The Magazine

Jew-Hatred and Jihad

The Nazi roots of the 9/11 attack.

Sep 17, 2007, Vol. 13, No. 01 • By MATTHIAS KüNTZEL
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Even the 9/11 Commission Report, the summation produced by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States in July 2004, falls short in this regard. Its chapter on "Bin Laden's worldview" makes no mention of his hatred of Jews. This silence is all the more surprising in that the commission quotes documents in which bin Laden unambiguously expresses his hatred of Jews. For example, in the "Letter to the American People" of November 2002, which the report repeatedly cites, bin Laden warns: "The Jews have taken control of your media, and now control all aspects of your life making you their servants and achieving their aims at your expense." Osama goes on: "Your law is the law of rich and wealthy people. . . . Behind them stand the Jews who control your policies, media and economy." Yet the report's authors inexplicably fail to see the significance of these words and the ideology behind them. The report also ignores the history of Islamism. It accords the entire pre-1945 period just five lines. Yet it is precisely this period that fostered the personal contacts and ideological affinities between early Islamism and late Nazism--the linkage between Jew-hatred and jihad.

Despite common misconceptions, Islamism was born not during the 1960s but during the 1930s. Its rise was inspired not by the failure of Nasserism but by the rise of Nazism, and prior to 1951 all its campaigns were directed not against colonialism but against the Jews. It was the Organization of the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928, that established Islamism as a mass movement. The significance of the Brotherhood to Islamism is comparable to that of the Bolshevik party to communism: It was and remains to this day the ideological reference point and organizational core for all later Islamist groups, including al Qaeda and Hamas.

It is true that British colonial policy produced Islamism, insofar as Islamism viewed itself as a resistance movement against "cultural modernity." The Islamists' solution was the call for a new order based on sharia. But the Brotherhood's jihad was not directed primarily against the British. Rather, it focused almost exclusively on Zionism and the Jews. Membership in the Brotherhood shot up from 800 to 200,000 between 1936 and 1938, according to the research of Abd Al-Fattah Muhammad El-Awaisi for his book The Muslim Brothers and the Palestine Question 1928-1947. In those two years the Brotherhood conducted only one major campaign in Egypt, and it was against Zionism and the Jews.

This campaign, which established the Brotherhood as a mass movement, was set off by a rebellion in Palestine directed against Jewish immigration and initiated by the notorious grand mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al--Husseini. The Brotherhood organized mass demonstrations in Egyptian cities under the slogans "Down With the Jews!" and "Jews Get Out of Egypt and Palestine!" Leaflets called for a boycott of Jewish goods and Jewish shops, and the Brotherhood's newspaper, al-Nadhir, carried a regular column on "The Danger of the Jews of Egypt," which published the names and addresses of Jewish businessmen and allegedly Jewish newspaper publishers all over the world, attributing every evil, from communism to brothels, to the "Jewish danger."

The Brotherhood's campaign against the Jews used not only Nazi-like tactics but also German funding. As the historian Brynjar Lia recounted in his monograph on the Brotherhood, "Documents seized in the flat of Wilhelm Stellbogen, the Director of the German News Agency affiliated to the German Legation in Cairo, show that prior to October 1939 the Muslim Brothers received subsidies from this organization. Stellbogen was instrumental in transferring these funds to the Brothers, which were considerably larger than the subsidies offered to other anti-British activists."

At the same time, the Muslim Brotherhood was the first modern organization to propagate the archaic idea of a belligerent jihad and the longing for death. In 1938, Hassan al-Banna, the Brotherhood's charismatic founder, published his concept of jihad in an article entitled "The Industry of Death." He wrote: "To a nation that perfects the industry of death and which knows how to die nobly, God gives proud life in this world and eternal grace in the life to come." This slogan was enthusiastically taken up by the "Troops of God," as the Brothers called themselves. As their battalions marched down Cairo's boulevards in semi-fascist formation they would burst into song: "We are not afraid of death, we desire it. . . . Let us die to redeem the Muslims!"