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FTR #721 A Mosque in Munich

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Introduction: Authored by Wall Street Journal reporter Ian Johnson [3], A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West [4] is essential for understanding the political and historical background of contemporary Islamism, its Nazi and fascist roots, in particular. Titled after, and drawn from, this important new book, this program details the operations of Gerhard von Mende, a Baltic German who presided over the use of Soviet Muslims as operatives for the Third Reich’s Ostministerium. (FTR #518 [5] draws on a Wall Street Journal article by Johnson, which previews this marvelous volume.)

Building on an activity base begun well before the Second World War, von Mende utilized members of the Prometheus network on behalf of the Third Reich and, later, for the Federal Republic of Germany.

Assiduously recruited by U.S. intelligence, von Mende refused work for the Americans (who coveted his Soviet emigre networks, the Muslims in particular.) Instead, von Mende recapitulated his Third Reich networks for the Federal Republic of Germany, mobilizing them under the stewardship of Nazi war criminal Theodor Oberlander. Oberlander was forced to resign his position as a West German cabinet minister when his wartime record came to light. Oberlander’s position had put him in charge of the vertriebene groups, expellees Germans under the political of postwar SS networks.

[6]Many of von Mende’s former Ostministerium employees did make the jump to U.S. intelligence, working under the auspices of Amcomlib.

[7]Of particular significance in von Mende’s networks were Turkophone minorities, coveted and utilized by pan-Turkist activists. Posing as Uighurs from the Xinjiang region of China, many of these Turkic minorities were thus able to escape retribution for their military service to the Third Reich. Those of von Mende’s protegees who didn’t jump to Amcomlib continued to work for von Mende under the auspices of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Of the Tukophone activitists, one of the most prominent was Ruzy Nazar, whose career stretched from service to the Third Reich, to work for U.S. intelligence and participation in the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations and WACL.

Perpetuating a disturbing pattern of using fascist elements, U.S. intelligence (specifically State Department and CIA) have continued their use of the Muslim Brotherhood in the second half of this decade! Initiated under the Bush administraion, the use of the Brotherhood (portrayed as “moderates”) has continued under Obama.

Program Highlights Include: Von Mende’s close postwar association with SS intelligence official Walter Schenck; the involvement of von Mende and his Ostministerium charges with the Holocaust; Oberlander’s links to the OUN/B; Schenck’s wartime work in the Lvov area, site of the massacres performed by Oberlander’s charges; Nazar’s work for CIA propagandizing among hajjis in Saudi Arabia in 1954; Nazi official Johann von Leers’ postwar networking with Muslim emigres in the Hamburg area for the purpose of anti-Semitic agitation; review of von Leers’ links to the milieu of the Bank Al Taqwa.

1. Beginning with discussion of the Prometheus (“Promethee”) network [8], the program notes the involvement of veterans of that network with Gerhard von Mende ‘s organization. An anti-communist network bankrolled by a number of countries, the Prometheus organization utilized pan-Turkist elements and other [former] Soviet ethnic minorities as agitprop agents, in order to destabilize the former Soviet Union.

Many of the Prometheus League’s elements served with the Third Reich.

. . . . Von Mende was given control of the ministry’s Caucasus division, reporting to his old contact in the Nazi party, Georg Leibbrandt. Von Mende recruited a group of men who had been in exile for years. Most were part of an anti-Soviet movement called Prometheus–named for the mythological hero who championed humanity by defying the god Zeus. It was founded in 1925 by men who had hoped the destruction of the czarist empire would free their peoples from Russian rule. When that didn’t happen, the Prometheans published and agitated against Moscow from Warsaw and then Paris. By the 1930’s, the group was being backed by French, Polish, British, and German intelligence. The German conquest of France brought the group completely under German control.

Von Mende had known and cultivated some of these men even before he worked for the Ostministerium. After the war, Prometheans such as Mikhail Kedia of Georgia and Ali Kantemir of Turkestan would play major roles in von Mende’s entanglement with the United States. Kantemir would also become a key player in the Munich mosque.

One man would top them all in importance during and after the war: Veli Kayum, the political activist who had addressed the Muslim soldiers, including Syultan, in the camp. . . . The Germans were delighted with Kayum’s rise in influence because he had been helping the Nazis since the 1930’s. They considered him loyal and trustworthy. They embraced the same vision: to build Turkic-Muslim armies that would fight the Soviets.

Von Mende was a civilian, but as the war progressed he was seen as essential to the Nazis’ military success. In 1943, the SS chief Heinrich Himmler engineered the ouster of Leibbrandt, von Mende’s boss in the Ostministerium. Himmler installed one of his loyalists, hoping to gain control of the rival ministry. But von Mende emerged from the shakeup unscathed. Indeed, he got a promotion–advancing from head of the Ostministerium’s Caucasus division to head of the “Foreign Peoples” division–essentially overseeing the Ostministerium’s entire policy toward Soviet minorities. . . .

A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA and the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West by Ian Johnson; Copyright 2010 by Ian Johnson; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing [HC]; ISBN 978-0-15-101418-7; pp. 24-25. [9]

2. Von Mende and his Ostministerium operatives were involved with the implementation of the Holocaust in
Eastern Europe.

. . . At a 1942 conference held at a villa on Lake Wannsee in a Berlin suburb, plans for the Holocaust took shape. Although the murder of Jews began earlier, the meeting brought the full might of the bureaucratic, totalitarian state into alignment against them. Key ministers and Nazi officials attended. The meeting lasted just ninety minutes, but its message was clear: the state would now coordinate efforts in a single, awful focus.

The Ostministerium was represented at the conference: von Mende’s boss and pre-war contact in the Nazi party, Leibbrandt, attended on behalf of the ministry. Its officials had called for a definition of who counted as a Jew, so the Germans could properly prepare the eastern territory for German settlers by eliminating Jews and other undesirables.

Nine days later, the Ostministerium held the first of a series of meetings to iron out legal details stemming from the Wannsee conference. Although the Nuremberg race laws precisely specified who was to be considered a Jew, the situation in the east presented complications: poor record keeping made tracing a person’s origins more difficult, but the Nazis desired to kill quickly without careful deliberation. Many wanted a flexible guideline that would allow officials on the ground to kill as they saw fit. Von Mende was one of a dozen midlevel bureaucrats who participated in the meeting. The minutes do not set down any of his comments. Surviving Ostministerium records show no effort on von Mende’s part to use his power to slow down the process or raise objections. And he certainly knew of the genocide against the Jews by January 1942. . . .

Ibid.; pp. 27-28. [9]

3. After the war, American propaganda efforts against the Soviet Union spawned an element of CIA called “Amcomlib.”

. . . The group’s name would change repeatedly as it struggled to find a title that would define its mission. Later in 1951, it became the American Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia—it was bad form to mention the USSR, which some of the group’s members considered illegitimate. But the word Russia itself became a problem. It seemed too narrow because it excluded non-Russians, who made up nearly half the country’s population. So in 1953, the group changed its name again, to the American Committee for Liberation from Bolshevism. That in turn seemed a bit quaint—even in the 1950’s no one but the hardest-core anticommunist spoke of Bolshevism, a term out of the 1920’s and ‘30’s. So the last two words were dropped in 1956, leaving the group with a bizarrely generic name: the American committee for Liberation. Outsiders often knew it simply as the American Committee—which gave it a wholesome, patriotic ring. Internally, it was known by the acronym Amcomlib. The term has a delicious jargony mystique, perfect for an era that coined obscure and clipped nomenclature for military and espionage missions. Amcomlib could have been a code word for a parachute operation behind enemy lines.

Over time, Amcomlib would command a large budget and a staff of thousands. Its main duty was to run Radio Liberty. But it had two other important tasks. It operated a supposedly independent think tank, the Institute for the Study of the USSR, which published papers by Amcomlib employees and people close to intelligence agencies. It also had an émigré relations department that recruited agents, mostly in Munich, and sent them around the world on covert propaganda missions. U.S. government involvement was carefully masked. Amcomlib’s board misled listeners and supporters in the United States into thinking it was run by émigrés and prominent journalists, instead of the CIA. When leaflets were printed, listening radio broadcast times and frequencies, the American role in the endeavor was purposely obfuscated, according to minutes of Amcomlib board meetings. . . .

Amcomlib might have been relatively unknown, but it never lacked money. Its exact budget is hard to reconstruct, although some information has escaped the CIA’s information blockade. Records show that in 1955 its budget was $2.8 million (roughly $23 million in 2010 terms). It grew to $7.7 million in 1960. . . .

Ibid.; pp. 42-43. [9]

4. Much of von Mende’s Ostministerium found postwar work with Radio Liberty and Amcomlib, repeating and reinforcing the disturbing, prevalent trend of U.S. intelligence employing World War II fascists for postwar anti-communist activity. Note the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations’ employment of some of the former Third Reich combatants.

. . . In the 1940’s, [Garip] Sultan had joined the Scottish League for European Freedom. Backed by Britain’s foreign intelligence agency, MI6, the league tried to line up members of Soviet minority groups such as the Tatars to combat the Soviet Union. It led to a more durable organization, which Sultan also joined, called the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations. Both were largely the creation of British intelligence services and rife with von Mende’s ex-Ostministerium collaborators. Now Sultan was looking for something that paid a real salary but would allow him to keep fighting communism. He found what looked like a perfect fit: Radio Liberty.

One reason Sultan found it easy to choose Radio Liberty is that he already knew most of its employees. The station was organized into “desks,” each with a specific nationality—Russian and non-Russian. Programming concepts and guidelines were developed in New York, but the desks in Munich had autonomy to pick topics to cover and people to interview. This is not in itself unusual for broadcasters. The non-Russian desks, however, duplicated the Ostministerium’s nationality committees in many ways, hiring similar personnel and even using Nazi ethnic terms such Idel-Ural to refer to Tatars from the Volga River region.

The people on the desks had almost all worked for von Mende in the Ostministerium. Besides Sultan, other top-level Ostministerium employees included Aman Berdimurat and Veli Zunnun on the radio’s Turkestani desk, Hussein Ikhran on the Uzbek desk, and Edige Kirimal on the Tatar desk. The Ostministerium stalwart Fatalibey ran the Azerbaijani desk. . . .

Ibid.; p. 49. [9]

5. Next, the broadcast sets forth the background and activities of von Mende associate Theodor Oberlander, one of the principal architects of using non-Russian Soviet nationalities as combatants and agitprop agents against the former Soviet Union.

Leader of the Nightingale Einsatzgruppe (comprised of elements of the OUN/B), Oberlander was forced to resign his position as West German Minister of Expellees when his role in the wartime slaughter of the Jewish population of Lvov came to light.

When working for the West German government, von Mende reported directly to Oberlander.

(In FTR #556 [10], we examined Oberlander’s participation in the ICDCC–a German-based intelligence network which also featured Nelson Bunker Hunt of the famous, ultra-right wing Hunt family of Texas. As we saw in that program, Hunt was also associated with Ali bin Musalim, who ran an account for Al Qaeda with “unlimited credit” at the Bank Al Taqwa. It is interesting to speculate how far back some of the Islamist/Western fascist networking goes.)

. . . Oberlander was the chief spokesman for these Vertriebene, the “expellees” or the ‘driven off.” In the 1950’s and ‘60’s, they fought a rearguard action against those West Germans who wanted to establish diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union or recognize the Oder-Neisse border. Oberlander headed a key political party that kept attitudes firmly fixed on loss and grievance.

This was the same Oberlander who had participated in Hitler’s failed beer-hall putsch of 1923 and who had led one of the first Wehrmacht units made up of Soviet minorities. Born in the Baltic, he realized the value of non-Russian minorities. He had participated in pogroms against the Jews but opposed the Nazis’ policy toward the occupied territories—like von Mende, he thought Germany should be the non-Russians’ ally. For that he had lost his position in the party and his military command. That setback became a blessing after the war, allowing him to position himself as a victim of the Nazis instead of a party insider who had fallen out because of infighting. That, along with his party’s voting power, was enough to convince West Germany’s first chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, to make Oberlander the cabinet minister in charge of refugees.

Oberlander was probably the farthest-right member of the West German government, and in later years he came to be considered the personification of the young democracy’s Nazi roots. The memo he sent to von Mende illustrated this far-right bent: he wanted Germany’s borders redrawn and von Mende’s cooperation in keeping a firm grip on the assets he thought could help achieve that—the foreigners living on West German soil who had fought for Germany during the war.

Von Mende had most of the émigré groups firmly in hand. He financed Bulgarians and Rumanians, Ukrainians and Czechs. But the previous year’s events showed that he was losing control of the Muslims. Compared to Amcomlib, his bureau was puny, and most of the Muslims were working for the Americans. Kuniholm’s trip to Turkey and Europe emphasized Washington’s more ambitious goal: using Muslims in its global propaganda wars. . . .

Ibid.; pp. 92-93. [9]

6. Among the key employees of von Mende’s apparatus employed by the Federal Republic was Walter Schenk. Former member of the Sichereitsdienst (the SS intelligence service), Schenck was head of the SD’s office in Lvov/Lemberg, site of the massacre by Oberlander, the OUN/B and their Nightingale group.

Much of the Third Reich’s extermination mechanism was centered in the Sichereitsdienst.

. . . Rounding out von Mende’s team was a German, Walter Schenk, who functioned as von Mende’s deputy. [Italics are mine–D.E.] Schenk had not worked in the Ostministerium, but von Mende knew him from the war, when he headed the Lemberg office of the Nazis’ Sichereitsdienst, or Security Service, where one of his responsibilities was Desk IIIB, which ovrsaw Poles, Ukrainians, and Jews. Lemberg (known between the wars by its Polish name, Lvov, and today by its Ukrainian name, Lviv) was at the time in eastern olanc, meaning Schenk was at the epicenter of the Holocaust. Schenk had quit university to join the Nazis, making him even less employable than von Mende after the war. He put in long hours helping von Mende design his evolving organization. . . .

Ibid.; p. 60. [9]

7. Next, the program analyzes part of the postwar career of Johann von Leers. In charge of anti-Semitic propaganda for Goebbels’ propaganda ministry, von Leers eventually settled in Egypt and became head of [then Egyptian president] Nasser’s Institute for the Study of Zionism, which functioned in a matter analogous to Goebbels’s ministry.

Eventually, von Leers converted to Islam. One of the mentors to Bank Al Taqwa’s Achmed Huber, von Leers (aka Lahars) networked with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the first leader of the Palestinian national movement and a general in the Waffen SS.

In Hamburg, von Leers networked with a group of Muslim immigrants with the ultimate aim of promoting anti-Semitism. Are there any links between von Leers’ Hamburg contacts and the associates of Mohammed Atta and company?

. . . Hussaini continued to associate with ex-Nazis, such as the propagandist Johann von Leers, who had moved to Cairo and changed his name to Amin Lahars. Von Mende’s intelligence reports show that Lahars had contact with members of the German Muslim League, a Hamburg-based group of immigrants. One report stated that Lahars “intends through this society to start an anti-Semitic movement in the Federal Republic. Ex-Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajji Hussaini finances the plans of Amin Lahars . . . His goal: Anti-Semitism.” . . .

Ibid.; pp. 112-113. [9]

8. Many of the former Soviet Muslims who fought for the Nazis successfully avoided repatriation by poising as Uighurs from Xinjiang. As seen in FTR #549 [11], the Uighurs have received support from Muslim Brotherhood and Underground Reich associated elements in their push for autonomy in the fossil-fuel rich Xinjiang region.

. . . For most of the war, Turkey had remained neutral and maintained normal diplomatic and academic exchanges with Germany. A Turkish student union had been formed to represent Turks studying in Germany during the war. Nationalistic and pan-Turkic in their thinking, the students hit upon a simple solution to save their fellow ethnic Turks: declare the soldiers Turkish and issue them student identity papers.

The idea wasn’t as far-fetched as it sounds. Most of the soldiers were in their late teens or early twenties. If they had had the presence of mind to ditch their Wehrmacht or SS uniforms and papers before entering the DP camps, no proof existed of their nationality or profession. Their mother tongues were Turkic dialects. With a bit of polish they could pass as Turkish students.

The Turkish student union had been based in Berlin, but when the bombing got too fierce, it moved to the medieval university town of Tubingen in southern Germany. That put the students in close range of the refugee camps, especially in the U.S. sector. Within months, they were issuing Turkish identity papers wholesale. To vary the story and thus throw suspicious officials off their trail, they also claimed that some of the young men were from Xinjiang, China, a western province with a large Turkic minority [the Uighurs].

That became Garip sultan’s new homeland. After the war ended, he was sent to a DP camp. There, the students gave him a new first name, Garip, instead of the Russified name he had previously, used, Garif. “We became ethnic Turks,” Sultan said. “They gave me an identity from Kashgar in Xinjiang. So that’s why I survived.:

It was a ruse used by many of von Mende’s top deputies, including two who would play a key role after the war: the political activist Veli Kayum and the military liaison Baymirza Hayit. They made their way to Czechoslovakia and surrendered to the U.S. Army. They were immediately sent to be debriefed by the army’s Counter Intelligence Corps, or CIC, and then to a DP camp. The Turkish student group in Munich vouched for Hayit and Kayum, and the UN did not repatriate them. . . .

Ibid.; pp. 46-47. [9]

9. Next, we revisit the career and activities of Ruzy [Ruzi] Nazar. A long-time US intelligence operative, Nazar fought in an SS unit in World War II and surfaced as part of the milieu implicated in the shooting of the Pope [12]. Recall that Nazar represented the anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations at the 1984 WACL conference in Dallas.

Nazar was employed by CIA to agitate against the Soviet Union at the hajj pilgrimage in 1954.

. . . For some pilgrims, the 1954 Hajj was a bit different. Armed with ripe tomatoes and strong lungs, two CIA-sponsored Muslims turned Mecca into the site of a Cold War showdown. Two eager young men, Rusi Nazar and Hamid Raschid, had followed the now-familiar path to the West: born in the Soviet Union and captured by the Germans, they collaborated with the Nazis and finally were recruited by U.S. intelligence. Their target: Soviet hajjis, who, they claimed, were engaged in spreading propaganda. Sponsored by Amcomlib, Nazar and Raschid flew to Jeddah, the Saudi Arabian city closest to Mecca. They claimed to be Turks, got seats on a bus carrying twenty-one Soviet pilgrims to Mecca, and began their work, talking to the Soviet Muslims and trying to sow seeds of doubt about their homeland. When that didn’t work, they tailed their prey in Mecca, heckling them. . . .

Ibid.; p. 65. [9]

10. More about Nazar’s postwar activities on behalf of U.S. intelligence:

. . . Nazar’s role in the Muslim propaganda war was at times opaque. Although he appeared in the media during the Hajj and the Bandung episode, he disappeared from public view afterward. He would reappear only after the fall of the Soviet Union as an Aksakal, or community leader, of Uzbeks living in the United States. . . . When the war started, he avoided service and hid with a Ukrainian family. After the Germans overran the region he heard that the great Turkic leader Mustafa Chokay was trying to unite Turkic peoples and form a government in exile. He found out that Chokay had died of typhus while inspecting a German prisoner-of-war camp. Still, Nazar joined a Turkic unit and fought for the Germans. He was wounded twice and sent to officer training school in the German province of Lothringen (Now the French province of Lorraine). Nazar was later attached to the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, the German army’s supreme command. . . .In 1946, he served as a representative to the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations but declined an offer from his old friend Baymirza Hayit to leave the U.S. sector for the British sector and work for the National Turkestani Unity Committee. In the early 1950’s he was recruited by the legendary CIA spymaster Archibald Roosevelt Jr. to go to the United States. . . . Nazar might have looked down on Amcomlib, but evidence suggests he worked for it. In their articles about Nazar’s Hajj in 1954, both The New York Times and Time magazine reported he had been sent by Amcomlib (which was depicted as a private organization). Minutes of Amcomlib board meetings show that group members viewed Nazar as a key to their covert propaganda strategy, calling him a “damn good man, useful in several operations of the American Committee.” . . .

Ibid.; pp. 73-74. [9]

11. The concluding part of the program turns from the Nazi background of many of Amcomlib’s Muslim employees to the Bush and Obama administrations’ recent promotion of the Muslim Brotherhood. In the last half of this decade, the State Department began openly promoting and advancing the Muslim Brotherhood, reflecting [perhaps] the lobbying efforts engaged in on that organization’s behalf by Grover Norquist and Karl Rove.

. . . . A State Department-sponsored conference on November 15 and 16, 2005, called Muslim Communities Participating in Society: A Belgian-U.S. Dialogue, brought together sixty-five Belgian Muslims and U.S. tutors from the Islamic Society of North America. The U.S. diplomats thought so highly of ISNA that it seems to have been appointed as a co-organizer of the conference.

From a historical perspective, this was almost comical—a case of taking coal to Newcastle. ISNA, as seen in Chapter 14, was founded by people with extremely close ties to Nada and the Muslim Brotherhood leadership in Europe. The State Department was importing Muslim Brotherhood Islamists with roots in Europe to tell European Muslims how to organize and integrate. Even more interesting, some of those European Muslims invited to the conference were themselves part of the current Muslim Brotherhood network. . . . State Department officials acknowledged that they had invited people accused of extremism, but said they did not care about track records. Instead, all that mattered were the groups’ or individuals’ current statements. . . .

Ibid.; pp. 223-224. [9]

12. In 2007, the Bush administration ‘s State Department undertook a similar project in Germany.

. . . . In 2007, a similar project took place in Germany. The U.S. consulate in Munich actively backed the creation of an Islamic academy in the town of Penzberg. The group behind the academy had close ties to Milligorus–essentially a Turkish version of the Muslim Brotherhood, which regularly appears on lists of extremist organizations in Germany. . . .

Ibid.; pp. 224-225. [9]

13. Bush’s CIA began pursuing a similar promotion of the Muslim Brotherhood during the second half of his second administration.

. . . . By the second half of the decade, even the CIA–reflecting its mindset of the 1950’s–was backing the Brotherhood. In 2006 and 2008, the CIA issued reports on the organization. The former was more detailed, laying out a blueprint for dealing with the group. Called “Muslim Brotherhood: Pivotal Actor in European Political Islam,” the report stated that “MB groups are likely to be pivotal to the future of political Islam is Europe . . . They also show impressive internal dynamism, organization, and media savvy.” The report conceded that “European intelligence services consider the Brotherhood a security threat and critics–including more pluralistic Muslims–accuse it of hindering Muslim social integration.” But the report nevertheless concluded that “MB-related groups offer an alternative to more violent Islamic movements. . . .

Ibid.; pp. 227. [9]

14. The inertia generated by the Brotherhood’s advocates and spear-carriers during the Bush administration extended into Obama’s tenure. Note that one of the people working for State in this episode was Jamal Barzinji, closely associated with Grover Norquist and Karl Rove’s Islamic Institute [13].

. . . . In January 2009, for example, the State Department sponsored a visit of German Muslim leaders to one of the bastions of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States, the International Institute of Islamic Thought–the organization set up after the epochal meeting in 1977 at Himmat’s home base near Lake Lugano. The German visitors were key government officials in charge of integration or recruitment of minorities into the police. One of the briefers (or “one of those giving the briefing”) was Jamal Barzinji–who as seen in Chapter 14 had worked for Nada in the 1970’s and later was one of the triumvirate who set up a number of key Brotherhood-inspired structures in the United States. . . .

Ibid.; pp. 227-228. [9]