlib his work was more strategic, and he rarely went abroad. Staffers recall him as involved in setting policy and parameters.

Dreher was Kuniholm's opposite, an odd combination of glad-handing charm and ideological fervor. Born in 1916, Dreher had grown up in a Pennsylvania family of German descent. The Great Depression shaped him: he was thirteen when it started, and he remembered counting every penny. He put himself through Lafayette College, working forty hours per week. He graduated with honors in 1938. Like many Americans who faced hardship during this era, he was attracted to the Soviet Union's promise of justice and welfare. He took a job with Standard Oil in New Jersey. The next year, he was awed by the World's Fair in New York. His favorite pavilion was the Soviets'. "From that time on, I followed things Soviet with an extremely 'educated' interest." he later wrote, "devouring the current press accounts and books, practically all of which were strongly -- even ridiculously, as it later appeared -- pro-Soviet in their slant."

Dreher began a graduate degree in engineering at Columbia University but joined the navy when World War II began. His engineering skills landed him a desk job in Jacksonville, Florida, where he worked for the supervisor of shipbuilding. As the war wound down, the navy issued a circular soliciting volunteers to learn Russian. Dreher signed on and went to language school in Boulder, Colorado. He completed the course in 1946. By then, the war was over and he could have been discharged. But just then, the navy's liaison with the Soviet Union in the port of Odessa resigned. Dreher was asked if he'd extend his service.

"Would I?" Dreher replied, and he was off to the Soviet Union -- just as the Cold War was gaining momentum.

It was there that Dreher became briefly famous. Odessa was the Black Sea port through which most of the United Nations' humanitarian aid to the Soviet Union was channeled. The country was devastated by the war. U.S. ships delivered most of the supplies -- hence the navy's role in supervising its flotilla. But tensions were rising rapidly between the two former allies. While in Moscow, wrapping up some paperwork before returning home, Dreher was detained after a brief scuffle and quickly expelled from the Soviet Union. The incident was front-page news in the New York Times. The United States claimed Dreher had been set up. Pravda said he was a spy.

The Soviet allegations can't be dismissed as propaganda. Dreher had served in the Office of Naval Intelligence and by his own account had spent much of his time in Odessa driving around the countryside, picking up hitchhikers, and generally befriending anyone he could find. In Moscow he romanced a medical student, getting a tour of her research facility. He gave accounts of his forays to the top naval man in the embassy, Admiral Leslie Stevens.

"I had more direct, intimate contact with more people over a wide range of education, occupational, economic, and political strata in the Soviet Union during these critical post-war years than any other American, or possibly any other foreigners from any country. My dossier with the MGB [forerunner of the KGB] was undoubtedly the fattest of all contemporary foreigners;' he wrote in the opening chapter of an unpublished account of his Russian adventures.

Years later, when he wrote of his arrest, he said he was sure the hitchhikers had been later interrogated -- in other words, he knew he had been tailed. As for the medical student, he figured she would be arrested for her indiscretion, and in fact she was. She spent eight years in the gulag, fixing roads and eating barley gruel. Dreher blamed the arrests not on his own indiscretions but on the Soviets.

The experience turned him into one of Amcomlib's most hardened cold warriors. After his expulsion, he returned to Washington to head naval intelligence's USSR desk. Three years later, in 1951, he joined the CIA. On his CIA application, his reason for leaving the navy is stated as a wish "to contribute more directly to liberation" -- the new U.S. policy of aggressively overturning, not containing, communism. He joined the CIA at a time when it was still the front line of the next great struggle. A Roosevelt Democrat, his political liberalism wasn't at odds with covert operations. He saw it as a means to defeating a totalitarian state.

His resume seemed tailor-made for a job in covert operations. It wasn't just his Russian and, to a lesser degree, his German language skills or the background in military intelligence. It was his personal life, which on the application seemed a blank slate. He had only three relatives: father, mother, and sister, all born in the United States. He never married. He had never joined a political party or anything more controversial than Phi Beta Kappa and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He had never even taken a loan. Under "credit references" in his CIA application he apologetically explained that he'd plunked down cash for his 1948 Chevy.

CIA background checks, however, apparently weren't too thorough back then. On his CIA application form, Dreher wrote no in answer to the question about anything in his life history that might be potentially compromising. Yet Dreher was an inveterate womanizer, often boasting about his conquests with staff and friends. That in itself wasn't disqualifying, but during an earlier trip to Munich, he had started a special affair: a long-running relationship with an ethnic Chinese woman from Southeast Asia. She bore him a daughter, a secret both kept until Dreher was an old man. Women and liberation were the twin poles of his life.

The CIA sent Dreher back to Munich for a year, but he soon returned to the United States. He had been given a job in New York with the newly formed Amcomlib, which was headed by his old boss from Moscow, Admiral Stevens. He was essentially seconded to Amcomlib as its CIA liaison man -- he kept his CIA rank and pay and a few years later would return to the agency. At Amcomlib, Dreher was given a high-ranking job -- head of the Radio Programming Support Division -- vetting what was produced in Munich and making sure the right message got out. The salary was also generous for that era: $10,000 a year, one of Amcomlib's highest.

Dreher joined Kuniholm, working out of Amcomlib's headquarters in New York. The offices were located on East 45th Street, just off the advertising center of the world, Madison Avenue. Down the street was the Roosevelt Hotel, where staffers sometimes went for a drink after work. The offices themselves were anodyne: outside, a fourteen-story gray brick building; inside, subdued carpets, quiet secretaries, and humming fluorescent lights. Everyone wore a conservative suit. One Jewish staffer remembers it looking like a "WASPish bank." which made him feel uncomfortable.

Although Amcomlib officers in Munich had considerable leeway, New York -- especially Kuniholm and Dreher -- set the tone and strategy. That led to an almost inevitable cleft between on-the-ground operations in Munich and headquarters in New York. Staffers in Munich thought the New York bureau was out of touch -- too hard-line anticommunist and unable to understand the complexities of dealing with people from other cultures. That would become especially pronounced as Amcomlib turned its attention to Islam.

But Dreher chafed at living in 1950s America. He took a flat in a brownstone walkup in Greenwich Village, living a bachelor's life and angling to get back overseas. He also had professional reasons for returning to Europe. The radio, he thought, was doing well, but the covert operations there were weak. They needed beefing up. Exactly how he would accomplish this wasn't yet clear. It would be up to his boss, Kuniholm, to chart Amcomlib's strategy.


In the early years of the Cold War, CIA men like Bob Dreher were far from unusual. The agency comprised two factions: the professionals, who had served in the wartime intelligence agencies, and the eccentric newcomers. Of the second group, many had seen action in World War II but were recruited to the CIA with a specific purpose in mind: to jump-start an agency that was already seen as staid and overly bureaucratic. Dreher was firmly in the latter camp.

This group's founder and inspiration was Frank Wisner, one of the legendary figures in U.S. intelligence. Wisner came from a wealthy family in Mississippi and worked as a Wall Street lawyer before joining the navy in World War II. He quickly switched to the Office of Strategic Services, the wartime intelligence agency, and witnessed firsthand how the Soviets overran southeastern Europe in the waning days of the war. After he was demobilized, he went back to Wall Street, where the former OSS officer Allen Dulles was also working. The two would meet regularly for lunch and bemoan the U.S. government's dismemberment of its intelligence services. A friend who sat in on one lunch remembers them as "pining to get back ... They were both great romantics who saw themselves as saviors of the world."

In 1947, Secretary of State Dean Acheson recruited Wisner to join the State Department and keep an eye on Soviet activity in eastern Europe. Wisner bought a farm in Maryland and a townhouse in Georgetown. Compact, powerfully built, and uniformly described as brilliant, he became a star of dinner parties among the Washington elite, where he argued vigorously for action against the Soviets. Like many in Washington, he felt that the United States needed a new agency to do this, one beholden to no politician or civil servant, one that could match the Soviets dirty trick for dirty trick.

In fact, the United States had just such an agency -- the newly formed CIA had an Office of Special Operations, made up of wartime intelligence veterans. But the CIA reported to the National Security Council, meaning it was held accountable by, and its actions could be traced to, the U.S. government. Even though the OSO had just successfully intervened in Italian elections to prevent that country from going communist, it was seen as engaging in espionage, not political activism. Maybe more important, Wisner despised the OSO, saying its agents were too staid -- perhaps because they were accountable for their actions. He called them a "bunch of old washerwomen exchanging gossip while they rinse through the dirty linen." He wanted action.

Wisner began to lobby for his new agency and in 1948 he got it -- the innocuously named Office of Policy Coordination. The office was housed in the CIA but reported only to the secretaries of state and defense. Wisner was put in charge, instantly becoming one of the most powerful men in the U.S. government. He raced to recruit emigres in Europe -- an army of disgruntled anticommunists, or so Wisner imagined them, eager to fight in the hot war just around the corner. To run the operation, Wisner sought out unusual men. He recruited many from Wall Street, believing they had the risk-taking mentality needed to get things done. He also recruited extensively from Ivy League schools and paid accordingly. Wisner convinced Washington officials that his team was composed of the elite, and they automatically got higher pay grades. The CIA's parking lot reflected this distinction: the old-school agents drove Chevrolets and Fords; Wisner's men drove Jaguars and MGs.

Improbable plans were hatched and sometimes carried out. At the height of the Korean War, Wisner's OPC men hijacked a Norwegian freighter heading for North Korea. But Wisner was sometimes spectacularly unsuccessful. Once, he spent $400,000 on a Polish officer who pledged to fly the latest-model Soviet fighter over to Munich. Instead, the officer spent the money in a Munich hotel on champagne and prostitutes. Bizarre undertakings were commonplace. For example, just to show that they could do anything, two OPC agents blocked off the intersection of Madison Avenue and 42nd Street, dug a giant hole, and walked off. "It was prankster stuff." one veteran recalled. Wisner boasted that his OPC was like a "mighty Wurlitzer." an organ on which he could play anything, from diplomacy to military action. His Wurlitzer was amplified and blasted through two giant speakers: Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe, the largest covert operations of their era.

The organization Wisner headed was no secret cabal. The small group of politicians, officials, and journalists who held sway back in 1940s Washington were all in broad agreement that the United States had to fight the Soviets. This was not the age of George Smiley, the fictional spy in John le Carre's novels, a jaded and spent figure working in a milieu of ambiguities. This was a confident and ambitious group of men sure that they could fight Stalin just as U.S. citizen soldiers had defeated Hitler. Now enthusiastic amateurs were ready to go up against the KGB. All they needed were the right allies among the emigres.


In September 1955, Eric Kuniholm arrived in Istanbul and reserved a berth at Cook Wagon-Lits for the night train to Ankara. Then he set off for the famous Restaurant Abdullah for a quick supper. ''And then all hell broke loose," he wrote back to his colleagues in New York. Protests against Greece's presence on the island of Cyprus had morphed into xenophobic, anti-Christian riots. At first only Greek businesses were torched, but by the end of the evening six churches had been gutted. The cathedral next to the Naval Museum burned all night, lighting up the Bosporus. Just as he had many times before when witnessing violence, Kuniholm wrote up a coolly analytical report. The protests, he wrote, had not been as spontaneous as the government claimed. They had been highly organized by rabid anti-Greek nationalist groups. His proposed solution was more police.

It was an attitude much appreciated by Kuniholm's contacts in the Turkish secret police, who likewise thought more law and order was needed. Kuniholm was in Turkey on a sensitive trip. He wanted to line up Muslims to join Amcomlib's covert propaganda battle in the third world. But Turkey was worried that U.S. support could embolden emigres to demand that the Turkish government help them. The Turks supported the anticommunist goals of Kuniholm's work but wanted to be sure that the emigres didn't get out of control and start their own riots. Kuniholm assured them that the work would be discreet, covert, and quiet. The Turks were especially concerned about religion. After the overthrow of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey had adopted a militantly secular ideology. When Kuniholm met the interior minister, he was warned against getting involved with the Muslim Congress -- one of several bodies being formed at this time, by mostly Arab Muslims. Acceptable, the general said, would be a "research institute" that would mask a CIA-run "Action Committee" to push more vigorous anti-Soviet actions. The Turks also congratulated Kuniholm for having sent Rusi Nasar to Bandung earlier in the year. That Nasar's success was mostly due to his emphasis on Islam was left unspoken.

Kuniholm's six-week trip occurred after Amcomlib had basically given up on the old paradigm of coercing Russian and non-Russian emigres to work together. The goal had been to set up a front group to run Radio Liberty, making it seem like a grassroots creation rather than an intelligence construct. That had failed spectacularly, despite the efforts of seasoned diplomats such as Ike Patch. Clearly the United States needed to spend more time thinking about how to harness Islam -- and this, without a significant Muslim population of its own to be recruited. Kuniholm's trip was a chance to take stock and formulate new ideas. He spent nearly six weeks on the road and apparently met nearly every emigre leader in Paris, Munich, Istanbul, and Ankara. Most were Muslims.

One such key leader was Said Shamil, whose family was one of the most famous Dagestani clans. In the nineteenth century Said Shamil's grandfather, Imam Shamil, had led the resistance to Russian expansion into the Caucasus, fighting a bitter civil war. He eventually surrendered, was placed under house arrest, and was later granted permission to retire to Mecca. The elderly Shamil bought huge tracts of land in Medina, which the family kept after he died. By the twentieth century the land was worth a small fortune, and the family was rich. They moved to Switzerland and had little contact with those back home in the Caucasus.

Said Shamil had also participated in the Nazi efforts to harness Islam. After the war, he returned home to Geneva and was active in efforts to unite Muslims around the world. By 1955, he was close to the Americans. The Amcomlib officer Alex Melbardis summarized how the Americans viewed him: "The family was really famous and wealthy. We wanted him on our side."

U.S. intelligence documents indicate that Shamil provided information on emigre leaders, indicating he was at least cooperating with, if not working directly for, the Americans. Shamil's expat lifestyle, however, led many to question whether he could really help the United States. Kuniholm reported that Shamil had lived in the Caucasus but since the communist takeover hadn't been back home; hen floated between Medina, Mecca, Beirut, Cairo, and, of course, Geneva. On Kuniholm's last night in Istanbul, Shamil hosted a big dinner for him. It was fun, but hardly a meal one would expect from a serious Muslim leader.

"I do not mind a succession of vodkas," Kuniholm wrote back home. "But I object to vodka being served in water tumblers, full."

In Munich, Kuniholm again met with Muslims. Almost all the people involved in efforts to harness Islam were present, including Ali Kantemir, whom Kuniholm humorously described as "as astute as ever, with the same nose for intrigue;' and Ahmet Nabi Magoma, "an old revolutionary, who was in the British pay for long years." Both also had long-standing contacts with U.S. intelligence. He also met Garip Sultan and other Amcomlib employees with Radio Liberty. They pleaded for more leeway to take "political action" -- Amcomlib code for covert propaganda action -- like the operations that had succeeded during the Hajj and at Bandung, instead of just broadcasting anti-Soviet propaganda. Kuniholm told them that political action would be coordinated through Istanbul, where Amcomlib was establishing better contacts.

Gacaoglu was next on Kuniholm's list of influential emigres. Even though Amcomlib had begun to back him, Kuniholm was unimpressed. "Mr. Gacaoglu of the 'Islam' Society then called, along with a couple of his henchmen, to plead for help for his group. I gave him little encouragement. I do not believe that we should have anything to do with this unsavory character, whose past is filled with much that is suspicious, and whose reputation in the Middle East is definitely bad. He is an uncultured 'low-brow' who is trying to capitalize on his religion."

Kuniholm was probably unfairly harsh in this assessment. But clearly, like von Mende, Kuniholm was looking for someone more modern in style, more charismatic. Gacaoglu, poorly educated and simple, didn't present the face the Americans felt could take their case to the Muslim world. Kuniholm also mentioned how Munich's Muslims espoused a particular dream: to build a mosque. It was the first mention of this goal, but Kuniholm considered it a pie-in-the-sky plan and dismissed it.


The clubroom of Munich's Bayerischer Hof hotel was, in the 1950S, wood paneled and lined with beer steins and hunting trophies -- the sort of place guests would frequent for a light meal, a heavy Bavarian beer, and a bit of rustic Germany in the middle of a bustling city. In August 1956 it was set up for another kind of theater. Alex Melbardis and other Amcomlib employees spent the better part of a day hanging Central Asian rugs on the walls and replacing the beer steins with porcelain plates decorated with Islamic motifs. Tables were set with exotic fruit. Even the napkins had been chosen with care: they were green, the color representing Islam.

More than forty-five journalists crowded into the room for the show. The host was Gacaoglu, who greeted the guests and then introduced Garip Sultan as a member of his society. Gacaoglu said, in his barely comprehensible German, that he had just been on the Hajj and had information to report about the sorry state of Soviet Islam. Then he turned the floor over to the smooth-talking Sultan.

Sultan told of his trip to Mecca, accompanied on the Hajj by Gacaoglu and another Radio Liberty employee, Veli Zunnun, of the station's Uzbek desk. Sultan ripped the Soviets for misusing the Hajj for propaganda purposes. He claimed that the Soviet hajjis were government employees and that some of them were sent as spies.

Of course none of the journalists in the ballroom could know that Sultan was not really a member of Gacaoglu's group, or that it, in turn, was funded by Amcomlib, which in turn was a CIA front. Instead, they did as expected: they relayed the propaganda to the public. The two most important Munich newspapers printed articles on the Hajj, including a long feature that recounted Sultan's exploits. A few weeks earlier, on their way back to Munich via Istanbul, Sultan and Zunnun had been interviewed by the newspaper Milliyet, which also published a long piece on their trip.

Amcomlib was happy with Sultan's performance. Robert F. Kelley, Amcomlib's boss in Germany, gave him a glowing commendation for "an outstanding contribution to the anti-Bolshevik struggle" that "provides us with a much better understanding of the growing communist menace in the Near East."

Behind the scenes, however, Amcomlib was concerned. In an internal account of his trip, Sultan reported that public opinion was firmly in the Soviet camp. "Here one should cite the notion of a simple, old Arab who works at the Hajj Administration as a servant, about the USSR," Sultan wrote. "When I told him from where I had come, he said at once, 'Moscow is good. There are also our Moslems there. The Hajjis from the USSR comes [sic] to Mecca every years [sic]. England, France, America are all unbelievers. They are our enemies:" More serious was Amcomlib's dearth of "assets." Sultan and Zunnun had almost not made it to the Hajj because they'd started late and had to be bailed out by Said Shamil, who was in Saudi Arabia at his family's home. He had intervened with local authorities to allow the two men to proceed to Mecca. Without his assistance, the propaganda pilgrims would have returned home.

The press conference was another near debacle. Sultan had been recruited to lead it because Gacaoglu's German was too poor. But Sultan didn't look like a religious leader. He came across to everyone who met him as secular. He dressed sharply and was clean-shaven; everyone knew he loved to dance and drink the occasional vodka. Plus, he would soon be sent back to the United States to work in Amcomlib's "Special Projects" department. Amcomlib needed someone new. Men like Ike Patch were supposed to be marshaling the emigres for covert action, but he didn't seem to get the job done. Back in New York, Kuniholm and Dreher watched him impatiently. Dreher, especially, was eager for another stint in Munich, where he hoped to put rollback theories into practice. The problem was more urgent than ever.

Von Mende, Amcomlib's one-time friend, was developing his own plan to win over Munich's Muslims. Unlike Kuniholm, von Mende wouldn't ignore the Munich Muslims' desire for a mosque. It would be his top priority.
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Re: A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:06 pm


IN 1956, GERHARD VON MENDE received a memo from Theodor Oberlander, head of the West German refugee ministry, outlining an important national goal, one that required help from an unlikely source: Munich's Muslims. West Germany was home to thousands of emigres, Oberlander wrote, but many had been recruited by foreign intelligence groups such as Amcomlib. This could not be allowed to continue, he said, because West Germany needed these same Muslims. One day soon communism would fall, and they would return home to be future leaders of their homelands. There, they would help achieve West Germany's supreme foreign policy goal: reunification with East Germany and the recovery of vast stretches of German land lost to Poland and the Soviet Union after the war.

"The success of the exiles will positively influence carrying out German goals in their home states." Then Oberlander outlined those goals, writing in a vein that had an unusually strong revanchist tone: "The goals of the political exiles lie in a complex and mutual relationship to the German efforts for reunification and lifting the effects of the Potsdam Agreement in relation to the Oder-Neisse border."

Behind the bureaucratese was a crystal-clear message: West Germany wanted to redraw its border and regain its lost eastern territories, which lay beyond the Oder and Neisse rivers. For decades, the Oder-Neisse border was the most sensitive topic in German foreign policy. The two rivers separated East Germany from Poland. It had become the border after the 1945 Potsdam agreement had carved up Germany. The four major powers -- Britain, France, the United States, and the USSR -- each got a zone of occupation. Later, the Soviet zone would become East Germany, and the three western powers' zones would unite to form West Germany.

Less well known is that two other zones of occupation also existed, both of them east of the Oder and the Neisse. One was administered by Poland. It encompassed large parts of Prussia, Silesia, and Pomerania, and included Germany's third-largest city, Breslau (now known by its Polish name, Wroclaw). In addition, the Soviets received a slice of Germany, the eastern half of East Prussia, including the German city of Konigsberg (renamed Kaliningrad).

Unlike the other zones, these two were never returned to German control after the war. Instead, they were annexed permanently by the Poles and the Soviets. The Poles didn't benefit much; the Soviets had already annexed parts of eastern Poland, so the German lands just compensated Poland for what it had lost. German territories, which had sprawled into eastern Europe for centuries, now ended at the Oder and the Neisse, which ran straight from the Baltic down to the Czechoslovakian border.

If it all looked neat on an armchair strategist's map, this redrawing of central Europe's borders added to the misery caused by the war. The lost German territories had been overwhelmingly populated by ethnic Germans. Within a matter of months, these people were murdered or brutally expelled, first by the Red Army and then by state-sanctioned pogroms. Together with ethnic Germans fleeing other countries, more than thirteen million German refugees, one of the largest refugee flows in modern times, were forcibly driven from their homes. Most ended up in what became West Germany, but hundreds of thousands died along the way.

Oberlander was the chief spokesman for these Vertriebene, the "expellees" or the "driven off." In the 1950s and '60s, they fought a rearguard action against those West Germans who wanted to establish diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union or recognize the Oder-Neisse border. Oberlander headed a key political party that kept attitudes firmly fixed on loss and grievance.

This was the same Oberlander who had participated in Hitler's failed beer-hall putsch of 1923 and who had led one of the first Wehrmacht units made up of Soviet minorities. Born in the Baltic, he realized the value of the non-Russian minorities. He had participated in pogroms against Jews but opposed the Nazis' policy toward the occupied territories -- like von Mende, he thought Germany should be the non-Russians' ally. For that he had lost his position in the party and his military command. That setback became a blessing after the war, allowing him to position himself as a victim of the Nazis instead of a party insider who had fallen out because of infighting. That, along with his party's voting power, was enough to convince West Germany's first chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, to make Oberlander the cabinet minister in charge of refugees.

Oberlander was probably the farthest-right member of the West German government, and in later years he came to be considered the personification of the young democracy's Nazi roots. The memo he sent to von Mende illustrated this far-right bent: he wanted Germany's borders redrawn and von Mende's cooperation in keeping a firm grip on the assets he thought could help achieve that -- the foreigners living on West German soil who had fought for Germany during the war.

Von Mende had most of the emigre groups firmly in hand. He financed Bulgarians and Rumanians, Ukrainians and Czechs. But the previous year's events showed that he was losing control of the Muslims. Compared to Amcomlib, his bureau was puny, and most of the Muslims were working for the Americans. Kuniholm's trip to Turkey and Europe emphasized Washington's more ambitious goal: using Muslims in its global propaganda wars.


West Germany and the United States were firm allies during the forty-year-long Cold War. America had supported West Germany's creation and its integration into the world community. West Germany became a steadfast military ally, providing the bulk of troops in the West's military alliance.

But the relationship wasn't always smooth, and this was a particularly trying time. West Germany had just regained full sovereignty. The country was making overtures to the Soviet Union, causing the United States to worry that it might accept a deal like the one offered to Austria: reunification of its eastern and western sections in exchange for neutrality. US officials even thought West Germany might expel Amcomlib and Radio Free Europe from Munich and discussed how to evacuate staff.

Oberlander's plan began to worry Washington. The US. intelligence community needed the Soviet minorities in Munich to staff Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe -- and to undertake covert activities. But this arrangement would fall apart if Bonn gained control of the minorities. As US. officials saw it, the driving force behind this policy was Oberlander and the diplomats in the Foreign Office, such as Otto Brautigam, who, like Oberlander, had been heavily involved in the Nazi movement.

"They are not Nazis in the sense of seeking to put Mein Kampf back on every table in Germany." the State Department stated in a report on the group, "but they set the German national cause, in nationalist-imperialist fashion, higher than all other causes."

"Their chief agent is Professor Dr. Gerhard von Mende and their chief governmental tool is von Mende's Office for Homeless Aliens." a classified State Department cable said. "The von Mende mission is not concerned with the fate of 'satellite' peoples but with the fate of the Germans. He and his principals have no intention of allowing 'inexperienced' Americans to arbitrate in this area." The cable also stated that von Mende had been dealing with undemocratic emigre groups -- "some of them rather shabby collaborators with the Nazis."

The CIA noted that von Mende had helped set up a group to help the emigres -- the Aid Society of Former Volunteer Units. It was made up of the German officers who had led the Soviet minority troops during the war and now were concerned about their fate in West Germany. Von Mende ran the group out of his offices in Dusseldorf, according to the CIA. While that might be an exaggeration, the group certainly did exist and its records show that it was made up primarily of ex-Wehrmacht and ex-SS officers who had led the minorities. And von Mende did have close ties to it. By late 1955, the CIA had decided to take action against the man they'd once tried to recruit.

"I have built up quite a small connection file on this gentleman and his associates." a CIA agent wrote in von Mende's file. "Perhaps we could launch an operation to subvert one of his people with the aim of getting microphotographs of his information files ..."

But a few months later, the agent had another idea. Lodged in U.S. government files was a note from Amcomlib's Ike Patch, who a couple of months earlier had talked to von Mende. Patch reported that von Mende had been upset that West Germany was about to establish diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. The unnamed CIA agent saw an opening: "I was 'stalking' von Mende with the idea of having his place and his files in Dusseldorf ransacked and possibly photographed but the latest information from you seems to me to indicate that we would do better to try to recruit him." The agent noted that this would be the third time in eleven years that U.S. intelligence would make overtures to von Mende, ruefully noting that they had a deal all but sealed in 1949. "The case was suddenly dropped at Munich because von Mende employed a methodical approach to the problem and [the CIA office in] Munich was immersed in a program of helter-skelter, planless recruitment of 'agents.'"

This time the CIA would do it von Mende's way. Attached to the formal recruitment plan was a list of von Mende's agents, including, of course, Veli Kayum. The agent wrote that Kayum had outed Rusi Nasar as having received CIA money for distributing U.S. propaganda during the Hajj. The CIA kept close tabs on von Mende and in March 1956 noted that the East German secret police and intelligence service, the Stasi (known by its German abbreviation, MfS), was seeking a map of his office. "This could be an indication that the MfS has some plans for Gerhard," the agent wrote.

Then, in early 1957, the CIA offices in Germany were asked to comment on Soviet plans to recruit Muslims. The request seems to have come after two U.S.-backed agents working with Muslims were exposed as spies; the CIA was trying to trace any further leaks in its operations. The Munich office responded by again proposing von Mende. "If von Mende is recruited, he can readily produce a 'Who's Who' of Moslems." But von Mende didn't seem to be interested in working for the Americans. Perhaps reflecting West Germany's growing self-confidence, von Mende was angry. He saw the minorities, including the Muslims, as his assets. And he had a plan to win them back.


In late March 1956, Nurredin Namangani landed in Munich. Survivor of the Soviet gulag, imam of an SS division, holder of high military awards, he was an ideal choice to bring Munich's Muslims into line.

At least that seems to have been von Mende's reasoning. In keeping with Oberlander's desire to gain control of the emigres, von Mende had invited Namangani to Germany to head a new office aimed at unifying Germany's Muslims. Until then, the only organization in Germany that could claim to do so was Gacaoglu's Islam group, but it was now under strong U.S. influence. Namangani was one of von Mende's men, with a proven wartime record of loyalty to Germany.

Indeed, as Namangani's appointment was pushed through the bureaucracy, his long service to Germany appeared to be his main qualification. This was not a man who would hand out CARE packages for the Americans or front their press conferences. He was indeed a political creature, but one who would loyally serve West Germany, a salaried employee of the state.

Von Mende had been planning Namangani's arrival for a while. Earlier in 1956, Oberlander's ministry had contacted von Mende about funding Gacaoglu's group. Of all the exile groups in Germany, the Muslims seemed the most disorganized, and the ministry wondered if Gacaoglu wouldn't be the logical choice to unite them. When Gacaoglu wrote the Bavarian social-affairs ministry a year earlier asking for money, the officials noted that "the majority of the Mohammedans collected in the above-mentioned group served in the German Wehrmacht ... therefore a favorable handling of the request is requested."

But von Mende pushed back. He wrote to the federal ministry that a one-time payment to Gacaoglu might "create a favorable echo in the Muslim countries of the Orient" but said that Germany needed more -- a chief imam for its Muslims. One didn't exist in Germany, he wrote, but he knew someone who would be happy to return to Germany and "look after" the Muslims: Namangani.

Von Mende and Namangani were old friends. Namangani had been arrested by the Soviet secret police, the NKVD, in Turkestan and taken to a prison in western Russia. A month after the German invasion, the Wehrmacht overran his camp and he was liberated. Four months later he was the imam in the 450th Battalion during the pioneering Tiger B operation. During the war he rose to head imam of the SS division Ostturkischer Waffenverband, or Eastern Turkic Armed Formation. That unit helped suppress the Warsaw city uprising in 1944. For his service Namangani won the Iron Cross, first and second class, two of Germany's highest military awards.

At the war's end, Namangani spent two years in a U.S. prisoner-of- war camp in Italy and then lived in Germany. He was a regular at the von Mende home, coming over to cook Uzbek food and share stories with his patron. Later he went to Turkey, either to work among emigre groups or, according to his own account, to get theological training -- these details of his biography are unclear, and no record exists of such study.

Friends remember him as strict and humorless. He criticized one mixed Christian-Muslim family when the woman put up a Christmas tree, arguing that the woman should convert and the family become Muslim. A young Uzbek officer who met him in a German prisoner-of-war camp in 1941 said that Namangani "commanded only a little appreciation from the men since his religious fanaticism was so extreme." Namangani seemed to have little authority other than the fact that von Mende appointed him. In a letter to von Mende shortly after Namangani arrived, Veli Kayum wrote that even before Namangani had left Istanbul, "denunciations" in Munich had started. Exactly why is not clear, but over the next few years Namangani would be plagued by criticism for having been a hard-core Nazi and a bad leader -- his poor German, for example, made him unable to communicate with the ex-soldiers' children.

Namangani's Nazi past might seem perfectly normal among men who had almost all fought for the Germans. After all, this was the 1950S,a period of relative amnesia about the Nazi era, when people wanted to forget and move on -- dealing directly with the trauma would get underway only in the 1960s. But Namangani had been a highly politicized figure. As divisional imam, he had worked directly with the Nazi military leadership. That made him more than a battlefield cleric; he was part of the political apparatus that had led the men into a hopeless battle with an unsavory ally. Moreover, Nazi ties weren't as unproblematic as we might assume. In 1960, for example, Oberlander himself was brought down after his Nazi past was brought to light. He was attacked in East German and Soviet propaganda for participating in an anti-Jewish pogrom. The charges stuck and he stepped down, spending the next forty years trying to clear his name.

Just two months after Namangani arrived back in West Germany, the Stasi was taking aim at von Mende too. It launched an investigation, probably on behalf of the Soviet Union -- which likely had asked for help in discovering why this small "research office" was behind so much anti-Soviet propaganda. The Soviets were already attacking von Mende's most valuable employee, Baymirza Hayit. In July 1956, Radio Tashkent launched a well-informed attack against Hayit, recounting his wartime service and how he allegedly had planned for his own escape at the end of the war, leaving his men to their fate. In the end, the Stasi never launched a full assault on von Mende's operation, perhaps saving its powder for later or focusing on Oberlander. What is clear is that people like Namangani were vulnerable.


How could the West Germans, none of whom were Muslim, anoint a Muslim leader? That question never seemed to bother von Mende and his colleagues in the government. To them, the only issue was how to knock out Gacaoglu and the Americans. They treated it as a tactical issue and began casting around for ideas that would increase Namangani's appeal.

At first, von Mende stumbled because he was ill. Always a heavy smoker, he had a heart attack in 1956. Unable to work for a couple of months, he recuperated only slowly. During that time, Gacaoglu wrote letters to Oberlander, appealing for support. But by the end of the year, von Mende was back at work full-time and fought back forcefully. He blasted Gacaoglu for being an American stooge. "Because no German office could be found to finance [Gacaoglu], it seems that the American Committee is interested in the Society to use it as a launching pad for its political-propaganda activities among the emigrants of Muslim faith in the Federal Republic and further afield, in the Orient;' he wrote in a letter to Oberlander's refugee ministry.

Proof, von Mende said, was the August press conference Gacaoglu and Sultan put together after their Hajj. Von Mende saw it as a turning point in Amcomlib's propaganda offensive in the third world. "Since their return, the American Committee is trying to start its own political-propagandistic campaign in the Muslim world." Now, he wrote sarcastically, Sultan had begun referring to himself as "Hajj Sultan bin Garif." an honorific that cited his participation in the pilgrimage -- inappropriate, von Mende implied, for someone who went on the Hajj for nonreligious reasons. Sultan, von Mende wrote, was also trying to take a leading position in Gacaoglu's group, which needed to be stopped. Only Namangani could do it.

The refugee ministry concurred and outlined Namangani's role. "Mr. Namangani has the assignment, first to gather together into a religious community the Muslim stateless foreigners and non-German refugees, in order to eliminate the unwanted American influence, which can be harmful to the Federal Republic." Another official wrote that the key problem was that the Muslims were not conforming to West Germany's political goals: "I find it unbearable that currently the stateless Islamic foreigners are being misused for various intelligence and political intrigues, and that all this is taking place on the soil of the Federal Republic, whose prestige is being harmed;' a Bonn official wrote. "If we succeed in building a real religious community, we will also succeed in gaining political influence. More about this verbally." The main obstacle was Amcomlib, according to the ministry. "Mr. Kelley from the local office of the American Committee for Liberation from Bolshevism supposedly said recently that the affair of the Muslim emigrants must not fall into German hands."

The West Germans decided to put an end to the discussion about Namangani, which had been going on for a year, by simply appointing him as the Muslims' chief imam. To do this, they needed the main ethnic groups to back Namangani. The numbers didn't matter -- simply the backing of several groups who appeared to represent Munich's Muslims would suffice. So in March 1958, a cadre of Muslims close to von Mende -- all had worked in the Ostministerium's national committees -- held a meeting in Munich's Lowenbraukeller, a popular beer hall and restaurant.

The participants defined their group as an amalgam of ethnic groups representing five areas of origin: North Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Turkestan, Volga-Ural, and the Crimea. Led by the veteran Turkestani activist Ali Kantemir, the members stated that they were equal in number to those Muslims who followed Gacaoglu, even though this claim was questionable. At the meeting they concluded that they needed an imam and that Namangani was their choice.

To do this they needed a legal instrument. So the group then created the Ecclesiastical Administration of Moslem Refugees in the German Federal Republic, with Namangani elected as its head. The Ecclesiastical Administration became a West German government office, financed directly by Oberlander's refugee ministry. Namangani got 650 marks per month, his assistant 150 marks, and his men another 400 marks, designated for travel and for direct aid to be doled out to impoverished Muslims. (The annual budget of 14,400 marks is equal to about $30,000 a year in today's money.)

Gacaoglu's response to the new government office was immediate and sarcastic. He called the March meeting of pro-Namangani forces "a group of professional politicians and a small band of likeminded people, who were specially drummed up for this meeting, elected to a so-called ecclesiastical leadership and claiming to represent the wishes of the Federal Republic." He had a point. The group was purely political, with no popular mandate. But bureaucrats in Bonn had anticipated this. A few months earlier the refugee ministry came up with an idea to give Namangani popular appeal: a central place of worship for Munich's Muslims.


Helping to build a mosque is one of the greatest acts of piety a Muslim can perform. When the prophet Muhammad left Mecca for exile in the city of Medina, his first act upon arriving there was to build one. He also constructed mosques in other cities he visited in order to better pray to God. Mosques do not have to be fancy, but they function as the center of the Muslim community; gathering Friday for weekly prayers symbolizes the unity of all people of faith.

If Namangani could be identified with this good deed, he had an excellent chance of uniting Munich's Muslims behind him -- and behind West Germany. But the idea was not his, and it was not conceived of as an act of piety. Instead, the bureaucrats in Bonn had very concrete, political goals, as one official stated explicitly in a 1957 memo: "The existence of a centrally located prayer room for the Muslims should, in consideration of the fact that many foreigners of Muslim faith also pass through Munich, provide them in addition to those permanently in Bavaria, with the opportunity to attend Muslim services. [Thus 1 an impact on Muslim countries shouldn't miss its mark, which will benefit the Muslims living in Germany and be favorable to the relations between Germany and Islamic countries."

By late 1958, Namangani was no longer talking about just a prayer room. An entire mosque was needed. He received backing from a mercurial German officer from the war, Harun el-Raschid Bey. Born Wilhelm Hintersatz, Raschid was a convert who headed the SS's Ostturkischer Waffenverband, the unit in which Namangani had served as chief imam. The two knew each other well from the war and together were taken prisoner by the United States. Raschid wrote a letter to the federal president, Theodor Heuss, explaining that Namangani was a "true loyal friend of Germany" whose "love for Germany" caused him to return after studying Islam in Turkey. Writing occasionally in capital letters for effect, Raschid summed up West Germany's motivations and intentions.

The Muslims in Germany, MUNICH, lack a politically free MOSQUE WITH AN ATTACHED SMALL SCHOOL (which would serve as a MEETING ROOM) for religious and language training. The MUSLIMS -- in contrast to the situation in other western countries like England, France, and Italy -- LACK a dignified central religious and cultural center in Germany, GERMANY, which they still see as a true and altruistic friend of Islam.

Wouldn't it be an IDEALISTIC and, as a German dare I say, POLITICALLY SMART act to give such a site for these true friends of Germany? I don't doubt that the countries of the Muslim Orient would give much credit to this sign of German-MUSLIM FRIENDSHIP.

By the end of 1958, the preparations were complete. On December 22, Namangani called a meeting of the Dini Idare, the Turkish name for the Ecclesiastical Administration. The goal of the meeting: building a mosque.
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Re: A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:06 pm


ONE DAY IN MARCH 1956, the law professor Gerhard Kegel was holding his weekly office hours at Cologne University when a short, trim man appeared at the door, seeking advice on his doctoral thesis. After learning about the mans education, Kegel agreed to take him on. The visitor was Said Ramadan. He presented himself as a lawyer from Cairo who had come to Europe to study law. Many professors might have been bewildered, but Kegel was a generous man, well known for accepting just about anyone, especially foreigners. He averaged seven doctoral students a year and over his long career would advise 450. German universities usually don't require course work for a doctorate so all one needs is the equivalent of a master's degree.

At first, Kegel didn't have much contact with Ramadan. Just a few weeks shy of his thirtieth birthday, Ramadan was more mature than most of Kegel's students and knew what he wanted to write about -- Islamic law. He set about doing so with energy and verve. "He made a good impression. He was respectable and intelligent."

Ramadan was often abroad. At first, Kegel thought he was just preparing his final move to Europe. But Ramadan kept his adviser well informed about his movements, sending letters and post cards from Geneva, Damascus, and Jerusalem. With time the affable professor began to understand his student's real calling. It wasn't law. It was revolution.


For virtually all of the non-Western world, the nineteenth century was a time of profound crisis. Powered by advanced economic and political systems, Western countries invaded and subjugated vast stretches of the world. Peoples who had considered themselves the most advanced or cultured in the world were quickly defeated by Western military might. From China to Morocco, vast lands were colonized, elites toppled, and peoples subjected to foreign rule. Few felt this humiliation as keenly as did the Muslim world, a great civilization stretching back to the seventh century. Inspired by Islam, Arab conquerors had fanned out across the globe. The new faith spread rapidly, contributing to the rise of kingdoms that nurtured great philosophers, scientists, and artists. But by the early twentieth century, no predominantly Muslim country remained under Muslim leadership; Christians ruled almost everyone, from the British in the Indian subcontinent to the Dutch in Indonesia and the French in North Africa. Only Turkey remained independent. But it had been drastically secularized, and the institution of the caliphate -- the formal head of state of the Muslim world -- was abolished. Islam had been divided and conquered.

As Muslims tried to grasp the reasons for this decline, only two conclusions seemed possible: Christians had discovered better political and economic systems than Muslims had, or true Islamic principles were not being followed. For many, only the latter made sense, and efforts were made to find out where the followers of Muhammad had gone astray. The West might have introduced some useful technologies, but its ideology was to be rejected, a view many Muslims shared with other peoples. In China, for example, the "self-strengthening movement" called for remaining loyal to Chinese systems of thought while adopting Western technology, especially weaponry. Left unexamined was the intellectual context in which this new technology was developed -- what sort of scientific process was at work and what it implied about the relationship between the individual and authority, be it political or religious.

The Muslim world began grappling with these ideas in the nineteenth century. In the early part of that century, scholars such as Egypt's Rifa'a el-Tahtawi grappled with Western ideas by translating books and pushing to create a national consciousness. This gave way to the more overt political and religious activism of figures such as Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and Muhammad Abduh, who, for example, published a newspaper calling for a return to the original Islamic ideals. A generation later, these thoughts were taken up by men such as Rashid Rida, who blamed the Muslim world's weakness on the rigidity of the intellectual class and the failure of Muslims to adhere to Islam's true teachings. Rida published an influential magazine in the early twentieth century that inspired key political activists.

As the twentieth century progressed, more explicitly political programs sprang up. Some intellectual historians call this movement Islamism and its adherents Islamists. According to this school of thought, Islamists differ from traditional Muslims because they use their religion in pursuit of a political agenda, via either democracy or violence. Followers are mobilized by specific issues related to Islam -- such as the need to apply Islamic religious law, or sharia, in their societies. Implicit in Islamism is a rejection of Western society and its values, which are seen as incompatible with Islam. Some political analysts prefer to use "political Islam" to describe this movement.

But the concept of Islamism is controversial because it implies that earlier Islam was not political. In fact, from its start Islam was an all-encompassing faith that did not reject worldly power. The institution of the caliphate grew out of Muhammad's own life. He was intensely involved in daily political and military affairs, himself organizing a small state and launching campaigns against enemy tribes. Also, the term Islamist carries negative connotations because it was widely used after the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington as, in effect, a synonym for terrorist.

Yet in the twentieth century Islam was the wellspring of a remarkable amount of political activity. Transnational political activists claiming legitimacy as bearers of the true faith sought to impose their version of Islam -- usually the version that they imagined Muhammad practiced -- on Muslims with roots in a particular location, who over the centuries often had evolved distinct religious practices. Thus the spread of Arab robes and head coverings, bans on Western music, and restrictions on women's roles in society. These activists often interpreted the Koran literally, an approach that ignored the sophisticated legal arguments developed by Islamic scholars over the centuries. Instead, they advanced a very modern idea: anyone could understand the Koran, and the traditional caste of scholars was unnecessary, even detrimental. On the other hand, the movement rejected other modern ideas, such as taking historical context into consideration when interpreting ancient texts. Like many other literalists, the modern Islamic activists considered heretical the idea that certain rules might have made sense when the Koran came into existence but now were not important to its central message. Thus some modern Muslim activists successfully argued that high school girls should not be permitted to take a class trip because the distance involved was longer than a camel could travel in a day. Back in the Prophet's time, this was judged a safe distance for a woman to travel, but for the activists it became a hard-and-fast rule, for all times and places.

The most influential political movement to come out of this tradition was the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-ikhwan al-muslimun, more literally translated as the Society of Muslim Brothers (or Brethren), was founded in 1928 by Hasan al-Banna, a schoolteacher from a small town in the Nile Delta. At the time, Egypt was still under British colonial rule. It was also modernizing quickly, going through wrenching economic and social changes: Cairo was industrializing, the peasants were moving to cities, traditions were breaking up, and social mores were in flux. An avid reader of Rashid Rida's magazine, Banna was appalled by this combination of national oppression and rapid social change. He began to organize and do some writing of his own. Banna's works contained virulent attacks on the British but also on freethinking and immorality, especially the kinds that had arisen in the capital. Like Rida and the intellectuals before him, his answer was Islam. What made Banna unique was that he was a populist and political activist. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood did not aspire to become intellectuals like the old ulema, or community of Muslim scholars, and were more grassroots- oriented than the modern intellectuals Afghani, Abduh, and Rida. They usually adopted Western dress and modern rhetoric, spoke in simple sentences, and shunned the pseudo-classical phrases of traditional scholars. Most important, they built up Western- style organizations such as political parties, youth groups, women's groups, and paramilitary wings. They became an alternative state, able to provide what the government could not. This allowed them to appeal to the Muslim world's rising middle class. They vocalized the anger of the poor but always drew their leadership from the educated classes who were frustrated at their countries' impoverishment and humiliation at the hands of Western countries. Not limited by race or nationality, the Brotherhood would spread from North Africa to Southeast Asia.

"Sheikh al-Banna wasn't like other sheikhs." recalled Farid Abdel Khalek, a long-time member of the Brotherhood who lives in Cairo. "He described Islam as something new." Khalek used to attend Banna's rallies in small towns and, later, in Cairo. He joined the group early, headed the student division in 1942, and served on its shura, or guidance council, in 1944. He paid dearly for his activism, spending twelve years in Egyptian prisons. "The others said do good things and you'll go to heaven, do bad and you'll go to hell. He said you had to do something good for your country. It was something in this world, in this reality. It was Islam as we didn't know it before; it wasn't tradition."

Banna's method to win converts was to identify a problem in a community and then solve it. The group would help build a new mosque or school or develop a local industry. This would convince people that his movement was solution-oriented and its people sincere. New members were recruited directly in mosques and also in coffee shops and the market.

Then as now, politics was a sensitive subject in Egypt, so Banna was careful to call the Brotherhood a movement, not a political party. But Banna became intensely involved in politics, opposing the monarchy, which had colluded with the British. This interest caused the first split in the movement in 1931, when one group seceded. Its members thought the Brotherhood should be a traditional welfare group and objected to the politicization of Islam. Later, the Brotherhood backed Gamal Nasser, the Egyptian military officer who led a coup against the monarchy in 1952.

By the 1930s, the Brotherhood went so far as to accept money from Nazi agents. According to documents seized by the British at the start of World War II, the Brotherhood received significant funds from a German journalist affiliated with the German legation in Cairo. The Nazi money was used to establish the Brotherhood's quasi-military "Special Apparatus." For Banna, the idea of a religious group having a military wing was not at all strange. The Brotherhood conceived of itself initially as a populist party that could take to the street to protest or fight. Even today it has not renounced violence -- its leaders advocate terrorism against Israeli civilians and in certain other circumstances. But the Brotherhood has also positioned itself as pro-democracy. This allows the organization to be, at times, revolutionary and reformist in emphasis, depending on the circumstances. None of this political work violated Banna's sense of the religion. Muslims have always considered Islam a total package -- covering traditional "religious" spheres and the secular world as well. In essence they have tried to apply God's law in this world. For most of its history, Islam has accommodated secular rulers, but at its heart the religion accepts nothing like the idea of separation of church and state.

Banna subscribed to the Koran's message that there is no division between state and religion, which was expressed in the group's most famous slogan: THE KORAN IS OUR CONSTITUTION. JIHAD IS OUR WAY. MARTYRDOM IS OUR DESIRE. In one tract, he wrote, "If someone should say to you 'This is politics!' say: 'This is Islam and we do not recognize such divisions:" In another he said, "O ye Brethren! Tell me, if Islam is something else than politics, society, economy, law, and culture, what is it then? Is it only empty acts of prostration, devoid of a pulsating heart?"

As the Brotherhood grew, this heart focused on two national causes. One was anti-colonialism, something that all Egyptians could identify with. Another was opposition to Jewish immigration to Israel. The Brotherhood collected money for Arabs in Palestine, and in 1937 and 1938 the group attacked shops owned by Jews as well as other targets in Cairo. That was the start of one of the defining characteristics of Brotherhood thought: anti-Semitism.


The term "Muslim world" is misleading; from the start, Islam has never existed in a vacuum and always had to deal with other religions. When Islam was founded in the seventh century, its followers came into contact with Christians, Jews, and practitioners of a variety of other religions, including polytheists. Islam had no place for the latter, whom Muslims considered heathens, pagans, or idolaters. According to the Koran, their future was clear: "You and your idols shall be the fuel of Hell."

Unlike polytheists, Christians and Jews were respected by Muhammad. Like Muslims, they practiced "revealed religions" -- based on God's revealed word. In addition, Islam worships the same God and recognizes the same prophets as do Judaism and Christianity. In a way, they are seen as precursor religions to Islam. But the two were not viewed as equal; Judaism is clearly of a lower status. The classical Koran commentators agree on this. For example, the ninth-century writer Muhammad al-Tabari stated that Christians "are not like the Jews, who always scheme in order to murder the emissaries and the prophet, and who oppose God in his positive and negative commandments, and who corrupt His scripture which He revealed in His books."

There are several reasons why Islam is less accepting of Jews. Christians might not think of Muhammad as a prophet, but at least Christians recognize Jesus, who is also an important prophet in Islam. So in a way, Christians are a step farther along the path than Jews, who do not recognize Christ. Jews are also accused of murdering or ignoring prophets. Perhaps the most important issue, however, is that Muhammad himself had unhappy experiences with Jews. When he fled Mecca to found the first Islamic society in Medina, he had hoped that the Jewish tribes there would welcome him. He was bitterly disappointed when they rejected his revelations and kept their own faith. When they allied themselves with his enemies, he launched a preemptive strike, massacring hundreds. The verses in the Koran describing this are bitter and angry -- and have been used to justify attacks on Jews.

Many scholars rightly point out that despite all this, Islam provided protection for Jews and Christians. In theory, they were afforded a minority rank called dhimmi, which exempted them from many Islamic laws. For its time, dhimmi status was progressive, especially when contrasted with the treatment of Jews in medieval Christian Europe, with its ghettos and pogroms, not to mention the Holocaust in recent times. But it is also true that dhimmi status did not prevent mistreatment of minorities, especially Jews, in the Muslim world.

With the rise of modern Islamism, especially the Muslim Brotherhood' anti-Semitism was taken to a new level. Just as the Brotherhood made use of modern political structures, such as the fascist-style political party, the group also adopted Western anti-Semitic stereotypes and arguments, the principal one being that Jews are to blame for key problems in society. During the war, Nazi propaganda added fuel to this idea; German radio regularly beamed gross anti-Semitic slurs into the Middle East. Cairo, which once boasted a vibrant Jewish community and actually staged anti-Nazi demonstrations in 1933, was by 1945 a haven for ex-Nazis fleeing justice.

The Muslim Brotherhood was at the forefront of this rising anti- Semitism. Banna could not accept all Nazi ideas, especially not the concept that the Germans were a master race. But Nazi agents supported him, and anti-Semitism formed a key part of his political activity, which crystallized in the Brotherhood's close association with one of the more controversial figures in twentieth-century Arab history, Amin al-Hussaini. Better known as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hussaini was a popular leader in Palestine but also a rabid anti-Semite. He was the same figure who worked with von Mende on the possibility of setting up a religious hierarchy in the Crimea and who inspected Muslim troops fighting for the Nazis.

Hussaini was not a casual associate of the Nazis. Some biographers have glossed over his career in the 1930S and' 40S, saying he acted at worst out of ill-advised opportunism. But he contacted the Nazis early -- in 1933 -- and specifically mentioned the need to get rid of Jewish influence in economics and politics. One can explain his views as a reaction to Zionism and Jewish immigration to Palestine, but from the start he displayed a fervent hatred of Jews, even citing The Protocols of the Elders of Zion -- a notorious work of anti-semitism -- as testimony before a British commission in 1929.

Hussaini's collaboration with the Nazis involved more than advising von Mende on religious policy. He recruited soldiers for them and declared their cause just. Most famously, he warned the Nazis of plans to send about seventy thousand Jewish children in Rumania to Palestine, saying they would increase the territory's Jewish population. He argued that he had been a guest of the Nazis for three years, moving in the highest Nazi circles, so there's no doubt that he knew about the Holocaust and was fully aware that if the children did not leave Rumania they were doomed to die.

After the war, the French arrested Hussaini as a war criminal. He was allowed to return to Palestine because the British worried that trying him as a criminal would inflame Muslim passions. By 1948, he was again leading opposition to Jewish immigration. Despite what he had seen in Nazi Germany, he had no sympathy for those arriving, even though tens of thousands had barely escaped the Holocaust. Hussaini continued to associate with ex-Nazis, such as the propagandist Johann von Leers, who had moved to Cairo and changed his name to Amin Lahars. Von Mende's intelligence reports show that Lahars had contact with members of the German Muslim League, a Hamburg-based group of immigrants. One report stated that Lahars "intends through this society to start an anti-Semitic movement in the Federal Republic. Ex-Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajji Hussaini finances the plans of Amin Lahars ... His goal: Anti-Semitism."

One could argue that Hussaini was an outlier. Yet he was a close associate of Banna and his successors. In all of his actions and his worldview, Hussaini behaved as a classic Islamist, bridging the Nazi and post-Nazi era. He pops up again and again in the Munich story, not only in von Mende's reports but also in the company of other players, such as the novelist, activist, and intelligence figure Ahmad Kamal.

Hussaini and the Brotherhood were probably in closest alliance when Arab armies attacked Israel in 1948. Desperate for soldiers, Hussaini turned to the head of the Brotherhood, Banna. "The Mufti told him, you have to do something," recalled Khalek, who by then was in the Brotherhood's shura. "They [the Jews] will take over this place and be cruel to Muslims." Banna agreed to help. The Brotherhood began to recruit soldiers to fight in Palestine. To head the operation, Banna turned to one of his rising stars, Said Ramadan. It was the start of a close cooperation that would last twenty years.


Said Ramadan first saw Banna speak at an outdoor revival-style meeting in 1940. After each such gathering, Banna would ask people to come up on the stage -- almost like a pledge to the movement. After about five meetings, the fourteen-year-old Ramadan, not much over five feet tall but powerfully built from wrestling, finally decided to go forward.

"What took you so long?" Banna said. The sheikh had known all along that his future protege was in the crowd. He had just been waiting for him to take the first step.

It was a story that Ramadan liked to tell his friends and acolytes. Banna, he felt, was often misunderstood as purely a political figure. The man had a deeply spiritual, mystic side as well and, as Ramadan tells it, he slept in a graveyard once a month to remind him of his ultimate fate. Disciples of the two often emphasized their physical power. Banna led members in physical exercises, adopting Western ideas of the body as being almost equal to the mind. Ramadan, slender and short -- as an adult he stood five feet six inches tall -- commanded immense respect, partly because he appeared virile and energetic. He had a strong jaw, highlighted by a trim beard. His eyes were soft but intense. People inevitably spoke of his physical attractiveness and presence in a room.

"Physically he was enormously strong;' said Dawud Salahuddin, an African American convert to Islam who met Ramadan in 1976. "What I found about him so attractive is you rarely see men of that intellectual caliber have a physical side. He was a champion gymnast as a kid. There definitely was a charisma. When you're dealing with someone who can stand and talk for three hours then there's a physical aspect."

Like most Western-oriented people of his generation, Ramadan usually wore a suit and tie, reserving traditional Arab dress for special occasions. He spoke directly and always made eye contact.

After meeting Banna, Ramadan became active in the movement, helping to organize rallies. He studied law in college and became an attorney. In 1946 he was hired as Banna's personal secretary and married one of his daughters, cementing the bond. "He was a good speaker," recalls Khalek, who studied with Ramadan at Cairo University. "He had charisma. He was good to be sent to difficult places."

Accounts vary concerning his work in Palestine. Some say he was crucial to Jerusalem's defense against Israeli armies; others, that he had organized only a Brotherhood youth wing there. Some wrote that he established the Brotherhood's branch in neighboring Jordan, where he headquartered their efforts in the 1948 war. Jordan issued him a passport, which he used for years.

The Brotherhood's intense political work, however, was seen as a threat by many governments. Egypt banned the group in 1948, and Ramadan went to Pakistan for a year, where he worked closely with the government, which gave him a radio broadcast. Then, shortly after he returned to Egypt in 1949, Banna was assassinated. Ramadan, who was too young to be considered a successor to his father-in- law, continued his overseas organizing.

"If the Brotherhood had ministries, he'd have been the foreign minister." says Gamal al-Banna, brother of the movement's founder. "He was an eloquent orator and spoke English. He had many contacts overseas." Most of Ramadan's work was devoted to Islamic organization. The goal wasn't some sort of theological or ecumenical agreement among Islam's oft-warring factions. Instead it was political. In theory, Muslims should be ruled by a caliph, a secular ruler who would enforce Islamic law, sharia, in a temporal government. The last caliph resided in Istanbul, but Turkey abolished his office in 1924. Ever since, Islamic activists had dreamed of restoring it.

Starting in 1926, activists tried to unite Muslims through an ersatz caliphate: leagues and conferences. If the Muslim world was too fractured to be united by one leader, then a representative body might at least provide some sort of umbrella structure. In 1949, Ramadan and the Grand Mufti spearheaded efforts to create such a body and in 1951 succeeded in holding a meeting of the World Muslim Congress in the Pakistani city of Karachi. Ramadan was elected as one of the conference's three secretaries. He immediately attacked Turkey's secular government. Ramadan was also active with the Grand Mufti in the Islamic General Congress of Jerusalem. Another key player in these groups was Sayyid Qutb, the most influential Islamist theorist of the twentieth century, who held that anyone, even a Muslim, who didn't followed the Brotherhood's views was an apostate and thus could be killed.

A key goal Ramadan pursued at the conferences was the fight against communism. Although Western countries were seen as degenerate and corrupt, communist states banned or tightly proscribed religion. That made them worse and therefore the Islamists' first target. The Mufti was especially vociferous in opposing communism. According to a declassified U.S. War Department Strategic Services Unit assessment in 1946, "Source states that the Mufti has also sent messages to his followers reminding them that the principles of Communism are completely at variance with the teachings of the Koran."

This theme would come up again and again in CIA surveillance of the Mufti. He was a known anticommunist and thus attractive. But his Nazi past made him an unacceptable ally. Ramadan was a different matter.


The first brush between U.S. officials and Ramadan came in the summer of 1953. The White House received an urgent request: prominent Muslims were coming to Princeton University for an "Islamic Colloquium"; would the president meet them? At first, it seemed the encounter wouldn't happen because President Eisenhower was out of town. Then Abbott Washburn, deputy director of the U.S. Information Agency in charge of liaison with the White House, recalled the high priority that Eisenhower gave to religion in his personal life and in geopolitical strategy. The early discussions about using religion more effectively in global politics had already taken place, and Edward Lilly had just circulated his influential memo, "The Religious Factor." Although it's not clear from the record that Washburn saw his memo, the overall feeling was clear: the United States had to grab this chance.

Washburn sent a note to Eisenhower's psychological warfare whiz, C. D. Jackson. He told Jackson that the conference was sponsored by the USIA, the State Department's International Information Agency (IIA), Princeton, and the Library of Congress -- a "four-way play." as he put it, to influence the Muslim world. "Hoped-for result." Washburn wrote, "is that the Muslims will be impressed with the moral and spiritual strength of America."

The White House hesitated. Washburn made one last pitch. He noted that President Eisenhower believed the United States had to push home its spiritual superiority over the USSR. "These individuals can exert a profound and far-reaching impact upon Moslem thinking. Their long-term influence may well outweigh that of the political leaders of their countries." The White House agreed, and eight days later the invitations went out. The meeting was entered into the president's appointment book: 23 September 1953, 11:30 A.M. One of the delegates would be "The Honorable Saeed Ramahdan, Delegate of the Muslim Brothers."

The meeting, Eisenhower officials made plain, was meant to complement the Princeton conference's purely political goals. Some of the attendees were scholars and did present papers, but the conference's principal aim was to show the United States feting Muslim intellectuals. "On the surface, the conference looks like an exercise in pure learning. This in effect is the impression desired." said a confidential memo forwarded to Eisenhower's secretary of state, John Foster Dulles. "IIA promoted the colloquium along these lines and has given it financial and other assistance because we consider that this psychological approach is an important contribution at this time to both short term and long term United States political objectives in the Moslem area."

Attached to the memo was an analysis of the upcoming conference. The goals were to guide and promote the Islamic "Renaissance." whose most influential group was the Muslim Brotherhood. Interestingly, the paper acknowledges that some of the attendees might be dicey -- by law the IIA was supposed to promote cultural exchanges. The Muslim Brotherhood, an overtly political body, did not fit this definition, making it difficult for the IIA to fund Ramadan and other political leaders' participation. "Since the exchange program cannot give grants to some individuals whose presence at the colloquium would be desirable, it is hoped that outside sources may provide a small amount of financial assistance." Private sponsors stepped in. The U.S.-Saudi oil giant Aramco paid some travel costs. The IIA contributed too, paying for two Princeton professors to travel in the Middle East to invite candidates personally.

In July 1953, when most of the participants had been chosen, the U.S. embassy in Cairo was asked if Ramadan could attend. Ramadan wanted to visit Muslim centers in the United States. The embassy forwarded the request to Washington, along with a sanitized version of his career history -- leaving out, for example, his close ties to the Grand Mufti and his battle against Israel. The embassy recommended that he attend.

The conference itself lasted ten days; speakers gave presentations on education, youth, art, and social reform. Compared to conferences today, the pace was leisurely, with only two to three panels scheduled per day and time for long, far-ranging discussions as well as socializing in the evening. The conference moved from New Jersey to Washington and ended as Ramadan and the other participants met President Eisenhower. The resulting photo op symbolizes this eras tentative steps toward harnessing the power of Islam. Ramadan, standing on the far right of the picture, looks on as Eisenhower gestures to make a point. The meetings went smoothly and the conference was deemed a success.

But Ramadan was not going to be an easy ally. In a CIA analysis after the conference, he came across as a political agitator. "Ramadan was invited at the urging of the Egyptian embassy. He was the [emphasis in original] most difficult element at the colloquium as he was concerned with political pressure rather than with cultural problems." According to the report, he refused to make small talk. At one evening gathering he was asked if Egyptian youth shouldn't be encouraged to engage in social work. "The only thing Egyptian youth is interested in is in getting the British out," he is reported to have said. The author of the report continued with a personal evaluation of Ramadan: "I felt that Ramadan was a political reactionary, a Phalangist or Fascist type, rather than a religious reactionary as in the case of the three sheiks who attended," the report's author wrote. "Ramadan seems to be a Fascist, interested in the grouping of individuals for power. He did not display many ideas except for those of the Brotherhood."

Ramadan, however, continued to pop up in U.S. diplomatic circles. In 1956, he met U.S. officials in Rabat, pressing home his demand that Jews be expelled from Palestine. These views made it impossible for Ramadan and the United States to cement a formal alliance. But the mutual attraction to fighting communism was obvious. Later that year, Ramadan and other leaders of the Islamic General Congress of Jerusalem -- the Grand Mufti's group -- pledged themselves to a tough anticommunist battle, stating that communism was antithetical to Islam. But he conceded that it would be a hard sell in the Middle East because communism was seen as anti-Western and most Arabs blamed the West for allowing the state of Israel to be created.

Ramadan had his own immediate problems as well. In 1954, Nasser cracked down on the Brotherhood after a botched assassination attempt, allegedly by one if its associates. Ramadan fled to Saudi Arabia, then to Syria, Pakistan, and Jordan. Cairo stripped Ramadan and a handful of other leaders of their citizenship and charged them with treason. Later Egyptian officials tried to defame him as a homosexual. Few countries wanted to antagonize Egypt, the most powerful nation in the region, and Ramadan had to keep on the move. Perhaps out of gratitude for his service in 1948, Jordan let him keep a diplomatic passport, and the small kingdom sent him to West Germany as ambassador-at-large. Then, perhaps out of genuine academic interest or as a cover for other activities, he showed up at Professor Kegel's door.


Five months after Kegel agreed to take Ramadan as his student, he received a letter from the young man, sent under the letterhead "World Muslim Congress Jerusalem" and datelined Damascus. "Dear Prof. Kegel, Again I need your help ... I have not yet found a good material for a thesis." he wrote in English. "There is a dear new tendency towards what is called the 'Islamic law' in many newly independent Muslim countries. What about a thesis comparing efforts to implement Islamic law? Waiting for my Professor's word for this subject: yes or no!"

Kegel was unsure how to respond. The forty-four-year-old scholar was already one of West Germany's most important legal minds because of his work on civil law. A rigorous academic, he liked his students to research traditional thesis topics. He wanted them to seek out court cases or some other form of empirical work and back up their ideas in footnotes. Ramadan was proposing something completely different: a guide to implementing sharia. If Ramadan was to become an academic, the thesis would have to stand up to intense scrutiny, and the young man's interests seemed to Kegel more like a hobby than a serious academic pursuit. But Kegel was nonetheless intrigued, and he gave his approval.

By late 1956, however, Ramadan moved back to the Middle East. He wrote a telegram to Kegel: "On the eve of my departure from Europe I felt I have to express my deep feelings of gratitude I shall always remember the decent reception and good hours I had in Koln." Ramadan continued working on his thesis as he flitted from one country to another, acting as secretary general of the World Muslim Congress. In June 1958, Ramadan wrote Kegel to say the "worsening situation" in Damascus caused him to move his family to Jerusalem. Later he wrote to say he was off to the Hajj to meet Egyptians -- which supported Egyptian intelligence's belief that during this Hajj the exiled Brotherhood met and discussed strategy.

In August of that year, Ramadan decided to move back to Geneva. Swiss officials seemed unaware that he was moving permanently -- a few years later they discussed the fact that he seemed ensconced in Geneva, concluded it was illegal, but decided to allow him to stay because of his strong anticommunist tendencies. Ramadan later explained that he moved because one of his sons needed medical treatment.

In late 1958, Ramadan completed his thesis. On December 15, Kegel gave him the mark "sehr gut" -- equivalent to an A, or "honors." Kegel wrote that "the writer is a man who is capable." saying that Ramadan's dissertation was "head and shoulders" above others that he had read from the Near East and the Middle East. But Kegel also wrote in his two-page evaluation that it was an unusual thesis. It was more theological and political, he said, than law-oriented - an attempt to make Islamic law, or sharia, apply to the modern world.

"It was good. It was very well thought out," Kegel said in an interview, thinking back over forty-five years.

But Kegel began to wonder about Ramadan. When I asked him about Ramadan, Kegel's initial answer was snappy and short: "I would describe him as intelligent if also fanatical."

Ramadan was trying to build a religious utopia. Kegel didn't have anything against utopians, but he didn't like the venture's exclusionary nature -- one religion above all else. Surely, Kegel thought, this was a recipe for intolerance. Kegel had been a young academic in the years before World War II. His teacher had been the famous Jewish legal scholar Ernst Rabel, who emigrated in 1939 after the Nazis made academic life for Jews impossible. "[Rabel] remained lifelong my greatest role model. He was a victim of fanaticism and I couldn't forget such a thing. I knew this kind of fanaticism and felt uncomfortable with it."

Despite Kegel's misgivings, he and Ramadan stayed friends, and Kegel's papers contain several of Ramadan's handwritten letters, which he sent as he traveled the Muslim world. Kegel also wrote a preface for Ramadan's thesis, which was eventually published in 1961. It was the best-selling thesis of any Kegel had supervised. Today Islamic Law: Its Scope and Equity is a standard of the Islamist scene. Translated widely, it is sold in mosques and cultural centers across Europe, wherever the Muslim Brotherhood's ideology has penetrated.


St. Paul's Church near Munich's main train station is a testament to an earlier, God-fearing age in Europe. Built in 1906, the church had six thousand members who were generous -- and ambitious. They hired a popular architect who had just built the city's neo-Gothic town hall, and they asked him to build the tallest church in town, hoping to surpass the Marienkirche, the city's medieval landmark. St. Paul's reflected the confidence and pride of the new imperial Germany. Only the intervention of the bishopric kept the spire at ninety-six meters in height, allowing the Marienkirche to keep its status as the city's tallest. During World War II, Allied bombers reduced the church to a shell. Its heavy stone walls withstood the blasts, but firebombs tore through the roof, gutting the interior. By 1958, it had been rebuilt, but in a more sober, almost traumatized-looking form. The roof and windows were replaced, but the church management chose not to reconstruct the ornate decorations. Instead it was outfitted with austere sculptures, clear glass, and raw brick. It became a reminder of ideology's destructive power, which had left the country weary of belief and suspicious of certainty.

It was to this church that upwards of fifty men trudged the day after Christmas in 1958. They arrived by streetcar and subway, braving a snowstorm and walking past the still-empty lots and shells of buildings left by the war. They were there not to praise Jesus but to participate in von Mende's effort to unite Muslims across Germany in building a mosque. Nurredin Namangani's Ecclesiastical Administration was gaining traction after von Mende had sidelined Gacaoglu's group. Now Namangani's association was claiming to represent all Muslims in Germany. Invitations printed in German and Turkish (in Arabic script) requested the attendance of not only the ex-soldiers but also "the other brothers -- Germans, Pakistanis, Persians, Arabs, Turks -- who live in your city to this meeting, because every Muslim who believes in Allah and his Prophet, Muhammad, must answer to Allah if he remains away or doesn't tell his brothers of it." The tone had nothing of the rebuilt church's measured sobriety. Instead, it was old-school apocalyptic: "The end of the world can happen any day and any hour. Therefore we cannot live in this world with closed eyes. We have slept enough and want now to rise up as one."

The meeting had been preceded on the twenty-second by a smaller session of the Ecclesiastical Administration, whose members decided to establish the Mosque Construction Commission with Namangani as chairman and the venerable Said Shamil -- the Dagestani whose family had moved to Saudi Arabia years ago - as honorary chairman. Four days later, the group met again, this time with students and other Muslims present; Said Ramadan was guest of honor. Faisal Yazdani remembered the day well: "The room was full and it was an exciting feeling." he recalled; he was then a twenty-year- old medical student. "We felt we were doing something idealistic -- building a mosque." It was to be a mosque for all Muslims from all over Germany. "Everyone was especially excited because of the presence of Dr. Ramadan. He was a great personality, the head of the Muslim Congress. He was really famous and here he was among us, helping us build a mosque."

Ramadan added to the buzz by showing off his financial connections. The group collected 1,125 marks in donations that day, 1,000 of which came from Ramadan. He was made honorary member of the Mosque Construction Commission. Ramadan had been invited to the meeting by a young Syrian student, Ghaleb Himmat, a self-described member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

"Himmat invited him to take over the leadership," said Obeidullah Mogaddedi, an Afghani medical student and the son of a famous Muslim leader. He attended the meeting and was close to Ramadan for the next few years, functioning as his de facto private secretary. "The idea was to have a famous guy head it."

As Mogaddedi recalled it, Ramadan said he was eager to spread his influence in Europe. Geneva was his base, but Munich, a day's drive away to the northeast, would make a good steppingstone. Mogaddedi was in awe of Ramadan, but -- perhaps in hindsight, perhaps all along -- he had qualms about bringing such a political personality on board.

"Personally 1 was against it, not against Said Ramadan as a person, but Dr. Ramadan was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and was also a political figure and not only a religious figure." he said. "I thought it wouldn't be good if the center was stamped as a Muslim Brotherhood center. We should work for Islam and not a group, whether it's good or bad."

But Ramadan was a captivating, charismatic figure. Students, most of whom were impressionable nineteen- and twenty-year-olds, considered him a star, a man who was leading a renaissance of their ancient religion. He had taken on colonialists and dictators. They enthusiastically endorsed him as their champion.

"The students were all well educated." recalls Muhammad Abdul Karim Grimm, a German convert and long-time Muslim activist. They were especially well educated in Islamic issues -- above all of the Muslim Brotherhood. "They had learned the lessons of Hasan al-Banna."

Ramadan realized that he had to pay a courtesy call on von Mende but had other business to attend to. So he sent Mogaddedi in his place. "After the meeting, I went to von Mende [in Dusseldorf] and told him about the meeting. It turned out that he knew about it already." Mogaddedi said, laughing. Mogaddedi hadn't realized that Namangani was von Mende's man and had been closely following the events. Ramadan, though, was a bit of a mystery. Von Mende quickly put out feelers. Was he an ally or a challenger? Soon von Mende's tidy card file had a new entry: "Said Ramadan, 36, head of the Muslim Brotherhood. R. drives a Cadillac, a gift from the Saudi government."
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Re: A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:07 pm


IN THE SUMMER OF 1957, Bob Dreher finally got his chance to return to Munich, charged with shaking up Amcomlib and making more aggressive use of emigres, especially Muslims. He had yearned for a chance to implement rollback and score some propaganda points against the Soviets. But he was driven by other impulses too. Behind the hard-driving CIA man was a nonconformist who disliked the confines of 1950s America. Thumping the communists was satisfying, but Dreher also saw Europe as a place to quench other desires.

His route to Munich reflected these impulses. Instead of flying directly, he landed in Paris and then traveled by train and boat to the Ile du Levant, a nudist colony off the coast of France. He met old friends and made some new ones. Best of all were the photos: "Received my Kodachromes yesterday, and there are some prizes among them!"

He seemed to have little trouble attracting women. At six foot two and a trim 180 pounds, Dreher had the conventional good looks of 1950s Hollywood -- slicked-back dark hair, a smooth handsome face, and a quick sense of humor. In every picture he is smiling, his perfect white teeth giving him a passing resemblance to Cary Grant.

''I'm not a one-woman man." he jokingly warned Karin West, a Baltic refugee who worked for Amcomlib's think tank on the Soviet Union. West wasn't bothered by Dreher's promiscuity; she was a platonic friend and confidante who posed as his wife in order to get the two of them into Germany's famed FKK nudist resorts. FKK -- Freikorperkultur -- was not meant for snap-happy singles like Dreher. It was an offshoot of the nineteenth-century back-to-nature movement, and visitors were meant to be sober, serious, and married. For Dreher, the spiritual context meant little.

At times, his lifestyle tortured him. In letters home, he would regale his family with studiously careful accounts of all the cute girls he'd met. The tone was of Bob in Europe, having fun, the eternal bachelor. But once, in a fit of remorse, he wrote, "Deep down inside I realize that it's I who am not in step, and I'm determined to get back to God's country and to do something about it."

During his second stint in Europe he seemed, according to the memories of his employees and colleagues, oddly split: wanting to pursue a tough path that few believed would be effective and often preoccupied with the travails of his exhausting bohemian life. His main problems seemed to be finding the right convertible (a Mercedes was too expensive; a VW was too plain), hi-fi system (German systems looked good but sounded bad), and women (all they want is to marry).

Many Amcomlib employees became specialists in the emigres' cultures and languages, earning their respect. Not Dreher. When asked, on his CIA application, to rate his hobbies, he wrote that he was "very good" at dancing, dramatics, and Ping-Pong, "good" at tennis, sailing, and photography, but only "adequate" at reading. Language was another weak area: on paper he knew Russian and German, but he spoke broken German even after years of living in the country. What he had in abundance -- and liked to show off to bewildered emigres -- were his Kodachromes. Some recall being repelled by the pictures. Dreher apparently didn't notice; they stayed framed on his desk. Strangely, it was this model of 1950s hedonism who decided to shake up Amcomlib. His method: partnering with Said Ramadan and the Muslim Brotherhood.


By Eisenhower's second term, the administration had decided to get more serious about Islam. In 1957, the Eisenhower Doctrine was announced; it promised U.S. armed intervention against aggression, actual or threatened. This was a response to what U.S. policy makers saw as growing Soviet influence in the Middle East, especially in Egypt. Privately, President Eisenhower seemed concerned about how to reach the Muslim world. He wrote to his confidant, the Presbyterian church leader Edward Elson, that Islam and the Middle East were always on his mind. "I assure you that I never fail in any communication with Arab leaders, oral or written, to stress the importance of the spiritual factor in our relationships. I have argued that belief in God should create between them and us the common purpose of opposing atheistic communism."

In White House meetings he was more blunt. Speaking with the CIA covert operations czar Frank Wisner and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Eisenhower said that Arabs should dip into their own religion for inspiration in fighting communism.

"The President said he thought we should do everything possible to stress the 'holy war' aspect," according to a memo outlining the conversation. "Mr. Dulles commented that if the Arabs have a 'holy war' they would want it to be against Israel. The President recalled, however, that [King Ibn] Saud, after his visit here, had called on all Arabs to oppose Communism."

The Operations Coordinating Board -- the body set up to implement covert plans by the CIA and other agencies -- took up Islam. It had already produced a detailed study of Buddhism and how that religion could be used to further U.S. interests. In 1957, the board established an Ad Hoc Working Group on Islam that included officials from the U.S. Information Agency, the State Department, and the CIA. According to a memo on the group's first meeting, its goal was to take stock of what public and private U.S. organizations were doing in the field of Islam and come up with an "Outline Plan of Operations." The plan had two main components, both of which were echoed in CIA actions in Munich. First, the United States would shun traditional Muslims in favor of "reform" groups, like the Muslim Brotherhood. Then, as today, the Brotherhood's radical political agenda of a return to a mythic state of pure Islam was obfuscated by its members' use of modern symbols, such as Western clothing and rhetoric. "Both the Chairman and the CIA member felt that with the Islamic world being divided as it is between reactionary and reformist groups, it might be found profitable to place emphasis on programs which would strengthen the reformist groups."

In May, the coordination board passed the inventory and plan of action. Its statements were clear and simple: Islam is a natural ally, communists are exploiting Islam, and Islam affects the balance of power. The paper listed a dozen recommendations for strengthening ties with Islamic organizations, especially those with a strong anticommunist bent. As always, the operations were to be covert. "Programs which are indirect and unattributable are more likely to be effective and will avoid the charge that we are trying to use religion for political purposes;' the report concluded. "Overt use of Islamic organizations for the inculcation of hard-line propaganda is to be avoided."

This was exactly the strategy pursued by Dreher and Amcomlib. Because the CIA files are still closed, it is impossible to say definitively that Amcomlib was directly financing the Muslim Brotherhood and Ramadan. But short of a CIA pay stub, every other indication points to the fact that Dreher and Amcomlib were using financial and political leverage to give the Brotherhood's man in Europe a leg up.


Before he left the United States for Munich, Bob Dreher worked as special assistant to Amcomlib's president. His task was to organize covert propaganda to convince Americans that a strong, independent movement of Soviet emigres existed -- when in fact it did not. He also sat in on Amcomlib board meetings.

This positioned him perfectly for his new job as coordinator of emigre relations at Radio Liberty. He was relieving Ike Patch, who had been sent over a few years earlier to unite the feuding Soviet ethnic groups and build a credible front to hide the CIA's financing and control of the operation. A career diplomat, Patch was seen as an affable consensus-builder, a family man who was well liked but lacked Dreher's aggressive ideas. Dreher was eager to reinvigorate emigre relations. Instead of using emigres merely as on-air talent for Radio Liberty, he wanted to push covert propaganda measures like the operations in Bandung and Mecca.

Dreher's new colleagues were unimpressed. Amcomlib's New York headquarters was replete with intelligence types like Dreher, but Munich was different. There, people were mostly interested in running a radio station; they considered themselves journalists whose organization happened to have an unusual owner. Dreher was a reminder that they were participating in a CIA front operation. Staffers suspected his role was to make sure ideology didn't take a back seat to journalism. They were also suspicious of his tactics. During the Hungarian uprising in 1956, Radio Liberty's sister station, Radio Free Europe, had encouraged the rebels, only to watch the Soviets crush the revolt. To most in the Munich office, that failure exposed the concepts of liberation and rollback as empty rhetoric. Dreher didn't seem to learn that lesson. "We all thought the Soviet system would bring about its own downfall," says one of Dreher's deputies, Will Klump. "I'm not sure, however, that Bob Dreher did."

Dreher began to agitate for more aggressive use of the emigres. He divided his tactics into "offensive" and "defensive." The latter meant defending against Soviet efforts to repatriate former Soviet citizens -- the USSR had launched an aggressive publicity blitz to win back the refugees, promising amnesty and a job. Many were homesick and some went home; Moscow heralded their return as proof that the allure of the West was hollow.

Dreher's real interest, however, was offense. Early attempts in this vein -- for example, by parachuting Soviet emigres into the Soviet Union -- had ended in disaster, but now, frustration with the pace of the Cold War led to a new emphasis on bold operations. Dreher's boss, Walpole Davis of the CIA's Office of Policy Coordination, strongly advocated such measures. Most emigres were eager to go along -- and Dreher clearly had the resources. He set up automatic payments, ensuring that money flowed regularly to emigre groups. The people who got the cash might have been unsavory -- some possibly were killers -- but the payments were made on time. Everyone knew that the paymaster was the CIA, and Dreher was its man in Munich.

In 1958, a second Bandung Conference was held. Unlike its predecessor in 1955, this meeting was a disaster for Washington. Although in hindsight Washington's fears seem overblown, the second meeting proved that the event in 1955 wasn't a one-off and that some sort of permanent grouping of nonaligned nations was inevitable. Indeed, the Non-Aligned Movement exerted some influence in the middle years of the Cold War. Although its relevance would fade, Washington saw the 1958 conference as the start of a dangerous new alliance, especially because it included a key role for communist China.

U.S. diplomats spent that year assessing why their country had done so poorly. They concluded that one of the saving graces had been their old reliables, such as Said Shamil, who wired to conference delegates petitions against the Soviet suppression of Islam. And Rusi Nasar, who had worked for Amcomlib on a Hajj as well as during the first Bandung Conference, attended this second meeting too; he had presented a blistering attack on the Soviet delegation, forcing it into a defensive posture. But the Americans needed more credible spokesmen. Shamil and Nasar were hardly at the leading edge of the Muslim world.

That was where Dreher came in, according to his assistant at the time, Edward A. Allworth. Now a professor emeritus at Columbia University, Allworth was then a budding scholar of Central Asian history who took off a year from his studies to put his language skills to work in Munich for Amcomlib. Allworth confirmed that Dreher was trying to make use of Ramadan, with Nasar function ing as a liaison between the two. (Nasar declined to comment on this.) "Rusi Nasar tried to link the World Muslim Congress with Munich and events in Southeast Asia," Allworth said in an interview.

It's not clear if this alliance was in place when Ramadan made his grand announcement at St. Paul's Church in 1958. Around this time, West German intelligence stated plainly in separate reports that the United States had secured Ramadan a Jordanian passport, allowing him to flee to Europe, while Swiss intelligence claimed that he was a U.S. agent. Ramadan's family will not comment on this, and the CIA still has its Ramadan file locked up. What is definite is that soon after Ramadan settled, he and Dreher were working together.

A clear sign of this arrangement came in February, when two people close to Amcomlib visited von Mende. One of the visitors was Ahmet Magoma, a long-time political activist and former Ostministerium employee. A few years earlier, he had asked Amcomlib's Eric Kuniholm for a job when Kuniholm made his big trip through Germany and Turkey. Accompanying him was Said Shamil, the venerable Dagestani leader with long-standing ties to Amcomlib. The two presented von Mende with an open letter. It called for Namangani's Ecclesiastical Administration to broaden, embracing not only the old soldiers but also all Muslims, especially Ramadan's students. The two also demanded a European congress on Islam, to be led by Said Ramadan. Magoma and Shamil said Namangani wasn't up to the task. Students who turned to him for religious instruction found that they knew more about Islam than did the ex-SS imam. Said Ramadan, they said, had a similar impression of Namangani.

Von Mende was outraged at the Americans' plan to back Ramadan at Namangani's expense: "I have the impression that this criticism was leveled on purpose and avoids the whole truth in order to limit Namangani's responsibilities and impact." As for Ramadan, von Mende put him down, saying -- in a colossal misjudgment -- that he had no influence in the Muslim world.

Shamil told von Mende that his concerns were irrelevant; the plan was already underway. He said that Dreher was willing to pay for the congress. All they needed from van Mende was his support in getting West Germany's Foreign Office to issue visas to Muslims traveling to Munich to attend. Van Mende sent his notes on the meeting to the Foreign Office, writing that Shamil was known throughout the Middle East as a U.S. agent and that West Germany should be skeptical of the congress led by Ramadan "because it is obvious that the goal of Shamil's efforts is the creation of a new platform from which he [Ramadan] on behalf of the Americans can operate in the Near and Middle East." Apparently van Mende's concerns were ignored; Amcomlib was powerful in West Germany, and the Foreign Office issued the visas.

The West Germans were losing control of the situation. Van Mende got a report from a source that the Soviet embassy was recruiting Arab students and planning a party for Muslim students in Cologne at a popular beer hall, the Franziskanerkeller. East Germany was offering scholarships to Egyptian students and other Arabs. If van Mende didn't act, the Soviets would move into this large pool of potential recruits.

Then, almost at the same time, the Soviets struck at one of von Mende's key men. A certain Professor Abdullah arrived in Hamburg from Syria and phoned Namangani, asking whether he would like financing for his mosque. All it would take was a trip to Cairo. Namangani called Kayum for help, and he relayed the message to von Mende. Van Mende quickly pulled Namangani out of Munich and brought him and Kayum to Dusseldorf for a consultation. Van Mende figured the offer was Moscow's response to the Americans' bid to organize the congress. The Soviets wanted to undercut the Americans by funding the mosque themselves. Namangani was told not to go to Cairo.

To counter the superpowers, van Mende launched his own covert operation in the Middle East. During the Hajj season of 1959, he sent Namangani and Hayit on a trip through the Middle East to distribute anticommunist and pro-West German propaganda. What he heard back bothered him. Thanks to Ramadan's involvement, the Muslim world was gaining the impression that the Munich mosque was the Americans' project, not the West Germans' -- yet another sign that Ramadan was doing significant work on behalf of Amcomlib. Namangani reported to his boss that "we have difficulties with the 'American Committee for Liberation from Bolshevism'" that seemed "insurmountable." In this game, the West Germans were out of the superpowers' league. At heart, the Germans wanted the Muslims to playa role in a vaguely defined, quixotic quest -- to help a united Germany recover its lost territory someday in the future. The superpowers, by contrast, had broad, strategic, and immediate goals for Islam. West Germany was simply their battleground.


Around this time, Ramadan was at the peak of his influence. While winning strong allies in Europe, he remained a force in the Muslim world too; for example, he revived the Muslim World Conference in Jerusalem. This body had been formed to unite Muslims around the world, but by the 1950s it had degenerated into a forum dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. Few other Muslims attended, and its influence was stunted. But then Ramadan called the conference's third general meeting for January 1960 and scored a resounding success. In addition to the exiled Brotherhood members, the Indonesian premier Muhammad Nassir attended, as did representatives of twelve other Muslim countries. In addition, the meeting was backed by a group of notable intellectual and cultural leaders, including Said Shamil. Topics included Palestine and communism. The group condemned "Muslims under Communist rule" -- a far cry from the 1955 Bandung Conference and its successor meeting in 1959, which produced only a grudging criticism of communism through the efforts of U.S. employees like Rusi Nasar. Ramadan's ideological sympathy with the American position can also be detected in a letter he wrote to one of the CIA's front organizations in Munich, the Institute for the Study of the USSR. Ramadan wrote to the institute's Arabic Review, saying how much he enjoyed the magazine and offering to distribute it throughout the Arab-speaking world. He said to send as many copies as possible to the World Muslim Congress's offices in Jerusalem.

Ramadan's base, though, was clearly shifting to Europe. Although a powerful figure among the Muslim populations of the Middle East, he felt unsafe there. He was living in Sudan in 1959 when he finally decided to move his family once and for all to Geneva. In a letter to Professor Kegel, he said he had had his fill of coups detat and dictators.

His appearances in Germany multiplied. A month after his family arrived in Geneva, Ramadan participated in the European congress that Dreher financed, which was meant to represent all Muslims in Germany and Europe. Gacaoglu wrote a letter about it in April 1959; given his close ties to Amcomlib, it's no surprise that the content reflects Amcomlib's thinking. Gacaoglu describes Munich's future as the world center of Islam. Its mosque would be for all Muslims, not just followers of von Mende's Ecclesiastical Administration. "The mosque to be built shouldn't be aimed at an existing group; it should be above all a meeting point for Muslims of the entire world, a center of Islamic thinking, and a place where Islamic and German art can flow together." Gacaoglu wrote.

These goals were reflected in a new structure that Ramadan established. When the soldiers and students met in Munich on Christmas Eve in 1958, they set up the Mosque Construction Commission, with Namangani as chairman and Ramadan as honorary chairman. It remained an informal group until 1960, when it was registered at the local courthouse as an official organization. In Germany, that meant the group's name ended with the abbreviation "e.V." -- eingetragener Verein, "registered association" -- giving the commission certain legal rights and obligations. The benefits included official standing as a legal entity, meaning it could sue. The obligations entailed articles of association, an elected board of directors, minutes of its meetings, and a chairman -- and that person was Ramadan.

It's not exactly clear how this happened. The commission was Namangani's idea, and he signed the letter notifying the court that Ramadan was the chairman. It could simply reflect the fact that early on, the two men were not opponents. Namangani may also have believed that the mosque commission was simply an appendage of the Ecclesiastical Administration, which he was still running. A few years later, however, Namangani acted as if he hadn't realized the implications of officially registering the commission -- which is quite possible, given his low level of education. Ramadan, by contrast, had just completed his doctorate in law with Professor Kegel. In any case, Ramadan was suddenly at the helm of the legal entity charged with building the mosque -- another sign that the Americans had backed the right man. (Namangani stayed in charge of the Ecclesiastical Administration, which was not in charge of the mosque.) The Germans, who had brought over Namangani and come up with the idea of a mosque, were suddenly on the outside.

Ramadan quickly took advantage of his new position. When Namangani first raised the idea of a mosque in 1958, no one had a plan for raising the hundreds of thousands of marks needed to finance such a building. Now, in mid-1960, Ramadan announced that he was off on the annual Hajj and would bring back money. The cost of building the mosque was now estimated at 1.2 million marks ($2.2 million in today's terms), and an architect had drawn up plans for an Arab-style building, complete with dome and minaret.

Ramadan continued to try to approach von Mende and win him over -- probably a sign that the Americans were advising him to cultivate their old intelligence contact. Otherwise it isn't clear why Ramadan would have taken the initiative to do so. After the first meeting of the Mosque Construction Commission at the church, he had sent a young aide to seek von Mende's support. Now he met with Hayit, trying to push for the establishment of a broader organization to include all Muslims. Hayit reacted angrily. "Germany is a gate that no one controls because no gatekeeper exists." he wrote in a frustrated letter to von Mende in March 1960. "Everyone comes in and does what he pleases."

The next month, Hayit reported that the United States was again trying to change the focus of Namangani's group -- broadening it so it could address global Islamic issues. The mosque was supposed to become an organ that would criticize Soviet Islam. Hayit wrote to von Mende, "One comes to the conviction that the American Committee for Liberation from Bolshevism is trying through its people to use this religious office for its propagandistic purposes."

The more the intelligence agencies looked into Ramadan, the less they understood him. Hayit wrote in one report to von Mende that Ramadan was planning a meeting with Sijauddin Babachanow, the mufti of Turkestan and a Soviet functionary. Babachanow promised money for the mosque. The plan went nowhere, but it underscored the difficulties surrounding the person Amcomlib had decided to back.


Dreher kept trying to bring the West Germans on board. He telephoned von Mende in May 1961 and advised him to see Ramadan. Von Mende was baffled because he knew Amcomlib had originally rejected Ramadan as "too reactionary-conservative" -- as reflected in CIA comments some years earlier about Ramadan's being a "fascist." Dreher argued that there was no point in having competing Muslim organizations in West Germany, so why not back the better man? Ramadan had excellent contacts in the Middle East, and this could only benefit the free world's fight against communism.

Von Mende reluctantly agreed to see Ramadan, who traveled up to Dusseldorf. The two had a long discussion in von Mende's grand offices. The German was shocked at Ramadan's proposal, which was to send a "Muslim delegation" to the next meeting of the UN General Assembly. The delegation could plead for religious freedom -- and, of course, attack the USSR. Ramadan would head the delegation, with two assistants, Gacaoglu and Shamil. Von Mende thought the idea ludicrous. He wrote, "The two gentlemen have not always been known positively from their work in Munich -- Shamil's activities during and after the war are topics of conversation in the emigration. Therefore, the two men proposed by R. are not usable for the purposes he has for them."

He then wrote to his contact man in West German intelligence, saying he wondered "for which American agency Mr. Ramadan is active." Perhaps he didn't know Dreher's position as liaison to the CIA, although von Mende's files are full of notes from Amcomlib moles describing other aspects of the organization's internal workings.

Von Mende was also concerned about Ramadan's plans for the Hajj; he believed that the fund-raising work was just a platform to gain attention so Ramadan could more easily supplant Namangani. For Amcomlib, it would be a chance to attack the Soviet Union; Ramadan could also lobby on behalf of the oppressed Brotherhood and for his dream of a united Muslim world.

After Ramadan left, a worried von Mende wondered what to do. He had told "the gentlemen" from Amcomlib on several occasions that they hadn't chosen well in the Muslim emigres they had backed. But if Dreher thought Ramadan had such great contacts and was worth backing, maybe von Mende himself should change his mind -- perhaps he had been too hasty in writing off Ramadan?

Von Mende could think of only one way to test Dreher's judgment: break into Ramadan's office and steal his files. So he did what every good bureaucrat would: he wrote a memo outlining the problem and the solution. Ramadan, "who continually cooperates with Amcomlib," had "a small fanatical following among the Arabs" but was widely pigeonholed as a foe of the Egyptian strongman Gamal Nasser. His files, though, would show his influence in the Muslim world.

Von Mende spent some time figuring out the logistics of a burglary, writing that "Dr. H." -- presumably Hayit -- would organize the operation. He ran the idea past his contact man with West Germany's BND, its foreign intelligence agency, and he confirmed in writing that Ramadan was indeed working closely with the Americans: "At the same time, his expenses are financed from the American side." In the end, the burglary was called off, but von Mende had reason to worry. Ramadan had all but taken over the mosque project. As usual, it was his trusty right-hand man, Hayit, who brought the issue to von Mende's attention -- and, as usual, the message was cast in his inimitably direct but broken German.

"It is astounding that yet another Islamic group has appeared, this time with Said Ramadan at the top. Too many societies but too little useful work seems to be the fashion." And then Hayit mentioned yet another group angling for control of Munich: JAI. It stood for Jami'at al Islam, a strange Muslim charity based in Washington and led by a rambunctious author, Ahmad Kamal.
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Re: A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:07 pm


BUREAUCRATS IN BAVARIA'S refugee ministry were charged with helping the local Muslims, but by 1960 they were finding it hard to sort out the competing groups -- the Americans, the politicians in Bonn, the ex-soldiers, and the Arabs like Ramadan. Then suddenly, they were faced with Ahmad Kamal. Author, adventurer, and spy, Ahmad Kamal was one of the most charismatic -- and erratic -- figures involved in Americas efforts to harness Islam. He ranged from California to Turkestan and Indonesia to Algeria, always claiming to be a champion of downtrodden Muslims. Often, though, he was working for foreign intelligence agencies. He arrived in Munich not on his own, but instead cloaked in his latest creation, a charity called Jami'at al Islam. His goal: to control the Muslim community in Munich.

In January 1960, Jami'at officials announced that they were moving their operations from Austria to Munich. German officials were immediately bombarded with pamphlets and newsletters explaining the group's founding. Social-affairs bureaucrats were confused. "I hardly think it's possible to unify the rival groups, namely the Ecclesiastical Administration [von Mende's group], 'Islam' [Gacaoglu's group], and the newly arrived Jami'at al Islam." wrote an official from the displaced persons' ministry in Bonn to his Bavarian counterpart.

Von Mende's men had been trying to undercut Ramadan by asking Bavarian officials to stifle his efforts to build a mosque. The officials now seemed too busy with Kamal to respond to von Mende. Wittingly or not, Kamal's Jami'at was running interference for Ramadan, sowing confusion among low-level bureaucrats and allowing Ramadan to move forward unhindered.

The Bavarians' confusion becomes understandable in light of the content of Jami'at's brochures. They overflowed with articles about the group's strange history -- almost surely a product of Kamal's novelistic imagination. He portrayed Jami'at as a millennial movement, a holy brotherhood forged in battle and now championing oppressed Muslims around the world. "Jami'at al Islam was founded in the years 1868 to 1869 in Turkestan during the time of the attack of czarist Russia against the defenders of Buchara and Khiva. Men of all social classes and professions united in this brotherhood, which considers as its holy task, to curb the Russian expansion in the lands of the Turkic peoples."

The story continues with the defenders losing to the czar's armies but taking Jami'at abroad and transforming it into a charity that also supported military insurgencies; for example, it sent observers to the Dutch East Indies as the region gained independence and became Indonesia. From Jakarta, Jami'at coordinated freedom fighters from Tunisia and Morocco, as well as other parts of Africa. Then the story gets even odder. Jami'at sent "expeditions" to Africa, where its associates collected 660 kilos of precious metals. This was added to the personal property of the old Central Asian warriors. By the end of 1957, Jami'at had assets worth $328,556.98 (about $2.4 million in today's terms). Then it set up operations to help Muslims in Jordan -- primarily Palestinians -- and opened an office in Vienna to coordinate aid for Muslims living there.

For all this action, Jami'at didn't seem to do much in the way of charity work. Its thirty-page newsletters included little concrete news about specific projects. Most of the essays expounded on the future of Islam and how Christian aid organizations were neglecting Muslims. The only real assistance Jami'at seemed to provide was to administer money for the US. Escapee Program, a classic Cold War project meant to encourage people to leave communist countries. This effort gave defectors money to support their resettlement once they arrived in the West. Jami'at seemed to aim at getting as many defectors and refugees as possible onto its rolls -- thereby guaranteeing steady funding from US. aid agencies in addition to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which financed one of the group's projects. But Europe's refugee situation was improving, and Jami'at struggled to find more prospects, especially Muslims. That led to refugee poaching. According to one of Jami'at's officers, while the charity was working in Italy it ran afoul of Catholic agencies when its members tried to sign up Muslims who were already on the Catholic agencies' rolls. In Austria, Jami'at got into a dispute with the Office of Refugee and Migration Affairs, an agency of the U.S. State Department, concerning the number of cases it oversaw. The office cut Jami'at's funding and then restored it after Kamal organized a protest led by Muslim leaders. When Jami'at arrived in Munich, its representative's first act was to visit the displaced persons' camps around the city. Kamal had himself photographed in front of a shack with a health warning affixed to it. Given the rapidly dwindling refugee problem, this seemed like a stunt.

Despite all this, Jami'at was taken seriously. Kamal implied that his group was endorsed by the US. government, emphasizing that it was the only Muslim charity recognized by the American Council of Voluntary Agencies. This US. advisory board registered -- but did not vet or endorse -- charities. But it sounded official and letters from Jami'at always emphasized this tie, as well as the group's tax-exempt status in the United States and its relations with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Politicians lent their backing. When Pakistan's president, Field Marshal Ayub Khan, visited Germany in 1961, he met Kamal in Munich and promised to support Jami'at. That same year, Jami'at organized a large conference in Munich on Islam and the West, featuring top Jami'at officials and sen ior politicians, such as Bavaria's labor minister, Walter Stain. Yon Mende fell for it too. His Ecclesiastical Administration encouraged its members to sign up with Jami'at. In a letter to them, Namangani said Jami'at was the only officially recognized Muslim charity in the world.

Within less than a year, Jami'at was so successful that the local media assumed it was running the mosque project. In early 1961, the Munchener Merkur matter-of-factly described the mosque as Jami'at's project and ran a picture of a Jami'at official inspecting plans for Munich's mosque.

"The Bavarian capital has recently become the center for Muslims living in western Europe," the Merkur noted, citing Jami'at's move to Munich as key proof. "The Islamic organization has taken on the cultural support of its brothers in faith. In Munich, a mosque, a culture center, and a kindergarten are to be built."

From today's perspective, all of this might seem like an elaborate hoax. But it wasn't. Jami'at was almost certainly backed by U.S. intelligence, and Kamal had most likely been sent to Munich as a backup to Ramadan -- to make sure that a U.S. organization influenced Muslim religious life in Munich. What U.S. officials didn't know is that Kamal wasn't just brilliant -- he was also unstable. They also probably didn't realize that his entire life story was as fictional as his novels.


Figuring out the true biographical facts about anyone involved in intelligence work is tough enough, but Kamal's public life makes it harder. While people like Dreher and von Mende hoped for nothing more than anonymity, Kamal didn't shy away from publicity -- for the better part of a decade he worked as a novelist and wanted to sell books. But he created such a bizarre public persona that the real man is almost lost.

The official story is exotic but straightforward. On the back cover of Kamal's novels -- the reprint editions, which his son published in 2000 -- is a short biography of the author. We learn that Ahmad Kamal was born on a Colorado Indian reservation in 1914 to "Turco-Tatar" nationalists who had fled persecution in czarist Russia. "Kamal's genetic makeup imprinted all his endeavors, be they as deep sea diver, combat pilot, horseman, warrior, or as exponent of national self-determination," goes the blurb.

When he came of age, according to the story, Kamal traveled to his ancestral homeland of Turkestan. There, he "commanded" the Basmaci rebellion against the Soviets, who were reasserting czarist-era colonial control over the region. Later, he fought alongside Muslim rebels in western China. He also supported the independence of Indonesia and Algeria and was "commanding general of the Muslim liberation forces of the Union of Burma in the 1980s."

This summary contains much that is true. But even a cursory glance at it raises questions. If Kamal was born in 1914,then how could he have participated in, let alone "commanded," the Basmaci rebellion in the 1920s? Archival records raise even more fundamental issues, such as Kamal's actual name and the ethnic makeup that supposedly motivated him.

According to Kamal's Federal Bureau of Investigation file, he was born Cimarron Hathaway on February 2, 1914, in the affluent Denver suburb of Arvada. His father was James Worth Hathaway and his mother Caroline Hathaway. His mother's maiden name was Grossmann, and no typical Central Asian facial features are apparent in her photo. As for his father, Kamal's passport applications stated for years that his father's surname was Hathaway. But in a 1952 application he listed his father as Qara Yusuf. According to Kamal's daughter, Kamal's father had been much older than his mother -- sixty-four years old versus sixteen for the bride -- and had wives back in Turkestan. He had left Kamal's mother and returned home, possibly to fight in the Basmaci rebellion. That could explain the presence of a man named James Worth Hathaway -- perhaps he was a stepfather whom Kamal's mother married after being abandoned or widowed by the older man?

FBI records do show that in about 1935 Cimarron Hathaway went to Central Asia. Here his fiction may provide clues to fill out the biography, or at least help us understand his motives for traveling. The autobiographical narrator in one of his novels goes to find his father and converts to Islam. By 1935, however, the Basmaci rebellion had long been extinguished. Perhaps Hathaway met some of the defeated fighters and imagined that he had participated along with them. According to his FBI file, he married while in Central Asia, but his seventeen-year-old wife died after one month, a victim of some unspecified violent act in the Chinese province of Xinjiang, where a rebellion against Chinese rule was underway. Accused of being a spy, Hathaway was arrested by Chinese authorities in the city of Hami but escaped from prison.

When Hathaway returned to the United States, he published his first book, an extravagantly imaginative work called The Seven Questions of Timur. It is a retelling of a legend about Tamerlane, the fourteenth -century Turco-Mongolian ruler whose armies conquered vast tracts of the Eurasian continent. Tamerlane poses questions about the universe and receives answers from a simple young soldier -- perhaps in this story the young Hathaway imagined a relationship with his father. Using a familiar storytelling convention, Hathaway sets himself up as the simple translator of an ancient text, adding this explanation on the title page: "From an Original Turki Manuscript by Ahmad, Descended of Karu Yusuf Ibn Kara Yakub." This Karu Yusuf echoes the Qara Yusuf on Kamal's passport application. The book, sumptuously illustrated with fanciful art nouveau-style drawings of Timur and his Tatar court, was published by a small arts press in Santa Anna. Only several hundred copies were printed, and they were hand-numbered. Aside from the single volume housed in the Library of Congress, the book is almost impossible to find. At this point, Cimarron Hathaway is well on his way to transforming himself into Ahmad Kamal. The book's copyright is held by C.A.K. Hathaway -- Cimarron Ahmad Kamal Hathaway, presumably. On November 1, 1938, a court in Hollywood approved the name change once and for all, so the former Hathaway was thereafter Ahmad Kamal.

Soon Kamal began to distance himself from his mother, coming to scorn her. When she died many years later, Kamal's daughter found him in his study, crying. She asked him why -- she thought her father had never loved his mother. ''I'm crying for what wasn't," he replied. The difficulty in their relationship probably belongs at the therapist's office, but it is telling that on one passport application later in life, Kamal put his mother's name as Caroline Kamal Hathaway -- was he imagining a Muslim identity for her? Did he resent the fact that she didn't raise him as a Muslim and that he had to leave home to find his father, who had died? Could this explain his passionate, even violent, support for Muslim causes?

In 1940, Kamal published a tough adventure story set in Turkestan. And he did so in high style, signing with one of Americas most prominent houses at the time, Charles Scribner's, publisher of Ernest Hemingway. Land Without Laughter starts as a conventional tale of hardship, with a character named Kamal traveling in the dead of winter through mountain passes from India through Tibet and finally into eastern Turkestan, known today as Xinjiang. This is probably a retelling of Kamal's own trip back to Turkestan in 1935 to find his father. He recounts in fascinating detail -- too much, it seems, to spring entirely from the imagination -- his encounter in Chinese Turkestan with the rebel general Ma Hsi-jung, who was challenging the tottering Kuomintang government for control of the region. The character Kamal serves as an officer in Ma's army and then is sent to buy weapons abroad. As he tries to make his way overland to eastern China in order to embark on a ship back to America, he is betrayed and thrown in jail, only to escape and finally make his way home. The book received a long write-up in the New York Times, which called it "swash-buckling, boastful -- and sometimes oddly ingratiating." Yet as the writing of an advocate of all things Muslim, it certainly seems odd. Like an ignorant outsider, Kamal conflates ethnic groups, calling them all Tatars. These people are invariably brutal and rough and speak in strangely stilted language -- exoticisms designed to appeal to Western readers.

Kamal claimed that in 1941 he returned to Turkestan to retrieve documents; war broke out, and the Japanese interned him. He had already met his second wife, a Tatar journalist and linguist named Amina, who had been living with White Russian exiles in Tianjin. The two spent the internment writing, an activity that Kamal hid from his Japanese guards by copying his works in a Turkic dialect and claiming that they constituted a rendering of the Koran -- at least this is the story Kamal told the Los Angeles Times when he arrived back home in 1945. A photo of Kamal accompanies the article: with an intense expression on his face, he hovers over his mother, who is inspecting the fake Koran.

Physical and mental intensity are what contemporaries remember about Kamal. Like Said Ramadan, he wasn't tall or imposing, but people always remarked on his presence -- the power that he radiated. He was about five foot eight and slender but strong. Until his thirties he had red hair that flamed from his head; he wore it trimmed so short, his head looked shaved. He eventually went bald, which made him even more intense-looking. His face was set off by a small mustache, his skull stood out prominently beneath his taut skin, and his eyes burned like the tips of two hot pokers. On his right cheek was a small V-shaped scar. He appeared timeless and hardly seemed to age through his thirties into his seventies.

Kamal brooked no opposition, not even within his family. A disciplinarian, he matter-of-factly told his children that he had killed people, including a mullah who had opposed him. His daughter, Tura, thought this was a boast or exaggeration, but she came to believe him after she left home and talked to people who knew him. "He definitely killed people." Tura Kamal-Haller said. "I thought maybe he was just telling me stories because this seems so foreign to us in our lives here. But others told me the same thing."

Whatever he had been writing in China, Kamal came back to the United States brimming with ideas. Over a four-year span he published three books. Curiously, for a man who had started out with romantic ideas of Turkestan and his ethnic heritage, he produced commercial books and signed them with mainstream publishers such as Doubleday and Random House. The works have little in common. One novel describes Greek immigrant sponge divers in Tarpon Springs, Florida; another book is a memoir about a dog. The third, The Excommunicated, is a romantic thriller set in Shanghai, co-written with Charles G. Booth, a British author who had lived for years in California, writing hard-boiled fiction and screenplays. The reviews were favorable, and screenwriting jobs were coming Kamal's way. His writing career was blossoming -- and then it stopped. The 1950 publication of The Excommunicated marked the end of Kamal's popular writing career. As far as the mainstream public was concerned, he disappeared.

In fact, just two years later he produced another book, one that holds a clue to Kamal's intelligence career. The Sacred Journey was initially published in Arabic. In this book Kamal tried to describe a Hajj as accurately and undogmatically as possible. The book did not appear in English until 1961. The delay seems strange, especially because in 1953, Kamal had announced in the Saturday Evening Post that he was writing a book on Mecca. Perhaps it has to do with the book's tone. Kamal's earlier works were adventure stories. The Sacred Journey is almost anthropological in its painstaking commitment to accuracy, giving a day-by-day account of a typical pilgrimage to Mecca. Compared to his other books, it is extremely boring, a dry recitation of facts. It cannot have excited many New York editors and indeed was published by a relatively small house.

In Kamal's note to the English edition, he says he wrote the manuscript while living in Bandung, the Indonesian city that would host the famous conference in 1955. A Jami'at brochure claimed that the group used Jakarta as a base for aiding revolutionaries. That could have been true; Kamal might instead have been observing Islamist groups, perhaps for U.S. intelligence. Before he left the United States, he told a friend he was going there to work for the U.S. government. His FBI file also records a debt of $1,877.40 that he owed the U.S. embassy in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta for money the government had advanced him for moving costs. He was clearly cooperating with U.S. officials before he left home.

This was the view of West German intelligence. Von Mende's files from 1955 contain a report on Indonesia. At the time, the young country was a battleground where pro- and anticommunist parties competed for influence. The anticommunists consisted of an Islamic blocked by a former government minister, who used money he kept in Swiss banks to finance acts of sabotage against supporters of the communists. The minister's overseas contact man, according to the Germans, was Kamal. The report states that Kamal suffered two assassination attempts in Jakarta and fled to Barcelona.

Interestingly, the German report says Kamal rejected an offer to work directly with the CIA because he considered the agency tainted by the infiltration of many Soviet agents. Then the U.S. government made another overture, asking Kamal to work directly for Vice President Richard Nixon, who also headed the National Security Council. Kamal accepted this position, according to the Germans. While this development might seem far-fetched, the NSC oversaw intelligence and psychological warfare through the Psychological Strategy Board and its successor, the Operations Coordinating Board. It's possible that the intelligence report simplified the chain of command, putting Kamal directly under Nixon. Although the archives of both bodies contain nothing on Kamal, this is not unusual -- agents' names are typically excised from all documents, even those approved for declassification. Kamal certainly was pursuing U.S. objectives in Indonesia. Besides helping the anticommunist insurgents, he used his influence in the government to try to cancel the Bandung Conference, according to the West German report. He showed up in Bandung during the event but stayed for only twenty-four hours because of security concerns.

By then, Kamal was living in Franco's Spain. His family learned Spanish and his son took music lessons from the celebrated Spanish guitarist Andres Segovia. Spain might seem an odd choice for a place to live, but U.S. intelligence had extensive contacts there -- Radio Liberty, for example, had situated a large transmitter in Spain. Likewise, Kamal used it as a safe base. His goal: support for the uprisings across the Mediterranean in North Africa and the Muslims of Munich. To accomplish this, he needed to recruit a loyal lieutenant.


Touhami Louahala grew up in a large Algerian family. His father sent him to work when he was fourteen. Good with numbers, he won a small scholarship to study aircraft design in France in 1949. There, he began to associate with other Algerian students and realized he had to help in the effort to rid his homeland of French colonial rule. He began to work as a courier, driving to Sweden to pick up propaganda material from the Algerian resistance group FLN. In 1956, he took a shortcut on his way back down to Marseille and drove through Switzerland. Swiss border police were waiting for him and he was thrown in jail.

Help soon came -- from Ahmad Kamal. After hearing from others in the FLN that Louahala had been arrested, Kamal arranged for a lawyer to represent him. This legal counsel successfully cast Louahala as a victim of an overzealous Swiss attorney general (who later committed suicide in response to allegations that he had fed information on Egyptian and Algerian spies to France). On January 1, 1957, Louahala was freed and flown straight to Libya, again courtesy of Kamal.

"We couldn't communicate because he didn't speak much French or Arabic, and I didn't speak English," said Louahala in an interview at his home outside the French city of Montelimar. "So he said, 'Look, Touhami, if we're going to communicate, you must learn English.'"

Kamal got Louahala a Libyan passport and then sent him to London to learn English. Louahala would have been at a loss in a foreign city, unable to speak the language, but Kamal had thought of that too. He flew over his Jami'at representative in Washington, James Price, to help Louahala get organized. The two spent a couple of days setting up bank accounts, renting an apartment, and registering Louahala for classes. Price even took him to Marks & Spencer to buy him a suit and an umbrella. Over time Kamal tutored Louahala in how to run an organization. "He was very strict but he was diplomatic. He wouldn't shout, but you would know what to do. He was like that."

Kamal liked good scotch and red wine. Louahala drank alcohol too, defending this behavior through his own interpretation of the Koran: it says that you cannot pray when your thinking is impaired, but not that you should abstain completely. The men shared this take on a typical prohibition of their faith, and over time Kamal became a mentor to Louahala. The younger man made his children get up at 6 A.M. and repeat Arabic, English, and Spanish phrases in a rote drill for an hour before school because this is how he remembers Kamal teaching his children in Madrid. Louahala became one of Kamal's most trusted officers. He was sent to Italy, Lebanon, Vienna, and then Munich. He is cagey about what he did. In Lebanon he claims he oversaw a sewing class, whose proceeds went to help refugees in Algeria.

A French journalist of that era saw it otherwise. Serge Bromberger, a correspondent for the French newspaper Le Figaro and the author of the 1958 book Les rebelles algeriens, wrote that Jami'at was a cover for funding insurgencies from Indonesia to Algeria. When France and Britain invaded Egypt in 1956, Bromberger wrote, Egypt was unable to supply the FLN with arms. Jami'at then stepped in and began sending weapons -- hence, perhaps, the sewing classes worked as a cover for gun running. Certainly this scenario fits the overall time frame and Kamal's ongoing agitation on behalf of Muslims. It also wasn't incompatible with U.S. aims; many in Washington thought France should leave Algeria and probably wouldn't have cared too much if Kamal was aiding the FLN. The problem with Bromberger is accuracy. He confuses Jami'at with the much more famous Pakistani group of a similar name. And none of his assertions are proven -- as a reviewer in 1959 put it, "It is difficult always to be sure what is fact and what is fiction."

Louahala categorically denies that Jami'at sent weapons to Algeria. But he does not rule out the possibility that Kamal's money was used for weapons. "He did not raise money directly for guns. He raised it for humanitarian purposes. It was sent there and ..." Louahala shrugged his shoulders. As for the CIA, Louahala stated that the agency was fully aware of Jami'at's actions. "The CIA had him [Kamal] in their sights." Louahala said.

I asked him about Kamal's reaction.

"He did something very smart. He asked a CIA agent to work for him."

Who was that?

"That was Mr. James Price."

The person who had flown over to London to help him? A CIA man was working for Kamal?

"Yes, he worked for them. But this meant nothing to Kamal. He said, 'You can see what we do. We have nothing to hide. You can send someone to work with us and see everything. Everything. See what we are doing and inform your superiors. Then you will know we are not hiding anything.'"

That is one possibility. Another is that Kamal was already working closely with the CIA, and Price was his handler. Price later worked for the Library of Congress, where he authored a favorable report on Radio Liberty after its CIA connections had been exposed. It's clear he had a close relationship with officials in Munich -- Amcomlib staff expressed relief when they heard that Price was authoring the report, and archival material shows that he discussed it with them in letters before it was released. But the larger issues are harder to confirm: the CIA refuses to release information on Jami'at, citing the blanket "national security" exemption to the Freedom of Information Act. Price is still alive but refused several requests for an interview.


Louahala arrived in Munich just as pro- French terrorists were targeting West German businessmen for selling weapons to Algerian rebels. On October 17, 1960, the Munich businessman Wilhelm Beisner stepped into his car, turned the ignition, and was almost blown through the roof. A bomb wired to the ignition had detonated, severing his legs and injuring passers-by. Miraculously, Beisner did not die, but a message had been sent: West German businessmen should stop selling weapons to anti-French Muslim insurgents in North Africa. Beisner was one of West Germany's most notorious arms dealers, a former high-ranking Nazi who US. diplomats believed was now delivering materiel to North African insurgents. Louahala says he had nothing to do with exporting weapons. He was there, he says, to replace Jami'at's local representative, Ahmet Balagija, who had allegedly been telling the Germans that Jami'at was a front for covert activities.

Over the next year, Kamal's group began to act more and more unpredictably. In 1961, Jami'at pulled out of Jordan, stating in a newsletter that the kingdom had banned the group because its members had cooperated with Jewish charities. This explanation does not ring true because US. government files show no other US. charity being banned in Jordan. Instead, Kamal might have been pushed out because of his work on behalf of Palestinian nationalists. In several of his writings, Kamal emphasized that he was aiding Palestinians. This would have worried Jordan, which had plans to annex the West Bank and wouldn't look favorably on a group pushing Palestinian rights. Kamal also had close ties to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. He asked him to write an endorsement of The Sacred Journey and had hired a person with close ties to the Mufti, Mahmoud K. Muftic, who von Mende thought was the Mufti's man in Germany. These are far more convincing explanations for Jami'at's troubles than any ties with Jewish groups.

Then, in late 1961, Jami'at issued an angry letter "To All Members." It said that over the past few years, Jami'at had been cautious and measured in its approach, especially toward churches. But Western religious groups had spurned Jami'at. "The conditions force Jami'at al Islam-International to admit that all in all its restraint was a mistake." Jami'at's board had met on October 17 in the New York Sheraton, the letter said, and Kamal had decided "that JAI has withdrawn its declaration to refrain from extreme methods." The group also warned Western authorities to change their tactics or lose the support of the Muslim people. The next day, Jami'at announced that Balagija had been fired "for cause," effective immediately.

From the ordinary Bavarian bureaucrats' point of view, Jami'at's actions were incomprehensible. Because Balagija had been so active, everyone believed that Jami'at was running the mosque project. His barrage of letters, visits, and media activity made the Bavarians think they were dealing with a major Muslim organization and not a one-man front operation. The Germans trusted Balagija, a former soldier in one of the Muslim units in World War II. The officials were right to wonder about Jami'at's actions; Balagija's firing coincided with Jami'at's disintegration.

Perhaps trying to rein Kamal in -- or perhaps by coincidence -- Washington ordered an audit of Jami'at's management of the escapee program. The group had charged the cost of its brochures and grandiloquent histories to the U.S. Escapee Program and now had to pay it back, as well as half the salary of the European director and money used for administrative costs that didn't have to do with refugees.

Concerned officials in Munich were kept apprised of the situation and finally asked von Mende for help. He called Balagija and his successor up to Dusseldorf individually. The successor made vague charges that Balagija had been corrupt. Balagija said that Jami'at had claimed a caseload of four thousand refugees to milk money out of the U.S. Escapee Program, whereas in fact, Jami'at had handled only four hundred. Balagija also warned Bavarian officials to stop funding Jami'at "because the group will only use this money for the purposes of its propaganda, including anti- Christian." Von Mende wrote a memo saying that Balagija probably had been fired because he was more loyal to the Germans than to the Americans. As if to underscore that point, he wrote another letter a few days later saying Balagija was going to open a small restaurant for Muslims and was willing to cooperate with West German officials in providing information.

In March 1962, Jami'at made another strange announcement: just two years after the organization had arrived in Germany, it was leaving and would change its focus to sub-Saharan Africa. Effective immediately, Jami'at was closing all offices and advised that any correspondence should be sent to San Francisco. German and U.S. officials were relieved. "I think," wrote the Council of Voluntary Agencies to its German counterpart, "that we've been spared a common worry." But Jami'at didn't move to Africa; it vanished. Louahala returned to Algeria to join the FLN government. A few years later, Kamal would move back to California to continue his covert work. In 1969, he offered the Burmese opposition leader U Nu $2 million if he would depose the country's dictator, Ne Win.

It's hard to know what to make of this strange episode. Kamal probably believed in his messianic description of Jami'at and his role as a savior to the Muslims; he likely felt that taking U.S.money was just a means of helping his people. Perhaps when his actions became too erratic -- agitating on the West Bank or sending too many weapons to Algeria -- the United States pulled the plug. Yet it's also true that he didn't stop collaborating with U.S. intelligence and that in some way he helped the United States by running interference for Ramadan. Kamal might simply have been an insurance policy in Munich -- a fallback plan in case Ramadan didn't work out -- but by 1961 he either was no longer necessary or was simply out of control. In any case, the project ended and JAI vanished.

With one American down, the West Germans received more good news. Balagija wrote to von Mende, telling him that the soldiers were fed up with Ramadan and wanted to elect as mosque head Ali Kantemir, an old, widely respected fighter from the North Caucasus and a von Mende loyalist. He could unite the factions and get the mosque built. Ramadan's plans for a grandiose mosque would be scrapped and a smaller, more affordable prayer room would be built instead. The Germans were thrilled. Finally, it seemed that Ramadan and the Americans could be stopped.
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Re: A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:07 pm


SAID RAMADAN HAD NO serious competitors in the fight for control of Munich's mosque project. Men like Ali Kantemir might have been respected in their communities, but they had been broken by World War II. Kantemir was almost blind and got by on a few hundred marks per month, which he earned by editing Amcomlib's Arabic Review. Ramadan, by contrast, was jetting around the globe, helping to lead an Islamic revolution.

"Dear Professor Kegel," he wrote in July 1960, "I am just back from Saudi Arabia and East Africa. It was a very interesting trip indeed. In Somalia, I attended the quiet birth of its Republic and was happy to see my old Somalian friends of exile back at constructive work in their homeland. One of them has already become first president of the Republic and another one already has been the leader of the Opposition." Ramadan returned to Europe just long enough to find a publisher for his book and then was off on a Hajj; next he journeyed back to Europe for a short time before finding his way to Turkey and Pakistan.

During one stop in Europe in 1960, Ramadan addressed the Mosque Construction Commission, telling of his fund-raising success. He had had a personal audience with the Saudi ruler, King Ibn Saud, who had promised a large sum for the mosque. So had King Hussein of Jordan and businessmen in Libya and Turkey. Ramadan told the commission that he had set up "branches" for its work in Mecca, Medina, Jeddah, and Beirut -- probably he had appointed honorary consuls who would collect money for the project. The members of the mosque commission were stunned and thanked him profusely.

Some, however, were worried. Hassan Kassajep, an old battalion commander from the 162nd (Turkestani) Infantry Division, spoke up. He had married, started a family, and was now a carpet dealer. He had taken the job as the commission's manager simply because he wanted a mosque. He wasn't so sure about kings and princes or secret political affiliations. Like other commission members, he hadn't even realized that Ramadan had gone to the Middle East. Kassajep asked how the two had paid for the trip. Ramadan's answer was that the mosque project had "branch" offices in various countries, which had financed it. This answer implies that the project had something of a wide following in the Muslim world, perhaps among the Brotherhood's followers. Kassajep warned that the group shouldn't get too political. "Our task is to build a mosque in Munich," Kassajep said at the meeting, "but not to get involved at all politically."

These concerns brewed throughout the year as Ramadan continued his high-profile tactics, flying here and there, speaking at conferences and attacking communism -- all in the name of the Mosque Construction Commission and Germany's Muslims. Kassajep and Namangani wrote to the Bavarian social-affairs ministry, asking that it help guide the commission back to its original goal. But it was just at this time that the Bavarians were overwhelmed by Jami'at's sudden arrival. Kassajep and Namangani's letters apparently went unanswered. The situation festered into 1961.In February, Kassajep met with Bavarian officials and said Ramadan was a problem for a number of reasons. Because of his political activities, Ramadan was persona non grata in many Arab countries. Even though he was a star of the Islamist scene, he couldn't actually raise money, Kassajep said, and the money promised during the previous year's Hajj hadn't materialized. In fact, the Mosque Construction Commission had only 78,890 marks (about $145,000 in 2008 money) in the bank, and the total project was estimated at 1.2 million marks ($2.2 million). Kassajep said he hoped Ramadan would be replaced.

It was around this time, in 1961, that Dreher sent Ramadan to meet von Mende and that von Mende considered breaking into Ramadan's office. Von Mende's BND contact had talked him out of this plan, but turmoil in von Mende's office also probably played a role in his abandonment of the idea. His plan had called for Hayit to break in, but Hayit and von Mende's other star agent, Kayum, were at loggerheads. Kayum started the trouble by visiting Hayit at his home in Cologne and telling him that he knew all about his work for the West German government. Hayit ran to von Mende, who wrote to his contact at the BND, expressing his concern that Kayum was aware of the arrangement. (Interestingly, von Mende did not dispute that Hayit worked for the BND.)

Salary was another concern for the skimpily funded von Mende -- another sign of the West Germans' inability to compete with the Amcomlib juggernaut. Hayit complained to von Mende that his skills were unappreciated even though he had been working for the Germans since his stint in the Zeppelin unit, which was a group of Soviet minorities who had collaborated with the Germans beginning in 1942. West Germany had plenty of money but spent too little of it on Muslims, he wrote, adding, "And then we demand that these Muslims remains [sic] friends. Paradox!" Kayum too was constantly writing to von Mende about money woes. In 1961,von Mende gave him a monthly salary of 450 marks "in recognition of his earlier services for Germany."

Von Mende finally got Kayum and Hayit to work on a report about Ramadan. Presciently, they focused on Ramadan's right-hand man, Ghaleb Himmat, who would later head the mosque for thirty years and transform it into a national network and a center of international Islamism. His influence was evident in the early 1960s, but only to a sharp observer. It had been Himmat's idea, while a student, to invite Ramadan to Munich to take over the mosque project from von Mende and the soldiers. He was now treasurer of the Mosque Construction Commission and had accompanied Ramadan on his big fund-raising trip to the Middle East. By mid-1961, he was setting up Ramadan's appointments with Bavarian officials during his trips from Geneva. He was constantly at his side and filled in for Ramadan when he was away. Kayum and Hayit wrote in their report to von Mende that Himmat distributed a procommunist Lebanese newspaper, Al-Mujtamah, implying that Himmat had procommunist sympathies. It is unclear if this is true, but it was an early sign that Himmat had his own international ties and interests.

Even though von Mende's operation was puny compared to Amcomlib, he did have influence in the West German bureaucracy. Bavarian social-affairs officials started to ask Ramadan tough questions, reflecting the ex-soldiers' concerns. In one meeting, they asked Ramadan how much money he really had raised. Ramadan repeated the figure of one million marks but refused to say who had pledged it. When the officials suggested to Ramadan that he was the problem -- polarizing the group while not actually raising any money -- he wrote back offering to resign. The mosque, he assured them, was not to be political.

But the mosque was already politicized. Begun by the West Germans as a political project, it was now divided internally. For over two years Arab students had been bad-mouthing the ex-soldiers; Namangani received especially sharp criticism. Finally, Namangani had had enough. On November 7, he sent Ramadan a short letter resigning as vice chairman of the Mosque Construction Commission. He said the commission was not professional enough and criticized Ramadan for not adequately explaining his fund-raising trip to the Arab world. He also said that Ramadan had threatened to sue him when he had raised this point in the past. The commission was due to meet later that month. Namangani asked Ramadan to appear and answer questions about the trip. It was to be the final showdown over control of the mosque.


After numerous delays and cancellations, the Mosque Construction Commission finally met on November 26. All thirty ex-soldiers and students who made up the commission were present. Ramadan gave a long talk justifying his controversial tenure as head of the group. Money was flowing in, he said, and the mosque was all but financed. He now identified the donor of one million marks -- it was a Saudi businessman. Along with a flurry of smaller donations, it would put them near their mark. Many of the commissioners were skeptical. Word had gotten out that Himmat had lost donation receipts during the past year's Hajj, implying that he had issued the receipts and accepted money but then claimed he had lost the receipts and not issued them. That way he could account for the missing receipts and pocket the money. Himmat replied that he had lost only a few blank receipt books. The soldiers on the commission demanded to know how Himmat and Ramadan had paid for the trip -- who was backing them?

At this, Ramadan made a savvy political move. Instead of answering any questions, he resigned and walked out. If he wasn't appreciated, then so be it. The commission held a vote on a new chairman, and the students nominated Ramadan in his absence. But this time the ex-soldiers had shown up in force. The confusion over the date of the meeting -- it had been scheduled for October, then early November -- worked against the young members of the Muslim brotherhood, who were scattered across southern Germany. Instead of winning a new mandate, as he had figured he would, Ramadan lost by two votes. In his place, the old North Caucasus soldier Ali Kantemir was elected, putting von Mende's men back in control of the mosque project. Ramadan had by then returned to the meeting, expecting to hear of his own reelection; when he saw the result, he stormed out and went to his hotel nearby. He claimed that he was a victim of "intrigues" and flew back that day to Geneva. Ramadan seemed finished: he was losing friends in the Middle East -- just the month before, Jordan had withdrawn his diplomatic passport as the country tried to patch up relations with Egypt -- and now his plans for a center in Munich with a young cadre of idealistic students seemed thwarted as well. But he was not as weak as he seemed. Kantemir had won the vote, but the commission statutes required that the chairman be elected with a two-thirds majority. Even though Ramadan hadn't rallied all the students to the meeting, he had secured enough votes to block Kantemir after all. Ramadan hadn't been aware of the discrepancy until a sharp-eyed German bureaucrat scrawled in the margin of the meeting's minutes, "No two-thirds!" Kantemir had failed to win the vote, and Ramadan was still chairman.

That effectively ended the ex-soldiers' presence on the commission. They decided they couldn't win against Ramadan. Kassajep resigned as secretary, and the soldiers refused to participate further. That left the students in control and, so it seemed, the Americans too. It was strange: the West Germans' influence on the commission ended because of a technicality caught by a West German bureaucrat. Von Mende had assiduously used the bureaucracy to bring over Namangani, create his group, and pave the way for a mosque, all in hopes of creating a core of loyal Muslims for West German political purposes. Now he had been bested by an even sharper player.

Von Mende's mistake was to rely heavily on people with a tainted past: ex-functionaries of the Ostministerium. Their former service guaranteed that they would be loyal to von Mende and the German cause, but they were badly tarnished by their Nazi-era activities and easily discredited. In the third world, Soviet propaganda labeled them Nazis, while Islamists like Ramadan looked down on their weak religious credentials. Even old Gacaoglu had landed many blows against Namangani, labeling him a Nazi marionette. That had made it easy for Ramadan to step in and dazzle with his international connections and the promise of a shiny new mosque.

The failed vote was a turning point in the history of the mosque. Dreher and the rest of his U.S. cohorts had tied themselves to Ramadan, hoping he would give the West a credible voice in the Muslim world. The mosque was meant to be his platform. To that end, U.S. intelligence reportedly had pressured Jordan to give Ramadan a passport and financed projects to raise his profile, such as the European Islam conference that Dreher had organized. Now these plans had succeeded. The Brotherhood controlled the mosque project. The question now was whether Ramadan would help his old friends or go his own way.


With the ex-soldiers gone, Ramadan moved quickly. First, he filled the position of secretary of the Mosque Construction Commission, which Kassajep had vacated, with Achmed Schmiede, a young German convert who had been publishing a magazine, Al-Islam, since 1958. Al-Islam became the commission's official organ, an important part of Ramadan's vision for creating a Muslim Brotherhood-type structure. This called for an array of institutions, not just a mosque. One was a propaganda organ, a role Al-Islam filled perfectly.

In March 1962, Ramadan united the Muslim students in Germany under an organization called the Council of Islamic Communities and Societies in Germany. The choice to use students to set up the council was typical: as with the mosque, he wasn't interested in old-fashioned Muslims like the ex-soldiers, who might indulge in the occasional drink or forget the odd prayer. Like all Islamists, he wanted to create a cadre of new and better Muslims. That meant linking up with students, who were younger, less set in their ways, and generally more impressionable. The council's meeting was held in the city of Mainz on March 17 and 18, with student groups from a dozen West German cities. About fifty representatives attended and elected Schmiede as secretary to coordinate their work. According to von Mende's sources, Ramadan financed the meeting, but that begs the question of who financed Ramadan. The records do not say. A key goal of the meeting was to criticize Ramadan's two main enemies: Nasser's Egypt and Israel. His article on Nasser must have thrilled Ramadan's U.S. backers, but it's hard to know what they made of his criticism of Israel. Ties between Washington and Tel Aviv were not as strong then as now; perhaps the agency was willing to accept Ramadan's position on Israel in order to have a strong anticommunist in its corner.

With his German base secure, Ramadan went back on the offensive internationally. In May, Ramadan and Schmiede traveled to Mecca to help launch what today is still the most important Muslim organization in the world: the Muslim World League. This was the culmination of decades of effort to unite all Muslims -- if not under a caliph as in days past, then in a worldwide body that could issue guidelines and speak for Muslims. Ramadan played an important role in the league's founding, helping to draw up the bylaws. He led the "neo-salafiya" faction at the conference -- essentially the Muslim Brotherhood's group. Its goal was to make the league more explicitly political, particularly by attacking Israel. Ramadan wore several hats at the meeting. He attended as head of the Muslim World Conference in Jerusalem, the group that he, along with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, had revived. He was also a representative of the Muslims in West Germany. Signifying how important the league's founding was, von Mende had sent Kayum there to gather information. He sent back a detailed memo on the new body but had little luck in asserting West German influence: when the meeting concluded, sixteen top Saudi officials did visit West Germany, but they came to see Ramadan, not von Mende or other government bureaucrats. Though little is known about this trip, it did show how Ramadan had internationalized the German Muslims and the mosque to a degree von Mende could not have imagined.

Ramadan's new visibility seemed good for the United States, but Washington was not likely aware of everything Ramadan was doing. Dreher, especially, seemed happy to pay for Ramadan's conferences but probably had scant knowledge of the young Islamists' activities and little idea that Ramadan was a stubbornly independent man who would not be controlled by anyone -- not by a Muslim organization, let alone a non-Muslim one. But in the short term, Ramadan's involvement in the Muslim World League helped strengthen the group's anticommunist credentials, which was exactly what Washington wanted. Although many observers at the time thought that Islam was a natural enemy of communism, it was not a foregone conclusion. Just nine days after the league was founded, for example, a rival group, the World Muslim Congress, met in Baghdad. At the time the most important Muslim group in the world, the congress's meeting was sponsored by the Iraqi leader Abdul Karim Qassim, a left-leaning military dictator who had overthrown the monarchy in 1958. Normally, because of his interest in organizing Muslims, Ramadan would have attended the conference and might even have stood for office. But Qassim was steering a pro-Soviet course, so much so that Ramadan felt it was physically dangerous for him to attend. In his place he sent his ally Mahmoud K. Muftic -- a former Bosnian SS soldier with ties to the Grand Mufti and the Deutsche Muslim Liga in Hamburg.

This was probably the most dangerous time in Ramadan's life. Nasser had proclaimed that Ramadan was a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Swiss police believed that a group of six men had been sent to Switzerland to assassinate Ramadan. Police detained some members of the group and the attempt failed, but Ramadan wasn't taking any chances. According to Swiss investigators, he asked his former assistant to buy him a concealable handgun, a Walther PPK. Fearing for his life, he didn't attend the Baghdad conference, but he was still able to help Amcomlib slip in one of its best Muslim agitators -- Garip Sultan.


Sultan had been honing his covert propaganda skills for Amcomlib back in the United States. A typical operation was a talk he gave at Philadelphia's venerable International House, a nonprofit institution founded in 1919 as a place for international scholars to congregate and share ideas. He appeared there as a Tatar scholar, reading a nineteen-page paper, "Modern Forms of Colonialism."

Sultan started by attacking colonialism, a line of thinking with which all students from the developing world could agree. But he then broadened the idea to include the Soviet Union, which had enslaved a dozen countries. The discussion was lively. A few days later, Sultan wrote a memo on it to Ike Patch, who was heading Amcomlib's "Special Projects" department in New York, since Dreher had bumped him out of Munich.

''As far as I am able to judge, the report fulfilled its objective," Sultan wrote. "Heated discussions based upon the report took place. I was left with the impression that these students, although they are studying at American universities, for some reason have adopted the Soviet viewpoint instead of the American one. Or perhaps they have no idea of the American viewpoint." Sultan was now a U.S. citizen. He had emigrated from Munich to the United States in 1957, leaving Munich without a camera-ready Muslim able to smooth over Gacaoglu's rough spots -- a crisis that in part led to Dreher's courting of Ramadan. But Sultan hadn't been completely out of the picture. He had continued to work with Amcomlib on special projects, deployed behind his own lines to fight communism on the home front. His guises were numerous and imaginative, always hewing as close to the truth as possible to create believable front organizations. During his appearance at International House, he was introduced as a fellow at the Institute for the Study of the USSR, one of Amcomlib's front operations. But he was also an authorized representative of the United Republican and Democratic Voters Club, a freelance writer for the American Federation of Labor's Trade Union Courier, and the founder of a raft of fancifully named organizations, such as the National-Liberation Revolutionary Organizations of the Islamic Peoples of the USSR and the Organization of Muslim Refugees from the Soviet Union. As head of the "Writers' Section" of the latter group, Sultan went to Cairo in 1962 to give a talk called "Soviet Asiatic Writers and the Problem of Creativity."

In a display of networking skill, Sultan finagled an invitation to the Baghdad conference by exploiting his Pakistani contacts. He wrote to Manzooruddin Ahmad at the Central Institute for the Study of Islam, asking if he would be interested in being point man for a conference on self-determination. Sultan then mailed Ahmad a $200 check from the Committee for Self-Determination, Inc., a covert propaganda organization run by Amcomlib's sister organization, the National Committee for a Free Europe. Sultan also wrote saying he'd like to attend the Baghdad conference. Ahmad answered that getting Sultan an invitation was proving tricky because the Iraqi dictator, Qassim, opposed allowing any Americans to attend. But he promised to lobby a personal friend, Inamullah Khan, the Baghdad conference's secretary general. Sultan then contacted Ramadan, who promised to ask his allies to lobby on Sultan's behalf. Qassim eventually consented, letting Sultan in as the sole U.S. representative.

Sultan made full use of the stay. He held private sessions with Muslim notables to convince them of the evils of communism, interviewed the head of the Soviet delegation, gave interviews on Baghdad television, and of course presented a talk blasting the Soviets and Chinese for their colonialist practices in Central Asia. But the situation in Baghdad was volatile, and Sultan was warned to leave. "Someone said I was to be kidnapped or assassinated." Sultan said in an interview. He left Baghdad early, but the conference remains one of the high points of his career and of U.S. deployment of Islam in the 1950s, thanks in part to Ramadan's work.


The big losers in all this were Munich's Muslims. Initially, West German officials were keen to support the mosque project -- after all, it had been von Mende's idea and carried out by his protege, the SS imam Namangani. Later, when Ramadan took charge of the project, von Mende still thought that West Germany should support it because of the positive public relations it would garner. He blamed Ramadan for problems with the commission but concluded that West Germany should go ahead with the project, secure a plot of land, and donate 100,000 marks to get it done.

But as it became obvious that von Mende's ex-soldier friends were completely cut out of the plan, West Germany's generosity evaporated. When Schmiede, Himmat, and Ramadan's other lieutenants contacted the Bavarian social-affairs ministry in 1962 for help with finding land, they were politely rejected. The social ministry had been involved, they were told, because the project had been meant for refugees. Now that refugees were no longer members of the commission, it did not need government support. West Germany guaranteed freedom of religion so the students were free to pursue their goals, but they wouldn't get state support. Rebuffing Ramadan might have felt good, but it underscored the fact that von Mende and his allies in Bavaria and Bonn had failed. A year later, Namangani reported that St. Paul's Church -- where the whole idea had begun on the snowy night after Christmas in 1958 -- no longer provided room for the ex-soldiers to use for prayer. That meant they didn't even have a prayer room, let alone a mosque.

Namangani was bitter. Four months after the blowup meeting, when Namangani and the ex-soldiers failed to dislodge Ramadan, the old SSimam finally wrote up his version of events. Someone -- perhaps von Mende, but probably the German wife of Namangani's trusty friend, Hassan Kassajep -- polished the text. It was laced with sarcastic swipes at Ramadan; for example, it said that "he clung to the Mosque Construction Commission as apparently a last hope." Despite the rhetoric, Namangani's comments were prescient, showing great insight into the actions and motives of Ramadan -- and, really, of Islamic radicals over several decades.

Namangani said Ramadan had criticized the refugees for their lack of knowledge of Islam and their thirst for alcohol. Ramadan, Namangani said, should have been more humane in trying to understand the ex-soldiers. Their ignorance wasn't surprising, considering that they came from a communist land that systematically had tried to destroy their religion. Instead of offering sympathy and gentle guidance, Ramadan had lectured Namangani on how he should behave and threatened to write a letter to the authorities pointing out his faults; he told Namangani that he had only refrained from doing so to spare the Germans' feelings over having picked such an incompetent imam. Although Ramadan had led celebrations at Muslim festivities, he pointedly disappeared when Namangani did the same. He had no respect for the older man, one of the clearest signs that his revolution wanted nothing to do with tradition. In Ramadan's view, Namangani was a reactionary, and Namangani knew something about that sort of accusation. He had been called that once before -- in the Soviet Union, when he had been thrown in the gulag for not being revolutionary enough.

"In one of his writings." Namangani wrote of Ramadan, "he declared that the Muslims studying in Germany would be the future rulers of the Muslim world and to whom we, the refugees, would do best to submit." He also said Ramadan had told him that these older men could never return to their home countries because they weren't real Muslims. If they went back, they'd just create crises. The Soviet Union was better off without them.

It is impossible, of course, to know at this juncture what Ramadan really said. These accounts reflect Namangani's perspective. But they match the recollections of Ramadan's young acolytes, who admit to having disdained the ex-soldiers. Interviews with some surviving students indicate that they had problems with the soldiers' version of Islam. Ramadan's arguments encapsulated pure Islamist thinking, in the best tradition of Sayyid Qutb or, later, Osama bin Laden. Saying the ex-soldiers didn't deserve to go back home -- that they were worse than the communists -- was in keeping with radical Islam, which holds that anyone who doesn't subscribe to fundamentalist views is an apostate and can be mistreated or killed without compunction.

As usual, blunt-speaking Gacaoglu reminded the community of its loss. The brusque, poorly educated imam, who had started West Germany's first group in support of the refugees a decade earlier, had been cut out first by the Germans for accepting American aid and then by the Americans in favor of the more polished Ramadan. He had been used by political operatives, but all along his main aim had been to help the Muslim refugees in southern Germany. Undiplomatic as ever, he laid the blame on von Mende for bringing over Namangani five years earlier.

"It is very shameful for our Society Islam when we receive calls from foreign guests asking about a prayer room, a mosque, or something similar and we must answer that it doesn't exist. The Federal Republic is trying to make reparations for damages that the German people caused in the Second World War. Why is it precisely the Islamic refugees, who lost everything in the last war, who are being so neglected?"
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Re: A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:08 pm


IT WAS MIDNIGHT, and the party celebrating Bob Dreher's forty-fifth birthday was coming to an end. Several dozen friends and colleagues had danced and drunk for a few hours. Then Dreher's old nudist-colony buddy, Karin West, stood up and began to recite a bit of doggerel she had written for the occasion.

Much beloved Bobby Dreher
We're so sad and turning grayer
'Cause you want to go back home
An leave us here to cry and moan.

It was at this point that most people realized that the gathering was also a farewell party. After four years in Munich as head of emigre relations, Dreher had decided to call it quits and go back to "headquarters" -- the CIA in Washington. He preferred the lifestyle in Munich. He loved the city, the people, and his annual ritual of growing a beard for carnival. But his tour was up.

Your job was always weird;
It let you wear a beard.
From left to right you'd look and blink
And laugh so secret like the Sphinx.
In the desert of frustrations
Lost in those Far-Eastern nations:
BaIts, Caucasians, and Tatars,
Ukrainians, Russians, and Adschars,
Kyrgyz, Turks, and those Tungus,
Krassavitsi who seduce,
Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists,
Princes, dancers, maybe nudists.

Various emigres stood up to thank Dreher. Most were from the old crowd -- the Soviet exiles who worked at Radio Liberty. Ramadan and Dreher's new Muslims probably wouldn't have felt at home at such a fete. Eventually Dreher tried to find the right words, using his clumsy German. "I think that we are all people with the same goal." The audience groaned. A Georgian duke interjected with a laugh, "I didn't want it to get political!"

From all nations so exotic,
Even some quite idiotic.
All came to pay respect to you
Because the bucks came only through
Your cornucopian operations:
Director, Emigre Relations!
Others were just like us,
Wanting nothing but to trust.
We wondered quietly from afar:
What's he doing, our blazing star?
What is it that he'd convey,
Our little Bobby from the U.S.A.?

It was a question many of Dreher's colleagues had wondered about. Unlike his predecessor, Ike Patch, Dreher had cultivated new groups as part of a more aggressive strategy. The Muslim students and Ramadan -- all had been supported in ways unimaginable a few years earlier. Only weeks before the farewell party on December 16, 1961, Ramadan had survived von Mende's ex-soldiers' attempted takeover and was now the unchallenged head of the Mosque Construction Commission. That was in some measure due to Dreher's help: he had financed Ramadan's conferences and backed him, creating a platform for the Egyptian Islamist in Europe while also enlisting the support of former German collaborators, such as the Caucasian leader Magoma and the old Dagestani leader Said Shamil. In the past, the United States had tried to recruit von Mende to run the emigres, but Dreher had essentially brushed von Mende aside. And then there was Dreher's probable role in helping Ramadan get settled in Europe -- his visa, for example. That showed initiative and energy -- exactly what one would have expected from Bob Dreher, the cold warrior, the veteran of Odessa and Moscow, the CIA man eager to shake up the wannabe radio journalists in Munich.

Yet what had all this accomplished for America? Dreher had clearly won over an important ally. In terms of fighting communism, the Muslim Brotherhood and the United States were on the same page. In late 1961, for example, Ramadan sent a letter to Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a key adviser to the newly elected president, John F. Kennedy. "When the enemy is armed with a totalitarian ideology and served by regiments of devoted believers, those with opposing policies must compete at the popular level of action," Ramadan wrote Schlesinger, "and the essence of their tactics must be counter- faith and counter-devotion. Only popular forces, genuinely involved and genuinely reacting on their own behalf, can meet the infiltrating threat of Communism." The letter was most likely a request to the new Kennedy administration to continue the strategic partnership between the United States and Islamists like Ramadan.

But the events unfolding in Munich cast doubt on the value of such an alliance. Ramadan was now in charge of the mosque project, but he was operating independently of the United States. The Germans and the Americans had the same idea: control the mosque, control the local Muslims, and then use them to fight communism. The local Muslims were still in Munich and to that extent could still be used for covert propaganda purposes, but Ramadan was not going to be their leader on the world stage. It seems that Ramadan hadn't cared about uniting Muslims to fight communism, as the Americans had intended. The CIA analysis from 1953 put it best: he was mostly interested in grouping people around him for power -- power that he wanted to use to spread the Muslim Brotherhood's vision of Islam. He pushed aside those who didn't help him achieve this goal. Most of the Muslims in Munich were useless to him. They were old ex-soldiers with limited religious knowledge. More important, they were mature men, too worldly, too focused on their homelands, and too stubborn. Ramadan wanted a cadre of impressionable young men to spread his world revolution. He was leading a new movement, one that sought to heal the world's problems through religion. No wonder he didn't unite Munich's Muslims; that had been the furthest thing from his mind. He didn't want an umbrella group; he wanted a cell.

The Americans, meanwhile, were pulling back. Amcomlib decided not to replace Dreher. Instead, his new deputy, Will Klump, would keep up the payments to the old emigre groups but would cultivate no new talent and lose contact with Ramadan, who was focused on the Brotherhood. The Americans in Munich were of no more use to him, and no one there took the initiative to rekindle the relationship. Ramadan's letter to Schlesinger went unanswered. The emigre relations department would eventually be disbanded, and Amcomlib would make a symbolic but telling change. In 1964, like so many times in the past, it would be renamed: the Radio Liberty Committee. From then on, its emphasis would be broadcasting. Later, when the CIA'srole in the organization was exposed in the early 1970s, Radio Liberty was separated from the CIA and merged with its sister radio station, Radio Free Europe. The two stations were put under the supervision of the Board for International Broadcasting, which in turn was run by the State Department.

Symbolic of Americas changing priorities, Dreher was deployed to Vietnam. There, he helped the South Vietnamese run covert radio stations as part of the clandestine CIA-backed special forces unit, the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, Studies and Observation Group. Dreher worked in the unit's covert propaganda unit, serving one tour. As in Munich, Dreher seemed out of touch with his surroundings and unaware of the impact of his work. He spoke no Vietnamese and had no idea of what was being broadcast. He was stationed there as an adviser, helping to channel millions of dollars into an effort he didn't understand.

In 1972 Dreher retired at age fifty-six, after more than thirty years in government service. He kept his stunning apartment in Virginia, with its distant view of the Capitol. His trips overseas stopped, a phase of his life that had dwindled away. He died in 2004 at a nursing home from complications related to a fall.


In September 1962, the Middle East Institute in Washington held a star-studded meeting on Islam in the Soviet Union. This field of study, once obscure, was growing in importance. Held at the luxurious Statler Hilton, the event was partly financed by the State Department and was meant to "open the door to the study of Central Asia" in the United States. Everyone important in the field was there -- Sultan, Hayit, and key academics from around the world. Everyone except Gerhard von Mende.

"I myself didn't receive an invitation, presumably for the reasons that you told me." von Mende wrote to Sultan, hoping he could use his Amcomlib contacts to get an invitation. "On the other hand, Herr Dr. Hayit was invited, who is an employee of Research Service East Europe, which I, as an allegedly big Nazi, run ... I find this course of action at least unfair."

Fair or not, it marked the beginning of a new era, one in which it was increasingly difficult to overlook the strong Nazi sympathies of someone like von Mende. Adolf Eichmann, one of the architects of the Holocaust, had just been executed in Jerusalem, and Raul Hilberg had recently published his pathbreaking book The Destruction of the European Jews. In the 1940s and '50s, the Holocaust had been an almost taboo topic -- a strange embarrassment that most people ignored or chose to forget. Now it had become a serious field of study and people were becoming aware of who had participated. "He was known as a Nazi and definitely that's why he wasn't invited," recalled Richard Pipes, then a young Harvard professor who helped organize the conference. "His reputation was pretty clear."

Von Mende was increasingly cut out of the mosque project as well. He now had no contacts in the Mosque Construction Commission. In early 1963,the ex-soldiers announced their withdrawal from the group, formalizing what had been a fact for over a year. Ramadan, meanwhile, moved forward. Underscoring his broader ambitions for the group, he changed its name from the Mosque Construction Commission to the Islamic Community of Southern Germany.

In 1963, von Mende suffered another loss. Ali Kantemir, the seventy-five-year-old leader from the Caucasus who had been put up as a candidate against Ramadan and had lost by a few votes, died. For years, von Mende had been helping the half-blind leader. Now he sent a note to his intelligence contacts, asking them to help erase traces of this assistance. "Mr. Alichan Kantemir, with whom I was personally befriended, worked for several years with German agencies and for this was also financed by the German side. Therefore in my view a direct German interest exists to obtain and search through the part of his estate that touches on this cooperation."

Von Mende's impotence was underscored by a query about Turkish "guest workers," or Gastarbeiter. Since the 1960s, West Germany's booming economy had been attracting foreign laborers. Now, with their numbers rising, one of von Mende's intelligence contacts was writing to ask about their potential for unrest. It was an ironic question: for years, von Mende had been formulating grand strategies to use Islam without having many Muslims at his disposal. Now numerous Muslims were arriving in West Germany, but he had lost control of the mosque, the instrument that would allow him to influence them. Von Mende tried to establish new contacts. Hayit infiltrated a Muslim student group in Cologne, and von Mende began channeling money there. But he was working on the periphery. Ramadan had won.

The Stasi seemed to take note of von Mende's marginalization. On January 16, 1962, its agents stopped Operation Asiatische Emigration, their seven-year surveillance of von Mende's organization. Perhaps the Stasi was satisfied at taking down von Mende's old boss, Theodor Oberlander; maybe the organization had simply gotten enough mileage out of bashing the Ostministerium group. In any case, von Mende was no longer important. Even his own government had changing priorities. West Germany was hoping to improve relations with the East -- the first seeds of detente. Hayit would be sent to another congress, this time in Delhi, but the West German Foreign Office told him to tone down the rhetoric. A few years earlier, such instructions would have been unthinkable.

Von Mende's nerves began to act up. He had suffered a serious stroke in 1956 and his doctor had ordered him to stop smoking. In 1963 he took it up again. The strain of running what was essentially a two-man show -- himself and Hayit -- was taking its toll. On a Monday in mid-December, von Mende was in his office overlooking the Rhine, reading one of the many intelligence reports that came across his desk. This one was a summary of recent events in the Soviet Union. With the file open before him on his desk, he suffered a massive heart attack and died immediately.


As an intelligence entrepreneur, von Mende didn't fit the usual paradigms. He didn't work for West Germany's foreign intelligence service, the BND, or its domestic counterpart, the Office for Protection of the Constitution. Instead, he had money coming from all sides. The Office for Protection of the Constitution funded him, but so did West Germany's Foreign Office. His operation was more akin to a typical German Mittelstand company -- such midsize family businesses formed the backbone of the West German economy. His office was located just downstairs from his apartment. His wife, Karo, played a big role in his work, especially when it came to dealing with the English-speaking world or the all-important socializing with the traditional folk of the Soviet Union. His children helped with clerical work.

The foreign ministry agreed to pick up the tab for von Mende's funeral "in consideration of the great service that the deceased gave as head of the Office for Homeless Foreigners and the Research Service Eastern Europe." But the ministry required one condition: "It is requested to treat this affair confidentially and to take special care that the Foreign Office does not appear publicly as financial backer."

Finding a successor to von Mende proved tricky. The federal government considered his old BND contact, Siegfried Ungermann, but this possibility was rejected as too complicated to organize -- von Mende's institution was supposed to give the appearance of being independent of the government, and Ungermann had been a civil servant. Many emigre groups lobbied for Ungermann -- or indeed anyone -- to replace von Mende. Eventually, the government decided to close the operation.

That precipitated an ugly scene: it turned out that von Mende's children had been on the payroll, and now they demanded compensation. His son also claimed that family goods had been taken from the office. Later, his wife asked if she could use the name Research Service Eastern Europe -- apparently she wanted to keep the organization going as a family business. The foreign ministry said no. Even von Mende's files were subject to dispute. Nearly a year after he died, the papers remained in unsecured filing cabinets in his grand office overlooking the Rhine. Officials worried that the mass of papers, most of them marked Geheim, "secret." would fall into enemy hands.

His children kept his personal papers, even though many were related to work. Von Mende's working papers, about one hundred thick binders in all, ended up not in the intelligence services' archives - where, like CIA files, they would have been kept under lock and key, if not outright destroyed. Instead, after complicated bureaucratic wrangling, they ended up with the German Foreign Office. After a few decades they were declassified and are now part of the public record.


With Dreher's departure and von Mende's death, the two western competitors had exited the stage. U.S. interests had shifted elsewhere -- especially to Vietnam. Its interest in Islam as a Cold War weapon would not be revived until fifteen years later, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Then, the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment would commission the Rand Corporation to write a report on von Mende's use of Muslims. An enterprising research fellow named Alex Alexiev wrote about the Ostministerium in a classified report. He pointed out the obvious implications for the United States as it embarked on arming Soviet Muslims against Moscow. "This study should be of interest to military and strategic planners who are beginning to address the Soviet nationality issue in a strategic perspective," the report stated. Alexiev recounted the story of the Ostministerium and how the Germans had been effective in exploiting the Soviet Union's ethnic divisions. Since many of these ethnic groups formed part of the Soviet army that had just invaded Afghanistan, the United States had a chance to repeat the Germans' tactics and avoid their mistakes. He also noted that many of these Muslim ethnic groups were also living in Afghanistan, giving them a potent reason to fight Moscow.

Alexiev's study was part of a larger discussion that led to the arming of Muslim holy warriors to fight the Soviets. It was very similar to the Germans' pioneering use of them; the Germans had cultivated the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, set up imam-training schools, and tried to appoint religious leaders in Soviet Muslim areas, all with an eye toward motivating Muslim troops to fight. On another level, Washington had an even clearer precedent for its support of Afghani holy warriors -- its support of the Mufti's allies, the Muslim Brotherhood. In backing Said Ramadan, Washington had allied itself with the ur-Islamist group, the inspiration for the holy warriors in Afghanistan who would become known as the mujahideen. Lacking access to the CIA files, we can't draw a causal link between Munich and Afghanistan, but it is probable that the earlier use of the Muslim Brotherhood made it easier for U.S. intelligence to arm the Afghanis. When that support ran its course two decades later after the 9/11 attacks, most would look to Afghanistan for the historical basis of that assault. That was not incorrect -- but few realized that its prototype was Munich.

West Germany was already moving toward rapprochement with the eastern bloc, and its officials had little use for Muslims. Von Mende's death effectively ended West German surveillance of radical Islamic groups until the 1990s, when the rise of Al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism caused united Germany's domestic intelligence to refocus on those groups. Only then did the Munich mosque and its Arab students -- now adults -- again come under scrutiny.

But one group was left onstage: the Muslim Brotherhood. Its members did not lose interest or focus. They grasped the small foothold prepared for them by West German and U.S. intelligence. Quietly, they turned the Munich mosque into a beachhead for expansion into the Western world.
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Re: A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:09 pm


To solve the labyrinthine quest
I spun out the thread guiding me best:
Did you feel the sense in the tale I told,
That I'm not just one but doubled-souled?


ON AUGUST 24, 1973, it finally happened: a muezzin stood inside the bright new Islamic Center of Munich and issued a call to prayer. It was the first documented call to prayer inside a mosque in Bavarian history, and the mosque itself was just the sixth in all of West Germany. It stood bright and modern, a three-million-mark ($5 million in 2009 terms) structure in the pan-Islamic style: a dazzlingly slender us-foot minaret crowned with a golden half-moon. A spiral staircase wound up to the muezzins balcony, although this was just a symbolic piece of architecture; the Muslims didn't want to irritate their German neighbors with public calls to prayer. The prayer room was lodged inside an oval structure -- nicknamed the "atomic egg" -- made of steel-reinforced concrete and covered with cobalt and azure tiles. Nestled inside were meeting rooms, offices, and a library. It was the work of a Turkish-German architect, who had labored long to design something appealing but affordable.

About two hundred dignitaries and diplomats attended the opening, including many of the once-young students who had seized control of the project fifteen years earlier. But for anyone who had followed the history of the mosque, the scene presented a strange anomaly. When it came time for the head of the mosque to present the chief benefactor with a golden key, it wasn't Said Ramadan who picked up the Saffian leather case and handed it to a sheikh from afar. Instead, a Pakistani student did the honors. Ramadan wasn't just absent. He had left the project in disgust and was about to be expelled from the commission.


Ramadan's power had peaked eleven years earlier, when he helped set up the Muslim World League. He had worked tirelessly for decades to unite Muslims around the world in a common cause. With the league's foundation, he had succeeded in setting up a lasting institution. Ramadan was so influential at the decisive meeting that, according to one account, he personally handed King Saud the official proposal to found the league.

Ramadan had wanted to end national boundaries and allow Islam to rule supreme. But, as the founding ceremony revealed, the Saudis dominated the league from the start. The kingdom controlled all the top posts and funded the group. Many in the Muslim Brotherhood made their peace with the Saudis. The kingdom was the site of Islam's holiest places. The country was rich, so it could support almost any endeavor, from libraries and schools to training centers and an international missionary movement. Moreover, the ruling house supported a conservative strain of Islam that in some ways was similar to the Brotherhood's. Many members of the Brotherhood who were persecuted at home found refuge in Saudi Arabia. Almost all accepted Saudi money. Ramadan, however, stubbornly held out, determined to remain independent even as the Saudis pushed him hard. In 1963, the Muslim World League asked Ramadan to make his Islamic Center of Geneva its first overseas office. Ramadan refused, also rejecting efforts to turn his magazine, Al-Muslimoon, into an official league organ. The letter he sent to rebuff the league's offer of money was signed and dated with the fictive place name "Islamistan" -- a signal that he wanted no country to control him or his work. The Saudis didn't cut ties with Ramadan right away. He still held a diplomatic passport with the title ambassador- at-large for the Muslim World League. Later, probably reflecting his growing frustration with the Saudis, he traveled on a Pakistani passport.

As power shifted in the Muslim world, the students moved away from Ramadan. A few factors contributed to this, money especially. Namangani might have been biased in saying Ramadan talked big and delivered little, but he had a point: Ramadan was so controversial that few who pledged money actually came through with the donation. He'd gotten his biggest pledge from a Saudi businessman -- small chance that he would pay, now that Ramadan was splitting with the Saudis.

The Brutus in this drama was Ramadan's protege, Ghaleb Himmat. Some fellow students speculate that national identity might have contributed to the trouble -- Himmat was a Syrian and Ramadan an Egyptian. Syria had the second-most-vibrant branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, and its chief, Issam ai-Attar, had arrived in Europe in the early 1960s, in exile. Himmat might have wanted to bring Attar, instead of Ramadan, to Munich. (He would later marry Attar's daughter.) Attar, however, refused, settling in the German city of Aachen and founding an Islamic center there. Others posit that the real problem lay in the fact that Himmat didn't share Ramadan's idealism. Ramadan hoped to spread the Islamist vision through education and teaching. Himmat was more political -- and, in fact, would lead the center toward a violent, turbulent future. "Said Ramadan was a traditional Islamist. He knew the teachings of Imam al-Banna -- he lived in his home," says Kamal al-Helbawy, the Muslim Brotherhood's official spokesman during the 1990s and an acquaintance of both men. "Maybe some new members tended to be more political and not enough interested in education. Maybe some people didn't pay attention to the full teachings of Imam al- Banna."

By the mid-1960s, Ramadan had had his fill of the students, says Obeidullah Mogaddedi, one of Ramadan's early followers in Germany who stayed on at the mosque after Ramadan left. "The [students] disgusted him and he said, 'I won't have anything more to do with you.'"

Himmat recalls it differently. He said Ramadan's departure had nothing to do with nationalism or different ambitions. Ramadan, he said, had never played much of a role in the mosque project and later was too busy for it: "He was in a few meetings. After a while he apologized and said he couldn't go on any longer. I don't know why. It was a burden for him to struggle for us in Munich."

Before he left Munich for the last time, in about 1966, Ramadan warned Faisal Yazdani, the young Pakistani who became his successor, that he was surrounded by political opportunists. Ramadan half-jokingly warned him about political intrigues -- and the likelihood that the Arabs viewed themselves as superior to other Muslims: "Now you'll know what the Arabs are like."


At first, the students seemed cursed. After losing Ramadan, they had no experienced organizer. They had no idea how to lobby for money and lacked the resources for fund-raising trips. The ex-soldiers' departure also hobbled them. When von Mende's men were still part of the plan, the Muslims could count on getting a plot of land for free and government recognition of their venture as a charity -- meaning that donations would be tax-free. German officials, however, now withheld both concessions. For two years, the students tried fruitlessly to raise money.

Faisal Yazdani stepped in to help. Ramadan had asked him to join the Mosque Construction Commission in 1960, seeing in him a capable idealist. Yazdani came from a good family, well connected in the Muslim world. Ramadan, ever the internationalist, probably didn't want the project to be dominated by Arabs. He made a wise choice; the young man proved to be devoted to the cause. His father had sent him to Germany to study medicine, but he gave up his studies to work on the mosque, becoming chairman of the Islamic Community of Southern Germany (the new name of the Mosque Construction Commission) in 1965, after Ramadan left. Through his father, a successful Pakistani businessman, Yazdani received introductions to the Pakistani ambassador in West Germany and through him to the embassies of other Muslim countries. Protests from these embassies caused the West German Foreign Office to pressure Bavarian officials into granting the society tax-exempt status. This valuable privilege was worth tens of thousands of dollars over the next thirty-five years.

Eventually, the students raised enough money to buy land on the outskirts of Munich and hire an architect. The land wasn't desirable -- it had a high water table, and the mosque's basement would lie underwater, requiring costly modifications. But they were making progress. In 1967, the cornerstone was laid, and the Pakistani ambassador made a speech. Completion seemed just around the corner.

Then, another crisis occurred. Yazdani's main source of money had been the kingdom of Libya. Himmat had contacts there through the Muslim Brotherhood, and the court was expected to finance the project. The building's foundation was laid, the concrete shell erected, and even the heating pipes and radiators installed. Muammar al-Qaddafi's coup detat in 1969, however, ended the Libyan monarchy and cut the flow of money. The mosque, still a shell, stood exposed to the elements. The pipes began to rust. In desperation, Yazdani went back to the Libyan embassy, now under Qaddafi's control, and pleaded for money. The ambassador sent a secretary to Munich to survey the site. Eager to burnish his credentials in the Muslim world, Qaddafi agreed to pay the balance, about 1.5 million marks. By 1971, the money was flowing, and the mosque opened two years later.


A few months later, members of the Islamic Community of Southern Germany gathered again in Munich. This meeting would shape the mosque's character for decades to come, putting it firmly in the hands of the politically expansionist, Saudi-financed wing of the Muslim Brotherhood -- in other words, in Himmat's hands. As at everyone of the group's biannual meetings, the key decision was who got to be chairman. Yazdani had held the office since 1965 and seemed a shoo-in. Together with Achmed Schmiede, the German convert whom Ramadan had taken to the founding of the Muslim World League in 1962, he had almost exclusively raised the funds for building the mosque.

Yazdani, however, was not present. His father had been ill, and he had returned to Pakistan to be with him. In his absence, someone started a whispering campaign implying that Yazdani had enriched himself on the project. These charges were later proven groundless, or at least dropped. All the major contractors had been paid directly by the Libyan embassy, which would have made it hard for anyone to skim off money. But the rumors made Yazdani vulnerable, and a faction of the Arab students mobilized against him. Just as it happened a decade earlier, when the Arab students had forced out the emigre Muslims, the vote this time was close and controversial. The Arabs ran two candidates, Himmat and an Egyptian. In the first round, none of the candidates got the two-thirds majority. Then the Egyptian stepped aside, and Himmat won, with the Arabs united behind him. When Yazdani found out about the decision, he was crushed.

"I have to say that I'm happy that it's built." says Yazdani. "But at times I am still a little disappointed at how it turned out. It wasn't as idealistic as I thought it should have been." One problem, he said, was the emphasis on Arabs over other Muslims. "I talked to them about having different Muslims, but they didn't want it. They wanted just one group, Arabs."

The idea that Arabs banded together to expel a Pakistani might sound conspiratorial -- or like the complaints of a sore loser. Perhaps the resemblance to the earlier expulsion of the Central Asian ex-soldiers is coincidental. But events the next year showed the group's exclusionary nature. In 1974, one hundred Turkish guest workers filed a grievance with the Islamic Community of Southern Germany. The Turks claimed that they and others had been consistently denied membership, even though the group's own bylaws stated, "Any Muslim can be a member who supports the purpose and goals of the society." The Turks said they did so. They had supported building the mosque and now wanted to help run it. A Turk had even designed the building. But the group voted against the Turks' joining, saying it would hurt cohesion.

In 1975 the Turks tried again, this time supported by Yazdani, who was still formally a member of the mosque. The meeting was closed to outsiders. Yazdani asked that everyone present on the mosque grounds be allowed to attend the meeting -- many Turks had come, hoping to crash the Arabs-only party, and Yazdani was hoping for a show of support. But Himmat and his supporters voted to keep the meeting closed. Yazdani then filed a motion charging that the mosque had been hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood. Himmat and his followers, according to their minutes of the meeting' said this accusation was ridiculous. Yazdani had no proof, they said. He was voted out of the group, and that was the end of his involvement with the mosque. Over the coming years, he would work as a court translator and distance himself from the mosque.

The mosque society then again took up the issue of whether Turks could join. Many of those waiting outside were guest workers -- part of a new, unprecedented wave of Muslim immigration to Europe. They said they had been told they could attend the meeting. Germany had few mosques; most houses of worship were small prayer rooms rented by the immigrants. These people were eager to join a real mosque with a dome and minaret, one, in fact, modeled on the Ottoman style. In addition, the Islamic Community of Southern Germany had expanded to include mosques in Nuremberg and Ulm -- this growth was the reason for its name change. The Turks felt that it should have a broader base than just the few dozen students who had been running the project for the past fifteen years.

The leadership rejected this bid for inclusion. Then the group moved to change its constitution to limit membership. Previously, the constitution stated that anyone interested in the mosque could join; now it was changed to create two classes of people: ordinary members who could attend the mosque and a group who ran it. The decision meant the Turks could pray and donate money but not vote. In a bitter irony, it reflected their role in German society: guest workers but not full citizens.

The official account of the meeting states that the core group wanted to remain small so it could take action more effectively, even at a moment's notice. At the time of the meeting, the Islamic Community of Southern Germany had just forty-one members, about the same number as a decade earlier, when it was called the Mosque Construction Commission and focused entirely on building the Munich mosque. Now it had members across southern Germany but had kept the same central leadership.

Over the next twenty-five years, Himmat would make good use of this cohesion, leading the Islamic Center of Munich down an adventurous path. It would eventually grow into a national organization, send shoots across the Atlantic, and lay the cornerstone for European organizations that endure today, ensuring that the Brotherhood's version of Islam would come to be the most influential one in the West. The mosque would be bombed and burned; it would become a focal point for jihad, recruiting young Muslims to fight in Bosnia. Men later convicted of terrorism would seek it out as their mosque of choice, and Himmat himself would one day be forced to resign from its leadership, when he was accused of financing Al Qaeda.

But before all this would happen, Himmat found a partner to balance his weaknesses. Himmat was reclusive, living far from the mosque and rarely appearing in public. Photos of him are hard to find, and over the years he turned down all interview requests. Youssef Nada was his opposite: flamboyant, outgoing, and publicity hungry. He also brought valuable contacts to Himmat. He was several years older, a veteran of the Muslim Brotherhood who secured money for the mosque and international contacts with the Brotherhood back in Egypt. If Ramadan had been the visionary and Himmat its new titular head, Nada was its Macher, the man who put the people and the money together.


Youssef Nada had joined the Brotherhood as a youngster in his hometown of Alexandria, a city in the Nile Delta, the same area that had produced the movement's founder, Hasan al-Banna. He remembers as a child how out on the street two groups of boys were fighting. The Brotherhood's youth wing -- an organization similar to the Boy Scouts -- stepped in and broke up the conflict. Nada joined soon after, in 1948, the same year that Banna was assassinated. He became a committed member, seeing in the Brotherhood a path to national salvation. When he was twenty-three years old, he was arrested and thrown in jail. It was 1954, and Nasser was rounding up anyone associated with the Brotherhood, banning the group and sending its members far and wide. It was the same wave of arrests that Ramadan had narrowly escaped, but Nada wasn't so lucky and was imprisoned for years. "I witnessed electrical shocks, fire, ice baths, whips, hanging from ceiling upside down, and dogs," Nada says of that time. While in prison, however, he met many senior leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, ties that would last the rest of his life.

At first, he concentrated on business, working in the family dairy. But he found life under Nasser unbearable. Nada still felt close to the Brotherhood, but the group was banned, and he felt the weight of close surveillance. He sought a way out and finally, in 1960, went to Austria to study cheese making, which he hoped to launch as a business venture back in Egypt. He also set up a business exporting Emmentaler cheese to Egypt. In Austria Nada quickly got in touch with exiled members of the Brotherhood and heard about the students in Munich. In 1960, he drove from his new home in Graz to Munich to participate in the students' Bairam festival.

That was the beginning of his contact with Himmat. At first, the two men met infrequently. Nada would go to Munich once in a while but was not an essential part of the group. Links with Munich became even less frequent when he developed somewhat odd business ties with Libya. "Students there [in Libya] were eating tunafish sandwiches. I convinced the court they should eat processed cheese. Tunafish is messy, but processed cheese is neater. You spill less oil on your books when you eat processed cheese." With this insight, Nada packed up and moved to Tripoli. It was there that he helped the students in Munich secure initial financing for the mosque.

The Libyan court so valued Nada's advice, he says, that it asked him to be the country's agricultural adviser. "I said, 'I am ready.'" He also won a concession to import building materials from Austria. Like most of Nada's successful ventures it was a quasi monopoly, one that relied on good contacts. During the Qaddafi coup in 1969, those contacts evaporated, and Nada fled. He claims he had to be smuggled out of the country, so tight had he been with the monarchy. He fled first to Tunis and then to Greece and finally Germany. His business in ruins, Nada had a nervous breakdown and went to a clinic in the German spa town of Wiesbaden. It was there he became close friends with Himmat, who was still in Munich, a couple of hours away. Nada decided to make Europe his home and set out to find a permanent base. He moved to Campione d'Italia, an Italian enclave in Switzerland near Lake Lugano. By then, Nada and Himmat were inseparable. Himmat asked Nada to join the Islamic Community of Southern Germany, and in 1971 he did. Soon, Himmat was also living in Campione, just a few doors down from Nada.

When the group met again in 1973, he traveled down from Campione -- and for the next three decades the mosque and its ever-growing network of Islamic centers in Germany would be run out of the Italian enclave. At the 1973 meeting, Ramadan was officially kicked out based on his unexcused absences; Nada voted in support of the action.

Nada helped guide the mosque into the Saudi Brotherhood network. He still had close ties with the Brotherhood in Egypt, and he says that for decades he functioned as the group's unofficial foreign minister. It's hard to know how credible this claim is, but he did undertake missions for the Brotherhood to Iran during the Islamic revolution and to Afghanistan to help the mujahideen. Nada wanted to make peace with national governments. He had big business plans that required cooperation, not conflict, with authorities. In this sense, Nada was unlike Ramadan, who never shied away from confronting governments. But in other ways, Nada was more revolutionary than Ramadan. While Ramadan remained in Geneva, isolated and cut off, Nada's frenetic business and diplomatic efforts took place at the center of a worldwide revolution in Islamist activity. The marriage of Saudi money and the Muslim Brotherhood's ideology had set the stage for the spread of Islamist thinking, not only across the Muslim world but into the West too. Nada, Himmat, and the Islamic Center of Munich would be its epicenter.
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Re: A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:09 pm


RUST FLAKING OFF window grilles, paint peeling off the walls -- in every way the apartment block is typical of middle-class Cairo, except for the two police cars parked outside. Inside them, officers note the people entering and leaving one particular apartment: the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Banned in 1954, the Muslim Brotherhood is still illegal in Egypt, but it is tolerated. Authorities launch sporadic crackdowns, but members are allowed to meet and issue position papers. The group has also been permitted to put up candidates for parliament; in one recent election it won 19 percent of the vote. Foreign governments reckon that in a country like Egypt, where half a century of dictatorships has systematically destroyed organized opposition, the Brotherhood is the last remaining truly independent group of any stature. Its message of religious revival is one that Egyptian governments once shunned but over time have slowly embraced, seeing their support of Islam as a way to legitimize their rule. The Brotherhood is simply too influential to be done away with completely.

Inside the apartment, the group's militancy is apparent. Pictures of martyred brothers hang on the wall, such as Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the head of Hamas killed by Israel in 2004. Young men come and go, bringing reports and sending out policy papers to the group's thousands of cells around the country. The man in charge is the Muslim Brotherhood's "supreme guide," Mahdi Akef. He is a short, elfin figure, born in 1928 and a member of the Brotherhood since he heard Hasan al-Banna speak in 1939. His office is the apartment's master bedroom. In it are crammed a desk, two sofas, and the ubiquitous Islamic map of the world, with each country colored to indicate the extent of its Muslim population, and the whole map ringed by famous mosques -- similar to the one I saw in the London bookstore. "From this small place we run Islam in the world," Akef says, an exaggeration, but understandable coming from a man who heads such an influential group.

Like Himmat and Nada, Akef represents a strand of the Brotherhood that has tried to make peace with authorities. Unlike Ramadan or more radical theorists, Akef is keen to be accepted by governments and wants the Brotherhood to participate in the political system. He still wants to impose Islamic law, or sharia, in Egypt, but says he would do so slowly, building up support at the grassroots level rather than imposing it from above, as was done in Iran. Like many veterans of the movement, Akef spent years in jail, in his case, a staggering twenty-three years. The first twenty stretched from 1954, after the initial crackdown on the Brotherhood, until 1974, when President Anwar Sadat announced an amnesty for all members of the group. The second stint ran from 1996 to 1999, when Sadat's successor, Hosni Mubarak, acted to suppress the Brotherhood, as he did periodically.

After his release in 1974, Akef quickly linked up with other pragmatists from the movement, such as Youssef Qaradawi, now famous around the Muslim world for his television broadcasts and books. Akef identified with a journal that Sadat allowed to be published, known as Al-Da'wa. It commented on news events, hewing to four basic principles: anti-Semitism, anti-"Crusaders" (that is, anti- Christianity), anticommunism, and antisecularism. But it didn't challenge the government, and many of its backers were fabulously wealthy, having escaped Nasser's and Sadat's prisons and settled in Saudi Arabia. This journal signaled the start of a new, more pragmatic Muslim Brotherhood, one that made itself more acceptable to authorities by toning down violent rhetoric against the state. Also close to this group were Himmat and Nada. The Islamic studies scholar Gilles Kepel calls this group the "neo-Muslim Brotherhood."

One of Akef's goals was to reconstruct the Brotherhood's organization, which had been damaged by the crackdowns and the exile of its key members. That involved careful grassroots work, which brought about the Brotherhood's phenomenal ascent; it is now the most influential political movement in Egypt. But Akef also wanted a carefully wrought international network of organizations that would be impervious to any single tyrant, such as Nasser. That took him to Himmat and Nada in Munich.

From 1984 to 1987 Akef lived in Munich as head imam of the mosque. The timing wasn't accidental. The years following Sadat's assassination in 1981 were particularly harsh for the Brotherhood. The Islamic Center of Munich was Akef's refuge. He was its spiritual head while Himmat ran the legal organization from his home in Campione d'Italia. "The Muslim Brotherhood has a large Islamic Center in Munich," he says, gazing at the map of the world.

It was a happy time for Akef. He had studied physical education and now went swimming almost every day. He emphasizes the fact that he swam with Germans. He has nothing against the local people, he says, although he faults them for placing the mosque next to a garbage dump and sewage treatment plant. He ascribes the fact to prejudice rather than the students' lack of money: "This was the only place the government would approve." The dump was eventually beautified through a costly government program and now features jogging and biking paths. To him it's another triumph for the Brotherhood. "We made this dump beautiful and now it's full of trees," Akef says, his voice trailing off. "It's one of the most beautiful parts of Germany." Whatever his role in urban renewal, Akef helped drive an unprecedented surge in the organizing of Islam throughout Europe.


Just a few months before the Munich mosque opened in 1973, the Islamic Cultural Centres and Bodies in Europe met in London's theater district, with the purpose of establishing a network of likeminded groups. Several dozen activists attended, including Himmat, the newly minted head of the Islamic Community of Southern Germany. Reflecting Saudi Arabia's efforts to dominate organized Islam, the chairman was Saudi. Himmat was elected to the governing council, along with Khurshid Ahmad, an influential Pakistani activist. The London meeting didn't immediately succeed in setting up a European network. But it was a first step.

Four years later, the Brotherhood scored a success. The 1977 meeting was held at the Swisslakeside resort of Lugano, just up the street from the homes of Himmat and Nada. Nada welcomed the participants, many of whom he knew personally or would later become his business partners, to Switzerland. One of the most impressive was Qaradawi, who at around this time was with the magazine Al Da'wa. Now widely known as the Brotherhood's spiritual leader, he had been an important figure as early as the 1950s. In 1955, for example, Nada recalls that when he was in prison along with the other members of the Brotherhood, their jailers allowed them to pray. When the call to prayer went out, he said, "I couldn't believe it. [It was] the first time I'd heard it in prison. Qaradawi led the prayers."

Far away now from such travails, the group meeting at Lake Lugano began the arduous process of rebuilding the Brotherhood's organization. Here in Europe, protected by laws and democratic institutions, they were free to set up lasting structures. Their first was the International Institute of Islamic Thought. Despite IIIT's name, its function was not theological. Its goal was to provide the theoretical underpinnings for the spread of Islamism in the West. It would hold conferences and allow leaders of the Brotherhood and similar groups to meet and exchange ideas. It would also publish papers and books, helping to nurture the global rise of Islamist philosophy. A year later, the group met in Saudi Arabia and decided to locate IIIT in the United States. Ismail Faruqi, a leading Islamist thinker who had also been at the Lugano meeting, was instructed to open the center in Pennsylvania, near Temple University, where he held a teaching post.

The Lugano meeting was also attended by two Muslims important to the spread of the Brotherhood in the United States: Jamal Barzinji and Ahmad Totonji. When Faruqi opened IIIT in 1980, Barzinji signed the papers of registration. The two had close links with Nada. Barzinji was an officer in one of Nada's companies starting in 1978; he worked for him for five years. Nada also nurtured another stalwart of political Islam in the United States, Hisham Al-talib. He worked for Nada's companies, and Nada sponsored him for membership in the Islamic Community of Southern Germany. At a meeting in 1978 at the Islamic Center of Munich, Nada put Altalib forward as a candidate to be a voting member in the mosque, even though he didn't even live in Europe, let alone Munich.

Totonji, Barzinji, and Altalib all came from Iraq, studied in Britain, and then went to the United States in the early 1960s. Totonji and others helped found the Muslim Student Association in 1962, widely regarded as the first Brotherhood organization in the United States. So their participation in the Lake Lugano meeting is a sign that parallel to events in Europe, the Brotherhood was gaining a foothold in the United States. Their work for Nada and participation in the mosque show that transatlantic ties were strengthening, as did the fact that Nada lived in the United States for a while; in fact, three of his children were born there, between 1978 and 1982. Nada lived in Indianapolis, where Barzinji, Totonji, and the others were turning their student group into a national movement. In many ways they repeated the process that Nada and Himmat had pioneered in Germany: form a student group, go national, and then build an organization with Saudi money and Muslim Brotherhood ideology. Just as he had done in Munich, Nada apparently helped organize financing of the Indianapolis headquarters. The forty-two-acre site soon boasted a mosque, classrooms, residences, a gymnasium, and an eighty-thousand-volume library. By the 1980s it formed the headquarters of the North American Islamic Trust, the Muslim Student Association, and the newly created national group, the Islamic Society of North America.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Center of Munich continued to grow in importance. In 1982 its name was changed to the Islamic Community of Germany, reflecting its growth across the country. The Islamic Center of Munich was now headquarters to a national group that oversaw a chain of mosques and cultural centers. The exact number in the early 1980s is not clear from the historical record, but it had branches in all major West German cities.

Reflecting its international importance, the group continued to add members from abroad, turning membership in the mosque into a mark of honor. Just a few years after having kicked out a Pakistani and rejected Turks as full members, the organization accepted a group of non-Arabs -- the difference being that these were famous Islamist activists, not run-of-the-mill believers. Khurshid Ahmad, for example, joined. He had attended the London meeting in 1973 and was the most important representative in Europe of Jamaat-e-Islamiya, the Pakistani version of the Muslim Brotherhood. Another key new member was Issam al-Attar, the charismatic head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Syrian branch, who had moved to Belgium in the early 1960s and settled in the West German city of Aachen in 1968.These two men symbolized the Islamist movement's ability to internationalize and overcome the ethnic divisions that split the Muslim world. Although men like Himmat, Attar, and Ahmad had their ideological and personal differences, in Europe they had far more in common than they did with non- Muslims. From their point of view, they were the vanguard of a new wave of Islamist activity in the West, minorities in Christian lands. But of course they did not live in Munich or have anything to do with the mosque there; it was just a vehicle for their struggle. Himmat highlighted the group's lack of connection with West Germany when he sent in the minutes of the 1982 meeting by registered mail from his villa overlooking Lake Lugano, 250 miles away from Munich.


Like Akef's office in Cairo, the center of this painstaking effort to build a network of institutions appears a bit anticlimactic. The Brotherhood's European base is now located in the Markfield Conference Centre, a former training ground for ambulance crews on the outskirts of Markfield, a tiny bedroom community with one church and three pubs situated outside Leicester, itself a faded textile mill city, two hours north of London. Far from Europe's great centers of Muslim population, it looks like a small campus: rolling lawns dotted with dormitories, an auditorium, and a bookstore. One of the buildings houses the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe and its chief, Ahmed al-Rawi.

Rawi was born in 1947 in a small Iraqi town of the same name. The Brotherhood was an important part of community life there; its members were among the most progressive residents. In an interview, Rawi said he used to consider himself a member of the Brotherhood, although he emphasizes that he has never formally joined. The rise of a military dictatorship in the late 1960s made Iraq increasingly inhospitable and in 1975, Rawi went to Britain to study structural engineering. He got his doctorate in Dundee and later settled in Loughborough, a town near Markfield. As a driving force behind the Brotherhood in Britain and Europe for thirty years, he was able to choose the federation's home, although he takes pains to emphasize the logic of the choice. "This is the Midlands." he says, "and so we are in the middle of things. We have an airport. It is not so remote."

There is another reason too. The Markfield Conference Centre is owned by the Islamic Foundation, whose founders and organizers are close to Jamaat-e-Islamiya. The foundation promotes interreligious dialogue, and even Prince Charles has visited. But that was before it became widely known that the foundation's lecturers have backed the terrorist group Hamas and that its bookstore is stocked with the classic authors of Islamist literature: Sayyid Qutb, Harun Yahya, and of course the Brotherhood's ubiquitous spiritual leader, Youssef Qaradawi. Rawi fits into this intellectual universe. Like Qaradawi, he believes that suicide bombing is justified as long as it is aimed at Israeli Jews -- even if children become victims. The argument, as explicitly set forth by Qaradawi, is that Israeli children grow up to be Israeli adults and thus are fair game. Rawi has signed petitions condoning suicide bombings in Israel and has stated that Western soldiers are appropriate targets for suicide bombers in his homeland.

Rawi's office is a small room dominated by the regulation Islamist map of the world, with predominantly Muslim countries colored green and others in varying shades. Rawi is a short, trim man with a silver beard and clear, friendly eyes. Still struggling with English, he shrugs his shoulders to emphasize the rationality of his position: "It is not suicide. Anyone can agree in general that they have the right to resistance. We can't deny them the right to resistance. Like Iraq is occupied by the U.S. We prefer peaceful resistance and civil disobedience but they have the right to defend themselves. It is like the French resistance."

Rawi represents what some call "engineer Islam" -- the control of the Islamist movement by men with professional training but no deep education, religious or otherwise, who exert control over the Islamist movement. Indeed, from Hasan al-Banna to the present, the people who built the Brotherhood have had little or no formal religious education. Rawi is a narrowly focused functionary, able to organize interreligious dialogues but with little real understanding of his own religion or others.

His views have been honed by decades of organizational work. In 1977, two years after he arrived in Britain, he headed the Muslim Student Association. In 1984, the same year Akef came to Germany to head the center, Rawi served as a delegate from Britain to the "big circle," a meeting with representatives of eight countries. The German representative was the Islamic Community of Germany, headquartered at the Munich mosque. Five years later, the federation was founded with the eight original countries plus seven others. "We realized we weren't students anymore. We are living here and we need to deal with society as locals and shouldn't treat it as foreigners."

The federation has become an umbrella group for more than two dozen national Muslim groups, all with intellectual or organizational ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Rawi himself confirmed the ties. "We are part of nobody outside of Europe, but we have good relations with the Brotherhood. We have our own ideas and mission and they know it. We are interlinked with them with a common point of view," he says, meshing the fingers of each hand together like teeth on a gear. "We have a good, close relationship."

A rash of organization building followed the federation's founding. The next year, 1990, the federation set up the Institute for the Study of Human Sciences, which was designed to train imams and Muslim elites. In 1997, it set up the European Council for Fatwa and Research, aimed at spreading the Brotherhood's religious views across the continent. It also established the European Trust to raise money for the movement's activities. Besides serving as a holding company for these groups, the federation also has a public role as the only transcontinental lobbying group for Europe's Muslims. It has held meetings with the Vatican and the European Union. The chief financier is the Maktoum Charity Foundation, a group based in Qatar, with ties to the Brotherhood.

This frenzy of organizing highlights an important point about the Brotherhood: it is not a religious society with theological goals. It has had one or two important thinkers, but their main point has been simple: the Koran should be interpreted in a relatively literal fashion in order to shape every aspect of temporal society. The Brotherhood's primary goal is to implement this vision, and for that it needs institutions. Back in Egypt, before it was banned, the Brotherhood operated political parties, newspapers, youth associations, women's groups, and a quasi-military wing that imitated the style of fascist parties of the 1930s. In Europe, much of this structure (minus the military wing) has been duplicated. The main difference is that the Brotherhood is operating as a minority religion, so it uses its structures not to Islamicize mainstream society -- which is too ambitious a task at this point -- but to dominate the West's Muslim communities. It aims to shield them from the West's secular society, provide an alternative reality for its members, and convert other Muslims into "better" Muslims, who follow the Brotherhood's narrow vision of Islam.

As modern-day Islam has no formal religious structure, a group that sets up an organization and claims to speak for Muslims is hard to challenge; creating a rival group seems the only way to do so. The Brotherhood, with its organizational prowess, has been faster on the draw than other Muslim groups -- from Ramadan's pan-European Muslim conference, sponsored by the CIA in the 1960s, to Rawi's federation today. It's no coincidence that in both cases -- and everything in between -- outsiders have financed the Brotherhood's activities. That is because at its heart, the Brotherhood outside of Egypt is not a mass organization. It is a group of elite organizers who have set up the structures to define Islam in the West. The Islamic Center of Munich and all its successor organizations have never had more than a few dozen official members. These people did not serve Munich's Muslims -- indeed, the Turkish population that made up 90 percent of the Muslims in Munich by the 1970s was explicitly denied membership. Instead, the leadership was obsessed with organizing. In the Cold War, these groups had relatively little influence on the world stage except as pawns in the fight against communism. But as they developed, something unexpected happened: Europe, once outside the Muslim world, became central to its future. And the Brotherhood, after years of laborious organizational work, was suddenly poised to lead it.
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Re: A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:09 pm


SPEAKING IN 1966 to a group of Turks about to leave from Istanbul to work in Cologne, a West German official made this prophecy: "Many of you are going to build new lives for yourselves in Germany. You will put down roots and visit your homeland only as guests."

At the time, few on either side of the equation would have agreed. For the West Germans, the Turks filled an urgent need for labor, which their economic miracle had created. West German unemployment was virtually at zero, and companies were expanding rapidly. In this era before globalization, which allows firms to hopscotch around the globe to open factories near labor and markets, West German companies needed workers where their factories were situated. The country had already imported laborers from Italy, Spain, and Greece and would do so in the coming years from Portugal, Tunisia, Morocco, and Yugoslavia. In all cases the "guest workers" -- Gastarbeiter -- were seen as temporary because they were rotated in and out after a few years.

The Turkish laborers also thought they were taking temporary jobs. Most came from nonindustrialized parts of Turkey, especially the rural stretches of central Anatolia. For them, this was the chance of a lifetime -- a union job in West Germany, where as semiskilled laborers they could make many times the money they could earn at home. Their goals were simple: to help their families and perhaps retire to the Black Sea and live in a home paid for with their savings from Germany. And indeed, for years the workers lived simply and sent money home. No one thought of building a house in West Germany.

Over time, the concept of guest workers began to lose favor. Employers complained about the high costs of training new employees, and workers wanted to stay on. So regulations were relaxed, and the foreign workforce, instead of rotating in and out, was allowed to stay. In addition, the West German government began to let workers bring their families along. By the time West Germany stopped importing labor in 1971, more than 700,000 Turks were living there. In the following years, immigration actually continued because Turks were permitted to move to West Germany to be reunited with family members living there. For the first time in German history, a sizable number of Muslims resided in the country. Today, roughly 2 million people of Turkish origin live in Germany, most of them Muslim. Another 1.5 million Muslims from other parts of the world, especially Bosnia and North Africa, also make their homes there.

Across Europe, similar demographics were in play. Islam's great era of conquests had left large Muslim populations on Europe's fringes -- in Kosovo and Bosnia, for example, and the Crimea; for many centuries, the Muslim Umayyad caliphate ruled much of modern-day Spain as Al-Andalus. Interactions with the Muslim world had a profound impact, reintroducing to the West works of science, literature, philosophy, and mathematics lost to Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire but preserved in the great Islamic libraries. Yet overall, Islam and its people had seemed distant, far removed. Since the fifteenth century, when the last Muslim emirate, Grenada, was conquered by Spain, almost no Muslims had lived in western Europe. They became the ultimate outsiders, close enough to be worrisome but far enough away to be exotic. At times viewed with dread (for their slave galleys and scimitars, their reputed despotism and cruelty), Muslims later became a subject of frivolous fascination (for their harems and genies, flying carpets and turbans).

After the postwar immigration, the stereotypes remained, but real Muslims were suddenly living in the midst of western Europeans. As it had in West Germany, economics drove countries to import laborers. Some preferred subjects from former colonies. Sometimes that meant non-Muslims, such as Hindus from India, who went to Britain, or animists and Christians from central Africa, who went to Belgium. But most immigrants were Muslims. With eastern Europe cut off by the iron curtain, low-wage workers were most easily found to Europe's south -- across the Mediterranean in Muslim North Africa and Turkey.

In France, the effects of decolonization and the Algerian Civil War increased the number of Muslims in that country from a statistically insignificant number before World War II to more than four million today. By some counts the number is as high as six million, or 10 percent of the population. (As in many European countries, French census takers do not ask about religion or race.) In Britain, Muslims who had arrived during the colonial era, primarily as traders, formed small enclaves. After World War II, India's civil war triggered a flood of immigration as people fled the subcontinent. The number of Muslims in Britain grew from 23,000 at the end of World War II to 360,000 in 1971 and nearly two million today. In western Europe, Muslims number fifteen to twenty million, about four times the number living in the United States, which has roughly the same size population.

At first, religion did not play a major role in the Muslim guest workers' daily lives. Companies occasionally accommodated the faith of their new employees, creating some of the first places of worship for the new arrivals. In 1965, for example, the Mannesmann smelter in Duisburg, a city in the Ruhr Valley, set up prayer rooms. Workers fulfilled the role of imams themselves, with the person with the best voice and most religious knowledge leading prayers. Over time, however, the desire grew for a normal religious life. Most Muslim immigrants were not wealthy and so couldn't afford to build mosques, so they rented commercial space and converted it into prayer rooms. These hidden mosques are often taken as proof of discrimination against Muslims. While it is certainly true that many local governments have hindered or prevented efforts to build visible mosques, it is also the case that the immigrants were (and in fact still are) working their way up the economic ladder and lacked the financial means to build large, costly places of worship.

For many groups, religion was still tied to the homeland. Turks in Germany brought with them groups such as the Suleymans and the followers of Necmettin Erbakan. The former were arch-conservative pietists who formed the Union of Islamic Cultural Centers (known by its German acronym, VIKZ), which offered schooling in the Koran to youngsters. The latter set up the religious community Milli Gorus, a Turkish variation of the Muslim Brotherhood. Back home, the government kept these groups in check, but in the West, where religious thought was not circumscribed, they spread freely. Worried that religious zealotry was infecting Turks in Germany and that the problem would spread back home, the Turkish officials set up an organization in West Germany known as Ditib, a branch of the Turkish government's religious authority, Diyanet. Over the years it financed many large mosques in Germany and provided the country with imams. In 2007, Germany and Turkey signed a treaty formalizing this process. The situation in other European countries is similar. In France, the Grande Mosquee de Paris is headed by an Algerian civil servant. Britain has lavish mosques paid for by Persian Gulf sheikhs. In another era, immigrants might have taken decades to leave an architectural mark; in twentieth-century Europe, it happened quickly.

This demographic shift was not lost on the Muslim world. When Said Ramadan first landed in Europe in the 1950s, it was a haven precisely because it was not part of the Muslim world. Europe was separate and safe. Organization building was primarily a reaction to oppression back home. But as Europe gained a sizable Muslim population, it regained its historical position as a part of the Muslim world. Traditionally, Islamic thinkers have viewed the world as divided into two areas. In the Dar al-Islam, or House of Islam, the word of God reigns supreme. Its opposite is the Dar al-Harb, or House of Infidels. For centuries, Europe was in the latter camp. But now, with millions of Muslims living there, it had rejoined the Muslim world. Whether through luck or brilliant foresight, the Brotherhood was already firmly planted in the West just as this historical transformation was taking place.


In a small hotel on the edge of London in 2004, Mohammad Hawari was addressing a panel of men practicing the ancient art of Islamic jurisprudence. The men were helping European Muslims integrate into the West by reconciling the demands of Islam with the secular laws of their host countries. Because Islam regulates many temporal matters -- such as finances, times for prayer, and food -- the need for concrete, practical advice is arguably greater than it is in most other religions. Questions range from the complex (Can I pay into a pension system that is based on interest, which is forbidden by Islam?) to the practical (When do sunset prayers take place during the summer solstice in northern Scandinavia, when the sun doesn't set?) and the mundane (What if I cannot find halal food?). Hawari and the scholars were ready to provide answers. These particular questions had answers that were seemingly simple but had far-reaching implications. Yes, pay into pension plans that have interest, but do not accept the interest. For parts of the world where times of sunrise and sunset vary significantly by season, timetables for prayer are provided. And regarding halal food, Islam is a practical religion and makes exemptions for hardship. If you are truly hungry, eat whatever you can find.

At this session, the panel had decided to tackle family life. Hawari, a prosperous scientist from the German city of Aachen, was addressing a key problem familiar to any modern parent or grandparent: sex. Muslim children, the sixty-three-year-old said, were being waylaid by the West's sexual revolution. They had to stay pure and chaste, saving sexual relations for marriage. It was a normal plea for traditional virtues, one that can be heard countless times a week in mosques, churches, and temples around the world.

Then came a disturbing turn in the discussion. The cause of the sexual revolution, Hawari informed the group, was Jews. They had a secret plan to take over the world by weakening families of other faiths. This was no idle speculation on his part, Hawari told the scholars, all of them taking notes and listening attentively. He had found proof: the minutes of a meeting, which he now read aloud to the group.

"We should seek to collapse morals everywhere to facilitate our control," Hawari read. "Freud is one of us. He will continue to highlight sexual relations in order for them to cease to be sacred in the eyes of the youth, until their major concern becomes satisfying their sexual desire and then their morals collapse." The citation came from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, one of the most notorious works of anti-Semitism in Western history. The protocols are purported to be an account of Jewish conspirators plotting to take over the world by undermining Western civilization. The book was the creation of czarist agents in the nineteenth century, who were at the forefront of a new, more dangerous form of anti-Semitism. Maybe more stunning than Hawari's use of the book was the response it elicited: nothing.

It was a meeting of the European Council for Fatwa and Research. The men discussed a series of questions that European Muslims had posed to them. Hawari and other counselors responded, issuing religious opinions known as fatwas. The council is the most influential body involved in shaping Islamic religious opinion in Europe and, through a sister organization, in the United States. It helps set the tone of religious discussion, defining what Muslims are allowed and not allowed to do. Its opinions are not binding, but they are available online and published in books, which are distributed to mosques throughout Europe. Imams take courses in the council's thinking and are advised to use its methods of argumentation when local worshipers raise questions. The council's role in Europe might seem like a bit of bad luck -- perhaps a typical case of immigrants bringing with them the regressive social mores or traditions of their homeland. But that view would be mistaken. As we saw in the previous chapter, the council is a creation of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe, a direct descendant of the Munich mosque.

One could argue that the federation, the fatwa council, and any of the other creations of the Muslim Brotherhood are simply minority enclaves. Every society has groups like this: think of the Mennonites and the Amish in the United States. They live according to rules meant to re-create an idealized past, cut off from the mainstream. So what if a few Islamists strive to create a similar community for themselves? This might have held true but for the size of the Muslim immigration to Europe: it completely changed the parameters. Far from setting up rules to govern a fringe group, the fatwa council issues guidelines aimed at tens of millions of European citizens and residents - members of Europe's second-biggest religion. The fatwa council's parent group, the federation, likewise lobbies European politicians, trying to create the impression that its vision of Islam -- for example, requiring headscarves for women -- is the authentic one; Muslims who choose to dress differently are cast as "assimilated" and inauthentic. Also, groups like the Mennonites have not given rise to terrorist organizations, as has the Brotherhood.

Although the Brotherhood says it supports terrorism only in certain cases -- usually against Israel -- it does more than target Jews. It creates a mental preconditioning for terrorism. This mindset divides the world into two camps, those to be protected (a small number of "good" Muslims) and the rest (including many other Muslims), who can be destroyed. Some other religious groups see the world in similar Manichaean terms, but few have given rise over the past decades to so much violence. Thus, when groups like the fatwa council make a decision, it matters.

Hawari, for example, wasn't citing an anti-Semitic tract for effect; that speech was given as the theoretical foundation for a fatwa, an answer to a question concerning the practice of religion. In this case the question was about the legality of a divorce. A French Muslim had written to the council, asking if she was indeed divorced after her husband had shouted "I divorce you" three times, in a drunken rage. According to Islamic law, saying the sentence three times is enough to secure a divorce. The issue for the council was the man's sobriety; the scholars carefully considered his level of intoxication, weighing his ability to think clearly and realize what he was saying. They decided he knew what he had said, and thus the divorce stood. But the scholars never included a more fundamental consideration: the marital dispute had taken place in France. Under French law, a divorce requires a ruling by a French court. Thus the man's rantings were largely irrelevant.

Hawari's citing of the Protocols is another example of his group's disconnection from the broader society. One of the West's greatest traumas is the Holocaust, and at least since the mid-twentieth century most educated people have developed a sensitive understanding of anti-Semitism and can recognize the false claims and scare tactics that inform it. Hawari's ignorance of this -- whether a self-chosen blindness or a true lack of knowledge -- and the council's failure to upbraid him for using such literature was a clear sign that the group itself is not integrated into mainstream Western thought. In this regard, it also fits the fabric of the Brotherhood. The current head of the organization (and past head of the Islamic Center of Munich), Mahdi Akef, has called the Holocaust a myth and expressed solidarity with Iran's leader, who also has questioned it.

Given the council's makeup, its members' acceptance of these ideas is not surprising. Of the council's thirty-five members, two thirds are Muslim Brotherhood activists from the Middle East or Africa. Its head is Youssef Qaradawi, the man who helped rebuild the Brotherhood in the 1970s, along with Akef. Qaradawi is often considered the Muslim Brotherhood's chief imam -- not in a rigid, hierarchical sense, but in recognition of his charisma and influence. He is arguably the most influential religious figure in the entire Muslim world, not just the Brotherhood, and has a popular website and television show. His views are often considered mainstream or even progressive by Middle Eastern standards; he encourages women to work and permits music, which fundamentalists frown upon. But he also sanctions suicide bombings against Israeli civilians and the stoning of homosexuals. He denies that he practices anti-Semitism, but he associates with only a few Jews -- those who belong to an extremist faction called Neturei Karta. This small group of Orthodox Jews opposes the existence of the state of Israel. They sometimes appear in public with Qaradawi, court jesters used to display his tolerance: Jews have a role in our vision of Islam, so long as they know their place.

For years, the Brotherhood pushed this kind of Islam in Europe, not only through the fatwa council but also at scores of conventions, seminars, and workshops. In most major European countries, Brotherhood groups are among the most influential -- the Union of French Islamic Organizations (known by its French acronym, UOIF), the Muslim Association of Britain, and the Islamic Community of Germany, with its ideological Turkish twin, Milli Gorus. Throughout Islamic communities, the Brotherhood was helping to define who was a Muslim and what was considered proper behavior for a Muslim. Invariably, these guidelines were based on a more fundamentalist interpretation of the Koran than the people had previously subscribed to.


Mourad Amriou slowly warmed up the crowd inside a small mosque on the outskirts of Paris, giving the congregation a pep talk after the Friday evening prayer. "Just nearby here are Fatimas and Mohammeds who are drinking." said the beefy twenty-six-year-old former rapper, using generic names for Muslim women and men. "Can you believe it? Just around the corner, going to nightclubs. Do you accept it?"

Murmurs of disapproval arose from the crowd as he continued. Life, he said, should center on mosques. Not just for prayer, but for everything from language classes for children to social life. Otherwise, he said, Muslims will become indistinguishable from their French neighbors. "Society has to be based on Islam," he told the gathering.

Amriou was a young Muslim I'd come to know over several months. He did not work for the UOIF but went to its offices for training and for networking with other activists. He read the decisions of the fatwa council and held Qaradawi to be the most profound thinker of the present day. He lived apart from French society, orbiting Paris in a tiny Fiat Punto on the aptly named peripherique ring road around Paris.

On this day, Amriou was in the slum suburb of Aubervilliers, doing a quick "intervention," his term for a pep talk at which he rallies the crowd to the Islamist cause. Before entering the mosque he affectionately tousled the hair of a couple of young boys collecting money in black-and-white Palestinian scarves. The money was for a charity that helps Palestinian orphans.

"Zap zap zap, I go in and say my piece and am out," he said. "I go to all sorts of mosques to pray. Speed speed speed. I'm on the go all the time. Each time of the day a different mosque. But I like the UOIF I like the stuff they do. I know some of the leadership here and some of their works."

Amriou grew up in Paris, the youngest of nine children born to Algerian immigrants. He got involved in drugs, cut an album as the rapper HLM System, and served time in prison. Five years ago he was "converted" from the streets back to Islam by a local member of the Tablighi Jamaat, a rigorously apolitical pietistic group. He still wears thick, hooded sweatshirts from his pre-Islamist era, but they are now balanced by a skullcap and, sometimes, a knee-length cotton gown.

Jews hold a special fascination for him. Typical of Islamists, Amriou compares the lot of Muslims with that of Jews in pre-World War II Europe, the implication being that another Holocaust is around the corner. He says his neighborhood of Paris had no mosques but contained six synagogues, "even though we were far more numerous than they were." He doesn't consider that Jews have been in France for centuries and have fought for a place in society; for Mourad, the Jews' success is a sign that society is unfair.

Recently, one of Amriou's heroes, the charismatic preacher Hassan Iquioussen, was criticized in the media for making anti-Semitic comments. He gave a lecture, recorded and sold widely at mosques across France, in which he repeated typical Islamist anti-Semitic claims: Jews had benefited from numerous prophets but ignored God; thus they deserved whatever they got; they were "vipers" who had "no scruples against killing their prophets; in one morning they killed seventy of them. In one morning." And so on.

For Amriou, the media's reaction to the tape was proof that mainstream society was against Muslims. He considered it a smear campaign based on something absolutely atypical in the speech. "If he's a radical, then we're finished. The UOIF didn't care about that at all. They just laughed when it came out. Everyone there thought it was a joke. A three-year-old tape and he just slipped up. Everyone says that sort of thing."

Amriou's speech to the crowd is short but moving. He recounts his story, the drugs, the nights he'd sleep in the basement of the apartment block to avoid his parents. One old man in the front row begins to cry, probably recognizing in the story a family member, maybe his own son. Then Amriou launches into his critique of Muslims who have lost their way, the men who dance and socialize, the women who do not wear headscarves and associate with men. The crowd of 150 men listens, murmuring approval. At the end, they applaud the speaker and send him off with a glass of tea and a handful of sweets. He hops into his Fiat and heads home. It is 10 P.M., and he will be lucky to get six hours of sleep before morning prayers, a bit of work, and then more rounds.

The work of Muslim Brotherhood activists like Amriou picked up in pace throughout the 1990s and into the new century. Largely shielded from public view, the Brotherhood's grassroots work helped define Islam in Europe. But then an apparent disaster changed everything: the 9/11 attacks, with their links to the Brotherhood's European network. After decades of operating quietly, the Brotherhood was once again at the center of attention.


In the 1950s and '60s, German domestic intelligence had kept an eye on the ex-soldiers and Arab students struggling to control the mosque project. The Bavarian branch of the Office for Protection of the Constitution, which monitors domestic extremism, had paid von Mende to keep tabs on the mosque. But after von Mende died, this surveillance stopped. West Germany essentially missed the transformation of the Islamic Center of Munich into a hub of the Islamist world.

One of the few people close to the mosque who drew outside attention was Ahmad von Denffer. He published Al-Islam, the official organ of the mosque and the broader organization, the Islamic Community of Germany. Founded by Achmed Schmiede in the 1950s, the magazine was taken over by the mosque and run by Schmiede and then von Denffer until 2003, when it suspended publication. (It is now a website.) Yon Denffer was strongly influenced by Khurshid Ahmad, the head of the Pakistani version of the Brotherhood' Jamaat-e-Islamiya. Yon Denffer encountered Ahmad after he joined the mosque's governing board in the early 1980s. Later, von Denffer went to Britain to study at the Jamaat-influenced Islamic Foundation, writing several books in English and German, all of which reflect classic Islamist thinking -- that all problems can be solved only by Islam. In the 1980s, he cofounded a charity that channeled money to Afghanistan. Yon Denffer has denied that the charity money supported the mujahideen warriors, but at this time Pakistan-based Afghan charities were synonymous with holy war. For the first time in two decades, German domestic intelligence put the mosque on its informal watch list.

Soon, more signs hinted at the mosque's importance. In 1990, an expert on Islam alleged that the Munich mosque was where policy was being formulated for the entire Muslim world, a claim that drew a sharp rebuke from Al-Islam. Von Denffer and others close to the center also participated in overseas conferences with well-known Muslim Brotherhood leaders, such as a conference in Sudan led by a powerful Islamist political leader there, Hasan al-Turabi. The center also got into a dispute with one of the most important centers of Islamic studies in Germany, the Orient-Institut in Hamburg. One of the institute's affiliates wrote that von Denffer's writings had "clear tendencies of anti-German, anti-Jewish, antidemocratic, misogynist, racist, anti-integration, and Islamistic polemic."

The Munich mosque was also developing disturbing links to terrorism, although at the time they were discounted as one-off events or coincidences. In the 1980s, Mahmoud Abouhalima was a regular at the mosque and sought spiritual counseling from Ahmed el- Khalifa, then the chief imam there. Abouhalima soon after went to the United States, where he was convicted and jailed for helping in the attempt to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993.Then there was the case of Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, widely thought to be Al Qaeda's finance chief and bin Laden's personal mentor. He was arrested in 1998 in a small town near the mosque while on a business trip to Germany. Before being extradited to the United States, he called Khalifa and asked for spiritual counseling. (He was later put on trial in New York and sentenced to thirty-two years.) Khalifa confirmed meeting both men but said it was a bit of bad luck -- he can't know everyone who passes through town, and he is available to all.

German intelligence was nevertheless alarmed and launched an all-out investigation into Salim's contacts. One, particularly, stood out: Mamoun Darkazanli, a Syrian businessman living in Hamburg. He attended a small mosque there called the Al-Quds. German police bugged Darkazanli's home and observed his contacts at the mosque, including one particular man, Mohammed Atta. After a while, the police weren't sure what they had, so they dropped the investigation. Two years later, in 2001, Atta flew the first plane into the World Trade Center. The Al-Quds mosque turned out to be the place where the hijackers had been radicalized. Darkazanli was never prosecuted, but he was another less-than-glorious link between the Islamic Center of Munich and extremism.

Shocked by the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government swung hard against the Brotherhood. Investigators were especially fascinated by one of Nada's investment vehicles, Banque al-Taqwa. Himmat sat on its board, and seemingly every Islamist in Europe had bought shares in it, making its shareholder list a who's who of the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe. Nada had set up the bank as one of the first to operate in conformity with Islamic law. Instead of offering depositors interest, the bank called its customers investors and offered them profits from money it lent out. But he had invested the money amateurishly -- Nada himself said he put most of it in Malaysian businesses shortly before the 1997 Asian financial crisis -- and the bank went under. American prosecutors, however, said the bank was a conduit for terrorist money. Washington declared Nada and Himmat terrorist financiers and had the designation endorsed by the United Nations. Both men's bank accounts were frozen.

The Islamic Community of Germany suddenly faced a financial crisis. As the community's chief officer, Himmat signed the group's checks, but now anything he touched was frozen. (The group had already lost its status as a charity, for which Yazdani had struggled so vigorously in the 1960s. This action was unrelated to the attacks; it occurred in 1998 when mosque officials failed to fill out the proper forms to extend the status.) Then a painful interview was published in Al-Islam, in which Khalifa tried to justify why Himmat, who had not lived in Munich in decades, was running the group. After twenty-nine years, Himmat resigned in early 2002.

Terrorist attacks in Madrid and London followed over the next few years. Investigators were shocked that key suspects were young second- or third-generation Muslims born in Europe. In most cases, the young men had begun their careers as radicals through contact with Brotherhood ideology, attracted to its utopian message and learning through it to separate the world into two classes of people: believers and infidels. Ties to the terrorists seemed to mark the end of the Brotherhood. Its mother mosque shorn of leadership, its champions accused of terrorism, the Brotherhood's European beachhead seemed about to collapse. But then something happened. Just as in the 1950s, Western governments' repulsion began to turn to infatuation. Anti-democratic, anti-Western factions of Islam became fashionable -- then to fight communism, now to fight terrorism and combat extremism.
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