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A Short History of Islamic Radicalism

By Gary Aminoff
Posted October 21, 2007

Many people buy into the premise that the World Trade Center attack on September 11 was a result of some misguided foreign policy of the United States. Others believe that Islamist terror attacks began in the 1970's, 1980's or 1990's as a result of something that we, as a country, have done to provoke such an attack.

When confronting an enemy it is helpful to know what it is that drives him. The U.S. and the West need to realistically look at the true motives of Islamic terrorists in order to properly confront them. In this talk I will present the facts that support the notion that Islamic Jihad is not motivated by any specific policies of the US or the West, but instead is principally motivated by a fanatic, obsessive hatred of Jews, and that Islamic Jihad was, and continues to be, strongly influenced by the Nazis.

The idea of using suicide pilots to fly airplanes into high-rise office buildings in Manhattan did not originate with Osama bin Laden in the 1990's - it originated with Adolf Hitler in the 1940's.

Albert Speer, Hitler's famous architect and chronicler, wrote in his diary, "In the latter stages of the war, I never saw Hitler so beside himself as when, as if in a delirium, he was picturing to himself and to us the downfall of the skyscrapers of New York in towers of flame. He described the skyscrapers turning into huge burning torches and falling hither and thither, and the reflection of the disintegrating city in the dark sky."

Hitler's fantasy, and his plan of action foreshadowed September 11: He envisioned having suicide pilots fly light aircraft packed with explosives into Manhattan skyscrapers.

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The drawings for the Daimler-Benz Amerikabomber from the spring of 1944 show giant four-engine planes with raised under-carriages for transporting small bombers. The bombers would be released shortly before the planes reached the East Coast, after which the mother plane would return to Europe.

Hitler's rapture at the thought of Manhattan in flames reflects his underlying motive: not merely to fight a military adversary - the United States - but to kill Jews everywhere. Hitler thought of the US as a Jewish state, and New York as the center of world Jewry. From 1941 on, Hitler pushed to get the bombers into production, wrote Speer, "in order to be able to teach the Jews a lesson in the form of terror attacks on American metropolises."

It was no coincidence that sixty years later the assault on the World Trade Center by suicide pilots was coordinated from Germany.

Mohammed Atta, the Egyptian who piloted the plane that struck the North Tower, Marwan Al-Shehhi, from the United Arab Emirates, who steered the plane into the South Tower, Ziad Jarrah, from Lebanon, who crashed United 93 in Shanksville, PA, Ramzi Benalshibh, a Yemini, and the Moroccan student Mounir al-Motassedeq were all members of an Al Queda cell in Hamburg, Germany where they held regular "Quran Circle" meetings with sympathizers.

Where did Mohammed Atta get the ideas that caused him to decide to fly airplanes into New York high-rises?

Witnesses provided part of the answer at the worlds first 9/11-related trial, the prosecution of al-Motassedeq, which took place in Hamburg between October 2002 and February 2003.

One participant in the "Quran Circle" meetings that the cell regularly held, testified that Atta was a diligent student of the National Socialist way of thinking and was a strong admirer of Nazi philosophy and of Adolf Hitler. Atta also was convinced that the Jews were striving for world domination, and he considered New York City the center of World Jewry, just as Hitler did some sixty years earlier.

Amazingly, neither the American media, nor the international press took notice of this astounding testimony - refusing to report anything about Atta's and Motassedeq's explicit Jew-hatred.

The trial information was available and much of it reported in Der Spiegel, and there were ample notes of the testimony taken by journalist Michael Eggers who attended every session of the trial and covered it for Reuters. No mention of the Jew-hatred or interest in Hitler on the part of Atta and Motassedeq.

If it had been someone from the political right, and they had expressed Nazi-like views of exterminating Jews, that surely would have received world-wide headlines. But in this case, since the attackers were of Arab background, journalists amazingly found this information irrelevant.

It is highly relevant, as you will see.

Even the 9/11 Commission Report falls short.

Osama Bin Laden has publicly declared that, "The enmity between us and the Jews goes back far in time and is deep rooted. The hour of resurrection shall not come before Muslims kill the Jews."

Even though there are many such examples of Bin Laden's declaring his hatred of Jews, the 9/11 Commission, in its chapter on Bin Laden's world view, makes no mention of his hatred for Jews or how this might possibly have been the motivation for an attack on New York.

The 9/11 Commission Report also falls short when it discusses the history of Islamic Jihad. It accords the entire pre-1945 period just five lines. is precisely this period of time that fostered the personal contacts and ideological affinities between early Islamic radicals and late Naziism - the direct linkage between Jew hatred and Islamic Jihad.

Despite common misconceptions, modern Islamic Fascism was not born during the 1960's, but during the 1930's. Its rise was not inspired by the failure of Nasserism in Egypt, but by the rise of Naziism in Germany, and prior to 1951 all of its campaigns were directed, not against Western colonialism, but against the Jews.

It was the Organization of the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Cairo in 1928, that established Islamic Jihad as a mass movement. The significance of the Muslim Brotherhood to Islamic Fascism is comparable to the significance of the Bolshevik Party to Communism: It was, and it remains to this day, the ideological reference point and the organizational core for all later Islamist groups, including Al Queda and Hamas.

While British colonial policy contributed to the rise of Islamic radicalism, the Brotherhood's jihad was not directed toward the British, but focused almost exclusively on Zionism and the Jews.

Membership in the Brotherhood rose from 800 members in 1936 to 200,000 in 1938. In those two years the Brotherhood conducted a major campaign in Egypt, and it was against the Jews, not against the British occupiers. This campaign against the Jews, in the late 1930's, which established the Brotherhood as a mass movement of Islamic Jihadists, was set off by a rebellion in Palestine directed against Jewish immigration from Europe and Russia. That campaign was initiated by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Muhammed Amin al-Husseini.

Let me tell you a little bit about the Grand Mufti. Grand Mufti is a term not much used anymore, but it meant the senior Muslim cleric in an area. The Gran Mufti of Jerusalem, Al-Husseini, was very impressed with Adolf Hitler and his anti-Jewish rhetoric. In 1941 he visited Hitler in Berlin. He was so impressed with Hitler and the Nazis, and their plans to exterminate the Jews, that he decided to stay in Berlin. He lived there from 1941 to 1945 and recruited Muslims in Europe for the Waffen-SS. He was very close to Hitler. His best friends were Heinrich Himmler and Adolf Eichmann.

He convinced Hitler that he would be able to have his Muslim brothers in the Arab world carry out extermination of the Jews in the Middle-East, just as the Nazis were doing in Europe.

In November, 1943, In appreciation of the work that al-Husseini was doing in exterminating Jews, Himmler wrote the following telegram to him:

"To the Grand Mufti: The National Socialist movement of Greater Germany has, since its inception, inscribed upon its flag the fight against the world Jewry. It has therefore followed with particular sympathy the struggle of freedom-loving Arabs, especially in Palestine, against Jewish interlopers. In the recognition of this enemy and of the common struggle against it lies the firm foundation of the natural alliance that exists between the National Socialist Greater Germany and the freedom-loving Muslims of the whole world. In this spirit I am sending you on the anniversary of the infamous Balfour declaration my hearty greetings and wishes for the successful pursuit of your struggle until the final victory. Signed: Reichsfuehrer S.S. Heinrich Himmler"

In his memoirs after the war, Al-Husseini noted that "Our fundamental condition for cooperating with Germany was a free hand to eradicate every last Jew from Palestine and the Arab world. I asked Hitler for an explicit undertaking to allow us to solve the Jewish problem in a manner befitting our national and racial aspirations and according to the scientific methods innovated by Germany in the handling of its Jews." The answer I got from the Fuehrer was: 'The Jews are yours.'"

The Muslim Brotherhood organized mass demonstrations in Egyptian cities during the late 1930's under the slogans, "Down with the Jews", "Jews get out of Egypt and Palestine", and the like. Leaflets called for a boycott of Jewish goods and Jewish shops, and the Brotherhood's newspaper, Al-Nadhir, carried a regular column on "The Danger of the Jews of Egypt."

The Brotherhood's campaign against the Jews in the 1936-1938 period used not only Nazi tactics, but also Nazi funding. As the respected Norwegian historian Brynjar Lia recounted in his monograph on the Muslim Brotherhood, "Documents siezed in the flat of Willhelm Stellbogen, the Director of the German News Agency in Cairo show that prior to 1939 the Muslim Brotherhood received financial subsidies from the German Legation in Cairo. Stellbogen was instrumental in transferring these funds from the Nazi regime to the Muslim Brotherhood."

From August 1938 through the end of the Second World War, Amin al-Husseini received financial and military assistance and supplies from Nazi Germany and fascist Italy which he sent to Egypt and Palestine. From Berlin, al-Husseini would play a significant role in inter-Arab politics.

At the same time as the Brotherhood was receiving funding from the Nazis, it became the first organization to propagate, in modern times, the archaic idea of a belligerent and violent jihad and the culture of longing for death. In 1938, Hassan al-Banna, the Brotherhood's charismatic founder, published his concept of Jihad in an article entitled "The Industry of Death." He wrote: "To a nation that perfects the industry of death and which knows how to die nobly, Allah gives proud life in this world, and eternal grace in the world to come."

This slogan was enthusiastically taken up by the "Troops of God", as the Brothers had begun to call themselves.

As they held demonstrations in the late 1930's in Cairo, marching in fascistic formation they would sing: "We are not afraid of death, we desire it. Let us die to redeem Islam"

The death cult that became a hallmark of modern Islamic Fascism was laced with Jew-hatred from the very beginning. This attitude sprung not only from Nazi influences but it also drew directly on Islamic sources.

First, Islamic Jihadists considered, and still to this day consider, Palestine (that includes present-day Israel) an Islamic territory (Dar al-Islam), where, according to the Quran, Jews must not run a single village, let alone a state. At best, in their view, this land should be Jew-free (Judenrein); at the very least Jews there should be relegated to subservient status and should live under Sharia law. The existence of a Jewish State in Dar al-Islam contradicts the word of the Quran, which is why they are so intent on destroying Israel. There are a lot of passages in the Quran and in the history of Muhammed and his conquests that justify to Muslims the killing of Jews.

In 1946, the Brotherhood made sure that The Grand Mufti, Amin Al-Husseini, who was then being sought as a war criminal by both Britain and the U.S. was granted asylum, and a new lease on his political life, in Egypt.

Al-Husseini had been a close ally of both the Muslim Brotherhood and the Nazis. In addition to directing the Muslim SS divisions in the Balkans during the Second World War he had been personally responsible for blocking negotiations late in the war that might have saved thousands of Jewish children from being exterminated in the gas chambers.

All of this was known in 1946 by both Britain and the U.S. Nonetheless both Britain and the US chose to forego criminal prosecution of al-Husseini in order to avoid hurting their relations with the Arab world after WWII. France, which was holding Al-Husseini, deliberately let him go at the request of the Arab League.

For many in the Arab world, what amounted to amnesty for this prominent Islamist who had spent years broadcasting Nazi propaganda to the Arabs in the Middle East from Berlin was seen as a vindication of his actions.

The Arabs started to view Al-Husseini's past with pride rather than with shame. Escaped and wanted Nazi criminals now flooded into the Arab world where they knew they would have sanctuary.

Both the Muslim Brotherhood's unconditional solidarity with Al-Husseini and with his Nazi compatriots now in the Middle East led to anti-Jewish riots throughout Egypt and the Middle East just months after the the liberation of Auschwitz.

In 1946,Yugoslavia requested extradition from Egypt of Amin Al-Husseini for War Crimes, and Crimes against Humanity. The Egyptian government refused to release him.

Al-Husseini used recently acquired Nazi methodology to implement his vision of an Arab World free of Jews.

The attitude of a world-wide Jewish conspiracy had migrated from Nazi Germany to the Middle East after the Second World War where it survived and flourished. In particular, Nazi-like Jewish conspiracy thinking persisted and grew in Egypt and Palestine.

An especially striking example of its continuing influence is the charter adopted in 1988 by the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine, which is now known as Hamas. In this Charter, the following language appears: Hamas defines itself as the "spearhead and the avant-garde of the struggle against World Zionism." "The Jews," the charter explains, "were behind the French Revolution, and the Communist Revolution. They were behind World War I and World War II. There is no war anywhere without the Jews having their hand in it."

That is the language of the charter establishing Hamas.

In 1930's and 1940's Europe, the sheer absurdity of the claims made against the Jews by the Nazis made it difficult for educated Europeans to take them seriously. In the Arab world, when the Islamists make the same absurd claims, they are taken seriously.

The 9/11 Commission fails when, instead of discussing the fact that Jew-hatred in the Middle East had reached epidemic proportions well before September 11, and that New York was considered the center of World Jewry by Islamic Jihadists, its report gives the impression that Islamism originally arose in response to recent American and Western policies.

When the 9/11 Commission report states that Bin Laden's grievance with the United States may have started in reaction to specific US policies, the report also gets history wrong.

Understanding the real motive for Islamic Jihad, and the 9/11 attack on New York, is important if we are going to confront Islamic Fascism.

Bin Laden was first politicized, not by specific US policies, but by the writings of Sayyid Qutb and the Jihadist lectures of Abdullah Azzam of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Let me tell you a little bit about Qutb and Azzam.

Qutb was the son of a highly-educated Egyptian nationalist. He traveled to the United States and lived for two years in Colorado while attending University. Qutb was a devout Muslim and wrote of the United States: "No one is more distant than the Americans from spirituality and piety." American sexual permissiveness and promiscuity particularly appalled Qutb. He was incredulous at the liberties permitted American teenagers. He feared the same influences would invade Egypt.

Qutb concluded that major aspects of American life were "primitive" and "shocking." His experiences in the U.S. partly formed the impetus for his total rejection of Western values and his move towards pure Islamic traditionalism upon returning to Egypt. Resigning from the civil service, he joined the Muslim Brotherhood in the early 1950s and became editor-in-chief of the Brothers' weekly newspaper, and later became head of the Muslim Brotherhood propaganda section, as well as an appointed member of the the Guidance Council, the highest branch in the Muslim Brotherhood.

Qutb believed that the timeless message of the Koran included the sacred duty of faithful Muslims to wage jihad "against the corrupt new "Kingdom of Israel, its imperial American sponsor, any other Western influences, and corrupt Muslim rulers." According to Qutb, a Muslim must wage war against any influences in opposition to traditional Islam, and especially against a "Zionist Entity" in Dar al-Islam.

For some reason, the writings of Qutb resonated with many Muslims, who were radicalized by them. He developed a huge following in Egypt and eventually throughout the Arab World. His writings contributed greatly to recruiting Egyptians and other Arabs to the cause of Islamic Jihad. Most of today's Islamist leaders are followers of the writings of Qutb.

Abdullah Azzam was a Palestinian who went to Egypt to continue his Islamic studies at Cairo's Al-Azhar University. During his studies he met Sheik Omar Abdel-Rachman, the man behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, now serving a life sentence in the U.S., Dr. Ayman Al-Zawahiri, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and now Al-Queda's number 2 man, and other followers of Sayyid Qutb. Azzam was a visionary. He was heavily influenced by the writings of Qutb. He envisioned a pan-Islamic trans-national movement that would transcend the political map of the Middle East. He also envisioned the restoration of the Caliphate and the removal of the "Zionist Entity" from Dar al-Islam. Azzam was one of the founders of Hamas.

In 1976 Azzam moved to Saudi Arabia and became a lecturer at the King AbdulAziz University in Jeddah where he became a mentor to a young student by the name of Osama Bin Laden. Both Azzam and Qutb planted the seeds that drove Bin Laden to his destiny.

Communists also used the Muslim world to further their own aims during the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's. Their contributions to Islamic Jihad are well noted, but that will be the subject of another discussion.

Keep in mind that Islamofascism is not an ideology that ignites protest in its followers as they rub up against social injustice. On the contrary, what provokes Islamic violence is any sign of modern development in the Muslim world, such as scientific inquiry, political or personal self-determination, women's equality, the existence of religions other than Islam, especially the existence of the State of Israel, and freedom of expression. The radicalization of Islam is not the consequence of poverty and lack of opportunity. It is the result of their cause to destroy the Jews and establish Islamic rule of the world.

The failure to see this, and the failure to recognize the substance of Islamist ideology - the Death Cult, the Hatred of Jews, and their profound dislike of freedom, leads back again and again to the mistaken belief that the root cause of terrorism is U.S. policies.

This approach is appealing to the West because of the specious hope it holds out: If Islamic terrorism has its roots in American policy, then a change in that policy can lessen terrorism. These views are strongly held by the American Left.

Ultimately, the refusal on the part of the West to recognize the Islamists true motives results in a reverse of responsibility: The more deadly the terrorism the greater is American guilt - believing that it is our policies that cause it.

The Jihadists benefit from this approach since the greater and bloodier its attacks the greater anger Americans have against their own government.

A struggle against Islamism waged in ignorance of their history and ideology weakens the West. Not to confront the real ideological roots of Islamic Jihad, especially its well-documented connection to Nazi Jew-hatred, stymies any Western push for political, economic or cultural modernization of the Muslim world.

Without challenging the ideological roots of Islamic Jihad, it is impossible to confront the Muslim world with the real choices before it.

The greatest threat to our freedom and to the future of America as we know it is the Islamist threat. It is the overriding issue of our day.

When choosing a Presidential candidate for 2008 one has to consider whether we are going to elect someone who recognizes that threat, understands what it will take to defeat it, and has the will and determination to do whatever is required to succeed in achieving that objective.

Neville's Comments: to read more about this subject check out "Unholy Alliance" by David Horowitz, "Preachers of Hate" by Kenneth Timmerman and "The Looming Tower" by Lawrence Wright...all available on

Gary Aminoff writes at Bear to the Right, is the president of the San Fernando Valley Republican Club and a successful commercial real estate advisor in Los Angeles.
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