The Muslim Brotherhood’s Network
Not much here that we don’t 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 country’s 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 active—and that its members have played important roles in the financing and support of terror groups that include both Al Qaeda and Hamas.
They're the ideological and financial glue holding the whole mess together. They also seem to cross Sunni-Shiite lines...
The Brotherhood “is the mother of all Islamic movements,” 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 operates—and how widespread its influence is among radical Islamic groups, Fandy adds. “They [U.S. law enforcement agencies] just see a piece here and a piece there. They don’t have a clue.”
"Mahmoud, speaking for Boskone..."
Some of the most striking new evidence about the Brotherhood’s 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.
Bingo. It's there. All you have to do is dig for it...
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 player—a jailed Syrian-born Al-Jazeera correspondent named Taysir Alouni—is identified in a Spanish police report obtained by NEWSWEEK as “a person strongly connected to the Muslim Brotherhood,” and some of his associates are strongly suspected Brotherhood members, as well. (Alouni’s editor says he is innocent of all charges.)
Binny used to say he was, too, when he was alive and well...
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 country’s President, Abdul Gamal Nasser, Muslim Brotherhood members migrated to Saudi Arabia where, according to Fandy, they gained major influences in the country’s educational institutions and were responsible for radicalizing Saudi students. A prime example of the Brotherhood’s 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.
They're also spread throughout North Africa, and at least as far east as Pakistan — Hek's a member, and so's Qazi...
But court documents in the Biheiri case paint a very different picture of Qaradawi. They identify him as a “high-ranking” 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. “Those killed fighting the American forces are martyrs given their good intentions,” 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 Biheiri’s connections with Qaradawi. In his affidavit, Kane said that Biheiri—who has been jailed on immigration charges—maintained 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.
With, no doubt, a hefty paycheck attached...
Several Al Taqwa (Fear of God) principals, including the network’s founder, Youssef Nada, and one of its directors, a Swiss-born Muslim convert named Armand Huber, have been slapped with terrorist “designations” by both the United States and United Nations.
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 (Nada’s 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