Brotherhood, Hitler and Mufti: a three-way alliance

The Mufti of Jerusalem meeting Adolph Hitler

The Muslim Brotherhood is back. Its spiritual leader Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawihas returned to Egypt from exile and has addressed an audience of millions in Tahrir Square in Cairo. Harold Brackman has produced a timely and significant report for the Simon Wiesenthal Centre against Antisemitism (PDF) warning against wishful thinking concerning the Brotherhood’s ‘moderation’. His report points out the three-way historic alliance between the Muslim Brotherhood, the Nazis, and Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem. Read it all ! (with thanks: Dan)

Assassinated in 1949 in retaliation for the Muslim Brotherhood’s role in murdering an Egyptian Prime Minister, Hassan al-Banna never stepped foot in Britain’s Palestine Mandate. Yet Hamas considers him as “a martyr” to the Palestinian cause. There is a certain logic in this posthumous honor because, without the pro-Nazi alliance between al-Banna and Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, Jerusalem’s Grand Mufti, before, during, and after World War II, the Muslim Brotherhood would never have achieved its prominence in Egypt or throughout the Middle

Al-Banna never visited Jerusalem, but he sent his brother there in 1935—the year before the eruption of the bloody “Arab Revolt” against the Jewish community—to lay the foundations of a political-military alliance with the Mufti.

Prominent since the 1929 anti-Jewish pogroms, the Mufti had modelled his auxiliary of 20,000 “child soldiers” on the Hitler Youth. He urged the Brotherhood to do the same in Egypt. Al Banna who already admired the Brownshirts readily agreed. A fascist party, Young Egypt, emerged with youthful paramilitary wing whose face was the “Green Shirts”—modelled of course on the Nazi youth cohort. Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat were attracted, but were also drawn into the orbit of the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood put serious business in the hands of a military fifth column or underground army modelled on General Franco’s “phalanges” (the term was translated into Arabic as kata’ib), also sometimes called “The Secret Apparatus” or military wing (in Arabic, Nizam al-Khass). During World War II, a British intelligence analyst assessing the threat posed by the Brotherhood’s “battalions,” actually characterized them as “suicide squads” organized to practice “terror.” Al-Banna received money from Nazi agents to establish his terror network.

The Brotherhood’s terror battalions were based in Egypt yet looked beyond it. Young members like Nasser and Sadat were recruited at the direction of the Mufti to spy on the British. They dreamed of the news that never came of a victory by General Rommel at El Alamein because this was supposed to be the trigger for a general anti-British uprising during which the Brotherhood would work with the Afrika Korps in eradicating—first Egyptian, then Palestinian—Jewry.

A Middle East Holocaust was no idle threat. When the results of Rommel’s lightning campaign were still in doubt, the rumor in Cairo was that Hitler had reserved two floors in the Shepherd’s Hotel to accept the British surrender of Africa. The Zionist leaders in British Palestine knew they faced an impending catastrophe. The Mufti escaped British scrutiny in Jerusalem for the more friendly confines of Berlin where in November, 1941, he had tea with Hitler who asked him “to lock in the innermost depths of his heart” that he (Hitler) “would carry on the battle to the total
destruction of the Judeo-Communist Empire in Europe.”

He collaborated with the Nazis in organizing a special Einsatzgruppe Egypt, to be headed by SS Colonel Walter Rauff that was supposed to follow in the wake of Rommel’s victorious army and systematically murder Egyptian and then Palestinian Jews. Inventor of the mobile death-gas van on the Russian front, Rauff never got further than Tunisia. Visiting Auschwitz with Himmler and Eichmann, the Mufti urged that the work of extermination be accelerated, and dreamed of the day when the Tel Aviv-Jaffa region could be made Judenrein without the need of railroad cars and the laborious “selection process” of the European Final Solution.

After Rommel failed, the Mufti bemoaned Hitler’s choice of invading Russia rather than first attacking the Middle East, as had Alexander the Great and Napoleon. Maybe Hitler was thinking a similar thought when he reportedly said that he “could win the war if he was a Mohammedan.”

Arab newspapers in Palestine pictured him and Mussolini in a god-like light, and Nazi
propagandists brainstormed about depicting his as a Prophet surpassing Muhammad or (for Shia consumption) the Twelfth Imam who would bring on “the ends of days.”

With the help of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Germans would quickly have disposed of the Middle East’s “Jewish problem”! In 1943, the Mufti reluctantly switched his advocacy to German mass bombing of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The Germans did do some bombing, but the Mufti’s more ambitious plan vetoed by Field Marshal Göring as impractical.

From his base in Europe, the Mufti showed that he, too, could have a powerful impact. As “Hitler’s Voice to the Arabs,” his radio broadcasts told the Muslim Brothers and other sympathisers that:

The Versailles Treaty was a disaster for the Germans as well as the Arabs. But the Germans know how to get rid of the Jews. . . . the Germans have never harmed any Muslim, and they are again fighting our common enemy who persecuted Arabs and Muslims. But most of all, they have definitely solved the Jewish problem. Arabs! Rise as one to protect your scared rights. Kill the Jews wherever you find them. . . . God is with you.

He also urged the ambush of British troops, and sabotage of British oil pipelines, bridges, and lines of communication. In addition, he helped recruit as many as 100,000 European Muslims to fight for the Third Reich, primarily in the Balkans but also in Hungary. His two Muslim Waffen-SS divisions are credited with murdering 90 percent of Bosnian Jews. In an extraordinary show of influence, he also convinced Himmler and Eichmann to change their minds and reject an Allied-proposed swap of 4,000 Jewish children destined for the death camps in return for the release of 20,000 German POWs. The Mufti viewed every European Jew gassed as one less potential Palestinian refugee who would need to be liquidated by his followers with the help of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The full proof that al-Banna and the Mufti were indeed “blood brothers” came when the Mufti escaped Nazi Germany the day after it surrendered, fleeing to France where he was held under “house arrest” in a luxury villa. Clement Atlee’s British government, General Charles De Gaulle’s French government, and Tito’s Yugoslav government all decided it was not in their interests to extradite him to Nuremberg for trial as a war criminal. (Let it be remembered that, soon after World War II, the New York Times featured a fawning interview with the Grand Mufti.)

A primary reason for the Mufti escaping prosecution was the thunderous campaign organized by the Muslim Brotherhood, whose membership had swelled to as many as 500,000 during the war, on the Mufti’s behalf. When the Mufti conveniently “escaped” from France and arrived in Cairo, the Brotherhood’s newspaper exulted that:

Thank you, our Lord, for your mercy . . . . The Arab hero and symbol of Al Jihad and patience and struggle is here in Egypt. The Mufti is among his friends. . . The Mufti is here, oh Palestine! Do not worry. The lion is safe among his brethren and he will draw plans of Al Jihad and struggle for you. We, here, shall be his soldiers and we shall not stop fighting for you until you rid yourself of Zionism. . . . Yet this hero who challenged an empire and fought Zionism, with the help of Hitler and Germany, Germany and Hitler are gone, but Amin al-Husseini will continue the struggle. . . . One hair of the Muftis is worth more than the Jews of the whole world. . . . Should one hair of the Mufti be touched, every Jew in the world would be killed without mercy.

As Paul Berman points out, while even Nazi war criminals who fled to Argentina found it wise to keep a low profile for several years, its was only in the Arab world that its most notorious war criminal—Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, Jerusalem’s Grand Mufti—received a hero’s welcome, thanks to his impregnable reputation among the Muslim Brotherhood as a positive symbol of both anti-Jewish jihad and Nazi Judeocide.

The Brotherhood’s Worst Nightmare: The New Jewish State: As Holocaust Survivors, many defying the British blockade, began arriving in the Holy Land and the UN began its slow progress toward a Partition Plan envisioning a Jewish and a Palestinian state, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood reacted with fury.

On November 2, 1945—”Balfour Day” celebrated as a day of rage by anti-Zionists—mobs
shouting “Death to the Jews” rioted in Cairo, Alexandria, and Port Said. Jewish businesses were pillaged by “hooligans and professional burglars” according to U.S. Naval Intelligence, but Coptic, Greek Orthodox, and Catholic organizations were also targeted. There followed a 1947 press campaign by the Brotherhood accusing Egyptian Jews with “secret plans to satisfy their greed” by controlling Egypt’s financial and political institutions.

Brothers burned down a Coptic Church during a religious service. Among their slogans: “Today it is Zionism’s turn, tomorrow it will be Christianity’s; today is Saturday, tomorrow will be Sunday.” The Brotherhood demanded the reintroduction of the dhimmi laws reducing Jews and Copts to second-class citizenship. To protect Cairo’s Jewish Quarter, the Egyptian government
had to declare a state of emergency and ban public demonstrations. Egyptians Jews were
blackmailed into making anti-Zionist statements and contributing to extremist Islamic causes.

In April, 1948, before the end of the British Mandate and outbreak of the Israeli War forIndependence, three battalions of Egyptian Muslim Brothers arrived to fight the Jews. Already in 1945, Said Ramadan—later, a key organizer of the Brotherhood in Western Europe—had opened its Jerusalem Branch back in 1945.

The Egyptian government, which initially refused to train Brotherhood volunteers, quickly changed its mind. One resident of Cairo’s Jewish Quarter remembers anti-Jewish “Pandemonium break[ing] loose” when Israel officially declared its independence. The truce of July, 1948, was marked by another “orgy of looting” and bombings of Jewish department stores, according to the British Ambassador. For three months, Egyptian Jewry was under siege.

Though only 471 Brotherhood volunteers fought in the war, the Brotherhood’s stock back home increased immeasurably, with its membership swelling to perhaps a million. The Egyptian government has second thoughts about the Brotherhood’s loyalty. It ordered a crackdown during which the police discovered “automatic weapons, grenades, gelignite with fuses, detonators packed in bags and crates, gun cotton, ammunition, bombs, as well as forged car numbers.”

Moderate Prime Minister Mahmoud an-Nukrashi ordered the crackdown because the Brotherhood was attempting “to overthrow the established order in Egypt under cover of helping the struggle against Zionism in Palestine.” The Prime Minister had also been reluctant to go to war with the new Jewish state. He was assassinated, probably on orders of the Brotherhood, in late December, 1948. The assassination, probably by Egyptian security agents, of Hassan al-Banna, soon followed. A new, troubled era had begun.

Read report in full

Barry Rubin on the Muslim Brotherhood (video)

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