August 31, 2011

WHICH MAY HELP EXPLAIN WHY THEY'RE SO DEMOCRATIC:

The CIA's Islamist Cover Up (Ian Johnson, 8/30/11, NY Review of Books)

Despite the CIA's information blockade, it is clear from interviews with CIA operatives and other countries' intelligence archives that the CIA was courting groups like the Brotherhood as allies in the US's global battle against communism. In Egypt, the charge was often made by the government of Gamel Abdel Nasser that the Muslim Brotherhood was in the CIA's pay. This was also a view of some Western intelligence agencies, which flatly declared that Said Ramadan, the Swiss-based son-in-law of the group's founder, was a US agent. The agency may have--but for this we need access to its archives--colluded with Ramadan in attempting a coup against Nasser.

The CIA certainly did help the Brotherhood establish itself in Europe, helping to create the milieu that led to the September 11 attacks. The mosque in Munich that Ramadan helped found, for example, became a hotbed of anti-US activity. The man convicted as a key perpetrator of the 1993 attack against the World Trade Center had sought spiritual counseling at the mosque before leaving to carry out his attacks. And in 1998, the man believed to be al-Qaeda's chief financial officer was arrested near the mosque and also sought spiritual counseling from the mosque's imam. An investigation based on this arrest traced radical Islamists right to a second mosque--the al-Quds mosque in Hamburg--where three of the four 9/11 pilots worshipped, it but failed to make the final link. This isn't to say that the CIA was behind the September 11 attacks but that US collusion with Islamists in the Cold War bore bitter fruit in later years--making it imperative that we understand exactly what happened in those seemingly distant years of the 50s, 60s and 70s of the last century.

More recently, despite Washington's sometimes hostile public rhetoric toward to the Brotherhood, it is clear that the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama have tried to court the movement. Internal CIA analyses from 2006 and 2008, which I obtained, show that the Brotherhood was viewed as a positive force and potential ally--this time not against communism but Islamist terrorism: the Brotherhood was considered a moderate Islamist group and thus able to channel grievances away from violence toward the United States (even if Brotherhood theoreticians did not renounce violence against Israel or US soldiers). The State Department also used US Muslims close to the Brotherhood to reach out to Islamists in Europe. Such support has given these groups legitimacy in the United States and Europe.


The support has certainly paid off in the ideological war against al Qaeda and on the ground in Egypt and Syria.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 31, 2011 6:55 AM
  
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