THE RELIGIOUS FACTOR: HOW THE CIA FOSTERED THE RISE OF THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD AS TOOL OF WESTERN IMPERIALISM IN THE MIDDLE EAST
THE RELIGIOUS FACTOR: HOW THE CIA FOSTERED THE RISE OF THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD AS TOOL OF WESTERN IMPERIALISM IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Submitted by David Livingstone on Tue, 07/16/2013 – 11:45
With the election of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, many devout Muslims had been fooled into believing they had elected to power a movement devoted to their interests. However, the Brotherhood is a Western-created organization and part of an American strategy of fostering and exploiting the rise of Islamic fundamentalism to serve its imperial interests in the region.
The recent “coup” in Egypt, though, seems to have toppled the Western-supported Muslim Brotherhood regime, making it difficult to understand what is afoot, especially since it has apparently been again supported by the West. Whatever is truly happening, it is merely a charade—much like the rest of the so-called “Arab Spring”—and is Israeli-foreign policy carried out by proxy, through their agents in the US government and under pressure from the infamous Israel lobby.
To understand the rise of the Brotherhood it is first important to take note that the last vestige of Islamic civilization was destroyed with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. Its demise was the end-result of a centuries-long British strategy of Divide and Conquer, which pitted Arabs against Turks to create disunity and undermine the Empire from within.
The primary agent of British cunning in the Middle East was Jamal ud Din al Afghani (1838/1839 – 1897). Afghani was the ultimate intriguer. He claimed to be an Afghan, but scholars concur he was an Iranian. Others maintained he was a Jew, but more likely still, he was an Ismaili Shiah.
Most importantly, Afghani was part of a British project of using Scottish Rite Freemasonry to gather recruits in the Middle East. For many, any discussion of Freemasonry in history is dismissed as the absurdities of “conspiracy theorists.” Yet, it is not possible to discern Afghani’s role and impact without understanding his involvement in secret societies.
Afghani was part of a wider circle of British espionage that was centered around the person of Abdul Qadir al Jazairi, (1808 – 1883), an Algerian national hero who led a struggle against the French invasion of their country in the mid-nineteenth century. Abdul Qadir was ultimately forced to surrender, and eventually settled in Damacus, Syria, under a generous pension from the French.
In 1860, he attained international fame when he and his personal guard saved large numbers of Christians who had come under attack by the local Druze population. As reward, the French government bestowed on him the Grand Cross of the Légion d’honneur and he was also honored by Abraham Lincoln. As well, the town of Elkaker of Iowa was named after him.
Abdul Qadir was also friends with Jane Digby and Sir Richard Burton, the famous British explorer, spy and fellow Freemason, who had been made consul in Damascus in 1869. Digby, or Lady Ellenborough (1807-1881), was an English aristocrat who lived a scandalous life of romantic adventures, having had four husbands and many lovers. She died in Damascus, Syria as the wife of Arab Sheikh Medjuel al Mezrab, who was twenty years her younger. Burton (1821-1890) is best-known for traveling in disguise to Mecca, his search for the source of the Nile, as well as a translation of One Thousand and One Nights and bringing the Kama Sutra to publication in English. Ouida reported in 1906 that “Men at the FO [Foreign Office] …used to hint dark horrors about Burton, and certainly justly or unjustly he was disliked, feared and suspected… not for what he had done, but for what he was believed capable of doing.”
Burton and Digby were also close friends of Afghani’s handler, Wilfred Scawen Blunt and his wife Lady Anne, a grand-daughter of poet Lord Byron. Blunt had supposedly become a convert to Islam under the influence of Afghani, and shared his hopes of establishing a British-sponsored Arab Caliphate based in Mecca to replace the Ottoman Sultan in Istanbul. When Blunt visited Abdul Qadir in 1881, he decided that he was the most promising candidate for Caliphate, an opinion shared by Afghani and his disciple, Mohammed Abduh.
Burton was also an avid occultist, and like Abdul Qadir, a member of the Qadiriyya Sufi order, because “Sufism,” he claimed, is “the Eastern parent of Freemasonry.” Burton was also a member of the Theosophical Society, started by Helena P. Blavatsky, who visited him in Damascus. Blavatsky was the great oracle of the Occult Revival of the late eighteenth century, whose channeled books are considered “scriptures” of Freemasonry, and who is regarded as the godmother of the New Age movement. According to historian K. Paul Johnson, Afghani was one of Blavatsky’s “Ascended Masters,” from whom she learned her central doctrines. Afghani was the reputed head of a mysterious order known as the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, which exercised a profound influence over the occult societies of the period, culminating in the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) of the scandalous Aleister Crowley.
To understand the broad extent of Afghani’s influence, while visiting the United States in 1882-1883, he also initiated the parents of Noble Drew Ali, the founder of the Moorish Science Temple, a pseudo-Islamic and Masonic-themed organization, where Elijah Muhammad got his start before founding the Nation of Islam, of which Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali were a part.
Nevertheless, Afghani also went on to found a very influential “reform” movement of Islam known as Salafism. But those who knew Afghani personally dismissed the possibility that he was a true believer. In his own words, as cited in Elie Kedourie, Afghani and Abduh: An Essay on Religious Unbelief and Political Activism in Modern Islam, Afghani confessed:
We do not cut off the head of religion except with the sword of religion. Therefore, if you were to see us now, you would see ascetics and worshipers, kneeling and genuflecting, never disobeying God’s commands and doing all that they are ordered to do.
Afghani’s chief pupil, Mohammed Abduh, also Masonic Grand Master of the United Lodge of Egypt, was made the Grand Mufti of Egypt, the chief legal authority in Islam, by Lord Cromer, where he instituted reforms that benefitted British imperial objectives. Abduh’s pupil, Rashid Rida, also a Freemason and a known reformer, was the mentor of Hasan al Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. Banna’s Brotherhood was established with a grant from England’s Suez Canal Company in 1928, and over the following quarter century would be at the disposal of British diplomats and MI6 as a tool of British policy.
More disturbingly, John Loftus, a former US government prosecutor and former Army intelligence officer, discovered that Hitler commissioned al Banna to found the Muslim Brotherhood, to serve as an arm of German intelligence in the Middle East. Effectively, the Nazi Party was the result of a merging of the German branch of Crowley’s OTO and the Thule Gesellschaft of Germany, whose notions of Aryan superiority were derived from the ideas of Blavatsky. Thus the Brotherhood and the Nazis represented two branches of the influence of Jamal Afghani.
With the demise of the Nazis, control of the Brotherhood was taken over by the CIA, who rehabilitated the defeated Nazis by hiring a number of them to continue training the Brotherhood. These included Reinhard Gehlen, who created the Gehlen Org, which evolved into West Germany’s first intelligence arm, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). The other was Otto Skorzeny, Hitler’s star commando, who was in charge of transferring Nazis and stolen Jewish assets to various safe havens across the world, of continuing to pursue his goal of maintaining a “Fascist International,” and serving as a hired thug for various nefarious activities of the CIA.
Loftus also discovered that the British Secret Service convinced American intelligence that the Muslim Brotherhood would be indispensable as “freedom fighters” in preparation for the next major war, which was anticipated against the Soviet Union. This was the Cold War, and all gloves were off, was the excuse Eisenhower provided. Eisenhower was continuing a strategy created by Truman for the containment of communism, which led the National Security Council to adopt a formal strategy that authorized a broad array of covert action strategies, including “propaganda, economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition, and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance movements, guerrillas and refugee liberation groups, and support of indigenous anti-Communist elements in threatened countries of the free world.”
The CIA chief Allen Dulles devised a plan whereby, on the explicit request of the Pentagon, the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC), with the coordination of NATO, set up secret armies of fascist terrorists across Western Europe. Taking inspiration from the resistance movements that opposed the Nazi occupiers, the plan was devised to create networks of fascist terrorists to combat a soviet invasion from within, and therefore known “Stay-Behind” units. The Muslim Brotherhood was merely one component of this international strategy, but the most notorious was the Gladio network responsible for Italy’s infamous Strategy of Tension during the 1970s.
Chief among the CIA’s concerns in the region at the time was the popular Egyptian president, Gamal Abdun Nasser. In 1951, to better coordinate US covert efforts, Truman had created the Psychological Strategy Board (PSB). As the PSB was adopting the new program for the Middle East in early 1953, one of Eisenhower’s chief psychological warfare strategists, Edward P. Lilly, produced a memorandum called “The Religious Factor,” which called on the US to use religion more explicitly. Lilly made reference the great religious revival going on in the Muslim world, exemplified, he thought, by the Muslim Brotherhood.
As revealed by Pulitzer Prize winning author Ian Johnson, a meeting between the White House and the Muslim Brotherhood then took place in 1953. Said Ramadan, the Brotherhood’s leading figure and son-in-law to founder Hassan al Banna, was invited to attend a conference sponsored by the USIA, the State Department’s International Information Agency (IIA), Princeton and the Library of Congress. The CIA subsequently conducted an analysis of Ramadan and concluded that he “… seems to be a fascist, interested in… power. He did not display many ideas except for those of the Brotherhood.” Despite this supposed skepticism, the Princeton colloquium nevertheless encouraged the Eisenhower administration to provide support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
The CIA therefore began collaboration with the Brotherhood against their ex-ally, the now pro-Soviet Nasser. The real motivating factor was the possibility of exploiting the concept of “Jihad” against Communism. As reported in a memo of a conversation between Eisenhower, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Frank Wisner, the head of the Directorate of Plans of the CIA: “The President said… we should do everything possible to stress the ‘holy war’ aspect. Mr. Dulles commented that if Arabs have a ‘holy war’ they would want it to be against Israel. The President recalled, however, that [King Ibn] Saud… had called on all Arabs to oppose Communism.”
In 1954, Said Ramadan was part of a Muslim Brotherhood plot to assassinate Nasser, coordinated by the CIA with support from former Nazis, and was forced to flee the country. Following the attempt, Ramadan and other Brotherhood conspirators were charged with treason and stripped of their Egyptian citizenship. As Loftus discovered, many members were shuttled to the CIA’s ally Saudi Arabia, where they were given posts as “religious instructors,” and gave rise to a movement known as the “Sahwa,” by which they came to dominate Saudi education in “Islam.”
As detailed by Ian Johnson in A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West, the CIA connived to have Said Ramadan take over a Munich mosque project headed by ex-Nazi Gerhard von Mende. Part of this operation was the creation the American Committee for Liberation from Bolshevism (AMCOMLIB), whose main purpose was to run Radio Liberty. It was AMCOMLIB CIA officers Eric Kuniholm and Robert Dreher who provided funding for Said Ramadan to spearhead their activities at the mosque, which became the headquarters of the Brotherhood in Europe. Its influence spread out all over Germany, then Europe, and even the US, spawning a network of related Islamic centers, such as ISNA and CAIR.
Ramadan, with covert CIA help, reached the pinnacle of his influence with the assumption of leadership of the Muslim World League in the 1960s, which had been created under the encouragement of the CIA. Ramadan co-founded the League with the Grand Mufti al-Husseini, who also had extensive ties with the Nazis. The enduring relationship between the Nazis and the Muslim Brotherhood would account for the anti-Semitic strain that is common in Islamic extremism. As Tom Knowlton noted, in an article titled “Nazi Roots of Modern Radical Islam,” “if one examines the history of the Middle East, there is very little evidence of constant warring and animosity between Jews and Arabs.” “However,” he adds, “after over 700 years of peaceful coexistence, the true start of the Arab-Israeli conflict can be dated to 1920 and the rise of one man, Haj Amin Mohammed al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem.”
During the Cold War, Said Ramadan, despite generally viewing the West with disdain, followed al-Husseini in showing more concern over the Soviet communism as the foremost enemy of Islam. The US War Department observed as early as 1946 that the Mufti had informed his followers that communism supposedly violated the doctrines of the Quran.
However, Nasser’s power continued to grow. By 1963, he had sent 15,000 Egyptian soldiers to Yemen, but the war remained a stalemate. But with the CIA’s tacit approval, the Saudis provided funds for Brotherhood members who joined the anti-Nasser insurgency in Yemen. According to former CIA covert operations specialist John Baer, in Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude:
At the bottom of it all was this dirty little secret in Washington: The White House looked on the Brothers as a silent ally, a secret weapon against (what else?) communism. This covert action started in the 1050s with the Dulles brothers – Allen at the CIA and John Foster at the State Department – when they approved Saudi Arabia’s funding of Egypt’s Brothers against Nasser.
Like any other truly effective covert action, this one was strictly off the books. There was no CIA funding, no memorandum notification to Congress. Not a penny came out of the Treasury to fund it. In other words, no record. All the White House had to do was give a wink and a not to countries harboring the Muslim Brothers, like Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
More recent use of the Muslim Brotherhood was the installation of British agent Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran, to topple the Shah, who was threatening Western oil interests in the country. Crucial to his overthrow, as Robert Dreyfuss has shown in Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam, was the Iranian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, set up in the 1940s, and known as the Fedayeen-e Islam. The group was founded in 1945 by Ayatollah Kashani, Khomeini’s godfather and mentor, who had assisted the CIA and MI6 in their overthrow of Mossadegh in 1951. The CIA, says John Waller, who had joined the OSS [predecessor of the CIA] during World War II, funneled money to Kashani, seeing him as key to mobilizing the religiously-devout lower classes. Waller added, “I think he was truly religious, but forgive me for being a cynic. Being religious doesn’t distract you from political or commercial reality, or from sex.”
Kashani was no exception. The British had maintained long-standing ties with Iran’s clerics in their desire to safeguard their cherished asset, Anglo-Persian Oil, later renamed Anglo-Iranian Oil and finally British Petroleum (BP). Ashraf Pahlavi, the deposed Shah’s twin-sister, wrote in her memoirs, “many influential clergymen formed alliances with representatives of foreign powers, most of them British, and there was in fact a standing joke in Persia that said if you picked up a clergymen’s beard, you would see the words ‘Made in England’ stamped on the other side.” Similarly, Fereydoun Hoveyda, who served as Iran’s ambassador to the UN until 1979, said the British, “had financial deals with the mullahs. They would find the most important ones and they would help them. And the mullahs were smart: they knew that the British were the most important power in the world. It was also about money. The British would bring suitcases full of cash and give it to these people.”
The Iranian Revolution was coordinated with the assistance of the Aspen Institute and the Club of Rome, a project founded by officials of NATO at the Rockefeller family estate at Bellagio, Italy. In 1977, the Club of Rome and the Muslim Brotherhood created an organization called Islam and the West, headquartered in Geneva, under the guidance of Muslim Brotherhood leader and former Syrian Prime Minister Marouf Dawalibi. One of the sponsors of Islam and the West was the prestigious International Federation of Institutions of Advanced Studies, whose funders included, in addition to Aurelio Peccei, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and fellow Bilderberger Robert O. Anderson, chairman of the Aspen Institute and founder of the Atlantic Richfield Oil Co.
During 1978, negotiations were under way between the Shah’s government and British Petroleum for renewal of the 25-year old extraction agreement. By October 1978, the talks had collapsed over a British offer which demanded exclusive rights to Iran’s future oil output, while refusing to guarantee purchase of the oil. The Carter Administration, prompted by National Security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, then collaborated with the British. In November 1978, President Carter named the Bilderberg group’s George Ball to head a special White House Iran task force under Brzezinski. Ball recommended that the US drop support for the Shah of Iran in favor of the Ayatollah Khomeini.
Despite his blustering against the US as the “Great Satan,” the US began illegal transactions with the Ayatollah’s regime, which became the basis of the Iran-Contra Operation, whereby, the US ignored an embargo and made use of Israel to sell weapons to Iran. Proceeds were then traded in Nicaragua for cocaine to fund the right-wing Contras against the popularly-elected Sandanista regime, igniting the crack cocaine explosion of the 1980s, and in turn, these funds were further used to finance the CIA’s covert strategy in Afghanistan.
When neoconservative fanatics like Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld began hijacking the White House in the early 1970s, they fanned the fears of a hypothetical global “Terror Network,” supposedly orchestrated from Moscow. These irrational fears were used to justify the escalation of war in Afghanistan, which was initiated when Zbigniew Brzezinski lured the Soviets into invading the country by funding the rise of a faction of the Muslim Brotherhood, known as Hezb-i-Islami. The group was headed by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a notorious fanatic, who cooperated heavily with the Americans in exploiting the opium trade, such that Afghanistan now accounts for approximately 90% of the world’s supply.
Code-named as Operation Cyclone, it became the longest-running and most expensive in the CIA’s history, managed on their behalf by Saudi Arabia and the ISI, the Pakistani secret service. The CIA also initiated a world-wide recruitment campaign, using the international networks and propaganda skills of the Muslim Brotherhood, to rally Muslims of the world to join the “Jihad” in Afghanistan.
Among them was bin Laden. But bin Laden was not a fighter. Working closely with Saudi intelligence, bin Laden was the bagman responsible for transmitting funds to the front, and for training the thousands of recruits from around the world who became known as al Qaeda. In his own words, as reported by journalist Ahmed Rashid, bin Laden said, “I set up my first training camp where these volunteers were trained by Pakistani and American officers. The weapons were supplied by the Americans, the money by the Saudis.”
As to the risk of exploiting and fostering the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, in an interview with Le Nouvel Observateur on Junuary 15, 1998, Brzezinski responded:
Nonsense! It is said that the West had a global policy in regard to Islam. That is stupid. There isn’t a global Islam. Look at Islam in a rational manner and without demagoguery or emotion. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. But what is there in common among Saudi Arabian fundamentalism, moderate Morocco, Pakistan militarism, Egyptian pro-Western or Central Asian secularism? Nothing more than what unites the Christian countries.
Still heavily funded by Saudi Arabia, to this day the Muslim Brotherhood continues to promote the Salafist message of Jamal Afghani, which rejects classical Islamic scholarship, in favour of a fanatical and violence-prone interpretation of Islam designed to secretly serve Western interests in the region.
 Ouida, “Richard Burton,” Fortnightly Review, (June 1906).
 Johnson, Initiates of Theosophical Masters, p. 81.
 F. Hitchman, Burton, Vol. I, p. 286.
 (New York: The Humanities Press, 1966), p. 45.
 Dreyfuss, Devil’s Game, p. 49 and 51.
 “War Crimes Investigator Says Al Qaeda Spawned From Nazi Third Reich”, Warriors For Truth News Archives 2006; “The Muslim Brotherhood, The Nazis and Al-Qa’ida,” Nexus Magazine, Volume 12, Number 6 (October – November 2005).
 Daniele Ganser, Nato’s Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe, (London: Routledge, 2005), p. 52.
 Ibid., p. 118.
 Erikson, “Islamism, fascism and terrorism” (Part 3), Asia Times, (4 December 2002).
 Ian Johnson, A Mosque in Munich, p. 127.
 Tom Knowlton, “Nazi Roots of Modern Radical Islam,” DefenseWatch, December 18, 2002.
 Jerry Gordon, “How the CIA Helped The Muslim Brotherhood Infiltrate the West.” NewEnglishreview.org, (August, 2011).
 Sleeping With the Devil, (New York: Crown Publishers, 2003), p. 99.
 Dreyfuss, Devil’s Game, p. 125.
 Ibid., p. 112.
 Interview with Dreyfuss, Devil’s Game, p. 112.
 See Robert Dreyfuss, Hostage to Khomeini.
 William Engdahl, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, (Pluto Press Ltd., 1992, 2004), p. 171-174.
 Steve Coll, Ghost Wars, p. 146.
 AFP, “Laden planned a global Islamic revolution in 1995,” August 27, 1998. quoted from Rashid, Taliban, p. 132.