Posted on 11 April 2008.
Is Mr. Haqqani a Neocon mole in Islamabad? How long can he last?
Is Husain Haqqani a “Mir Jaffar” Neocon Mole planted in Pakistan to monitor and report on the inner workings of the nuclear program? He received more than a quarter of million Dollars for research on similar subjects. See AIPAC press release below.
Husain Haqqani: Dangerous 5th column or selfish opportunist?
Pakistan’s New Ambassador: Traitor or Naïve fool?
Mr. Potato-Chips goes to Washington:-Neocon from Pakistan
A rebuttal to Mr. Haqqani: US policy and Pakistan’s drift
Mr. Haqqan is the new Ambassador to the USA. Pakistanis had breathed a sigh of relief when it was reported that he did not get the job as the Ambassador to the USA–it was not to be. As ambassador to the USA, Haqqani will essentially act as a “prime minister representative to foreign governments,” though the duties of the job have yet to be defined. Pakistani Americans hopes he is sent back to Sri Lanka.
It is a matter of public debate. Which flag does Mr. Haqqani owe his allegiance to?
Who is Haqqani? A Western Oriental Gentleman (WOG) came to the USA in 2002. His credentials were pretty weak an MA from The University of Karachi. He noticed that there was a huge opportunity in making a deal with Faust and selling Islamphobia to the naive and scared American public. In the grand tradition of “Orientalism”, this new FOB (Fresh of the boat) man jumped on the Neocon bandwagon and stabbed the Civil Rights Movement in the heart. Mr. Hussain Haqqani’s incorrect, false and incendiary statements caused havoc with the normal functioning of the great American Democracy. Hackles were raised. If a man named Hussian said this, it must be true. If a Pakistani said this it must have veracity.
The major Kashmiri Jihadi groups retain their infrastructure because the Pakistani military has not decided to give up the option of battling India at a future date. Afghanistan’s Taliban also continue to find safe haven in parts of Pakistan. Hussain Haqqani
Mr. Haqqani’s statements and article fanned the wave of Islamphobia which ended up affecting the lives, and livelihood of thousands of Muslims. It was because of this sort of Islamphobic drivel that thousands of Pakistanis were packed up in C-130s and sent back to Pakistan. If they were lucky the spent a few nights in the rape and sodomy centers of 3rd world and Eastern European torture centers. If they were unlucky many of these Pizza Delivery people ended up in Gitmo. If they were unlucky they ended up in satellite prison systems in Egypt and Jordan’s notorious “mukhabarrat”. For these unlucky souls Abu Ghraib would be a picnic. Many of these horror stories are listed in “Civil Rights in Peril” and hundreds of other Human rights and Amnesty International reports.
Synopses & Reviews Publisher Comments:
Among U.S. allies in the war against terrorism, Pakistan cannot be easily characterized as either friend or foe. Nuclear-armed Pakistan is an important center of radical Islamic ideas and groups. Since 9/11, the selective cooperation of president General Pervez Musharraf in sharing intelligence with the United States and apprehending al Qaeda members has led to the assumption that Pakistan might be ready to give up its longstanding ties with radical Islam. But Pakistans status as an Islamic ideological state is closely linked with the Pakistani elites worldview and the praetorian ambitions of its military. This book analyzes the origins of the relationships between Islamist groups and Pakistans military, and explores the nations quest for identity and security. Tracing how the military has sought U.S. support by making itself useful for concerns of the momentwhile continuing to strengthen the mosque-military alliance within PakistanHaqqani offers an alternative view of political developments since the countrys independence in 1947.
Book News Annotation:
Tracing political developments in Pakistan from the deliberately vague ideological justifications the Muslim League’s Muhhamad Ali Jinnah employed in calling for the formation of Pakistan to the present time, Haqqani (a former advisor to three Pakistani prime ministers and now a professor of international relations at Boston U.) analyzes the uneasy political alliance between the military and Islamists that has developed over the years and now poses unique challenges for the American “War on Terror” and relations with South Asia. Distributed in the US by Brookings Institution Press.
Annotation ?2005 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Because of its cooperation with the United States since 9/11, Pakistan is thought to be ready to give up its longstanding ties with radical Islam. But its status as an ideological Islamic state is closely linked with the Pakistani elite’s worldview and the praetorian ambitions of its military. This book analyzes the relationships between Islamist groups and Pakistan’s military. Tracing how the military has sought U.S. support by making itself useful for concerns of the moment–while continuing to strengthen the mosque-military alliance within Pakistan–Haqqani offers an alternative view of political developments since the country’s independence in 1947.
Mr. Haqqani should have been defending the innocent. He was like Nero wathcin Rome Burn. Mr. Haqqani was not just a spectator, he was an active participat on the crusade on Muslims in the West.
Now this Neocon is coming back to the USA as Pakistan’s ambassador to the USA?
Mr. Neocon goes to Washington–from Pakistan
Mr. Haqqani addressed the Jewish Institute of National Security Affairs (JINSA). The tone and content of his sppech disparaged Pakistan and Pakistanis.
April 27, 2004 in JINSA Events, Programs, Publications and Notices : Events, Meetings and Programs : The Policy Forum
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Dealing with a Difficult Ally; Pakistan’s Tenuous Role in American Foreign Policy
Husain Haqqani Outlines Four Trouble Spots in Pakistan-U.S. Relations
“Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are two of the United State’s most difficult allies. Why difficult? Because there are those who would argue they are not allies at all… but [are, in fact] sources of trouble.” Speaking before a standing-room only crowd at the JINSA Policy Forum on March 2, 2004, Husain Haqqani, a Visiting Scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former advisor to Pakistani prime ministers Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, Nawaz Sharif, and Benazir Bhutto, shared insights into four alarming trends with the potential to seriously complicate American relations with Pakistan. These trends, he said, are nuclear weapons proliferation, Pakistan’s role as a center of an Islamic militant movement, the continued precariousness of South Asian regional politics, and domestic issues complicating Pakistani efforts towards international engagements.
Nuclear Weapons Proliferation
Reflecting recent mainstream news coverage on the issue, Haqqani, a syndicated columnist for the Indian Express, Gulf News and The Nation (Pakistan), reiterated the pressing danger of Pakistani-orchestrated nuclear arms proliferation. Though such dangers have been recognized by the American government as a growing security threat, he explained, “there is going to be no consequences for Pakistan, because Pakistan is cooperating with the United States in the hunt for Bin Laden.”
Hussain Haqqani during JINSA’s March 2, 2004 Policy Forum.
Pakistan’s Role as a Center of an Militant Islamic Movement
While lauded for its cooperative role in war against terrorism, Haqqani suggested that Pakistan also has, and continues, to serve as the center of an Islamic militant movement. Abdul Alaa Maududi, founder of Pakistan’s Jamaat-e-Islami movement, authored Jihad for Islam, a seminal work regarded by Haqqani and others “as the boiler plate for subsequent developments in that whole theory about global [Jihaddist] effort.” While Pakistan acts as a central hub for international Islamic militancy, such violent factions also enjoy domestic support within elements of the Pakistani government. Haqqani suggested that “Pakistan’s military for strategic reasons has allied [with Islamic militancy] time and time against, and it was the alliance between the mosque and the militancy … which produced things like the Taliban.”
The Continued Precariousness of South Asian Regional Politics
The sporadic volatility of Indian-Pakistani relations, Haqqani reasoned, functions as the conduit for Pakistan’s military to gain control of the country. Regardless of the present strategic threat posed by India, the fact remains that “just as major threats to national security require large national security establishments, sometimes having a large national security establishment requires a large national security threat.” Continuing the explanation, “after the threat [of Indian secessionism] is gone, [the Pakistani military] has to continue to say that India is an existential threat.” In addition, Kashmir remains a key issue of international dispute, and Haqqani suggested it too functions as the means for the military establishment “essentially to justify its own role as Pakistan’s final arbiter and of the ruler of Pakistan.” By periodically putting pressure on India military Pakistan’s governing body solidifies its dominion over the nation – a particularly perilous and precarious balance of power, especially in light of the recent South Asian nuclear arms race; “The Pakistani military, like all praetorian militaries, basically does not want to relinquish power. So therefore they have to keep the South Asian competition alive.”
Domestic Issues Complicate International Engagements
Pakistan, while competing in the South Asian arms race and possessing the means to deliver nuclear weapons 1500 kilometers beyond its borders and vying for international prestige, faces growing domestic economic concerns. Thirty-one percent of the population lives below the international poverty line, with another 21 percent struggling at levels just above the $1 a day threshold. While both India and Pakistan originally faced similar patterns of rampant poverty, poverty levels in India have been decreasing yearly while they continue to rise on an annual basis in Pakistan. Haqqani believes that Pakistan spends roughly six percent on its GDP on the military and, given India’s dynamic economy, Pakistani efforts to match the military outputs of India cannot continue indefinitely.
Concerns over “nuclear weapons, Islamic militancy, extreme poverty, and a military that doesn’t want to relinquish power” exist in Pakistan, Haqqani noted. But complicating possible reformers is the fact that Pakistan’s leadership has historically enjoyed a “grossly exaggerated notion of [its] significance in the world.” The phenomenon has resulted from the United States’ repeated engagement of Pakistan as a client in dealing with regional problems such as supporting the mujaheddin in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union rather than developing a true partnership based on the sharing of liberal values and common regional goals.
Currently the U.S. government supports [Pakistan's dictator] Gen. Pervez Musharraf on account of his promise to continue efforts to defeat Islamic militancy, Haqqani reminded the audience. While Musharraf has enjoyed successes in combating terror, however, the Pakistani leadership continues to view “some Islamic groups [of questionable character in favorable light] because they have been helpful to the Pakistani military in tying down Indian troops in Kashmir.” Moreover, one must wonder why there have been nearly simultaneous terrorist attacks in both Pakistan and Turkey and in Pakistan and Iraq. Indeed, there exists in Pakistan an underground terror network that Musharraf is not targeting “partially because he doesn’t have the capacity to break it down [since] he and many of his military colleagues created this fire. When the ones who lit the fire are asked to put it out they still have some ideas about ‘this part of the fire we like,’” Haqqani said.
The aftermath of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl’s murder provides insight into the troublesome relations between Pakistan’s ruling elite and organizations carrying out terrorism, Haqqani related. When al Qaeda operative Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, upon learning he had been implicated in Pearl’s kidnapping and killing, contacted a Pakistani military intelligence officer who had been his handler, he inadvertently turned himself in to government forces and, moreover, presumably did so with mindset that he was dealing with friendly forces. “The fact that [an al Qaeda terrorist] feels so comfortable with Pakistani intelligence officers … is a source of worry in itself,” Haqqani said.
These issues suggest America should reevaluate its attitude towards Pakistan and the country’s leadership. U.S. policy makers, Haqqani concluded, “have opted so far to put their faith in General Musharraf and nudge him very gently. Not publicly but only privately.” Perhaps, given the gravity of the concerns, it may be best to explore other means to enact policy change and explore the serious challenges Pakistan poses as a difficult ally.
By JINSA Editorial Assistant Shai Dardashti
Is Mr. Haqqani a Pakistani Ambassador a security risk for Pakistan. Is Mr. Husain Haqqani a US citizen? His interests are making money and supporting the Neocon cause disqualifies him from representing Pakistan. As Pakistan’s ambassador to the USA., his deep links with the think tanks will jeopardize national security. There was a huge outcry on importing the last Prime Minister from the USA, and Mr. Zardari as well as Mr. Sharif said, that this would never happen in their administration. They are kind of correct, because they are not importing Mr. Haqqani, they are simply giving him a new title. His loyalties will remain with those who have written him huge paychecks.
What irked Pakistani Americans most about Mr. Haqqani’s writings were his insinuations innuendo and portrayal of false history about Islam in America. His most egregious offense was to cast doubt on the loyalty of Muslims in America. His portrayal of terrorists cells and sleeper cells mirrored the writings of Dr. Emersen, Robert Spencer, David Harowitz, Michelle Milkin and others the worst Islamphobes in the planet. For example Mr. Haqqani’s article with the innocuous title “The Politicization of American Islam” is a ticking time bomb for American Muslims. It is exactly these type of writings that have encouraged Michelle Malken to write “The Case for internment”, a book that propounds the thesis that the internment of innocent American citizens who happened to be Japanese
However he has more than skeletons in his closet. He is a closet full of skeletons. For the past decade his sordid connections with the Neocons and their think tanks created this tsunami of Islamphobic rhetoric that eventually turned into a crescendo of Anti-Pakistan balderdash.
The new Pakistani ambassador to the USA will be very comfortable in Washington circles. His last paychecks came from the DC think tanks which have propagated the culture of hate against Pakistan. Mr. Husain Haqqani is a honorable gentleman, well read, and prolific in his writings in English as well as Urdu. His mastery of Urdu literature, and his cognizance of world affairs, and his intimate knowledge of Pakistani politics should be commended. In circumstances other than today, he would have made a good ambassador for Pakistan.
As Islam continues to win converts in the United States, these new converts are more likely to be influenced by radical Islam than by traditional Islam.Husain Haqqni
The portrayal of DMS (Dead Muslim Scholars) as progenitors of all evil in the world is a growth industry in America. Mr. Haqqanis writings linking DMSs to 911 and future events is exactly what is depicted in Mr. Geert Wilder’s balderdash “Fitna”. If Fitna is blasphemy, Mr. Haqani’s sacrilegious writings also create psychopathic paranoia in the intellectual circles of America. What is worse, Mr. Haqqani’s writings are then quoted as “fact” to create discriminatory laws, illegal surveillance and creates the case to end Habeas Corpus via the “Patriot Act” Laws.
Many mosques and organizations in North America are influenced or controlled by associates of the Muslim BrotherhoodHussain Haqqani
These sort of statements are insidious on many counts:
1) What does “some” mean. There are more than 3000 mosques in the USA. Taking a conservative estimate of 10% that amounts to about 300 mosques. Even if it is 150 (5%) or even less than that 50, that is enough to cover many major cities of the USA. In fact Congressman Peter King and Mr. Emersen did exactly what was feared. They took Mr. Haqqani’s sentence and substituted “some” for 80% and plastered the internet and airwaves with this gobbledygook
2) The other problem with this claptrap is usage the of the word “controlled.” Mr. Haqqani makes it sound as if the mosques are fully owned franchises of the Waffen SS, complete with nazi salutes, arms and brownshirts. In fact this is exactly what has happened, Mr. Robert Spencer taking cue from writings like those of Mr. Haqqani recently celebrated “Islam-Fascism” week on American University campuses. All Islamphobes one can list were there spreading the same kind of hate. This sort of nonsense also shows up in American foreign policy, targeted killings, drone bombings and cross border raids on innocent civilians in Waziristan and FATA. In a sense this article is responsible for blood on Mr. Haqqani’s hands. Obviously the poorly run, dilapidated building passing for mosques are the first attempt of Muslims to create and be part of the American mainstream by building a community. Mr. Haqqani’s unsubstantiated claims not withstanding, there are several books that have repudiated this drivel. Two books “Why they don’t hate us”, and “Civil rights in Peril” refute the Haqqani neurosis. We wish Mr. Haqqani had participated in writing these and thse types of books. Alas! Mr. Haqqani used his command of the English language to fill his pockets on the heads of poor and innocent Muslims and Pakistanis
3) Mr. Haqqani’s insinuations have harmed the Muslims in America and Muslims all over the world an has harmed Pakistan by these type of articles. For example he insinuation has tried tie Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) with these groups overseas. The struggle for Muslim Civil Rights has thus impaired Muslim civil rights and harmed America.
4) Muslim Civili Rights organization and other organizations in the USA know Mr. Haqqani’s records. Mr. Haqqani will be unable to function in the USA as an ambassador of one of the largest Muslim countries in the world when he is identified with the Neocons who forced Mr. Bush to wage war on Afghanistan and Iraq. It is these same Neocons who are ready to attack Iran and bomb Pakistan.
In short, Mr. Haqqani’s writings have done great harm to Pakistanis and Muslims.
This is his official biography posted on his own website http://www.husainhaqqani.com/:
Husain Haqqani is Director of the Center for International Relations and Professor at Boston University. He is Co-Chair of the Hudson Institute’s Project on the Future of the Muslim World as well as editor of the journal ‘Current Trends in Islamist Thought’ published from Washington DC.
Haqqani came to the U.S. in 2002 as a Visiting Scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington DC and an adjunct Professor at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University. He is a leading journalist, diplomat, and former advisor to Pakistani Prime ministers. His syndicated column is published in several newspapers in South Asia and the Middle East, including Oman Tribune, Jang, The Indian Express, Gulf News and The Nation (Pakistan).
Husain Haqqani is co-chair of the Islam and Democracy Project at the Hudson Institute. This is a Neocon think tank which is very Anti-Islam. For details on this group with Fascist leanings, see Appendix A. Mr. Haqqani not only was a member of this institute, he also participated in and was the co-chair “Islam and Democracy”, an anthology of Islamphobic writings spreading paranoia and hatred towards all Muslims and Pakistanis in America.
Semantics are extremely important. We strenuously objected to Mr. Haqqani’s usage of Quranic words for nafarous purposes. He continues to use the words giving succor to the enemy, but also encouragin appartichiks like Mr. Shaharyar to “monkey say monkey do” follow in his footsteps and use the same blasphemous wordings. Mr. Haqqani should be aware that blasphemy is still an offense in Pakistan and congucating Quranic terms to portray ignoble people is blasphemy. When Pakistani territory is called a “safe haven”, instead of a hideout, it creates paranoia in Washington.
The Ideologies of South Asian Jihadi Groups (Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, April 2005)
We have repeatedly requested Mr. Haqqani not to use Neocon language. He continues to do so. One would have expected Mr. Haqqani to be the frontline “haraval dasta” to mold American opinion in projecting a realistic picture of Pakistan. By his writings, Mr. Neocon Haqqani did the exact opposite.
Against the murdered shut the door, not bear the knife himself
The Pakistani Ambassador to the United States of America is one of the most important positions in the world. The Ambassador represents Pakistan, Pakistani thought and Pakistani interests. Mr. Haqqani represents none of the credentials. The fastest way to fame in the America of 2002 was to create an atmosphere of “the hordes are coming” and write about “sleeper cells”. Mr. Haqqani in a faustian deal with the think tanks did exactly that. To sell books and get his articles published Mr. Haqqani followed the Salman Rusdie route to notoriety. He is a biased partisan of the PPPP to such an extent that he has for the past decade sacrificed Pakistan’s interests for the sake of putting the PPPP back in power in Islamabad.
In the interest of full disclosure, this author has been in email contact with Mr. Haqqani for years. We posted the email exchange on RupeeNews.com, however Mr. Haqqani objected to personal email being posted on the internet. This was a reasonable request so we removed his portion of the comments. He appreciated the quick response to his request.
These issues will not go away. It would be best if Mr. Haqqani is never made Ambassador. It would be horrible for him, if had to resign later.
This article will be researched and Mr. Haqqani’s writings will be added to the articles on a periodic basis. By writing this article we are very well aware that our invitations to the Pakistani Embassy implaced by Dr. Maleeha Lodhi will be canceled by Mr. Haqqani!
The History and Unwritten Future of Salafism HILLEL FRADKIN
The Brotherhood in the Islamist Universe GILLES KEPEL
Something’s Rotten in Denmark NASER KHADER
The Islamization of Arab Culture HASSAN MNEIMNEH
The Crisis of the Arab Brotherhood ISRAEL ELAD ALTMAN
Reporting the Muslim Brotherhood ROD DREHER
The Brotherhood’s Westward Expansion IAN JOHNSON
The Brotherhood Network in the U.S ZEYNO BARAN
The Politicization of American Islam HUSAIN HAQQANI
Contributors and Editors
Hillel Fradkin, a Hudson Institute Senior Fellow, is the Director of the Center for Islam, Democracy, and the Future of the Muslim World.
Husain Haqqani is co-chair of the Islam and Democracy Project at the Hudson Institute.
Eric Brown is a Research Fellow with the Hudson Institute’s Center on Islam, Democracy, and the Future of the Muslim World.
The Politicization of American Islam
by Husain Haqqani Published on Tuesday, March 18, 2008
REPORTS Current Trends in Islamist Ideology vol. 6
Since its inception, the Muslim Brotherhood has defined itself as the vanguard of a global Islamic revival. After starting out in Egypt in 1928, the Brotherhood had set up branches in Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Morocco, Hyderabad (India), Hadramawt (Yemen) and Paris by 1937.1 The universality of the Brotherhood’s ideology and organization was described by its founder, Hassan al-Banna when he said:
A Muslim individual, Muslim family, Muslim nation, Muslim government and Muslim state should be able to lead Islamic governments, should be able to unite the dispersed Muslims, should be able to regain their honor and superiority, and should be able to recover their lost lands, their usurped regions and their occupied territories. Then it should be able to raise the flag of Jihad and the call towards Allah until the entire world is benefited by the teachings of Islam.2
In al-Banna’s vision, the Brotherhood was not to be restricted to a single country or region. Its members had the responsibility of organizing themselves and carrying its message throughout the world. Since the objective of this organization was not merely to expand Islamic piety but rather to create an Islamic political entity, the Brotherhood could not ignore the major actors in its global power play. Within the Muslim world, the Brotherhood sought members who would struggle to create and lead what they construed as the Islamic State. In countries with non-Muslim majorities, the purpose was to advance the Brotherhood’s political agenda by all means possible. In a message addressed to members of the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Banna stated:
Always remember that you have two basic objectives: number one, that the Islamic country should be free from all foreign control, for freedom is the natural right of every man which can be denied only by an oppressive dictator; second, in this free land [the concept of freedom in this context is very different from a Western understanding], a free Islamic government should be established which should act on the Islamic commands, should enforce its collective system, should declare its right principles as operative, and should popularize among the people its message which is based on wisdom. As long as the government is not established, all Muslims will be guilty, and for any slackness and carelessness in this connection will have to be accountable before Allah.3
The Muslim Brothers’ mission is defined in a seven-point pledge of allegiance, which emphasizes the connection between being personally religious and creating an Islamic polity.
The Oath of Allegiance
First, a person who takes the oath of allegiance to the Brotherhood acknowledges that he will build up “an Islamic personality: his body should be strong; his character should be firm; his thinking should be mature and balanced; he should be capable of earning his living and be resourceful; his belief should be on the right lines and his prayers should be selfless; he should be keen for his progress as an individual, and mindful of his time; all his affairs should be organized; and his existence should be beneficial for others to the best possible extent. These are the duties of every Muslim Brother individually.”4
Second, he should establish a Muslim family. Each Brother should win the loyalty of his own family members; he should prepare them to be respectful of Islamic etiquette in their private lives and to follow it. He should give to his sons and his servants the best available training and should instruct them, bringing them up on Islamic teachings. This is the duty of a Muslim Brother in relation to his family.
Third, the Brother should work to reform society. He should popularize righteous living; he should encourage the prohibition of evil deeds, and should encourage performance of good acts that exalt virtue, and a competitive spirit in performing good deeds. Importantly, he should induce the people to “color their whole living in the Islamic hue.”5 This is the duty of the Muslim Brotherhood, of every Brother individually, and it is also the responsibility, as a whole, of the entire Jamaah of the Brotherhood.
Fourth, a Muslim Brother should free his country from every foreign, non-Islamic control. He should not allow any other political, spiritual or economic power to step into authority.
Fifth, he should reform his government until it is, in the true sense of the word, converted into an Islamic type of government, able to perform its duty and responsibility as a servant of the entire Muslim community of believers, or Umma.
Sixth, the Muslim Brotherhood should collectively work to restore the international position of the Umma. To this end, it will be necessary to liberate occupied Muslim regions. The Brotherhood should restore Muslim honor and superiority; it should promote its civilization and re-establish its culture. A new spirit of oneness should be instilled until the entire Umma becomes a heartwarming unity. In this way the crown and throne of the caliphate of the world can be regained. Seventh, the Muslim Brotherhood should perform the duties of the teacher, serving as the “guide to the whole world.”6 Beginning with the individual, the focus then expands to the family, then the Muslim society, then the Muslim states and governments, and then to the whole world. The Muslim Brotherhood stipulates spreading its politicized version of Islam “to every nook and cranny of the world in a way that there will not remain any trace of polytheism on this earth, and everywhere the invigorating sight of obedience to Allah may be seen everywhere. Indeed, Allah cannot but make his light supreme.”7 This casting of Islam as an ideology, as opposed to a religion that serves as the means of spiritual salvation to its followers, sets the Muslim Brotherhood apart from purely religious groups. Assertions about the universality of a religion can be found in the writings and pronouncements of preachers of other faiths. Statements such as eliminating polytheism might have been read differently, perhaps as pious objectives of a puritanical group, if the political agenda of foisting an Islamic State did not accompany these declarations.
The objectives, the method, and the outline of the Muslim Brotherhood’s message as defined by its founder in the 1930s—shortly after the founding of the Brotherhood—has been consistently followed by successive generations of Muslim Brotherhood members. Since then, the Muslim Brotherhood and its fellow travelers have expanded their presence to almost all continents. In the United States, the Brotherhood’s expansion has been particularly significant.
Taking Root in American Soil
There was an indigenous Muslim community in America, especially among African-Americans, long before significant numbers of immigrant Muslims started arriving in the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1950s, Muslim immigrants came either as students at American colleges and universities, or as young men and women who, after completing their education, decided to pursue the American dream. They did not come to Islamize the United States or to pursue the agenda of political Islam. But they did have religious needs. They needed a mosque to pray in, halal food to eat, proper religious and cultural education for their children, and they needed to arrange and organize marriages and burials according to Islamic rituals. Muslim immigrants to the United States also discovered that certain economic practices common in the U.S.—for example, mortgage financing and bank interest—were being questioned by theologians in the Muslim world, and thus they started worrying about how to have banking arrangements that were not interest-based.
Members of the Muslim Brotherhood rose as leaders of the burgeoning American Muslim community ostensibly to address the Muslim community’s concerns and needs. In the process, they were also able to lay the foundation of political as well as potentially radical networks that would advance the ideological agenda laid out by Hassan al-Banna. Thanks to them, four things happened simultaneously in the 1950s.
First, the Muslim Brotherhood needed cadres worldwide, since it was propounding a universal message. The Muslim Brotherhood initially comprised people who could read and write, but now they were looking for people with higher education to fill out a more robust talent pool. Since many young Muslims had come to the United States to receive an education, the Muslim Brotherhood recognized that they could get better quality cadres by drawing from Muslims studying in the United States.
Second, for Muslims who came to the United States as students, or as young professionals starting out in pursuit of the American dream, there was a need for services in relation to prayer, religious obligations, and the Muslim equivalent of a Sunday school for their children. The Brotherhood astutely recognized that the Muslim community’s needs could dovetail nicely with its own. The immigrants had come to the United States to pursue a home and a car, a good job and an education for their children. Most of them sought an Islamic tradition—including a house of worship and a relationship to God—but were not necessarily motivated to change the world or to wage Jihad. However, if the Islamistswere the only providers of religious services, those young and ambitious Muslims, who were not very clear about their own religious beliefs, would embrace political Islam as their ideology in an attempt to protect their Islamic identity and heritage.
The third key development in the 1950s was Saudi Arabia’s emergence on the global scene and its desire for influence among the world’s Muslims. Hermann Eilts, who served as U.S. ambassador to Egypt and Saudi Arabia reports that, in the late 1940s, Hassan al-Banna and some of his closest associates used to travel to Saudi Arabia—not the Saudi Arabia of today, but a kingdom that was still just coming out the shadows of its early Wahhabi, non-modernist beginnings. The Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, in particular, had ties with the Saudis. According to Eilts, Sheikh Mohammed Suroor Sabhan, a Sudanese, was Saudi deputy finance minister at the time and bore responsibility for providing money for the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence-building program.8 Now that Saudi funding was available, this collusion coincided nicely with the international agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood. All al-Banna and his associates had to do was persuade the Saudis that expanding into Europe and America was a significant opportunity and a worthwhile investment.
The fourth issue that worked to the Brotherhood’s advantage during the 1950s was the Cold War. The U.S. was still trying to find its way in a very complex new world, and American policymakers were not necessarily aware of the complexities they were facing. They took a binary approach: the U.S. needed to contain communism, which also meant it needed to stop newly-independent Muslim countries from becoming friends of the Soviets. Thus, anybody the Americans could find to help in that process became a useful partner. This approach positioned the Saudis as key allies of the United States, and the Muslim Brotherhood was allied to the Saudis. Therefore, in the context of the Cold War, the U.S. and the Muslim Brotherhood seemed to be potential partners. The level of sophistication regarding the Middle East in the United States was very limited at this time (some would argue that it still is). For example, there was an education initiative called the “Red Pig” campaign. “Pig” is the symbol of dirt—and hence forbidden by Islam. Propagandists combined it with “red,” meaning communist, to create the phrase “Red Pig,” a simplistic term meant to convince Muslims that the communists were bad.9
Another idea conceived by the Americans was to try to find a “Muslim Billy Graham.” The person most likely to be identified as a Muslim Billy Graham could only be someone who himself wanted to be identified as such; somebody eager for the funding and support needed to carry out his own crusade. Not surprisingly, one of the people who showed up to fill that role was a man by the name of Said Ramadan. He was the husband of Wafa al-Banna, who was the daughter of Hassan al-Banna. By 1953, Hassan al-Banna’s son-in-law was privileged to have a meeting in the Oval Office with Dwight Eisenhower, the President of the United States. In his role as a potential Muslim Billy Graham, some in Washington expected him to mobilize the Muslims of the world against the evil and atheism of communism.10
Building a Global Network
The Egyptian revolution in 1952 led by Gamal Abdel Nasser marked the beginning of the rise of Arab nationalism. Within a few years, Iraq fell to the Baathists and, later on, came under communist influence. These developments made the Cold War paradigm of seeking allies opposed to Soviet influence all the more urgent. The Muslim Brotherhood was looked upon with renewed interest and favor, especially by the U.S. intelligence community, which envisioned it as a major source of resistance against Arab nationalism and Nasserism. Said Ramadan recognized a golden opportunity when he saw one, and quickly and strategically positioned himself. Western-educated, and with exceptional access, he started building up the Brotherhood’s international institutional mechanism. Although the Muslim Brotherhood was restricted to Arabic-speaking countries at this time, Said forged an alliance with the fledgling Muslim state in Pakistan, and especially with Jamaat-e-Islami led by Abul A‘la Maududi. In fact, Ramadan gained enough influence in Pakistan by the time of the first World Muslim Congress held in Karachi in 1949 that Pakistan’s prime minister—a Westernized man very much in President Truman’s favor —wrote the preface to one of Ramadan’s first books. In essence, a secular national leader was writing the preface to an Islamist scholar’s book, thus implying that radical Islam could be the west’s ally within the greater framework of the Cold War.
Said Ramadan set up the Islamic center in Geneva in 1961, and then in 1962, Saudi Crown Prince Faisal Abdul Aziz helped create the Muslim World League, also known as Rabita al-Alam al-Islami. Radical Islam has noticeably flourished in places where people linked to the Rabita originated: Ramadan himself was Egyptian; Abul A‘la Maududi, Pakistani; Haj Amin al-Husseini, of Palestine; Sibghatullah Mujaddedi of Afghanistan; Mohammed ibn Ibrahim al-Shehr, the Saudi Grand Mufti; and Abdul Rahman and Yahya al-Iryani of Yemen. The Rabita became a major funding source for radical Islamic projects all over the world. Given the fact that the American Muslim population comprised either of young professionals or students, one of the first organizational structures to emerge in the United States was the Muslim Students Association (MSA), founded by an Iraqi Kurd, Jamal Barzanji and his family network, all of whom were associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood-linked students who grew out of the student format then created other institutions such as the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY). At the same time, the Muslims Students Association of America became the pivot of an International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations (IIFSO).Another important Brotherhood achievement took place in the publishing world. Noting that fewer books had been translated from western languages into Arabic in the last 100 years than were translated into Spanish every year, the MSA sought and acquired funding to do a massive translation project of all the major texts of radical Islam: the works of Said Qutb, Abul A‘la Maududi, al-Banna, and everyone else in the Brotherhood’s ideological network were widely published and distributed. These texts were translated into 70 languages, thus making them available to every Muslim center or mosque. When American Muslim college students visited their school’s Muslim prayer room, they could choose any of these Islamist books to take home. All of these were edited, published, and/or printed in either Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, and to this day remain available free of charge.
Traditionalist Islamic texts do not enjoy the benefit of such broad and free circulation, nor do modernist writings that seek to bridge the divide between Islam and the West. Instead, the translated books have helped bring an entire generation of young Muslims closer to the Brotherhood’s politicized view of Islam than, for instance, the Sufi version emphasizing piety. A young Muslim engineering student, say in Oklahoma or Michigan who wants to learn about his faith can simply visit the school’s prayer hall and take whatever Islamist literature he wants: if he is a Turk, it’s available in Turkish, if he is from India, it’s available in Hindi, if he is Pakistani it’s available in Urdu, and it’s certainly available in English. He mbraces the Brotherhood’s notion of Islam as political ideology and is inadvertently influenced by Jihadist ideas, often with little awareness of the pluralist traditions within Islam.
The Muslim Students Association also started inviting speakers to the United States from the Muslim world, including Abul A‘la Maududi, Abul Hassan Ali Nadvi, and Yusuf al-Qaradawi. While the American government facilitated these trips because they perceived the speakers to be devoutly anti-communist (which they in fact were), most of the lectures were actually about the impending clash between Islam and the West. In essence, as far back as the 1970s, the Muslim Brotherhood was fighting communism while at the same time preparing its followers for a confrontation with the West. Maududi’s speeches in America, each one subsequently published in book form, are very strong on this subject—as are Nadvi’s and Qaradawi’s. Their cumulative message focuses on how the Westernized way of life is not going to be Islam’s salvation. Instead of modernizing the Muslim world, the Muslim Brothers’ agenda, then and now, is to Islamize the modern world.
An Islamist Success Story
After the massive publication program of the 1960s and 1970s, the 1980s saw the Muslim Brotherhood’s America Project became a major source of fundraising in the Gulf region. This became possible thanks to the rise in oil prices after 1973. The anti-Soviet Jihad in Afghanistan enabled the Brotherhood to create networks for raising funds and even for providing ammunition for the mujahidin; those networks included charities. Following the Iranian revolution of 1979, the Saudis began competing with the Iranians for influence over radical Islamists. The U.S. saw Iran as the enemy and Saudi Arabia as an ally in this struggle for regional leadership. Once again, the Brotherhood benefited from the perception that they were on the right side of the U.S. strategic agenda.U.S. intelligence officials have often believed that there is no inherent clash of interest between radical Islam and the United States. As a State Department official said about the Taliban in 1995, “the Taliban will probably develop like the Saudis did. There will be Aramco, there will be pipelines and there will be an emir, no parliament, and lots of Sharia law. We can live with that.”11 This attitude of ignoring the consequences of Jihadist ideology and attitudes towards the West has allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to dramatically expand its networks, and those networks have emerged as the most influential face of Islam within the Muslim communities in the United States, even though they do not necessarily represent the Muslim majority.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s successful expansion in the United States had four effects on the Muslim community in the country. First, many of the leading figures in the U.S. Muslim community ended up being people from, or influenced by, the Muslim Brotherhood. They had the money, resources, and the connections to organize and claim to represent America’s Muslims.
Second, many mosques and organizations in North America are influenced or controlled by associates of the Muslim Brotherhood. The American Muslim community as a whole is very diverse and includes Sufis, Shias, Sunnis, and people with backgrounds in syncretism. Although an overwhelming majority of American Muslims would prefer that their imams be American and Muslim—rather than radical Muslims aiming to change the American way of life—the Muslim Brotherhood has identified itself as their leaders.Third, the Muslim agenda in the U.S. has been defined by the Muslim Brotherhood. Matters of religious interpretation and inter-faith dialogue have taken a back seat to the Brotherhood’s political issues and priorities. Instead of accepting the diversity among Muslims who consider Islam simply as their religious faith, Muslim Brotherhood leaders describe Islam as a political and social ideology. Islam is therefore defined as ideology and faith, and any distinctions between the two become blurred.
Fourth, the Muslim Brotherhood’s dominance has marginalized traditional Islam within the American Muslim community. The kind of people who want to say their prayers but otherwise want to get on with the business of life; who want to have a relationship with God through saintly intermediaries, but do not want to think in terms of political agendas, have found themselves on the outside of the organized U.S. Muslim structures.
The Muslim Brotherhood also has had an impact on the American mainstream. As the American media and academia sought to understand Islam, because of the way the Brotherhood has organized itself, journalists and scholars found it most convenient to approach Islam through the Brotherhood’s politicized version. Only recently have some academics begun doing research on Sufi traditions or non-radical versions of Islam. Otherwise, one often hears that Muslims divide the world between Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb, the land of Islam and the land of war, even though that is one particular version of Islam, not its universal view.
This tendency to adopt the Brotherhood’s point of view is also related to the fact that distinctions within Islam are complex and can be difficult to discern. When people with very little background knowledge and historic understanding of Islam get into the business of trying to understand the contemporary Islamic world, the temptation is great to go and pick up a copy of the Koran, locate a specific verse, and then read some of the debates within the Islamic theological tradition. However, the more the layperson gets into it, the more confusing it becomes, because any spiritual understanding of Islam is quickly over-taken by current politics. For instance, Islam has existed for fourteen centuries, but it is only now that suicide bombings are taking place in Islam’s name. In fact there is no long historic Islamic tradition of suicide killing in the same manner. The explanation for this phenomenon cannot be easily provided through direct references to original sacred texts of Islam. That is because today’s Islamist activism does not come directly from the Koran, even though the Koran is invoked by its defenders.
Islamism is essentially a recent movement, reflecting a particular response within the Muslim world to Muslim decline, based on the types of arguments forwarded by the Brotherhood. Along similar lines, consider the question of violent jihad, which has long been debated, just as the concept of Holy War was debated among Christians throughout the Middle Ages and well into modern times. There’s a famous ruling going back to the thirteenth century by certain scholars, such as Ibn Taymiyyah, who argued that jihad is the sixth pillar of Islam. But throughout Islamic history there have been others who have argued that military jihad is only meant to be a response to an attack.
Allowing radicals to define Islam may be, in some respects, like having Christian Evangelicals define Christianity without allowing Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox or other denominations to offer alternative definitions. Islam’s historic religious tradition is equally diverse and there is scope for further diversity, especially in the free environment of the United States. But for many Americans, the Muslim Brotherhood’s version is now the “official” and mainstream version of Islam. If a news organization is looking for a spokesman for the Muslims, they usually go to one of the Brotherhood-linked organizations, marginalizing the opinions of traditionalist but non-radical Muslims. Ironically, commentators then turn around and wonder what has happened to the moderate Muslims. The point is that moderate Muslims do not control the organizational structures from which Muslim spokespeople in the U.S. are selected.
As Islam continues to win converts in the United States, these new converts are more likely to be influenced by radical Islam than by traditional Islam. Whether it’s a Muslim prison ministry, a chaplaincy in the military, or some other U.S. outreach, all of its teachings have been influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood sufficiently for the Brotherhood’s views to be the prism through which new converts view Islam. Even critics of radical Islam are affected by the Muslim Brotherhood’s notion that there is only one Islam. As a result, the plurality of Islam and the pluralism within Islam are totally ignored. Creating the illusion of homogeneity for a diverse community might be the Muslim Brotherhood’s most effective and profound accomplishment. It has achieved this through its well-planned takeover of Muslim leadership in the United States.
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