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The Peculiar Alliance

Islamists and neo-Nazis find common ground by hating the Jews.

12:00 AM, Sep 1, 2005 • By DAVEED GARTENSTEIN-ROSS
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Nor is the Islamic promotion of neo-Nazis confined to the Middle East. Lee reports that Muslims, a New York-based weekly newspaper, has published opinion pieces by both David Duke and William Pierce.

Even some Islamic groups with more mainstream legitimacy have promoted far-right figures as featured speakers. One such speaker is William W. Baker, author of the anti-Israel screed Theft of a Nation and former president of the neo-Nazi Populist Party. (While Baker claims that he did not know at the time that the Populist Party was racist, his own words undercut these denials. The Orange County Weekly reports that, in a speech Baker delivered around the time that he headed the Populist Party, he referred to Jerry Falwell as "Jerry Jewry" and commented that he hated traveling to New York City "'cause the first people I meet when I get off the plane are pushy, belligerent American Jews.")

Baker's current avocation is promoting "religious tolerance" by emphasizing the commonalities between Christianity and Islam. In this capacity, Baker has frequently spoken at events hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations and various chapters of the Muslim Students' Association; he was also the featured speaker at the Assadiq Islamic Educational Foundation in Boca Raton earlier this year.

THERE ARE OBSTACLES to further development of the relationship between Islamists and neo-Nazis. In Europe, ethnic Muslims are frequent targets of neo-Nazi violence, and not all neo-Nazis share the sympathy for Palestinians expressed by the likes of William Baker. As one white supremacist website puts it, "I hate Jews but that doesn't mean I automatically love the Jews' victims." And countless Muslims recoil from Nazi ideology.

Nonetheless, this developing alliance is not without historical precedent. Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, famously supported Adolf Hitler during World War II, broadcasting radio propaganda on Germany's behalf and even forming Bosnian Muslim divisions of the Waffen SS. As with al-Husayni and Hitler, the current Islamist/neo-Nazi love affair is rooted in the notion that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend": Both groups are united in their hatred of the Jews, and of the United States.

Moving forward, this peculiar alliance presents the risk that neo-Nazis may collaborate with Islamist terrorist groups on attacks. But a second danger is that the far right's newfound legitimacy in the Arab world may allow neo-Nazi figures to claw their way out from the lunatic fringe to which they're currently relegated.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is a counterterrorism consultant and attorney. Kamal Ghali provided research assistance for this article.