The Muslim Brotherhoodâs Network
Not much here that we donât already know, but worth a posting.
A pair of investigations in the United States and Spain is bringing new attention to the hidden role played by a secretive group called the Muslim Brotherhood in supporting radical terror networks. It first popped up in Egypt more than 75 years ago, dedicated to overthrowing that countryâs government and replacing it with a strict Islamic state. Later, the group fell off the radar screens of Western intelligence agencies. But the Brotherhood has hardly disappeared. In fact, recent investigations and newly obtained court documents suggest that the Brotherhood is very much alive and activeâand that its members have played important roles in the financing and support of terror groups that include both Al Qaeda and Hamas.
The Brotherhood âis the mother of all Islamic movements,â says Mamoun Fandy, a widely respected Arab scholar who recently gave lengthy testimony about the organization to the national commission investigating the September 11 terror attacks. But U.S. officials have little understanding of how the Brotherhood operatesâand how widespread its influence is among radical Islamic groups, Fandy adds. âThey [U.S. law enforcement agencies] just see a piece here and a piece there. They donât have a clue.â
|They're the ideological and financial glue holding the whole mess together. They also seem to cross Sunni-Shiite lines... |
Some of the most striking new evidence about the Brotherhoodâs octopuslike connections have surfaced only in the past few days as part of the case against Solomon Biheiri, an Egyptian-born businessman who has been arrested by federal agents investigating a murky web of Islamic charities based in Herndon and Fall Church, Va., that are allegedly linked to terrorism and money laundering. Biheiri has been detained on immigration charges; no terrorism charges have been filed against him and his lawyer has denied any connection to terrorism. But to make their case that Biheiri should be detained pending trial, federal prosecutors last week portrayed Biheiri as the U.S. banker of the Muslim Brotherhood, linked him to a leading Muslim Brotherhood cleric in the Middle East and described apparent connections to Al Taqwa, a Swiss-based financial network whose assets have been frozen by the U.S. Treasury Department and which investigators believe functions as the central bank for the Muslim Brotherhood.
|"Mahmoud, speaking for Boskone..." |
At the same time, a Spanish investigation into Al Qaeda operations in that country has run up against a parallel, and possibly overlapping, network of Muslim Brotherhood members. One alleged playerâa jailed Syrian-born Al-Jazeera correspondent named Taysir Alouniâis identified in a Spanish police report obtained by NEWSWEEK as âa person strongly connected to the Muslim Brotherhood,â and some of his associates are strongly suspected Brotherhood members, as well. (Alouniâs editor says he is innocent of all charges.)
|Bingo. It's there. All you have to do is dig for it... |
According to Fandy and others, the Brotherhood is the precursor to Al Qaeda and many other now-active Islamic terror groups. Founded in the Egyptian coastal city of Ismaeliya in 1928, the group was committed to purging that country of all Western influences, including any traces of democracy or liberal values that would undermine the goal of a global Islamic theocracy. Evicted from Egypt by that countryâs President, Abdul Gamal Nasser, Muslim Brotherhood members migrated to Saudi Arabia where, according to Fandy, they gained major influences in the countryâs educational institutions and were responsible for radicalizing Saudi students. A prime example of the Brotherhoodâs continued influence, says Fandy, can be seen through the activities of Sheik Yousef Al Qaradawi, a highly visible Egyptian cleric who, from his current base in Qatar, makes regular appearances on the talk of shows of Al-Jazeera.
|Binny used to say he was, too, when he was alive and well... |
But court documents in the Biheiri case paint a very different picture of Qaradawi. They identify him as a âhigh-rankingâ member of the Muslim Brotherhood who has been banned by the State Department from entering the United States and who has issued fatwas (religious rulings) legitimizing the use of suicide bombings by Hamas and attacks on U.S. military forces in Iraq. âThose killed fighting the American forces are martyrs given their good intentions,â Qaradawi was quoted as telling a Middle East newspaper earlier this year about the war in Iraq, according to a court affidavit released last week by a U.S. Customs agent who described Biheiriâs connections with Qaradawi. In his affidavit, Kane said that Biheiriâwho has been jailed on immigration chargesâmaintained a listing for Qaradawi in the contacts folder of his laptop. The affidavit also identified Qaradawi as one of the largest shareholders and a board member of Al Taqwa, the Swiss- and Bahamian-based financial network.
|They're also spread throughout North Africa, and at least as far east as Pakistan Hek's a member, and so's Qazi... |
Several Al Taqwa (Fear of God) principals, including the networkâs founder, Youssef Nada, and one of its directors, a Swiss-born Muslim convert named Armand Huber, have been slapped with terrorist âdesignationsâ by both the United States and United Nations.
|With, no doubt, a hefty paycheck attached... |
Huber is a neo-Nazi who converted to Islam and has attempted to be a bridge between Nazis and Islamists.
The Taqwa case indicates how the Brotherhood sometimes maintained contacts with Islamic regimes of all stripes. Several U.S. investigators told NEWSWEEK that in a raid on facilities used by Nada in Switzerland and Italy, they came up with a picture of Nada together with Saddam Hussein (Nadaâs lawyers have acknowledged that their client was friendly with top Iraqis). Meanwhile, in an interview with NEWSWEEK, Huber acknowledged maintaining close contacts with both European neo-Nazi activists and with the government of Iran, whose late revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, was a Huber acquaintance.
Posted by: Paul Moloney 2003-10-05