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Elements of Western Intel Using Jihadists: Genesis of ISIS?

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ISIS recruits pledging allegiance

COMMENT: Our recent series of programs featuring Peter Levenda discussing The Hitler Legacy highlighted the genesis of “weaponized Islam” and the use of jihadists as proxy warriors by Imperial Germany in World War I, Nazi Germany in World War II and, finally, the U.S. and the West during the Cold War.

In FTR #773, we noted the circumstances surrounding the Boston Marathon Bombing. In that program, we opined that the evidence suggested very strongly that elements of U.S. and Western intelligence were continuing to use jihadists as “proxy warriors,” in this case against Russia in the Caucasus.

In that program, we also suggested that the Boston Marathon Bombing itself, like 9/11, was “blowback” from our continued use of Islamic fascists as proxies.

We have also noted that, in effect, there is a proxy war component to the burgeoning Shia/Sunni conflict in the Middle East.

Russia is supportive of the Shiite national combatant forces–Iran and Syria, primarily. This appears to be an gambit intended, in part, to shield Russia’s southern flank from further assault by Sunni proxy warriors.

There have been indications of Saudi pre-planning their anti-Shiite crusade. Prince Bandar spoke ominously of a day of retribution against Shiites.

In addition, we have discussed the “corporatist” economic viewpoint of the Muslim Brotherhood, an ideology that frames that organization in the same context as Hitler, Mussolini and Imperial Japan. Although those countries were bitter opponents of the U.S. and democracy itself, their anti-communist and fascist [“corporatist”] ideology made them desirable to the transnational corporations that helped to spawn the fascist powers in the first place.

(For the convenience of the reader, we have included some of the relevant documentation of the Brotherhood’s economic philosophy below.

The Muslim Brotherhood is the parent organization of Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and, very possibly ISIS. (It’s head is a “former’ member of the Brotherhood.)

It should be understood that, for the transnationals and the GOP and other political elements that support them and are, in turn, supported by them, the U.S. casualties from World War II, the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. war in Afghanistan and the Boston Marathon Bombing are acceptable losses.” They are collateral damage, acceptable under the circumstances.

Attacks like the Paris incidents of 2015 also serve as a de facto “strategy of tension,” buttressing the far-right and the forces of reaction and justifying intrusions on civil liberties. Although we don’t think this is the primary motivation for the Western intelligence collaboration with Sunni jihadists, the benefits of the “blowback” are considerable and welcomed by fascists in this country and others.

A recent post by German Foreign Policy fleshes out this line of inquiry. (German Foreign Policy feeds along the lower right hand side of the front page of this website.)

“The Jihad’s Usefulness (II);” german-foreign-policy.com; 5/28/2015.

A recently declassified memo of the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) reveals that the West had supported the creation of the “Islamic State” (IS). Using jihadist forces has been a Western tradition for decades, as the Afghanistan war in the 1980s and an analysis of the Western power struggle with Iran (especially since 2003) show. In the 1980s, western countries – in collaboration with Saudi Arabia – had supported jihadists associated with Osama bin Laden, to defeat Soviet military forces in Afghanistan. Since at least ten years, they have been supporting Arab jihadists in an effort to weaken Iran’s main allies. These activities, accompanying the official “war on terror,” are “a very high-risk venture,” warn US intelligence officials. Saudi Arabia, one of Germany’s main allies in the Arab world, is playing a central role in supporting jihadists.

Against the Soviet Union

Western powers first used modern jihadism on a major scale during the 1980s in Afghanistan. In their quest to defeat the pro-Soviet Afghan government and the Soviet military stationed in Afghanistan, the United States, the Federal Republic of Germany and other NATO member countries banked, not only on the Afghan Mujahidin, but also Arab jihadists, including Osama bin Laden.[1] The then little known Osama bin Laden, and the other jihadists were promoted with Saudi Arabia’s financial and logistical support. The head of Saudi foreign intelligence at the time and Bin Laden’s contact person, Prince Turki al Faisal bin Abdulaziz al Saud played a major role. Today, he provides his political expertise to the “Advisory Council” of the Munich Security Conference.[2] The Afghan Mujahidin and the growing number of Arab jihadists finally succeeded in forcing the Soviet armed forces into withdrawing from Afghanistan. From the western perspective, jihadism had therefore proven its effectiveness as an instrument in fighting secular, socialist forces.

Against Iran

The al Qaeda attacks on US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam (August 7, 1998), the US counter attack on al Qaeda bases in Afghanistan (August 20, 1998) and particularly the 9/11 terror attacks and the ensuing war on Afghanistan seemed to have led to an irreparable rift between the West and the jihadists. However, the “war on terror” did not hinder the West from again engaging in punctual cooperation with Arab jihadists – this time, not a struggle against secular socialist forces, but an attempt at weakening Iran. With Iraq’s destruction starting in 2003, the US-led war alliance had neutralized Iran’s traditional rival, inadvertently opening an opportunity for Iran becoming a Persian Gulf regional hegemonic power. To prevent this, Western powers began an arms buildup of the Gulf dictatorships – particularly Saudi Arabia – to create a counterforce.[3] These dictatorships, in turn, soon began subverting Iran’s regional allies – for example Syria and the Lebanese Hezbollah.

“High Risk Venture”

This has led to Arab jihadists being called back into action. In 2007, the US journalist Seymour Hersh exposed how the West, together with Saudi Arabia, was moving against Hezbollah in Lebanon.[4] While, on the one hand, for example the German Navy was participating in the UN mission off the Lebanese coast to prevent arms supplies from reaching this Shiite militia, Riyadh, on the other hand, was building up their most resolute enemies, the Salafists and jihadists, whose hatred of Shiite Muslims is as strong as their hatred of secular, socialist forces. In early 2007, government officials from various countries had confirmed to Hersh that the USA and Saudi Arabia were providing Lebanese Salafist and jihadist organizations with the means for fighting Hezbollah. A Lebanese government official told Hersh, “we have a liberal attitude, allowing those al Qaeda groups to maintain a presence here.” A former agent from the United States explicitly admitted, “we’re financing a lot of bad guys with some serious potential unintended consequences. It’s a very high-risk venture.”

A Salafist Principality

The fact that the West is following this same strategy in the war in Syria has been confirmed in a memo, dating from August 2012, from the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and made public last week. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[5]) According to the memo, the creation of a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria was seen as advantageous – to deprive the “Shiite expansion,” emanating from Iran, its “strategic depth” in Syria. The “Islamic State” (IS), in fact, has evolved from that “Salafist principality.”

The Bandar Plan

The western powers along with their main regional allies – Turkey and Saudi Arabia – have actively built up the Salafist and jihadist militias, in Syria, with the ex-Saudi Ambassador to the United States (1983 – 2005), Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz al Saud playing a decisive role. In his function as General Secretary of the Saudi National Security Council (2005), Bandar bin Sultan supported the Lebanese Salafists, and as head of the Saudi intelligence services, (2012), he was also involved in the Syrian war. The “Bandar Plan,” named after him, called for forming and arming insurgent militias in Syria. In fact, this refers to the – primarily Salafist – military units being financed by Saudi Arabia. The plan also calls for the infiltration of Saudi agents into al Qaeda allied groups and using other means to influence those jihadist militias, where infiltration proved unfeasible. Within this framework Saudi Arabia even provided aid to IS, albeit the financing, in this case, was inofficial, furnished by private jihadist supporters, according to an Israeli analysis published in 2014.[6] Only after the IS began expanding in Iraq, in early 2014, and began creating the situation that the DIA had warned of in August 2012,[7] was Bandar bin Sultan relieved of his duties and flown to the USA “for medical treatment.” In the summer of 2014, western countries found themselves compelled to militarily intervene against IS, which was gathering strength. This is the IS, the West had paternalistically watched taking its first steps in the struggle against the government of President Assad, their common enemy.

Destructive Potential

Even this has not put an end to the West’s use of jihadists. Most recently, the US-led “anti-IS coalition” stood by watching as IS drove Syrian government troops out of Palmyra, a strategically important city – a welcome support in the war on President Assad’s government. According to reports, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have “again been closely collaborating” since March. Of course, in the war on Syria “they do not have their sights on the IS, but rather target Assad” – Riyadh and Ankara’s more polite formulation of the standard Salafist and jihadist demand.[8] Western strategists have even begun proposing using jihadists in the struggle against the jihadists of IS, which has become much too powerful. According to a recent website article of the US “Foreign Affairs” journal, the al Qaeda should not be allowed to be further weakened. Al Qaeda must be allowed to continue to exist to keep its supporters from defecting to IS. Therefore the terrorist organization should be kept “afloat and [Aiman az-] Zawahiri alive.”[9] Jihadists are only being fought, if they become too powerful – as in the case of IS – or if they begin to attack western targets. Otherwise, their destructive potential is considered a western secret asset in its war on common enemies.

[1] More information on the Jihadists in Afghanistan and the West in: Steve Coll: Ghost Wars. The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. New York 2004.

[2] See Old Allies and Good Guys, Bad Guys.

[3] See Gulf Stability and Hegemonic Conflict at the Gulf (II).

[4] Seymour M. Hersh: The Redirection. Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism? www.newyorker.com 05.03.2007.

[5] See Vom Nutzen des Jihad (I) and A Salafist Principality.

[6] Udi Dekel, Orit Perlov: The Saudi Arabia and Kuwait “Outposts Project”: Al-Qaeda and Its Affiliates. The Institute for National Security Studies, INSS Insight No. 517, 16.02.2014.

[7] See Vom Nutzen des Jihad (I) and A Salafist Principality.

[8] Markus Bickel: Fortschritte und Rückschritte in Syrien. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 09.05.2015.

[9] Barak Mendelsohn: Accepting Al Qaeda. www.foreignaffairs.com 09.03.2015.

Dollars for Terror: The United States and Islam; by Richard Labeviere; Copyright 2000 [SC]; Algora Publishing; ISBN 1-892941-06-6; p. 127.

. . . . Taking Italy’s choices under Mussolini for inspiration, the economic program set three priorities . . . The social policy foresaw a new law on labor, founded on corporations. This economic program would more directly reveal its relationship to totalitarian ideologies a few years later, with the works of Mohamed Ghazali . . . . Mohamed Ghazali recommended ‘an economic regimen similar to that which existed in Nazi Germany and fascist Italy.’ . . . The moral code is also an important component in this program, which is intended to create the ‘new Muslim man.’ . . . The notion of the equality of the sexes is inherently negated by the concept of the supremacy of male social responsibilities. . .the ‘natural’ place of the woman is in the home. . . .

“Islam in Office” by Stephen Glain; Newsweek; 7/3–10/2006.

Judeo-Christian scrip­ture offers lit­tle eco­nomic instruc­tion. The Book of Deuteron­omy, for exam­ple, is loaded with edicts on how the faith­ful should pray, eat, bequeath, keep the holy fes­ti­vals and treat slaves and spouses, but it is silent on trade and com­merce. In Matthew, when Christ admon­ishes his fol­low­ers to ‘give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s,’ he is effec­tively con­ced­ing fis­cal and mon­e­tary author­ity to pagan Rome. Islam is dif­fer­ent. The prophet Muhammad—himself a trader—preached mer­chant honor, the only reg­u­la­tion that the bor­der­less Lev­an­tine mar­ket knew. . . .

. . . In Mus­lim liturgy, the deals cut in the souk become a metaphor for the con­tract between God and the faith­ful. And the busi­ness model Muham­mad pre­scribed, accord­ing to Mus­lim schol­ars and econ­o­mists, is very much in the laissez-faire tra­di­tion later embraced by the West. Prices were to be set by God alone—anticipating by more than a mil­len­nium Adam Smith’s ref­er­ence to the ‘invis­i­ble hand’ of market-based pric­ing. Mer­chants were not to cut deals out­side the souk, an early attempt to thwart insider trad­ing. . . . In the days of the caliphate, Islam devel­oped the most sophis­ti­cated mon­e­tary sys­tem the world had yet known. Today, some econ­o­mists cite Islamic bank­ing as fur­ther evi­dence of an intrin­sic Islamic prag­ma­tism. Though still guided by a Qur’anic ban on riba, or inter­est, Islamic bank­ing has adapted to the needs of a boom­ing oil region for liq­uid­ity. In recent years, some 500 Islamic banks and invest­ment firms hold­ing $2 tril­lion in assets have emerged in the Gulf States, with more in Islamic com­mu­ni­ties of the West.

British Chan­cel­lor of the Exche­quer Gor­don Brown wants to make Lon­don a global cen­ter for Islamic finance—and elic­its no howl of protest from fun­da­men­tal­ists. How Islamists might run a cen­tral bank is more prob­lem­atic: schol­ars say they would manip­u­late cur­rency reserves, not inter­est rates.

The Mus­lim Broth­er­hood hails 14th cen­tury philoso­pher Ibn Khal­dun as its eco­nomic guide. Antic­i­pat­ing supply-side eco­nom­ics, Khal­dun argued that cut­ting taxes raises pro­duc­tion and tax rev­enues, and that state con­trol should be lim­ited to pro­vid­ing water, fire and free graz­ing land, the util­i­ties of the ancient world. The World Bank has called Ibn Khal­dun the first advo­cate of pri­va­ti­za­tion. [Empha­sis added.] His found­ing influ­ence is a sign of mod­er­a­tion. If Islamists in power ever do clash with the West, it won’t be over com­merce. . . .

“Chech­nyan Power” by Mark Ames; nsfwcorp.com; 6/5/2013.

. . . Fuller comes from that fac­tion of CIA Cold War­riors who believed (and still appar­ently believe) that fun­da­men­tal­ist Islam, even in its rad­i­cal jihadi form, does not pose a threat to the West, for the sim­ple rea­son that fun­da­men­tal­ist Islam is con­ser­v­a­tive, against social jus­tice, against social­ism and redis­tri­b­u­tion of wealth, and in favor of hier­ar­chi­cal socio-economic struc­tures. Social­ism is the com­mon enemy to both cap­i­tal­ist Amer­ica and to Wah­habi Islam, accord­ing to Fuller.

Accord­ing to jour­nal­ist Robert Drey­fuss’ book “Devil’s Game,” Fuller explained his attrac­tion to rad­i­cal Islam in neoliberal/libertarian terms:

“There is no main­stream Islamic organization…with rad­i­cal social views,” he wrote. “Clas­si­cal Islamic the­ory envis­ages the role of the state as lim­ited to facil­i­tat­ing the well-being of mar­kets and mer­chants rather than con­trol­ling them. Islamists have always pow­er­fully objected to social­ism and communism….Islam has never had prob­lems with the idea that wealth is unevenly dis­trib­uted.” . . . .

“In Search of Friends Among the Foes: U.S. Hopes to Work with Diverse Group” by John Mintz and Douglas Farah; The Washington Post; 9/11/2004; p. A01.

. . . Some federal agents worry that the Muslim Brotherhood has dangerous links to terrorism. But some U.S. diplomats and intelligence officials believe its influence offers an opportunity for political engagement that could help isolate violent jihadists. ‘It is the preeminent movement in the Muslim world,’ said Graham E. Fuller, a former CIA official specializing in the Middle East. ‘It’s something we can work with.’ Demonizing the Brotherhood ‘would be foolhardy in the extreme’ he warned.” . . .

More about the corporatist economic philosophy of the Muslim Brotherhood follows. Note that Khairat el-Shater was alleged by Egyptian intelligence to have been running Mohamed Morsi. (We covered this in FTR #787.) In turn, he was reported to be serving as a liaison between Morsi and Mohamed Zawahiri, the brother of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri. Shater was also networked with: Anne Patterson, U.S. ambassador to Egypt, GOP Senator John McCain and GOP Senator Lidsay Graham. In turn, Shater was alleged to have transferred $50 million from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to Al-Qaeda at the time that he was networking with the Americans and Morsi. Hey, what’s $50 million between friends?

“The GOP Brotherhood of Egypt” by Avi Asher-Schapiro; Salon.com; 1/25/2012.

While Western alarmists often depict Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood as a shadowy organization with terrorist ties, the Brotherhood’s ideology actually has more in common with America’s Republican Party than with al-Qaida. Few Americans know it but the Brotherhood is a free-market party led by wealthy businessmen whose economic agenda embraces privatization and foreign investment while spurning labor unions and the redistribution of wealth. Like the Republicans in the U.S., the financial interests of the party’s leadership of businessmen and professionals diverge sharply from those of its poor, socially conservative followers.

The Brotherhood, which did not initially support the revolution that began a year ago, reaped its benefits, capturing nearly half the seats in the new parliament, which was seated this week, and vaulting its top leaders into positions of power.

Arguably the most powerful man in the Muslim Brotherhood is Khairat Al-Shater, a multimillionaire tycoon whose financial interests extend into electronics, manufacturing and retail. A strong advocate of privatization, Al-Shater is one of a cadre of Muslim Brotherhood businessmen who helped finance the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party’s impressive electoral victory this winter and is now crafting the FJP’s economic agenda.

At Al-Shater’s luxury furniture outlet Istakbal, a new couch costs about 6,000 Egyptian pounds, about $1,000 in U.S. currency. In a country where 40 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day, Istakbal’s clientele is largely limited to Egypt’s upper classes.

Although the Brothers do draw significant support from Egypt’s poor and working class, “the Brotherhood is a firmly upper-middle-class organization in its leadership,” says Shadi Hamid, a leading Muslim Brotherhood expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Not surprisingly, these well-to-do Egyptians are eager to safeguard their economic position in the post-Mubarak Egypt. Despite rising economic inequality and poverty, the Brotherhood does not back radical changes in Egypt’s economy.

The FJP’s economic platform is a tame document, rife with promises to root out corruption and tweak Egypt’s tax and subsidies systems, with occasional allusions to an unspecific commitment to “social justice.” The platform praises the mechanisms of the free market and promises that the party will work for “balanced, sustainable and comprehensive economic development.” It is a program that any European conservative party could get behind. . . .

 

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