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FTR #430 the First Refuge of a Scoundrel

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Samuel Johnson noted centuries ago: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” This broadcast supports the contention that religion is usually the first. Highlighting networking between far-right and explicitly fascist elements across dramatic religious divides, the program illustrates that politics, and not religion, is the common element among them. In this time of lethally-politicized religious sentiment, it is important to bear this in mind. Beginning with collaboration between Italian fascist elements associated with the former P-2 Lodge and both Vatican-related and Israeli Likud Party functionaries, the program discusses the role of former U.S. Ambassador Maxwell Rabb in this concatenation. The P-2 milieu is also involved with the networks surrounding the Al Taqwa/Muslim Brotherhood nexus intersecting Al Qaeda. One of the principles of the Al Taqwa organization (Achmed Huber), in turn, networks with European neo-pagan fascists. The program concludes with discussion of the difference between Islamism and traditional Islam, as well as the anti-Semitic rants of the outgoing Malaysian Prime Minister.

Program Highlights Include: Youssef Nada attorney Pier Felice Barchi’s efforts on behalf of Silvio Berlusconi (Italian PM and former P-2 member); Ahmed Huber’s participation with the New Right/neo-Pagan Avalon Gemeinschaft; the fascist antecedents of the Avalon Gemeinschaft; an Imam’s analysis of the heretical nature of politicized Islam or Islamism.

1. Underscoring the essentially political nature of far right and fascist networks that manifest themselves as superficially religious, the broadcast begins with an excerpt from FTR 252 concerning the networking between the Vatican-linked milieu of Silvio Berlusconi, elements of Israel’s far-right Likud Party and Maxwell Rabb, former US Ambassador to Italy. The meeting described here took place in early 2000. One can only wonder if this networking was connected to the US Republican Party’s undermining of the Clinton/Gore administration’s attempts at brokering a Mideast Peace. (“International Fascist Axis” by Gerry Gable; The Searchlight; October of 2000 #304; p. 9.) Berlusconi is a former member of Licio Gelli’s P-2 lodge. His associate Fini is the head of the National Alliance, the direct successor to Mussolini’s fascist party in Italy.

2. In turn, Berlusconi is heavily networked with people from the Muslim Brotherhood’s Al Taqwa network. Pier Felice Barchi is the attorney for Al Taqwa president Youssef Nada. As discussed in FTR#’s 356, 359, 387, Barchi is closely associated with Banca del Gottardo, the correspondent bank of Al Taqwa and the former Swiss subsidiary of the P-2-controlled Banco Ambrosiano.

“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.”

(“Report on Islamists, The Far Right, and Al Taqwa” by Kevin Coogan; p. 7.)

3. Further developing the fascist/reactionary nature of these ostensibly religious operatives, the program details Al Taqwa’s Achmed Huber and the latter’s connections with the pagan Avalon Gemeinschaft. The Avalon Gemeinschaft manifests a religious philosophy altogether incompatible with the Muslim faith to which he adheres.

“ . . . Achmed Huber is not only a devout Muslim and supporter of political Islam; he is also a leading member of the avowedly pagan Swiss-based Avalon Gemeinschaft (‘Avalon Society’ also known as the Avalon Kreis or Avalon Circle). Avalon’s estimated 150 members include aging Swiss SS volunteers, youthful far right fanatics, and died-in-the wool Holocaust deniers. Each summer solstice, this motley melange of characters journeys deep into the Swiss woods to ritually worship the pre-Christian Celtic gods of ancient Europe. They then spend the rest of the year bemoaning the Enlightenment and denying the Holocaust.”

(“Achmed Huber, The Avalon Gemeinschaft, and the Swiss ‘New Right’” by Kevin Coogan; [originally published in Hitlist; April/May 2002]; p. 1.)

4.

“Although Huber is one of Avalon’s leading members, he was not involved in founding the group. Avalon began as a curious mixture of Old Right and New Right currents that reflected its founding members’ involvement in a far right youth group known as the Wiking-Jugend Schweiz (WJS) as well as their later rejection of cadre-based politics for the creation of Avalon as a self-proclaimed elite society. Besides being steeped in mystical imagery, Avalon’s founders also embraced ‘New Right’ jargon most frequently associated with the French theorist Alain de Benoist, his Paris-based think-tank, GRECE (the Groupement de Recherche et d’Etudes pour la Civilisation Europeene), and GRECE’s counterpart, Pierre Krebs, Thule Seminar. . . .”

(Idem.)

5. After detailing the early history of the antecedents of the Avalon Gemeinschaft, the program notes its pagan nature—consistent with Huber’s fascist politics, but not his Muslim religion.

“ . . . Starting in 1987, members of the Swiss branch of the Thule Seminar took part in a pagan gathering around the Celtic holiday Lugnasad, along with a delegation from the WJS and various neo-Nazis from across Europe. In 1988, the Swiss branch of the Thule Seminar, along with the Circle Proudhon, organized seemingly scholarly-sounding talks on topics like ‘The History of the Templars’ and ‘The Heritage of the Indo-Europeans’ on the grounds of Geneva University.”

(Ibid.; p. 2.)

6.

“Although lacking the scholarly chops of a de Benoist or a Krebs, Avalon’s founders were quick to proclaim their own elite status as well as their embrace of pagan ideas. Grossweiler, for example, said that Avalon’s members ‘consider ourselves as an intellectual/spiritual elite and know that our ideas are incomprehensible to simple people.’ Avalon’s emergence also came wrapped in a heavy dose of Celtic mysticism. One Avalon tract began, ‘Avalon—white mist covered island in an icy sea. Avalon, land of inner rest and the confident, holy land of the Celts. Avalon, original homeland and secure pole of our European culture. The land of King Arthur gives our society its name. Many of our way and beliefs shall find the power in the circle to resist the time of the wolf (the destruction of value). This is our spiritual place of refuge, [the] place of the calling to mind of Europe’s eternal values, Courage, Honor, Loyalty. Achmed Huber’s later emergence as a key Avalon leader no doubt reflects both his well-developed networking skills as well as his powerful contacts inside the European right. . . .”

(Idem.)

7.

“ . . . Huber and [WJS co-founder Roger] Wutrich have also portrayed Avalon in a press communique as a highly respectable group that sponsors gatherings dedicated to scientific and cultural themes—particularly the honoring of Europe’s ‘Celtic Germanic inheritance’—as well as to groundbreaking critical research into questions of contemporary history. Avalon’s eager embrace of Holocaust deniers, even more than its strange celebrations of the summer solstice, have stripped it of even a vague sense of legitimacy as a serious organization engaged in historical research . . . .”

(Ibid.; p. 3.)

8.

“ . . . Finally, it seems particularly ironic that a self-proclaimed Muslim like Huber would be associated at all with any ‘New Right’ grouping, even with a pale parody of the New Right, as Avalon appears to be. Huber, after all, is a self-proclaimed devotee of Islam, an utterly monotheistic religion. In the New Right canon, monotheism has always been portrayed as the original sin. This has been so ever since de Benoist identified the Enlightenment’s universalistic values as a secular extension of a monotheist worldview; namely the Judeo-Christian tradition which Islam claims to complete. New Right theorists insist that they embrace paganism and the pagan notion of a universe of pluralistic gods precisely out of their desire to dethrone monotheistic thought structures which they see as essential to the future elimination of American ‘monoculture.’ That a fanatical Islamic monotheist like Huber could spend each summer solstice out in the woods worshipping Celtic gods is one more twist to his already bizarre life.”

(Idem.)

9. Much of the rest of the program discusses the profound difference between Islam as it was revealed by the Prophet Muhammad and Islamism as it is professed by the likes of Osama bin Laden. (Sheikh Palazzi is the head Imam of the Italian Muslim community.)

“ . . . Some Muslim scholars, such as my friend and colleague, Professor Khalid Duran of Temple University of Philadelphia, mark the distinction between orthodox Islamic doctrine and its political counterfeit by calling the former ‘Islam’, and the latter ‘Islamism’.”

(“Orthodox Islamic Perceptions of Jihad and Martyrdom” by Sheikh Professor Abdul Hadi Palazzi; text of an address given to the February 20-23, International Conference on Countering Suicide Terrorism sponsored by the Institute for Counter-Terrorism of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzlyia; p. 2.)

10.

“ ‘Whether Islamists like the term fundamentalist or not, their understanding of religion resembles that of fundamentalists in other religions. This is not to say that Islamists are more religious or more genuinely Islamic than other Muslims. A common misunderstanding in the West has it that Islamists are the one hundred percenters among Muslims, and that they are the people of tradition. This is not at all the case. Islamists have a problem with the people of tradition, especially the Sufis (mystics). Islamism is a late 20th century totalitarianism. It follows in the wake of Fascism and Communism, picking up from those and seeking to refine their methods of domination. Islamists mold tradition to serve their political ends. This causes them to clash with traditionalist Muslims who resist this manipulation of religion for power politics. Islamism is not a reaction of people feeling a loss of religious meaning, but a reaction to a sense of loss in the political sphere; it is a quest for power, an attempt to conquer the state, not to regain independence for religion, least of all individual faith’.”

(Idem.)

11.

“ ‘Like most totalitarian ideologies, Islamism is a utopianism. Islamists seek to dominate by the most advanced technologies; in that sense they are modernists. But their model for an ideal society takes inspiration from an idealized seventh century Arabia and an a-historical view of religion and human development in general. It is an anachronistic mode of thinking in conflict with modern concepts of democracy, pluralism and human rights’. A relevant difference between traditional (or orthodox) Islam and fundamentalism is in the way of understanding the link between religion and politics.’”

(Idem.)

12.

“ ‘Few Muslims would deny that political commitment is part of Islamic ethics, but most disagree with the Islamist insistence that there exists a clearly defined ‘Islamic system’, different from all other political systems. Islamists refuse to accept a secular state that puts a member of a non-Muslim minority at part with a member of the Muslim majority, and a woman at par with man’.”

(Idem.)

13.

“According to traditional Islamic theology, prophets are sent among human beings to teach them some necessary truths about the nature of God, about ethics, about those actions and those omissions which cause prosperity in this world and beatitude in the hereafter. It can sometimes happen that those Prophets are called to preach in a milieu where a state and a complex social organization does not exist at all, and this causes them to assume a role of political leadership. This was, for instance, the role of Moses as a leader of the Children of Israel in the exodus from Egypt, or the position of Muhammad as a governor of the state centered in Medina. Even so, Islamic orthodoxy teaches that this happens per accident, and political leadership is not among the necessary elements of the prophetic mastership. As a matter of fact, the Qur’an uses different titles to describe the Prophet Muhammad, but none of these titles refers to a political function. The Qur’an says that Muhammad has been sent as an ‘Admonisher’, as a ‘Warner’, as ‘someone who calls to God’, as ‘ a shining light’, but it never says that he was sent as a political social leader or as a head of State”

(Ibid.; pp. 2-3.)

14.

Sheikh Palazzi describes the essential difference between politicized Islam (Islamism) and the faith as revealed by Mohammad. “Islamists, on the contrary, have a completely opposite attitude. According to their point of view, the diffusion of Islam cannot be separated from the creation of a claimed ‘Islamic State’. The role of Muslim scholars is immediately confused with the role of leaders of a political movement or party. Islamists continuously repeat that ‘Islam is both religion and government’. This is the basic description of their creed. What they forget to underline is that those words ‘Islam is both religion and government’ (‘al-Islam din wa dawlah’) are neither found in the Holy Qur’an, Hadith (the sayings of the Prophet Muhammed) or in ancient, authoritative Islamic sources . . .”

(Ibid.; p. 3.)

15. Underscoring the heretical nature of the suicide bombers, Sheikh Palazzi presents passages from the Qur’an on the subject of taking one’s own life.

“ . . . The evil status in the hereafter of those who commit suicide is described in a saying of the Prophet Muhammad that is contained in Sahih Muslim, another authoritative compilation. It says ‘Whoever kills himself with a knife will be in hell forever stabbing himself in the stomach. Whoever drinks poison and kills himself will drink it eternally in the hell fire. And whoever kills himself by falling off a mountain will forever fall in the fire of Hell.’. In the face of all these evident proofs, one is spontaneously led to ask himself a question: how is it possible for some groups which claim to be ‘Islamic’ and to ‘represent Islam’ to advocate both terrorism against civil populations and suicide terrorism? . . . ”

(Idem.)

16. Islamists and Islamofascists also abuse the term “jihad.”

“ . . . In traditional Islam it is clear that military ‘jihad’ and all other forms of material ‘jihad’ only constitute the external aspect of ‘jihad’. The inner dimension of ‘jihad’ is the struggle that every Muslim undertakes to purify his soul from mundane desires, defects and egotism. According to a well-known tradition, after coming from a military expedition, the Prophet Muhammad said, ‘We have returned from the lesser ‘jihad’ to the greater ‘jihad’” [‘Raja’na min jihad al-asghar ila jihad al-akbar’].”

(Idem.)

17.

“Muhammad was asked, ‘O Messenger of God, what is the greater ‘jihad’?’ He answered, ‘It is the ‘jihad’ against one’s soul’. This narration has always been quoted by Sunni scholars when explaining the inner dimension of jihad. Sufis especially have quoted this as an antidote against a limited, physical understanding of the nature of ‘jihad’. Wahhabis, on the contrary, completely reject this tradition, in the same way that they deny any deeper understanding of the Islamic doctrine. The recently disappeared leader of the Wahhabi sect, Nasir ad-Din al-Albani, recurred to all possible captious arguments to prove that the tradition we cited above is not authentic and the ‘greater jihad’ simply does not exist.”

(Idem.)

18.

“On the contrary, we think that meditating on this tradition can contribute very much to understanding the present situation of those who confuse ‘jihad’ with terrorism. Crimes against civil populations can by no means be a legitimate form of ‘jihad’ with terrorism. Crimes against civil populations can by no means be a legitimate form of ‘jihad’ for the simple reason that they are caused by hate, the most irrational of human passions. Since fighting those anti-human passions is in itself the greater ‘jihad’, refuting those who abuse Islam to legitimate terrorism is also a very important form of the real ‘jihad’.”

(Idem.)

19. Recent remarks by the (thankfully) outgoing Prime Minister of Malaysia are symptomatic of the influence of Nazi-generated anti-Semitism on contemporary Islam. Speaking of the Jews, he said:

“ . . . ‘they invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so that they can enjoy equal rights with others.’”

(“ ‘Jews Rule the World’ Speech Leads to Apology in Malaysia” by Slobodan Lekic; San Jose Mercury News; 10/17/2003; p. 3AA.)

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