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FTR #377 Update on Al-Taqwa and the Post-War Fascist International

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Supplementing previous discussion about Al Taqwa and its alleged contacts to the Bin Laden organization, this program presents more information about the connection between Islamofascism and other fascist movements and elements.

1. The broadcast highlights the Treasury Department’s mention of the Muslim Brotherhood’s relationship to Al Taqwa. It is worth noting in this context that, roughly a year after the 9/11 attacks, the Treasury Department singled out one organization, (the Brotherhood) and an individual (Youssef Nada) with connections to the Third Reich. It is Mr. Emory’s contention that the current war is an extension of the Second World War. Listeners are emphatically encouraged to flesh out their understanding by downloading and perusing the other broadcasts and program descriptions about 9/11. In the passage that follows, do not fail to notice that investigators are examining Al Taqwa’s business contacts in the United States. This investigation would (if vigorously pursued) move in the direction of associates of George W. Bush and the Republican ethnic outreach [4] organization. “As if to rebut a draft U.N. report claiming the financial crackdown had lost steam, the Treasury Department announced it was blocking the assets of 25 new individuals and entities. More than half of these are related to Al Taqwa, a now defunct offshore-banking network based in Switzerland. Treasury accused the Muslim Brotherhood, an influential (but supposedly moderate) Islamist group, of backing the Al Taqwa network, which the United States says funded bin Laden and Al Qaeda before and after 9-11 and financed militants in Algeria, Tunisia and the Palestinian territories. Newsweek has learned that American criminal investigators are currently examining Al Taqwa’s business contacts in the United States.” (“Freezing the Terrorist Cash Stashes” by Mark Hosenball; Newsweek; 9/9/2002; p. 6.)

2. Next, the program sets forth part of the Treasury Department’s press release concerning the Brotherhood, Al Taqwa and Ahmed Idris Nasreddin. “Bank Al-Taqwa, for which Nasreddin is a director, was established in 1988 with significant backing from the Muslim Brotherhood. They have been involved in financing radical groups such as the Palestinian Hamas, Algeria’s Islamic Salvation Front and Armed Islamic Group, Tunisia’s An-Nahda, and Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda organization. Bank Al Taqwa was established in the Bahamas and is a close affiliate of the Al Taqwa Management Organization, which changed its name in the spring of 2000 to the Nada Management Organization. In 1997, it was reported that the $60 million collected annually for Hamas was moved to Bank Al Taqwa accounts. As of October 2000, Bank Al Taqwa appeared to be providing a clandestine line of credit to a close associate of Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda organization received financial assistance from Youssef M. Nada . . . Nasreddin Group International Holding Limited-According to corporate documents, Ahmed Idris Nasreddin is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Nasreddin Group International Holding Limited.” (“The United States and Italy Designate Twenty-Five New Financiers of Terror;” Office of Public Affairs of the Department of the Treasury; pp. 3-5.) [5]

3. A fair amount of the discussion of Nasreddin’s operations presented in the Treasury Department material was anticipated in the book Dollars for Terror. “The Milanese connection originates in the Bahamas. Since leaving its first head office in Nassau, Al Taqwa established itself at NIGH (Nasreddin International Group Holdings)-10, Dewaux Street in Nassau.”

4. “The NIGH holding company deserves close attention. Yussef Nada’s assistant Ali Ghaleb Himmat works there. The Bank of Gothard is NIGH’s bank, through account CC/B No. 313656, through the agency of Chiasso, in the name of a Charity foundation. The Bank of Gothard also appears, in a confidential report on Al Taqwa’s activity, under the heading of business connections. The bank manager at Gothard, Claudio Generale, told me, however, that he does not know either Al Taqwa or its director, much less the holding company NIGH.” (Dollars for Terror: The United States and Islam; by Richard Labeviere; Copyright 2000 [SC]; Algora Publishing; ISBN 1-892941-06-6; p. 150.)

5. “The president and creator of NIGH, Nasreddin Ahmed Idris, who also appears on the list of the first shareholders in Al Taqwa, is honorary consul of Kuwait in Milan. Living in Italy, Switzerland and Morocco, this businessman directs a multitude of financial companies, most of which end up leading again to the nebula of Al Taqwa. One of them, Gulf Office (Association for Commercial, Industrial and Tourist Development between the Gulf States and Switzerland), currently dormant, had been housed in the same building as the mosque of Lugano. In 1994, the Italian judicial system had its sights on Gulf Office and conducted an inquiry into its activities in the context of the operation ‘clean hands.'” (Idem.)

6. The balance of the broadcast consists of a presentation of a paper by Kevin Coogan which summarizes information from a recent Swiss book on Al Qaeda, as well as highlighting key questions about the Nazi/Islamist connection. “The first part of this report will primarily summarize information from an important new book by Johannes and Germana von Dohnanyi entitled Schmutzige Geschafte und Heiliger Krieg: Al-Qaida in Europa (Dirty Business and Holy War: Al-Qaida in Europe) published by Pendo Verlag (Zurich, 2002). The von Dohnanyis are longtime investigative reporters based in Milan. I will concentrate on part of Chapter 4 (“The Financing of Jihad”) and all of chapter 5 (“A Fatal Mixture”), which summarizes pages 216-264. The second part of this report will focus more on Al-Taqwa member Achmed Huber and his possible links to Said Ramadan, one of the most important Islamists in Europe but whose 1995 death has made him almost invisible in contemporary accounts.” (“Report on Islamists, The Far Right, and Al Taqwa” by Kevin Coogan; privately published and distributed by the author; p. 1.) [6]

7. After summarizing many of the links between Saudi charities and Al Qaeda, Kevin notes Yeslam bin Laden [7]‘s curious travel itinerary, and some of the mysterious personages that accompanied him. “Yeslam bin Laden knows his life is now under the microscope. Why did he fly, for example, nine times to Milan? Each stop was so short, reports a member of the maintenance team at the private Forlanini airport, that it couldn’t be for shopping. Six times bin Laden came to Milan from his domicile in Cannes and, because of EU regulations, these flights were considered domestic and no list of passengers was required to be filed. But three times he flew in from Zurich and Italian border police have copies of the passenger list. Here there is a puzzle as one name is ‘Carlos Rochat’ but there is no Carlos Rochat known to investigators. However there is a Charles Rochat who is on the SICO advisory board. Is this a typo or is there someone else using a false passport? They can’t get an answer from Yeslam bin Laden who is silent on this matter.” (Ibid.; pp. 6-7.)

8. Next, the program notes the relationship between SICO director Rochat and Baudoin Dunand, as well as their mutual relationship to Willard Zucker, a key player in the Iran-Contra scandal. One of the considerations to be weighed involves the extent to which the Islamofascist/Underground Reich axis may have been involved in some of the Iran-Contra machinations. (Recall the allegation aired in FTR#352 that Francois Genoud helped finance the exile of Ayatollah Khomeini in France. Monzer Al-Kassar utilized the Merex firm for some of his weapons transactions with the Enterprise. (Merex was founded by Otto Skorzeny associate Gerhard Mertins and was close to the BND, the German intelligence service evolved from the Gehlen organization.) “It is equally possible that bin Laden’s silence about Rochat is meant to avoid other problems that might arise. Such as why Charles Rochat and Baudoin Dunand, two members of the SICO advisory board who are attorneys, on May 21, 2001 liquidated the business Tyndall Trust that had first been registered in Villars-sur-Glade near Fribourg in January of 1986. They fulfilled the same function for a sister society of the Tyndall Trust that shared the same name and that was opened up in 1990 in Geneva and liquidated in January 2001. One of the top managers of the Tyndall Trust since its founding was the American tax attorney Willard Zucker who lives in Geneva. Zucker also controls the Lake Geneva-registered Compagnie de Service Fiduciaires (CSF). And CFS had, along with participation from Tyndall Trust, assumed financial management for a corporate group named Enterprise.” (Ibid.; p. 7.)

9. “Enterprise, however, had nothing to do with the successor company to the 1983-founded successor to the Albert Hakim and U.S. General Richard Secord-founded Stanford Technologies Trading Group International (STTGI), which later changed its name to Enterprise and administered secret and illegal weapons shipments with Iran and the Contras. The same Willard Zucker arranged payments from the enterprise account for Oliver North. In 1986, the Syrian Monzer Al-Kassar was not only one of the world’s great weapons dealers. He also had close ties with Islamic fundamentalist and terrorist groups in the Mid East. Al-Kassar also worked with an international group interested in sending toxic and atomic waste materials by ship to Mozambique.” (Idem.) (For more about Al-Kassar, see RFA#’s 32, 35, 38, FTR#’s 5, 109, 328, 341

7. Further developing the relationship between Dunand and Francois Genoud, the program notes that the two were close friends. “What is even more surprising than finding out the links between Rochat and Dunand with a representative of the Iran-Contra affair like Zucker is finding a connection point between Islamic terrorism and the far right. For it turns out that Baudoin Dunand was not only the attorney for Francois Genoud, the Swiss old Nazi who died in 1996, but also his close friend.” (Idem.)

8. Fleshing out the story of the founding of Al Taqwa, the program details some of the principal players in this mysterious organization. “On July 21, 1988, at the bureau of a Lugano-based notary named Gianluca Boscaro gathered Huber, the Swiss professor (Hochschulleher) Mohammed Mansour and his wife Zeinab Mansour Fattouh, as well as the Tunisian Youssef Nada and Ali Ghaleb Himmat, who both live in the Italian enclave of Campione d’Italia in Switerland. Himmat had come from Damascus in 1958 and first settled down in Germany and then in Austria. The Alexandrian-born Egyptian Nada two years later came first to Austria and then to Germany. Nada’s oldest daughter married the son of the director of the Islamist center in Aachen, al-Attar Issam, who is considered by the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Verfassungschutz) one of the most dangerous Islamists in Germany. Nada later settled down in Ticino (Tessin). Both Nada and Himmat are members of the Muslim Brotherhood and in the 1990’s both took Italian citizenship.” (Ibid.; pp. 7-8.)

“The goal of the meeting with the notary was the founding of ‘al-Taqwa management Organization SA’ that said it would be concerned with importing and exporting various goods around the world. 333 of the 1000 shares (at 100 Swiss Francs a share) went to Mohammed Mansour and his wife. 332 went to Huber. Nada and Himmat took the rest. Mansour was named the president but rarely was the clause in the contract papers mentioned that each decision must be co-signed by the minority holders Nada and Himmat . . . Among the 500 shareholders besides Huber, Himmat and Nada were ‘also a notorious right extremist from Italy’ [not further identified but this is Alessandro Karim Abdul Ghe] and three members of the bin Laden family.” (Ibid.; p. 8.)

9. One of the connecting links between the Al Taqwa milieu and the milieu of the P-2 lodge and Silvio Berlusconi involves an Italian fascist deputy who is part of the “small circle of friends” around Nasreddin. “Investigators were especially interested in Youssef Nada’s ties to Akita Bank, which shared the same address as Al Taqwa at Devaux Street, Nr. 10 in Nassau. The Akita Bank belongs to the financial Imperium of the Milan-based Kuwaiti named Ahmed Idris Nasreddin and his sons. And Nasreddin was not only an important shareowner in Al Taqwa Bank. His connections to Al Taqwa were so close that their employees worked at the same time in the business affairs of both operations. Nasreddin is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood as well. And just as Nada has connections to think tanks, so Nasreddin has ties to high circles in Italian politics.” (Ibid.; p. 9.)

10. “Gustavo Selva belongs to Nasreddin’s wider circle. The former journalist and today parliamentary member of the post fascist Partei Alleanza Nationale, Selva was until April 19, 1999, involved in the Roman-based business, the Arab-Italian Consulting House. Six months before it went under, on September 18, 1998, a certain Sergio Marini was named the firm’s official receiver. Marini was, together with the Nasreddin International Group Limited Holdings, also part of the Milan-registered Line Investment srl. Since 1988, Marini was CEO of ‘L.I.N.E. Development Light Industry and Environment Development srl’ in Rome whose administrative director was Abduhrahim Nasreddin along with his deputy Ghaleb Himmat, himself a founder of Al Taqwa Group.” (Idem

11. Exploring the activities of Nasreddin, the program highlights the highly unusual nature of his business activities-obviously a front for other, unspecified activities. “Only in the second half of the 1990’s did anyone begin to pay attention to any of these developments when the role the Milan-based Islamic Center on Viale Jenner 50 played in the recruitment of Mujahiddin during the Bosnian war caught attention. The center’s Imam had been ‘liquidiert’ by the Croatian secret service in 1995 in an operation against Islamic fighters in Bosnia. After the war the back house of the mosque served as a meeting point for al-Qaida fighters from around the world. From here again and again there were calls to the central al-Qaida group in Afghanistan. And it was Ahmed Idris Nasreddin who paid the rent for the Center. A series of businesses of the Nasreddin Group, as well as construction worker cooperative ‘Paradisio,’ also had direct contact with the mosque.” (Idem.)

12. “The Italian investigators of all this did not always understand Nasreddin’s investments in an economic sense. There was a ship that was supposed to carry dates that spent five months going back and forth between the Italian and Adriatic Coast. Or the more than 100 kilos of oranges that were flown into Italy. The investigators believed Nasreddin was concealing his real operations via apparently senseless business activities.” (Idem.)

13. Nasreddin’s professsional associates include people involved with the shady financial dealings of Silvio Berlusconi. “The deeper investigators dug, the more senseless it seemed. For example: The Liechtenstein-registered Nasreddin International Limited Holdings on October 20, 1994, decided to change its name to Middle East and Turkey Investment Holding Ltd. And then eight days later it returned to its original name. There is also the fact that Nasreddin at the founding of the Nasreddin International Group Limited Holding in January 1997 appointed-next to Dr. Enrico Walser as trustee-of all people the Tessino lawyer Dr. Ercole Doninelli to the administrative board. Doninelli, until his death, was seen as the ‘soul’ of the Lugano finance society Fimo that was widely involved in the financial scandals of the 1990’s. Fimo helped Italians to send up to 250 million Swiss francs yearly in capital flight. Even more definitive is the role Fimo has played since 1968 in the financing into the millions the first projects of the (at the time utterly unknown) construction builder from Milan, Silvio Berlusconi. The knowledge of how capital from the married pair of Ercole and Stefania Doninelli went from Eti Holdings in Chiasso to more stops in the Interchange Bank and from there to Italcantieri, a company headed by two Berlusconi straw men, finally ended with the mass bankruptcy of Fimo.” (Ibid.; pp. 9-10

12. In addition, Fimo and the professional associates of Nasreddin & company were engaged in the laundering of money for organized crime associates. “Yet the investigation of financial illegal funding by Fimo of Italian parties which was begun in the beginning of 1992 was nothing in comparison to the discovery that Fimo also washed money for the Italian mafia, as well as South African drug cartels. Fimo member Giuseppe Lottusi had no problem transferring $12 million from the Sicilian mafia family Madonia to the Columbian Medellin cartel, as the Italo-American mafia member Joe Cuffaro told Palmero investigator Giovanni Falcone in his confession. The scandal affected the president of Fimo, Gianfranco Cotti, who was also a member of the Swiss National Assembly. (His cousin Flavio Cotti was a member of the Swiss federal council, where he was Minister for the Department of Foreign Affairs.) Gianfranco Cotti fled Fimo’s administrative council in great haste and avoided investigation.” (Ibid.; p. 10.)

13. Liechtenstein was apparently among the numerous transit points for dirty monies being moved about by Nasreddin’s colleagues. “But Ercole Doninelli wasn’t the only dirty partner involved with Nasreddin International Group Holding Limited. On October 21, 1993, Ercole Doninelli was replaced in the administrative council by his wife Stefania. At the same time the trustee was changed. Instead of Enrico Walser, Nasreddin replaced him with Engelbert Schreiber Sr. Later Engelbert Schreiber jr. took over his father’s mandate. On March 3, 1997, the Press and Information Bureau of Liechtenstein received an anonymous letter sending information about Engelbert Schreiber Sr. and his involvement in money laundering. The letter (about the principality’s involvement with criminal groups like the Italian mafia and the Columbian drug cartel) claimed that the police chief of Liechtenstein was, since 1985, in the pay of Medellin boss Pablo Escobar. The letter said the contact came about through Engelbert Schreiber via the Caracas/Venezuela mafia families Cuntrera, Caruana, and Caldarella, with whom Schreiber stands in a close relationship.” (Idem.)

14. “Then there was the report from the German BND that cited Schreiber and others who were involved in money laundering without any punishment from Liechtenstein. The principality was upset that the German secret service intercepted telephone calls and siphoned off electronic data from the banks. But after the publication of the BND papers, an outspoken threat to have the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) of the OECD to put Liechtenstein on the black list of money laundering states worked wonders. Schreiber and some others had a period of shame where they had to distance themselves as trustees in business groups. Was it an accident, the investigators wondered, why the Muslim Brother Ahmed Idris Nasreddin-out of the countless number of Liechtenstein trustees-would choose a man of Engelbert Schreiber’s caliber?” (Idem.)

15. Another person bridging the worlds of Berlusconi and Al Taqwa is Pier Felice Barchi [8], an attorney for both Berlusconi and Yussef Nada. “The Akida Bank of Nasreddin was also supposed to be concerned with the spreading of Islamic banking practices. The Lugano-registered affiliate of the bank listed along with its founder Nasreddin, the Tessino-based Pier Felice Barchi. This attorney had great experience with rich and influential foreign customers. Barchi was also concerned with the Tessino financial interests of Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi and the Saudi minority partner in Berlusconi’s media group Mediaset, Prince al-Waleed al Talal.” (Ibid.; pp. 10-11.)

16. Among the activities allegedly engaged in by Ahmed Huber was the acquisition of surplus Soviet weaponry for use by Islamist fighting formations in the Balkans and Afghanistan. During the investigation of Nasreddin and Nada’s circle, Milan investigators were no more amazed when on September 30, 2000, a Tunisian named Habib Waddani surfaced with the information about Achmed Huber and his central role with his Islamic friends. Habib Waddani in the spring of 1996 had gone with Rodolfo M., a Zurich-living attorney from Sicily, and met a businessman from the Baltic who made a tempting offer, namely access to the weapons surplus of the former Red Army. There was even talk of the possibility of widening the deal to nuclear material from the former USSR. What was lacking was a buyer. The Sicilian brought in an Islamic attorney Kamil B. living in Zurich for advice and he, in turn, called in his good friend Huber. And there was not only an interest in Russian weapons but also a quick solution ready for the logistics part.” (Ibid.; p. 11.)

17. After detailing a labyrinthine path that the weapons took, Coogan goes on to comment: “The Italian investigators were able to verify the greatest part of Waddani’s statements . . .” (Ibid.; pp. 11-12.)

18. Intercession by the Saudi interior minister may well have helped to defer legal action against Nada & company. “In spite of the evidence, Youssef Nada and his friends have been left alone. The Europeans feel that the U.S. has refused to share information with them. Also the Swiss investigators made no progress against al-Taqwa because they got no information from America. There is a final element in this. In the beginning of May 2002, Saudi Arabia’s Interior Minister visited Switzerland. Officially Prince Nayif bin Abdulaziz al-Saud went to Switzerland for health reasons. On one evening, the Prince visited Bern. Reportedly the Prince and another leading representative of a different Arab state sent the Swiss a warning that any showing of the books and activities of Arab finance concerns and Islamic organizations would be injurious for the Swiss, because deposited capital can be moved to another country. The visit apparently brought results. After the visit the Swiss have said that there is no information or suggestion that either al-Taqwa or the Nasreddin Group was financially involved with 9/11.” (Ibid.; p. 12.)

19. Huber recently attended a meeting of European far-rightists in Switzerland. “Perhaps the most recent remarkable story concerning Huber comes from a brief item in the Swiss tabloid Blick that in an April 26, 2002 article by Alexander Sautter that Huber was involved in a meeting of far-right leaders from Europe. A photo showing Huber with Jean Marie Le Pen accompanies the article. The Blick story (available on the web) is as follows: Mon Pelerin VD: Christian Cambuzat, the promoter (Scharfmacher) of the right extremist Jean-Marie Le Pen (73): The guru assembles together some of the top leaders of the European right. On the idyllic Mont Pelerin, they debate their crude ideas. At his secret visit to a spa in Switzerland, Le Pen hardly remained alone. Rightist leaders from all over Europe traveled to meet the extremist presidential candidate who was hosted by Cambuzat. Franz Schonhuber (79). Founder of the Republican Party in Germany and a former member of the SS. He talked with Le Pen who constitutes together with Schonhuber the ‘Front National’ Faction in the European parliament. Gianfranco Fini (50). Italian post-fascist, Mussolini admirer, and founder of the Alleanze Nationale. He also was at the meeting with Le Pen and Schonhuber. Ahmed Huber (74). The Swiss is on the Bush Administration blacklist . . . ‘I met le Pen at Mont Pelerin as he went to Christian Cambuzat’s spa,’ Huber told Blick yesterday. At the extremist rendezvous an American far right politician was also supposed to have taken part. [Note: the American is not further identified.-KC] Christian Cambuzat said that Le Pen (after the election) had again become the sharpest weapon of the ‘Front National’ because Le Pen changed his image from a venomous old man to a ‘kindly U.S. TV evangelist.’ Proudly Cambuzat brags, ‘With me Le Pen can relax well’ [from his political endeavors-KC]. And openly link up with new contacts. [Although the Blick story does not give details, Cambuzat runs a spa for the very rich, the Lemanique de Revitalisation, inside a hotel on the famous Mont Pelerin.]” (Ibid.; pp. 14-15.)