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Swiss probe anti‑U.S. neo-Nazi Suspected financial ties to al Qaeda

by Jay Bushin­sky
Chron­i­cle For­eign Ser­vice

Bern, Switzer­land — At the behest of Pres­i­dent Bush, Swiss law author­i­ties are inves­ti­gat­ing an alliance between Islam­ic mil­i­tants and Euro­pean neo-Nazis who have alleged­ly been pro­vid­ing finan­cial sup­port to Osama bin Laden’s al Qae­da net­work.

Experts say Islam­ic mil­i­tants and far-right move­ments — a coali­tion they call the Third Posi­tion — share com­mon hatreds: the Unit­ed States and Jews.

“Extrem­ists man­age to find ways to put aside their dif­fer­ences and find com­mon cause,” Rab­bi Abra­ham Coop­er of the Simon Wiesen­thal Cen­ter said recent­ly.

The cen­tral fig­ure in the probe is Ahmed Huber, a 74-year-old Swiss con­vert to Islam who says the “Zion­ist Israel lob­by con­trols the U.S. gov­ern­ment and mass media and shapes U.S. pol­i­cy.”

Nada Man­age­ment, the Bern com­pa­ny Huber helps direct, has been sin­gled out pub­licly by Pres­i­dent Bush.

Huber, a gre­gar­i­ous and out­spo­ken for­mer jour­nal­ist who spent three decades cov­er­ing the Swiss Par­lia­ment for a social­ist news­pa­per, is a strong sup­port­er of Ger­many’s neo-Nazi Nation­al Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty (NPD) and such extreme-right politi­cians as France’s Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Huber serves on the board of direc­tors of Nada Man­age­ment. Found­ed by a Swiss Nazi and for­mer­ly known as al Taqwa Bank, the con­sult­ing and man­age­ment firm is part of the inter­na­tion­al al Taqwa group, which the Unit­ed States believes has long act­ed as a finan­cial advis­er to al Qae­da.

“Al Taqwa is an asso­ci­a­tion of off­shore banks and finan­cial man­age­ment firms that have helped al Qae­da shift mon­ey around the world,” Bush said on Nov. 7. The U.S. gov­ern­ment has frozen Huber’s assets and is pres­sur­ing the Swiss gov­ern­ment to arrest him for his alleged role in the al Qae­da mon­ey net­work.

Swiss inves­ti­ga­tors say Huber’s trav­els on the Mus­lim lec­ture cir­cuit in West­ern Europe and North Amer­i­ca brought him into con­tact with bin Laden’s fol­low­ers. Huber has admit­ted to meet­ing with asso­ciates of the Sau­di exile, describ­ing them as “dis­creet, well-edu­cat­ed, very intel­li­gent peo­ple.” But he denies that Nada Man­age­ment under­writes al Qae­da activ­i­ties.

Dur­ing an inter­view in his study, lined with books and por­traits and pho­tographs of Adolf Hitler, Richard Wag­n­er, Aya­tol­lah Khome­i­ni, Haj Amin al- Hus­sei­ni (the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem) and Egyp­t’s Gamal Abdel Nass­er, Huber expressed his views to a Chron­i­cle cor­re­spon­dent.

“The U.S. is the ally of 15 mil­lion Jews against 1.3 bil­lion Mus­lims; it is allied with 5 mil­lion Israelis against 200 mil­lion Arabs,” he said. “We will bring down the Israel lob­by and change for­eign pol­i­cy. We’ll do it in Amer­i­ca. When it hap­pens, you’ll under­stand.”

Huber min­i­mizes his role on Nada Man­age­men­t’s board of direc­tors, say­ing he is a minor play­er who receives only $1,500 annu­al­ly in com­pen­sa­tion. He says the com­pa­ny’s spon­sors are most­ly wealthy Mus­lims from Malaysia and the Per­sian Gulf states who spe­cial­ize in projects “ben­e­fi­cial to Third World coun­tries — like new roads, clin­ics, agri­cul­tur­al devel­op­ment.”

But Han­sjuerg Mark Wied­mer, a spokesman for the Swiss attor­ney gen­er­al, dis­agrees. His office has been inves­ti­gat­ing Nada Man­age­men­t’s activ­i­ties in Switzer­land, Ger­many and the Unit­ed States for the past six months.

“There have been indi­ca­tions that al Taqwa could have been financ­ing al Qae­da,” he said. “Since Sept. 11, we have been seek­ing crim­i­nal con­nec­tions. We had been on their trail before but did not have enough evi­dence to open crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings. This has changed.”

Wied­mer says the data he has gath­ered have been made avail­able to U.S. author­i­ties, but he spec­i­fied that if charges are even­tu­al­ly filed, the “cul­prits” will be tried in a Swiss court.

Three oth­er Nada Man­age­ment board mem­bers have also been ques­tioned by Swiss, Ital­ian and U.S. author­i­ties: Youssef Nada, an Egypt­ian expa­tri­ate who has Ital­ian cit­i­zen­ship; Ali Him­mat, a Syr­i­an nation­al; and Mohamed Man­sour, a Zurich res­i­dent.

Nada lives in Cam­pi­one d’I­talia, a tiny Ital­ian enclave and tax haven near the south­ern Swiss city of Lugano. Three months ago, Cam­pi­one police raid­ed Nada Man­age­men­t’s local office and con­fis­cat­ed records and doc­u­ments.

The Nada Man­age­ment board is assist­ed by a com­mit­tee of Mus­lim schol­ars head­ed by Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, an Egypt­ian linked to his coun­try’s out­lawed Mus­lim Broth­er­hood. The com­mit­tee’s pur­pose is to make sure Nada con­forms to Islam­ic doc­trine such as a ban on inter­est rates.

Huber’s long­time Swiss neme­sis is Jean-Claude Buhrer, a cor­re­spon­dent for the promi­nent French dai­ly Le Monde. Buhrer recent­ly cit­ed a col­umn pub­lished in Mor­gen­stern, a news­pa­per read by sur­viv­ing for­mer mem­bers of Ger­many’s wartime Waf­fen SS, in which Huber said Mus­lims and Nazis were involved in the same fight.

“This is tan­ta­mount to a mar­riage between the swasti­ka and the (Islam­ic) cres­cent,” wrote Buhrer.

Buhrer also assailed Huber for deny­ing the scope of the Nazi Holo­caust and for being a faith­ful dis­ci­ple of Fran­cois Genoud, a Swiss lawyer who fund­ed Hitler and served as a Ger­man agent dur­ing World War II.

After the war, Genoud under­wrote the clan­des­tine Odessa orga­ni­za­tion, which,

accord­ing to famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesen­thal, enabled such noto­ri­ous Nazi fugi­tives as Adolf Eich­mann, Alois Brun­ner and Klaus Bar­bie to escape to South Amer­i­ca and the Mid­dle East.

Author­i­ties believe Genoud found­ed al Taqwa Bank and allo­cat­ed its resources to sup­port inter­na­tion­al ter­ror­ists such as Vladimir Ilich Ramirez, alias Car­los the Jack­al, and bin Laden.

Genoud com­mit­ted sui­cide in 1996, short­ly after Jew­ish lead­ers and Swiss bank­ing offi­cials announced an unprece­dent­ed agree­ment to set up a com­mis­sion to exam­ine secret bank and gov­ern­ment files to search for funds deposit­ed in Switzer­land by Holo­caust vic­tims, accord­ing to Buhrer.

Over the years, Genoud paid French attor­ney Jacques Verges to defend Ramirez and Bar­bie and also cov­ered the legal expens­es of Eich­mann before an Israeli court in 1961. He also sub­si­dized Khome­ini’s pro­longed exile in France when Iran was gov­erned by Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.

Genoud’s admi­ra­tion for Khome­i­ni is shared by Huber. “ ‘He was a fan­tas­tic man,” Huber said.


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