How did Europe manage to drag Arabs to the wrong side of history – a confusion, pride, shame and denial – all which resurfaces again, 75 years after. How is this possible that the ‘never-again’ takes place today? Do we fake our surprise? How expensive is our European denial, and Monarchist Arabs claim of innocence?
Haj Amin Al-Husseini was instrumental in ushering in National Socialism within the Arab World and in contributing to tens of thousands of deaths both directly and indirectly during the WWII. He has influenced men from Adolf Eichmann, Abdul Nasser to Yasser Arafat (to whom he was related) and was directly supported by Adolph Hitler. During his life, al-Husseini was responsible for briefly overthrowing the Iraqi government in 1941, creating Nazi SS divisions comprised of Muslims, representing and spreading National Socialism within the Arab World, fostering and implementing a radical departure within Arab-Jewish relations from peaceful co-existence to that of mass killings (eliminating ninety percent of all the Jews within the Balkans alone), and being responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Jews. Additionally, he had successfully fused National Socialism, Islamic fundamentalism, and Pan-Arabism into a hybrid that exists to this day.
The Nazi connection to Islamic extremism is a topic little known and understood in modern society. As the West attempts to understand the long simmering blood feud between Arab and Jew, little is spoken of the role that Haj Amin al-Husseini played in escalating the conflict through his collaboration with the Third Reich.
Haj Amin al-Husseini was born in 1895 in Jerusalem, which at the time was a protectorate of the Ottoman Empire. After attending the Al-AzharUniversity in Cairo for a year, he left to join the Ottoman Army at the outbreak of World War One. He achieved the rank of officer and was stationed among various ports near the Black Sea, primarily in the Greek Christian city of Smyrna. While there is little documentation to suggest that Husseini was directly involved with the subsequent Turkish genocide against the Christian Armenians, there can be no doubt that at the very least, he was consciously aware of the extermination program as much of the genocide was perpetrated within the areas where he was stationed. It was during these formative years of his youth that he began to embrace a fundamental pan Arab view of autonomy concerning not only Palestine, but later to include the entire Arab Peninsula. Throughout his life, this fundamental belief experienced various incarnations as Husseini struggled to deal with what he referred to as the “Jewish Question,” finally culminating by advocating Jewish extermination during World War Two and after.
Haj Amin al-Husseini’s rise to power
After being convicted by the British authorities for inciting a campaign of violence against Jewish settlers in 1920, he was suddenly pardoned by the British High Commissioner Sir Herbert Samuel, who was attempting to control the widespread violence against the Jews by pacifying Husseini and appointing him the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem (regardless of the fact that the Palestinian leadership had always voted for the position and that Husseini had finished a distant fourth). He was also given control of the Supreme Muslim Council that was created by the British to provide a voice concerning political matters within the British mandated rule of Palestine. Husseini would use this position by ridding himself of any opposition concerning his views toward the expulsion and eradication of Jews within Palestine. Throughout the decade of the 1920’s, Husseini carried out several anti-Jewish pogroms against Jewish communities in Jerusalem, Motza, Hebron, Safed, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jaffa, as well as those living in the countryside. Husseini ordered that slaughtered Jewish settlers should have their corpses disguised and then photographed as slain Arabs to further instigate and enflame Arab opinion. During these pogroms, Husseini organized and chaired the All-Islamic Conference in which he further consolidated his power and prestige within the Arab world. It was through this recognized entity throughout the Muslim world that Husseini would justify his position of authority to the Germans as being representative of Arab sentiment.
The birth of National Socialism within the Arab World
The election of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany in 1933 galvanized the Arab world; this in turn further accelerated and cemented Husseini’s influence. Using the new Nazi regime’s rise to power and subsequent infrastructure as a template, Husseini played a decisive role in creating pro-Nazi parties within the Arab world, most notably in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and indirectly helping in the creation of the Social Nationalist Party in Syria. The emulation went far beyond just simple admiration as pan-Arab partied began to model themselves after the Nazi infrastructure. A young and powerful Abdul Gamal Nasser was heavily influenced by Husseini. Later to become one of Israel’s greatest enemies, Nasser belonged to the Green Shirts who went so far as to adopt the Nazi party motto, “One Folk, One Party, One Leader.” Consequently, National Socialism had a far more prevalent role in creating today’s Arab nationalist parties and subsequent governments. Sami al_Joundi, the founder and father of the Syrian Ba’ath Party, influential both in Syria and later Iraq wrote, “ We were racists. We admired the Nazis. We were immersed in reading Nazi literature and books that were the source of the Nazi spirit. We were the first who thought of a translation of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Anyone who lived in Damascus at that time was a witness to the Arab inclination toward Nazism.”
Further evidence as to the enormous popularity that Hitler’s policies were prevalent within the Arab world were the congratulatory telegrams sent to Hitler concerning his election to Chancellor, the first sent by foreign sources outside of Germany. It is at this point that Husseini first exclaims his desire to emulate and support Nazi policies toward the Jewish race, as evident by his message to the German Council in Jerusalem, “the Muslims inside and outside Palestine welcome the new regime of Germany and hope for he extension of the fascist, anti-democratic, governmental system to other countries.” Further giving display to his admiration of Hitler was the creation by Husseini of a Palestinian youth organization called the “Nazi Scouts.”
Contact between Husseini and leading Nazi figures
The time was fast approaching when a greater level of cooperation would be initiated between that of the Arab world, and that of the Nazi Germany. The first known contact between Husseini and a Nazi official was in 1936 when Husseini met with Francois Genoud, a prominent Swiss banker who represented much of the Third Reich’s financial endeavors outside of Germany. This was a position awarded him by Hitler himself, who made Genoud an honorary member of the Nazi Waffen SS as well as receiving the decoration of the Gold Badge. During World War Two, Genoud provided financial assistance to Husseini and his Berlin sponsored government in exile in order to continue his anti-Jewish propaganda campaign that was disseminated throughout the Muslim world. While this was Husseini’s first contact with a Nazi official, this was in no way his first contact with a representative of a fascist government; that “honor” belonged to the Italian Foreign Minister Count Galeazzo Ciano, who gave millions of dollars to Husseini for the sole purpose of poisoning the water wells in Tel Aviv.
Contact between Husseini and Nazi officials began to escalate after his first initial meeting with Genoud. On July 15, 1937, six days before his personal role in inciting riots against the local Jewish populace, Husseini met with the Nazi Ambassador Doehle, the German consul in Jerusalem. Doehle reported his meeting with Husseini, telling his superiors in Berlin that,” The Grand Mufti stressed Arab sympathy for the new Germany and expressed the hope that Germany was sympathetic toward the Arab fight against Jewry and was prepared to support it.” The riots though, continued unabated, so much so that the British sent Lord Peel, as the head of a fact finding commission, to interview all the various parties embroiled in this Jewish-Arab conflict, hoping to provide the British government with a better model to govern Palestine. One of these interviews was with Husseini, who made it very clear to Peel that his primary, if not sole, goal was the establishment of an all Arab Muslim state and the total eradication of four hundred thousand Jewish settlers. This transcribed interview with Peel directly contradicted the contemporary Arab nationalist belief that Zionists were attempting to evict all the Arabs from Palestine. The Peel commission recommended a partition between the Jewish and Arab settlements, an action that Husseini did not accept, expressing his vehement antagonism not only against those Jews in Palestine but also against those Arab moderates who agreed in principle with the Peel Commission’s findings and recommendations. Waves of assassinations resulted in the wake of Husseini’s anger against those within his own camp who openly disagreed with him.
Husseini’s influence on Nazi policy concerning the Jewish question
By this time, Husseini had attracted the attention of Nazi SA 0bergruppenfuehrer Reinhard Heydrich, who sent both Hauptschanfuehrer Adolf Eichmann and his assistant Nazi SS Oberscherfuehrer Herbert Hagen to Palestine as his personal envoys to meet with Husseini. While there is little documentation surviving regarding the nature of their meeting, it is already apparent as to the strength of Husseini’s persistence and personality in influencing Nazi policy concerning their dealings with the Jewish population. This is evident because of Eichmann’s meeting with the Zionist Feivel Polkes. Polkes, who, in his meeting with Eichmann, argued for the increased Jewish immigration from Germany into Palestine, an idea that was openly discussed and even supported by high-ranking members of the Nazi hierarchy at the beginning of the war. Eichmann though, who met with Husseini afterward, reveals Husseini’s influence by arguing against such immigration measures by filing reports of Nazi influence within the Palestinian populace. This was certainly not the last time Husseini would be able to influence Eichmann, nor for that matter, Nazi decisions concerning the fate of the Jews. Husseini’s growing importance to the Nazis resulted in Nazi Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, the head of the Nazi Abwehr Intelligence Division, putting Husseini on the Nazi payroll.
The revolt in Iraq
By 1939, the British had tired of Husseini’s influence and violent reprisals against British rule and stripped away Husseini’s various political titles, eventually deporting him from Palestine. Husseini fled to Lebanon and solicited additional Nazi support. This resulted in sending his personal assistant Doctor Said Imam to Berlin. Accompanying Imam was a personal letter to the Nazi leadership offering support and “disseminating National Socialist ideas within the Arab-Islamic world.” To further bolster his loyalty to the Nazi cause, Husseini traveled to Iraq to participate in the Nazi backed coup conducted by the pro-Nazi Iraqi National Party. In 1941, Husseini formed the Iraqi Committee of Seven, which included the top leaders of the planned pro-Nazi government. In the months leading up to the coup, Husseini was instrumental in arranging the meeting between coup planners and the Nazi officials Joachim Ribbentrop, the Nazi Foreign Minister, and Franz von Papen, the Nazi ambassador to Turkey. As Nazi successes on the battlefield filled newspaper headlines across the world in 1941, Husseini sent his personal envoy, Uthman Kamal Hadded, on a secret mission to Berlin with a letter from Husseini. At the beginning of the letter, Husseini immediately presents himself as the only qualified and legitimate leader of the Arab world. In the letter, Husseini makes clear his alignment with German racial policy particularly concerning the Jews: “His excellency is well aware of the problem faced by this country, which has suffered from the deceitful actions of the English. They attempted to place an additional obstacle before the unity and independence of the Arab states by abandoning it to world Jewry, this dangerous enemy whose secret weapon…finance, corruption, and intrigue…were aligned with British dangers…Full of unvanquished faith, the Arabs of Palestine fought with the most elementary mutual hatred of the English and the Jews….”
After the pro-Nazi coup was launched successfully on April 1, 1941 (though in power for only a month), Husseini wrote Hitler again, asking that Hitler “recognize the right of the Arabs to solve the Jewish question…in the same manner as in the Axis countries.” The coup though failed, largely as a result of a British backed insurrection. This action infuriated Husseini and resulted in him publicly blaming the fall of Iraqi “nationalism” on the shoulders of the ancient Jewish community that resided within Iraq for millennia, tracing back its lineage to the time of Judah’s captivity by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. The result of Husseini’s allegation was six hundred dead Jews and the looting and destruction of Jewish shops and homes. This pogrom is known to Sephardic Jews as the Fahud.
Husseini meets with Benito Mussolini
As the Nazi backed provisional government collapsed, Husseini fled to Berlin, stopping on the way to meet with the Italian Fascist Dictator, Benito Mussolini, during which they discussed their mutual hatred for the Jews. During his stay, Mussolini gave him one million Lira for expenses. At this point, the Axis powers viewed Husseini as their most trusted conduit, not only to the Middle East but also to the Muslim world in general. His arrival into Berlin was heralded with the pomp and circumstance usually given to those of head of state. He continually met with high-ranking Nazi officials and while awaiting a first meeting with Hitler, he wrote that “to settle the question of Jewish elements in Palestine and other Arab countries in accordance with the national and racial interests of the Arabs and along the lines similar to those used to solve the Jewish question in Germany and Italy.”
Husseini meets with Adolf Hitler
After meeting with SS leader Heinrich Himmler and Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, who prepared him in his request for an interview with Hitler, Husseini drafted fifteen different documents concerning a joint declaration that he desired both Hitler and Mussolini to issue publicly in support of Arab nationalism and cooperation with the Axis powers. In the fateful meeting between Hitler and Husseini, which occurred on November 25th of 1941, Hitler told him the Jews were his foremost enemy. The Nazi dictator rebuffed the Mufti’s requests for a declaration in support of the Arabs, telling him the time was not right. Husseini then offered Hitler his “thanks for the sympathy which he had always shown for the Arab and especially Palestinian cause, and to which he had given clear expression in his public speeches….The Arabs were Germany’s natural friends because they had the same enemies as had Germany, namely….the Jews….”
Hitler replied: “Germany stood for uncompromising war against the Jews. That naturally included active opposition to the Jewish national home in Palestine, which was nothing other than a center, in the form of a state, for the exercise of destructive influence by Jewish interests. Germany would furnish positive and practical aid to the Arabs involved in the same struggle…. Germany’s objective [is]…solely the destruction of the Jewish element residing in the Arab sphere…. In that hour the Mufti (Husseini) would be the most authoritative spokesman for the Arab world.” The Mufti thanked Hitler profusely.
Germany was involved in a life and death struggle against Russia and Great Britain (which Hitler referred to as two citadels of Jewish power) and was actively involved on all fronts; the fact that Operation Barbarossa was so consuming made Hitler hesitant to send any badly needed troops to the Arab world. Hitler though did promise one thing which pleased Husseini greatly, that once the war against Russia and Britain was won, Germany’s objective would then be the destruction of the Jewish elements residing in the Arab sphere under the protection or control of British power. In that hour the Mufti would be the most authoritative spokesman for the Arab world.
Husseini creates S.S. divisions and is the sole mouthpiece for Nazi propaganda within the Muslim world
After meeting with Hitler, Husseini was filled with new purpose, that of the promise of Nazi intervention to restore Palestine as a sovereign state and he eradication of the entire Jewish population. In May of 1942, Husseini began a series of radio broadcasts to the Arab world via Bari radio. The Bari station was equipped with an extremely powerful radio transmitter, which was located on the southern tip of Italy, its signal reaching a large segment of the Arab world. Beginning in 1942, as the German army began to suffer tactical setbacks under the command of Erwin Rommel at El Alamein, Husseini began to increase his inflammatory dialogue. He broadcast his plans to set up concentration camps outside of Nablus as soon as the Nazis were victorious in driving Allied forces out of Northern Africa and the Middle East. One such famous quote from his broadcasts is: “Arise. O sons of Arabia, fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever you find them. Their spilled blood pleases Allah, our history and religion. That will save our honor.”
In addition to the radio broadcasts and other conduits available to the dissemination of propaganda (leaflets, booklets, publications, etc) Husseini was given the responsibility by SS leader Heinrich Himmler in recruiting and maintaining SS divisions comprised of Muslims. Husseini broadcast messages into Nazi occupied Russia, exhorting local Muslims to join various Nazi sponsored military units. He was given this authority to create and raise these divisions as a result of a meeting with Gottlob Berger, the chief recruiter for the Schutzstaffel SS. Berger stated at the onset “a link is created between Islam and National Socialism on an open, honest basis. It will be directed in terms of blood and race from the North, and in the ideological-spiritual sphere from the East.” The creation of these units were known as Hanzar Brigades and resulted in the addition of several Einsatzgruppen divisions to the Axis cause. These Hanzar units were responsible for the extermination of ninety percent of the Jewish population within Bosnia as well as similar actions within Croatia and Hungary. As each of these divisions became active, they received speeches upon ceremonial activation by Husseini exhorting them that the “Jews are the worst enemies of the Muslims.” Himmler also established a school in Dresden to train mullahs who would then be placed directly under the control of Husseini. At the end of the war, there were over one hundred thousand European Muslims recruited to fight in specially designed Nazi brigades.
Husseini’s role with the Holocaust
His role in the Final Solution was also well known to the Nazi Hierarchy. On several occasions, Husseini directly intervened to stop any attempt to either help the Jews or hinder or delay their destruction. When Red Cross officials attempted to negotiate the exchange of four thousand Jewish children from Poland, Husseini directly intervened by writing to von Ribbentrop who then forwarded the letter to Adolf Eichmann, who was at the time contemplating agreeing to the Red Cross request. Instead, the children were sent to Auschwitz. Husseini also wrote to the foreign ministers of both Romania and Hungary requesting they also stop emigration attempts in trying to resolve the Jewish question without resorting to extermination. In both cases, Romania with two thousand Jews, and Hungary with one thousand Jews, relented and sent their Jewish allotments in question to extermination camps. Husseini went so far as to actually castigate those Germans who had shown either an unwillingness or wavered in abiding by Nazi racial policies. This is evident by his brazen letter to the Nazi foreign minister von Ribbentrop in which he admonished Ribbentrop in not following Nazi directives concerning the extermination of Jews. Even when Rudolf Kastner, of the Jewish Rescue and Relief Committee in Budapest (later to be tried in Israel for collaborating with the Nazis) contacted Eichmann in an attempt to allow Jews to emigrate to Palestine, he received a response from Eichmann in which the reply was, “I am personal friend of the Grand Mufti. We have promised him that no European Jew would enter Palestine anymore.”
As the war progressed, Husseini escalated his attempts to influence those in command in the Nazi hierarchy to exterminate Jews in ever growing numbers. On a visit to Auschwitz, he was said to have urged the German guards to work more diligently in exterminating the Jews. In a document presented to the United Nations in 1947, Husseini’s correspondence with the Hungarian Foreign Minister was made public requesting the deportation of Hungarian Jews to Poland. The document contained the following notation: “As a sequel to this request 400,000 Jews were subsequently killed.” Dieter Wisliceny, Adolf Eichmann’s deputy, testified during his trial in Nuremberg that Husseini was “one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry and had been a collaborator and advisor of Eichmann and Himmler in the execution of this plan….He was one of Eichmann’s best friends and had constantly incited him to accelerate the extermination measures.”
There is speculation as to how great Husseini’s influence was on Nazi efforts to eradicate the Jewish “problem.” Historians do know that two months before the Wansee Conference, Husseini wrote in his diary “I am resolved to find a solution for the Jewish problem, progressing step by step without cessation. With regard to this I am making the necessary and right appeal, first to all the European countries and then to countries outside of Europe.”
In his own memoirs, published before he died, Husseini wrote that “Our fundamental condition for cooperating with Germany was a free hand to eradicate every last Jew from Palestine and the Arab world. I asked Hitler for an explicit undertaking to allow us to solve the Jewish problem in a manner befitting our national and racial aspirations and according to the scientific methods innovated by Germany in the handling of the Jews. The answer I got was” ‘The Jews are yours.’”
The assimilation of Nazis within the Arab world at the end of WW II
After fleeing Germany at the end of the war, Husseini was instrumental in ferrying certain Nazis to various locations within the Arab world as well as helping in the placement of these figures who would be beneficial to the various respective Arab governments who could use their services in promoting their own nationalistic endeavors against the newly created state of Israel. This was known as Project Odessa. Husseini was to ferry key Nazi figures fleeing from war crimes charges into key positions within the Arab world, primarily Egypt and Syria who were the main antagonists advocating the destruction of Israel and attempted to do so several times within the span of Husseini’s life, most notably during the Six-day war in 1967 and in the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
In 1962, Al-Husseini would lead the Islamic World Congress for the last time, retiring shortly thereafter. Before leaving office, the Congress, while under the leadership of Husseini, drew up a resolution that was eerily similar to that of the invective spewed forth by Nazi officials two decades earlier. The resolution called for the ethnic cleansing of all Jews within the Arab World and to establish a Middle East that was “Judenrein” (free of Jews).
On July 5th, 1974, Husseini died, passing the torch to a new protégé, his nephew, Yasir Arafat who in a later interview called his diabolical uncle “a great hero.” Throughout the years Arafat has gone on record several times in praising the “virtues” of his uncle. That Husseini groomed Arafat for this role of leadership within the newly created PLO is of no question. Husseini placed him in command of arms procurement for his militia as well as arranging for Arafat to fulfill the role of a leader, grooming him for the necessary tenacity required to fill the vacancy that Husseini would leave behind.
In light of the historical record, which shows indisputably Husseini’s role in the Holocaust, one wonders as to the absurdity prevalent within the Arab world in denying not only allegations of wrongdoing through their idealistic and nationalistic leaders but also the very Holocaust itself. The historical record though is clear. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the one man who could claim to be the spokesman and ideological leader of the Arab world, was an accomplice to mass murder.
National Socialism and its integration within Arab foreign policy
Since the end of World War Two, National Socialism has continued to steadily influence political and ideological thought in the Muslim world. The first such signs were apparent during the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961 when Arab newspapers, providing coverage of the trial for their readers, were openly sympathetic to Eichmann’s cause, going so far as to complain that the only fault visible to them was the inability of Eichmann to complete the Final Solution. At the same time was General Gamal Abdul Nasser, who after seizing power in 1952, incorporated literally dozens of former officials from the Nazi hierarchy, including notorious S.S. members such as Otto Skorzeny, Obersturmbannführer of the Waffen S.S. and also labeled at one time by the OSS as the most dangerous man in Europe; and Joachim Daumling, the former chief of the Gestapo in Dusseldorf, who completely rebuilt the Egyptian intelligence services.
Financial connections between Arab extremist organizations and former Nazis
Husseini spent much of the post-war period funneling money to extremist Islamic groups whose views corresponded with his own, money that had been pilfered from Jews at the hands of the Nazis. This money was used in a variety of ways, from supporting terrorist organizations, to producing his propaganda. The Swiss Nazi banker, Francois Genoud, aided him heavily in this endeavor. Genoud was an unrepentant Nazi until his death in 1996 at the age of 81; in the midst of investigations into his support for terrorist organizations. Genoud was instrumental in supplying Husseini with funds throughout Husseini’s post war life, primarily because of his creation and involvement in the Arab Commercial bank in 1958. The bank offered loans to Arabic nationalist groups that fought against or attacked Israel. Genoud was so adamantly anti-Semitic that he actually ordered his bank to manage the fighting fund of the Islamic Algerian independence movement. Genoud was highly influential in transporting key Nazi figures into the Arab World through the Odessa project which was created and funded by Genoud, who oversaw the transfer of millions of marks into his accounts which were then used to finance Odessa and Husseini’s own endeavors. The principal source of the finances that made this possible originated from the personal holdings, property, and belongings from Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Additionally, Genoud acquired the rights to the published writings of leading Nazi figures such as Joseph Goebbels, Martin Bormann, and that of Hitler. His acquisition came as a result of becoming personally involved with the families of each. The primary reason however, in his support for Husseini and Islamic extremism, was a conversation he had with Major Herman Bernhard Ramcke, during which he learned of Martin Boormann’s account of the many conversations with Hitler in the last three years of his life. These written accounts were later handed to him in full by SS Captain Hans Reichenberg, resulting in Genoud publishing them several years later. Genoud wrote the preface, claiming, “Hitler wanted the people of the Third World to carry on the work of the Thousand Year Reich.” Genoud was also instrumental in the hijacking of a Lufthansa 747 in Bombay by Islamic terrorists who demanded five million dollars for the Organization for the Victims of the Zionist Occupation. It was Genoud who carried the ransom letter, though at the time, his complicity was not known. In 1962, Genoud moved to Algiers where he became the director of the Arab People’s Bank, yet another institution that he used to transfer over fifteen million dollars belonging to the National Liberation Front to Swiss bank accounts. For this action he was arrested in Algiers but later rescued by the Egyptian President Abdel Nasser, who was well versed in the ideological trappings of National Socialism, due in no small part to the influence of Husseini. Throughout Husseini’s public career, Genoud served as his personal financial advisor.
Genoud was not Husseini’s only Nazi contact. The American H. Keith Thompson, an influential Nazi activist, has readily admitted to helping Husseini in his post-war activities by stating that he “did a couple of jobs for him, getting some documents from files that were otherwise unavailable.” Another collaborator was Youssef Nada who served with Husseini during the war as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood party. The Muslim Brotherhood party directly supported the operations set forth by Husseini and Nazi Military Intelligence, who in 1936, recruited Nada and others to link up with the Young Egypt Party, whose membership included Gamal Nasser and Anwar Sadat. The Young Egypt Party was an exact carbon copy of the Nazi Party, going so far as to use translated Nazi slogans and call themselves the “Green Shirts.” Youssef Nada, who worked closely with Nazi intelligence, until recently was the director of the al-Taqwa bank, an institution that the U.S. Treasury has condemned for laundering money and financing al-Qaeda as well as having connections to various extremist Islamic organizations.
Key Nazi figures within various Arab governments
In the several decades following the conclusion of World War Two, thousands of Nazi fugitives, collaborators and sympathizers flooded into the Arab World, particularly Egypt. The Egyptian President made it very clear that he desired the propagation of these Nazi’s into the Egyptian hierarchy, “We will use the services of those who know the mentality of our enemies.” Among the many Nazis who fled (or were invited) to Egypt was Franz Bartel, the Gestapo head of Katowice, Poland who subsequently ran the “Jewish Department” of the Egyptian War Office, Standartenfuhrer Baumann, who was instrumental in the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto and who now was an integral part of the Palestinian Liberation Front, also based in Egypt. Various Nazi medical personnel, such as Doctor Herbert Heim and Doctor Willerman who committed atrocities under the guise of “medial experimentation” at Mauthausen and Dachau, were also welcomed within the Arab world. Nasser particularly sought those Nazis from the realm of Jewish anti-propaganda. Nasser established an Institute for the Study of Zionism in Cairo in 1959, which employed former key figures in Goebbel’s Ministry of Propaganda, including Luis Heiden, who translated Hitler’s Mein Kampf. into Arabic, which was then issued to every officer in the Egyptian army. Nasser, was impressed with the success of the integration of Nazis within the military infrastructure of Egypt and ordered Colonel Muhammad al-Shazli, his attaché in London in 1962, to contact prominent Nazi sympathizers in London such as Colin Jordan and John Tyndall and discuss the funding and financial support of the National Socialist Movement in Jordan.
The assimilation of the tenets and adherents of National Socialism within the Arab world continues to reverberate through the decades. In 1976, the Saudi representative in the United Nations denied the claims of a historical Holocaust in a speech to the United Nations Security Council and laid the creation of such a “myth” as the result of Zionist media. Exactly one year later, the Saudi government gave twenty five thousand dollars to the American Neo-Nazi William Grimstad to write a book detailing a collection of quotes concerning anti Semitic behavior throughout the centuries called Anti-Zion. In the 1980’s, Inamullah Khan, the director of the World Muslim league located in Pakistan, paid thousands of dollars for this Nazi-influenced book to be sent via mail to every member of the United States Congress and the Senate, as well as every British MP in Parliament. Mein Kampf has been a best seller within the Palestinian territories as well as having been published across the Arab world and other Islamic countries; currently it is on the bestseller list in Turkey. In Lebanon, there are several translations in circulation, all under the watchful eye of Syrian leadership. The translation of Mein Kampf is primarily handled by Luis al-Haj who wrote the introduction: “We made a point to deliver Hitler’s opinions and theories on nationalism, regimes, and ethnicity without any changes because they are not yet outmoded and because we, in the Arab world, still proceed haphazardly in all three fields.” Clearly the link between Islamic extremism and National Socialism has been shown time and time again by not only the leaders of the Arab world but in the simple beliefs of their constituents. Fatma Abdallah Mahmoud, writing for the Egyptian government daily Al-Akhbar, wrote on April 29th, 2002, “Hitler himself, whom they accuse of Nazism, is in my eyes no more than a modest ‘pupil’ in the world of murder and bloodshed. He is completely innocent of the charge of frying them in the hell of his false Holocaust!!” The entire matter, as many French and British scientists and researchers have proven, is nothing more than a huge Israeli plot aimed at extorting the German government in particular and the European countries in general. But I, personally and in light of this imaginary tale, complain to Hitler, even saying to him from the bottom of my heart, ‘If only you had done it, brother, if only it had really happened, so that the world could sigh in relief [without] their evil and sin.’“
Today, the Arab run cable channel Al-Manar, is disseminating and propagating anti-Semitic material into France, Germany and other countries with sizeable Arab populations. The broadcasting of the twenty-nine part series “Al Shatat” deals with the prevalent Islamic belief that the WorldTradeCenter bombing was the result of an Israeli Intelligence Services operation. After the French Prime Minister pressed for charges in order to block the broadcasts from airing in France, the heads of Al-Manar immediately sought help from the German Ministry in keeping the controversial program alive. This action in turn caused Udo Steinbach, head of the Deutsche Orient-Institut in Hamburg, to comment about the “lingering effects of the sympathy traditionally evinced for Germany in the whole region.”
Of particular interest since 9/11, is Adolf Hitler’s own vision for his attack on New York City, as accounted by Albert Speer in his biography, in which he recounts Hitler describing New York’s skyscrapers turning into “gigantic burning torches, collapsing upon one another, the glow of the exploding city illuminating the dark sky.”
Recent connections between Arab countries and Neo-Nazis
In recent years, especially since the 9/11 attacks on American soil, there has been increased communication between Neo-Nazis and their Islamic counterparts, united in a single goal, that of the elimination of International Jewry. In 2005, the offices of a prominent neo Nazi (as well as a convert to Islam), Ahmed Huber was raided by Swiss police at the request of the United States government because of the American accusations that Huber was instrumental in providing financial assistance to Osama Bin Laden. At times, neo-Nazis have offered more that financial support. During the beginning of the first Gulf War, German neo-Nazis created an anti-Zionist brigade called the “Freedom Corps” that paraded around Baghdad in SS uniforms. Jorg Haider, who also governs the Austrian province Carinthia, runs an organization linked to this attempt, entitled the Freedom Party, composed of former Nazis as well as younger neo-Nazis. The Freedom Party has continuously downplayed or rejected Nazi atrocities and German war guilt. In 2000, Colonel Muammar Ghaddafi of Libya, deposited twenty five million dollars into a bank in Carinthia under Jorg Haider’s control. The “gift” was meant to alleviate sanctions imposed on Austria by the European Union in response to the Freedom Party being integrated into Austria’s governing coalition. This was not Ghaddafi’s first encounter with neo-Nazis; in 1982, the Italian neo-Nazi Stefano delle Chiaie, who had committed several bombings in Rome and Milan wrote to Ghaddafi, “Libya can, if it wants, be the active focus, the center of national socialist renovation [that will] break the chains which enslave people and nations.” Neo Nazis have since appeared in newspapers across the Arab world, their writings reaching a much larger audience than in the West.
There is no question as to the substantial influence that National Socialism has had on Arab nationalism. I believe that history shows that the main conduit for the spread of National Socialism was Haj Amin al-Husseini and that the following decades have seen the rise of Islamic extremism, which can be directly attributed to National Socialism and its many adherents. Part of this blame is to be placed at the feet of the Superpowers, primarily the United States and the Soviet Union; both countries began adhering to their respective foreign policies during the Cold War. This included ignoring the influx of Nazi officials and other sympathizers during the last stages of the war as well as the decades after 1945. Several of these figures that escaped into the Middle East were able to cut deals with the United States in return for the exchange of information concerning Nazi funded weapons programs. Lax security measures also played an important part in allowing thousands of Nazis to escape, not only to the Middle East but also to locations all over the world. It was not until the 1980’s that bank accounts and other financial institutions were examined by the West in attempting to recover funds that were attributable, directly or indirectly, to power brokers within the Arab world.
Ironically, it is the Arab World, which so strenuously denies that the Holocaust ever took place. It is a denial that is based not only on ignorance concerning the historical record, but also concerning their own role in the Holocaust. Ex-Nazi officials aided their governments and the various institutions of their military, and their own recognition of Husseini’s role in World War Two has been placed in a decidedly supportive light. Additionally, Israel is now looked upon as being synonymous with Nazi-like oppression in their dealings with their neighboring Arab countries, a horribly misconstrued role reversal in which the past Nazi aggression is now looked upon as being somewhat justifiable in their past persecution of the Jewish race. This can only be directly attributed to the symbiosis of National Socialism and Islamic extremism, in which the truth is considered expendable, a trait that both ideologies seem to share. There is only one weapon that can be use to combat this deadly symbiosis and that is education; an objective understanding of history and what role National Socialism has played in the formation of foreign policy in Arab countries, especially with that of Israel. Until then, the tenets of National Socialism have found a comfortable home indeed within the Middle East and in other Islamic countries.
First published under the title: “Haj Amin al-Husseini and Nazi Racial Policies in the Arab World” by the LAMED.
Unified Libya will come only via ballot box, ‘not the gun’-UNSC
Libya is at a “delicate and fragile juncture in its path to unity and stability”, the UN Political Affairs chief told the Security Council on Monday, urging the international community to remain united in supporting national elections postponed last month.
In welcoming positive developments across three different tracks of intra-Libyan dialogue, Rosemary A. DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, also recognized the challenges that must be overcome.
“So many Libyans have told us, the way towards a stable and united Libya is through the ballot box, not the gun”, she said. “We must stand with them”.
Growing polarization among political actors, and disputes over key aspects of the electoral process, led to the postponement of long anticipated elections on 24 December.
The High National Commission for Elections (HNEC) cited shortcomings in the legal framework along with political and security concerns. To address this, the House of Representatives has established a Roadmap Committee to chart a new political path that defines an elections timetable and process.
New Special Adviser
To date, she has undertaken wide-ranging consultations, including with members of the Government of National Unity (GNU), the High National Election Commission, the House of Representatives, and candidates for presidential and parliamentary elections.
Oil-rich Libya has descended into multiple crises since the overthrow of former rule Muammar Gadaffi in 2011, which in recent years saw the country divided between rival administrations – a UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) based in the capital Tripoli, and that of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), led by General Khalifa Haftar.
Ms. Williams has reiterated that the focus of the political process now, should remain on holding “free, fair, inclusive and credible national elections” in the shortest possible timeframe.
“In all her meetings, the Special Adviser highlighted the 2.8 million Libyans who have registered to vote”, said Ms. DiCarlo, adding that she also called on everyone to respect the will of the Libyan people and to adhere to the timeline agreed to in the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) roadmap, which was endorsed by the Security Council.
The UN political affairs chief said ongoing dialogue among political, security and economic actors from across the country was key.
“We have seen reports of consultations between the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the High State Council, as well as among presidential candidates from western and eastern Libya”, she said.
On the security track, there have been meetings among various armed groups, as well as the Chief of General Staff of the Western Military Forces under the GNU and the acting General Commander of the rival LNA, with the participation of military chiefs and heads of military departments from both sides.
Turning to the economy, further steps have been taken to reunify the Central Bank of Libya.
Moreover, renewed efforts continue to advance national reconciliation based on the principles of transitional justice.
While the ceasefire has continued to hold, “political uncertainty in the run up to the elections has negatively impacted the overall security situation”, the political chief informed the Council, including in Tripoli.
It has resulted in shifting alliances among armed groups affiliated with certain presidential candidates, she added.
Similarly, unfulfilled demands made to the GNU by the Petroleum Facilities Guards (PFG) in western Libya resulted in the shutdown of oil production, causing the National Oil Corporation to declare in December, force majeure – a clause that removes liability for natural and unavoidable catastrophes.
Following negotiations between the PFG and the GNU, Oil production was restored on 9 January.
To implement the ceasefire agreement, last month military representatives from opposing sides, called the 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission (JMC), discussed with Turkish and Russian authorities, an Action Plan to gradually withdrawal mercenaries and foreign fighters from the country.
At the same time, despite serious logistical and security challenges, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) continued its work to establish a ceasefire monitoring hub in Sirte, pending the GNU’s approval on accommodation and office facilities.
Human rights concerns
“The human rights situation in Libya remains very worrying”, said Ms. DiCarlo, noting “documented incidents of elections-related violence and attacks based on political affiliation”, which she described as obstacles toward a conducive environment for free, fair, peaceful and credible elections.
“We are particularly concerned that women and men working to protect and promote women’s rights continued to be targeted by hate speech, defamation and incitement to violence”, she stated. “Some of the disturbing social media posts that posed a threat to the safety and security of these persons were removed after UNSMIL brought them to the attention of social media platforms”.
Meanwhile, arbitrary detention by State and non-State actors continued across the country, with many detainees subjected to serious rights abuses.
The situation of migrants and refugees is also highly concerning.
“Large numbers of migrants and refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea and returned to Libya continue to be detained in inhumane and degrading conditions with restricted humanitarian assistance. Thousands are unaccounted for”, the UN official said.
Ms. DiCarlo pointed out that hundreds of foreign nationals were expelled from Libya’s eastern and southern borders without due process, with some “placed in extremely vulnerable situations across remote stretches of the Sahara Desert without sufficient food, water, safety and medical care”.
“The United Nations remains ready to work with Libyan authorities on a long-term national response to migration and refugee management in line with international law to include addressing human rights concerns”, she assured.
To ensure political progress, Elham Saudi, Co-founder and Director of Lawyers for Justice in Libya, said that all who commit abuses must be held accountable, including mercenaries.
She noted that without law, revenge would be the only winner.
Ms. Saudi also maintained the importance of an enabling environment for all rights advocates, especially women, and expressed hopes for a human-rights based approach in how Libya is governed, going forward.
Embarking on Libya’s Noble Foray Into the Future
On Saturday the 22nd of January, activists from across the civil society spectrum in Libya gathered over Zoom with one purpose in mind; publicly declaring their support for the 1951 Libyan Independence Constitution. Despite the political turmoil which has engulfed the country since the Arab Spring began in Tunisia in 2011, a strong civil society movement which supports a return to our historical constitution, has always existed in Libya. These supporters, who represent a significant number of Libyans from across the country, see the restoration of the 1951 constitution as the only way to shape their future.
Libya has been through an immeasurable amount of internationally led initiatives, all aimed at providing Libya with long term “solutions”. Only over the course of the past decade, one can count the UN-brokered Skhirat agreement in December of 2015, the 2017 Paris meeting, the 2018 Palermo conference alongside Mohammed bin Zayed’s Abu Dhabi gathering in February 2019. Followed by Putin and Erdogan’s joint call for a ceasefire in 2020, alongside the first (2020) and second (2021) Berlin conferences alongside UN-sponsored talks in Geneva, each and every one of these efforts amounted to nothing.
The main reason behind these, perhaps well-intentioned but failed attempts, was the simple fact that none of these efforts had any grounding in Libyan history or the support of the Libyan people. Reaching consensus in a society as heavily divided as that of Libya, is a significant challenge. However, placing our faith in our history will undoubtedly provide us with a solution that is closer to the hearts of citizens of our nation and which has the potential to assist in competing factions finally putting their differences aside.
This was the catalyst of Saturday’s meeting which sought to once and for all provide an authentically Libyan solution to the issues which have been plaguing the country for over a decade. The first of these is the preservation of our territorial integrity which has for too long been challenged by foreign actors. It is high time that a long term resolution for our country’s ills is found that ensures the exclusion of foreign elements from shaping the future of our great land.
The second issue the gathering sought to underscore was the need to build an inclusive future for all members of Libyan society. For far too long, our country has excluded citizens of certain political persuasions, cultural backgrounds or those who hold different opinions. Every Libyan deserves equal opportunities, protection of basic rights alongside access to justice. This has been impossible in a country which for so long has lacked a cohesive national identity.
These two issues are indeed intertwined with the third issue which the conference sought to highlight, namely, our demand to return to constitutional legitimacy under the leadership of our Crown Prince Mohammed El Hasan el Rida el Senussi. As the sole heir to the throne of King Idris, passed down through the late Crown Prince Hassan, Prince Mohammad is the leader our country has yearned for.
With leadership claims grounded in historical fact that cannot be upended by foreign or domestic elements, from an ideological standpoint, Prince Mohammad serves as an anchor, offsetting challenges to stability posed by foreign elements. This is strengthened by his position as the scion of a family which has been in Libya for centuries and founded the Senoussia movement, briniging with it Islam, to the country. Furthermore, historical memories of the reign of King Idris, which saw religious tolerance, gender equality and security for its citizens, reflects the future which Libyan’s would like to see for themselves today.
Bringing together journalists, academics, human rights defenders and political activists, Saturday’s gathering was indeed revolutionary. It would have been unimaginable that such a gathering would even have taken place a mere decade ago. Representing not only themselves, but a wide range of segments of Libyan society, those attending over Zoom broadcasted a powerful message; a rejection of foreign attempts top shape the future of the country alongside a return to historical, constitutional, legitimacy under the leadership of the only man who can help Libya exit the current quagmire and begin its noble foray into the future.
“Kurdish Spring”: drawing to a close?
For decades, the Kurdish problem was overshadowed by the Palestinian one, occasionally popping up in international media reports following the much-publicized arrest of the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the genocide of Iraqi Kurds and the scandalous referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan. A few years ago, the Syrian and Iraqi Kurds’ opposition to the “Islamic State” (banned in Russia) pushed them to the forefront of global politics with the media now talking about the so-called “Kurdish Spring.”
In short, the Kurdish problem boils down not only to the absence of independent statehood for 40 million people, who account for approximately 20 percent of the population of Turkey and Iraq, and between eight and 15 percent of Iran and Syria, but also to the refusal by Ankara, Tehran and Damascus to discuss the possibility of an autonomous status for the Kurds. Today, the very issue of Kurdish independence is being hushed up, at least in public.
The first example of Kurdish statehood in modern history was in Iran: in 1946, the Kurdish Autonomous Republic was proclaimed in the city of Mahabad, only to survive less than a year. Since then, the Iranian authorities have spared no effort to make sure the name of one of the country’s provinces (Kurdistan Ostan) is the only remainder of the Kurds’ presence in the Islamic Republic. The situation is further aggravated by the fact that the Kurds, most of whom happen to be Sunnis, are a hurdle on Tehran’s official course to achieve the religious unity of the Iranian people.
Since all Kurdish organizations, let alone political parties, are outlawed, most of them are based in neighboring Iraqi Kurdistan. For most Kurdish organizations, the original goal of gaining independence has increasingly been transformed into a demand for autonomy for Kurds inside Iran.
The other “pole” of Kurdish nationalism is Iraqi Kurdistan. The history of the region’s autonomy goes back to 1970, and since the 90s, it has been sponsored by the Americans, who needed a ground base for the “Gulf War.” In 2003, the Iraqi Peshmerga helped the Anglo-American troops to topple the country’s ruling Ba’athist regime.
Under the current Iraqi constitution, Kurdistan enjoys broad autonomy, bordering on the status of an independent state with nearly 40 foreign consulates general, including a Russian one, officially operating in the regional capital Erbil, and in Sulaymaniyah.
Following the referendum on independence (2017), which was not recognized by either Baghdad or the world community (except Israel), Baghdad sent troops into the region, forcing the resignation of the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government and the founder of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) Massoud Barzani. He has maintained a close presence though, with both the current president and the prime minister bearing the same surname.
According to various sources, the armed forces of the Iraqi Kurds number between 80,000 to 120,000, armed with heavy weapons, armored vehicles and tanks, and their number keeps growing. Who are they going to fight? Erbil is on fairly good terms with Turkey and Iran, the autonomy’s two “windows to the world,” and you don’t need a huge army to keep the remnants of jihadist forces in check, do you? Iraq? Iraq is a different matter though, given the presence of disputed territories, the unsettled issue of distribution of oil export revenues, and a deep-seated rejection of the 2017 Iraqi military invasion.
However, the political ambitions of the Barzani and Talabani clans, who divided Iraqi Kurdistan into zones of influence back in the 70s, are obviously offset by oil revenues, and are unlikely to extend beyond the “return” of the territories lost to Baghdad in 2017.
The Turkish factor is a major factor in the life of Iraqi Kurdistan: several thousand Turkish military personnel are deployed there, checking the activity of mountains-based armed units of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is branded by Ankara as a “terrorist” organization. Baghdad is unhappy about their presence, while Erbil, rather, pretends to be unhappy as it is in a state of undeclared war with the PKK itself. At the same time, Turkish soldiers are standing by to nip in the bud any further attempts by the region’s Kurdish authorities to gain sovereignty as Ankara fears that an independent Kurdish state will set a “bad example” for Kurds living in Turkey proper.
During the 1980s, several regions in southeastern Turkey declared themselves “liberated” from Ankara. In 1984, the “Marxist-Leninist” PKK (created in 1978) prevailed over all the other local Kurdish groups and declared war on the Turkish authorities. Following the arrest of their leader in 1999, the PKK militants were squeezed out of the country into Syria and Iraq, despite the fact that discarding the slogan of creating a “united and independent” Kurdistan, the party had already settled for a demand for Kurdish autonomy within Turkish borders.
For many decades, the Turkish authorities denied the very existence of Kurds as an ethnic group. During the 2000s, in a bid to sweeten the pill for the Kurds, and meeting the requirements of the European Union, the Turkish government came up with the so-called “Kurdish initiative,” lifting the ban on the use of the Kurdish language, returning Kurdish names to a number of settlements, etc.
Legal organizations and parties, advocating the rights of the Kurds, were granted greater freedom of action. However, this did not prevent the authorities from banning such parties for “connections with terrorists” and “separatism.” The current Kurdish party (creation of any associations on a national basis is prohibited) – the Peoples’ Democracy Party – is also under serious pressure with some of its leading members currently behind bars.
However, the apparent defeat in the military conflict with NATO’s second largest army is forcing Turkey’s Kurdish nationalists to focus on a legal political struggle.
During the past few years the main attention of the international community has for obvious reasons been focused on the Syrian Kurds, who for many decades remained “second-class citizens” or even stateless persons in their own country. Any manifestations of discontent, which occasionally boiled over into uprisings, was severely suppressed by the authorities.
With the outbreak of the civil war, the Kurds assumed the position of armed neutrality, and in 2012, announced the creation of their own statehood with the capital in El Qamishli. Six years later, the name of the quasi-state was changed from a “democratic federation” to an “autonomous administration,” meant to demonstrate the refusal by the authorities of Syrian Kurdistan to pursue their initial demand for independence.
Needless to say, that change of priorities was prompted by the occupation by Turkish troops and their proxies of parts of the Kurdish territories. In 2019, Ankara halted its military advance only after the Kurds had allowed Syrian troops into the areas under their control, and international players “dissuaded” Ankara from any further expansion.
In addition to the Turkish factor, another important factor with a serious bearing on the situation are US troops and members of American military companies who remain in northeastern Syria without any legal grounds for their presence. Back when the current US President was Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he promoted the idea of creating a Kurdish state in Iraq and Syria. The Kurds have long lost their faith in Washington’s desire to grant them independence, but in bargaining with Damascus for the delimitation of powers, they never miss a chance to refer to US support.
However, in recent years, the Syrian Kurds (and not only them) have had ample opportunity to feel the results of Washington’s unreliability as a partner.
A lack of trust in the Americans, on the one hand, and the constant threat from Turkey, on the other, are forcing the Kurdish leaders to ramp up the negotiation process with the leadership of the Syrian Arab Republic. Moreover, the Kurds are pinning their hopes for the success of the negotiations primarily on the mediation of Russia, given Moscow’s allied relations with the Syrian authorities. Besides, Moscow maintains working ties with the leadership of the self-proclaimed autonomy, and with the leaders of the opposition Kurdish parties.
Meanwhile, the negotiations are stalling with Damascus opposed to the idea of either autonomy or the preservation of the Kurdish armed forces’ organizational independence. It is still imperative, however, for the sides to agree on certain conditions. The “return” of the Kurds can become a turning point in the intra-Syrian confrontation as the Americans will feel too “uncomfortable” in a united Syria, and the Turks will lose the main argument for their continued occupation of the border zone, which will now be controlled not by “terrorists,” but by the central government. Which, by the way, is gaining more and more legitimacy even in the eyes of yesterday’s irreconcilable opponents.
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