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A si a Ji had II: Into Central



C l ash of Ci vi l i zati ons?


Notes Acknowl edgments Index

143 369 17r


I I'r r EnE ts A N unwri ttenchapteri n the hi storyof the cold'war and llnited the New World Order that followed. lt is the story 9f how the States-sometlmesovertly' sometimescovertly-funded and encouragcd right-wing lslamistactivism.Deuil's Game attemptsto fill in that vital missinglink. Vital becausethis little-knownpolicy,conductedover six decades, of lslamistterrorismas a worldrs partly to blame for the emergence u.idephenomenon.Indeed,Americrt'swould-beenrpirein the Middle North Africa, and clentral and S0uth Asia was dcsigncdto rest F_ast, i1 part on the beilrockof politicalIslam.At leastthat is what its archiafter rccts hoped. But it proved to be a devil's gamc. c)nly too late, Septemberrr, 2oor, did washington begin to discoverits strateglc nriscalculation. 'Ihe United Statesspenrdecadescultivating lslamists,manipulating Cold and double-crossingthem, cynically using and misusingthem as its \\rar allies,Only to find that it spawneda force that turned against sponsor,and with a vengeance.Like monstersimbued with artificial life, radical imams, mullahs, and ayatollahs stalk the landscape, of rhunderingnot only againstthe united Statesbut againstfreedom

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thought, against secular science,against nationalism and the left, against women's rights. Some are terrorists, but far more are just rnedieval-mindedreligious fanatics who want to turn the calendar back to the seventhcentury. 'War, During the Cold from 1945 to r99r, the enemy was not merely the USSR.According to the Manichean rules of that era, the United Statesdemonizedleaderswho did not wholeheartedlysign on to the American agendaor who might challenge'Western and in particular U.S. hegemony.ldeas and ideologiesthat could inspire such leaderswere suspect:nationalism,humanism,secularism,socialism. But subversiveideassuch as thesewere also the ones most feared by the nascentforcesof Muslim fundamentalism.Throughout the region the Islamic right fought pitched battles against the bearersof these notions, not only in the realm of intellectual life but in the streets. During the decades-longstruggle against Arab nationalism-along with Persian, Turkish, and Indian nationalism-the United States found it politic to make common causewith the lslamic right. More broadly, the United Statesspent many years trying to construct a barrier againstthe SovietUnion along its southernflank. The fact that all of the nations between Greeceand China were Muslim gave rise to the notion that lslam itself might reinforcethat Maginot Line-style strategy.Gradually the idea of a green belt along the "arc of Islam" took form. The idea was not just defensive.Adventurous policy makersimaginedthat restiveMuslims insidethe SovietUnion's own Central Asian republicsmight be the undoing of the USSRitself, and they took stepsto encouragethem. The United Statesplayed not with Islam-that is, the religion, the traditional, organizedsystemof belief of hundreds of millions-but with Islamism. Unlike the faith, with fourteen centuriesof history behind it, Islamismis of more recentvintage.It is a political creedwith its origins in the late nineteenthcentury,a militant, all-encompassing philosophy whose tenets would appear foreign or hereticalto most Muslims of earlier ages and that still appear so to many educated Muslims today. \Thether it is called pan-Islam,or Islamic fundamentalism, or political Islam, it is an altogetherdifferent creaturefrom the spiritual interpretationof Muslim life as contained in the Five Pillars


of Islam. It is, in fact,a perversionof that religious faith. That is the mutant ideology that the United Statesencouraged,supported) organized, or funded. It is the same one variously representedby the Muslim Brotherhood, by Ayatollah Khomeini's lran, by Saudi Arabia's ultra-orthodox'$Tahhabism, by Hamas and Hezbollah, by the Afghan fihadis,and by Osama bin Laden.

II The United Statesfound political Islam to be a convenient parrner during each stageof America'sempire-buildingproject in the Middle East, from its early entry into the region to its gradual military encroachment,to its expansioninto an on-the-groundmilitary presence,and finally to the emergenceof the United Statesas an army of occupationin Iraq and Afghanistan. In the r9jos, the enemy was not only Moscow but the Third 'World's emerging nationalists, from Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt to Mohammed Mossadeghin Iran. The united Statesand Britain used the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist movement and the grandfather organization of the Islamic right, against Nasser,the up-and-coming leader of the Arab nationalists.In the clA-sponsored coup d'6tat in Iran in 1953, the United Statessecredyfunded an ayatollah who had founded the Devoteesof Islam, a ianatical Iranian ally of the Muslim Brotherhood.Later in the samedecade,the united statesbeganro toy with the notion of an Islamic bloc led by Saudi Arabia as a counterpoint to the nationalistleft. In the 196os,despiteU.S. efforts ro contain it, left-wing nationalism and Arab socialismspread from Egypt to Algeria to Syria, Iraq, and Palestine.To counter this seemingthreat, the United Statesforged a working alliance with Saudi Arabia, intenr on using its foreignpolicy arm,'wahhabi fundamentalism.The united statesioined with King Saud and Prince Faisal (later, King Faisal) in pursuir of an Islamic bloc from North Africa to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia founded institutions to mobilize the \Tahhabi religious right and the Muslim Brotherhood. Saudi-backedactivists founded the Islamic Center of Geneva(r96t), the Muslim \forld League(1962),

4 . DEvrr's

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the organizarion of the Islamic conference (tg6g), and other organizations that formed the core of an international Islamist movemenr. In the r97os, with the death of Nasser and the retreat of Arab nationalism,the Islamistsbecamean important prop beneathmany of the regimes tied to the united srares.The united Statesfound itself allied with the Islamic right in Egypt, where Anwar sadat used that country's Islamiststo build an anti-Nasseristpolitical base;in pakistan, where General zia ul-Haqseized power by force and established an Islamist state; and in sudan, where the Muslim Brotherhood,s leader,Hassan Turabi, marched toward power. At the same time. the united Statesbeganto seeIslamic fundamentalism as a tool to be used offensively against the Soviet union, above all in Afghanisran and central Asia, where the united states used it as sword aimed at the Soviet Union's underbelly. And as Iran's revolution unfolded, latent sympathy for Islamism-combined with widespread U.s. ignorance about Iran's Islamisrcurrenrs-led many u.s. officialsto seeAyatollah Khomeini as a benign figure, admiring his credentials as an anticommunist. As a resulr, the United Statescatastrophically underestimated his movement'spotential in Iran. Even after the Iranian revolution of r979,the united Statesand its alliesfailed to learn the lessonthat Islamismwas a dangerous,uncontrollable force. The united Statesspent billions of dollars to supporr an Islamistjihad in Afghanistan,whose mujahideenwere led by MusIim Brotherhood-allied groups. The united States also looked on uncritically as Israel and Jordan covertly aided terrorists from the Muslim Brotherhood in a civil war in syria, and as Israel encouraged the spreadof Islamismamong palestiniansin the occupiedterritories, helping to found Hamas. And neoconservatives joined the cIAs Bill casey in the r98os in secrerdealswith Iran's Ayaroilah Khomeini. By the r99os) the cold 'war was over. The poritical utility of the Islamic right now seemedquestionable.some strategistsargued that political Islam was a new threat, the new "ism" replacingcommunism as America's global opponent. That, however, wildly exaggeratedthe po\ver of a movement that was restricted to poor, undevelopedstates. still, from Morocco to Indonesia,political Islam was a force that the United Stateshad to deal with. s7ashington'sresponsewas muddled




and confused.During the r99os, the United Statesfaced a seriesof criseswith political Islam: In Algeria, the United Statessympathized with the rising forces of political Islam, only to support the Algerian army's crackdown against them-and then \Tashington kept open a dialogue with the Algerian Islamists,who increasinglyturned to terrorism. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots, including a violent undergroundmovement,poseda dire threat to President Mubarak's regime; yet the United Statestoyed with supporting the Brothers. And in Afghanistan, shatteredafter the decade-longU.S. jihad, the Taliban won early American support. Even as Osama bin Laden'sAl Qaeda took shape,the United Statesfound itself in league with the Islamic right in Pakistan,SaudiArabia, and the Arab Gulf. And then came 9lrt. After zoor, the Bush administration appeared to sign on to the neoconservativedeclaration that the world was defined by a "clash of civilizations," and launched its global war on terrorism, targeting Al Qaeda-the most virulent strain of the very virus that the United States had helped create. Still, before, during, and after the invasion of Iraq-a socialist, secular country that had long opposed Islamic fundamentalism-the United States actively supported Iraq's Islamic right, overtly backing Iraqi ShiiteIslamists,from Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to radical Islamist parties such as the SupremeCouncil for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Islamic Call (Al-Dawa), both of which are also supported by Teheran'smullahs.

III The vaunted clash of civilizations,that tectonic collision betweenthe 'West and the Islamic world, if that's what it was, began inauspi'War II, America stumbled willyciously. Amid the wreckage of \forld nilly into the Middle East, into a world it knew little about. If the United Statesmade mistakesin dealing with Islam in the secondhalf of the twentieth century, it was in part becauseAmericans were so profoundly ignorant about it. Until r94r the Middle East, for young America, was a fearsome and wonderful place,a fantasylandof sheikhsand harems,of turbaned

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sultans,of obscenebath housesand seraglios,of desertoases,pyramids, and the Holy Land. In early literature-novels, poems, travelogues-it was a place of mystery and intrigue, inhabited by the unsavory and the irreligious.Its peoplewere often portrayed as scimitar-waving',Mussulmen" and "Mohammedans," uncivilized and uncouth. It was the land of pirates and "Turks," a term that retains its pejorative connotation today. Sinceits appearancein r 869, Mark Twain's The rnnocentsAbroad has come to symbolizea peculiarlyAmerican sort of naive blundering overseas.Yet few realize that Twain, perhaps America's most acute satiristand observer,usedthe book to describea months-longsojourn in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. It was hugely influential among nineteenth-centuryu.s. readers.But Twain unfortunatelycontributed to, and took advantageof, built-in prejudice against things Islamic. Meandering through TurkeyoSyria, Lebanon, and palestine, Twain seemsto be fairly holding his nose,marveling at the barbarism he is surveying.Dwellings are "tastefully frescoedaloft and alow with disks of camel dung placedthere to dry." Damascus("How they hate a christian in Damascus!")is the "most fanaticalMohammedan purgatory out of Arabia." He added: "The Damascenesare the ugliest, wickedestlooking villains we have seen." comparing the Holy Land to a classicalengravingof Nazareth,Twain wrote: But in the engravingtherewas no desolation;no dirt; no rags;no fleas;no ugly features;no soreeyes;no feastingflies;no besotted ignorancein the countenances; no raw placeson the donkey's jabberingin unknown rongues;no stench backs;no disagreeable of camels;no suggestion that a coupleof tons of powder placed underthe party and touchedoff would heightenthe effectand grve to the scenea genuineinterestand charmwhich it would always be pleasantto recall. By the early twentieth century-with the advent of 'world 'war I, the forced disintegration of the ortoman Empire, and the start of the British-sponsored"Arab Awakening," led by the likes of winston churchill, T. E. Lawrence("of Arabia"), and GertrudeBell-the mod-


ern Middle East had begunto intrude on the Americanconsciousness. Still, it was filtered through a layer of romanticism and ignorance. Lawrence'ssexuallycharged,desert-romanticaccounts,including his 'Wisdom,becameU.S. bestsellers, as did oasisfamous SeuenPillars of to-oasistraveloguesby various adventurers.For most Americans,the Middle East was most memorably encapsulatedin film and song. Rudolf Valentino's The Sheik (t9zr) embodiedwhat would become the standard-issueAmerican idea of the Arab, along with its accompanying rgzr song, "The Sheik of Araby," whose lyrics included the vaguelythreatening:"At night, when you're asleep/ Into your tent I'll creep." Its influence lasted decades.Benny Goodman recorded the song in r.937,as did the Beatlesin t96z and Leon Redbonein t977' Little if any professionalAmericanMiddle Eastexpertiseexistedin 'World \Var II. From the nineteenth century the years leading up to until well into the twentieth, pretty much the only Americanswho ventured into the region were membersof a band of Protestantmissionaries, educators,and doctors who took it upon themselvesto bring the gospelsto the heathenmassesand to preach among the Christiansof Pioneerssuchas the Ottoman Empire,in Syriaand Lebanonespecially. Daniel Bliss,his son Howard Bliss,and the Dodge brothers(Reverend David StuartDodge and \Tilliam Early Dodge),who built and ran Syrian ProtestantCollege-renamed the AmericanUniversityof Beirut in the rgzos-and Mary Eddy, a missionary'sdaughterwho founded a clinic in Lebanon, alighted on the shores of the Ottoman Empire's Arab provinces.The Blisses,Dodges, and Eddys would becomethe parents, grandparents,and great-grandparentsof America's priesthood of "Arabists" who emergedafter'World'WarII.

IV In :-945Franklin Delano Rooseveltwent east in searchof oil-and found Islam. He conducted a fateful shipboard encounter with the king of Saudi Arabia, Ibn Saud, and for the United States,it marked the real staft of its political and military engagementwith the region. Flushedwith victorv. the United Statesfound itself in the role of a

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worldwide superpower.Its activism then was naive in the extremeendearinglyso for its partisans,and frighteningly so for others. The post-\forld'v7ar II generationof U.S. leadersbelievedwholeheartedly that the American spirit would conquer all, figurativelyspeaking-ot if necessarSon the ground in real life. This was. after all. Henrv Luce's"American Century." The Middle East was then emergingas the most strategicallyvital 'west area outside the industrial and Japan. Though it lacked expertise,languageskills,and cultural familiarity with the region'scomplex civilization,the united Stateswas calledto its imperial mission by the very logic of its immensepower. In Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead, General cummings presciently describedthe inexorable growth of American power that would be unleashedby \7orld'v7ar II: I like to call it a processof historicalenergy[saysCummings]. Therearecountriesrharhavelarentpowers,latentresources, they are full of potential energy,so ro speak.. . . As kinetic energya country is organization,coordinatedeffort. . . . Historically, the purposeof this rvaris to translateAmerica'spotentialenergyinto kinetic energy.. . . \(hen you've createdpower,materials,armies, they don't wither of their own accord.our vacuumas a nation is filledwith released power,and I can tell you that we're out of the backwatersof historv now. But as America's energy flowed into the Islamic world, the united states began its long-running engagementwith little or no comprehensionof the forcesir was dealingwith. Until after the second world \Var, Middle East studies in the united states were virtually nonexistenror relegatedto a subsetof theology. Partly sponsored by the government, centers for Middle Eastern affairs began springing up after 1947, when princeton university createdthe first Near East cenrer in the united States.But it would be many yearsbefore the United Stateswould have a cadre of academicexperts who had a grasp of Islamic politics, currure, and religion. From FDR on, leading u.S. politicians were prisoners of misguided srereotypes.They seemed entranced bv the almost other-


worldly appearanceof their Arab interlocutors.FDR, after meeting Ibn Saud,returned to'Washingtonand "could not shakethe image of the hawk-like Saudi monarch, ensconcedin a gold chair and surrounded by six slaves."Harry Truman, two years later, describeda leadingSaudiofficial as a "real old biblical Arab with chin whiskers'a white gown, gold braid, and everything." And Eisenhowerdismissed ,,a very uncerrain quanrity, explosiveand full of prejuthe Arabs as dices.,,The official record is full of such uninformed stereotypingof Arabs and Muslims by u.S. officials. For the next sixty years, the handful of American Arabists who actually knew something about the Middle East would try to combat those stereotypes.But they would fail.

V The American attachment to a romantici zed fantasyof Arab life and a racist-fed, religious disdain for the Arabs' supposed heathenism proved a deadly combination when the time came for America to engageitself politically and militarily in the Middle East. Perhaps thosestereotypesled American policy makersto seeMuslims as fierce warriors. Perhapsthey believedthat the fanaticism of their religious renetswould lead them ro resistatheisticcommunism.Perhapsit was the notion that in southwestAsia the traditional religious establishmenr was a bulwark of the status quo. But it never dawned on u.s. officials that Islamist organizationssuch as the Muslim Brotherhood wefe a qualitatively different phenomenonfrom the comprador cleri'Vfar progressed,the big cal establishment.Certainly, as the Cold enemy, the uSSR, and its alleged accomplice, Arab nationalism, seemedto have a common enemy:Islam. In someways, the cold war itself beganin the Middle East.President Harry Truman proclaimed u.S. responsibility for Greece and Turkey, replacingGreat Britain in that role, in 1947, and confronted the soviet Union in northern Iran's Azerbaijan. England's imperial presencewas shrinking: London abandonedGreeceand Turkey, then India and Palestine,and the retreat was on-with

only the United

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States to fill the vacuum, an allegedly tempting target for Soviet expansion. (Later scholarship would show that neither Stalin nor Khrushchevhad either the intention or the caoabilitv to seizecontrol of the PersianGulf and the Middle East.) The strategicimportance of the Middle East was obvious to all: it was (and is) the indispensablesourceof energyfor America'salliesin Europe and Japan. At the time, the United Statesdid not depend on the Persian Gulf for oil, relying instead on Venezuelaand Texas, Louisiana,and Oklahoma. But Europe and Japan desperatelyneeded the Gulf for day-to-daysurvival.It is no exaggerationto say that U.S. 'Western strategistsrcahzedthat the defenseof Europe was inconceivable without a parallel plan to control the Gulf. Despite important internal tensionsamong the'Westernpowers, they forged a seriesof alliances in the region: NATO, the abortive Middle East Defense Organization, the Baghdad Pact, CENTO-all directed against the USSR.More quietly \Tashingtbn and London supported the Islamic right against the left in country after country and encouragedthe emergenceof an "Islamic bloc." For those who knew little about the religion and culture of the Middle East-presidents, secretariesof state, CIA directors-the Islamic right seemedlike a sensiblehorse to ride. They could identify with people inspired by deep religious belief, even if the religion was an alien one. In their searchfor tactical allies,Islam seemedlike a better bet than secularism,sincethe left-wing secularistswere viewed as cats'-paws for Moscow, and the centrist ones were dangerously opposedto the region'smonarchiesand traditional elites.In the after'World'War math of II, the list of nations ruled by kings included not only SaudiArabia and Jordan, but Egypt, Iraq, Iran, and Libya. By the r95os, the military-intellectualcomplex of Middle East studies was up and running in many U.S. universities,producing Arabists and Orientalists who were called on by policy makers for advice in grappling with the region'scomplexities.The CIA and the StateDepartment gobbled up Ivy Leaguegraduateswho spoke Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, Urdu, and other Middle East languages,and a core of U.S. government Arabists emergedwith at least a working understanding of the region. Yet, by their own testimony, few of them



learnedmuch about Islam or Islamism,concentratinginsteadon the nuts-and-boltseconomicand political questions.Most of the Arabists were secularists,and did not have much sympathy for fundamentalist Islam. Many, in fact, insteadsympathizedbroadly with Arab nationalism. Many of them saw Islam as the bygonesymbol of a past era. As the Cold'War unfolded, however,State Department and CIA officerswho sided with Arab nationalism were increasinglyignored. Their views were attackedby Cold'Warriors,and by the supportersof Israel, who were determined to undermine anyone who considered himself or herself "pro-Arab." By the r97os, the very term Arabist had become indelibly tainted. Sincethen, pro-Zionist activistshave piled on, waging an ideologicalblitzkrieg againstthose Arabists who remained in government or academia.Robert D. Kaplan's tendentious 1993 book, The Arabists: Romance of an American Elite, marked the high point of this effort. Ever sinceits publication, attackrng Arabists has becomea cottageindustry.Virtually all of them were ercluded from prewar planning on Iraq. To a man, most Arabists \\.erestrongly opposed to the preemptive war. But by excluding them, the Bush administration guaranteedthat planning for the war would be carried out by know-nothings.

VI Somemay argue that the United Statescreatedneither Islam nor its fundamentalistvariant, and that is true. But here we need to consider an extendedanalogywith America'sChristian right. Conservative and evangelisticChristians have been present in Largenumbersin America sincethe colonial era. But in another sense' rhe emergenceof the Christian right in the United Statescan be dated ro the late r97os, with the formation of the Rev. Timothy LaHaye's California allianceof churches,the creation of the Moral Majority by LaHave and Jerry Falwell, and the role of those two men and others :n rhe rise of the Council on National Policy,the Christian Coalition, -lnd organizations like Pat Robertson's broadcast empire and Dr. Dobson'sFocus on the Family. Until then, conservativeChrisT-rmes ::-rns\\'erea politically inchoateforce. Relentlesslyorganizedover the



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past three decades,they have become a self-conscious.politicallv powerful movement. The same is true for the Islamic right. The reactionary tendency within Islam goesback thirteen centuries.From Islam,searliesryears, obscurantists,anti-rationalists,and Koran literalists competed with more enlightened,progressive,and moderate tendencies.In more recent times, Muslim reactionarieshave been a drag on modernization, opposing progressiveeducation,liberalization, and human rights. But it wasn't until the creation of the pan-Islamicmovemenrof Jamal Eddine al-Afghani in the late r8oos, the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt by Hassan al-Bannain .9zg,and the crearion of Abul-Ala Mawdudi's Islamic Group in pakistan in r94o that the Islamic right had its LaHayes,its Falwells,and its Robertsons.Those early Islamistssharpenedthe culture wars in the Middle East just as their christian right counterpartsdid in the United States,and for the samereasons. Just as the christian right found support from wealthy right-wing donors, especiallyoil men from Texas and the Midwest, the Islamic right won financial supporr from wealthy oil men, too-namely, the royal families atop Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. And just as the christian right formed a politically convenient alriance with right-wing Republicans,rhe Islamic right establisheda similar understanding with America's right-wing foreign policy strategists.In facr, supporr for the christian right and the Islamic right converged neatly during the Reaganadministration,which eagerlysought allianceswith both. so blinded were someAmericans by the cold \far that militant christianright activistsand fervent zionistpartisans of Israercheerily supported Islamistfanaticsin Afghanistan. The analogy betweenchristian and Islamic fundamentalistsholds in other areas, too. Both exhibit an absorute certainty about their beliefsand they tolerate no dissent,condemning aposrares,unbelievers, and freethinkers to perdition. Both berievein a unity of religion and politics, the former insisting that America is a "christian nation,', the latter that Muslims need to be ruled either by an all-powerful, religiopolitical caliphate or by a system of "Isramic republics" under an ultra-orthodox version of Islamic law (sharia).And both encourasea



blind fanaticism among their followers. It's no accidenrthat among followers of both christian and Islamic fundamentalism,the world indeedappearsto be engagedin a clashof civilizations.

VII A war on terrorism is preciselythe wrong way to deal with the challengeposed by political Islam. That challenge comes in two forms. First, there is the specific threat to the safetyand securityof Americansposedby Al eaerta; and second,there is a far broader political problem createdby the growth of the Islamic right in the Middle East and South Asia. In regard to Al Qaeda,the Bush administrationhas wilrfully exaggerated the size of the threat it represents.It is not an all-powerful organization.It cannot destroy or conquer America, and it does not pose an existentialthreat to the United states.It can kill Americans, but it has never had accessto weapons of mass destruction, and it almost certainly neverwill. It doesnot possesslarge numbers of cells, assets,or agentsinsidethe united States,although after 9lr r the u.s. attorney general made the unfounded charge that Al eaeda had as many as 5'ooo operativesin America. None of the many hundredsof Muslims arrestedor detained after glrr were found to have terrorist connections.In three and a half yearsafter 9lt.., not a singleviolent act by Al Qaeda-or any other Islamic terrorisr group-occurred in the united States:no hijackings,no bombings, not even a shot fired. No ties were ever proved linking Al eaeda to Iraq-or ro any orher state in the Muslim world: not to Syria, not to saudi Arabia, nor ro Iran. In shorr, the threat from Al Qaeda is a manageableone. using the u.s. military in conventionalwar mode is not the way ro attack Al Qaeda, which is primarily a problem for intelligenceand law enforcemenr.The war in Afghanisranwas wrongheaded:It failed to destroy Al Qaeda's leadership,it failed ro destroy the Taliban, n'hich scattered,and it failed to stabilizethat war-torn nation more than temporarilS creatinga weak central governmentat the mercy of n'arlords and former Taliban gangs.\7orse, the war in Iraq was not onlv misguidedand unnecessary, but it was aimed at a narion that had


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absolutelyno links to bin Laden'sgang-as if, said an observer,FDR had attacked Mexico in responseto pearl Harbor. The ham-handed use of the armed forcesagainsta nonstateactor like Al eaeda is uselessand self-defeating.Like some grotesqueancient legend,for every head lopped off by laser-guidedmissiles,Marine-ledraids into Islamist redoubts,Israeli gunship attacks on Hamas and Hezbollah enclaves, and cruise missile aftacks on remote strongholds,three new heads grow in its place. Bur becausethe Afghan and Iraq wars fit nicely with the Bush administration'sbroader policy of empire building and preemptive war, and becausethey allowed the United states to consrrucr a vast political-military enterprisestretching from East Africa deep into central Asia, those two wars went forward. A problem that could have been dealt with surgically-using commandosand special Forces,aided by tough-mindeddiplomacy indictmentsand legal action, concertedinternational..efforts, and judicious self-defense measureswas vastly inflated by the Bush adminisrration. Still, Al Qaeda can be defeated. 'fhe larger problem, that of the growing strengthof Islamic fundamentalismin the Middle East and Asia, is far more complicated. NaturallS the first problem is related to the second.unless the Islamic right is stopped,it is possiblethat Al eaeda could resuscirare itself. or, as in Iraq after the u.S. invasion,new Al eaeda-style organizations might emerge by drawing on anti-American anger and resentment.or, one of the other Islamic-rightterrorist groups,such as Hamas or Hezbollah, might metastasizefrom a group with a mostly local focus to one with larger,international ambitions. The violenceprone and terrorism-inclinedgroups in the Middle East draw financial support, theological justification, and legions of recruits from among the more establishedIslamic fundamentalistinstitutions thar have sprung up in the past three decadesin virtually every Muslim country. Like a kettle of water boiling on a stove,out of which only a small volume of steamsteadilyescapesinto the air, in the Middle East the forces associatedwith political Islam are kept simmering. out of it' a steadystream of radicals is constantly emitted-extremists who are immediately absorbed by one of the already existing rerrorist groups.




So what can the United Statesdo ro turn down the heat?To lower the political temperatureunderneaththe Islamistmovement? First, the United Statesmust do what it can ro remove the grievancesthat causeangry Muslims to seek solacein organizationslike the Muslim Brotherhood. Not all of thesegrievances,of course, are causedby the United States,and not all of them can be sofrenedor ameliorated by U.S. acions. At the very least, however, the United Statescan take important steps that can weaken the ability of the Islamic right to harvesrrecruirs. By joining with the UN, the Europeans,and Russia,the United states can help settle the PalestinianIsraeliconflict in a manner that guaranteesjusticefor the palestinians: an independentstate that is geographicallyand economicallyviable, tied to the withdrawal of illegal Israeli serlemenrs,an Israeli return roughly to its t967 borders, and a stable and equitable division of Jerusalem.That, more than any other action, would remove a global casusbelli for the Islamic right. Second,the United Statesmust abandon its imperial pretensionsin the Middle East.That will require the withdrawal of u.s. forcesfrom Afghanistan and Iraq, the dismantling of U.S. military basesin the PersianGulf and facilities in Saudi Arabia, and a sharp reduction in the visibility of the U.S. Navy, military training missions,and arms sales.Many U.S. diplomats who lave worked in the region know that the provocative U.S. presencein the Middle East fuels anger and resentment.The united Stateshas no claim to either the persian Gulf or the Middle East,whose future economicties and political relationshipscan and must be determinedsolely by the leadersof the region's states,evenif it redoundsto the detriment of U.S. inrer:ests. Third, the United Statesmust refrain from seekingto impose its preferenceson the region. Since zoor, the United Stateshas done incalculabledamage by demanding that the "grearer Middle East" conform to American visions of democracy.To be sure, for the more radical idealistsin the Bush administration,Bush'scall for democracy in the Arab world and Iran is seenprimarily as a prerext for more intrusive u.S. involvement in the region. Even taken at face value, however,the initiative ignoresthe fact that the nations of the Middle Eastmust find democracyat their own paceand in their own time. An


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obsessivedrive for democratic reform in the region is self-defeating and insulting to the statesand peoplesof the Middle East. Some of those statesmay be ready for reform, and some may not. Democratic changesthat end up empoweringthe Islamic right and catapultingthe Muslim Brotherhood to power in Cairo, Damascus, Riyadh, or Algiers will not servetheir intended purpose. They will only deliver additional statesinto the hands of the Islamists.The United States should adopt a hands-offpolicy in connectionwith democracyin the Islamic world. And fourth, the United States must abandon its propensity to make bellicosethreats directedat nations in the Middle East, including those-such as Iran and Sudan-that are still under Islamist rule. The wave of Islamism may not yet have crested.Other nations may succumbto its tide before it recedes,sinceit is a force that has gathered momentum for decades.But the United Statesmust get used to the fact that threatsof force and imperial-soundingdiktats strengthen Islamism.They do not diminish it. The true emancipationof the Middle East will require action by the secularforces in the region to uplift, educate'and modernizethe outlook of peoplewho have beencaptured by Islamism.It is an effort that will take decades,but it must begin now. There is nothing about Islam that requires it to remain mired in the seventh-centurybelief that the Koran must govern the world of politics, education,science, and culture. It means changing a culture that allows millions of deluded Muslims to think that back-to-basicsfundamentalismis somehow an appropriateanswerto twenty-first-centuryproblemsand concerns. Fundamentalism,whether it takes the form of Islamism, or whether it appearsin the form of America'sChristian right or Israel's ultra-Orthodox settler movement, is always a reactionary force. In the Muslim world, a rational division of the secularand the divine is far from unheard of. Tensof millions of Muslims are able to separate their religious beliefs,held privatelS from their politics, just as millions of Muslims, Christians,and Jews do in the United States.It is they-the true silent majority-who must seize the initiative from the fundamentalists.They may ask for, and should receive'support



from civil society in the West: from NGOs and universities,from researchcentersand think tanks, and more. The peoplesof the Middle East must engagenot only in nation building but in "religion building." As the hothousetemperaturesin Middle East political discourseare lowered, Muslim religious scholars, philosophers,and social scientistscan come together in a great debate to hammer out a twenty-first-century vision of a tolerant, modern Islam, to createa new culture no longer held hostageby selfdealing mullahs and ayatollahs.A consensuscan emergeorganically in the Muslim world that reinterpretsancienttexts and traditions in a manner appropriate to an enlightenedworld outlook, and then that must find its way into everynook and cranny,beginningin consensus the major cities-Istanbul, Cairo, Baghdad, Karachi, Jakarta-and spreadingto every village and mosque. It will mean reforming the educationalcurriculum in the Muslim world, deemphasizingreligious universitiesand so-calledmadrassasin favor of modern education.It will require new mass-mediaoutlets in placeswhere they can flourish, and the use of radio, satellite television, and the Internet to reach placeswhere they cannot. All this will take many years. It cannot occur unlessthe armed conflicts that roil the region are ended, and unlesseconomicconditions move steadilyupward. Religion building, like nation building, can take a long, long time.



r 8 8 5, EXACTLv one hundred years before officials of the Reagan administration made a secret initiative toward Ayatollah Khomeini's rran, a century before the united Statesspent billions of dollars in support of an anti-sovietjihad in Afghanistanled by Islamic fundamentalistmujahideen,a peripateticPersian-Afghanactivist met in London with British intelligence and foreign policy officials to put forward a controversialidea. would Britain, he wondered,be interestedin organizinga pan-Islamicallianceamong Egypt, Turkey, persia, and AfghanistanagainstczarisrRussia?1 It was the era of the Great Game, the long-running imperial struggle between Russia and England for conrrol of central Asia. The British, owners of India, had seizedconrrol of Egypt in r88r. Turkey,sOttoman Empire-which included, among other lands, what is now Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states-was wobbly, too, and important piecesof it were up for grabs, although the final dismantling of Turkey's holdings would await \World'War I. The biggest imperial land rush in history was under way in Africa and southwestAsia. And the British, mastersof manipulating tribal, ethnic, and religiousaffiliarions,experrat settingminoritiesar one anorher's

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throats for the greater good of Her Majesty's realm, were intrigued with the idea of fostering a spirit of Islamic revivalism-if it could serve their purposes.Both Russiaand Francehad the sameidea, but it was the British, with their tens of millions of Muslim subjectsin rhe greater Middle Eastand SouthAsia, who had the advanrage. The man who, in 1885, proposedthe idea of a British-ledpanIslamic alliancewas Jamal Eddine al-Afghani. From the rgTos to the r89os, Afghani was supported by the United Kingdom, and at least once, the record shows-in r882, in India, according to a secretfile of the Indian government's intelligence service-Afghani officially offered to go ro Egypt as an agentof British intelligence.2 Afghani, the founder of pan-Islam, is the great-great-grandfatherof osama bin Laden-not biologically,but in ideologicalterms.'werewe to constructa biblical genealogyof right-wing Islamism,it would read like this: Afghani G838;t897) begat Mohammed Abduh GB+Sr905)' an Egyptian pan-Islamicactivist who was Afghani's chief disciple and who helped spread Afghani's message.Abduh begat Mohammed Rashid Rida (r865-r935), a Syrian discipleof Abduh's, who moved to Egypt and founded a magazine,The Lighthouse, to advocateAbduh's ideas in support of a systemof Islamic republics. Rashid Rida begat Hassan al-Banna (19o6-1949), who learned Islamism from Rashid Rida's The Lighthouse, and who founded the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in .'928. Banna begat many offspring. Among them were his son-in-law,said Ramadan,the Muslim Brotherhood's international organizer,whose headquarterswere in switzerland, and Abul-Ala Mawdudi, the founder of the Islamic Group in Pakistan,the first Islamistpolitical party, who was inspiredby Banna's work. Banna'sother heirs set up branchesof the Brotherhoodin every Muslim state,in Europe,and in the united states.Another of Banna's offspring, a Saudi who took part in America's Afghan jihad, was Al Qaeda'sOsama bin Laden, the family's blackestsheep. In the half century betweenr875 and t9z5,the building blocks of the Islamic right were cementedin place by the British empire. Afghani createdthe intellectual foundation for a pan-Islamic movement-with British paffonage and the support of England'sleading orientalist, E. G. Browne. Abduh, Afghani'schief disciple,founded.with the help

Imperial Pan-Islam


of London's Egyptian proconsul, Evelyn Baring Lord Cromer, the Salafiyyamovemenr,the radical-right, back-to-basicsfundamentalist current that still exists today. To understand the proper role of Afghani and Abduh, ir is imporranrro seerhem as experimenrsin a century-long British effort to organizea pro-British pan-Islamic movement. Afghani, a quixotic and slippery ally, shopped his servicesto other imperial powers, and ultimately his mysrical, semi-modernist version of fundamentalistIslam failed ro rise to rhe level of a mass movement.Abduh, his chief disciple,attachedhimself more firmly to the British rulers of Egypt and createdthe cornerstoneof the Muslim Brotherhood,which dominatedthe Islamicright throughout the rwentieth century. The British backed Abduh even as they launchedtwo other pre-'world war I schemesto mobilize Islamic fervor. In the Arabian Peninsula, the British helped a desert band of ultrafundamentalistArabs, led by the family of Ibn Saud,createthe world's first Islamic fundamentaliststate in Saudi Arabia. At the same time, they encouragedthe Hashemites of Mecca, a second Arabian family with a spurious claim to be descendedfrom the original prophet of Islam,whose sonsLondon installedas kings of Iraq and Jordan. originally, the Hashemires,as guardiansof the Arabian holy cities of Mecca and Medina, were supposedto have assumedthe leadership of the entire Muslim world, with the idea of establishinga pro-British caliphateto replacethe faltering one in Turkey.That plan never quire came together,but a parallel one did. From the rgzos on, the new '$Tahhabi Saudi state merged its orthodoxy with the Salafiyya,now organizedinto the Muslim Brotherhood-and the resurgenceof Islam was under way. It was Afghani, however,who startedit all. Like many of his progeny, Afghani made common causewith the imperial powers as they competed for influence over the vast swath of territory between east Africa and china. Years after his death, many-but not all-of his biographersand chroniclers have painted him as a believer,consistently advocatinga renaissanceof Islam; as an anti-imperialist,thundering againstthe great powers; and as a liberal reformer,seekingto blend medievalIslam with the scientificrationalism of the Enlightenment. while elemenrsof all this are presentin Afghani'scareer,he was


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aboveall a political magicianwho invoked religion for temporal ends, and who was ar onceally, errand boy, and tool of the imperiarpowers. Although Afghani rarely missedan opportunity to offer his services,in serial fashion, to the British, to the French,and to the Russians,and servedas an agent for all rhree, his followers-Abduh especiallybecameincreasinglyAnglophilic. Born in r838, apparently in persia, Jamal Eddine adopted the name "al-Afghani" in order to createthe impression that he was born in Afghanistan' By claiming Afghan origins, Afghani could disguise his identity as both a persian and a Shiite, the minority branch of Islam, thus giving him a broader appeal in the mostly Sunni Muslim world. Lying about his place of birth was just Afghani's first dissimulation' According to Elie Kedourie, a leading British orientarist, Afghani's followers (including Abduh and Rashid Rida) ,,practiced economy of trurh'"3 Throughout his life, Afghani dissembled. Although he is rightly credired with having developed the theoretical basis for a pan-Islamicpolitical and social movement spanning the entire Muslim world, he was a heterodox thinker who was a F-ree_ mason, a mystic, a political operative,and, above all, someonewho believed,as Kedouriewrote, in the "sociarutility of rerigion.,,aAfghani treated religion as a tool. He was outwardly pious, constructing a detailedschemefor a politics governed by the pared-down, seventhcentury version of the simple Muslim societyof Mecca during the era of the Prophet' But in his more esorericwriring, Afghani was explicit about his beliefs: 'we

do not cur the headof religionexceptwith the sword of rerigion.Therefore,if you wereto seeus no% you would seeascerlcs and worshippers,kneeling and genufiectrng,never disobeying God'scommandsand doingall that they areordered to do.., Noted Kedourie: "This letter makes absolutery clear that one of Afghani's aims-of which his discipreAbduh knew and approvedwas the subversion of the Islamic religion, and that the method adopted to this end was the practiceof a false but showy devorion.,,6

Imperial Pan-Isldm


In fact, although he preached Islamic orthodoxy ro rhe masses, Afghani was a closetatheistwho railed againstnot only Islam, but all religions,to more esotericgroups of listeners: Religions[wroteAfghani],whateverthey arecalled,resembleone another.No understandingand no reconciliationis possible betweenthesereligionsand philosophy.Religionirnposes its faith and its creedon man, while philosophyliberateshim from them whollyor in part. Howeveq Afghani concluded:"[But] reasondoes not pleasethe mass and its teachingsare understood only by a few choice spirits."TThe elitism of this passageis an essentialpart of Afghani's mysrique. Throughout his life, Afghani had one messagefor the "mass" and another for the "choice spirits": for the masses,pan-lslam; for the elite, an eclecticbrand of philosophy.And while he posed as an antiimperialistwhen it suitedhis purposes,Afghani and thosein his inner circle engagedin conspiratorial alliancewith those very imperialists. Many historians, however, take the Afghani story at face value: that as an Islamic activist,he helpedto createa movementthat would restoreIslam to its former glory, to recapturethe pristine,golden days of the Prophet'srule in Mecca and Medina. Much conventionalwisdom portrays Afghani as a crusader.. against imperialism, and as a reformer who soughtto bring enlightenmentand rationalismto a fogbound Islamic intellectual tradition controlled by a stodgy clergy. Sadly,that is the view propounded by some of the leading AngloAmerican Orientalists.H. A. R. Gibb, aurhor of the classicModern Trends in Islam (tg+Z), wrote that Afghani believedin a state governed by "sound Koranic orthodoxy"8 mixed with a modernisticoutlook, while Wilfred Cantwell Smith called Afghani "the complete Muslim of his time." In his landmark work, Islam in Modern History, Smith wrote breathlesslyabout Afghani's allegedanti-imperialism: He [Afghani] saw the Westas somethingprimarilv to be resisted, Islamand the community.. . .He was vigorbecause it threatened ousin incitinghis Muslim hearersto developreasonand rechnology


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asthe \X/estwas doing,in order to be strong.. . . Indeed,this urging to action, from a non-responsiblequietude to a self-directing determinatioll, was carriedfurther into an almostirrepressible or effervescent dynamism.e Smith wrote admiringly of Afghani that geographically, his career encompassed Iran, India, the Arab world, and well as the EuropeanWest.He was both Sufi and Sunni.He preacheda reconciliationwith the Shiah.He united with traditional Islamic scholarshipa familiarit_vwith Europe and an acquaintancewith its modern thought.. . . He inspiredpoliticalrevolutionaries and venerable scholars.He advocatedboth local nationalisms and pan-Islam.A very greatdealof subsequent Islamicdevelopment is adumbratecl in his personality and career.In fact, thereis very little in trventieth-century Islam not foreshador'ved in Afghani.r0 Correctly,Smith added that Afghani was "the first Muslim revivalist to use the concepts'Islam' and 'the \7est' as connoting antagonistic historicalphenomena."lrThat makesAfghani the true originator of the concept of a clash of civilizations,as popularized a century later by Bernard Lewis and SamuelHuntington. \WhetherAfghani was) as Smith maintains, irrepressiblydynamic or merely opportunistic, there is no question about his role as godfather to the Muslim Brotherhood and similar groups on the Islamic right. The devout and militant Brothers of today would no doubt be shockedto learn that their inspirational forerunnerJamal Eddine alAfghani was an atheist and a Freemason.Nonetheless,Richard P. Mitchell, whose book The Societyof the Muslim Brothers is the definitive work on the organization,observedthat the pedigreefor the militant, terrorist organization that rose to prominence in Egypt after \World\Var II goesdirectly back to Afghani. "The Brotherssaw themselvesclearly in the line of the modern reform movement identified rvith the namesof Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, Mohammed Abduh, and Rashid Rida," he wrote. "Towards Afghani the Brothersfelt a special kinship. Many felt him to be the 'spiritual father' of the moverrrent and to him Banna was most often compared."12

l nr pt 'r r al P dr t - l s l am '




Afghani'spublic life beganin r869, when he left Afghanistan.Little is known about his life beforethat. He claimed to have beeninvolved in Afghan politics in the r86os, and according to a leading scholar he did so while actingas a Russianagent.r3But his lastingimpact began only in 1869, when he undertook a rernarkable,quarter-century-long odyssey. Even in brief outline, it is dizzying. He r'ventfirst to India, whose British-ledcolonial authoritieswelcomedthe Islamicscholarwith honors, graciouslyescortinghim aboard a government-ownedvesselon an voyage to Suez.After visiting Cairo, he traveledto all-expenses-paid Turkey, where his unorthodox religious views causeda furor among the religiousestablishment,leading the Turkish governmentto expel him unceremoniously.Back in Cairo, Afghani was adopted by the Egyptian prime ministeq Riad Pasha, a notorious reactionary and enemyof the nascentnationalistmovementin Egypt. Riad PashapersuadedAfghani to stay in L,gypt,and allowed him to take up residence at Cairo's 9oo-year-oldAl Azhar mosque, consideredthe center of Islamic learningworldwide, where he receivedlodging and a monthly governmentstipend.It was Afghani's first official post as an lslanric scholar,and the first (but not last) time he would be on the payroll of one of the imperialpowers or their stand-ins.Afghani spenteight years in the midst of Egypt'stumultuous politics, up to the eve of England's shellingof Alexandria and the British occupationof Egvpt. Fetedby the British in India, transportedby l,ondon to Egypt, and sponsoredby England'sagentsin Cairo, Afghani patientlylaid the corof Egyptiancolonial politics nerstoneof pan-Islam.But the vicissitudes wcre not always kind to him: as nationalismin Egypt gainedstrength (until crushedby the British),Afghani'sinfluencedeclined.In r879,he u'as expelledfrom Egypt, beginninga sojourn that took him to India, London, Paris(wherehe stayedthreeyears),Russia(wherehe spentfour lears), Munich, and Iran. In Iran, the shahmade him war ministerand then prime minister,but Afghani and the shah soon parted ways, and -\fghani beganagitatingagainstthe Persianmonarch. Foreshadowing

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Ayatollah Khomeini's r97os revolurion, Afghani took refuge in a mosqueand organizedthe clergyto support him, until he was arrested and deportedto Turkey. In r896, his followers would assassinate rhe shah,endingthat king's fifty-yearreign.Afghani died in tgctz. Always it was Afghani'ssecreractivitiesthat set him apart. In the r87os, in Egypt-while outwardly professingto be a pious Muslim-Afghani frequented the lodges of the Anglo-Egyptian and Franco-EgyptianFreemasonsocieties.He delvedinto mysticism, including sufism. on his expulsion from Egypt, the British consur-general, in an intelligencereport, said that Afghani "was recentlyexpelledfrom the Freemasons'Lodge at cairo, of which he was a member,on account of his open disbeliefin a supremeBeing." According to Kedourie, Afghani was a member of the General Scotch Lodge,la which was organized around the allegedmysreriesof the Egyptian pyramids and the so-called Grand Architect, the Fr.eemasons' concept of a god. Many British and Frenchofficials in the nineteenthcentury were caught up in an obsessive fascinationwith the "orient," the pyramids, Masonic lore, and assorted cults of secretbrotherhoods, and used thesefraternities as channels of imperial powe! ofren competitively. It was in the late r87os that Afghani met the man who would become his chief disciple, Mohammed Abduh. As a fixture at Ar Azhar, cairo's historic mosque, Afghani gathered around himself a burgeoninggroup of acolytes,none more attachedto him personally than Abduh. Born in Egypt in tg4g,Abduh was raised by a family of devout Islamic scholars,and by the age of ten he had memorized the Koran and was able to reciteit in the precise,singsongfashion venerated by the elders.Like Afghani, Abduh was also drawn to the mysrrcal Sufi brotherhoods,with their rranscendenrview of spiritual life. sufism, an ancient current within Islam, challengedmany orthodox Muslim beliefs in favor of a meditative, introspectiveapproach to "oneness"with God, and the movement gave rise to many tartqa, or brotherhoods, some organized as tightly bound secrer societies and others as hierarchicalmass movementsspread over vast geographic areas. Abduh was raken with Afghani almost instantry,and they developed a bond. According to Kedourie,the biographerof Afghani and Abduh,

Imperial Pan-lslant


When Abduh met Afghanihe was sometwenty-twoyearsold, an ardentyoung man going through a crucialphasein his spiritual but Afghani life, and this no doubt made him impressionable; must havehad a powerfulmagneticpersonalityto haveerercised over Abduh then and for many yearsafterwardso strangeand The link betrveen themis verymuchthat of tenaciousan influence. the masterand disciplein somesecret.esotericcult.l5

For eight years,between r87r and 1879, the two men worked closely together.They organizednot only in Egypt, but throughout the region, and built a diverse collection of followers, some of whom-including a group of mystical Christians from Syria who were attracted to Afghani's offbeat message-founded the Young Egypt secretsociety.Gradually,Afghani and Abduh amasseda coterie of devotedfollowers around Al Azhar.In r 878, Riad Pasha,the prime minister and Afghani's protector, went out of his way to appoint Abduh to a prominent post as a history teacher at Dar al-Ulum, a newly launchedIslamic school,and as professorof languageand literature at another institution. Eventually,when Riad Pasha'spower ebbed, Afghani and Abduh left Egypt. In Cairo, nationalistsin the army were gaining momentum, led by the famous Egyptian hero, Ahmad Arabi, a colonel and war minister,who led an uprising against the British role in Egypt. Arabi's movement *as crushed,the British completedtheir occupationof Egypt, and Arabi was exiled to Ceylon. Abduh opposedthe military's resistanceto the British, advocating a middle ground, decrying violence, and trying to arrange a compromise between the army's fierce nationalism and London's imperial designs.Abduh's chief acolyteand biographer,Rashid Rida, summed it up: "He was the opponent of the military revolution eventhough he was a directingspirit to the intellectualmovement.He hated the revolution and was opposedto its leaders."16 There was a pattern herethat would endearright-wing Islamiststo Westernimperial strategistsfor generationsto come. The opposirion of Afghani and Abduh to Egyptian nationalism,and their support for vaguenotions of an Islamic state,foreshadowedthe Muslim Brotherhood'soppositionto PresidentGamal AbdelNasserin the r95os, the

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resistanceof the Musiim Brotherhood-led Hamas in Palestineto the nationalismof the PalestineLiberation organization, and countless other instancesin which Islamistsopposednationalism and left-wing movementsduring the Cold tX/ar. Afghani and Abduh did not confine themselvesmerely to intellectual theorizing and Islamic scholarship.When Afghani was finally expelled from Egypt, he and Abduh were accusedof organizing "a secretsocietycomposedof 'young thugs,"' apparently a referenceto unruly membersof the Masonic lodge that Afghani led,r7foreshadowing the paramilitary organization establishedby the Muslim Brotherhoodin the r93os. LeavingEgypt, Afghani endorsedAbduh as his fit slrccessor: "I leaveyou Shaikh Mohammed Abduh, and he is sufficientfor Egypt as a scholar."l8Abduh was remporarily eriled to his village in Egypt, though he woulcl later join Afghani in Paris and then return to Egypt in triumph, with the full support of the representativesof Her Majesty'simperial officers. Upon leaving Egypt in rtl79, Afghani wenr to Arabia, rhen to India. Soon afterward Afghani, later joined by Abduh, migrated to Paris,where the two men begantheir most productivecollaboration. It was in Paris,in the mid-r88os, that Afghani and Abduh built the network that would continueafter their deaths.In r88a. the two men began pubfishinga weekly newspapercalled The IndissolubleBond. Though it lasted only eighteenissues,the paper had great influence. Exactly how it was financedis unclear,though Kedourie suggeststhat it was supportedsecretlvby thc Frenchgovernment,to which Afghani turned after his formal offer in India to becomea British agenr was C. C. Adams,who in r933 wrore the most completebiography of Abduh, notes rhat The IndissolubleBond was "rhe organ of a secretorganizationbearingrhc samename, founded by [Afghani], composed of Muslims of India, Egypt, North Africa and Syria, the purpose of which was to 'unite Muslims and arouse them from the sleepand acquaint them rvith the dangersthreateningthem and guide them to the way of meetingthesedangers."'20Afghani also organized a pan-Islamicsocietyin Mecca that had as its goal the creation of a singlecaliphateto lead the entire Mr-rslimworld. Whether Afghani and Abduh were acting on their own initiatrveat

Imperial Pan-Islam


this time, or-more likely-in cooperation with London or Paris, is unclear. Immediately afterward, however, the French government halted publication r>fThe IndissolubleBond, and Afghani and Abduh traveled to London, ostensibly to discussthe crisis in the Sudan, where they proposedthe notion of a pan-Islamicalliancewith Great Britain. The proposal was advancedin the midst of a tribal-religious rebellion against the British in the Sudan, led by the charismatic Mohammed Ahmad, a Sudanesesheikh who proclaimed himself the Mahdi, or savior,and led a puritanicalIslamic revolt. Two versionsof Islarnism carne into conflict: the Mahdi's, a feral, angry revolt in which nationalist sentimentswere in part disglrisedby religious language,and Afghani's,an Anglophilic version of Islamismthat viewed the Mahdi as primitive and uncouth. In r 8 8 5, the forcesof the Mahdi, the Helpers of the Prophet,defeatedand killed the calling thernselves celebratedBritish general,Charles Gordon, and captured Khartoum. Afghani sought to maintain his pan-Islamic credentialsby paying lip service to the Mahdi, but-continuing to cultivate his British patrons-he opposedthe Sudaneserebel behind the scenes."I fear,as all wise men fear, that the disseminationof this doctrine [mahdism] and the increaseof its votarieswill harm England and anyonehaving rights in Egypt," wrote Afghani. In a separatepiece,entitled "England on the Shoresof the Red Sea," Afghani argued that the Mahdi was attracting the support of the "simpleiminded." He suggestedin another articlethat the Mahdi's revolt could be met only by an opposing challengethat usedIslam as its organizingprinciple. "The strength of an Islamic preaching," he wrote) "cannot be met except by an Islamic resolution,and none but Muslim men can strugglewith this pretenderand reducehim to his proper stature."21 Afghani, in other words, proposed fighting fire with fire-Islam with Islam. The British, apparently,did not take him up on this proposal,a rejectionthat angeredAfghani, though Abduh remainedfaithful to I-ondon. In going their separateways, Afghani went to Russia while Abduh journeyedto Tunis, in North Africa. From there, Abduh "then traveledincognito in a number of other countries,strengthening the organizationof the societythey had founded."22Their message,to the massesat least,was one of pan-Islamin its purestform:


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The religionof Islamis the one bond which unitesMuslimsof all countriesand obliteratesall tracesof raceor narionalit,y. . . . The Muslim peopleswereonceunitedunderonegloriousempire,and their achievements in learningand philosophyand all the sciences are still the boastof all \.{uslims.It is a duty incumbentupon all Muslimsto aid in maintainingthe authorityof Islam and Islamrc rule over all landsthat haveoncebeenMuslim. . . . The only cure for thesenationsis to return to the rulesof their religionand the practiceof its requirements accordingto what it was in the beginning, in the daysof the earlv Caliphs.. . . The supremeauthority or,erall shouldbe the Koran.2'l Today it seemsstandard Islamist boilerplate,and could be taken from the pagesof a Muslim Brotherhood tract or an Al Qaeda communiqu6. But in the r 8 8os, it was a new concept,and a revolutionary one. Not in centurieshad Muslims heard a challengeto renew their societiesaccordingto the methods of the early caliphs.And the messagein this call to arms, published in The IndissolubleBond, about restoring Islamic rule "over all lands that have once been Muslim," read like a jihad-style summons to recaprureparts of Spain, central Europe,and lands where provinceshad fallen to Christianity or other religions. It was a challenge whose promise would seize T. E. Lawrence and his British intelligencecohorrs at the Arab Bureau rn Cairo during World \Var I, when London posthumously took up Afghani and Abduh's proposal to mobilize Muslims for a new caliphate, one that could at once underminethe crumbling Turkish empire and threatenRussia. Abduh, who had returned to Egypt on occasionin disguiseduring his travelsin the r8Sos,watched as Egypt'snationalistswere scattered by the British. By the late r88os Abduh openly cast his lot with Lord Cromer and the British administration in Egypt. In 1888, with Cromer's heip, Abduh returned openly to Egypt and took the first of severalofficial positionsin Cairo. Like Afghani, Abduh spoke quietly about the " social utility of religion."2aKedourie, analyzinghis collected lecturesfrom Beirut,publishedas Risala,concludes:"It is clearthat . . . the erstwhile mystic, outwardly a divine, was secretlya free thinker, like

)mperial Pan-Islam


his master." On returning to Cairo, Abduh forged a partnershipwith Lord Cromer, who was the symbol of British imperialism in Egypt. Born EvelynBaring,he was a scionof the enormouslypowerful Baring banking clan of the City of London, and he had servedin the r87os as the first British commissioner of the Egyptian public debt office and then controller general. After London crushed Arabi's revolt, Baring returnedto Egypt in r883 as British agentand consul general'and he served as the virtual ruler of the country until r9o7. Abduh and Cromer becamefriends and confidants,the militant Islamist and the aristocratic British empire builder who became his patron. With Cromer'sbacking,Abduh was namedto lead a committeeto reorganize Al Azhar, became the editor of Egypt's Official .lournal, and was appointedto Egypt'sLegislativeCouncil, where he became"its leading memberwhose opinion on everyquestionwas heard with respect.He was chairmanof its most important committees."li FinallS in 1899, two years after Afghani's death, Abduh was named mufti of Egypt. As mufti, he "was the supremeinterpreterof the canon law of Islam (the sharia)for the whole country' and his fatwas, or legal opinions, touching any matters that rvere referred to him, were authoritative and final."26 it also gave him significant patronage power, since he helped overseethe rich religious endowments, or waqfs. As Abduh's influence in Egypt grew, Afghani spent a few years in Russia,where he had gone to sulk after London rejectedhis offer to help build a pan-Islamicalliance.According to Kedourie,Afghani, for an agentof Russia."ra time at least,was "a client and subsequently He reportedly tried to sell Moscow on the idea that he could help spark a revolt in India, the very heart of the British Empire. According to a British intelligencereport from r888, Afghani "had impressed upon someRussianofficialsthe prospectof a generaluprising in India rvheneverthe Russianschose to give the signal."28It seemsthat the Russiansdidn't buy what Afghani was selling,and soon afterward he i'u'as back in London. Afghani's London contacts r,l'erediverse.He plunged into a world rhat includeda swirling mix of freethinkers,Masons,Gnostics'mystics,

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sufis and other experimenrersin religion and the divine, blendedwith writers' travelers,and orientalists fascinatedwith the so-called Near East.It was a heady time. London in the lare ninereenth cenrury was Iike a gigantic rneltingpot of religiousacrivism.Many British intellectuals, and not a few irnperialists,were seizedwith a desire to find a sort of holy grail, a unified field theory of religious belief. svncretismwon followers amo'rg the elites,along with the idea that perhapssomenew cult, somenew systemof belief,would emerge,one that could unite the empire'smany cultures. Experimental religions, some of whose roots went back into the earry nineteenth cenrury, began to flourish-and Afghani, whose view of Isram was tempered bv a deeper commirment ro mysticism, the Sufi brorherhoocls. Freemasonrgand philosophicalskepticism,was open to it all. one of Afghani's most important contacts in London was the renowned British orientalist Edward Granville Browne. Br,wne, a cambridge university professor,is perhapsthe godfather of twentiethcentury orientalism, especiallyin the area of persian and studies,and he exerted enormous influencenot only over academics but policy makers as well, until his death in 1926. As we shail see, E' G' Browne was a teacherand friend to the powerful, incrudingtwo leading British intelligenceoperarives,Harry st. Joh' Bridger philby and r. E. Lawrence,during Britain'sintenseengagement in rhe Middre Eastin world war I' In the rggos and rB9os,Browne traveledwidely in the Arab world, Turkey, and persia, and he speciarized in cultlike movements,Sufism,and the alternativemysteryreligions springingup in the Middle East. Browne's Persianteacherwas Mirza Mohamrned Baqir. ,.Having wandered through half the world,', wrote Browne, ,.learned (and learned well) half a dozenlanguages,and been successively a shiite Muhammadan, a dervish, a Christian, an arheisr,a Jew, [Baqirl had finishedby elaboratinga religioussysremof his own, which he called 'Islamo-christianity.'"2eThe two men became close, and Browne, inspired by the works of an eccentric specialistir the religions of central Asia, Joseph de Gobineau, delved inro movements like the Baha'is,developinga lifelong fascinationwith that odd relieiouscurt.



the Baha'ispromoted an odd' Like Mirza Baqir'sIslamo-Christianity', syncretisticfaith based in Persia, with outposts in Haifa and elsewhere. For years, the Baha'is were viewed with suspicionin the Middle East, with many conspiracv-mindedpolitical and religious leadersaccusingthem of Masonic connectionsand ties to British intelligence.But the Baha'iswere openly Anglophiles,and after $7orld \Var I, one of the Baha'is'founders,Abdul Baha,was knightedby the governmentof Great Britain. Browne becameperhapsthe chief publicist in the West for the Baha'is, and he apparently believedthat the Baha'i movementwas destinedto play a shapingrole in the future of religion in the N{idcileL,ast. Both Afghani and Abduh had multiple contacts with Browne, Mirza Baqir, and the Baha'is.According to Kedourie, Abduh and Baqir debatedtheology and the Koran in Paris during the time when Afghani and Abduh were publishing The Indissoluble Bond, and Afghani sent the newspaperto the Baha'i movement'sleadersin their Middle L,astheadquarters.Another person who played an important role in furthering Afghani's increasinginvolvement in Persia-where he would eventually become prime minister-was Malkam Khan' Malkam Khan was the Persian ambassadorto London for many years, the son of the founder of the PersianSociety of Freemasons. Like Afghani, the Baha'is,and Baqir, Khan believedthat a reformed, universalist"religion of humanity" was the prerequisitefor political action in the Middle East, especiallyin Persia.Even though Afghani never abandonedhis rhetorical support for a fundamentalistversion of Islam, under Khan's influenceAfghani formed the "Arab Masonic Afghani seemedto believein combinThe chameleon-like society."30 ing a simplisticversion of Islam for the "simple-minded,"or the masses,with a top-down, syncretisticone-world religion above it. 'With the Br:t Afghani's careerended, paftially at least,in failr-rre. supportof Malkam Khan, he spentmost of his final yearsin Persia,as war minister and prime minister,but his ideasdidn't succeedin winning over either the shah or the Iranian elite. Tired of Afghani's appealsto Iran's mullahs, the shah acted. "The Shah finally violated the sanctuaryof the mosque and had Jamal arrested,although on a


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sick bed at the time, and conveyedto the Turkish border."31He would bounce back and forth betweenTurkey, Afghanistan,and Persiaduring the r89os, "attractingr"Kedouriesays,"the affention... of security and intelligencedepartments."32 At the very end of his life, the British bailed him out once more. "In r895 Afghani, then at Istanbul, some two years before his death finding himself in Sultan Abdul Hamid's bad books,and threatenedwith extraditionto Persiawhere he was wanted for subversion,appliedro the British Ambassadorfor protection as an Afghan subject."-r3 The British consulategave Afghani a pass,allowing him to leavethe sultan'sterritory.He eventuallyreturned to Turkev,where the itinerantpan-Islamistdied of cancerin r 897. E. G. Browne ensuredthat Afghani'sfame would last long beyond his death by lionizinghim in his rgro classicTbe PersianReuolution. But Lord Cromer, ever the practical imperialist,wrote perhapsthe ultimate epitaph for Afghani, Abduh, and the firsr generation of Islamic revivalists."They were much too tainted with heterodoxy to carry far along with the conservativeMoslems. Nor were they suffi, ciently Europeanizedto win the mimics of Europeanways. They were neither good enough Moslems, nor good enough Europeans."Like a scientistclosingthe books on an experimenrthat failed, Lord Cromer concludedthat the pan-Islam of Afghani and Abduh neededa major revision.Its Masonic-tinged,universalistmodernismdidn't blend well with a call to return to seventh-centuryIslamic purism, and so it had failed to win the allegianceof either the clergy or the modernrzers. Eventually,Afghani's ideas,preservedby the journalist Rashid Rida, who founded The Ligbthowse,the publicarion rhar brought Afghani and Abduh's ideas to the Egyptian Salafiyya and the Muslim Brotherhood, would find more fertile soil. In the meantime, the British would turn to a much lessambiguousversionof Islamistradicalism in the next phase of their colonial policy in the Middle East: SaudiArabian'$Tahhabism.



P HITB Y ' s



From 1899 through the aftermath of \7orld'V7ar I, Great Britain embarkedon one of the most remarkableimperial gambits ever conceived.The Ottoman Empire, the nineteenthcentury's "sick man of Europe," was finally in its deaththroes.The rise of the imperialnavies, railroads, and finally the development of the internal combustion engine and the automobile created an insatiable demand for oil. Despitethe growth of Texas,Romania, and Baku as centersof oil production, it had also begunto dawn on imperial strategiststhat Persia, Iraq, and Arabia had untold petroleum wealth. Hard-headedimperialists saw southwestAsia as a gigantic chessboard, and they were playing for keeps.London'sgambit was to make a play for the loyalty of the world's Muslims, not by appealing to the Islamic world's enlightened,modernizingMuslim elite but to its traditionalist-minded massesand autocrats. While fending off the French in the Middle East, the British had simultaneouslyto deal with three other powers. The Russians,seeming to pressinexorably down from the north, were one concern.The Germans,whose global power was expandingunder the Kaiser,were fast building ties to Turkey while making plans to constructa rail Iine from Berlin to Baghdad.And the Turks, whose'empire'slife force was ebbing, still had an ace in the hole, namely, the existence of a caliphate in Istanbul that, nominally at least, could claim the allegianceof orthodox Sunni Muslims everywhere. London was firmly in control of India (including,of course,what is now Muslim Pakistan),and thanks to Lord Cromer the British had locked up Egypt and the SuezCanal as their lifelineto India. They had significant,even dominant influencein Afghanistan and Persia.And they had important surrounding real estate' from Cyprus to East Africa to Aden that could be used to bring power to bear in the Persian Gulf. For their gambit to seizecontrol of Iraq and Arabia, they neededa force to challengeTurkey's control of that vast expanseof sand-coveredterritorl'. The first step in accomplishingthat feat was the forging of an


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SaudiArabiaalliancefor the Englishthrone wrth the future king of \wahhabi Islamic movement.To underand with the long-established must first take a stand how the British-Saudialliance developed'we betweenthe stcp heck into the cighreenthcenttlrv'when rhe entente Wahhabi famAl Saud,the future royalfamily, and the Al Shaikh,the ily of the Islamists,was first cemented' Muslim In the middle of the eighteenth century' an itinerant the preacher,sort of an Arabian Elmer Gantry, began crisscrossing from northern reachesof the peninsula and the Fertile Crescent' Baghdad' Mecca and Medina to the al-HasaOasisin the eastto Basra' in r7o3) was and Damascus.Mohammad ibn Abdul \(ahhab, born learning that not a city dweller,and he didn't bother with the kind of Spreading the occurred in the Arab world's intellectual centers' \wahhab thunderedthat Islamic version of fire and brimstone,Abdul that had been the Nluslims nee.dedto purge themselvesof everything It was a learnedsincethe days of the Propheta thousandyearsbefore' packing revivalistmovementin the classicsense'with eagerfollowers tents thrown up by Abdul'Wahhab'sorganizers' Abdulwahhab,s mostl mportantconvertwasthefounderoftheAl saw himself Sauddynastv,Mohammed ibn Saud'Ibn Saudapparently Mohammed' conas an eighteenth-centuryversion of the Prophet To quering lands for Islam and imposing his faith on the conquered' their followers reinforcetheir message,Abdul'Wahhab,Ibn Saud' and disagreedwith had the unfortunate habit of slaughteringanyonewho their shrines' them and demolishingtheir cities,their mosques,and in Arabic, Abdul wahhab was called "the Teacher,"or al-sbaikh clan were and from then on the descendantsof the Abdul wahhab and the AI called the Al shaikh.3aThe alliance betweenthe Al saud rgzos.It wasn't Shaikh families evolved into the saudi state in the through the without its ups.and downs, however; from the rToos in turn' be r9zos, the Al Saudrepeatedlyfounded statesthat would' Ottomans swept awav either by the more worldly, and lessfanatical' and their alliesin Egypt, or by rival Arabian tribes' 'srahhabis,it is usually said, In standardaccounrsof the rise of the and modernizoften with respect,that the \Tahhabiswere reformers the idea of ers. or that they united the Arabian Peninsulaaround

Imperial Pan-Islant


rXlahhabismis consideredsometauhid, or monotheism. (The term what insulting by its adherents,who prefer the term IJnitarians,from "unity of God.")35And Wahhab is often describedas a thinker, whose philosophical work and interpretation of the Koran were groundlwahhabism:A critical breaking. Not so. Hamid Algar, aurhor of Essay,notes that the Arabian desert and Abdul Wahhab's so-called theology had something in common. "lts topographical barrenness seemsalways to have been reflectedin its intellectual history," he wrires.36In discussing"what might charitably be called the scholarly output of Muhammad b. Abd al-Sfahhab,"Algar saysthat his works are simplistic and superficial,comprised mostly of reprinted collections of the Prophet'ssayingsand containing little or no "elucidation 'Wahhabism,notes Algar or commentary." Even the custodians of wryly, are "embarrassedby the slightnessof [his] opus."t- A great thinker he was not. But Abdul \Tahhab was a master at hurling polemicai thunderbolts at moderate Muslims, accusingthem of abandoning Islam, of the apostasy,of heresies,and worse. Joining forceswith the Al Sar-rd, \Tahhabisassembleda mighty army of followers,who spentcenturies wreaking havoc acrossArab territory. They were, in the words of a nineteenth-centuryEnglishwriter, notorious for "preferring slaughter The slaughter never ended. In the to booty" in their conquests.38 alliance began a "campaign of killing and r7oos, the Saud-\il7ahhabi plunder all across Arabia," first in central Arabia, then in Asir in southern Arabia and parts of Yemen, and finally in Riyadh and the Hrjaz.3eIn r8oz they raided the Shiite holy citl' of Karbala in what is now Iraq, killing most of the city's popr-rlation,destroyingthe dome over the grave of a founder of Shiism, and looting "property, weapons,clothing, carpets,gold, silver, [and] precious copies of the "signaQuran."40In fact, Wahhabismwould be weirdly marked by a ture activity of dome demolition."4l Domes in Mecca, too, would be destroyedin the early part of the nineteenthcentury. (It is a practice that continuesroday. In the former Yugoslavia,Saudi Arabia would demand radical changesin Islamic sites."Saudi aid agencies,"wrote John Esposito, "have been responsiblefor the destruction or reconstruction of many historic mosques, libraries, Quran schools, and





cemeteriesin Bosniaand Kosovo becausetheir ottoman architecture, decorations,frescoes,and tombstonesdid not conform to wahhabi iconoclasticaesthetics.', )a2 As the dome-destroyers expandedtheir power in Arabia, they ultimately came inro conract with Great Britain. England's ties t. the Al Saud began in the mid-nineteenth century, when a British colonel made conractwith rhe House of saud in Riyadh, the sleepydesertcity that would eventuallybe the capital of Arabia. "The first conracrwas made in r865, and British subsidiesstartedto flow into the coffersof the saudi familS in ever growing quantity as $zorld war one srew closer,"reports Algar.a3 In r899, Lord Curzon, then viceroy of India, carved out the pro_ tectorateof Kuwait, and London's ties to the Al Saud and the rfah_ habis beganin earnesr.The Ar Saud,srrugglingto impose rheir wilr in Arabia, were invited to estabrisha base in Kuwait, a tiny emirare south of Basib that was increasinglyan ourposr of British imperiar power and conrrol.aa rhree years later, the Al Saud would begin Just the final effort ro securecontrol over rhe whore of the Arabian peninsula. "The Amir of Kuwait," according to an account, .,dispatched Ibn Saud' then just twenry yearsold, ro rry ro rerake Riyadh from the [pro-ottoman] Rashids."a-5 Riyadh felr to Ibn Saud in r9oz, and it was during this period that Ibn saud establishedthe fearsomeBroth_ erhood, known by their Arabic name, the lkhwan.a6 He collected fighters from Bedouin tribes, fired them up with fanatical rerigious zeal,and threw them into battle. By t9 r z,the Brotherhood numbered rr'ooo, and Ibn saud had borh cenrralArabia's Neid and al-Hasain the eastunder his control. Between fi99 and the outbreak of world lVar I, rumors of oil in the Middle East becamereality. The first oil "concessions,,-really one-sided,imperialist deals imposed by oil men backed by grearpower gunboats on weak vassal statesancl captive tribal leaders_ were signed' suddenly the persian Gulf emergedas a straregrcsire. Arabia and the Gulf had beenviewed by Great Britain as one rink in a chain that ran from Suez to India, the two anchors of the empire. slowlS the reverseseemedtruer: suez and India would, increasingly, be seenas basesfrom which the British would be able protect to their

Imperial Pan-lsldm


burgeoning oil interests in southern Persia, Iraq, and the Gulf. William Shakespear,the felicitously named British officer who was appointed political agent in Kuwait, becamethe first of severallegto the Al Saud, and he forged the first formal endary British liaisor-rs treaty betweenEnglandand SaudiArabia,which was signedin r9r5. Punctuatinghis accomplishment,Shakespeardied in battle alongside the Al Saud in a desertconfrontation wrth the rival Al Rashid tribe. But the treaty he designedbound London and Arabia, years before Saudi Arabia was a country. "It formally recognizedIbn Saud as the independentruler of the Neydand its Dependenciesunder British protection. In return, Ibn Saudundertook to follow British advice."47 With the outbreak of war tn r9r4, Great Britain saw a golden opportunity to oust Turkey from Arabia. As the Ottoman Empire wobbled, two British teams backed two drstinct-and opposingArab playersin the barren, desertstretchesof the Arabian peninsula. The first team was led by Harry St. John Bridger Philbg a British operative well schooled in the political utility of religious belief by none other than E. G. Browne. Scion of a modestly distinguished British family with ties to Ceylon and India, Philby was a product of England'smost prestigiousschools,including \Testminster,where he was a Queen's Scholar,and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he At the dawn of the twentiethcenbecamea discipleof E. G. Browne's.aE tury, Cambridge was a training ground for empire builders, and he rubbed elbows there with England's(and the world's) best and brightest. Grounded in the ties betweenchurch and state in England, and with an intimate familiarity with the Anglican establishment,Philby, though an atheist,exhibrteda strongappreciationof religion'sinfluence on politics,and he describedreligiousbelief as "of all conventionsthe to all opposition."4e At Camgreatest, strong in its resistance languages, and Indian law, and bridge he studiedphilosophy,oriental then joined the Indian Civil Service.Philby-who would later undergo a sham conversionto Islam, adopting the name "Abdullah"-would carry Browne's lessonswith him to India, where he servedas a minor functionary,and then to Arabia, where he succeededShakespearas GreatBritain'sliaisonto Ibn Saud. While Philby's team, Britain's India Office, backed the Al Saud,


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their friendly rivals were basedin Cairo at the Arab Bureau' a branch of British intelligence,which sponsoredthe famous T. E. Lawrence ("of Arabia"). The Arab Bureaubackedthe Sharifof Mecca,Hussein, head of the Hashemite dynasty,and his sons, Abdullah and Faisal. They were the rulers of the Hijaz,the province in westernArabia that included Mecca and Medina. The Al Saud, meanwhile, controlled most of central Arabia's Neid from Riyadh, which is now the Saudi capital. In the end, of course,the Al Saudwould conquer Arabia and name the counrry after their family. The Hashemiresons, Abdullah and Faisal,having lost to the Saudis,would be installedlike replacement parts as kings of two other nations whose borders were drawn up by Winston Churchill: Abdullah as king of Transjordan,and Faisal as king of lraq. In both cases-the Al Saud and the Hashemites-the British sought to mobilize {slam. The Hashemitesboastedthat their family was directly descendedfrom that of the Prophet Mohammed, a claim made by any number of scurrilouswould-be rulers in the past century. The British, naturally, saw the Hashemitesas potential claimantsto a new, and pro-British, caliphate based in Mecca. The Al Saud, propelled by the warriors of \Tahhabism, were a formidable Islamic strike force that, the British believed,would help London gain control of the westernshoresof the PersianGulf. Initially, around t9t6,it seemedthat the Hashemiteshad the upper hand. Becauseof their position atop Mecca and Medina, the British believedthat Hussein and his sons could rally Muslims from North Africa to India to the British cause.At the time, the tottering Ottomans controlled a decrepitcaliphate,which nominally exercisedsway over religiousMuslims worldwide. But the Ottomans were besiegedon all sides,and the British took the lead trying to use Islamic loyaltiesas a force againstthe Turks. It was a policy cooked up by London'sMiddle East team: Lord Curzon, the ultraimperialist foreign secretaryand former governorof India; the aristocraticRobert Cecil,and his cousin, Arthur Lord Balfour,who with RothschildbackingpromisedPalestine to the Jews;Mark Sykes,the duplicitous chief of the Foreign Office's Middle East section;and David George("D.G.")Hogarth, the head

lnryeridl Pan-lslam -


of the Arab Bureau, the author of The Penetration of Arabia, and an archaeologist, Orientalist, and keeper of the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford.



Toynbee, and other leading lights of

Britis h imperiali s m j o i n e d i n . Ou tl i n i n g th e pol i cy, Law rence sai d: If the Sultan of Turkev were to disappear,then the Caliphate by common consent of lslam ',vould fall to the family of the prophet, the presentrepresenrarive of which is Hussein,the Sharif of Mecca. Hussein'sactivities seem beneficialto us, becauseit marcheswith our immediate aims, the breakup of the Islamic bloc and the disruption of the Ottoman Empire, and becausethe stateshe would set up would be as harmlessto ourselvesas Turkey rvas.If properly handled the Arab States r,vould remain in a state of political mosaic, a tisslleof jealous principalitiesincapableof cohesion,and yet always ready to combine againstan outside force.

The idea seemedsimpleenough.The Hashemiteswould sragean anriOttoman revolt, complete with swashbuckling,romantic images of Arabs led by Lawrence charging across the sand to liberate themselvesfrom Turkish rule. Behind the scenes,Britain would try to forge an alliance between the Hashemitesand the Zionists, with the goal of installing a pro-British Jewish state in Palestine,and with the Hashemitesruling present-daySyria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and the Hijaz along Arabia's west coast. Uniting it all would be a Meccabased,and British-controlled,Arab caliphate.Egypt and Sudan,of course,would remain in the British camp, too. Philbn meanwhile,was working the easrernflank. Sir Percy Cox, the political representative of the India Office in the PersianGulf, was the man in chargeof England'seffort to securethe preciousoil rerritories, whose potential was just beginningro emerge.PhilbX then a junior officer, worked with Cox and with the legendaryexplorer and super spy, Gertrude Bell, whose intimate knowledgeof Arabian tribal lore and the genealogies of its families,along with her experrlinguistic abilities,made her an essentialmember of the team. Cox dispatched Philby to meet Ibn Saud in r9t6. While London was mobilizing the Meccansagainstthe Turks in westernArabia, Philby was assignedto


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marshalthe Al Saudagainstanotherwarlord clan, the Al Rashid,who had the misfortuneto ally itself with the Turks in easternArabia. Beginning in January r9r7, Ibn Saud was put on a f5,ooo monthly retainer,and Philby was the bagman.50Off and on after that, Philby would serve as Ibn Saud'sBritish handler, and met him on dozensof occasions.In 1919, he escortedIbn Saud'sfourteen-yearold son, the future King Faisalof Saudi Arabia, on a tour of London that included visits to Philby's old Pied Piper,E. G. Browne, and to \Tilfred ScawenBlunt, perhaps England's leading advocate of proBritish pan-Islam. Britain'simperial exercisein redrawing the map of the Middle East and building a new caliphate foundered, however. Great Britain, of course, remained the dominant player in the region by virtue of its sheer imperial power. But the Arab-Zronist deal didn't quite work, and lraq proved troublesome,and deadly,for British troops. Furthermore, the French insisted on booting the British out of Syria and Lebanon, and the Bolshevikstook over Russia and revealeddetails about secretAnglo-French understandingsthat proved exceedingly embarrassingto London. And, though London placed most of its chips on Hussein'sHashemites,IbnSaud'slegionsswept through Arabia, conquering all before them-including Hussein'smini-realm in the Hijaz. Gertrude Bell, speakingof Iraq but in a manner that could have referred to Britain's entire Middle East policy, said, "'We have made an immensefailure here."-51 Philbv, still in British service,maintained his connectionto the Al Saud.Indeed,he seemedalmost to worship the uncouth Ibn Saudand his Bedouinthugs, the Ikhwan: The Arab is a democratLwrotePhilby],and the greatestand most powerfulArab ruler of the presentday is proof of it. Ibn Saudis no more than primus inter pares;his strengthlies in the fact that he hasfor twenty yearsaccuratelyinterpretedthe aspirationsand will of his people.52 Though Philby often posturedas an advocateof democracyand Arab republicanism,he never wavered from supporting the brutal Al Saud

lmperial Pan-Islam


dynasty.'t3 Even some of Britain's most hard-coreimperialists,including D. G. Hogarth, saw the Al Saud,and in particular their'vfahhabi warriors, the Ikhwan, as rather unsavory. "To men [like Hogarth] with experienceof Islam in India, Egypt, Syria, Turkey and the Htjaz, the proselytizing of Ibn Saud's lkhwan was a menace, and \x/ahhabisma fanatical creed unsuitedto most of the Islamic world." wrote Philby'sbiographer.ta In the rgzos conquest of Arabia, philby's ,,democrats," the Al Saud,left 4oo,ooo dead and wounded, carried out 4o,ooo public executions, and ordered, under its strict interpretation of Islamic law, 35o'ooo amputations.ti The scorched-earthbattles by which the Ikhwan conqueredArabia for the Al saud gave Britain an unbroken chain of vassalstatesand coloniesfrom the Mediterraneanto India. Yet even as the Saudi statewas being established,the bloody Ikhwan were seenby somein London, and by someArabs, as a double-edged sword. A Lebanesefriend of Ibn saud's describedthe Ikhwan thus: "Today a sword in the hand of the prince, a daggerin his back tomorrow."-56Hussein, the British-backedSharif of Mecca, pleaded with London to force Ibn Saudto dismantlethe Ikhwan. In a missiveto the British Agent in Jeddah in r9r8, Husseinwrore: "whar concernsme above everythingelse. . . is that H.M.G. should compel [Ibn Saud]to abolishand dispersewhat he calls the lkhwan-the political societyin the cloak of religion." The British coolly refused.5T Ibn Saud tried to maintain that the Ikhwan were an independent force, but the British knew otherwise,of course."He doesnot want it to be known that he himself is at the bottom of the whole thing, and is fostering and guiding the movement for his own ends," cabled a British official in t9zo. Yet, other, far lesswell informed Br:itishofficials warned, rather stupidly it would now seem. that the Ikhwan were Bolshevik-inspired !58 Theoretically,at least,Ibn saud still had the option of creating a secularstate, one in which fundamentalistIslam would not have an official part. But he was propelled by the momenrum of his alliance with the \Tahhabisand with the Ikhwan, as rhe shrewd British political officer Percy Cox realized:


D r v r l 's


In late r9r5 or earlyt9r6 Ibn Saudfound that Ikhwanismwas definitelygainingcontrolof affairsin Najd. He sawthat he had to makeone of two decisions: eitherto be a temporalruler and crush Ikhwanism,or to becomethe spiritual head of this new 'Wahhabism.. . . In the end he was compelledto acceptits doctnnes and becomeits leader,lesthe shouldgo underhimself.5e

The Islamic fundamentalistmovement that Ibn Saud rode to power was essentialto the origin of SaudiArabia. He utilized Islam to break down tribal loyaltiesand replacethoseloyaltieswith adherenceto the cult. "In a desert,tribal society,where the family was an individual's security,identity, and legitimacy,the renunciation of all this was no light matter," wrote John S. Habib. "It underscoredthe degree to which Ibn Saudwas able to substitutethe brotherhood of Islam domiciled in the hiira60for the protection,security,and identity which they surrenderedwhen they left the tribe."61 When the dust had clearedafter'World'WarI, and after the varrous imperial conferencesthat establishedthe boundaries of the Middle East's states, the Ottoman Empire had been dismantled, Britain reigned supremein the region, and Ibn Saud controlled the bulk of Arabia. According to Philby,Ibn Saud'sIkhwan numberedmore than 5o,ooo by the r9zos.6zTo the west, in the Hijaz, the Hashemitesstill ruled, but their time was running out. In 1924, the new Turkish government under the modernizing Mustafa Kemal Ataturk disdained the backwardnessof official Islam and shockedconservativeMuslims worldwide by peremptorily abolishing the caliphate. Hussein, the Anglophile Sharif of Mecca, tried to capitalize on Ataturk's acrion. PerhapsrememberingT. E. Lawrence'sgrand design, Hussein proclaimed himself caliph, but unfortunately for him, no one was listening. The British had essentiallyabandonedHussein by then, having chosen to ride with Ibn Saud and another up-and-coming Muslim fanatic, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem. "Philby," wrote Monroe, "returning from Syria in this moment of Muslim uncertainty,enteredin his diary that Hussein'spower in Arabia was confined to the Hijaz coast, and that his gestureabout the caliphate was meaninglesswhen set against the bright light of Ibn Saud'sstar

I ntpariaI I'arr-l slant


rising over the Arabian desert."6-iSoo' afterwarcl Ibn saud,shordes swept into the Hiiaz, ousting the I{ashemites,slaughrering hundreds of men, women, and chirdren,and unifying Arabia und., ih" conrror of Riyadh. so beganrhe rnodern s,ucli state.And rrhirby.,stiu closeto Ibn Saud,was there at the creation. Ibn Saudserout immediatelyto establishhimself as the uncrowned king of Islam, but it was a processthat developed slowly. .,A formal treaty between Ibn saud and Great Britain, recognizing the full independenceof the kingdom, was signed on May zo, t927,,, \^/rote BernardLewis. "Muslim recogrition was slower and more reluctant.', He added: A Muslim missi'n from India visited Jeddahand demandecr that the king handovercontrolof the hor1,praces to a commirree of reoresentarives to he appointedby all Muslim counrries. Ibn saud did not respondto this demandand sentthe missionback to India bv sea.In .funeof rhe silmeyearhe conveneda. all_Islami. Congr.r, in Mecca,i'viting the sovereigns and presidents of the independent Muslim statesand representatives from Muslim organizationsin countriesunder non-Muslimrule. Sirty_ninepeople attendedthe congressfrom arl over the Isramicworrd. Addressing them, Ibn Saudmadeit clearthar he was now the ruler of the iiyaz. . . . At the time he evokeda mixed responsefrom his.guerts. Som. dis_ sentedand departed;others acceptedand reccignrzed the new order.6a Ibn saud also finally had to confronr the Ikhwan. By the rate rgzos' their lob done, the Ikhwan were resrless, and increasingly resenredIbn saud's monarchy. They clashed,and by ryz9Ibn Saud had dismantledthe Ikhwan and transformedremnants of the Bedouin force into the Saudi armed forces. Still, rravi'g crushed the rkhwan, Ibn saud did not abandon wahhabisrn.Indeed, to consoridatehis power in the more worldly, and lessrerigious, Hijaz, rhe king created the police to enforce five-times-a-rlayprayer, dress codes, and other srricruresof orthodox wahhabism.In the early r93os Ibn saud also crearedthe society for the propagation of Virtue and the Suppressionof Evil, who were composed of "iiliterate. fanatical

D E v t t - 's

G et r a o

Bedouin who were only too eagerto enforcethe literal prescriptions of prayer,and the closing of shopsduring prayer time, in addition to the prohibition of smoking and other 'immoral' habits."55It still CX IS tS ,

For the British, the emergenceof the state of Saudi Arabia gave London a foothold at the very heart of Islam, in Mecca and Medina. For the more pfagmatic among Britain'simperial strategists,it seemed that Ibn Saud'sarmed forcesproved themselvesto be of greaterworth than the mystic-theologicalcurrentsadvancedby Afghani and Abduh and their secret societies.And clearlS London's experiment with Afghani, in particAfghani and Abduh was not completelysuccessful. ular, proved to be an elusiveimperial asset,and while his vision of a pan-Islamic alliance might have appeared attractive to the British elite,it failed to capturethe imagination of the massesand it met with determinedopposition from rulers in Turkey and Persia. The creation of the Saudi stateby the British gaveIslamisma base out of which it would operatefor decadesto come' For England,and then for the United States,SaudiArabia would serveas an anchor for imperial ambitionsthroughout the twentieth century.Yet'Wahhabism, for all its power, was still primarily a religious, not political, force. It could win the devout allegianceof Saudis,and it could be proselytized to Sunnisfar and wide. But in the modern sense,true politicalIslam had not yet emerged.Missing was a mass-basedIslamist political force that could hold its own againstthe new century's most attractive antiimperialist ideologies,communism and nationalism. Yet the seeds r'X/ateredand planted by Afghani and Abduh were about to sprout. carefully tended by Saudi Arabia's \Tahhabis and the British intelligenceservice)a new Islamist force was about to arise on soil sown by Abduh. For the first time, a true grassrootsIslamic fundamentalist party would begin in a city on the SuezCanal, not far from Saudi Arabia: Ismailia,Egypt.



IN rrs posr-Wonro

\Var I struggleto maintain its empire,Great Britain made deals with many devils. From the late rgzos until the failed invasion of Suezin 1956, those pacts included support for rwo fledgling Islamist movements in Egypt and Palestine.In Egypt, in t928, a young Islamic scholarnamed Hassanal-Bannafounded the Muslim Brotherhood,the organizationthat would changethe course of histor y in the rw enti eth-cenrury Mi ddl e East.And his palestinian confrdre was Haj Amin al-Husseini, the demagogicmufti of Jerusalem.Both Banna and Haj Amin would play imporrant roles in the growth of Islamism in the decadesafter Vorld \WarI-and, like the Saudiroyal family both owed rheir start to British support. Banna'sMuslim Brotherhood was establishedwith a grant from England's Suez Canal Compan5 and over the next quarter cenrury British diplomats, the intelligenceserviceMI6, and Cairo's Anglophilic King Farouq would use the Muslim Brotherhood as a cudgel againsr Egypt's communists and nationalists-and later against president Gamal Abdel Nasser.Meanwhile, in Palestine,Haj Amin, the Nazileaning,viciously anti-Semiticfirebrand, climbed to power beginning in the rgzos with overt backing from the British overseersof the Palestine Mandate. Together,Banna and Haj Amin would be responsiblefor the


D t - t 'r r 's

C er , t r

worldwide spreadof political Islam. The two men tied Wahhabi-style ultra-orthodoxy to the pan-Islamicidealsof Jamal Eddine al-Afghani and-with Saudi funding-created the global enterprisethat spawned Islam'sradicalright, includingits terroristwirrg. London's relationshipwith the Muslim Brotherhooclwas complex. Although the British supported the organization at its founding, and although the org:rnizationmay have receivedsupport from British intelligencein tire subsequentyears,the Brotherhood-and political Islam-was only one force in an ever-shiftingpolitical universein Egypt and the broader Middle East. The British and the king used Banna'sgroup-especially its underground,paramilitary arm and its assassins-whenit suited them, but kept a wary eye on the organization, which sometimesturned againstthem. As the Muslim Brotherhood gained strength,eventuallvclaiming severalhundred thousand membersin Egypt alone, with branchesin Jerusalem,Damascus,and Amman, it becamean important player in Egyptianpolitics.As such' it drew attention from a number of foreign intelligenceservicesover the years,from the Nazis and the KGB to the U.S. Office of StrategicServicesand the CIA. The Muslim Brotherhood explodedonto the sceneat a time when British power in the Near East, though nearly universal, was also unsettled. As the smoke clearedafter World \Var I, England reignedsupreme in the region,but uneasilyso. The flag of the British empirewas everywhere from the Mediterranean to India. A new generationof kings and potentates ruled a string of British-dominated colonies, mandates, vassal states,and semi-independentfiefdoms in Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan, Arabia, and Persia.To varying degrees,those monarchieswere beholdento London, but not without occasional,tentative attempts to claim some author:ity for themselves.The kings were trapped between two conflicting forces: on the one hand, in each of those states,an anti-monarchicalnationalistmovement beganto take shape; on the other hand, the British Foreign Office and London's colonial officials were breathing down their necks.Juggling factions like ballsin the air.the Britishspentthe yearsbetweenr9r8 and r945

England's Brotbers


trying to balance the king, the tribal leaders,the emerging middle classes,the armg and the clergyin eachof thesestates,alwayswith an eye toward preservingBritish power. sometimesthe king would get too srrong,and form an alliancewith the army; in that casethe British would try to break the allianceof king and generalsby favoring tribal chieftainsinstead. somerimes,if the tribes or ethnic groups gor roo uppitS the British would deputizethe army to crush them. The Islamic right emer:ged amid this shifting balance.It provided a vital counterweight to England'schief nemeses:the nationalistsand the secularleft.

Is l el ,.' s

A N TI-NA TtoN ALrsrs

The Muslim Brotherhood,founded in .'gzg by Hassanal-Banna,was the direct outgrowth of the pan-Islamic movemenr of Afghani and Abduh. The transmissionbelt for that influencewas Rashid Rida, a Syrian who had arrived in Egypt in fi97. Rashid Rida, who had receiveda religious education in Tripoli, in what is now Lebanon's Sunni stronghold, had been an avid follower of The Indissoluble Bond, Afghani and Abduh's weekly,and when he arrived in cairo he sought out Abduh, rhe soon-to-be mufti of Egypt, and becamehis chief acolyte. In 1898, Rashid Rida founded the publication Tbe Lighthouse,l a weekly eight-page newspaper that was explicitly aimed at carrying on the tradition of the pan-Islamic Bond. Unlike Afghani and Abduh, who operated through secretsocieries,underground groups, and the Masonic movemenr,Rashid Rida advocated the establishmentof an aboveground"Islamic Society,"with its headquartersat Mecca and with branchesin everyMuslim country.2 Though Rashid Rida never managed to found the society he r.vanted-that would awair Hassan al-Banna-he createdthe Societyof Propagandaand Guidanceas an early forerunnerof the Muslim Brothcrhood.At the time, Abduh enjoyedthe patronageof Lord cromer, the absoluteruler of Egypt at the rurn of the century,and the work of Rashid Rida could not have occurred without British acquiescence.



D s v r r - 's


According to C. C. Adams, The Ligbthouseconsisrenrlyattackedthe nascentnationalist movement in Egypt, which was secularin nature, and the nationalists hit back at Rashid Rjda. The Lishthouse also welcomedthe growth of Saudipower: A new star of hope has appearedwith the rise of the 'Wahhabi dynastyof Ibn Saudin Arabia.The Governmentof Ibn Saudis the greatestMuslim power in the world today,sincethe fall of the Ottoman dynastyand the transformationof the Governmentof the Turks into a governmentwithout religion,and it is the only governmentthat will give aid to the Sunnahand repudiateharmful innovationsand anti-relieionism.3 Nationalists, in both Egypt and Turkey, were deemed "atheists and infidels" by Rashid Rida.a The Societyof Propagandaand Guidance,and its relatedInstitute of Propagandaand Guidance,were establishedin Cairo with financing from wealthy Arabs from India. Irs enrolleesincluded studenrs from as far away as Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Central Asia, and EastAfrica. They formed a secondwave of the internationalcadrefor an Islamist movement,after the secretsocietiestied to The Indissoluble Bond. Prominent Egyptian sheikhs and orher religious leaders formed what came to be known as the "Lighthouse Party," made up of followers of Abduh and Rashid Rida collected around Al Azhar and including various leadersof the mysrical Sufi brotherhoods.In opposition to the new Narionalist PartS they helped establisna second Egyptian political formation called the Peoples Party, which included followers of Abduh and Rashid Rida. The PeoplesParty, reputedly createdwith British supporr, openly supported the British occupation of Egypt, and it won plaudits from Lord Cromer, who describedits membersas a "small but increasingnumber of Egyptians of whom comparativelylittle is heard." In his 19o6 Annual Report, Lord Cromer wrote: "The main hope of EgyptianNationalism, in the only true and practicablesenseof the word, lies, in my opinion, with thosewho belongto this party."5 Rashid Rida's chief acolytewas Hassanal-Banna. It is impossibleto overestimarethe importance and legacyof Hassan

England'sBrotbers .


al-Banna. The twenty-first-century War on Terrorism is a war against the offspring of Banna and his Brothers.They show up everywhere-in the attorney general'soffice in Sudan, on Afghanistan'sbattlefields,in Hama in Syria,atop SaudiArabia'suniversities,in bomb-makingfactoriesin Gaza,as ministersin the governmentof Jordan,in posh banking centersin the Gulf sheikhdoms,and in the post-SaddamHusseinsovernment of Iraq. To get the Muslim Brotherhood off the ground, the Suez Canal Company helpedBanna build the mosquein Ismailiathat would serve as its headquartersand base of operations, according to Richard Mitchell's The Societyof tbe Muslim Brothers.6The fact that Banna createdthe organizationin Ismailia is itself significant.Ismailia,today a city of zoo,ooo at the northern end of the canal, was founded in r863 by Ferdinand de Lesseps,the canal's builder. For England, the SuezCanal was the indispensableroute to its prize possession,India, and in t9z8 the sleepybackwater town happenedto house not only the company's offices but a major British military base built during World'War I. It was also, in the r9zos, a center of pro-British senti, ment in Egypt. Mitchell reports that Banna was closely associatedwith Rashid Rida.7Banna'sfarher,an influentialscholar,was a studentof Abduh's, and Banna himself avidly readThe Lighthouse as a young man, larer calling Rashid Rida one of the "greatestinfluencesin the serviceof Islam in Egypt."8 The relationship between Afghani, Abduh, and Rashid Rida was seenby Banna as a kind of BlessedTrinit,v.According to Mitchell: "Afghani was seen [by Banna] as the 'caller' or 'announcer'and Rida as the 'archivist' or'historian.' . . . Afghani sees the problems and warns, Abduh teachesand thinks ('a well-meaning shaykh who inspired reforms in the Azhar'), and Rida wrires and records."eThe Lightbouse halted publication soon after the death of Rashid Rida in 1935, but in 1939 Banna revived it in tribute to his mentor.lo The political program of the early Muslim Brotherhoodwas hardly complex.Bannainsistedthat Muslims should rerurn ro the simpledays that prevailed during the era of the Prophet Muhammad and his immediate successors, rejecting modern scholarly interpretationsof


D F. r , r r . 's


Islamic law and what he saw as the \Testernizedimpurity of thought that had startedto beguileMuslims, especiallyyouth. For Banna, the Koran was enough. "Confronted bv the Egyptian nationalistsof the the departureof the British, Ir9zos]-who demandedindependence, and a democraticconstitution-the Brothersrespondedwith a slogan that is still current in the Islamistmovement:'The Koran is our constltution."'1r Indeed,the Koran and the Sunna (the tradition associated with the prophet's way of life) were enough to guide society,and Islamic law (sharia)could replaceman-made,secularjurisprudence. Yet Banna had a very weakly developedconcept of an Islamic state, whose elaboration would await his heirs: Sayyid Qutb, Pakistan's Abul-Ala Mawdudi, Khomeini, et al. Accordingto Mitchell, for Banna: The political structureof the lslamic statewas to be bound by (z) (r) theQuranis thefundamental constitution; threeprinciples: governmentoperateson the conceptof consultation(shurdl;3) the executiveruler is bound by the teachingsof Islamand the will of thepeople.r2 Islam, for Banna, was an all-encompassing, cultlike systemof belief. Referringto the Salafiyya,the back-to-the-basics purists,and the Sufis, the mystical,Freemason-like movementwithin lslirm, Bannadescribed his movementthus: "a Salafiyvamessage,a Sunni way, a Sufi truth, a political organization,an athleticgroup, a culturai-educationalunion, an economiccompany,and a socialidea."ll In 1932,Bannamovedto Cairo and established the Muslim Brotherhood in the Egyptian capital. For the next twenty years, until the revolutionof 1952,the Brotherhoodwould serveas an anchor of the Egyptianright, allied to the palace,to the right wing of the nationalist \fafd Party, and to conservativeofficers in the Egyptian army. In 1933, Banna convened the organization'sfirst national conference, which took place in Cairo. Soon afterward, youth clubs and athletic associationstied to the Muslim Brotherhood beganto form paramilitary units, first called the Rovers in ry36. Erplicitly organizedalong the lines of European fascistmovements,the Rovers (later called the Battalions),14 were a unique presencein Egypt: disciplined,menaclng,



and utterly devoted to Banna. In r937, at the coronation of King Farouq, the Brotherhood'sthugs were enlistedto provide "order and security" for the king's ceremony.l'5 The Muslim Brotherhood'schief rival between the wars was rhe nationalist Delegation(\7afd) Party.Assembledfrom the ranks of the pre-'STorldWar I anti-Britishpolitical movement,the'Wafd Party was named for the "delegation" led by Saad Zaghlul, who attended the postwar conferencesat which the victorious imperialistsdecidedthe future of the region,creatingentirestatesand assigningthem ro various Europeancapitals.The'Wafd, as a coalition, had left-, center,and right-wing components,and it variously aligned itself for or against the monarchy and other Egyptian political forces over rhe years.The Wafd left would eventuallytoy with an alliancewith Egypt'scommunists,while the smallerright wing of the \7afd often maintainedsecret relationswith the Brotherhood. For the next decade, Banna played a complex game of threedimensionalchessin Egyptian poiitics. He enjoyedintimate relations with the royal entouragearound King Farouq, getting financial support and political assistanceand providing the king with intelligence and shock troops againstthe left. "Certainly by the 194osthe Ikhwan has an on-and-off close relationship with the palace, and a lot of money was changing hands, and the British would be involved in that," says .|oel Gordon, a Muslim Brotherhood expert. "Anything the palacedoesis linked to the British."16Banna also developedclose ties to two key Egyptian officials,Prime Minister Ali Mahir, an ardenr advocate of pan-Islamism, and General Aztz Ali Misri, the commander in chief of the Egyptian armed forces.Through various channels, mostly secret,Banna was connectedto the palace, sometimes through the king's personalphysician,or through various government officials or the army. He was consulted by the king on the appointment of Egyptian prime ministers,and at least once receivedan official invitation to a royal banquet. "The Societyof the Brothers,"wrote Mitchell, "was obviouslyconceivedof as an instrument againstthe Wafd and the communists."lT Right-wing \Tafdists,primarily big landownersand capitalists,viewed


'D p. v r r '.


the Muslim Brotherhood as an ally, while the mainstream wafdists consideredthe Brotherhood a reactionarvforce.ts

THs BRoTHER H ooD ' s


During world \il/ar II, the Muslim Brotherhood first establishedits intelligence service and a secret, terrorist-inclined unit called the SecretApparatus. "The intelligenceservicegathered information at military installations,foreign embassies,government offices,ancl so on," a r95os analystwrote.leThis clandestineunit is what gavethe Brotherhood its well-deservedrepuration for violence. created in 1942, over the next twelveyears(until it was smashedby Nasser),it would assassinatejudges, police officers, and government officials, burn and ransack Egyptian Jewish businesses, and engagein goonsquad attacks on labor unions and communists. Throughout this period, the Brotherhood operated mostly in alliance with the Egyptian king, using its paramilitary force on his behalf and against his political enemies.As the king began ro lose his grip, the Muslim Brotherhooddistanceditself from Farouq while maintaining shadowy ties to the army and to foreign intelligenceagencies-and always opposed to the left. According to Mitchell, the Apparatus operared preciselythe way an Egyptian intelligenceunit would: ,,ln t94q the secretapparatus also began to infiltrate the communist movemenr, which during the war had taken on new life and which the Muslim Brothersconsideredto be one of their principal enemies."20 without doubt, rhe vast majority of the membershipof the Muslim Brotherhood was zealouslydedicatedto the creation of a rightwing Islamic governmenr, and they were militantly opposed to imperialism.Yet the leadershipof the Brotherhood played politics at the highest level, collaborating with the palace,rhe secularpolitical parties, the army, and the imperial powers. rfhether the Muslim Brotherhood's leaders were indeed true believers who decided to make their own temporary deals with the world's Great satans, or whether they were cynical politicians and evenoutright agentsof foreign powers, is not known for certain. But there seemslittle doubt

England's Brctthers

j 5

that while some leadersof the organizationwere sincere,otherswere double-dealersand agents. The Brotherhood existed in a kind of political netherworld. Its overt branch, and its political stars-above all, Banna himselfhobnobbed with kings and generals,while its covert branch engaged As long as the Brotherhood'svioin espionageand assassinations. lencewas aimed at the enemiesof the king and the British, it managed to operatewith impunity.'$fhen it crossedthe line, as it did from time to time, the governmentwould crack down on it or ban it temporarily. At other times, when it was either useful to the palace or to the army, or when it was simply too powerful, it was tolerated and even supportedhy the regime.Throughout its entire cxistence.roo, the Muslim Brotherhood had an ace-in-the-hole,namely, the political support and money it receivedfrom the Saudi royal family and the Wahhabi establishment. The Muslim Brotherhood was organizedinto cells,or "families," groups of five to seven members who "underwent indoctrination and systematic,sometimesextendedmilitary training in the various branchesof guerrilla warfare to qualify as 'activebrothers.'When the training was completed,they were instructedto pretendthat thev had given up their membershipin the Brotherhood and to join someother organizationactivein religiousaffairs or sports."2l The British, with two centuriesof deep ini.olvementin religious and tribal politics,were well aware of the power of Islamism.A British intelligenceofficer tied to the king recognizedthe power of the Islamic 'Vfar II. MI6's David "Archie" Boylewas liairevivalat the end of World son to Farouq'schef de cabinetHasseneinPasha,a British intelligence asset.Boyle "sensedthe 'murmuring resurgenceof Moslem renaissance,which as in 1919 was again in t946 commencingto affect the -\'tiddleEasterncountriesas a whole. This time it was to be coupled u.ith the race for oil.'"22 The British embassy,and later the U.S. imbassyin Cairo, had regularcontactwith Banna'sBrotherhood. After World rWarII, the faltering Farouq regime lashedout against rhe left, in an intensecampaign of repressionaimed at the commu:rists.The Cold'War was beginning.Prime Minister Ismail Sidqi of Eg)pt, who was installedas head of the governmentwith the support

5 6 . D rvrr' s


of Banna, openly funded the Muslim Brotherhood, and provided training camps for its shock troops. Its sweepinganti-left campaign was enthusiasticallybacked by the Brothers: In this campaignthe Muslim Brotherhood,bitterly antagonisticto the communists,could join wholeheartedly.Their pressreported the courseof the governmentalcampaignin a daily columnenritled, 'The Fight Against Communism.'The 'intelligence'of the Society passedon information useful to the governmenrin its continual nrund-upsof real and suspected especially in labour communists, and universitycircles.2s In addition, the Brothers organizedright-wing trade unions, undermined strike actions, and bitterly opposed the Wafd nationalists (often secretly in conjunction with the 'Wafd's right). Concludes Mitchell: "For the momgnt, the palace,the conservativeheadsof government,and the Muslim Brotherhood sharedcommon foes:communism and the \fafd."2a Anrvar Sadat,the future Egyptian president,was a key member of the Muslim Brotherhood in the r94os. During World'War II he was associatedwith a loosely organizedmovement of junior officersthat, in t949, rvas formally estabiishedby Nasser as the Egyptian Free Officers in the wake of the Palestinewar and who seizedpower from the king in 1952. The Free Officersincluded men from a wide variety of ideologies,from communistsand left-wing nationaliststo lTafdists and members of the Muslim Brotherhood, all united in their belief that Farouq was hopelesslycorrupt and servile.England'simperious treatment of Farouq during the war by British ambassadorMiles Lampson-who reportedly2scalled the young Farouq "boy" to his face-had enragedthem, and they maintainedcontact with one another in the postwar years. Sadat, a right-wing member of Nasser'sFree Officers movement, was the liaison between the dissidentmilitary officers and Banna, and during the war Sadat conducted regular rere-e-rCtes with the Brotherhood founder. In his autobiography, In Searchof ldentity, Sadat provided a detailedaccountof his relationshipro Banna.26Sadatwarmly praisesBanna:"His understandingof religion [was] profound, and his

England's Brotbers



deliveryimpressive.He was indeedqualified,from all points of view, to be a religiousleader.Besides,he was a true Egyptian:good-humored, decent,and tolerant. . . . I was struck by the perfect organization of the Muslim Brotherhood, and by the respect,evenextraordinar,vrevercncc, which the Supreme Guide commanded."27ln 1945 Sadat tried to arrange a meeting between Banna and King Farouq, through Yusuf Rashad,a contact of Sadat'sand the king's personalphysician.That meeting didn't happen, but in a frank discussionbetweenSadat and Banna, they agreed to cooperatein building the Free Officers, and Banna started recruiting military officersfor the group.28 But was Banna recruiting membersfor the Free Officers-or infiltrating it? It isn't clear.The Brotherhood was more than a movement. It was a cult, it was a revivalistparty, it was an intelligenceoperation, it was a paramilitary unit, and it was an international organization that was rapidly building branchesin many Middle East countries. 'What is clear is that during the r94os, the British, the Nazis, and the Soviets had thoroughly penetratedthe Brotherhood. In the 191'os, many right-wing Arab nationalists and many on the Islamic right, including the Brotherhood, found succor and support in ties to German Nazi intelligence.According to Miles Copeland, a legendary Central IntelligenceAgency operativewho spent yearsin Egypt, during'World'Vfar II Banna'sorganization "had beenvirtually a German Intelligenceunit."2e In saying so, Copeland no doubt exaggerates, perhaps willfully, though countlessIslamistshad Nazi affiliations in the r93os and r94os. After \7orld'War II, many of the Nazi-linked Islamistsmigrated back to British, and then into Anglo-Americancircles, sometimeswith generousfinancial inducements.In the r9 jos, when Nasser arrestedthe leadershipof the Muslim Brotherhood, his security servicesfound out how tangled were the organization'sties. "Sound beatingsof Muslim Brotherhood organizerswho had been arrested revealedthat the organization had been thoroughly penetrated, at the top, by British, American, French, and Soviet intelligenceservices,any one of which could either make active use of it or blow it up, whichever bestsuitedits purpose," wrote Copeland.30 As it becameevermore clear to London and Washingtonthat Farouq could not survive, the searchfor an alternativeregime developed.The

D rvrr' s

Ge l rr,

main options were first, the combination of the Wafd and rhe communists; and second,the secretivealliancebetweenthe Muslim Brotherhood and the military officers.Neither the British nor the Americans wanted the'sfafd-communisroption; the British seemedinsisrenton propping up the monarchy, while the Americans opted for supporting Nasser'sFreeOfficers.The Brotherhood,with ties to both the monarchy and the Free Officers,played a double game. The \Vafd Party itself was divided into competing factions and plaguedby corruption. Yer an importanr sectionof the'Wafdsoughtan alliancewith the left and the communists,which worried the palace,the British-and the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brothers worked hard to destroy any possibility of a \Wafd-communisraxis, and the \Vafd struck back at the Brotherhood,portraying Banna'sthugs as beingin the pay of the British and the pro-British prime minisrer,Ismail sidqi. The communists and the'wafd accused.theMuslim Brotherhood of being "rools of the imperialists." The \Vafd charged that "phalanxes of the Muslim Brothers" were carrying out "acts of fascistterror." It called for dissolution of the Brotherhood's (government-funded)paramilitary unirs, and it documentednume.rousinsrancesof strike-breakingby Muslim Brotherhood goons.31But the Brotherhood would gain strength from an unexpecteddirection in r948: the war in Palestine.

BaUNA A ND TH e Mur,rr The Arab-Jewishwar strengthenedthe Muslim Brotherhood immensely. It was a chaotic moment in the Middle East, as a new Jewish narion establisheditself on part of the territory of British-occupiedpalestine. The war, the defeatof Arab armies by paramilitary Jewish units, and the creation of Israel forever changedthe dynamic of politics in the Middle East, and it spurred political Islam in severalways. First, the Brotherhood created paramilitary units during the war itself, forces that won official backing from Arab srares-and, like the Afghan jihad of the r98os, created legions of battle-hardenedIslamist veterans. Second,the Arab defeat discreditedthe Arab regimes,including the monarchies. It created space for new political forces such as the

England's Brothers


Muslim Brotherhood, and the fledglingIslamiststook full advantage of the propaganda value that attachedto the loss of Palestine.And third, the Islamists generatedpolitical capital by raising the alarm over the Jewish threat to Jerusalemand its Islamic holy places and usedthat threat as a rallying cry. The war also bolstered ties between the Brotherhood and another key British-sponsored Muslim operative, the conspiratorial, Nazileaning mufti of Jerusalem,Haj Amin al-Husseini.Their connection went back more than a decade. Haj Amin had his first recorded encounterwith the Muslim Brotherhood as far back as r935, when he met Banna's brother, Abdel-Rahman al-Banna, who'd helped Banna found the group and who headed its SecretApparatus.32Like Banna,Haj Amin played an immenselyimportant role in founding the twentieth-centuryIslamic fundamentalistpolitical movement. The creation of Israelspurredmore than Islamism,of course,providing fodder for Arab nationalists,suchas Nasser,who wanted to rid the Arab world of its fraternity of dissolutekings. For nationalists, Israelwas a symbol of Arab weaknessand semi-colonialsubjugation, overseenby proxy kings in Egypt,Jordan, Iraq, and SaudiArabia. But Banna and the Brothers argued that the Arab nationalists were wrong, that no solution could be found in secular nationalism and nation building, and certainly not in Westernization.The only way to restorethe former glory of the Islamic world was to return to fundamentalistIslam, they proclaimed. A multidimensionalstrugglewas developingthat would decidethe future of the Middle East.The Islamistswere just one of many forces competing against one another: There were the nationalists,the left including the growing Arab communist parties),the secularintellecruals,and the urban working class;there were the wealthy merchants -rnd businessmenengagedin internationaltrade and commerce;there ri'ere traditional elites, tribal leaders,and aristocratic landowners; ,rnd last, there were the monarchiesand their armies.The burgeoning Islamistswere a kind of wild card: Bitterly opposedto the nationalists -rndthe left, they maintainedties to the traditional elitesand had the .upport of many merchants,and they also had covert allianceswith .rrmr-officersand royals. For the British, and the Johnny-come-lately



D p- v r r . 's


Americans,it was hard to know where to place one'sbets.The palestine war had vastlycomplicatedthe Anglo-Americancalculations,since both the left-nationalistforces and the Islamistsblamed "the \(/esr" for the Israelidebacle. The Brotherhood grew by leaps and bounds in the lare r94os. Banna'sson-in-law,Said Ramadan,helpedorganizechaptersin Palestine and Transjordan.Under cover of arming themselvesfor war with the Zionists, the Brotherscollectedand stored stockpilesof weap'ns, often supplied by membersof the SecrerApparatus who had ries to the Egyptian army. And the Banna-Haj Amin alliance,forged in rhe crucible of the Palesrinewar, helpedthe Brotherse-xrendtheir reach into Syria,Jordan,Lebanon,and Palestine. To say Haj Amin al-Husseinihad a checkeredcareeris an understatement.His paranoid worldview, centeredon fiercehatred of Jews, and his open support for Hitler make him an object of scorn by historians. But from the beginning Haj Amin was a British creation. He exerciseda spell over generationsof British spooks, including Freya Stark, a legendaryBritish intelligenceoperative who describedHaj Amin in almost reverentialterms: "The Mufti sat there all in white, spotlessand voluminous, a man in his early forties, wearing his turban like a halo. His eyeswere light blue and shining, with a sorr of radiance,as of a just fallenLucifer."3.l Hal Amin's careerbeganmodestl,v,ro say the least. A scion of an important Arab Palesrinianfamily, he studied at Egypt's Al Azhar Islamic university,br-rtdidn't do well and failed to finish. After \7orld \Var I, he took a job with the Reutersnews agencyin Jerusalem,as a translator-Gradually,he immersedhimself in Palestinianpolitics, bur he showed a flair both for violenceand for fanatical,anti-Jewishconspiracytheories,among them the Prorocolsof the Eldersof Zion. He was arrestedfor his role in anti-Jewishriots, but in t9zo, Sir Herbert Samuel,the British High Commissionerfor Palestine(and a Jew), singledhim out for a dramatic specialpardon, and then "engineered his spectacularrise to power."3aThough Haj Amin's credentialsas an Islamic scholarwere nil, Sir Ronald Srorrs,the governor of Jerusalem, rigged an election on his behalf and then appointed Haj Amin as

England's Brothers


Jerusalem'smufti. According to the Political Dictionary of the Middle East in the zoth CenturY,a mufti is a Muslim religiousofficial who issuesrulings (fatwa), in general in responseto questions.In most Islamiccountriesthe mufti is statusand A mufti has a highly respected government-appointed. plays no executive or politinfluence, but social greatspiritualand Hai Amin ical role.An exceptionto this wasthe mufti of Jerusalem, al-Husseini(appointedr9zr, dismissedr937), who exploitedhis his positionto consolidate A year later, Herbert Samuelestablishedthe SupremeMuslim Council, which assumedcontrol of Palestine'srich religious endowments, and named Haj Amin president.The two posts gave the erratic Muslim demagogueenormouspolitical power.35 Parallel with the establishmentof the Muslim Brotherhood, in t93:. Haj Amin convenedan Islamic Congressin Jerusalemand traveled to India, Iran, Afghanistan)and other Muslim countries' raising funds and building support. He enioyeda modicum of British support and protection even as he veered into a political alliance with Germany; when sixty Arab militants were arrestedin Palestinein 1936 clur:ingan anti-British rebellion, Hai Amin-who'd taken part in the revolt-went free.37Eventually,his Nazi sympathiesforcedhim to flee, lirst to l-ebanon,then to Iraq, then to lran,"andfinally-after pledging .\dolf Hitler his "loyal collaboration in all sphere5"38-to Berlin. In Germany,Haj Amin oversaw Axis propaganda broadcastsinto the \Iiddle East, directed a network of espionageagents,and organized .rll-Muslimunits of the Nazi SS,madeup mainly of Bosnians. With the collapseof the Third Reich, however,the mufti quietly iclt Germany via Switzerland, settling in France' where the Allies lcfused to zlrrestor detain him. The British, in particular,declinedto .crk his extradition, and Great Britain's undersecretatyfot foreign ,'.tt.rirsmade a point of saying:"The mufti is not a war criminal."seIn r u46. Haj Amin al-Husseiniarrived in triumph in Egypt, where he ',i'ls u,elcornedas a guest of the king. "The new shrine of political I'ierrr is the mufti's house,Villa Aida, near Roushdy PashaStation of


I ) r . v i r 's

G ar . r s

the street car line that runs out from Alexandria to the suburb of Ramleh," a lrlew York Tintes report in August 1946 proclaimed. "There is an Egyptian soldier about every eight or ten yards around the garden, and the mufti has private bodyguardsinside."a0Another report said that the mufti's political work was "lavishly financed" by SaudiArabia's King Abdel Aziz and Egypt'sKing Apparentl5 the British didn't hold a grudge against the mufti, becausethey soon hired him as a propagandist.In Cairo, British intelligencehad established the Arab News Agencyand the Near EastBroadcastingStation (NEABS),whose "first director was Squadron-Leader Alfred Marsack, a devout Muslim who had servedin the Middle East beforethe war and who had devotedthe best part of his life to Arab affairs,and had evenconvertedto Islam."42Perhapsimpressedby his experienceas a Nazi broadcaster,the MI6 outlet hired Haj Amin. The man who oversawNEABS, through MI6's Near EastAssociation,was Sir Kinahan Cornwallis, an aristocraticBritish banker who'd headed the Arab Bureau,the Cairo headquartersof British intelligenceduring World'Vfar I and T. E. Lawrence'sbaseof operations.a3 ln t946, the mufti and the Muslim Brotherhood jointly organized a paramilitary force in Palestinecalled the Rescuers,with up to ro,ooo men under arms.a4The Rescuerswere either tolerated or ignored by the British authorities.In Egypt, meanwhile, Banna and the mufti establisheda working relationship. One of the Muslim Brotherhood's military units, stationed in Gaza, was put under the command of a Sudaneseaide to the And in Cairo, HassanalBanna backed Haj Amin as rhe head of a new Palestinegovernment. Perhapsthe high point of the mufti's careercamewith his triumphant return to Gaza in September1947, where he proclaimed the state of Palestineand himself as "Presidentof the Republic."a6With the Arab defeat by Jewish forces, however,Haj Amin's fledgling state was no more. But Haj Amin would survive, prosper,and return to battle in the r 95os. Banna, meanwhile, was nearing the end of his fiery lifetime. The regime of King Farouq was on its last legs,and the political vultures were circling. The r948 Palestir-re crisis fatally undermined Farouq's regime, making it difficult for any of Egypt's political forces to ally



with the king. An economiccrisis,too, engulfedthe country, accompanied by riots, demonstrations,strikes, and growing violence.The accord betweenthe Muslim Brotherhood and the palacebroke down, and both nationalists and Islamists sought political advantage by blaming the corrupt and fecklessregimeof King Farouq for the Palestine defeat.Finally,in Decemberr948, the Egyptian governmentoutlawed the Musiim Brotherhood, and weeks later, a Brotherhood murderedPrimeMinister Mahmud Fahmi Nuqrashi. assassin Two months later, in January 1949, Banna'scareercame to a sudshot to death on the den end. Hassan al-Bannawas assassinated, Muslim Men's Association headquartersin streetsoutside the Young Cairo, apparentlyby Egyptian securityofficers.aT Banna's death provided an exclamation point for the end of the first era of the Muslim Brotherhood,and the beginningof another.In the wake of Banna'sdeath, various factions of the Muslim Brotherhood competedfor control, and the party itself drifted in and out of legality,first bannedand then tolerated.The new supremeguide, succeeding Banna, was Hassan Ismail al-Hudaybi, an Egyptian judge whose brother was chief of Farouq's royal household, and whose appointmentwas engineeredby a wealthy landorvnerin Upper Egypt. (Fifty years later, Hudaybi's son would also serve as the Muslim Brotherhood's supreme guide.) The Brotherhood's factions would eachmaintain ties to parts of the Egyptian bbdy politic, keepinglines open to the palace,infiltrating the army and the police, and establishing covert contacts with the burgeoning movement of Free Officers who, in r952, would seizecontrol of Egypt. Despitethe factional divisions,however,it was clear that the Muslim Brotherhood would outlast Banna.Thanks to Said Ramadan,the Brotherswere extendingtheir range and influenceworldwide, and in Egypt they remained a potent force with hundreds of thousandsof adherents.Money from Saudi Arabia helped sustain the movement when other Arab governments,especiallyEgypt's,moved against them. And thanks to the Cold'Vfar, the Muslim Brotherhood would draw energyfrom the global crusadeagainstcommunism.Its combination of elite insiderpolitics and undergroundviolent militancy marked the true start of what we now call "political Islam." The Islamist

6t ,


D r v r l 's


regimesin Pakistan,Afghanistan,Iran, and Sudanthat camero power beginningin the late were the direct result of the groundbreak-'97os ing work done by Banna, Ramadan,and their allies. Amid the wreckage of \World 'War iI, the United Srateswould make its first, tentative stepsinto the Middle East. The vasr areir stretching from Greece and Turkey through pakistan and India was fated to become a major battleground during the cold 'il/ar. whar ser rhe Middle East apart from other arenasfor the East-rwestsrrugglewas its proximity to the ussR and the fact that two-thirds of the world's oil was concentratedin a tiny area surrounding the persian Gulf. The strategistswho built the NATO, Baghdad pact, ancl CENTO alliances,the Rapid Deploymenr Force, and the U.s. central command attachedextraordinaryimportanceto securingthe Gulf. Unfortunately, those same strategistsconfusedthe allegedthreat from the soviet union with the homegrown forcesof Arab and persiannarionalism, who saw the region'soil as part of their natio'al patrimony. To defeatthe nationalists,and to build a tier of narionsalignedin opposition to the soviet union, the United Stateswould reach our to the Islamic right. The Muslim Brotherhood was waiting.



MEI Hassanal-Bannain Saudi Arabia," recallsHermann Eilts, then a young American diplomat in Jeddah,who saysthat he knew Banna reasonablywell. "He used to come to Saudi Arabia for mone,v,actuaily," he says. "l ntet him at the home of the then-Saudi I rrnsr

deputy minister of finance, who was a man who was himself very pious and who handled Banna. His name was Shaikh Mohammed Sorour [Sabhan],who was a slavewho had'beenmanumitted,and it was Sorour who handled most of the major financialmatterswith the Muslim Brotherhood.He was a black.and he was from Sudan."r in It was :'948, just a few months beforeBannawas assassinated Cairo. Eilts would often seeBanna in Sorour'shome. "He rvas a frequent visitor, becauseSaudiArabia was his principal sourceof financing," Eilts remembers.Since its founding twenty years earlier, the force in Egypt, Brotherhoodhad becomea powerful, evenfrightenir-rg with a secretparamilitary arm that sponsoredterrorism, infiltrated the Egyptian army and intelligenceservices,and intimidated its political opponents."l found him to be verS very friendly," saysthe former U.S. diplomat, who would becomeone of America'sleadingArabists to Egypt and SaudiArabia. "There was no hesitation and ambassador rn meetingVesterners."


D n vrr' s


Eilts didn't discussBanna'smovemenr with him, but U.S. political officers in cairo in the r94os did so on a routine basis. ,,I know rhat some of my colleaguesat the American embassyin cairo had regular meetingswith Hassan al-Banna at the dme, and found him perfectly empathetic,"he says."we kept in touch with them especia'yfor reporting purposes,becauseat that time the Muslim Brotherhood was one ele_ ment that was viewed as potenrially politically important, so you kept conta* with them. I don't think we were ararmedby them, though there was concernwhen the Brotherhood's secretApparatus assassinated the prime minisrer fof Egypt]. we were concernedabout stability,primarily and our judgmentwas that these assass worryingbutthat

theydid.rorJor.."r,serious political,"rlX',,t#,Iere

It's not surprisingthat u.S. diplomats in Egypt and saudi Arabia in the r94os would maintain ,"g.rr", conract with the Muslim Brotherhood' despite its violence-prone nature and fascist orientation. The regime of Egypt'sKing Farouq was on its last legs,and it wasn,t clear what might replace it. According to Said Aburish: ,,The growrng Muslim Brotherhood,which by then had r.5 million members,repre_ sentedthe only potential challenge to the ruling establishment.,,2 yer many early u.s. representatives in the region were attractedby rts mil_ rtant anti-communistoutlook. The Brotherhood,the broader community of the Islamic right, and the underlying institutions of traditionar Islam in the region srood ar the center of a swirling debate rx/ashington:\was in Islam a bulwark against godlesscommunism? or was organizedIsram a backwardlooking, ultra-conservativeforce whose inherent anti-western outrook made it recepriveto_the class-warfare poritics of the reft? could the United Stateshelp shapeIslamic institutions that could be the backbone of a new civil societyin the Middre East, or did America,sinrerest lie in allying itself with the region,ssecularmodernizers? The united srateswas just beginning to feer its way around the Middle East' Few American officials had any experiencein the region, u's' universirieswere abysma'y weak on Middre East studies,and despiteits leadingrole in winning rfforld \far II the U.S. military had virtually no significanr presence in either North Africa or the persian Gulf' The fledgling centrar Intelrigence Agency, which was gobbling

Islam Meets the Cold \Yar .


up Ivy Leaguegraduatesand virtually anyone who could speakArabic, was inexperiencedat best.From its founding in t947 until at least the r95os, the CIA took a backseatto British intelligence. "Our attitude," according to Miles Copeland, a CIA officer who servedin the region in those years, "was one of let's-wait-until-we"l know-what-we're-doing. The Middle East was British turf, and the British were exceedingly turf conscious.Egypt, Iraq, and Iran, though nominally independent, were under de facto British suzerainty.Palestineand Transjordan were officially British mandates.The statesthat make up Kuwait and the other Gulf sheikhdomswere British colonies,as were India and Pakistan.Yet the British hold on the region, and on its oil, was eroding, and America'spost-World War II engagementin the Middle East was growing fast. It beganwith SaudiArabia, the country that would be the entry point and anchor for the American presencein the region. But that country's policy of supporting and financing the Muslim Brotherhood would forever entangle the United Stateswith fundamentalistIslam. The U.S. connectionwith SaudiArabia and the Middle East was spurred by the desirefor oil and the logic of Cold NTar containment. Yet U.S. inexperiencein the region, and its near-total lack of understandingof the region'sculture, including Islam, bedeviled American policy from the start. According to standard histories, the official U.S. entry into the region is said to have begunin t945, on a yacht anchoredin the Great Bitter Lake astridethe SuezCanal. There, in February,on his journey back to \Washingtonfrom Yalta, Franklin Delano Rooseveltmet King Abdel Aziz lbn Saud, the first meeting between an American president and a Saudi monarch, settingthe stagefor a half century of relations betweenthe two countries. But two other crucial eventsprecededthe FDR-Ibn Saudencounter. First came the signing,in t933, of the U.S. oil concessionin Saudi Arabia that would grow into that global petroleum superpower,the Arabian-American Oil Company (Aramco). And the man who brokered that all-important deal was the British spook, Harry St. John Bridger ("Abdullah") Philby, the operativewho had helpedIbn Saud and his \Tahhabi Brotherhood take power during and after World


D nv r L's

G at r E

\Var I. In the late r9zos, philbn trading on his saudi connections,left official government employ and went into business for himself. Increasinglytied to the Al Saud, philby distanced himserf-at reast publicly-from British policy. To the bemusement of his friends and the consternationof his wife and family, he converted to Islam, taking the name "Abdullah." His conversion, however, was a lark_or a subterfuge.In his diarg he wrote jocularly "how nice it would be for me when I becamea Muslim and could have four wives."4 Having been an atheist since cambridge, it was clear that Abdullah philby "neededIslam not as a faith but as a convenience,,, and he tord friends exactly that. t Yet he plunged into Islam, visiting Mecca, taking multiple wives, and marrying a slavegirr who was a gift from Ibn saud. His real interest, howeveq was making money, and in Jeddah it was said that Philby "should be callednot Abdullah, sraveof God, but Abd al-eirsh, slave of halfpence."6.. The born-again wheeler-dealerran businesses, becoming Ford Motor's official represenrarivein Saudi Arabia (though he said: "I hate the sight and sound of motor cars,,).7Eventuallyhe becamean agenrfor standard oil of california (socar) and, using his friendship with the king, philby sealedthe deal for socal,s enrry rnto what would becomeits ultimate El Dorado, achieved at a bargain price: {5o,ooo ($z5o,ooo)down and annual rent of just f5,ooo in gold. The concessionwas to last sixty yearsand cover 36o,ooo squaremiles,half again as large as all of Texas.8For a pi*ance, the king had signedaway his country's richest treasure. And the United States,representedby Standard oil of california-eventualry joined by Texaco, then Exxon and Mobil, the four Aramco partners_was in.e FDR's proclamation, in r9 43,that SaudiArabia would henceforth fall under:the U's. defenseumbrella was the second crucial development. "I hereby find that the defenseof saudi Arabia is vital to the defenseof the United States,"luthe presidentannounced. Roosevelr'sembraceof SaudiArabia had multiple aims. There was the one,namely,that its oil was a precious resource.Therewas a strategic one, in which the threat (remote though it was) of soviet encirclementof the PersianGulf was a concern.And therewas a rac'cal one, aimed ar America's allies,especiailythe British. Although Lon-

lslam Meets the Cold War '


don was dominant in the region, including southern Persia and Iraq, there was a sometimesbitter rivalry betweenthe United Statesand the British-and to a lesserextent, France and Italy, too-over oil in the Middle East.All jealouslyguardedtheir companies'advantages. Four yearsbeforehis shipboardencounterwith the king, FDR had seemedwilling to let Saudi Arabia be handled by Great Britain, since London was virtually all-powerful in the region, and the United States had little experiencethere. "Will you tell the British I hope they can take careof the king of SaudiArabia?" FDR askedan aide. "This is a little far afield for us."11But StandardOil of California and the Texas Oil Company, partners in what would soon be renamed Aramco, would have none of it. They convinced Interior SecretaryHarold Ickes,FDR's right-hand man, and then FDR himself, that the United Statesmust stand up to the British, who, they said, were "trying to edgetheir way into" SaudiArabia.12In the midst of \forld'Vfar II, the two allies eventually struck a deal, carving up the region's oil. Roosevelttold Lord Halifax, the British ambassador,"Persianoil . . ' 'We sharethe oil of Kuwait and Iraq. As for Saudi Arabian is yours. oll. rt s ours. ' ' To rX/instonChurchill, FDR cabled: "Pleasedo accept my assurrrll

ancesthat we are not making sheep'seyesat your oil fieldsin Iraq and lran." Replied Churchill, who'd almost single-handedlybuilt London's overseasoil empire, "Let me reciprocate by giving you the fullest assurancethat we have no thought of trying to horn in on your interestsor property in Saudi Arabia."la (Both men, of course,were lying. The British had long coveted Saudi oil, and the United States would soon elbow its way forcefully into the oil concessionsin Iran and Iraq.) FDR's meeting with Ibn Saud did mark a consummation of the U.S.-Saudipartnership.To transport the king, who'd never been outside of Arabia before, the United Statesbundled him onto the U.S.S. Mwrphy, complete with familS retainers, servants' and sheep for slaughter,and the desertpotentateset up a tent on deck for sleeping. Elliott Roosevelt,the president'sson, describedFDR's encounterwith Ibn Saud,as the king was known, aboard the Quincy:


D E v l r 's


Discreetly' my sister Anna had taken her leave of Father that day for a trip to cairo, out of a.r.r.n.. for the Moslern custom of secluding,h. yo,-.1 of the family. . . . Father ended up by prom_ ising Ibn Saud that he would ,an.tron no American move hos_ tile to the Arab people. . . . And Ibn Saud, looking enviously ar Father's wheelchair, was surprised when Father promptly made him a presentof it.1i

Actually' it was a spare wheelchair, and it was roo smalr for the bulky monarch' But it was enough for the saudi king ro decrare himserf

FDR's "rwin," and it symbolized the formar beginning of the u.S.Saudi alliance' c' L. Sulzbergeq writing in the rJew york.rimes, was excited at the prospe* of the United Sratesgetring irs hands on saudi oil: "The immenseo, deposits in SaudiArabia alone make thar coun_ try more important to American diplomacy than armost any other smaller nation"'he wrote.15 Roosevelt,too, it is crear,cared a lot abour oil, and not much about Islam. FDR's r943 procramarion thar America wourd iiefend Saucri Ara_ bia would be reaffirmed by A..rican president,mosr promi_ "u.ry nently in the rg57 Eisenhower Doctrine and the rggo carter Doctrine' rn t944, the united states sent its first miritary mission ro saudi Arabia, and in t945 the United statesand saudi Arabia signed a military cooperarion agreemenr thar establisheda major u.S. Air Force baseat Dhahran in the persianGulf, a facility rhat would serve as an American baseuntil the rg60s. That agreemenrwas quickly followed by a t949 accord, which provided for a u.S. survey ream to cover the entire Arabian peninsura, with recommendationsfor creat_ ing a U.S.-equipped, 43,ooo-man army and air force, and a r95r accord setting up a permanenr U.s. Military Training Mission in the country.t 7 From the beginning,America's relationshipwith SaudiArabia was a no-nonsenseone' involving a rapidryexpandingoir output, bilaterar defensearrangements,and a vast influx of Texans,okrahomans, and Louisianans inro the kingdom. The United States,joined by Great Britain as a rival and junior partner, u"g"r, to surround saudi Arabia

lslam Meets the Cold tfi/ar


with military alliances.In r95r, the United Statesand Britain proposed a "Middle East Command," linking the United States,the United Kingdom, and France with Turkey, Israel, and Jordan. They began by approaching Egypt, but abandonedthe idea when Egypr's king, pressedby nationalistsand deeplvunhappy about the new Jew, ish state,politely declined.Next, the British took the lead in signing treatieswith Turkey,Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan,calling the new constellation the "Baghdad Pact." The United States,which was building its own tiesto thosestatesand rvassimultaneouslyintent on elbowing the British out of the oil-rich PersianGulf, didn't join the BaghdadPact, and an astuteU.S.observerof the time, writing for the Council on Foreign Relations,rather snidelynoted that the British had assembledthe pact "in order to save its position in Iraq and to bolster a flagging influencethr:oughoutthe Middle East."18The BaghdadPac, too, soon fell part when Baghdad,its center,underwent a rer.olution in r958. The British-installedking of Iraq was toppled and execuredby an .illianceof army nationalistsand the lraqi Communist Party,and the Baghdad Pact was no more. It was replaced by the Central Treaty C)rganization,linking the United States,the United Kingdom, Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan.Pakistanwas also linked to the \fest by its membershipin the SoutheastAsia Treaty Organization. The Anglo-Americanalliancesin the Middle Eastrestedon the rraditional leversof externalinfluence-military power.economicmuscle, and diplomacy. More quietly, though, as the Cold \ff/ar evolved, an edditional factor emergedto bolster the U.S. and U.K. presence, n,rmely,the religiousand cultural power of political Islam. Especially important in that regard was Saudi Arabia's would-be role as Islam's Vatican. As Saudi Arabia emerged as America's counterweight to Eg)-pt,Nasser,and nationalism, a number of Muslirn Brotherhood organizers emerged as emissariesfor the Islamic right across the rr-gion-none, perhaps)more importanr than Said Ramadan. Ramadan, a key Brotherhood ideologue,servedas Saudi Arabia's .rnofficial ambassador of Islamism. As the Muslim Brotherhood .rruggledto maintain its presencein Egypt, where it was increasingly .'.rodc'lswith the new regime under Nasser,Saudi Arabia not only



D r , v r r 's


bankrolled the Brothers but offered its territory as a safe haven. A seriesof saudi kings were preoccupiedwith the threat of communism, and they saw the Muslim Brotherhoodand otherson the Islamic right as the leading edgeof the anti-communisrmovement.Equally important, perhaps,Saudi Arabia saw Egypt'sNasseras a dire threat, since Nasser-ruling impoverishedEgypt-coveted saudi Arabia's oil. So for reasons of both anti-communism and anti-Arab nationalism, saudi Arabia encouragedthe growth of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and throughout the Middle East.

R amA DA N

A T TH e $7trrre


In the late summer of t953, the oval office at the white House served..asthe stage for a little-noticed encounter between president Dwight D. Eisenhowerand a young Middle Easrernfirebrand. In the muted black-and-whitephotographlerecording the event,the grandfatherly, balding Ike, then sixty-three,stands gray suited, erect, his elbows bent and his fistsclenchedas if to add musclero someforceful point. To his left is a young, olive-skinnedEgyptian in a dark suit, with a neatly trimmed, full beard and closelycroppedhair, clutching a sheafof papersbehind his back. staring intently at the president,he is just twenty-sevenyears old, but already has more than a decadeof experienceat the very heart of the Islamic world's violent and passionate politics. Alongside him, some dressedin 'western attire and otherswearing robes,shawls,and Muslim headgear,are membersof a delegation of scholars, mullahs, and activists from India. syria. Yemen, and North Africa. The president'svisitor that Septemberday was Said Ramadan, a militant official and ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood. The young man even had a claim to semi-royaltyin Brotherhood circles, since he had married wafa al-Banna, Hassan al-Banna'sdaughter, making him the son-in-law of the organization'sfounder.As he stood at the president'sside, Ramadan appearedrespectableand harmless. Yet the Brotherhoodwas known throughout the Middle East,sincear leastthe late r94os, as an organization of fanatics and terrorists.Its

Islam Meets the Cold \Yar



acolyteshad murdered severalEgyptian officials, including a prime minister, and just five years before Ramadan met Ike, the Muslim Brotherhood was declared illegal by the faltering regime of King Farouq of Egypt. But it didn't disappear.Over the nexr fifty years,the Muslim Brotherhood would stagerepeatedcomebacks,slowly building its power and influence,spreadingits ideology and building chapters in Jordan, Syria, Kuwait, and beyond. And until his death, in Switzerland,in t99 5, Said Ramadan would be its chief international organizer. Despite the fact that Ramadan was angr).,violence prone, and openly intent on remaking the Middle East accordingto Islamic fundamentalist specifications,he wasn't regarded as a threat. In fact, based on a secret evaluation by the U.S. ambassadorin Cairo, Ramadan was viewed as a potential ally. It was the very height of McCarthyism and the Cold \Var, and the Muslim Brotherhood was bitterly anti-communist.Not only that, but Ramadan'sallies in the Muslim Brotherhood,Pakistan'sIslamic Group,20and similar organizations acrossthe region were vigorously opposedto Marxists, leftwing activistson campuses,trade union organizers,Arab nationalists, "Arab socialists,"the Baath Party, and secularistsof all kinds. In the latter category were pesky upstarts like Egypt's president Gamal Abdel Nasser,whose loyalty to the American side in the Cold \Var was in doubt evenin 1953, just a year after his Free Officersmovement had oustedthe corrupt and despisedmonarchy. Said Ramadan was born in 1c126at Shibin el Kom, a village about seventymiles north of Cairo in the Egyptian Nile Delta.21As a young teenager,he encounteredHassan al-Banna and he joined the movement immediately.After graduating from Cairo University,tn :-946 Ramadan becameBanna'spersonalsecretaryand right-hand man. A vear later, Ramadan was named editor of Al Shihab, the Muslim Brotherhoodweekly. Besideshelpingthe Brotherhood'sleader:with organizarionaltasks, the founder'sson-in-lawbecamea roving ambassadorfor the Muslim Brotherhood,amassinga vast network of internationalcontactsthat the more parochial, and Egypt-based,Banna didn't have. In 1945, Ramadan traveled to Jerusalem,which was rhen a British-controlled

74 . Dnvtr' s

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city under the PalestineMandate, where the storm croudsof the war between the Arabs and Jews were beginning to gather. Over the comrng years' Ramadan would spend a great deal of time traveling between Jerusalem,Amman, Damascus, and Beirut, building the Brotherhood'schapters.On October 26, 1945,Ramadan openedthe Muslim Brotherhood's first office in Jerusalem,22founding the organization that, by the r98os, would become known as the Isramic ResistanceMovemenr (Hamas).By ,947, twenty-fivebranchesof the Muslim Brotherhood existed in palestine,with between rz,ooo and 2o'ooo members.23 rn t948, Ramadanhelpedto organizetheMuslim Brotherhood'ssymbolically significantIslamic force that battled the Jewishforcesthat establishedIsraelthat year. Ramadan also made the first of many visits to pakistan in the late 194os' taking part in the first meetingsof the 'world Muslim congress in Karachi in ry 49 and.r 9 5 r, where he flirted with becomingsecretarygeneralof the organization.24lThe congressitself was denouncedby the Pakistan left as having been organ izedby "Anglo-American imperialism.";2'rPakistanhad achievedindependencefrom Great Britain a year earlier, and as the first Islamic state it became a magnet for Islamistideologues,organizers,and scholars.A young Islamistnamed Abul-Ala Mawdudi-who'd founded a Muslim Brotherhood-style movement in Pakistan called the Islamic Group-was transforming his movement into a political party. For the next decade,pakistan would become a kind of second home for Ramadan. The fledgling Islamic stategave Ramadan a broadcastslot on Radio pakistan, and he enjoyed good relations with the \Testern-leaninggovernment of Pakistan,including with Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, who wrore the prefaceto one of Ramadan,sbooks.26 Ramadan'ssray in Pakistanwasn't entirely voruntary.The Brotherhood had beenbannedin Egypt, and Hassanal-Bannaassassinated. Ramadan returned to Egypt in r95o, when the Brotherhood made one of its many comebacks,but he would periodically spend long periods of time in Pakistan,where he worked croselywith Mawdudi and his Islamic Group. Ramadanalso worked with pakistan,sMuslim League,and with official Pakistani supporr he traveled and lectured

Islam Meets tbe Cold'War



throughout the Arab world. At the time, politics in Pakistanwas split among radical Islamists,moderateIslamists,secularnationalists,and the left. Meanwhile, the country was being drawn into pro-Western military alliances.During severalyears in Karachi, Ramadan helped Mawdudi organizea muscular phalanx of fanatical Islamic students that battled Pakistan'sleft, especiallyon university campuses.The so-called Islamic Student Society, known by its Urdu initials as the IJl27 modeled on Mussolini's fascistsquadristi,was a Ramadan project. "Although organized under the supervisionof the [lslamic Groupl, IJT was greatly influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt. Between t95z and 1955, Ramadan helpedIJT leadersformalize an administrative structure and devise an organizational srraregy. The most visible marks of the brotherhood's influence are IJT's 'study circle' and all-night study sessions,both of which were means of indoctrinating new members and fostering organizational bonds," according to one expert, Vali Reza Nasr. The often-armed IJT thugs clashed repeatedlywith left-wing students on campus. "Egg rossing gradually gave way to more seriousclashes,especiallyin Karachi and Multan," wrote Nasr. "Antileftist student activism had become the IJT's calling and increasinglydetermined its course of action. [The IJT becamel a soldiers brigade which would fight for Islam against its enemies-secularists and leftists-within. the government and without."28 In betweenhis trips to Pakistan,Ramadan also apparentlyworked with Arab fundamentalists,especiallyamong Palestiniansand Jordanianswho founded the so-calledIslamic Liberation Party.2e(Later,the Liberation Party metastasized,relocating its headquartersto Germany and then spreading through Muslim Central Asia. It was increasinglysupportedby Saudi Arabia. By the r99os, it had become an important violence-proneforce allied to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistanand to Al Qaeda.)While in Jordan in the r95os, Ramadan also helped found the Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The leader of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood was Abu Qurah, a r.vealthyJordanianmerchantwith closeriesro King Abdullah and the British-backedHashemite monarchy. According to Marion Boulby,


D t v r r 's

(l .lvr

Banna sentRamadanto Amman for the expresspurposeof gettingthe Muslim Brotherhoodof Jordan off the ground, and the king "granted to the Brotherhood legal status as a welfare organization' hoping the left' securelts support againstthe secularopposition," i'e', against As in Pakistan,the Brotherhood becamea tool for suppressingthe left and Arab nationalists.Ramadanand Qurah "argued that in the twentieth century Egypt and the rest of the Islamic world wefe threatened by the onslaughtof communistand nationalistideologieswhich denied the supremacyof sharia in society."30 Ramadan'spresencein the Oval Office that day in 1953 was no accident.Officially, Ramadan was in the United Statesto attend the colloquium on Islamic culture at Princeton University, with a side puttrip to \ffashington.The Library of congressjoined Princetonrn of ting together the nine-day program. It was an august event' full pomp and circumstance'held under the leafy greeneryshadingPrinceton's Nassau Hall, in the high-ceilingedFacultv Room' Among the speakersand attendeeswere some of the leading orientalists of the era, men like Philip K. Hitti, T. Cuyler Young, and Bayly \X/inderof princeton, wilfre<l cantwell Smith of McGill university, Richard Nelson Frye of Harvard Universit-v,Carleton Coon of the University of Pennsylvania,and Kenneth Cragg, editor of the journal The Mus'world, from the Hartford Seminary Foundation. Directing the lim of conferencewas Dr. Bayard Dodge, the venerableformer president the American University in Beirut. According ro the official recorcl,the conferencefortuitously took advantageof the fact that a number of celebratedpersonagesfrom the Middle Easr were visiting. But the participants didn't iust "happen" to have crossedthe Atlantic. The colloquium was organized by the U.S. government'which funded it, tapped participants it considered useful or promising, and bundled them off to New Jersey'Hitti' perhaps the dean of the orientalists,visited cairo, Bahrain, Baghdad, Beirut, New Delhi, and other citiestcl scout participants'and supplementary funding for the colloquium was sought from U'S' airlines' including Pan Am and T\7A, and from Aramco, the u.S. oil consortium in Saudi Arabia. Like many of the participants, Ratnadan, a har d- edgedideologueand no schol ar,was visitingthe confercnceas

Islam Meets tbe Cold Wttr .


an all-expenses-paid guest.And the U.S. governmenrwas not exactly in the dark about who he was. Payingfor the ssnfslsncs-including rhe expensesfbr transportrng rlttendeesfr:ornthe Middle East-r.r,asthe International I'formarr.n Administration, a branch of the State Department, with roots i, the LI.s. intelligencecommunity. The IiA had a brief exisrence,oflicially scrr.rptn tg5z and then incorporated,in rg5i, into the clA-con'ected u.S. Infbrmarion Agency.Among its responsibilities,the IIA oversaw official U.S. "culture exchangeprogranrs,"suchas the princetoncolkrc1r-riurl. It's also clear rhat a primary purpose of the colloquiunr r,r,as politica[.A declassified IIA documentlabeled"conficlential-Secur:ity Information," says: "on the surface,the co'flrence l.oks iike an r'\ercisein pure learning.This in effectis the impressionclesirecl." The conference,it goeson, was designedt. "bring togetherpersonsexertrng great influencein formularing Muslim opinion in fields such as education,science,law and philosophy ancl inevitably,therefore, on politics."Its gral was sweeping."Among the va.riousresuitsex;rected from the colloquiumare the impetusand directir'that may be give. ro the Renaissance movementu,ithin Islam itself.',il America'sambassadorin cairo at the time was the veterancliploJeffersoncaffery, a Louisiana lawyer then nearing the end of a 'rat .tellar foreign servicecareerthat spannedfour decades.He'd. beenin L airo sincet949, ultinately servingsix yearsin the languid capital on :he Nile. In July ry53 caffery penned a classifiedcabre suggesring :hat Ramadan be invited to the princeronconclave.caffery's dispatch :ro'ides a revealing glimpse into how much u.s. intelligencehad :iready gathered on the Muslim Brotherhood and its leadership, ir.1ch,and activities.caffery's dispatch providesa capsulebiography 'r Ramadanand a thumbnail sketchof the Muslim Brotherhood.But, ::-rd in full, it is eerily sanitized,making no mention of the Brother',,od's involvement in terrorism and violence, and nowhere does -:ffery cite their commirmenr to an Islamic state under the Koran. rffe'v', a highly experienceddiplomat, is not naive, and it is clear :',p ]1it accounrthat he (and perhapsthe cIA) were willing to over''rk arrr violencetied to the Brothers and were targeting Ramadan - :' recruitmentas either ally or agent:


D r v r r 's

G a. l ap

Saeed Ramadhan is considered to be among the most learned scholars of Islamic culture in the Ikhwan el Muslimin (Moslem Brotherhood). A graduate of the Faculty of Law from Fouad University in Cairo in r945, he takes but few casesand devotes rnost of his tirne to the study of Islam. Born in 1925, he is young in years but old in erperience. At present he is engagedas editor in chief of El Musliman, a monthly magazine now in its second year, which publishes articles on Islamic law and culture by scholars through the Muslim w'orld. Its circulation is about ro,ooo and subscribersreach from Tunisia to lndonesia. As General Secretaryof the World Islamic Conference, he travels extensively throughout the Islamic States and has recently returned from conferencesin Pakistan.'When in Egypt he gives weekiy radio broadcasts in Islamic culture and interpretation of the Koran. In r 94o Ramadhan beganhis studiesof Islam under Hassan al Banna, former Supi'eme Guide of the lkhwan el Muslimin, and became editor of El Shihab, a magazine introduced by the latter in v147.It was a monthly magazine for articles on Islamic law and culture but ceasedpublication after five issuesunder pressurefrom er-King Farouk's government. Shortly thereafter the Brotherhood was outlawed and upwards of zrooo of its members arrested. Saeed Ramadhan left for Pakistan in time to prevent possible detention. He lived there about a year during which time he had fivo radio broadcasts weekly which were beamed to the Arab States,including Egypt. Late in r949 the Muslim League of Pakistan requestedRamadhan to give a seriesof lectures on Islamtc Culture in many parts of the Middle East. Starting in Sudan, he gave talks rnainly in universities through Egypt and ending in Turke-v.12

Caffery had been contacted by an unnamed American agent, on behalf of Mohammed el Bakay of Al Azhar, the centuries-old Islamic center of learning in Cairo. Bakay, who also traveled to Princeton, described Ramadan as "a distinguished member of the Muslim Brotherhood" and suggestedthat he be invited to attend the Princeton gathering, adding that the Society of Muslim Brothers was willing to help pay his erpenses.s3Concluded Caffery:

lslam Meets the Cold \Xlar


The Embassybelievesthat Ramadhan'sscholarrvattainmentsare sufficientto makehim eligibleto atte'd the colloquium on Islamic culture. His positionwith the Muslim Brotherhoodmakesit important that his desirefor an invitationbe considered carefullyin light of the possibleeffectsof offendingthis important bodv.ra

For the next four decades,Ramadanwould turn up, Zelig-like,as a key operativein virtually everymanifestationof radical,political Islam, from the Muslim Brotherhood-ledterrorism in Egypt in the r95os and t96os to the riseof AyatollahKhomeini in Iran in the r97os to the civil war in Algeria in the r99os. There'sno concreteevidenceto prove that Ramadanwas recruitedas a cIA agentin the r95os, but it's clearthat his invitation to the Princetoncolloquium marked hirn as a potential target for recruitment,and he would later become a crucial ally of Saudi Arabia's royal family in assemblingan Islamic bloc of narions and movementsopposedto the spreadof communism and to Soviet expansion along its southern frontier. According to declassifieddocuments in the Swiss archives,reported by Sylvain Bessontn Le Temps of Geneva,in the 196osthe swiss authorities-then hosting Ramadan at his Islamic cenrer in Geneva-looked upon Ramadan favorablg thanks to his anti-communistviews. And they added: ,,SaidRamadan is, among other things, an intelligence agent of the English .and the Americans. \fhat's more, I believethat he has rendered servicesaccording to an intelligenceplan-to the fSwiss federal police].', Ramadan's dossier, reported Le Temps, includes several documenrs indicating his connectionsto "certain western secretservices."3-i

Isr - Rnr : BurweRK


CoMMUNrsnr ?

'were Ramadan,the Muslim Brotherhood,and the Islamicright useful alliesin the cold war struggleagainstcommunism?was lslam itself a bulwark againsta foreign, atheisticideology?In one sense,rhe answer was no. Both communism and nationalism could and did easily attract adherentsamong the massesof Muslims. In Iraq, for insrance,


D E v r r . 's

C i auP .

the Iraqi Communist Party, the Arab rvorld's largest,won the allelWorld \Var gianceof millions of Iraqi Shiitesduring the period after Il, and by the late rgios the party w as strong enoughto organizca demonstration in Baghdad that attracted more than one million Iraqis. And Egypt's Nasser,whose Cairo-basedVoice of the Arabs radio broadcastscarried his nationalist messageinto Syria, Jordan' Lebanon, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, gathered an enormous following and for much of the r95os and r96os was by far the most popular Arab political leader.Just as christians in Europe joined the communist parties en masse,in the Islamic world Muslims unhappy with their statusor their quality of life, or who were opposedto Western imperialism and Anglo-Americaninfluencein the Middle East, opted for cclmmunismor, more often, for Arab nationalism' Yer even if Muslims were attracted to left-wing ideologies,some Orientalistsand U.S. policy makers felt that there was still reasonto believethat political Islarn might yet be mobilized in forms that were explicitly anti-commulist. In the Micldle East, organizedIslam took ntany frtrtns, of course. First and frtremost was the traditionalist, religion, organized around mosques' religious foundaclergy'-based tions or endowments,Islamic courts, a1d other institutions.many of which had a powerfLrlsocial imp:rct but were not explicitl,vpolitical' Next, therewas "state Islan," such as existedin SaudiArabia since (and cspeits foundingin the rgzos or in Pakistansinceindependence cially sincethe r97os), in which entire nations werc organiz.edaccorcling to religigus identity and islamic law, and it was sonletimes difficult to see the dividing line betr,veenIslam and the state. And finallv, there rvas the emerging "Ne1a,Itight" in the Muslinr r,r'orld, includingthe Muslim Brotheriroodand other erplicitll'poiiticalorganizations or parties committed to the establishmentof an Islamic republic. To those in the West looking for ideological forces in the Midclle East that could provide an intellectualcounterweight to the radical appeal of communism, all three of theseforms seemedattractive at one time or anotheq and indeed there was overlap among them. ln the United States,there was :rlarm over the fact that the Arab ,.sll1s,'-6hrt is, opinion leaders,intellectuais,politicians,journalists,

Islant Meets the Cold War



and the like-were increasinglydrawn to left-wing movemenrsand parties.Among the masses,there was more reluctanceto abandon the Koran for Das Kapital, especially among ill-educated peasants, Bedouin tribesmen,and pro-capitalistmerchantsand bazaar leaders, making them harder to mobilize ctn behalf of Marxism and Arab 'What socialism.So the question was: sort of ideologicalframework might be able to attract both the Arab and Muslim masseson one hand and to capturesomeimportant segmentof the Arab eliteon the other? For some analysts,the "new lslam," led by intellectualsand politicaloperativessuch as Banna,Ramadan,and Mawdudi, seemed made to order.The X,luslimBrotherhoodwas having somesuccesson r-rniversity campuses,attracting students-especiallyengineers,scientists, physicians,and managementand businessstudents.Could such a movement,especiallywith the support of the Saudi Arabian royal family, counteractthe Marxist-nationalist bloc? And could U.S. prop:lâ&#x201A;Źianda,stressingAmerica's own religious values in contrast to the atheistic Soviet Union, draw the Muslim massesinto the American camp-or at leastaway from Moscow? It seemedworth a try. One who seemedto think it might be worthwhile was Bernard Ler,vis,the inventor of the phrase "clash of civilizations." For five tlecades,Lewis, who is currently an emeritusprofessorat Princeton, hirs been arguably the single most influential theorist in the field of Islamicscholarship.Yet, for all that time, Lewis has beenintense)ycontroversial,largelybecausehe hastaken a highly partisan,c6nss1y21iyslrrcl later,"neoconserv"ri,r."-point of vieq and becauseof his strong .rffinityfor israel.A ty j3 essayby ProfessorLewis, "Communism and Isi;rm," is an important example of the then-currentthinking on the -rcrt haftleof ideologies. Lewis made it clear that the people of the Muslim world seemed intent on creating a string of authoritarian governmentsand that, if :ire 'West'sobjective was to oppose the spread of communism, that '.rouldn't be so bad. "If the peoplesof Islam are forced ro make a .frright choice, to abandon their own traditions in favour of either \ ()mrnunismor parliamentarianism,then we are at a great disadvan.-rge."he wrote. "It is fortunate, both for Islam and for the \il/estern '...,rr1d, that the choiceis not restrictedto thesetwo simplealternatives,

8z '

D s v t t - 's

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peoplesof restoring' for the possibility still remains for the Muslim a form of p.rh"p, in a modified form' their own tradition; of evolving even autogou.rn-.nt which, though authoritarian' and perhaps cynical tyranny of cratic, is neverthelessfar removed from the " t6 dictatorship. European-style ..fortunate,'likelihood of authoritarian MusAfter endorsingthe Islam would ultilim regimes,Lewis went on to suggestthat, indeed' mately prove infertile ground for Marxist ideas: Islam,for the communismis not and cannotbe a religion,while still is; and that is the core of the Islamrc greatmassof believers, be to Communistideas'Though their beliefin liberty resistance strong be yet too weak to sustainthem, their beliefin God may in the religious profoundly still enough.The Islamicpeoplesare is no religion a as d..p.rt and simplestmeaningof the word' Islam sughave as I more anti-Gommunistthan christianity; in fact, altectlngtne gested,ratherlessso. But it is more potentas a torce most iiu., u,-tdthoughtsof its adherents'Pious Muslims-and creed'nor Muslims are pious-will not long toleratean atheist principles'' ' ' one that violatestheir traditionalreligiousmoral immorality and The presentrevolt of the Muslims againstthe lWestern leadersmay temopportu.tir- of their own and of some of selfless appearance porurlly favor the Communists,with their when devotionto an ideal, but will work againstCommunism Let us Muslimscometo seethe realitiesbehindthe propaganda' hopethat theywill not taketoo longoverit' Lewis'sessaywas At the Princetoncolloquium, heid the sameyear scholar'Mazheruddin written, a marker was laid down by a Pakistani Siddiqi,afellowatthel nsti tuteofl sl ami cCultureinLahore'Aforat the university mer government otficial and prolific writer, educated Islam and Communism' of Madras in India, Siddiqi was the author of M ar xism andlsla.m,^ndH i "o' i cal Materi alismandlslam'Inhis it clear that commuaddressto the Princetongathering,Siddiqi made faith-basedand built nism could be resistedonly if its opposition was onlslam icfundamental s.S i ddi qi attackedMuslim..authoritarianIslamic world's secism," but also unleasheda bitter salvo againstthe intellectuals who ularists, "the pseudo-scientistsand half-baked

Islam Meets the Cold War



surreptitiously or openly advocate the gradual annihilation of religion," and who argue that religion is "a mass of superstitions, dogmas, and supernatural doctrines which tend to belittle the power of reason." Secularists, not communists, are the greatest danger to the stability of Pakistan and, by implication, the broader Middle East: Communist atheism [Siddiqi said] has a power of inspiratron which pure rationalism does not have. It is a faith as well as a science,a social gospelas well as a metaphysicalsystem.It is the only real substitute for religious faith which the champions of science and technology are seekingto undermine in Pakistan. It is the socio-economicsignificanceof Islam that makes it a standing barrier against Communism. The Muslim masses are attached to the Islamic idea, just becauseit offers them the promise of social and economic equality and freedom of expression. If any attempt is made to deny the socio-economiccontent of Islamic teachings, Communism is sure to rush into the vacuum that would be created. For, as I have pointed out, Communism offers both the emotional satisfaction of religious faith and the promise of social and economic security.. . . In the Islamic world, the choice is not between Communism and seculardemocracy,but between Communism and liberal Islam. . . . The greatest danger to the stability of Pakistan comes neither from reactionary theologians nor from the Communists who can offer nothing better to a Muslim, but from those who without any knowledge of the deeper aspectsof Islam . . . are trying to create a spiritual vacuum in our life that would safely let in Communism.3T

Kenneth Cragg, The Muslim


editor, had a similar message.

Cragg's paper, "The Intellectual Impact of Communism upon Contemporary Islam," originally delivered at rhe colloquium, was published a few months later in the Middle East Journal.3s In it, he presented a sophisticated argument for an Islamic revival. "'we in religious resistance to Communism," wrote Cragg, "understand that the Muslim world must develop an intellectual response to the challenge of communism) on a level that is spiritual, metaphysical, and moral, in order to combat the Marxist 'eschatology' that 'looks forward to a Communist Heaven on earth.' " Cragg offered an antidote to this seductive


D E v t r - 's

G enE

Marxism: "With Islam, as countlessmodern writers have explained, [the perfect societyl is the true Islamic society-some would say the true Islamic State." And he concludeswith a hopeful vision: "May it not be that by virtue of this common needto give a worthy answerto Communism the two faiths, Islam and Christianity,have the opportunity of a fruitful relationshipwith eachother?" Cragg citesa comment from the Princetongathering,in which the occasionof Turkish troops fighting in the Korean \Var was evoked, to conclude: "Now at last after r,3oo yearsof largely of the rwo great monotheisticreligionsare strugglingshoulderto shoulderagainstgodlessmaterialism." Yet, in the r95os, the idea that Islam would join the "Christian" \Westin a jihad-crusadeagainst"godlessmaterialism" was decidedlya minority point of view. On one hand, many hard-headedstrategistswho might be called "realists" today-felt that Islamism was too weak or uncertaina force to be relied upon. A secondpole of opposition came from some of those who believedthat Islam could never servethe anti-communist cause becauseit was ir-rherentlytoo antiWestern. Hermann Eilts recallsthe idea that Islam was an ally in the struggle againstMoscow as an "overstatement." "There was a view that lslam and communism were simply antithetical," saysEilts, who beganhis servicein Iran and SaudiArabia in the r94os. "Very few people in governmenteven thought very much about Islam. . . . There were those who said, 'It's helpful to keep the communistsout.' But no one really took it very seriously.The general view in the U.S. government and in the academic world was that Islam was becoming a shrinking political factor, and sharia law, Islamic law, was being relegatedto personalstatus.And I remember so well American economicspecialistscoming out to the countriesin which I servedand making the point that the quicker you get rid of Islam, the more quickly you are going to develop,becauseIslam was seenby them as a barrier to economicdevelopment." John C. Campbell, for decadesthe Council on Foreign Relations' chief Middle East strategist,led a CFR task force, launchedin 1954,

Islam Meets tbe Cold \X/ar


comprised of many of the heavyweights of the U.S. foreign policy establishment. For Campbell, Islam may or may not have been a barrier to economic growth, but it didn'r appear to be a barrier against rhe USSR: Certainly Islam cannot be counted on to serve as such a barrier. The theory that communism and Soviet influence could never make inroads in the N{oslem world becausethey are materialistic and atheistichas not been borne out. Religion does have a significant place in Middle Eastern society.It colors both popular and official attitudes.But it does not establishan absolute immuniry ro a political virus such as fascism or communism. Communist theory does have certain superficialparallelswith Islamic dogma, and the promise of a better material life is nor inconsisrentwith it. Above all, the impact of rhe modern world on Islam has produced two major trends which rend to open rhe door toward communist influence: first, the inability of traditional doctrines and institutions to hold the loyalty of the intellectualleadersand new generations bent on finding a way out of material backwardness;and second, the revulsion against the West, which, while often reinforcing the senseof dedication to Islam, has often created also a senseof identification with whatever theories and political forces r,verehostile to the \West.. . . In the Arab lands and lran, the anri'Westernnationalist movement has had a srrong admixture of religious feeiing,even fanaticism.

The inherently anti-Western bias of political Islam, thought Campbell, ought to preclude any idea of its usefulness in U.S. strategy.3e Despite such warnings, the United States experimented, often clumsilS with Islamism in the years berween r945 and 1957. Even as early as r945, when British and American planners began rhinking about how to build alliances and a sysrem of defense against rhe USSR across its vast southern border, Islam was factored in. The British-inspired League of Arab States, for instance, was considered n-eak because it didn't include Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan. So, ir was proposed at one point to convert the Arab League into a League of Islamic States,to include at least some of the Northern Tier countries.a0


[)n vrr.' s


That idea fizzled,and subsequentporicies focusedlesson Islam and mo'e on direct Anglo-American power. Stilr, during the Truman and Eisenhoweryears' the united states carried out a seriesof efforts to mobilize political Islam in the cold war, and ro useIslam as a weapon against Soviet influence.Some of them were serirus,minded.others were clums.y,evenhilariously misguided. Consider the ,,Red pig,' program. part of the American approach toward political Islam in the r95os was ro rry ro win propaganda points by emphasizingthat the United States*as a piuu, narion arnd that the SovietUnion persecured religion.In r95r, the U.S.Informa_ tion Servicein Baghdad proudly announced the lar-rnchof a pr:opa_ ganda campaign designed to win the hearts and minds of Iraqi Muslirns by a "comparison of the srate of religion in the United Srates and in 'a communist state."' A posrer was created ',which showed the communisr state as a big bully martreatinga man labeled ,Religion."' A secondposter tells the story of the GreedyRed pig ancl how he cameto a bad end. The fact that the pig is wearinga Red Staron his arnrband and has at his rear insteadof the normall,v piggy curl a hammer_ and-sicklerail hasnot escaped the observers. . . . Othersrernarked on the suitabilityof making the Communist villain a pig because of the resistance appealit hasfor a whole seriesof cartoon-posrers can be developed,usingthe Red prg as the Edward S' crocker, the foreign service official who helpeddesignthe campaign, helpfully included thirty-two illustrations of the Red pig campaignwith his dispatch. The fledgling centrar IntelligenceAgency also erperimented with creative,if half-cocked,ways of conne-ing with the Islamistmovemenr. Some of rhem are told in the raucously funny book The Game of Nations by Miles Copeland,the CIA operationsofficer who, during the r95os, served as a liaison to Nasser and who spent many years embroiled in Arab politicar skullduggerl,. coperand retired earry from the cIA but maintained crose.onn*io,r, to dozensof its current and former operatives,especiallyto Kermit and Archie Roosevelt,grandsons

Islam Meets the Cold V/ar


of Teddy Roosevelt.A back-slappingsoutherner,Copeland used his good-ol'-boy charm to mask a sophisticatedunderstandingof the Arab world. He reported that around the sametime as the "Red Pig" campaign,the CIA came up with the "Moslem Billy Graham" project. In r95r, Secretaryof State Dean Acheson "borrowed Kermit Rooseveltfrom the newly formed Central IntelligenceAgencyto head a highly secretcommitteeof specialists-somefrom the StateDepartment, some from the Department of Defense,and some brought in as consultantsfrom businessconcernsand universities(and none from the CIA except Roosevelthimself)-to study the Arab world," said Copeland.At the gathering,an operation designedto mobilize Islamic religious sentimentswas launched. "Someone advancedthe idea of promoting a 'Moslem Billy Graham' to mobilize religiousfervor in a great move againstCommunism and actually got as far as selectinga wild-eyed Iraqi holy man to send on a tour of Arab countries." The identity of the Iraqi wasn't revealed.But Copeland consideredthe entire effort to be a learning experience."The project did no harm, and the managing of it taught the committee much about what was wrong with their basic planning assumptions-lessonsthat were put to good use later when [Saudi Arabia's] King Feisal'sadvisersput Feisalup to much the samekind of project, with Feisalhimself as the holy man."42 Another, lessambitious CIA project involved some sardonic propagandaaimed at the USSR'sinfluencein Egypt. The CIA unearthed some pre-'WorldVar I anti-Islamictracts with titles llke Mohammed Neuer Existed, The Harmful Consequences of Fasting during Ramadan, and Against tbe Veil, and reissuedthem, this time attributing them to the Sovietembassyin Cairo.a3 The CIA also experimentedwith using Egypt as a centerfor reaching out to Islamic activistsin the Middle East and Africa. The vehicle ior the effort was none other than Anwar Sadat.SinceWorld lWar II, Sadathad been closeto the Muslim Brotherhood, servingas the liaison betweenthe organizationand Nasser'sFreeC)fficersmovementin tl-rer94os and early r95os. SadatapproachedNasserwith the idea of .reating an Islamic Congressand, when Nasser agreed, Sadat was .rppointed to lead it. According to Miles Copeland, "Religious

U8 . Dr,vrr-' s


attach6swere sent to various Egyptian missionsabroad and assigned the task of watching for opportunitiesto usecommon religiousintereststo achieveat leasttactical 'union.' . . . The American Governmenr at first gave limited encouragementto the program."4aLater, when relations betweenthe United Statesand Nasserreachedthe breakine point, the CIAs support for the venturewas withdrawn. More seriouslSthe United Statesbeganto explore with SaudiArabia the possibility of creating an Islamic bloc, whose porential was noted by someU.S. officialsand diplomats beginningin the r94os. It was still too early for the U.S.-SaudiIslamic allianceto take concrere form as it later would. However, the questionof whether Islam could serve as a barrier against communism, Marxist ideas, and radical Arab nationalism occupied the thoughts of many academics,policy makers,and foreign serviceofficers. ..In r95r, rWilliamA. Eddn the U.S. consul generalin Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, wrote a detailed account of discussionshe'd had with various Muslim leaders,including the king of SaudiArabia, the mufti of Jerusalem,an Islamic leaderin Egypt, and an Arab Leagueofficial suggestinga strategyfor the "Christian, democratic'Westjoining with the Muslim world in a common moral front against Communism." According to EddS the mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Britishlinked Palestinianwho'd been a supporter of Nazism during the L93osand r94os, "spoke of Russiaand Communism with the deepest hate, insistedthat we were on the wrong side in the last war [World \WarII] and should have beenallied with Germany againstRussia.. . . He spoke cordially of the cooperation which would be offered by Muslims to promote a joint propagandawith Christiansro make this danger clear." Regarding Saudi Arabia, Eddy explicitly noted the power of the fundamentalistWahhabi movement: While in an audiencewith the King of SaudiArabia,Abdul Aziz al Saud,this week,the King addressed himselfstronglyro the same point. He affirmedthat both Christranityand Islamarethrearened by Communism,their common enemy.. . . Muslims in the East, and Christiansin the \fest, should be allies in this trouble to defendtheir historicfaith. . . . As headof the puritanical'Wahhabi movementto restorethe pure faith and Dracticesof Islam. the

lslamMeetstheColdV/ar . 8.r King is without any doubt the most representative and influential \{uslim in the world Eddy sentcopiesof the letter to three officialsof Aramco, the consorrium made up of Exxon, Mobil, Texaco, and Chevron, and to BrigadierGeneralRobert A. McClure, director of psychologicalwarfare, Department of Defense. Eddy was more than a low-level consular official. During World War II, Eddy had been an intelligenceoperative for the Office of StrategicServices(OSS),where he'd gotten experienceusing political Islam on America's behalf. "Born in Syria of missionaryparents, he spoke fluent Arabic and was a distinguishedscholar and war hero rvho had lost a leg in the First'World 'War." With great derring-do, Eddy conducted operationsin parts of German-occupiedNorth Africa. ''Eddy formed chainsof informants to gather intelligence,spreadsubversivepropaganda,and organizea resistancemovement." That resistance, however, would include a Muslim secret societS led by collaboratorsknown only by the nicknames"Strings" and "Tassels." Stringswas the "leader of a powerful Muslim brotherhood in northern Morocco."a6 A year later,an unsigned r9 5z diplomatic report entitled "Conversation with PrinceSaud," labeled"Secret:SecurityInformation," said that Aramco was paying for a print shop and a broadcastingstatron in Riyadh for the propagation of religious tracts. Prince Saud, who rvould soon become king, declaredthat Saudi Arabia was "a leader among the Arab statesbecauseof . . . the presenceof the Holy Cities rvithin the Kingdom." And Saud had another point to make, the U.S. diplomat added: Someday,he said,he wasgoingto givetangibleform to thisleadership.He saidthat he had planswhich he did not wish to discussin movement.He saidit could detailnow to sparkplug a pan-Islamic do a greatdealof goodin the Muslim countriesby causingthemto that he wasnot ready work togetherasa unit but againhe repeated I him plan in detail. . . . told that his information to discussthe and we would be veryglad aboutIslamicunity wasveryinteresting to know moreaboutit whenhis plansrvereclearlyformulated.. . .


D n vtr' s

Ga ur.

I told him that we would welcome such a movement under his leadership becausewe were sure that it would be friendly.aT

\fhile some foreign policy functionaries had their doubts, efforts to encourageFaisalin this direction were undertakententativelyanyway, without a real grasp of either the politics or the culture of the Muslim world. David Long, a retired foreign serviceofficer and specialiston Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, says that in the period after'World'War II the United Stateswas operating blind. "'We didn't know anything," he 'War II, yes, there says. "When we get up to the period after'World were times when Islam was usedas a rallying cry for the political issue of the day." But, says Long, U.S. policy lacked an understandingof historical precedent."\7e were trying a replay of what they'd tried a thousand years.ago," he says, referring to the caliphates of old. 'Well, we never heard of any of this when "Their ideology is ancient. jumped into this r)3oo-year-oldsaga,simply becausewe were the we biggestplayer in the game." SomeAmericans,said Long, had a rudimentary familiarity with the Middle East and Islamic culture. "It was usually said that the oil company kids and the missionarykids knew a little. But I've talked to them, many of them, over the years. They lived in their own little world, and what they knew was in fact very, very limited.'We wanted oil, and we wanted to fight communism, but we weren't really all that interestedin all that crap about Islam. We were neophytes-way, way behind the curve of what the British and Frenchpicked up after all the time they'd spentthere'" Asked whether the United Statesactively supported political Islam as an alternative to communism in those days, Long says,"'We encouragedit' But we didn't createit." Adds Long: We would providesecuThe dealwas,the Saudiswerevulnerable. rity for them, and they would provide oil for us. \When it came to Nasser,Faisal reviewed the bidding and opposedpan-Arabism.He decidedthat they were socialistsand that they were against Islam. So, while we and the Israelis

Islam Meets the Cold V/ar .


were demonizingNasser,herewas Faisalopposinghim. He was worried that Muslim youth would turn to socialismand abandon Islam.We didn't understandthar-we didn't understandFaisal's motivations.We tried to setup an alliancebetweenSaudiArabia 'We and Tunisia,forgettingthat Bourguibawas a secularist. said, 'Hey, you're all moderates.'But to Faisal,Bourguibawas an apostate. So we weregoingin the samedirection,but we didn't understandit. 'Wetried to giveit a differentslant,that of powerpolitics. To the Saudis,however,it was basedon the ideathat they are the defenders of the faith, of the Muslim holy places.But we saw it in a powerpoliticsframework.a8 As Long suggests,the American "neophytes" stumbled into an allianceof sorts with Islamic fundamentalismalmost without realizing what was happening.Very few American diplomats and scholars had studied the relationship between Islam and politics, and rhose who did were often muddled. In 195r, the Middle East Insritureconvened a two-day conferenceon "Islam in the Modern \World," at '\X/. which Philip Ireland, a senior State Departmenr official who'd servedas U.S. charg6 d'affaires in Baghdad,deliveredan addresson the relationship of Islam, democracy,and communism, wondering "whether presenttrends will carry Islam into the camp of Communism or into that of Democracy."After noting that "Commsnism"actuallS he was referring to nationalism-was making gains in Syria, Iraq, and Jordan, Ireland noted: In SaudiArabia, the Yemen,and the Hadramaut,the primitive and austerecharacterof Islam has indeedproven,practicallyas well astheoretically. a barrierto Ireland did not put much stock in the theocratic version of Islam, expressingthe hope that somehow Muslims would be able to blend Islam with modern political theories.LeadingU.S. strategistsworried that as Islam modernized,Muslims would abandon their faith for secularism, and that such a trend would open the doors to the spreadof Marxist ideasin the Middle East.BayardDodge, the highly influential

L) 2


D l vr t . 's

G al l n

ex-presidentof the American U'iversity in Beirut Ggz3 to r 94g), told the sameMiddle East Instituregroup: Tcrdaynationalismof a materialistic type is bec<tming a srrongelement in Islamicthought and society.And that, of course,works pan-lslamor the caliphate, .f directly againstthe old idea 'f Islamasa greatorganizedbrotherhood.To a largeextent,natio.alism has takenthe place the religi.ussideof the pan-Isranr 'f movement.Needless to sa)',it is the youngMuslim, uninterestecl in Isla'r as a great svsrem,who is particularl,vlikely to becomea Communist.. . . The reactionof the Muslimsof the risinggeneration is an exceedinglyunfortunateone, as so manv of them are casti'g asidetheir religio', their moraliry,or their loyalty to the cult. They live licentiouslives,drinking,. . . gambling,. . . amusing themselves in cabaretsand housesof prostirution. If Islamis undermined, if materialisrn and radicalisnr comein, with eommunistthoughtperhapsperrneating it, rhe ourcomewill certainlybe a rnajortragedyfor the rvorld.50 Loyalty t. " the cul t"? Li vi ng "l i centi ousi i ves... in housesof prostitution"? Dodge, the scior-r of Protestantmissionarieswith roots in the Middle East of the ninereenrhcenrury, s.unds more like a Biblethumping revivalistthan a foreign policy analyst.Ancl, in fact, in his address, Dodge praised the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey,s anti_ Ataturk revival, and Persiansunder Reza shah whr are "finding that they musr go back and have more religion if they are to combat communism."'i1 Dodge here expressedalmost exactry the sought-afterchristian-Muslim alliancethat so many u.s. policy makers dreamedof, regardlessof how impracticalit seemed.\forse, though, it was preciselywhat the Middle East didn't need, as it struggleilnith modernity,and as secularleaderseverywherein the region(exceptSaudi Arabia) sought ro reduce or elirninatethe role of Islam, the clergy,the rilTahhabis, and the Muslim Brotherhood. 'S7hatDodge, and many others, feared is that communism, and not western-stylecapitalism, would win the hearrsand minds of Arabs, Turks, persians.ancl Indians freed of the shacklesof religiousbelief. Many American diplomats,of course,equally concernedabout promoting U.S. interestsoverseasand combatingcommunism,took

[slam Meets the Cold Wdr


the sensibleview that the United Statesought to concentrateon economic development in the Middle East, and that facilitating the region'stransition away from backward religiousfundamentalismto modern, and Western,ideasclf organizingsocietymight not necessarily benefitthe SovietUnion. Many, too, believedthat Islam should not be anything more than a systemof personal belief, not a political or socialsystem. But as the r95os wore on, their voiceswere lessand lessinfluential. Nasser'snonalignment,or "positive neutralism," beganto look more and more like a communist Trojan Horse to the Dulles brothers 'Iil7ar co-thinkers.So. too. did the nationalismof Prime and their Cold Minister Mossadeghin Iran. In both cases,as the Eisenhoweradministration moved to confront theseregimes,it reachedfor one of the most dangerousimplementsin its tool box: Islamrcfundamentalism.



lN ruE EARLy r95os, two nationalistleadersemergedin two of the most powerful counrriesof the Middle East,Egypt and Iran. In Egypt, Gamai Abdel Nasser'sFree officers ousted that counrry,s dissolute king and threatenedto spark revolution in saudi Arabia, the heart of the world's energy supply. In Iran, a freely elected democrat and socialist-inclinedleader named Mohammed Mossadeghsuccessfulh. challengedthe ruling shah of Iran, forced him to flee, and asserred his country's right to take over the oil industry from Britain's AngloPersianOil Company. In both casesGreat Britain, the united states,and their intelligence agencieswent into action, overthrowing Mossadeghand trying but failing to do the samero Nasser,and in both cases,MI6 and the cIA usedthe Islamic right as a car's-paw.In Egypt, they used the Muslim Brotherhood, and in Iran they mobilized a group of ayatollahsthat includedthe ideologicalgodfatherof Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomerni. Perhapsthe greatesttwin tragedies,or lost opportunities,for the united Staresin the Middle Eastin rhe past half century are the American failures to embrace Gamal Abdel Nasser and Mohammed Mossadegh when they emerged,in the r95os, as leaders of their people'saspirations.That error createda residueof resentment,bir-

Tbe War against Nasserand Mossadegh


rerness,and anger in the Middle East, feeding widespread,lingering .rnti-Americanismto this day and even providing fuel for Al Qaeda's recruiters.Yet it was a folly compounded by yet another massive error: the U.S. decisionto support SaudiArabia as the counter pole to -\rab and Persiannationalism, and to tie itself to a worldwide netu'ork of Islamistssponsoredby the Saudis.It was a decisionwhose consequencesled, indirectly, to the rise of A,vatollah Khomeini's rheocracy,the destructionof Afghanistan,and Osama bin Laden'sterrorist international.





From 1954, when Nasserconsolidatedpower over his rivals, until r97o, when he died, Nasser garnered unparalleled,even legendary, support in Egypt, and throughout the Arab world. Andr6 Malraur, :he Frenchwriter, said, of Nasser:"He will enter history as represen:ative of Egypt, the sameas Napoleon of France."r \William R. Polk, an official at the National SecurityCouncil in the r96os, said: "He n-as the John Kennedy of the Arab world."2 Five million people :urned out for his funeral, and that doesn'tcount the tens of millions ,rf Arabs who mourned privately, "the ones who wept in coffeei-rouses, at home, alone, in groups, silently,loudly, through prayei, in ;.rrs in faraway California, or who sufferedthe pain of his death in :rozen numbness."3Yet over and over, in the 195os and again in the r96os, the United Statesstiff-armed Nasser,and worse. Behind the ).enes,the CIA schemedto topple him. "'We were trying to overthrow Nasseq" saysEd Kane, a CIA opera:ions officer who was stationed in Cairo in the late r95os and early .r()os. "The Agencywas involvedin a covertoperation-a very inept rr-re,I might add-relying on membersof the ancien r6gime, who had 'rl.solutelyno power.'We were attempting to find elementswho could , )\-erthrow him, mostly figures tied to the old regime-landowners, :ndustrialists,and other old enemiesof Nasser's.It was a futile project."a Half a century ago, Nasser symbolized Arab revoiution, selfletermination, and independence.The seizure of power by the Free

96 . D E ,vrr' s


officers in Egypt came during an erawhen the entire Arab world, from Morocco to Iraq, was locked in the grip of a political ice age.Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia were French colonies;Kuwait, eatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirares,oman, and yemen were British colonies. Iraq, Jordan, and saudi Arabia were kingdoms ruled by monarchiesinstalled by London. And Egypt, under the wobbly King Farouq, was the political and economic cenrerof the Arab world. By taking power in Egypt, Nasserelectrifiedthe political classin the Arab world, inspiring a host of would-be imitators, liberation-mindedpolitical parties, and army revolutionists.From 1954 onward, through agenrs,political supporr, and the powerful Voice of the Arabs radio in cairo, and by virrue of his charismaticappeal,Nasserled the independencemovement in the Arab Middle East. From '956 to 1958, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq were rocked by rebellions, Iraq's king fell, and Syria united with Egypt in Nasser'sunited Arab Republic, a short-lived but exciting experimentin unifying the Arab world. The Algerian'evolurion drew moral and material support from cairo, beforewinning independence in tc)6z,thesame year that Yemen underwent a Nasser-inspiredrevolt, triggering a proxy war pitting Saudi Arabia against Egypt. Even as lare as 1969, a year before Nasser'sdeath, Libya's king was overthrown and Sudan,srightwing regimeeliminatedby military leadersloyal to Nasser. In the Manichea', with-us-or-against-usworld of the cold rwar, Nasserwas loathed and demonizedby London, \Tashington,and Tel Aviv. Around the world, from Guatemala to the congo to Indonesiaand in Iran-the cIA was busy getting rid of leadersnot becausethey were communists, but becausetheir independentstreak made them untrustworthy interlocutors in the war between the superpowers. Nasserwas no exception. unlike other leadersin Latin America or Africa, however, Nasseq with his revolutionaryoutlook, threatenedthe very heart of America's post-\7orld \Var II srrategy: rhe vast oil fields of saudi Arabra. Not only was Egypt a potential military rival to SaudiArabia, not only did cairo clash with Riyadh in a shooting war in yemen, not only did Nasserinspire Arabs in saudi Arabia with republicanideals,but the Egyptian leader even won over some of saudi Arabia's royal family.

The War against Nas-<erand Mossadegh

...iro. led by PrinceTalal, formed the so-called"Free Princes,"defected : , F,gvpt,and demandedthe establishmentof a republic in Arabia. -\s rhe United Statesbuilt its network of alliancesin the Middle i-...r. relying more and more on non-Arab states,including TurkeS i-:n. irnd Israel,there developedan "Arab cold war," with Egypt at ,rreend and SaudiArabiaat the other.Superficially, it seemedas if the .:rLrgglewithin the Arab world pitted Soviet-leaning Arab countries ones,but in fact the SovietUnion had no true .,.srinstAmerican-allied r rresand few friendsin the region.T'hereal dynamicthat plavedout :-enveenr954 and r97o occurredbetweencompetingvisionsof the -.irLrreof the Middle E,ast.On one hand, there was Nasser'ssecular, industrial Arab world of independentbut cooperative ::r,rdernizing, rr.rb republics.On the other was SaudiArabia's semi-feudalarray of put at the West'sdisposal,in with their natural resources ::r,,narchies, was the Muslim Brotherhood .rhich the royal families'ace-in-the-hole the Islamic right. ,,.n.1 A contingent of America'sArabists rejectedthe strategyof isolat.:rqNilsser,and someevensaw him as the Arab world's savior."ln the :.eqinningNasserhad somestrong support from the Agency and from ::rcembassy,"saysKane,referringto the period from r95z to r954.\ \ccording to one widely cited account, by Miles Copeland in The (,ttrte of I'Jations,the CIA even encouragedthe Free Officers in their -* oilrtion, after first trying to get King Farouq to modeihize Egypt. Thc legendaryKermit ("Kim") Roosevelt,the man who would coorlinate the r953 CIA coup that restoredthe shahof Iran to his throne, .;-rctlv visitedFgypr in r95z: lvasfirst to attemptto organizea "peaceHis mission,specifically, wherein King Farouq himself would in Egvpt revolution" fLrl by the new, the liquidationof the old and its replacement supervise therebydefusingthe revolutionaryforceswhich CIA agentshad astnuchastwo vearsearlier.t' rclentified But. accordingto Copeland,Farouq was too "bird-brained"Tand !orrLlpt to respond, preferring to engagein or:giesand troll Cairo's


D rvrr' s


Red Light district in sunglasses than to take responsibilityfor Egypt. Kim Rooseveltthus . . . agreedto meetthe officerswhom the CIA had spottedas likely leadersof the secretmilitary societyknown to be plotting a coup. This he did in March r952, four monthsbeforeNasser's coup.. . . There were three such meetings,the third attended by one of Nasser's most trustedlieutenants.8 Rooseveltreturned to \Tashington to convince the U.S. government that it must acceptthe removal of Farouq. There is no way to corroborate Copeland'saccount. Declassified archivesdon't provide any help, and no one elsehas steppedforward to endorse Copeland'sspecificasserrions.Yet the United Statesinitially enjoyedgenerallygood relationswith rhe new Egyptian government. In his excellentbook, Nasser'sBlessedMouement,Joel Gordon reports that declassified"records do substantiatecharges of close links betweenthe U.S. embassyin Cairo and the new regime." The British, on the other hand, though resignedto following the U.S. lead, seethedwith anger at'Washington,fearing that Nasser'srise to power threatenedthe SuezCanal, its bases,and its path to India.e But more was at stake than the remnants of the British Empire. The emergenceof Nasser was an existential threat to the oil kingdoms-to Saudi Arabia, to Iraq, and to the British-ownedsheikhsin the Gulf. The British, and then the Anglo-Americans, opposed Nasser not becausehe was a communist,or becausehe was susceptibleto communist influence; in fact, Nasser suppressedthe Egyptian left and the various communist partiesvigorously.In addition, the Egyptian communists were poorly organized and divided, with support primarily among the intelligentsia,and had no chanceof taking power exceptas a minority stakeholder in a \fafd-led nationalist government. 'What was intolerable to London and'VTashington(and to Paris, too, until 1956) was that Nasserrefusedto be controlled,was adept at playing the superpowers off against each other, and inspired loyalty among Arabs outsideof Egypt, including thosesitting on rop of the oii. \X/hat especially worried London and 'Washington was the idea

The War aRainst Nasserand Mossadegh '


that Nasser might succeedin unifying Egypt and Saudi Arabia, thus creatinga major Arab power. One of the ironies of the Arab world is that Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine,which have historically been the centersof Arab learning and political movements'have no oil. On the other hand, except for Iraq and non-Arab lran, the oil states-Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar-have tiny populations and no intellectual tradition (except ultra-orthodox Islamic theology),and are ruled by royal kleptocracies whose legitimacyis nil and whose existencedependson outside milirary protection. Most Arabs are aware that both the monarchies themselves,and the artificial bordersthat demarcatetheir states'were designedby imperialistsseekingto build fencesaround oil wells in the r9zos. From a strategicstandpoint, the Arabs would gain much by marrying the sophisticationand manpower of the urban Arab countries (including Iraq) with the oil wealth of the desertkingdoms. At the center of that idea lies Egypt, with its tens of millions of people, and SaudiArabia, with zoo billion barrelsof oil. Underlying the rhetoric of secular pan-Arabism is the reality that uniting Cairo and Riyadh would create a vastly important new Arab center of gravity r.vithworldwide infl uence. So, after its initial flirtation with Nasser,the United States-led by Secretaryof StateJohn Foster Dulles and his brother, CIA director -{llen Dulles-lined up with London againstArab nationalism' British prime minister Anthony Eden,who had beenviolently anti-Nasserall along, considereda British-sponsoredcoup d'6tat in Cairo as early as r953. The only political force in Egypt that could mount a challenge to Nasser-except for the army-was the Muslim Brotherhood, u'hich had hundredsof thousandsof followers. The Brotherhood also had the sympathyof someEgyptian officers,including BrigadierGeneral Mohammed Naguib, a longtime Muslim Brotherhood fellow rraveler who was a conservativemember of Nasser'sFree Officers movement.In t952, after the officers'coup toppled the king, Naguib u'as named president and prime minister of Egypt' with Nasser as deputy prime minister.Behind the scenes,Nasserwas the real power. "William Lakeland, the [U.S.] embassy'spolitical officer, realized almost immediately that Naguib was only Nasser'sfront man," wrote

r oo


D r , v I t . 's

G am n

Miles Copeland. "'While the Egyptian public and the outside world were cheeringNaguib, the embassy,through Lakeland, had begun to deal with Nasser as the one who really made the decisions."l0But Naguib, though lesspowerful than Nasser,had close ties to Hassan Ismail al-Hudaybi, the man who had succeededHassan al-Banna as the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Ultimately, a power struggle between Nasser and Naguib would develop, and Naguib-with British support-would reachout to the Brotherhood as his chief ally. Nasser'sown early relationshrpwith the Muslim Brotherhoodwas tricky and nuanced.rl On taking power in t952, the Free Officers were very careful not to alienatethe Muslim Brothers.Severalmembers of the officers' movement were members, and most of them, including Nasser,had extensivecontacts with the organizatron going back to the r94os. At the start the military junta faceda diversecoali'Wafd tion of opponents,including the and the left, the monarchists, the fascistYoung Egypt party, and the Muslim Brotherhood.Nasser, who personally oversaw the military's delicaterelationshipwith the Brotherhood, decided at first to co-opt and neutralize the group rather than confront it. When the new Egyptian regimebannedpolitical partiesin t953, it exemptedthe Brotherhood. There was, however, little chance that Nasser and the Muslim Brotherhood would ever seeeye to eye. The Brotherhood wanted an Islamic societS Nasser a secularone. Perhapseven more important, Nasser wanted reforms, including land reform and educational changes,that the Muslim Brotherhood bitterly opposed.In conversations with U.S. ambassadorJeffersonCaffery-the sameCaffery who recommendedthat the Brothers' Said Ramadan visit Princeton and 'White the House in r953-Hudaybi, the Brotherhood's chieftain, said that he "would be glad to seeseveralof the [FreeOfficers] 'eliminated."'12At around the sametime, a senior British diplomat, Trefor Evans,the "oriental counselor" at the British embassyin Cairo, held at least one meeting with Hassan Ismail al-Hudaybi, the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood-a meetinglater cited as treasonby Nasser when he cracked down on the organization. Both British and American officials maintained an ongoing relationship with the group.



asainst Nasser and Mossadesh '


Nasser's long-postponed showdown with the Muslim Brotherhood occurred in ry54. It coincided with rising British frustration with the Egyptian leader during U.K.-Egypt negotiations over the transfer of the SuezCanal and its basesto Egypt. While left-wing and Labour politicians in England seemedwilling to make a deal with Nasser,the British right-led by unreconstructedimperialistssuch as \Tinston Churchill-was nearly apoplectic about the Egyptian upstart.From r954 on, Anthony Eden,the British prime minister,was demandingNasser'shead.'Weare indebtedto StephenDorril for the *MI6 story of Eden'sjihad againstNasser,which culminatedin t956. PresidentNasser,"accordhad beenconsideringa plan to assassinate ing to Dorril, who adds that in Cutting the Lion's Tail, Nasser's adviserMohammed Heikal publisheda copy of a telegramfrorn CIA's JamesEichelbergerin London to CIA director Allen Dulles,citing discussionswith MI6's GeorgeYoung. "He talked openly of assassinating Nasser,insteadof using a polite euphemismlike 'liquidating.' He said his people had been in contact with suitable elementsin Egypt and in the rest of the Arab world." Eichelberger-like Copeland,part of the CIA's shrinking pro-Nasserfaction-leaked what Young said to A month later,Eden ranted: "'What'sall this nonsenseabout Nasser!13 isolating Nasser or 'neutralising' him, as you call it? I want him destroyed,can't you understand?I want him murdered.. . . And i don't give a damn if there'sanbrchyand chaosin Egypt."1a In the first months of r954, the chaosnearly began,as the Muslim Brotherhood and Nasser went to war. It started in January, when Muslim Brotherhood thugs attacked pro-Nassernationalist students at Cairo University. Anwar Sadat, the former Muslirn Brotherhood memberwho had casthis lot with Nasseragainsthis former organization, pennedan article attackinggroups that "traffic in religion." Two dayslater Nasserissueda decreeoutlawing the terrorist group' and he blastedthe Brotherhood as a pawn of the British. The decreebanning the organization said: "The revolution will never allow reactionary corruption to recur in the name of religion."l-t Declassifiedrecords show that British intelligencewas carefully reporting on Muslim Brotherhood activity, noting "rumors of clashesbetween Brothers .rnd the police in the Delta and covert meetingsheld in Ismailia'"16

D rv rl ' s


According to Robert Baer,a former cIA covert operationsspecialist, the cIA also endorsedthe idea of using the Muslim Brotherhood against Nasser.rn Sleepingwith the Deuir, Baer describesthe rough outlinesof a top secretU.S. effort: At the bottom of it all was this dirty little secretin rwashingron: The \x/hiteHouselookedon the Brothersas a sirentaily,a secret weapon against (what else?)communism.This covert action startedin the 195oswith the Dulles brothers-Allen at the cIA and John Fosterat the StateDepartment-when they approved SaudiArabia'sfundingof Egypt'sBrothersagainstNasser.As far as Washingtonwas concerned,Nasserwas a communist.He'd nationalizedEgypt'sbig-business industries,including the Suez canal. The logicof the cold war led ro a clearconclusion:If Allah agreedto fight on our side,fine.If Allah decidedpoliticalassassrnatlonwaspermissible, that wasfine,too, aslong asno onetalked abourit in polirecompany. Like any other truly effectivecovert acrion, this one was strictlyoff the books.Therewasno cIA finding,no mem.randum notificationto congress.Not a pennycameout of the Treasuryto fund it. In otherwords,no record.All the white Househad t'do was give a wink and a nod to counrriesharboringthe Muslim Brothers,like SaudiArabiaand Tordan.17 while both Britain and the United srateswere praying with fire, mobilizing assassinsfrom the Muslim Brotherhood against Nasser, there is also evidencethat the Brotherhood was cooperatingwith a violent, assassination-prone Islamist group from Iran, the so,called Devoteesof Islam, one of whose founders was an Iranian ayatollah who worked with the cIA in toppling Mossadegh.Bernard Lewis, a former British intelligenceofficer and a leadingorientalist, nored that the Brothers' decisionto engagein outright opposition to Nasserwas tied, in part, to its connectionsto the Devotees.It was, reportedLewis, a visit to cairo in t9 14 by the leaderof the Devoteesof Islam that rrisgeredthe Muslim Brotherhood'sr954 uprisingagainstNasser: The same combination of idealism and violence, of piety and terror, can be seen in the Persian organization known as the



against Nasser ttnd Mossadegh


Fidaiyan-iIslam-the devorees of Islam,which, significantly, borrows a rermusedby the medievalemissaries of the old Man of the Mountain. Though Shiites,they h.ld pan-Islamicopinionsrarher similar ro rhoseof the Egyptianbrorhers,with whom they have contacts.On \,,larch7, LL) 5r, oneof their membersshotand killed PersianPrirneMinister GeneralRazmara.It was a visit of the Fidai leader,Nawab Safavi,to Egypt in Januarn 19_54,that touchedoff the firsr serioLrs and openclashbetweenthe Brotherhood and INasser's] militaryregime.18 The r954 Brotherhood-Devoteeslink reveals rhe exrenr to which, evenin the r95os, Islamicfundamentalismwas truly international.It reachedacrossnational bordersin the Arab world, it connectedArab fanaticswith thosein Pakistan,and it linked sunni militants with Shiite ones in Iran and elsewhere.Even half a century later, it isn't clear whether the cIA understoodthe internationalscopeand power of the forces they were dealing with. Did they understandthat the Islamic right in Egypt, in Saudi Arabia, in Iran and elsewhereoperated a shadowy,worldwide fraternity-or did they believethar they could pick and choosewhen and where ro support the Islamic right, on a case-by-case basis?The fact is that by the r95os the Islamistshad created a transnationalorganism,whose existenceappearedto eludethe cIA for decades.Instead,American diplomats and cIA officials preferred to seeIslamic acrivistsonly'in relation to the country in which they were stationed. During r954, relations between Nasser and the Brothers grew more tense. Though now officially outlawed, the Brotherhood still maintaineda powerful presencethroughout the country.Nassermoved first against Naguib. In a prolonged struggle during February and March, Nasser marginalizedNaguib, shunting him aside and deftly neutralizingthe Muslim Brother:hoodin the process.In April, Nasser brought to trial the first of severalleadingBrother:hoodofficials,and a finalconfrontation with the organizationseemedinevitable.The Egyptian police beganwatching the organization'sactions,even raiding its mosquesand imposingcontrols on sermonsby radical imams. In September,the Egyptian goverrment stripped five Muslim Brotherhood officials of their citizenshipwhile they were on a mission to syria.

r o4

D svrr' s


Among them was Said Ramadan, rhe Brotherhood'schief ideologue. The five men were attending a conferencein Damascusat which they organized Muslim Brotherhood members from Iraq, Jordan, and sudan to denounceNasser.leLeading members of the Brotherhood. including Hudaybi, wenr inro hiding. Finally, on October 26, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood fired eight shots at Nasser.The facts surrounding the assassination attempt are somewhat murky, but in most accounts the shots at Nasser were fired at point-blank range by a Brotherhood member who was immediately a larger conspiracy?\were the British putting the Brothers up ro killing Nasser?certainly, the record shows,the idea wasn't beyond Eden. During the mid-r95os, in acrionsthat foreshadowedthe arrempts to kill Fidel castro by John F. Kennedy's cIA, the British hatched innumerable schemes1o murder the Egyptian leader,some of them harebrained.They funneledmoney into Egypt to bribe Nasser'sdoctor to poison him, concocteda plot to "inject lethal poison into some popular Egyptian Kropje chocolates" destined for him, creared a James Bond-like "modified cigarettepacket which fired a poisoned dart"' and tried to "slip a poisoned pill into Nasser's coffee." (copeland' who learned about the latter scheme,says that he joked with Nasserabout it. "Turn your head, Gamal, and let me seeif I can put this poison in your coffee."l2oyet all of this British skullduggery was not funny, and it givescredenceto the norion that the British may have tried to usethe Muslim Brotherhood'sveteranassassins, too. Reprisalsagainstthe Muslim Brotherhood were swift and deadly. More than a thousand Brothers were arrested;many were sentenced to long prison terms, and six were hanged.Assetsof the organization were seized,and its officesand welfare centerstaken over by government agencies.Naguib, with his credibility among the army fading and his Brotherhoodalliesscattered,was oustedfrom the government entirely in November, leading c. L. sulzberger ro describehim as "Kerensky with a fez" inthe New york Times.2l To help round up the Muslim Brotherhood'sleadinglights, Nasser played a secretcard, using a jujitsu-like maneuveragainsta clique of former Nazis who had taken roosr in Egypt after \forld'war II. During

The tYar against Nasser and Mossadegh

r o5

the war, many right-wing Islamists and Brotherhood activistsincluding Haj Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Ierusalem, who had settledin Cairo-had intimate ties to the Nazis and to German intelligence.After the war, many former Nazis who escapedthe Nuremberg trials and other dragnetsfled to safe havens around the world, and Egypt in the r94os was particularly welcoming.By then, the CIA and 'Vfar MI6 were fast recruiting former Nazis to the Cold struggle againstthe SovietUnion. \Torking with Reinhard Gehlen,the former Nazi intelligencechief, the CIA and the U.S. army helpedto set up the famous Gehlen Organization, the associationof ex-Nazi spies that 'West was used by JamesCritchfield of the CIA as the core of the German intelligencesystem.Someof them, no doubt, infiltrated Egypt on behalf of either U.S. or British intelligence;otherswere simply migrating to what they hoped was a hospitableenvironment. One of the ex-Naziswho endedup in Egypt was Franz Buensch,a German whose claim to fame was the publication of an anti-Semitic tract calledSexualHabits of the Jews, and it was Buenschthat Nasser manipulatedin order to ferret out Brotherhoodplotters.According to Miles Copeland,Buenschproposed an outlandish schemeto use former Nazis to organizean international Islamic underground in conjunction with the Muslim Brotherhood.Nasserfeignedinterestin the gambit, then, saysCopeland,had his securitychief use it to round up Muslim Brotherhood members: Buensch. . . did developone projectthat quicklygainedEgvptian interest:a plan to collectNazi diehardsfrom their varioushiding placesall over the world (Argentina,Brazll,Ireland,Spain,etc.) and give them Islamicnames,joir-rthem to "undergroundassets" developedby Egyptduringthe SecondWorld War,build a subverorg combiningthe bestin Germanand Eg1'ptian siveintelligence ralenr,and "put it at the disposal"of GamalAbdeiNasserfor his and imperialism. international war egainstcommunism The plan was presentedto SaadAfraq, the GeneralIntellifor administrationand surgenceAgencvofficerthen responsible veillanceof the Germans.Saad,whosegenialmannercoveredone of the shrewdestbrains in Egypt, affectedgreat interestin the plan, but insistedthat he must hear much more about these

r o6

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Ge ur:

"undergroundassets."Buensch,who until then had beensulking at Egyptianindifference to his pet subject,beganto feelthat at last he was beingappreciatedand that perhapshe was on to something big. With SaadAfraq'sencouragement, he producedall the ir.rformation on the subjecthe couldremember, thenpumpedother membersof the Germancolony for what they remembered. The resultwasenoughevidence to hanghalf the MoslemBrotherhood, plus enoughleadsto keepEgyptiansecurityofficersbusyfor the next two yearsestablishing the extentof influenceof the organization not only in F,gyptbut throughoutthe Arab world.22 In r954, Egypt and the United Kingdom had signedan agreement over the SuezCanal and British military basing rights. It was shortlived. In r956, Clreat Britain, France, and Israel concocted a plot against Egypt aimed at toppling Nasser and seizing control of the SuezCanal-a conspiracyin which they enlistedthe Muslim IJrotherhood. When the gathering British-H,gyprianshowdown erupted in r956, the organizationhad beenlargelydismantledand its members jailed, driven into exile, or forced underground in Egypt. But that didn't stop London from reaching our ro its old allies. The srory of Suezhas beentold countlesstimes:how help to build the Aswan Dam and was rebuffed insultingly; how the United Statesrefused to sell arms to Egypt; how the Soviet Union stepped in to supply aid and sell Czech arms to Nasser; how the British stonewallednegotiationsabout handing over rhe canal; and how London and Parisplotted with Israelto go to war. Eden'shatred for Nasserhad reachedfever pitch. Lesswell known, however,is the fact that as the plot unfolded, the British held secretpowwows wirh the Muslim Brotherhood in Geneva.According to Dorril, two British spooks, Col. Neil Mclean and Julian Amery, helped MI6 organizea clandestineanti-Nasser opposition in the south of France and in Switzerland."They also went so far as to make contact in Geneva, where the MI6 head of station was Norman Darbyshire,with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, informing only MI6 of this demarche which they kept secrerfrom the rest of the Suez Group [which was planning the military operation]. Amery forwarded various names to [Selwyn] Lloyd," the British foreign secretary.23 The



against Nasserand Mossadegh .


exactnatureof MI6's contactswith the Muslim Brotherhoodin Europe during this period is not known, but it may have rangedfrom organizing a secretassassination effort to assemblinga secretgovernment-inerile to replaceNasserafter the Suezwar. The Anglo-French plot that unfolded in 1956 reads like a nineteenth-centuryimperialist scheme.London and Paris arranged for Israel to launch an unprovoked war against Egypt. According to the conspiracy,the British and French would wair a decent inrerval, perhapssomedays, and then intervenemilitarily to imposea truce on Egypt and Israel, meanwhile seizing the Suez Canal in the process. \lasser, they hoped, would fall-perhaps be overthrown. And the ,\{uslimBrotherhood,though weakened,was waiting in the wings.In the end, PresidentEisenhower-fearingthat the SovietUnion would reap untold rewards by capitalizing on the Anglo-French-lsraeli rrggression-joinedwith other nationsto foil the plot. For a rime, it scemedas if the United Stateshad an opportunityonceagainto build rr positiverelationshipwith Nasser.Almost immediately,however,the opportunitywas lost, and the Dulles brotherswent back to the usual pirtternof confrontingboth Nasserand Arab nationalism. There were those Statc Department and CIA officials who wcre clismayedby the administration'sreflexivelyanti-Nasserposition. One of those was Copeland, who was an unabashedadrnirer of \asser. Wrote Copeland,mixing praisewith tongue-in-check scolding, "He is one of the most courageous,most incorruptible,most Lrnprincipled, and in his way, most humanitariannational leadersI hirvccver met."24Yet as the r95os worc on, Copclandbecamemorc .rnd morc a minority voice, as \il/ashingtonCold \Tarriors turned )iasserinto the devil incarnate.The StateDepartment'sArabistswere "soft on Nasser,"Copelandsays,but "this tendencywas more than offset by the opposition of the commercialcommunity," espccially the big U.S. oil companiesand banks. As the tide turned against (.opeland'sview of Nasser,he was pulled asicleby a joking CIA colleaguevisitingCairo. "I think we've finally â&#x201A;Źaotyou Nasserloverson rhe run," he said.ln t954, Copelandnotesruefully,the CIA chief in C.irirocabled \Tashingtonthat it should persuadeIsrael to emphasize "the Brotherhood'scommendablecapability to overthrow Nasser."2'5

r ot 3 .

I ) r - v r r . 's

C i au r . .

John Voll, a noted specialiston Islam, says matter-of-facdythirt CIA support for thc Muslirr Brorhcrhoodduring the Cold \7ar was the right thing to do. "lt was a slnart intelligencevehicle,"saysVrll. "[t was thc only alternativcto Nasscr.The C_]orrmunist Partyin Egypt was a nonstartcr.In tcrrns of intclligenccarndpolicy planning we would havc beenstupiclnot to havehad I rel:rtionshipwith rhcm."l(' In retrospect,however,it is hard to think clf irnythingrnorestupicl. The United Statesdidn't need an altcrnative1tl \xsssr--it or-rghtt<r havc embracedhim, ancl hel;rcclhim undernrinerlrc Islamic right. Insteacl,U.S. policy hirrdcrredagirinstNrrsscr,jrincd thc Saucliroyals and their Islamicfundamentalistallies,irnd launcheda decadcs-long cffort to uscpolitical Islam as A conrerstoncof Arncricaninflucnccrn thc Middlc East. Morcover, the icleological rigiclityof Amcricirnforcignpolicy elites wasn'tconfineclto F.gypt.While the U.S.soughtto r-rndermine Nasscr, it took ou trnothcrregionalnationalisf,Primc Ministcr Moharrrmed Mossirdeghof Iran. That effort would culrninarein Anrcrica'sr.nosf famousCIA covert operation,the r9,5j cor-rpcl'6tatin lran-and, as in lJgypt,right-wingIslan-rists woLrldplay a prominenrrolc.


eND KrroME l N t' s


It is one of the ironiesin regardto both NasseranclMossrrdegh that both rncnhad a modicurnof Americansupportcluringtheir initial risc to power,until the erigenciesof the Cold War rurnedU.S.policy decisivelyagainstthem. At first, the United Statesrcnrativclysupported the Iraniar-r nationalistsled by Mossadegh,parrly our of Washington's early belief that liberal Third World narionalistsmight be able to modernizetheir nationswhile, at the samctime, keepirrgthem in the 'Western orbit. But the Eisenhoweradminisrrarionwasn't buying it. Its view was: You are either with us-that is, Third World leadershad tcr allow military bases,join alliances,and make economicconcessions while implementingfree-marketpolicies-or you were agarnstus. In a lesspolarizedworld Mossadegh,like Nassel might have beenable to reach a long-term accommodationwith \il/ashington.

-fhe \Yar agdinst Ncsser and MossaCegh .

r 09

As in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhoodwas mobilizedagainst Nasser,Iran's forces of radical political Islam were cynically used T'hevery samecleric-led,right-wing Islamiststhat againstMossaclegh. toppledthe shahin r979 were paid b1.the CIIAin r953 to supporthim. Mossadegh,an Iranian lawyer educatedin Prrrisirnd Switzerlirnd, was a complexfigurewho was a fixturein lranian politicsfor decades before r9-53,havingscrvedin Iran'spiulirrmentunder the pre-Pahlavi Qalar dynastyin r9r.5 and as foreign rninistertn tL)zl.IJis association with the earlicr line of Iranian kings set hirn at ocldswith Reza Pahlavi anc'lhis son, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. In r 944, he was elected to parliament egain, as e stronfl advocate of nationalizing Irirn'soil industrSthen under the grip of what is today British Petroleum. Mossadeghbecamechairman of the parlianrent'soil comrlission, and he createda coalition political movcment,called the NariorralFront. After the assassination of Gcneral Ali Raznrarain r 9.5r, the shah felt compelledto nrlmr:Mossadeghto succeedRazmara as prime ministcr.But Mossadeghpushedthrough the nationalization of the Anglo-Persiern Oil Oornpany(APOC). It was a catastrophic APOC, later Anglo-IranianOil Company ar-rdthen blow to F.rrgland; BritishPctroleurn,was the pridc ancljoy of Britain'simperial assets, having gotten its start during World War I as the specialprojcct of $Tinstorr(lhurchill. who saw Persianoil as a sourccof fuel for the i nsrrntly hccamee hatcd men in uor ldwidc Br itr shrrav y.Moss,rdcg,h l-ondon,and he clashedbittcrly with the shilh,whoseown nationalist irnpulscswere subordinatcto his clesireto maintain his throne and ro havc gooclrelationswitlr London ilnd Washington.At first, many of lran's most politicalayatollahsparticipirtedin the National Frcnt, but they left it and joirred thc CtA-sponsoredcampaign against \lossadegh,wlrich rcsultedin a rnilitarycolrp d'ct:rtin August r953. The shah, who had fled the country, was restored to the Peacock Throne-and the nationalizationof Iran'soil inclustrywrrsannulled. Irr the process,the Unitcd Statesmuscledin on Iranian oil: 4o percent of rhe sharein the new consortiumwas givento five big Americanoil companies,and BP'ssharewas reduced. Thc story of the coup, rlrn jointly by the CIA and MI6, has been told many times.Almost neverreported,however,is the fact that the

I ) uv r l 'r


tw, intelligenceagenciesworked closelywith Iran's clergy,the ulema, to wcaken and ultimatelyto overthrow Mossadegh.A critical role was plavcd by streu mobs, bought and paid for by the CIA and mobilized by rabble rousersticd to thc ulema, who demandedthe ousrer of the prrime and thc rerurn of the shah. Ayatollah Seyyed 'rir.risrcr Ab,lclassemKashirni,the chief representative of the Muslim in lrnr'ranclAyirtollahRuhollah Khomeini'smentor and predecessor as lr:rn'slcadingIslrrnristcleric,was a centralfigurern the campaign. Acc.rdi.g tr f.rrrcr lrrrrrian g()vernmentofficials, Khomeini hir-tsclf,ther r. thau rrnrbscure,middle-agedmullah and a foll.wcr'f

Kashani's,took part in the ClA-organized,pro-shahdemonstratior-lsagrrinst Mossaclcgh.2T It is a supreme irony. Twenty-five ycirrslater,irr r 97[],that sarle Khorneiniwould onceagainleada religioltsurob,this tirneto Lurse:rt thc shahand createthe IslamicRepublic of Im n. AyatollahAbolqasseml(asl-r:rrri (ft82-t962) was Khomeini'sgodfather.He was clui'rtcsscnrially p.litical, having startedhis political crrrecrirr tlrc r9'os by servingin thc lranian parliament.In Iran, the clergy had a repr,rtati<-rn for stopping at nothing to protect their status. In the r92os,that nrciu-rt that tl-reestablrshment ulemawould vociferously veto thc creationof an Iraniirnrepublic.Rezapahlavi,the military stro'gnrar who took control of lrirn in the early r9zos, admired I(crnill Ataturk, rhe scculirrTurkish rcpublican leader,and wanted to declarelrar ir repr-rblic rn rhe Turkish model.But the mullahs,includitg Kirshirni,fearedthat a secularrepublicwould fatally undermine their p'wer, irrd sr they clemandeda m.narchy. princess Ashraf Pahlavi,the shah'stwir sisteqwrote in her memoirsabout the clergy's reslstlu'lccto republicanism:"My father favoreda republic like that of Turkey,trnd hc pr.posed this idea to the leadingshiite mullahs. Bur ar a meetirl; in the holy city of Qom, the clergy-staunch supportersof the feudal system,the monarchy, and all tradition representingthe statusquo-told my father they would opposeany plan for a republic."28 Not ready to challengethe powerful religious establishment, Reza abandrned rhe idea of a repr-rblicand proclaimed himself king. The young l(ilshani was one of the kingmakers. over the next twenty years,Kashani would have two enemies:the

The tilar against Nasser and Mossddegh

communistsand the shah.Like Islamistseverywhere,the ulema feared and hated the communistsand their Tudeh Party,and used their religious muscle against the left. But for the mullahs, rhe real threar rcr their power in Iran came from the shah, who disdaineclthe clergy as medieval-mindedrelicsopposedto his efforts to modernizethe country. Beginningin the r93os, following the Ataturk model, the shah acted forcefully against the clergy. He brought the backward sharia courts under statecontrol and nationalizedsome of thc clergv'sreligious endowments,reducingthe clergy'sfinancialpowcr anclrcnroving an importantsourceof their incomc.He instituteda Westcrnfornr of dress,banningIslamicgarb, took control of marri:rgcancldivorce proceedings,and battled the Islarnistsover the cmrrncip:rtitx of \\'omen.The shah orderedthat public plirccsbc opcn to wol.nenancl outlawed the veil and the oppressivcchaclor.In r919, the shrlh banned the horrific practiceof self-flagellation, 11rxutilirtingriturrl practicedby some The nrcasurcswcrc wclcomed by lran's modernists,Lrutthc clergy fLrnred.Often or-rtflankecl [-,vthe shah,Kashaniquietly built up politicalpower. Just as the Muslim Brotherhoodin F.gyptin thc latc r 94os c:rrriccl out acts of terrorism,in Iran, Kashar-ri anclhis ilk fomer-rtecl tcrrorist violenceagainstthe shah.In r94-;, Kashanihelpcdfouncltl-rcunofficial Iranian branch of the Muslim Brotherhoocl,the l)cvoreesof I'lr m , led by a r rdical rnul l l h rtrtncclN rtv:tbSrrfevi.'Ast,rir.s oi tcrrorrst attacks by Kashani'smovernentincludcd .-t tL)41)irssassinntion .rttemptagainstthe shah, carried out by a mcmber of thc Islrnrist ,,rndergroundaffiliated to a publication calleclThc I'lag rf lslam. ln r 9 _io,one of the Devoteesof Islam assassinatecl Abdul HusseinHa jir. rhe shah'sministerof court, and in r95r illrotherI)cvotcernurdcrccl rhe prime minister,GeneralAli Razrnara,just rrsIran wils relrce()tirltrngthe rightsto its oil resources with [,onclon.I{itzntarir.siriclthe shah "had :n his memoirs, the agreementwith thc Anglo-lraniirnOil (irrnIralriirns,fr<;mthc :env in his pocketwhen he died.' r0Most eclucatcd .hah on down, suspected the Britishof havingtiesto lran'sclergyand :o rhe Islamistmovement,if not to the actualactsof tcrrorism. "The British wanted to keepup their empire,and the bestw'ayro cio :irar was to divide and rule," saysF'ereydounHoveyclir,who serveclirs

[)rvrr.' s

(i e vr

Iran'sambassadorto the United Nations until the r979 revohtion, and whose brother, Amir Abbas Hoveyda, Iran's prime minister in the rL)7os,was executedby the Khorneini regime."The British were playing all sides.They were dealingwith the Muslim Brotherhoodin lrgypt and the mullahsin lran, but at the sametirr-re tl-reywcre dealingwith the army and the royal familics."He saysthat the Britishsaw thc Islamists as just anothertool thror-rghwhich their power coulclbe extcnded: They had financi:rldealswith the rnullahs.They would finclthc mostimp()rtantonesand theyw<lrldhelprhern.Anclthe mullalrs were sm.lrt:they kncw tlrat the Britishwcrc thc most irnportant power in the world. It w:rsalso about ln()ney.The Britishwoulcl bringsuitcases full of cashandgiveit to thcscpeoplc.For exanrple, peoplein the bazaar,the wealthymcrchants,would eaclrhave theirown ayatollahthat theywor:[dfinirnce. Arrclthat'swlratthe Br itishwer edoing.rr Ashraf,in her Inenroirs,wrote about Britain'sunholy tiesto the clergy in lr an: Many influential clergymen formedallianccs with representativcs of fclreignpowers,most often thc British,and therewas in fact a standingjoke in Persi:rthat said if you pickedup a clergyman's beard,you w<luldseethe w<lrds"Made in England"stam;red on the otherside.TheseShiitcrnullahsexercised ,r powcrfulinfluence overthe mindsof the mrrsses. tcr At timesthe vcliceof God seerned bc speakingwith a Britishor Russianaccent.It was difficultfor thepeasant to decipher wherereligionleftoff andpoliticsbcg:rn.r2 Ashraf addedthat aftcr Worlcl'WarII, London bolsteredthe Islamic right as part of its Coid Wirr stratcgyfor the region. "'With the encouragementof the British, who saw the rnLrllahsas an eff'ectivecounterforce to the Communists,the elcrnentsof the extreme religious right were startingto surfaceagain,irfter yearsof beingsuppressed."ls The shah hirnself,in merut-rirs writrelr yustbeforehis death in exile, notesthat the man who killed his ministerof court in r95o, Fakhr Arai, had ties both to the l)evoteesof Islam and to the llritish. "Arai was

The'V/ar dgdittst Nassar and Mossadegh

religiousgroup that was comprised involvedwith an ultraconservative of the most backward religious fanatics," he wrote, adding that he may also have had indirect ties to the British embassyin Teheran. in strangepies. The British had ties to "The British had their fir-rgers the most reactionaryclergyin the country.'']a By the early rg5os, Britain'sstake in Iran was threatened.Since World \WarI, the Britishhad enjoyedcxclusiverightsto Iran'soil' So it wasn't surprisingwhen the United Stiltesat first viewedMossadegh favorably.Mossadeghwas seekingto renegotiatethe lran-L].K.oil agreementon rermsmorc favorableto Teheran,and the Britishwere at odds with l,onrattling swgrds arrd making threats.wirslringt<ln, don gvcr Middle East()il,providcdaid irnd sold arrnstg Mossadegh's and, in r g 5 r, Moss:ldcghvisitcdwirshirlgton."President laovernment thc llritish llot to invadclran," wrote a Truntanselt it note irrrplot'ing plan lcaclirrghisrorian.r5But when Mossadeghreicctedan At.nericarr to allgw U.S. oil contpaniesinto Iran, the United states switchcd the flcdglingclA Sr,rddcnly, coursc,and turncd rrgainsrMossaclegh. ar-rdllritain'sMI6 joinedrogethcrin a plot to topple Mossadegh. lrnterKlshani. irrthc Nationi.rl l]ntil r 9 5z, Kashaniposedasan ally of Mossaclegh's BLrt Frgnt.thc natignalistcgalitiorrthat governcdlrirn Llllderthe shah' Kashani as tlre [JniteclStrrtcsarrdthc Britishnloved againstMossadcgh, Iirn and lovccl int<l<lpposition.Kashanirnaintainedcovcrt rtbrtlcftrncd but in public he adr<liflydisutrdcrgrtluncl, tics t9 the Islamist-terrorist (llA was tanceclhimselffrorn the Devoteesof Islamand thcir ilk. The "Prospects well awareof Kashani'spowcr.In rrrcport in october l9-tz, for SurvivalOf M0ssrldeqRegitnein Iran," thc CIA notccl: rcturncdto p()werin Julv r9,52tl'rerclravebeen SirrccMossrtclecl c ()lttlllu()gsrc p ()rtso f ;rl o ts t< l tl ve rth rrl w hi rl l . K l rshl rnitrnd artny < lffic ersrrc fre c l u e n tl vme n ti o n e clrrs l crl ders.... A c< l rl testi rl the strccts bctwcen the forces sr-rpportingMossadecl rrnd K:rshani r' ' hi ttc ' r'rttttltl t ' strttcti vc' rv ottl.ll' .rc

the CIIA Ar-t.rongthc forces that could be rnobilized by Kashani, and inc luc lec l"thc Bazaarmobs and the bandsorganizcdby his son"

D r v t r - 's

G eu l ,

"the Fedayanterrorist organization of Moslem extremists." Even as that report was being wrimen by the CIAs analysrs,rhe CIA's covertoperationsunit was already working with Kashani to mobilize his forcesand to provoke exactly that "contest in the streets."Ina rL)Sz StatcDepartmentmemo, one of Kashani'salliesis quoted predicting violence,sayingthat it "might be necessary . . . to punishthe commu'rz nists physically." In r95z-53, the CIA and MI6 approachedKashani and half a dozen othcr key lranian religious leaders,offering money and other inducementsto break with Mossadeghand supporr the shah. "Religious leaderswere encouragedwith funding to adopt a ntore fundarnentalistline and break with Mossadeq,"accordingto Dorril.38The Britishtook the lead,usingits vast intelligenccnetwork in lran, including the resourcesof the Angkr-IranianOil Company,which maintaincd its own, private secrctservice,the Central Informati<lnBureau. The British, of course,wcrc activein covert operationsagainstMossadegh krng beforethe United Statescameon board, but the Americansreportedly had the chief pipeline to Kashani.Ann Lambton, a professorar Oxford's Schoolof Oriental and African Studicsand a former British intelligenceofficer, played a behind-the-scenes role in the action rcr undermine Mossadcgh and, in a report at the time, she noted that "Kashani has receivedlarge sums of money from somewhere" and noted that it may have beencoming from the CIA.3e brom t946 to r953, the man who ran U.S. covert operationsin Iran was John 'Waller,a veteran of the American clandestineservlce who joined the Office of StrategicServices(OSS)during World'Vfar II and then served with the CIA until the r97os. He spent much of World War lI in Cairo and Teheran and as a very young man was given a leading responsibility."Here I was," 'Wallerrecalls,"head of counterespionage for the Middle East at age nineteen." In 1946, barely into his twenties,he openedthe first American intelligencestation in postwar Iran, recruiting former German spies to assist the United Statesin the Cold \Var and working with Iran's tribal chieftains, including the Qashqai,the Bakhtiari, and the Kurds. ".We,in the field, liked Mossadegh,"says'Sfaller,now in his eighties. "In fact, his niece married a [CIA] case officer." But soon the

The War against Nasserand Mossadesh


Americansbeganro side with the British, who despisedMossadegh. "We had an obligation to our old ally, the British, and oil was an issue." According to'Waller, one of the main props holding up Mossadegh were the mullahs and the bazaar. ,,The bazaar and the mullahs were very, very close. And the mullahs had control of the people,especiallythe lower classes,"he says.a0 of all of the religious leaders,the most important was Kashani, sayss7aller,who as the cIA srarionchief, developeda warm relationship with the fiery ayatollah during the sevenyears that he was stationed in Iran. "I did a porrrair of Mullah Kashani,in pastels,"waller recalls,with a smile. "or, I should sar Ayatollah Kashani.He sat for me for a bit, and I finished it from photographs." waller insiststhat Kashani never becamea full-fledgedclA "agent"-*you don't make an ayatollah your agent," he says-but adds that the United states and the Br:itishhad severalimportant agentsin the anti-Mossadegh coalition, "some of whom were extremelyadroit at handling both the bazaarand the mullahs." And 'Wallersavs: It was obviousthat the clergywereimportant.. . . Kashanitold me why he was droppingout of the Mossadegh coalition.Because the TudehPartywasbeingtoleratedby Mossadegh. Theyweresynony_ mouswith the Russians, and religiousmen don,tlike communism. Kashaniwirsrhe headman of his god, which gavehim politi_ cal power.It's like the Christianright here.He was rhe ayatollah, the Khomeiniof the day.He had power over rhe church.He had power over the poor people,which was most of the peoplein the s<tuthern part of the city.And, from time immemorial,the mullahs werecloseto the bazaaris. Did the CIA fund Kashanidirectly?"Yes," accordingto'Waller. .,It \\'asmoney both to Kashani and to his choseninstruments,money to finance his communication channels,pamphleteering,and so on to rhe peoplein south Teheran." waller adds, with a wry grin, that even r'atollahs are, well, corruptible. choosing his words carefully, he ..1'S,"l think he was truly religious,but forgive me for being a cynic. Berngreligiousdoesn'tdistract you from political or commercialrealIt\'.Or from Sex."

[ ) r v r r - 's

Ci ,rvl

\fith Kashanion board, the CIA and MI6 for-rndit easierto stage streetriots ancl dernonstrari()ns egainstMossadeghand againstthe communists.Kashani'spower among the massesof Teheran'sslums and in the nosclucswas ccx'rsidcrable . The military collp that oustcd Mossadcghwas coupled with clemonstrations financedby the CIA, usingthe crowds loyal to Kashaniand organizedby the clergyar-rdhy gangsof thugs ir-rthe pay of nrobstcrs.Waller rcturned to \iTashingtor-r to overscethc cor-rpd'â&#x201A;Ź'tatfrorr-rhcaclclLlarters, and in thc field the lcgertdaryKcrrnit Roosevcltr:rn the opcrationon the grouncl.Two lrirnian brothers, the "Boscocs," under (llA control, and thrcc otl'rer Iraniirn brotlrers,the Rashiclians,under MI6 corrtrol, joined with Shaaban.faafari,l farnous lranirrn athlete ancl pcrfornrer,to work with Kashaniin assemblingthc rnobs."Orre of our irlielltswrrsa man called'the Br ainlcssO nc,"' reci rl l s \fl al l er."Hc was a sportshcro, it juggler-getting hirn to work with us wrrslike gettingBabelLuth.He could gct a r-nobtogethcrfast.We paid for those." "Through the Rashidians,"wrr)te[)orril, thc C]lAand M16 "cstablishedcontirctwith conservrrtivc clcricssuch as AyirtollahsB<lrujerdi and Behbchani,who feirrcd that Mossaclccl's'leftist aclvanccswere endangeringnationill sccurity;' rrrrd dissidcnt rnr.rllahsfrom the National Front, Kashaniand Makki, who clrinrcd that the ministrics were full of 'Kremlin-controlledirthcists."'alRecallsWaller,"At thc time Islar"nhildn't raiscdits hcrrdin an orgl.rrrized way. BLltcornmunisnr and lslam havenevcrbeencornpatible."al An important part of thc ClAs worl< in lrilr.rin the early r95os involved efforts to rnobilizeIraniirn rcligiorrssentinlentagainstthe USSR.It cameduring a time when thc United Stirteswas experlmenting with Islarnistanti-communistfervor in Egypt,Pakistan,and elsewhere. In lran, much of the (lIAs focus was directed against the communist Tudeh Party, although the Tudeh was never really a serrous threat.Mossadeghwas no communist,having come to power rn part with once he was placedon Washington'senemies list, the CIA went all-out to discredithim by portrayinghim as communist-controlled, especiallyin propagandaaimed at the mullahs. The propaganda effort was coordinated by two CIA officers whom we shall meet later.Donald Wilber and Richard Cottam.

The -V/aragainst Nasser and Mossadegh .

r r7

At times, the propaganda was heavy-handed: The next move was to bring out the psychologicalwarfare assets. "In a lurid effort to totally discreditthe left," Ayatollah Behbehani, who receivedmoney from the Americans, sent out letters bearing the insignia of the Tudeh Party, and containing "grisly threats" written in red i n k " to h a n g a l l th e mu l l a h s from the l amppostsof v rrriousIranian c i ti e s." a l .\c c ording to Dorri l , th e C IA u se d j o u rn a l i sts K enneth Love of the )'lew York Times and l)on Schwind of the Associated Press as agents to c irc ulate their p ro p a g a n d a .a aN o t o n l y d i d the C IA use ayatol l ahs such as Behbehani to spread falsified thrcats fnxn the TLrdeh about hanging mullahs , b u t i t p a i d vi o l e n t a g cn ts provocateurs to ri l e up Iran' s religious c ommu n i ty. T h e (l l A a n d M1 6 pai d thugs and rabbl erous ers to pos e as T u d e h fo l l o w e rs i n vi o l e nt strcet demonstrati ons attac k ing Iran' s Sh i i te e sta b l i sh me n t:

The rnobs calre ()ur onto the strccts.. . . A key aspectof the plot was t() p()rtray thc rnobs as supportersof the Tudeh Party in order t<l proviclc a suit:rblepretext for the coup and the rcsumption of power by the s h a h . l M1 6 rrg e n tslh i rcd :r fa ke Tudch crow d, comprising an unusual mixturc of pan-lrarriansand Tudeh mernbcrs, paid for with fifty thousand clollarsgivcn to them by a CllA officer. Richarcl (lottaur observed that agcnts working on behalf of the Britis h " s aw thc o p p o rtu n i ty a n d se n tth e p copl ew e haclunder our if they werc Tr-rdeh. control into thc strcctst() rrct21s Thcy were more than jr-rstpr()vocatcurs,they were shock tr(x)ps,who acteclas if thcy were T uc leh pe o p l e th ro w i n g ro cl < sa t mo sques ancl Imul l ahsl ." "The pLrrpose"Ianother writer saidl, "w:rs to frighten a majority of Ir:rniansinto believingthat a vicfory for Moss:rdcc1 would be a victory for the Tr"rdeh, the SovietUnion, and irreligi<ln."a5

After thc restoration of the shah, efforts were madc to put the Is lamis t genie bac k i n th e b o ttl e . B u t th e force of pol i ti cal Isl am, repres s edin Iran s i n c e th e r9 2 o s, h a d n o w revi ved, thanks i n part to the as s is tanc eof th e C IA a n d MI6 . It w o u l d not be so easy to qui et i t down again, and in a very literal sensethc forces that toppled the shah

l ) pvr r - 's

(i A Ml r

in t97c)were cxactlythoseunleashedto return him to power in r 95 1. In the r 9 5os, the shahand his SAVAKsecrctscrvicestr'ovcmightilyto keepthe Islamistsin checkanclto buy off, corrupt, or otherwtscllcutralizethe mcdievalmullahs,includingl(honrcini."l)uring the shah's reign,thc governrncntpaid the clergy,too," s:tysFereydor.rn Hovcycla. the fornrer Iranian UN ambassador,whose brother scrvcd as the shah'sprintenrinisterfor n-ranyyears."Sonreof the moncy carncfronr rny brother,irnclsorneof it camefrorn SAVAK," he says."And SAVAK had its own peoplein thc clcrgy."a6Yct thc shah preferrecl to clismiss Islam rrsa relic of the past. And so when the movernerrtagainstthe shah beganin earnestin the micl-r97os,r'rcithcrthc shah nor rnost()l his syco;rhantic aideswoulclrccognizcit for what it was. After r95 j, Kaslranigraduallv faclcclfror.nview. tlut his ircolytc would introduceit vinrlent new stritilrof politrcalIslam.He wrrsjLrsr beginninghis riseto powcr. The r94os irnd r95os were still firrnrativeyearsfor Khorreini.His politicalviewswerc in flux, althor-rgh Khonreini's writingsduringlTrrrlcl War II reflectedclistrstcfor thc "dark dictatorship"of RczaShah,whosc reigncndedwhen he was clcposecl in r94t.ot By instinct,Khomeiniwrr. pronc to denounccthc compliant,Shiitcclcricalestablishment in lran. He gravitatecltoward Kashani, Navrrb Srrfavi,ancl thc l)cvotccs of Islam, and beganto refinehis radic:rlviews. "Khomcini's owu politicrrl position during this period was somewl"rere berweenrhar of thc clcric.rl establishnrent and the Feddiltdrz," wrote l(homeini'sbiographcr,Baqcr Moin. He supportcdthe fairly conservative AyatollahBorujerdi,br-rt he wasradicallyopposecl to secularisr.r.r, in the believecl adirrnantly ruleof tlteshdrid,irnclhadactivisttenclencies. He hadabsorbed, in other wclrds,someof the ideasof the Fediriyan perhapsin the courseof conversations with,according to the latter'swidow, wasa frequentvisitorto Khomeini' Kashanibeganto act as Khomeini'smentor at this point. Another in d i ca ti o n o f th e K h o me i n i ' s pol i ti cal i deas at the ti me was his ad mi ra ti o n fo r A ya to l l a h A b o l qassem K ashani (r882196z ), who fro m r9 4 j w a s cl o se l y l i nked ro the Fedai yar-r-e

Tbe rXlaragainst Nasserand Mossadegh .


Islam. . . . Khomeini was a frequent visitor to Kashani's home and admired his courage and stamina. He shared his views on many rs s uess uc h a s a n ti -c o l o n i a l i sm, Isl a mi c uni versal i sm, pol i ti cal ac tiv is m,an d p o p u l i s m.a e

i)Lrringthe r953 coup, Khomeini was involved with the rerro'sti'clined Devorees.f Islanr,even after Kashani decidedro keep his .iistance.Yet Khomeini and Kasha'i remainedcrose, and Khrmeini Kershani's advicetr break with Mossadeghand supporr the rerurn of the shah. Still, Khomeini maintaincd ties r' rhe r)evorees, rncl he intcrvenedin ir vain effrrt to preventthe execution ,f Navab :.rfavi in the micl-r9jos. Br-rrrhe carcr-rrating ayat.lrah rcarneda grear his expcricnccin r953. :rncrthc l)ev.tees, 'lcrrl he fert, \\'cre too p'litical, and the all-important con'cctio'r with the csr ablishur enr ulem:.rin the h<l l vci ty.f eorn. Borujerdi,.n the othcr h.rnd'th.ugh adrnircclby Kh.meini for his rerigioLrs sch.rarship,was r.. clistantfr'm politics.Repairingro eom, Kh'mcini spcnfthe next rer ycars sceki.g to unite the p.litical and the religioLrs elcr'ents.f Irer's Shiite nrovenrent.Hc would next cxploclc onto the sccnern rty61- 64.m ountinga front:rlchal l engeto thc shah. The Unitedstilres,rncanwhile,w.uld torgetall ah.ut Islamin lran. Thc shah was reinstalled, \rvashingt'n and secure. had w'n a healthv chunl<.f the lr anianoilindustryfor U .s..i rc,nrprrrics, enclrhe unitei statcswas busilyhelpingthe shahbuircrhis army,his policc force,and his nruch-feared intelligence servicc,the sAvAK. Despitcthe help of s.nrc rf the r'ullahs in topplingMossadcgh,the irnperial shahwas rn nr'od t. sharepowcr with anyrne-liberals,businessmen, or clergy. '. s'the Islamistsseethed and simmeredbeneathhim, unnoticed. The st.ry of political Islam irnd its burge'ning alliance with thc U.itecl Statesnow shiftedt, the Ara[r w,rlc1.Nasser, vict.rious after the SuezWar of r9;6 ancl unbowed, was prcsentlng an ever more seri'us challenger' the cold \far ideologuesofthc Eisenhower rrclministrati.n. Egypt'sMuslim Brotherhoodwas crushedand forced int<lexile.To stop Nasser,and fo support a'ti-c.mnrunisr anclantinirtionalistf,rccs acrossthe entire Arab world, the United States trrrncdr o Sr r udiArahir.



"Tl-regenius of you Arlericans is tl-ratyou never makc clear cut stupid rrroves,only complicatcd stuylid moves which make us w onder at t hc pos s i bi l i t y t hat f hc r e m a y b e s o n r c t h i n g w e a r c nri s s i ng." - G a m a l A b d e l N r r s s c r r, 9 5 7

Dwrcsr Dnvro E rsE nHo' ffE R was a good general,a m odesr prcsiclcnt,irncla poor studentof lslam. In thc imrnediateaftermathof Suezin rL)56,after lke had intcrvened to force Israel out of the Sinai and ro undo the Anglo-French conspiracyagainst Gamal Abdel Nasser'sllgypt, rhe United Srate, had a chanccto improverelationswith Nasscrand Arab nationalisnr. Instead,h,isenhower opted for an alliancewith SaudiArabia, makins the reactionary bastion of Islamic fundamentalism into Americ:r', chief ally in the Arab world. Until Nasser'sunrimely death in -r9zc. SaudiArabia would serveas the bulwark of Americaninfluencein th. region. Like Franklin Roosevelt before him, who had announce.i America'sclaim to a strategicstakein Saudi oil, Eisenhowerpremisc.i friendiy relationswith Saudi Arabia on rhe importance of that country's petroleumwealth. But he expandedthat relationshipto include .r utilitarian alliancewith SaudiArabia's benightedversionof Islam. H. set a coursethat continued under the Kennedy,Johnson, and Nixon administrations.

The King of All lslam



The cornerstoneof the administration'sMiddle East policy was the Eisenhower Doctrine. Echoing FDR, Ike proclaimed America's imperial goal of incorporating the Middle East into its permanent sphereof influence."The existingvacuum in the Middle East must be filled by the United Statesbefore it is filled by Russia," proclaimed Ike.l In a messageto Congressin January r957, the presidentpromisedthat the United Stateswould provide military and financialaid to any Middle East countries "requestingsuch aid againstovert aâ&#x201A;Źigression from any nation controlledby internationalCommunism."l To supportthe doctrine,Eisenhowerinvited King Saudto make an offi'Washington, emphasizingthe importance of Saudi cial state visit to Arabia by personallygoing out to the airport to meet thc rrriving monarch.Ever grateful,thc king endorsedthe lrisenhowcrDocrrirre. It made senseto Eiscnhowerto vicw SaudiAr:abiairsthe ultimatc prize, sinceone-fourthof the world's oil lay beneathits sands.Br-rt L,isenhower saw SaudiArabia as rtore than a treasureto bc protccted. Its role as the worldwide centerof lslam suggestedto Washingtonthat Islam-and Islamism-could be wieldcdas :r sword againstthe Soviet Union and againstleft-leaningnationalistslike Nasser. llisenhower,CIA Director Allen l)ulles, and Sccrctaryof State .|ohn FosterDulles irlso sought to build an alliancewith SaucliAramovement,and Allen Dulles'sCllA secretly bia'sWahhabipan-Islermic encour agedSaudrArahi a to rchui l clthe Muslim l3rothcrhoodagrrinst Nasser.The presidcntfearedthat the SovietUnion wils trying to use EgyptianpresidcntNasseras thc "head of an enormousMoslcm conrecalled: federation."Flisenhower in thisdirectionwe wantedto explorethe Tir checkany m()vement possibilities of building up King Saud irs i'r counterweight to Nasser. The king was a logicalchoicein this regard;he at least and heenjoyed,on religious professecl 21nti-Communism, grounds, amongirll Arab nations.l a highstandir-rg It was a flawed idca. fear that the Soviet Union was on the vergeof First, E,isenhower's making major gainsin the Middle Eastwas greatlyexaggerated, and the notion the USSR might try to embraceIslam was wildly off the



D r v r r 's


mark' True' Moscow was trylng to leapfrog the anti-communlst Northern Tier sraresof Turkey, Iran, and pakistan. It did so by seeking influence in the Arab world, especialry by cultivating ties to Nasserand, after r95g, hoping that the revolutionary governmentof Iraq would form a pan-Arab alliance with Egypt. But neither the lrgyptian nor the Iraqi g.vernment was pro-communist, and an E'gypt-Iraqalliance never emerged.aIn addition, although the Soviet Union may have looked with favor on pan-Arabism, with its emphasts on nationalism, Mosc'w feared the rise of Islam within its own bordersin central Asia and had no intention of fosteringpan-rslamin the Middle H,ast.yet none of this deterredlke from prrrJ'g a fateful alliancewith Riyadh. Moreover, the notion of a U.S.-saudi alliance built on Isram ignored the fact thar King saud did not exactly enjoy much presrrge among.Muslims.',Saudwas weak, stupid, and corrupt, and he was surroundedby Levantinecourtiers,"says JamesAkins, a veteranU.S. diplomat who servedas ambassadorto saudi Arabia in the r97os.. Ilesidesthe fact that he was hopelesslyignorant, with only the foggiest understandingof the modern world, Saud was also widely seenas dissolute,a sex addict, a drunk, and an all-around seekerof pleasure, servedby pimps and procurersof alcohol in ren lavish palaces.with more than a hundred children5from an endless seriesof wives and concubines,he was also, quite literally, the father of his country. All in all, saud was a less-than-sorid foundarionupon which to build a Middle East empire, and especiallynot if one to appealto the conservativesin the Muslim world. -ished Yet as king of Saudi Arabia, whose territory included Mecca and Medina, the holiest citiesin Islam, Saud did embody worldwide prestige as custodian of Islam's two shrines. As the cold war matured, SaudiArabia's role as the centerof worldwide Isram would loom ever larger in U.S. straregicthinking. Saud-cynicallS some might say_ sought to porrray himself as King of All Islam, and that ,ra,,,gh for Eisenhower."Arabia," wrote Eisenhower, "is a country that contains the holy placesof the Moslem world,,, and he reasonedthat ,,the King could be built up as a spiritual lead,er."7 According to Nathan citino, the effort to build up King saud as the leaderof Islam was Darr

TheKingof All Islam .


ot a ,ornt strategy with Great Britain called "omega.,, Eisenhower insistedrhat "our efforts should be toward separati; the saudi Ara_ bians from the Egyptians."sThe president and the Dulres brothers were even more encouragedwhen King Saud requestedan Islamic Iegal ruling from the wahhabi clergy forbidding Musrims from acceptingaid from the Sovietbloc. An effort to cobble togetheran ,,lslam strategy,,emergedearly in 1'257."Following the saud-Eisenhower summit, the administration continuedto cultivate Islam as a bulwark againstcommunism,and as part of this policy it sought opportunities ro overcomethe social frag_ mentation that afflicted the Middle Easr," wrote citino, who con_ ducted a study of u.s.-saudi rerarionsduring the Eisenh.weryears. "In Iare January,the Nati.nal Security cor-rncirstaff estabrished a working crmmittee on Isramicorganizations that compireda list .f Middle Easrernand North African s.cial, curtural, and groups' such as sufi brotherh.ods, which the United states lnforma_ tron Agencycould target with propagancla.,,e The cIAs chiefspeciarist on Isramat the time was none .ther than l)onald Wilbea the operativewho had hetped organizethe r953 coup d'etat in Iran. "xTilber knew a lot about Islam," saysJohn $'ailer, a retired cIA official who oversaw the coup from crA headquarrcrs.r0 But in his memoirs, Aduentures in the Midcile tasl, Wilber rafher modestlydescribeshis work on lslam at the time: one subject'n which I was c.ntinualry actlvewas Isramand the Muslimsof the MiddreEast.F.r lackof anyone betterquarified, I becamethe Agency'sspecialist on Islam.In the spring'of t957| was the CIA memberof an inter_agency working group on lslanr, and thenthe co-authorof thegroup study. rn the fielcrilnd at heaclquarrersI reviewedfilesand alsoc.llected publication, inf,rr_ mationon trips,and I authoredseveralstudies:..lslam ",.,d in Iran,,, "Islamin pakistan,"..Islamin Afghanistan,,, lerc.l.More exhaus_ tive than any publishedmaterial,thesewere to serveasguiderines for workingwith Muslimgroups.ll Wilber also included in his surveysresearch into the extent to which the Central Asian Muslim population inside the Soviet Union could

t 2- a. .

D t vt r - 's

( i ,tl ,ttt

be rrobilized against the USSR, and he coordinirtcd propaganda efforts in the late r9-5os"exposing the Soviet Clonrmunistirttitudc towar d Islam ."l l Eisenhoweralso soughtinpr:t frorn non-CllAspecialists on Islam, inclr-rcling of whonr thoscwithin acrldemia. LeadrngOrientalists, haclhighlightcdthc Princetoncolloqr-riunr iu which the Muslim Brotherhoocl'sSaid ltarnadantook pitrt, werc tappeclfor their cxpcrrisc. Wrote Clitino: Thc Eiscnhorvcr in Wrsl'rspor.rsorcd a corrferencc aclrninistrati()n instolrof lcaclinghistoriirnsof the MiclcllcL,irst,including,rlnrolrs tnrtnv others,th e p ro n ri n cn t Ofto n rrrnh i st< l ri ani l ncl l rl ter U rti vers ity < lf Chicrrg op r< l fe ssoIlr a l i l In a l ci k. N i rti onal S ccLrri tv(l l rrnci l staff-ersroutirrelv attenclcclrrcaclernicconfcrcr.rccsancl collectecl scholarly prrperson the c()lrtcnrporilrl MiciclleF-ast.lrr onc r.tot,rbl.: cxanrplc of Midcllc F.rrstcrnscl.rolarsl'rip with (blcl War rrrnrificrrtions, filcclrtway in the NS(. staff prrpersat the F.iscnl'rower' [-ibrrrry, Ilc rnrrrc[.c l w i s cxp l rri n sh o l v N a cl sh b a n diS ufi sl rvi rrgi rr the (]rucrrs us rc gion rri g h t b c u se cl ,rs a fi i th col unrn i nsi cl c the S ovi er ernpirc .ll

T wo c los e a cl vi se rso f K i n s S i ru d -Y u suf

Y assi n ancl Mohrt.tttnccl

Sorour S:lbhan -co n cl u ctcd th e n e g o ti a ti ons w i th S ecretrrryof S tatc .fc lhn F os tc r Du l l cs.l a Y a ssi n , a S yri i rn frorn l -i rtarki i l ,on thc col st of the Meditc rran e i l n , w a s rl sl y, w e l l -co n n ectecl rnember of thc ki ng' s c ntourage who h a cl fi rst co me to S a u cl i A rabi a on thc rccommencl ation of right-wi n g S yri a n p o l i ti ci i rn s. I-Ic rcprcsentecll bn S rr.rd' sfi nanc ialinteres ts in l )a ma scu s. Ma ki n g u se o f S audi money and hi s S yri an c onnec tions , Y a ssi r.rp l o tte d to su b ve rt or destabi l i zc that country. Beginning in r 9 5 6 -5 7 , th e (i l A , to o , l a unchcd a covert operatl on aimed at topp l i n g th e S yri a n g o ve rn ment. l 5 In r95l l , Y assi rrs implic ated in a S a u d i co n sp i ra cy to a ssassi nate E gypt' s P resi dcnt Nas s er,who wa s fl yi n g i n to D a ma scu s. T he exi stence of the pl ot w rl s announc ec l by th e S yri a n a rmy' s ch i e f o f i ntel l i gence, w ho reveal ecl that Saudi Ara b i a h a d o ffe re d h i rn a b ri be of fr.9

rni l Lon to hei p

c arry it out. It w o u l d n o t b e th e l a st U .S .-S audi conspi racy agai nrt Arab nationalis t l e a o e rs.

TheKingof All Islam .


More interesring,for our story, is the role of Mohammed Sorour sabhan. sorour was rhe freed slavewho, while serving as saudi Arabia'sdeputy financeminister in the late r94os, was rhe saudr paymasrer for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. In the r95os, sorour had becrme minister of financeand one of King Saud,s closestadvisers.In the r96os, he would assumea powerful position overseeingsaudi Arabia's worldwide effort to promore the Muslim Brotherhood other radical Muslim fundamentalistgroups, fr.m Africa to Indonesia. It isn't known if at ail, or to what extent,sorour and Duiles discussedthe Brotherhood.But in supporting an alriance with saudi Arabia' then the Brrtherhood's chief financiar supporter, the Unitecl Stateswas in fact enlistingthe Brothersin the Cold War. Askedabout America'sdecisionto supporrSaudiArabia,s Islamic bl'c against Nasser,a former senior crA officiarrwh' scrved in thc Middtc East summarizeclthe ciold \war:rationare:.,what other porc was there?King Hussei'?" he asks."The.ptic was the cold war The (l.ld war was rhc defining crarity of the time. we saw Nasser as socialist,anti-western,anti-Baghd:rdpact, and we were rooking for sorle sorr ,f c.unterf il. Saucliefforts to Islamicize the region were scen as powerful and cffectiveand likely ro l-resuccessful. we lovcd that. We had an ally againstcornmunisrn."r(, ore crrsequence.f Eisenhower's effortsin the r9sos to build up snr r tirA'hir r r sn bulwark agri nstc.nrmrrnism*ai th. riseof the bin Laden farnily. seekingr, enhanceSirr-rdi prestigeas custodiansof thc Muslim hrly placesin Mecca and Medina, Ike aurhrrized half a milli.n clollilrsfor SirudiArabia t' str-rdy the c.nstruction.f a railroadt' carry pilgrirns to Mecca, part of an cffort to refurbish Mecca as thc ccnrcr .f Islarnicculrure. l(ing saud hirecl Sheikh Moharnmed hin Laden to undertake thc reconst.rction of the Great Mosque rn Mccca.It wirs through this prum contr.ct that the bin Ladensbega,,, to accumulatetheir vast wealth.

D r . v r t , 's

T Hs BROTF{Ii R FrooD' s


S nuor


Initially Sirr"rdi Arabia suppliedthc Muslim Brotherhoodwith money only.Aftcr r 9.y4,howevcr,the c()Llntryitselfbecamea chief baseof its oprerations. When Nassercrackeddown on the Muslim Brothcrhood in Flgypt,Sar-rdi Arabia provided :rn important refuge for the organtzation, and mirny of its mernbersflockcclto the dcsertkingdom. This rnigrationoccurrcdjust as the Unitcd Starcswes giving up on Nasser anclturning to Saudi Arabia. The Brotherssettledin Jeddah,wherc tl-reywent into business,and in Riyaclh,Mecczr,and Medina, where they rirdicalizcdthc Wahhabi movcnlcnt.For thc next half century, SaLrdiArabia would be thc llrothers'ultimirteredoubt,providingsuccor and support,along with virtually nnlirliteclfinar-rcing. "Onc of the slupiclcstthings l-'aisirlevcr did was to invite the Ikhwrrr-ris into SaLrdiArabia," saysDavid [-or-rg, who'd servedin the "But it seemed Statel)cpirrtrnent'sIlurear.r of Intelligenceand ll.esearch. innocuousat the tin-rc.At the timc, cverybodywas fightir-rgCommunism,and so wcrc we. And so wrrsF:risal."l7Faisal,the crown princc, woulc'ln'tbecomcking of SaudiArabia until the r 96os,when he ousted Sirudin a palacecoup, but hc was widely seenas morc sophisticated, rnoreenlightened, ilnclfar shrewderthan the dissoluteSaud. The Muslim Brotherhood,a highly political organizationdedicateclto creatinga worldwide caliphate-basecl Islan-ricstate,was both an ally and a threat to Saudi Arabia. "The SaLrdis weren't terribh hrppy with the Muslim lJrothcrhooc'I, but if you-and the Saudis were-scared to death of Nasser,the Mr-rslimBrotherhood was still the only game in t{)wn," says Jol-rnVoll, a Georgetown Universin professor.rsIn its foreign policy, Saudi Arabia r-rtilizedthe Brotherhood againstL,gypt,Syria, and Iraq, built its power in Sudan,encouragcd it in Afghanistanand Pakistan-where it allied with Abul-Ala Mawdudi's lslamic Group-and even toyed with supporting it in SovietCentral Asia. But internally,the royal family did not tolerate Muslim Brotherhood action. "The Saudiswere very tolerant of the Muslim Brotherhood, and they encouragedit in Egypt, Sudan, and elsewhere,but they were adamantly opposedto fBrotherhood] actir'-

TheKing of All Islam


irv inside Saudi Arabia," says Ray close, who served as the clA's chiefof stationin SaudiAr:abiafrom r 97o to 1977.le "The Saudis,as you know, oppose all political parties," says Hermann Eilts, one of America's most experiencedArabists, who servedas ambassadorto saudi Arabia. "And the Saudiregimehad the erperiencein the late rgzos with the Ikhwan, not exactlythe Muslirn Brotherhoodbut the tribesmenwho wcre becomrngrather fanatical. Now what Hassanal-Bannaand thc Muslim Brotherhoodwerc doing in Egypt,and in Syria,was somerhingthat was generallyin line with Saudithinking on the irnportanceof Islam, as opposedto nationalism, as a uniting factor. Nevertheless,thcy were not eagcrto have thc Muslim Brotherhood,or any other political force, organizethemselvesin saudi Arabia.Thcy were unw i l l i ngto allow any politicalparti es, including Muslim poli ti cal parri cs."2l)In facr, in r946, whe' Hassan al-Banna tried to opcr 11Muslim Br.therh'.d branch in Mecca,the Saudiauthoriricsbluntly refusecl.zr Though the saudis t.'k meesuresro preve't the Muslinr Brotherhoodfrom beconringa forceinsidcSaudiArabia. the Brothers operatedthere in a scnri-underground fashion.Many of thern went into business, establishirrg Islan-ric banks and corporationsthat made them wealthy.c)rhcrsbecameinflLrcntialin rhc-rnassmeclia.clbse, the (llA stationchicf,recallsthat RichardMitchcll,thc auth.r of the definitive book, The societyof the Muslim Bruthers,intr.duce-clhinr to one key personality."lt was rhr,ugh Dick Mitchell that I rnct the rnly memberof the Ikhwarnthat I everknew,MohammcdSirlahr-rddin," sa1,s close. "He was the cdit.r of Al Medhrl newspaper.He wrrs b.rn in Suclan,and spent some rinre i' L,gypt,k'ew all the lkhwanis. His presencewirs tolerateclas long as he wrotc things againstcommur-risn-r." And still othersweltt inro acadcmia,infiltratingSaLrcli Arabia's nctwork of lslamicuniversitics.Yet thcy opcratedas a sccretsociety, kept their membershiphidclcn,irnd maintaineda clandestine nresence in many Saudiinstiturions. It was in thc univcrsity system that the Mrslim Brothcrh.od wor-rldfind its mosr secureperch.SaucliArerbiahad neverhad much of a systemof higher education,ar-rdwhirt it did have was overwhclmingly dedicatedto rraining clericsand inculcarinswahhabi values

r 28


D r v r l 's


among the country'syouth. In the r96os, SaudiArabia createda pair of institutions,the Islamic Universityof Medina (rc.6t) and King Abdel Aziz llniversity ( r,)67), which becameintellectualcenrersfor the Islamicright. 'rhe IslamicU'iversity of Mcdina beganwith Pakistan's Mawcludi, ar militant Islamist, ils one of its trustees,who wanted to make it into the fundamentalistalternativeto ciairo's AI Azhar, the thousarnd-year-old repositoryof thc mainstrea'uIslamic traditior-r.2. The Muslim Brotherhood and its wahhabi allies convincedthe royal family that Al Azhar was too closeto Nasser,so they lavishly funded the Isla'-ricuniversity .f Medina. l).zcns of Egyptia' lslamic scholarsaffiliatedwith or sympathcticro the Muslinr lJrotherhood took up postsat the university. The vicepresidcntof thc universitywalsa man wh. would figurci' hard-right lslamic politics i' saudi Arabia frr the scveral 'cxr decades:sheikh Abdel Azizbin Baz. I]lind sinccyouth, bin Baz was il fanaticalwahhabi who woulcl resisrmodernizari.n in saudi Arabia and flirt with violenceand terrorism.111v966. bin Baz insistcdthat the copernicanvicw of the universewas heresy,that the sun revolvecl around the earth, and rhat the earth itsclf was flat. Anyone who clisagreed,said bin Ilaz, was guilty of "falsehood toward Cod, the Koran, and the Prophet."2rHis views angeredKing Faisirl,but irr r97 4 bin Baz would be appointedpresidentof the official Direcrorarc of ReligiousResearch,Islamic Legal Rulings,Islamic prrpagarior, and Guidance.2a The Islamic Universityof Medina was conrrolledby Saudi Arabia'sGrand Mufti Mohammed ibn Ibrahim Al shaikh, a chief of the rvahhabi Al Shaikh clan. Fully fl5 percentof its srudenrswere no.Saudi, coming from virrually every Islamic country in the world. Through this institution and its sisteruniversiriesin Saudi Arabia, the Muslim Brotherhoodwas able to spreadits ideologyeverywhere.2t hr addition, tens of thousands of young Saudis were indoctrinated through the saudi sysremof higher education.The Saudi universin systemexpandedexponentially,from 3,625 studentsin r965 to more than rr3,ooo studentsby t986. Half of its six universitieswere religious in nature and, according to one study, nearly one-third of ali

The King of All lslam


t z.)

'-,-..lisf,dentsmajoredin Islamicstudies;for the other 7o percenr,a : r.:.rloi their coursework was religiousin nature.26 lr'es Aki's, who servedas U.s. ambassadorto SaudiArabia in .:: ferl\- r97os, was troubleclby the emphasison religion, but the - '','.rlfarrily t.ld hirn to keep out of it. "They told me, ,rt,s nor yo,r :'.rriness," 's:lysAkins. "Thcre wasn' t much we could clo about it." \^irs. alrng with more prolrressive Saudis,was upsct that the Saudi -r;rr'crsitysystemwasl-r't trainingadministrators,rrranagers, scicntists. -,;r.1cngineers."I talked to them about trzrir-ring rnorc doctors, and fewer mul l ahs," rccallsAkins. .,ButI was let -.crnists,engincers, : ' kr<)$rthat I was bey.nclrry colrpetence,and that I was meclclling ',',herc I wrrsn'rwanted. I th.Lrght it wns rark str-rpidity. lr was an ri.soli,rte cirtirstrophe, training all thosc rrrullahs.A lrurnlrcrof thc :'ri.ces ur geclm c to talk t'the p.w er strl lctlrre."Tir avail. The '' :.rLrcii nr inistr yof cducarionwrs conrrol l cdby the Al Shaikh, and its :roiclovcr that part of govcrnrrcntwi l s urrshakable. l-hc rclari.nshiplrctwcenthe Al Sirr-rcl, the Al Shaikh,and the Mus.rrr Br'ther-swirs a c'mplex onc. rncrrbersof the r.yal far-nily *erc 1-rious irncl orthoclor, irncl sirw wahhalrisn as the righteous i.l.rr.ic path. others, .f c.urse-Kirrg S:rLrcl irrd I(ing F'ahd.and hun.irccls.f pleirs'rc-seekins lcsscrprirccs-we re, rcl:r:rrnshi p to wir hhabi iclcologvwils fenuousat bcst. The Al shaikh, Lrsurrlly ir clistinctbloodline,also begrrnrnarryingthe Al Saucf, crcating t.rnrilvbonclsthet pulled parts of both clans in two clirections,the roral rrnclfhc rclisious.(King Faisal's rnother,for instirncc, was fronrthe \l shaikhfrrrnily, givirg Frrisalrrna.rir pict,vthrt .rhcr s.ns .f Abdel 'f .\ziz coulclr'tas errsilyclainr.)Accorclingto F)ilts,fhcrewas rr ..consranr ttig rf war" bctwce' rhe r.yal fa.rily :rnclthe rcligi.usfanrily: ()ver r i'r c,'.e rrls. i<lu'd that:l"ong thc Al Sharkh, arrcl nr()rcwerc lcrrving, rrrd rvererot g<lingint. thc rcligi<lLrs leaclcrship,b't i.r . thc aruryirrclthings.f rhar.rlture.S, the sacral niltrrrcoithc Al Shrril<h fantilycantet() bc clilrrtccl, so nruchs<lthrtt trrrisal, in tL)7r, when tlrc GrandMufti drecl,eli'ni'arcdthc n<lsr f'r a preri'ciarrclesrablished a nrinistrv.i jusrice,which*,,r r..,, rrsa werrkening of thisl<lng-standing, two-century-old relationship

t 30

D rvrl ' s


betweenthe Saudisand the religiousleadership. The ministry of lusticeremained,but the king laterreestablished the muftiate,and nameda memberof the AI Shaikhfamilyto it. The ulema [clergy]were powerful,and the Al Shaikhfamily couldcontrolthe ulema.But as theAl Shaikhfamilyweakened in its influence,with only somemembersgoing into the clergy,and youngerpeoplecoming up and many of them becomingulerna, the rel.tionshipbetweenthe Saudifamily and the Al shaikh family crackedsomewhat.Soy.u getto the currentsituation,wherea large numbcr of younger peopleobject to their elders,to the ulema,and to the Saudir.yal family and are seekingto g. their ()wnway,ar.rdrathermilitantly.2T As strainsberweenthe Al Saudand Al Shaikhbeganto show,the Al shaikh beganto exhibit the effectsof prolongedexposurer. rhe Muslim Brotherhood.whereas the Al shaikh were establishment-orienred, morc religious than political, and above all committed to stabilin. (especiallyf.r thc Saudrthrone), the Muslim Brotherhood'smembers were often brash, highly political, and as often as not, revolutio'mincled.After r954, as more and more Brotherssettledin saudi Arabia, the Al Shaikh becomemore militant. If the Al Shaikh 'aturally had intereststhat diverged from thrse .f the Al saud. the Muslim Brotherhooddid so evenmore strongly. According to Martha Kessler,a former cIA Middle East analyst who has studiedthe Muslim Brotherhood,the loyalty of the vahhabi establishmentin Saudi Arabia ro the royal family wenr only so far. and that was even truer for the Brotherhood members in the kingd.m. "The Egyptian Brothers in Saudi Arabia were even further removed [than the Al shaikh] from any senseof loyalty ro rhe House of Saud"' she says."It's not clear that they wanted to overthrow the regime, but inside the Brotherhood, there was always a debate betweenthose who wanted to overthrow what they saw as the corrupt regimesand those who wanred to spend their time organizing. developinga basein the community."28 The delicaterelationship among the Saudi royal family, its vahhabi establishment,the Muslim Brotherhood,and the evenmore radical Islamic terrorisr groups would continue to evolve. The balancr

TheKingof All Islam . r 3r :-j shift, depending on their relative strengths,power struggles -.n the royal family, and regional politics. This balancewas made :r irofâ&#x201A;Ź complex, thanks to the role of Islamic charities,often con-:-::d to one or more Saudi princes,that wittingly or unwittingly -i:J.rS conduits for money to terrorist groups.The situation was , .;erbated by the fact that individual princes often acted indepen-:'r v of the king, the government,and other membersof the family. . :.. Sirudiroyal family is not a monolith by any means," saysRay .:. "There is alwayssomebodyready to give money to someone. - - -e . is a lot of free enterprisegoing on in royal family politics." -,. the Muslim Brotherhood gained influence in Saudi Arabia, ' . Saud and then King Faisal skillfully incorporated thc organiza. -- rnto the kingdom's official foreign policy. In the r96os, two land'..i eventsmarked that grand design:the creation of the Muslirn , :..1Leaguein t96z and the establishment of the Organizationof '-, Irlamic Conferencein r969. Under Faisal,Saudi Arabia vigor..... n'clrkedto set up an "Islamic bloc," completewith Amencan ::ort. which ultimately succeededin eclipsingEgypt'sNasser.

Klr.rc Falsnr's


B r-oc

, ':.rrEisenhowerhad helpedset in motion in thc r95os continucd .-: rn the decadethat followed. i'.usal,king from t964 to r97 S, wasa more modernmonarchthan ' -- Saudft957-t961, and had a clearvision of SaudiArabia'sforpolicy."Faisal," saysC)harles Freeman,a veteranU.S. foreign ser-: Lrfficerwho servedas U.S. ambassadorto Saudi Arabia. "made a -: rcrdte decisionthat Islam was the antidote to Nasser."2eIt was a Although some viewedenthusiastically. -: . :lopmentthat'Washington .,--.rr-minded U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers registered - :.tions from time to time, the U.S.-Saudialliancewas set in stone, " -- so Saudi Arabia's Islam-basedforeign policy worried few. Even :

-, '.ates of the U.S.-Israelialliance,who gained momentum in the - -:s. were far more worried about Nasserthan about SaudiArabia. 'World Leaguein 196z marks the The foundation of the Muslim


l ) r vt l 's

( 'avl

formal beginning of the resurgence of radical-right political Islam. F< runde di n Mecca i n t9 6 2 , th e Mu sl i m W orl d League w as a \Who' s Who of the lslarnic right. For the first time the movemenr had a central nervous system more organized than the clandestine Muslim Br.therhood. T h e vi rtu a l l y u n l i mi te d a b i l i ty of S audi A rabi a to f und the organi zati on g a ve i t e n o rmo u s ckru t. A mong the foundi ng m em bers and officers of thc League3, were virtually all of the lcader:sof the Is lamic rcsurgen ce ,i n cl u d i n g : SardRarnada n ,th e so n -i n -l a wo f H a ssa nal -B anna,the fcl underof the Musl i rr B ro rh e rh o o d . a n d th c B n rtherhood' s chi ef i nrc r rtati< l rralorga n i ze r,w h o ' d sp e n t ye a rs i n S yri a, .fordan, paki st an and elsewhere beforc oper.ringthe Islamic Center of Cler-reva in r 96 r, w i th S a L rdsu i p p o rt. " A bul -A l a Ma w d u d i , th e fo u n d e r o f P aki stan' sradi cal -ri ght Islanric Socicty (.lamaat-eIslami), who is the single most important rtrchi rcct o f th e n o ti o n o f a n Isl a rni c R epuhl i c, and w ho play e d a cruci a l ro l e i n b a tte ri n gP a ki sta n ' sl eft-secul aropposi ti on lnov e ntent an d i n p u sh i n g P a ki sta n i r-rtothe hard-ri ght Isl anr i c c :rnrpunder Z i a u l -F Ia q ,th e d i cta to r w h o sei zedpow er i n t977 . Haj l A mi n a l -H u sse i n i , th e p ro -N a zi nrufti of .ferusal er n, who' d been a n a g e n r o f B ri ti sh i n te l l i g e ncesi nce the rgzos an d who, after W o rl cl W a r l l , b e ca mea S a u d i -fundedanti -N asserpropagandi st. Muhamrnad Saciiq al-Mujaddidi of Afghanistan, who marntained CIA c<>r.rt:rcts in that unfclrtunatecountry in the r 96os and rvhosedirect heirs would form rhe core of the r979-8c; anti-Sovier Afghan jihad backedby rhe CIA, SaudiArabia, Egypt, and pakistan. Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Shaikh,the government-appointed Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia and the titular head of the Wahhabi movement, who had enormous clout within the Saudi royal family. Abdel Rahman al-Iryani, the militant Muslim fundamentalist who would take power in Yemen in 1967 and lead that formerly pro-Nasserrepublic into the Saudi camp after a long civil war.

TbeKingof All Islam '


In all, a coupleof dozenof the world's leadingIslamistscametogether rn the League.3l "The rWahhabivision went international in the r96os in response ro the threat posed by Arab nationalism and socialism," wrote CieorgetownUniversity's John Esposito. "Saudi Arabia and other monarchieswere threatenedin particular by Nasserismand in general bv radicalArab socialistgovernments.. . . The Saudischampioneda prrn-Islamicpolicy againstNasser's'secular,socialist'pan-Arabism u'ith its tiesto 'atheisticcommunism.'. . . The Saudigovernmentalso .icvelopedclose ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Jamaat-e they shared[anl antipathyto Islami.Despitesignilicantdifferences, communism."12 secularism, enemies-Nasserism, a()rllrnon printed propamissionaries, sent out l,eague The Muslim \forld qrrnda,and doled out funds for the building of Wahhabi-orientecl ln()s(lues and lslamicassociations: invitedthcm to Saudi The lcagueidentifieclworthy bcr-reficiaries, (tazkiya)that would Arahia,and gavethernthe recommendati<>n privatcdonor,a frorn a gener()us latcr providethem with largesse rnernber of tlreroyirlfamily,a prince,or an ordinarybusinessnran. of thc Saudircligiousestrrbby n'rembers The leagucwaslnanaged lishment,working with other Arabswho eitherbclongedto thc Muslim Brothcrsor werecloseto them,alongwith ulenrrls.frorrt to the l)eobandSch<lols or ttr c<lnnected thc Indiansubc<lntinent the p:rrtyfoundedby Mawdudi.rr The CIA was only vaguelyaware of the Mr.rslimWorld League's rnrportance,and official Washington-committed to winning the (.olclWar regardless of how unsavoryits allies-didn't ask the CIA to it. "\7e saw it all in a short-termperspective,"saysa CIA ini'estigate officerwho servedin SaudiArabia. "'Weweren'tlooking at long-tern-t Accordingto this officer,in thc early r97os thc CIA Jonscquences." rriedto placean agentinsidcthe Muslim World l.etrgue."l ran a penr'trationof Rabitat," he says,usingthe Arabic name for the organiza"It was considered, in Washington,as one of the leastimportant rior"r. rhings I'd done." Headquarterswas interestedin wars, coups, and qunrunningin the PersianGulf, not in the activitiesof the Lcague."I

r 11

[ ) l v r r . 's


found it fascinating,and important,"'he says."I didn't seeRabitat as an effort to expilnd SaudiArabia'sown influenceinternationally,but as a way to expandIslam'sinfluencein the Arab world irnd bcyond.[t wasn'[SaudiArabia sctmuch as,well, kind of a 'Varican'-typcorganism. It's almost as if it were an operation being run in spite of the Saudis." Yet, he says,it certainlywasn't seenas a threat,or somcthingof geopolitical conccrn,and washington wasn't interested."The sound of snoring," he says,"was deafening."The covertoperatiorrwas Charles\Waternran, a CIA Arabist who spent many ycars in the Middle East and Lrltimatelybccarnethe agency'schief of st:rrioni' SaudiArabia, saysthat to the CIA the Muslirl World Lcaguclooked innocent cnough i n tl re r96os and r97os. "lt lookcd like anothcr Muslim organizationworth rnonitoring,but not somcthingt() worry about," saysWaterr,an."[f they c-ndedup supp'rtirg lslarnicstudcnt nloverncntssomewhere,and they got involved in somc conflict with lcft-wing studcnts,ollr reaction was, 'Okay, 6nc, anothcr benign action intendcdto control thc left."' was thc (lIA wror.lsat thc tir-nc ftr not focusingon thesegroupsand thcsecharacters? "'rhey secrrecl like they w crc j ust Isl ami cchari tabl eorganizations, and so wlr at?"l5 Ray Close,the former CIA chief, agrees.Asked whether thc CIA haclany worrics abouf ties betwccnMuslinr lJrotherhoodand wahhabi clcrgS he silys:"We didn'r folkrw it. lf a'yone is at fault, rr was me. $7ejust didn't seethem as a threat.Thcy wercn't a targetof ours. I'd get tarflet lists-but no one in washington wils irsking nre to look at them . . . .It di dn' t entcr i nto our corrsci ousness." Ninety-ninc percenrof the fur-rdingfor the Muslin-rVorld Lcague camefrom thc governmentof saudi Arabia.Its tiesto rhe saucliestablishment were manifold. One of the League's secretary-generals, Muhammad Ali al-Harkan, was a leading Wahhabi and ex-Saudi minister of justice,who would later serveas de facto grand mufti of Saudi Arabia. Besidesthe ministry of justice,the \fahhabis and the Leagueinterlockedwith the Saudiministry of educationand the powerful ministry of pilgrimage and religious endowments,which controlled the enormous annual Muslim pilgrimagesro Mecca and the vast funds availablefor charitiesand proselytizing.All that, in rurn,

The King of All lslam


rI j

meshedwith the universitysysrem,especiallythe Islamic universities. The League worked cl'sely with the militant 'world Assembly of \Ir-rslim Youth (\7AMY), establishedtn tL)72,which wourd later be rrccused of sustainingterrclristactivitiesoverseas.36 During rhe r96os,the strugglebetweenEgypt and saudi Arabiain effect, a proxy fight in which the United Statestook the saudi side-unfolded in two directions:first, in yet anotherflare-upof the \'luslim Brotherhrodin Egypt;and second,in a shooringwar that pitted Nasseragainstl"aisalin Yemen,a tiny nation at the southwesrern corner of the Arahian Peninsula.Irr both cases)the ties linking the Muslim llrotherho.d, the Muslim W'rld l.eague,and the Arab rvorld'sconservativcnronarchiesprovidcd Riyadh with a pclwcrful rcgionalapparatusto wield againstNirsscr.

Ramaddn and thc Return of thc Brctthers A centralorgarrizcrof the SaudiIslanricbkrc was the rnan whom lke had erc.unte'redin thc oval office in r9,y3:SaidRarradan.Acc.rcling to ir Swissrcport, dLrringthis period Ramaclanwas believedto l-rave lrcenar Amcrican agcnt.Hc also g.t help fro' \westciermarry,wirs backcclfinarcially by SaudiArabia ard earar, anclscrveclas J.rdan's represcntative to the UnitcclNafions in (lcneva. At the same.tin-lc, Ramadan served as thc intcrnational mastcrnrindof the Muslirn,and i' r965 he was allegecllyinv.lvcd in a seconcl assassinatir)n i:rttcmptagainst Nirsser.Tl-re action against Nasscr occurrcd in the niclst of yct rrnotherrevolt by the Brothcrhclodin Irgypf, d-ristirrc aicledby Rarnadan'swell-organizecl apparatus.f exiles.Part of his rnachiner was basedin SaucliArirbia, ancl Dirrt in (ieneva,whcre Ranradanhad scttled. compirrcd t. its pre- r 9.t4 strelr{rth,the .rganizi,rtirr in h,gyptwirs a shacl.w.f its former self.It had bcenf'rcccl to operateclcepunderground sincethc | 95os. It trieclto establishfront organizationsand political salonsto nraint:rinits organizationalpresence,but Nasser's securityserviceswerc effectiveiu repressingit. By the rnid-r96os. however,many of the p.litical pris.nerswho had lreenarrcstcdin the

| 36

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(i ,qr,tr_

post-r9i4 crackdown on the movement had been released. once again they tried to organizeagainstNasser. From Geneva'Ramadanwas pulling many of the organizatirn's strings.In 1954,Nasserhad strippedhim of his Egyprian citizenship, and he went into exile. with help the west Gernrangovernmenr, which was angry at Egypt for having recognizeclEast Ge'nan5 ancr travelingon a rwestGerman diplornatic passport,he went to Munich, west ciermany, to swirzcrrand.There, bankrolred by the king of saudi Arabia, Ramadan establishedthe Islamic crenterof Genevain r96r, which would serveas a headquartcrs f.r the Muslim Brotherhood.Ramadan would livc therc for thc next thirtv-four years,until his deathin r 995. The center bccame au ,rganizarionarnerve ccntcr, publishing h.use, and meeringplacc f'r the Islamic right and Muslinr Brrthcrhood .activistsfrom acrossthe Muslim w.rld. Accordi.g t. I{ichard Labeviere,a journalist who l-raswritten irbout the Muslirn Br.therho'd's ties to terr.rism, Ramada' n.t .nly rnanaged the organrzation's funds but, alo.g with yrussef Nada, a Brotherho'd financierhelpedto establishrhe group'sbank, Al Taqwa.iT 1v11c162,Ramadan helped SaucliArabia establish the Muslim world League."My fatherwasn'rjusr one of the leaders .f the founcringgroup of the lea13ue," saysHani Ramadan,said'ss.n and the current director rf the Islamic center in Geneva...He had the original idea for the creation of an Islamic league,which eventuallybecamea parallelchannelthough which he could communicate his thoughts.,, According to Hani Ramada., the Islamic center was well receivedin Switzerland when it was firsr established."There was nothing like today's lslamophobia," he says. "The first reactions to my father,s activity and to the presenceof an Islamic center i' Genevawere positive, both within Switzerlandand more generally with the E,uropean public'" But Hani Ramadan admirs that the whole purpose of the venture was to promote the Muslim Brotherhood. .,The creation of the Islamic center was supposedto realizemy father's desireof creating a center from which he could spreadthe teachings of Hassan arBanna, a place where studentscoming from various Arab countries could meet and be trained in the messageof Islam.',rs

TheKingof All lslam '

r 17

Scatteredin exile, and undergroundin Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood grew ever more radical in the early r 96os.In Cairo, the Brotherhood was gathering strength for another showdown with Nasser. Elsewhere,political Islam was growing. Saudi Arabia was increasbid to act as leaderof the Arab and Islamic ingly making an aggressive blocs;AyatollahKhomeini was beginningto stir in lran; Iraqi fundamentalist Shiites had created a conspiratorialpolitical party, the Call;3eand Mawdudi's movementin Pakistanwas gaining momentun-r.When the r965 crisisover the Brotherhoodexplodedin Egypt, I{amadanand thc Brotherhood'schief idcologue,the militant leader behinclan attemptto kill SayyidQutb, both of whom werc nrllegedly Nasser,were at the cerrterof the crisis.This tinre, Nasscrwas better prcpared,and he callcd on frienclsancl supportcrswithin Egypt's Mr.rslirn clergyto back him, while paintingR:rmadanand the Muslim Brotherhoodas U.S. agents."Otr jo August llgyptianpublic opinion lcarncd, through ir spcechNasser clclivercclfrorl M<tscow,that the Socicty of Muslirn l]rcthren was the forcc behind a gigantic plot Thcir irccomplices, saidthe presierproscdby the intclligenccserviccs. Mustapha Amitt, a leadinglibcral iournalistarrested clent,incluclecl on chargesof 'spyingfor the UrtitedStates.'After the on z Septernber raids, the regime'srcligious functionaries,spokcsmen,ancl writcrs elcments,. . . condemnitrgthe were mobilizeclto clenounccseditior"rs terrorists,'" writes (iillcs Kepel, one Muslim Brcthrenas 'ureclieval the world's foremost analystsof political Islarn. "The ncwspapers exposcdthe forcignlinks of thc 'religittusfanatics':SaidRamadan,alBanna'sson-in-law,was said to bc pr'rllingthc stringsfrom Amman, .fordirn,on orclersfrom CIINTO."a0 Ratladilrrrnay or may not have beena U.S. agcnt, br.rtthcre is tro doubt thirt hc had alignedhimself Prrkistan, a CIENTOmemcloselywith thc axis of nations-inclLrcling ber,Jordan,irnd SaucliArabia-that the United Stateswnrssupporting againstNasser. According to Le Temps, Itgypt witst-t'tthc only governmenf that Thc government considcredSaid Ramadanto bc an Americana!!cl-lt. of Switzerland,too, believedthat l{amadan was working for the at the height of crisis in h,gypt,a high-level United States.1n 1c266, n-rcetingof Swiss officials, including diplomats, the Swiss federal

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police, and the securityservices,met to discussRamadan'scase.Documents now in the swiss archivesreveal that the Swiss authorities concludedthat Ramadan representeda "conservativetendency,prowestern and not hostile" to the interestsof switzerland. The Swiss archivesalso reveal that the swiss, at least, believedthat Ramadan was an agent of the CIA and MI6. "He was more than a simple propagandist appreciated for his anti-communism,,' according to Le Temps. A Swiss government analyst concluded: ..Said Ramadan is, among other things, an inrelligenceagent of the English and the Americans."Le Tempsnoted that Ramadan'sties "to certain rwestern secretservicesare suggestedin severaldocumentsin his dossier."4l Nasser'st965-66 crackdown on the Brotherhood decimatedthe organization once again. Many of its underground leaders were arrestedand others fled. Nasser ordered the execution by hanging of the organization'schief ideologue and theoretician,sayyid eutb, who had earlier been granred exile in saudi Arabia.a2According to Hermann Eilts, King Faisal vigorously inrervenedwith Nasser o' Qutb's behalf,ro no avail.a3

Kennedy, Nasser,and yemen The struggle between Nasser and Faisal erupted into open warfare from t96z to r97o, when Egypt and SaudiArabia fought a bitter and bloody proxy war in Yemen.The two protagonistswere at the height of their powers in the r96os. Nasserwas an Arab icon with followers in every Arab country, and Faisal-who edgedour King Saud in the early r96os-was using Saudi money,the Muslim \X/orldLeague,and the \Tahhabi movement to bolster the conservativecoalition. The Egyptian leader,wielding his typically colorful rheroric, blasted the desertkingdom for acting on behalf of U.s. imperialism,while Faisal equatedNasser'sArab socialismwith "atheisticcommunism.,, Although the war was by and large invisibleto the American public, it had a very significantimpact on u.S. policy in the Middle East, strengtheningAmerican ties to the conservativeArab statesand above all to SaudiArabia and its Islamic bloc. The story of rhe yemen war's

The King of All Islam


impact on U.S. Middle East policy is told in some detail in \Tarren Bass'sSwpport Any Friend, an account of the Kennedy administra'Vfith tion's flirtation with Nasser. the departure of Eisenhowerand his uncompromising attitude toward nonalignment, rhe Kennedy administration offered an olive branch to Egypt. Under Kennedy', someU.S.officialsacceptedthat Nasserwas independent,not a Soviet pawn, and that lfashington would have to reach an accommodation with him. Optimists believedthat Nasser,who was no communist-in fact, he ruthlessly locked up members of the Egyptian Communist Party and other leftists-might be convinced to abandon his ties to the USSR. More realistic analystsfelt that Nasser could at least be persuadedto reach a modus vivendi with the United States.And, of course,still others,especiallypartisansof Israel,saw Nassermuch as SaudiArabia did, as the devil incarnate. "Our relations with Nasserwere difficult," recallsTalcott Seelye, who headedthe StateDepartment'sArabian Peninsuladeskduring the Kennedyyears." We saw that his movementconstituteda threat to the Saudi regime,and there was a reactionin Saudi Arabia, too. Prince Talal Ione of the so-calledSaudi 'Free Princes']defected[to Irgyptl, and two Saudipilots did, too. So we were very worricd about the surThe CIA prepareda National Intelligence vival of the Saudiregime."aa Estimate(NIE) called"Nasserand the Futureof Arab Nationalism," which told the White House:"Militant nationalismwillcontinueto bc the most dynamic force in Arab political affairs, and Nasser is very likely to remain its foremost leader and symbol for thc foreseeable futurc." It went on to warn the young presidentthat "the long-term outlook for the conservativeand Western-alignedregimesis bleak," and that the Saudiregimewas likely to be swept away.45 Kennedy thought it worthwhile to explore an opening to Nasser, to the chagrin of both Israel and Saudi Arabia, and he begana series of exchangeswith the Egyptian leader,through diplomatic contacts, letters,and personalmeetings.To Kennedy,Nasserwrote: "Why does the United States,a country establishedon foundations of freedom and by meansof a revolution, opposethe call of freedom and revolutionary movements,and line up with reactionaryforces and enemies

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of progress?"'16 By reactionarvforces,of course,Nassermeanfabovc all Sar-rdi Arabia, and his questionwas a g.od rne. Unlikc Ike, who reflerivelysaw indepenclent-mindcd ThirclWorld counrricsirscommunist stooges, JFK was willing to cxplorerhe possibilitythat suchmovcmentswere not neccssarily incompatiblewith U.S.intcrests.In flrct,as a senatorin the r 9.5os,Kennedy"blastedthe F.isenhower aclministration's'head-in-tl-re-sand' attitudetoward Arab nationrtIism."4But the Kenncdy-Nasser duet faltered,and .lrimatcly failcd. r' septemberr 962, pr.-Nasser f.rces ovcrthrew the grvern''cdievaI mcnt of Ycrnen,which occr-rpied a crucialpicceof rcaI estatcstrirrcgically positionedon rhe sourhernflank of saucli Arabi:r astriclcrhe Red Seaand the Indian Ocean.Ar thc rirlc, I(cnnedysaid, ..1don't cven know where it is."a8The leaclerof Yemcn in t962 was Imrrrr.r Ahr-nad,a decrepit,joo-polrnclautocratwith a reputationfrlr brutality. Hc.thoughtof hi'self as the "protect.r of (l.d's religior-r," arcl he den'unced Nasser'sec()nomlcprollram as "u.-lslar.ric."4eWhen he died, rcbelsbackedby Nasseroverthrewhis ecluallyreaction,ryson, Mohammeclal-Iladr.According t. Seelyc,Nilsscr "was behinclthe overthrow of the regime,ilnd Saudi Arabia wrrs very,vcry Llpsct."t0 The rcvolutionin Yemcn,soon backedby the arrival of thousandsof F.gyptiantroops,posec'l a threatto the very cxistenccof saudi Arabia. Robert Konrer,the whitc Hrusc aide f'r Middlc Flastpolicy,war'red Kennedy," T hc H.use' f S ar.rd wel l know s i t c.uld be.exf.,"l Sir ucli Arabia, alarmecl,lent arms m.rey t' the ycme'i mclnarchists. The suhsequent war left zoo,ooo deaclin ncarly a clecacle of 1igl-rting. Kennedyhad already been warned, by the CllA and othcrs, rhar SaudiArabia'sregimcn-rightnor lasrlor-rg, and rhar Nasserwas likcly the Arab world's furure.Initially,hc tried ro be evcn-handed, recognizing the new governmentof Yemenand sendingEllsworth Bunker fo mediatea settlementbetweenEgypt and saLrdiArabia. But pressure mounted on Kennedy from all directions.The British, still clinging to their precariousper:chir the Arab Gulf anclAden, were again (asduring the Suezcrisis) apoplecticabout Nasser.Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, who'd beenin the British governmentduring Suez,wanted to "tear Nasser'sscalp off with his fingernails."52They immediately

Tbe King ctf All Islant

deviseda schemewith Israel'ssecretservice,the Mossad. to aid the forcesin Yemen by supplying them with arms and finani.rnti-Nasser "MI6's fornrer vice-chief,George Young, who was now a cial help. lrankerwith Kleinwort Benson,wils approachedby Mossadto finclan F-nglishman accepttrble to tlre Siruclisto rull a guerrilla war against the fYemeni]republicansand their Egyptianbackers,"wrote l)orril. "'l can {ind you a Scotsrnan,'replied Young. He tl-renintroc'lucecl \lcl-ean to Brigadier [)an Hiranr, the Isracli clefenscattache, whcr promisedto supply weapons,fLrnds,anclinstrurctors who cotrld pass tltaf thc Sauclis rhemselves off as Arabs,a sfrrtteg), eagerlygraspecl."53 Israeldrew on its popul:rtiouof Yct-ncni.fews,rvho had irnrnigrateclto lvesotl-as YerncrriArilbs, and disIsraeland who could prassthernse them to tl'rewar zonc wlrcrc thcv scrvecias rnilitary instructr'ratchecl tors. Accordingto Dorril: "Thc (llA helpeclthc Israelisinfiltrrrtcbtrck rnto Yemensomc of these.fewsto trililt the gucrrillrrsin the usc of r.nodernweapons.The trainers,naturally,tool<carc to clisguise their frlre nationality."Both Iran'sSAVAI(sccretscrviceand SaudiArabian intelligcnccwere witting nrembersof the anti-Nasserfront in Yemcn. Isrircl also contributed iln.ns to the rebels,including Soviet-madc \\reelpous it haclscizedir-rconflictswith the Arab states."'fhe CIA and MI6 relieclon . . . 'practical-mindcdr-nembers of the Saudiroyal farnIsrael,Saudi Arilbia, lran, rly'to dcvclop a covert alliancebetr,veen Teichcr, rrucl.fordan."5aAccording to Howard a tr',r<',-lsr,rcli tl.S. official, thc Israeliair force also intervenedon behalf of SaucliArabia Egypt, dr-rringthe war in Yemen."lsraeli warplanes,"wrote rrgairrst Teicher,"flew south over tlre Red Scato signalunamlrignor-rsly to the from SaudiAratria."5t Egyptiansto keepthcir distar-rce 'Washington, Irr the British urged Kennedyto takc a stand against Nirsser.l"urtherpresslrreon Kennedycame)of course,from lsrael.During the war in Yemen,thc Israelistried to reinforcethosein Washington rvho saw Nasseras a tool irr a Soviet schemeto control the Persian (iulf, and lsrael cast itself as Americir'srnost rcliable anti-communlst ally in the region. Yet more pressurecamefrom the big U.S.oil companies,who were ,rlarmedover the threat that Nasser posed to their cash cow, Saudi

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Arabia. Aides to Kennedy were swamped with lobbying from the Aramco partnersand Gulf Oil. The latter companywas represented by Kerrlit Roosevelt,who told the White House that U.S. interests "arc simply incompatible."jFK sent a former Aramco and Nasser''s executive,Terry Ducc, to meet with King Faisalon his behalf.56And Kcnnedy began to rLnr opereti()nsagainst Egypt in and around Ycrncn."Kennedy,"saysformer ambassadorCharlesFreeman,"was screwing irround with all sorts of covert operations and the Green Bcretsin Arabia."57 Kenncdy'sovertllreto Nirsserwas over.More important, the United Statcshad sclr-rarcly set itselfagainsta centralgoal of Arab nationalists: to unite lrgypt ancl othcr oil-poor Arab nations with Saudi Arabia's vast wealth. "The Saudikingdom has alwaysbeenwary of any Arab unificirtior-rschenre."wrotc Shirccn Hunter. "The Aratr nationalists believecl, for rxanrple,that the oil of SaudiArabia and other oil-rich Arab statesbclongeclto the Arab nation anclnot only to the oil producers and should bc usedfor Arab economicdevelopmcntand be at the serviccof :rchievirrg its other goals.. . . Thus the Arab radicalsposed irn existentialthrcirtto SaudiArabia."58In retrospect,it is possibleto ask: What nrighthavehappenedif the United Stateshad supportedor folcrateclNasscr,anclhad irllowedSaudiArabia to fall to Nasser?In the r 96os,in the rniclstof the Cold War,it was an r:nthinkableoption. The -fohnson adnrinistrrtionvigorouslyreinforcedthe U.S.-Saudi alliance.King Faisalwas lionizedby LBJ, who offeredmilitary assistance and technicalhelp to the Saudi ruler,who'd replacedthe discrcdited King Sar-rdat the start of the Yemen war. A $4oo million Anglo-Amcricanair defenseprogram was launchedin SaudiArabia, along with a massivcschemeto build military basesand other infrastructurcand a $roo million U.S. program to supply Saudi Arabia with trucks and n-rilitarytransportvehicles.5e The U.S. support for Saudi Arabia tacitly backed a vast international effort by King Faisal to rally Muslim support in the Cold \il/ar.In r 6 Faisalbegana frenetictour of Muslim countriesto find 9 5, allies,describingMarxism as "a subversivecreedoriginated by a vile Jew."ooHe was ever more determinedto stamp it out. He joined the shah in calling for a grand Islamic alliance,and visitedJordan, Sudan,

TbeKingof All Islam ' r t3 Pakistan,Turkey, Morocco, Guinea, and Mali in ry66 to drum up support. In Jordan, he wailed that "the powers of evil have planned to fight Islam and Muslims wherever they are" and are "trying to kill every In Sudan, he proclaimed:"As for the sign of Islamic influence."61 communists,they are attackingus becausethe Islamic movementis going to destroyall that communism standsfor, ir-rparticular,disbelief in the Almighty God." Noting that the USSRcontainedMuslirn territories,he added:"The Communistsfear thc expansionof our movcment becauseit will reachthe Islamicterritoriesthat havcfallenunder their oppressivedomination."62In Pakistan,he issuecla clirrion call for an Islamicbloc despitethe fact that Islirrn"is facingmany unclercurrentsthat are pulling Moslemslcft and right."r'rPakistan,a rightwing Islamic state that was part of two formal irlliirnceswith thc 'West, sent troops to stabilize Saudi Arabia fronr both intcrnal ar-rd externalthreats.Beginningin the eirrly r 96os,Pakistaniarrrryofficcrs had taken up posts in Saudi Arabia'sarued forces,irs traincrs ancl commanders.One of them was CleneralZia ul-Hac1,who in r977 would mount an Islamistcoup d'6tat againstZulhqar Ali Bhutto.6a Though Faisal'scampaign for lslirrnic solidrrritydrcw slrpport among right-wing Islamic states-cven thc shah, no frrn of Islamic favoredit-it was seenby Egypt, Syria,anclIraclas fundamentalism, threatening.But Faisal'slslamic bloc was viewcd fdvorably by London and Washington. In r 966, tt political officer in the British crnbassyin Saudi Arabia explicitly cndorscclFaisal'scfforts, aclcling that the United Stateswas in accord.too: activities....J'hc Anrericrrrr I take the relaxedview of F:risal's the srrbjectirt severi.rl embassyhere,with whonrwe havediscussed of Islarl as levels,sharethis view.That is to saythat the c()nccpr force has completelyclisappcarecl cxcept rlm()n!l an aggressive someolderSaudis.65 After all, he wrote approvingly,the Saudi enrnity was directed only againstcommunism,Zionism,and a handfulof Christianmissionaries. As Faisal'sstar rose)Nasser'sfell. The crushingend to Nasser's

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appeaf came in t967, when, in six devastatingdays of war, Israel defeatedlrgypt, Syria,Jordan, and their allies,occupying.ferusalem and parts of all threecountries,includingthe Sinaipeninsula.Nasser would live for another three years,but the r967 war sappedArab nationalism'svitality."Nasserwas ableto retool anti-colonialism and excite pecrple,but the t967 war blcw that myth totally, becirusehe krst,and not only lost, but lost miscrably,"saysDavid "I was in Jeddah,and my boss,the political counselor,said to me: 'That's thc end of Nasser."'6(' Faisal,now with clearAmericanbackir-rg, his effortsto recloublecl org:rnizea bloc of Islamic statcs,touring as far afield as Indonesia, Algeriir,Afghanistan,and Malaysia. "Faisal," wrote the authors of 'fhe House of Saud,"had bccorncrrore dementcdthan ever irbout the 'Zionist-Bolshcvist'conspirircy."67 His efforts canlerto fruition in rc16c1, in pilrt thanks to thc actionsof a mentirllyunlralancedAustralian who attempteclto set fire to .ferusalenr'sAl Aqsa mosque. as Whcther this was a convcnienrpr()v()cation or deliberatclystzrged an excuseto rnobilizcIslamicrnilitancy,King Faisaleagerlyscizedon it, suntmoningleadcrsof the Islamic world to Rabirt, Morocco, for what woulcl bc thc worlcl'sfirst Islamic summit conference.Becausc thc inr:rgcryof Al Aclsa was so strong, even Egypt fclt compelled to rrttendFaisrl'striumphirnt grrthering.6s Although Syria and Iraq boycotted the rneetirrg,twcnty-fivc natior.rsattended.The sumnrit resolvedto crcatc thc Organizationof the Islanric(lonference,an ever-expancling rnini-LInitcclNations for the lslamic world, which rapidly movcclIslirrlisrrrto thc centerof the rrgencla in country after countr)':in Pakistan,in Afghanistrlr.r, ir.rTLrrkeSand amongtlreArabs. Norninallf irrti-lsrael, Faisal'sreal goal was to forge a broad Islirn'ric front againstthe SovietUnion. "lly thc latc r96os wc're still fightingcornrnnnisrn, so we reinforccdFaisal'ssllppolt fclr the Muslim llrothcrlroodanclpirn-Islarm," saysDavid l-ong."'Weneededthem againstar-ryirlliesthat Moscow coulcl conjure Lrp.If Saudi Arabia coulc'lhelp createan institutior-ralized Islan-ricconsensus,so nruch the better." l,ong, a perceptiveanalyst with a strong senseof irony, saysthat despitethe fact that it was glaringly obvious,most U.S. policy makers

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and analystshad little or no appreciationof the potentially explosive 'We nature of the Islamic resurgence."We didn't seeIslam. saw Saudi Arabia," he says."Pan-Islamwas not, to us, seenas a strategicthreat. There were bad guys doing bad things to peopleon rhe left, to Nasser. They were fighting the pinkos. So we didn't see pan-Islam as a threat." ln r97o, working as an analystat the StateDepartment'sBureau of Intelligenceand Research,Long had an inkling that the cnergyof pan-Islarnmight bc channclcdinto anti-Arnericanism onc day, but no one was listenine: I wrrsrrtINR in 1 9 7 o ,rtn c lI tri e d to r,vri tca b o ut Isl am.B ut therew as no lnarket for it. I felt that there was still a boclv of clisenchirnted, pc op l ew h o w c rc sti l l fo cu se do n anti -c< l l oni al i sm, c lis affc c tc d even tlr<rrrghthe t.)67 rvar had shattered the myrl.r of Nasser.I silw inc rc as ingc lis il l trs i < l n rn cwnittl ' r A ra b n a ti o rral i snr, but rn()stpeop[e clicin'tseeit. Sooner()r lrlter,I felt that thcsc gr-rvs woulcl latcl.ron t<l s olrething,arrc th l a t th a t s o r re tl .ri n rn e i g h t b e Isl arr,si ncethey w cre s trll c lis affec te dIj. u s t fe l t th a t Isl a rrrw o r-rl dbe the new paradrgrn, bur dre highc r-u p sw c rrcs ti l l fo l l o l vi n g th e o l cl scri pt. I w as scl rsi rrg that c lis illus io n n rc nltv i th Ara b rra ti o n a l i snrand N asseri srr w as p r< l fo u n cl l vsu sp i ci o u sthat fhere w or-rl cl s ettingin. I bec rrrn e not bc a f<lllorv-<lrr to Nasser,t() crerltethe transnational nr<lvementthat would appc al to th e n ra l c o rrte n ts.I cl i cl n' t sce anyri rrecol l nnl l along, except Islar.r'r.t"'

T hc Arab c iefc i rt i n th e r9 6 7 w a r e n co uraged i rn Isl i tmi c resurgenc e. T he Arabs ' c ru s h i n g l o ss ra i scd cri ti cal questi ons about the future of the Arab w o rl d . l t p ro vo ke d i n ch o a te anger among thc populi rtion of the c oL l n tri e s i n v o l ve cl , a n d i t l cd to enornl ous turmoi l i rr A r ab prolitic s .On th c o n c h a n cl , b e tw e e n t9 6 7 ;tncl r 9Zo, severalA rab r eg imes fell to left-l e a n i n g n a ti o n a l i sts. H a fcz A ssacltook over S yri a, M uamm:lr Qaddal i o u s tc c l L i b ya ' s ki n g , Ja a far N r,rmci ri sei zedpow er in S r.rc lirn, the Arab B i r:rthSo c i i rl i stP a rty ro se to pow er i n Iraq, and the P a les tinians c anre c l o s e to to p p l i n g Jo rcl a n' s K i ng H ussei n i n the upris ing c ulminatin g i n B l a c k S e p te ml ' re rr 9 7 o. S ome of these l eaders c itc d Nas s er as a h e ro a n d ro l c mo d e l .

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But another ideologywas seekingto replaceNasser-stylenationalism: Islamism. The seeminginability of the Arabs to competewith Israel and the Ioss of more Arab territory (the Sinai peninsula, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and the'West Bank) were stinging blows. Nasser'senemies, irrcludingthe Muslim Brotherhood,usedthem againsthim, charging that Nasserismand Arab socialismhad failed.They beganpreaching about a return to Islam as the solution to the Arab wor:ld'sills. It was a timelessmessage,deliveredin the pasr by .famal L,ddineal-Afghani and Hassanal-Banna.But in the wake of the 1967 debacle,it resonatedwith millionsof angry Arabs. WatchingIraq, Libya, and Sudanfall to rebels,both SaudiArabia and the United Stateswere desperateto contain the spiraling changes in the Arab world, not leasr to deflect the growing strengrh of the Palestinian movernent and the PalestineLiberation c)rganization. SaudiArabia bet on conservative Islam as the antidoteto Nasserisrnand the United Stateswenr along. Three yearslater, in the midst of the Black Septembercivil war in J'rdnrn,Nasserdied. He was replacedby Anwar sadat. Sadat'selevenyearcareeras presidentof Egypt was, from the standpointof Washington and Riyadh, a real blessing.The wily ex-Muslim Brotherhood member and longtime Nasser aide struck up an allia'ce with saudi Arabia, suppressedEgypt'sleft, brought the Muslim Brotherhoodtriumphantly back to Cairo, and finally realignedEgypt with the United Statesand Israel.Sadatwould changerhe courseof history.And for all that, he would die at the handsof Islamistassassins.



r 97 os, guided by K amal A dham, SaudiArabia'schief of intelligence,Anwar Sadat brought the Muslim Brotherhood back to lN r sr .

Egypt. The United States,accustomedto working with Saudi Arabia, \vas untroubled by the rise of Islamism in Egypt. In fact, Washington was so eagerto work with Anwar Sadat to bring Egypt over to the U.S.side in the Cold \Var that policy makers,diplomats,and intelligenceofficersviewed Sadat'srestorationof the lslamic right benignly or tacitly encouragedit. But Sadat had opened a Pandora'sbox. Once freed, the Brotherhood knew no bounds. Back in their ancestralhome, the Brothers rvorked feverishly to spread their influence worldwide. The consequenceswere profound, and deadly-not leastfor the Egyptian president himself. C-loncurrentwith the growth of the lslamic right in Egypt, Sadat helped engineer a dramatic expansion of America's power in the ^\'liddleEast.Under Nasser,Egypt was a nation at odds with the United States. Twenty thousand Soviet troops, technicians,and advisers Egypt's armed forces; a war of attrition was under way along L.racked the Egypt-Israelborder; and Egypt and the United Stateslacked even normal diplomatic ties. But Sadat establisheda covert relationship

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with Adham, the clA, and Henry Kissinger, the U.S.narirnal securiry adviserln . tc) 7r, wi thi n a year rf assumi ngcontrol, Sadat.ustedthe Egyptianleft fr.m the grvernrnent,:rnd in r97z he stunnedMoscrw by expellingthe Sovietforces.Afrer the r973 RarnadanWar-waged in conccrt with Saudi Ar:rbia a'd ar.und Islamicthcmes 'rsanized rather than Arirb nationalism-ligypt and thc Unitcd Sraresreesrablishedties.In r 977, Sadatflew tr Jerusalern, splittingthe Arab w.rld and opening with lsracl that lcd to the camp David 'eg'tiatio'rs Egypt-Israelagreenrenr. By r 9flo, Ilgypt was Anrerica'sleaclingAral-r ally, engagedin supportrngthc U.S.iihacli' Afghanisrarirnd providing a basefor U.S.influcncein thc oil-rich l)crsianclulf. l-or cven thc most cynical U.S. N,licldlcL,astspccialisrs,tl-rcchirngcin l]gypt, frorn foe to ally.wes drzzyi rrg. At thc beginning,few expectcdverv r"nuchfrom Sirdat.For thirty years'he haclopcrirteclin Nasser'sshadow.He'cl becn a memberof the Muslim lJrothcrhoodancl playcd thc role of intermccliaryin the intrigue between thc pi:rlircc,the l]rothcrhoocl,ancl thc Free officers movenent.After Nasscr'scor-rp, Sirdrrtservedas the Egyptianleader's liaison t' the llrotherh.'d, then functi.ncd as L,gypt'sunofficial ambassadorto Islirrnists worldwide.Br-rtto L,gyptians trndro U.S.officials, sadat ncver scemeclt. bc r'.re than a scc,nd b;lnana.After Nasser'sde:rth,in October r 97o, Sadatwas widely sce' as a placcholder who would be ,usted afrer a hchinc'l-thc-scencs struggle for power in cairo. "ln the UnitcciStates,cxpect:rtionsof Sirdatwere zip," saysDavid [, a f.rmer U.S.f,reign service'fficcr...He was the bum blingvic e presi dent."l In his autobiography,In Searchof ldentity, Sadatwrore that when American envoy Elliott Richardson returned home t' rx/ashington after visiting cairo to offer condrlenccs rn Nasser'sdeath, he predicted that sadat "wouldn't survivein power for mrre than four or six weeks."zInsideEgypt,Sadatfacedformidableopponents,including Nasser-stylenationalists,who were deeply suspiciousof Sadat, and communist-leaning or pro-Sovietofficials.sadat himselfhad no real political baseor constiruenc.v. Yet not only did Sadatsurvive,he succeeded in engineeringa completeabout-facein Egypt'sforeign and domestic policies. Where Nasser had forged ties to Syria, Iraq, and

Tbe Sorcerer'sApprentice



Algeria, Sadatembracedthe conservativemonarchiesof SaudiArabia 'Where Nasserrelied on the SovietUnion for arms and and the Gulf. maintaineda nonalignedposture internationally,Sadatbroke Egypt's ties to the USSRand enrolled Egypt in America'sCold War bloc. And where Nasser promoted Egypt as a Third World leader along with Yugoslavia, India, and African and Latin American nations, Sadat go-it-aloneforeign policy. implementedan Egypt-centered, Sadatconsolidatedhis shaky rule by unleashingthe power of the Islamic right as a hammer againstthe left, with the generousfinancial irssistance of SaudiArabia. Though Nasserhad suppressed the Muslim Brotherhood and fought to reduce the power of right-wing Islamism in F,gypt,Sadat welcon-redthe cxiled Muslim Brotherhood back to Egypt, reinvigoratedthe organization,and built its instituprofessionalassociations, tional presencewithin the universities, and the media.BeforeSadat,the lslamistswere for the mosr part fringedwelling,marginalizedradicals;after Sadat,the Muslim Brotherhood ilnd its cvcn more radicalyouth wing were part of mainstreampoliticirl discoursein Egypt. Peoplcwho traveledevencasuallyto Egypt during the r97os were struck by this thoror-rghtransformation. [n the schools,in thc streets, in the mosqucs,in thc press,therewcre manifestations of the growrng presenceof Islamic fundtrmentalism.Michael l)unn, editor of the Middlc East .lournal, says that he could not help but be amazed by the shift during the mid-r97os. "In F)gyptthings changeddramatically," he says."Peoplewcre wearingbeardseverywhcre.There werc thingscalleclMuslim Brotherhoodmagazinesor newspapers. People were wearing white djelldbas.The mosqueswere overflowing, with peoplespillingout into the streets."rStudentsflockedto join Islamist groups, and thousandsof new mosqucswcre constructed.Muslim Brotherhood-linkedbanksand businesses sprouted,and phalanxesof Islamistthugsemergedto intimidatepoliticalopponents. But for wrrsa fatal erntrrace. Initially,the Islamicright servedas Sadat'sallies.Ciradually,however,more and more of them turned againsthim, especiallyafter the H,gyptian-Israeli accord. In Egypt, Sadat underestimatedthe depth and virulenceof the growing Islamistopposition,especially among its



L) nv r r - 's

(i a,vr,

terrorist factions. In the United Srares,the Statel)epartment and the CIA failed to pay sufficientatrentionro rhe clangerfrom the Islamic right in Egypt, relying insteadon assurancesfrom thc Egyptiansrhar it was under control. By the tirnc Sadat w:rs assassin:rtecl in r9[i r by membersof a militant Muslinr Brotherhoocloffshoot, a violelrr Islamistundergroundwas fkrurishing.C)thcrEgyptianofficialswcre assassinatecl, touristsmassacrccl, Clhristiarrs attacked,and sccularEgyptian intellectuals rnurdcredor silencecl. Once again,I-gyptwor,rldbe the Muslim Brorherhood'schief brrsc of opcraticlns.

S ,qonr [JNcA G r,]s rrrE Bno'r'HERS No onc was lrlorecloselyconnccfedto Anwar Saclat's rcconstructlon of Egyptianpoliticsthan KanralAclham,thc chiefof Saudiintelligcnce . Adham, sccrctlyworking thc back chirnnclsto l-lerrryKissinger,U.S. sccretaryof stirteanclnatir-rnalsecurityaclviser,was busily settir-rg thc sttrgefor Amcrica'sCold War empire in the Micldle lrirst. Even beforc Nasser'sdeath, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, ancl other wealthyCltrlfstateshad steppcdin after lrgypt'sdefeirtin t967, ctfler ing promisesof financial aicl to the battcred counrry tS i1 wily of strengtheningpolitical ties. Saudi Arabia cluierlybeganto back thr Ilrotherhooc'lin F.gypt.Thc Muslim Brotherhood hlamed Nasser'. allegedlack of piety and suppression of Islirmfor the reverses sufferc.l in thc war, and they beganagitatingilgainstNasscr."The Saudicirrrpaign made itself felt at a time of studentunrestin Cairo in the summer of t96c1,"wrote ReinhardSchulze."For the first tinc in yeilrs. oppositionists openlyappearedas'Muslirn Brothcrs'and demanded.r more definitefight againstleft-wingand communistactivities."a After Nasser died, Faisal mainrained a lingering suspicion oi Sadat, but Adham worked hard to convincethe king, ever on thc lookout for Zionist-Bolshevikconspiracies,that Sadat was nor anotherNasser.Adham had closetiesto both Faisaland Sadat.As th. brother of Faisal'swife Iffat, the spy chief led a group of senior advisers who argued that Sadat'smembershipin the Muslim Brotherhoo.l

The .\r'rcerer'sApltrent ice


indicated,at the very least,a "right-wing temperament." t At the same time, the wily Adham had businesstiesto Sadat,recognizingthat the L,gyptianpresidenthad a taste for the finer things in life and letting Sadatknow that SaudiArabia could provide them. In the r96os, the Saudiintelligence chiefhad formed a seriesof profitablejoint business vcntureswith Anwar Sadat'swife, Jihan, giving rhe new Egyptian lc:rdcra personalstakcin bettertiesbetweerrCairo and Riyadh.6King FaisaldesignatedAdham as his go-between,and lessthirn a monrh after Nasserdied, Faisalsent Adham to Clairo.Apparently,Adham arrived not only with promiscsof Saudi aid, but also with a secrct American assurancethat Washingtonwould help F.gyptget irs land back from Israel,if Sadatwould only break with Moscow anclorder the withdrawal of the Sovietforcesfrorr-rF.gypt.7 By early r 97 r, Adharn hacl becomea ubiquitousprescncein thc Egyptiancapitrrl.Moharr-rmed Flcikal, the pro-N:rsserjournalistand <>fAl Abram, who was appointednrinisterof information in eclit<rr rc;7o but resigneclfrr,ru govc'nrmcl'ltin tL)74over differenceswith Sirdirt,obscrvccl,"This was not somcthingto reassurethe Russians."s Not only was Adham itctingas rln intcrmediaryfor Faisal,but he was also secretlyworkins as a concluitfor corrnrLllticfttions bctweenSadat irrrd Kissingcr.e[n his mcmoirs, Kissingerclcscrilrcs the conncction, noting that thc Saudirole al l ow cd S adatand Nixon to stay in touch while "bypassingboth foreign nrinistrics.'r0Ar rhe rir-ne,the Llnitccl Statcshad uo embassyin Cairo; Irgy;rt,likc most Arab courrtrics,hacl lrr<rken diplornaticrelationswith tlre UniteclStatcsafter the rc167war. SaudiArabia had not. So in effect,SaudiArabiir was the broker for relationsin the crrl y t97os. U.S.- Egyptian In May r97r, Sadattook the first stepin consolidatingpower and purging the governmcntof its Nasserists. Claiming to have evidence of a plot to assassinate him by Nasser-era oflicials,whom Sadatcalled "Soviet agcnts," Sadat struck. Joined by Ashraf Marwaln, a wily Egyptian bureaucrat who was a closc friend of Adharn's, Sadat arrestedthc spezrker of the National Assembly,the war minister,the information minister,the rninisterof presidentialaffairs,membcrsof the ClentralCornmittee,and other senior officials, whose "inane socialistslogans"were "at vari ancc... with our religior-rs faith."ll

r 52


f ) l , vt l 's

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Revolution." A year later, coordinating Sadat called it "the Secor-rd with Adharn, Sadatordered the expulsion of Sovietforces. "Kamal Adham persuadedSadat to kick the Russiansout of I-gypt," says the CIA's Raymond Close, who worked closely with Adham.r2Sadat,of course,was alre:rdypredisposedto do so. But Adham offeredcashanclIslamistbacking. On Sadat'sinvitation,arrdwith Kamal Adham'sand King Faisal's support, kcy membcrsof the cxiled MLrslimBrotherhoodleadership bcgan returning to Egypt. ln addition, after r97t Saclatfreed large numbers of Brothcrhoocl;rrisoncrs.Many of thern were angry illrcl organizevenmore committedto violenceand secrefiveunclergr<tund ing, and irnrnediatelyclisappeared to build their rnovetncnt.C)thers, particulirrlythosc of the oldcr llerleration,sought to estrrblishthemOtnar Tclmrssatli, sclvcsas ovcrt alliesof the new L,gyptianpresicient. frced in r 97 r , was a lawyer irnd future editor ctfTbe Call, the Muslim Brotherhood'sjournal, who would eventuallybecomcthe orgatttzation's suprcrneguide. Upon his release,hc went dircctly to Sirdat's presidentialpalaceto inscribehis thanks, aloug with those of other members of the Muslim Brotherhood,in the public registry.ri

Th c I slanri c ( )rtrrtmuni I1' and Throughout thc decade,thc Muslim Brotherhoodmetastasized divided into variousfactionsand competingcurrents.On thc surface at least,the old guard irppearcdto put a premium on modcntion. Many of the older Muslim Brothcrhoodofficialswho'cl fled to Saudi businessArabia returnedto Egypt as prosperousand well-connected men. In contrast, fiery younger members, especiallythose <tn cantpuses,spun off mini-Muslim Brotherhoodclubs and organizatlons. Thesegroups,with the full supportof Sadatand the Egyptiansecurity and intelligence services,proliferated rapidly. Soon they became known as the Islamic Community.14BecauseSadat did not formally legalizethe Muslim Brotherhood organization,the movement spread willy-nilly, with no central leadership. For the Egyptian leader,supporting the growth of these protoIslamic Community groups on campuseswas merely one more way of

TheSorcerer'sApprentice .


using Islam to consolidatehis power. "To escapeliving in Nasser's shadow, Sadat shifted gears and made strong appeals to Islam," accordingto John Esposito.He added: Sadatassumed the title of rheBeliever-President, an allusionto the Islamiccaliph'stitled Commanderof the Faithful.He beganand endedhis speeches with versesfrom the Quran.TV broadcasts frequently featuredhim in a mosque,cameraszeroing in on his prominentprayermark, a calluscausedby touchingthe forehead to the groundin prayer.l5 Islamic Community studentgangsreceivedbehind-the-scerles support from sadat'ssecretpolice. "After December 1972 the fortunesof the Islamist studentstook a turn for the better," wrote Kepel. ..They finally found the key to success:discreet,tactical collaboration with the regime to break the left's domination of the campuses.,'16 Like Islamistgroups everywhere,they usedheavy-handedtactics,violence. trnd intimidation againsttheir opponents,and they often had significant financial backing from Saudi Arabia and from right-wing Egyptian businessmen."The'jama'at islamiyya [Islamic Communityl were Islamist student associationsthat becamethe dominant f,rce on Egyptian university campuses during Sadat's presidency," wrote Kepel."They constitutedthe Islamistmovement'sonly genuinemass organizaticrns." Soon chantsof "Democracy!" clashcdwjth "Allahu Akbar!" in student demonstrations.A few years later, the Islamic community groups had virtually seizedcontrol of universiriesi' Egypt and forced the left-wing groups into hiding.l7 One of Sadat'saides played a critical role in gerting the lslamic Community up and running. Mohammed Uthman Ismail, a former lawyer,had in r97r worked closelywith the Egyptianpresidentas he outmaneuveredand then locked up his opponentson the left. Ismail is "consideredto have acted as the godfather of the jama'at islamryyd, in Cairo from late r97r and throughout Middle Egypt beginning in r 973." t8 ln t973,Ismail w as appoi ntedgovernor of Asyut, long a stronghold of the Islamists,from which post he continued ro urâ&#x201A;Źie the lslamic Community groups to "fight against the communists.,' Reminiscentof the early days of the Muslim Brotherhood, when the


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Ga ue

muscular Rovers and the terrorist SecretApparatus grew out of athletic camps for boys and young men, the r97os-eraIslamic Community organizedgovernment-sponsored summer camps. The first one was held at Cairo Universityin r973, where Sadatsent a high government officialto signalthe regime'ssupport. The campswere held with increasing frequency over the next several years. In 1974 Sadat reorganizedthe rules governingthe Egyptian StudentUnion, to allow the Islamic Community to take over thar important institution. One governmentdccreedeclaredthat henceforththe chief purpose of the Student Union would be "to deepenreligious values among the students." The takeover of the StudentUnion would be only the first of many: professionalassociationsof doctors, lawyers, engineers,and other guilds would soon fall, too, and, of course,the redoubt of Al Azhar would be captured by the right once again, ending the role it had been dgveloping as a more balanced, and non-fundamentalist, Islamic center. In t971, the Muslim 'World League, that powerful instrument of Saudi lslamization efforts, concluded a pact with Al Azhar, pulling that venerableinstitution into the orbit of the Wahhabis.reThat same year,Sadat also createdthe post of deputy prime minister for religious affairs and establisheda SupremeCommittee for Introducing LegislationAccording to the Sharia. Islamistsintroduced bills in the National Assembly to prohibit alcohol, to use sharia-basedpunishments,and for mandatory teachingof religion in schools.20 An astuteobserverof that period, Abdel Moneim Said,director of Egypt'sAI Ahram Center for Political and StrategicStudies,saysthat the influenceof SaudiArabia in Egypt during the early r97os was pervasive.Many Egyptianswent to work in Saudi Arabia, and returned having imbibed conservative,'WahhabitheologS he says.Saudi Arabia also lavishly funded Egyptian institutions, desperatefor funding. "It moved Al Azhar to the right, and to publish extremelyconservative views. Many Saudi Arabian NGOs donated money to Egyptian mosques,and that was also moving them to the right," says Said. "And many Egyptian journalists were on the Saudi payroll, secretly, of course." According to Said,the Saudiinfluencealso had an effecton Egyptian

TheSorcerer'sApprentice .


1aw. "Egyptian judicial thinking changed-from the rgzos ro rhe r96os it was so moderate,enlightened,"he says."But by the r97os, thosewho'd been to the Gulf started coming back and brought with them a narrow-minded interpretation of the law. Egyptian perceptions of SaudiArabia were changing,too. SaudiArabia always feared rhe impact of Egypt on Saudi Arabia, but now ir was working in reverse.Habits began to change,ways of thinking about life, about separationof malesand females,"he says.21

The Ramadan War In October r973, Anwar Sadatlauncheda surpriseattack, coordinated with Syria, on Israeli-occupiedEgyptian and Syrian territory. It turned out to be an abjectmilitary failure,but a resoundingpolitical success. And, becauseit was laden with Muslim themesand begun during Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar,the war ratchetedup the level of Islamist fervor in Egypt. After some initial battlefield victories, during which Egyptian troops crossedthe SuezCanal and advancedagainst Israeli forccs in the Sinai peninsula,Egypt sufferedmassivereverseswhen Israel's Ariel Sharon struck back. The lsraelissurroundedand cut off an entireEgyptianarmy on the westernsideof the canal,prccipitatinga U.S.-USSR confrontation,a worldwide nuclearalerr,and a crisisthat was perhaps the closestthe world came to Armageddon during the CloldWarBut for Sadatthc war had important consequences. First, it led t<r an engagementwith the United Statesto arrange the ceasc-fireand then the disengagementagreements, which cemented the U.S.Egyptian allianceof the t97os. Second,it confirmed the ties berwecn Egypt and SaudiArabia, which led to the Arab oil embargoc>fr97774. With its newfound, Croesus-likeriches from the OPEC price increasesof those years,Saudi Arabia suddenlyfound itself with virtually unlimited resourcesto advancethe cause of Xfahhabi fundamentalism.And third, the r973 Arab-Israeliwar burnishedSadat's Islamic credentialsand bolsteredthe ability of the believer-president to cloak himselfin the garb of a Muslim holy man fighting a holy war.



D t v t t 'r

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In many ways, the t973 war marks the rebirth of the Islamistmovement. Egypt referredto the October war as the "War of Ramadan," the Muslim holy month. Its troops were indoctrinatedfor thc battle with lslamic pcp talks about liberatingthe Al Aqsa Mosque in .ferusalem. "\rVhen F,gyptiantroops crossedthe canal," says Hcrmann F.ilts,the U.S.ambassador, "they were shouting'Allahu Akbar."')) Syrnb<rlically, the rc)73 war was designedto ervcngethe t967 defeert. That war, impliedSadat'spropagandists, markedthe failurc of Nasserismand Arab socialisrrr. had long decriedthe r.)67 Thc iman-rs defcatas one brought on by Nasser'slack of piety and his clispirr:rgcment of lslam. In contrirst,and to raily the support of the Islarnic right, Sadatportrayedthe mythicaltriumph of the t973 war as ir sign of Islam's power. Dcspitc thc f:rct that thc Ran'radanWar hacl not dcfcatecllsrael,and clespite the fact that Egyptnearlysuffercdthc c:rtastrophicloss qf an entire army, the ligyptian crossingof thc Sucz Canal was touted as a lanclmarkevent.l)esperatefor a victory,conscrvativeMuslirns worlclwide compared thc Ramadan \7ar to the great military victoriesof lslarn'sflrst centuries,whcn Muslirn rule wirs cxtendedto ClentralAsia anclSpainanclits irrmieshammeredat the gatcs of F-ranceand Austria. It's safe to siry that Sadat clicln't expcctto conquerIsrael,or evcnto liberatcthe Sinai.Saclat's war was plannedas a "limited" war, with strictlypoliticalnrotivations.To this day,it's unknown whctheror not someU.S.officialsdeliberatclypkrttcd with Sirdat,or at leirsttoleratcdhis saber-rattling,in order to complctethe Cold War rcorientationof Egypt-at IsraeI's expense.\X/hatis certain,however,is that the CIA was fully awareclf Sadat'swar plans, and so was KamalAdharn,the Saudiintelligence chief.Indeed,months beforethe war was launched,Adham and the Saudiintelligence service \War, outlined for the CIA the plan for the Ramadan including Saudi Arabia's decisionto usethe so-calledoil weapon, and the CIA station in SaudiArabia dutifully reportedall this to Washington.2:l Martha Kessler,one of the CIlt's most perceptiveanalystsof political Islam,saysthat the war marked a turning point. "The r973 ArabIsraeli war was fought under the banner of Islam, and that period marks the seriousdisillusionmentin the Arab world with European ideas, including communism, Baathism, and Nasserism," she says.

'fhe Sorcerer'sApprentice


r 57

"None of theseideas were very inspired in the first place, and more important, weren't working. So the idea to base that war on Islam \\:ASvery intentional:units were renamed,call signalschanged,and so on, all to reflectIslamic themes.I mark the rise of political Islam, at Ieastf<rrthis cycle,with the wal"24 But the return of political Islam to Egypt proved double-edged. LJnderneaththe piety, conservativedress, and sharia-stylejuridical rr.rlings, unbeknownsteither to Sadator to the CIA, dangerousnew forceswere gatheringmomentum.

Thc Qutb F actor rnadehis trip Toward the end of the rc)7os,and especiallyafter Sardat to .ferusalemancl began talking to lsrael, the Islarlic right became incrcasinglyradicalizcdand many of them movedinto outright oppoVhile backingthe Islamistsmight sitionto Sadirt-or plotteclsecretly. havcsccmedlikc a cleverideato Sadatat thc time, it was too cleverby hrrlf. Evcn as thc rnilitantsof H,gypt'sIslamic C)ommurritybattered \rrclat'spolitrcalrivalson thc left, they fell increasingly underthe spell new inramswho preachednot only art antiof raclical,irrdependent rn onc. but an anti-Weste corrrnunistmcssrlge) The first inkling that sonrethingmight bc wrong came as early as r974, whcn a gan!lof lslarnists,mostly lrgyptiansbut leclby a PalesCollege, rinian, sparkcdir bloody uprisingat thc military'sTechr-rical led have to to the assassination of Sadat. was supposed cvent that itn irnd Sadatofficiallyblamedthe \lany werc killccl,and more arrcstecl, revolt on l.ibya. Its leader,Salih SirriyA,was from a small town near Haifa, Isracl,which was the birthplaccof the founder of the Islamic I-ibcrationParty,a far-rightgroup dcdicatedto restoringthe lslamic crrliphrrte, and which had closetiesto Said Itamaclananclthe Muslim Brotherhood.Sirriyawas, most likely,an adherentof the Liberation Accorclingto GillesKepcl, I'rrrty.25 Sirriy a liv ed i n J o rd a n u n ti l T9 Z o . H e th e n spenta yei rri n l raq, br" rt linally had to flee Baghdad, where he was sentencedin :rbsentiain in the party. He then moved to Cairo. \Vhen r 97 z f ctrnrembershil-r

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he arrivedin CairoSirrryabeganfrequenting the Muslim Brerhren, especially SupremeGuide Hudaybiand Zaynabal-Ghazali, the rl()vement's ltassirnaria.He won her confidenceand had regular discussions with hcr.2.' Accorclingto Said,when lrgyptianinvestigators examinedthe events at thc college,they found disturbingsignsof profound, underlying slriftsarnong the cadets."\7hen they did a revicw," he says, ..rhcy for-rndthingshad becnchangingar rhc Technicillc'llegc: rnuchmore praying,separirtionof groups,signsof extremism."BLltso intent was Sadat .n r'obilizirg Islamic fcrvor that .cirher L,gypt'srntelligence scrviccnor the olA pickcd r-rpon the rrcnd.lT"Thc lcaderof thc MusIim Brotherhoodat thc time w:ls 2rmiln namcd Telmassani, who had jail, becn in wh'm Sadathad frccd, and frecd on rhe undersr:rncling thilt thcy wo"uld-well, let me Llsethe ternt 'behave,"' si.lysllilts. ,.And thcy did. thcre w'r-rldbe an articlein one of the Muslim IlrotherhoodpLrblications thar would criticizcthe government,irnd ir woulclbe closecifor a month, and Sadatfelt that the questionof contrcllling the reemergence of the Muslim Brotherhoodorganization was no grcat problcrn."28 But while the.fficial Muslim Brorherhoocl rcmainedostensibly docile, the undergr'ur.rdir.d stude.t-basedIsla''ricc,mmunity groupsand offshootswcre preparir-rg for war. C)verthe next ycars,thesemilitants woulcl patientlybuild thcir forcesin lrgypt, occasionallyengagingin spectacularviolenceor assassinations. "Many Islamistsbcganto live alone, to go out to the desert,to build thcir movemcnt," saysSaid. "Iigyptian intelligence misseclit."le In rrl77,lslamictcrroristsassassinated the L,gyptianminister of religious endowmcnts, and began tcr face repressionand arrest, yet they continued to proliferate. When SadatstunnedEgypt by goingro Jerusalemin t977 ro seeka dealwith Menachem Begin, the lsraeli prirne minisrer, Irgypt's lslamistsincluding the Brothers and the Islamic Community gangs-would move toward evenmore militant oppositron. Many of Egypt's Islamic radicals were followers of Sayyid eutb, who was hanged by Nasserin t966. During the r96os, eutb had deveioped a radical theory that compared Muslims who did not

The Sorcerer'sApltrentice



follow the ultra-orthodox views he espousedto the barbariannomads of Arabia who existedin a state of "ignorance" before the arrival of the prophet. Qutb and his followers used this theory as a justification for assassination of Arab leaderswho were lessthan devout. Aithough Qutb's theorieswere confusedand inconsistent,some\Westhailedhim as a thoughtfulcritic of secularismin the ern C)rientalists Middle East.It was Qutb, and his book, Signposts, that inspiredthe (and most radical the most violent)EgyptianIslamists,mosrlyoutside the purview of both Egyptianintelligence and the CIA. Accordingto F.ilts,Sadatfailed to seeany dangerin encouraging radical-rightIslamicgroups,but someothersin his imrnediatecircle did, includinghis wifc,.fihan. "Sadat,who haclbeen,aftcr all, ir Muslim Brother earlier,tclok the view that the growirrginflucnceof Islam and thc Muslim Brotherhood,cspeciallyin thc universities,wASno more than young people erprcssingtheir views," says F-ilts.BLrthe adds:"I rcmcmbcrmany people,includinghis wifc, sirying,'Ytruhave to watch thesepeople,'and sayingthat they are clangcrolls,and hc l would just wave his hanc'and say,' O h, they arc just young pcoplc.' He simply did r-rotbclievethat their intcrestin religionand the Muslim Brotherhoodrepresentecl a threat,and l-rccould not hc persuaded by som eof his r linisfersthat they w erc."r0 So, too, few U.S. diplomatsor CllA officerstruly understoodthc lti()n.,f l-gyptiensocietyirr ..1epth of thc M r r slim Brotherh,,otl 'pcnctri s the late r97os, nor dicl thcy grasp the fuz'zyrelationshipanrongthc officialMuslim Brotherhood,thc lslamicOomrnunity,:rnclthe undcrground groups and followersof Qutb. Irilts,along with Li.S.intelligence officers in Egypt, observedthe Islamicizationof Egypt, hut found it hard to read. After all, Sadat wirs enc()ur.rging it, irnclthc Egyptian leaderseemedto bclicvethat it was both useful and Lrltimatelyharmless."There was an awarencssthat somc elenrents of thc religiousmovementwcre troublesome,"says tilts. "l took the r.iew that it was somethingthat had to be watchcd carefully." But Flilts believedthat the Egyptiang()venrrcnt cor"rldcontrol thc phenorneconservative non, and that the more establishcd, leadersof the N'Iuslim Brotherhood,such as Telmassani,were avcrscto violent tilctlcs and militant actions."Telmassanidenouncedlthe radicalsl,but did

r 6o

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he mean it?" asks Eilts, rhetorically.The ambassadorbelievedthat there was an overlap betweenthe Muslin-rBrotherhoodleadership and the militants, but he could.'t be sure. "lt was hard to tell," he says."So one had to rely to someextenton the ;udgmc't of the president,and the ministcrs."3 | The clA hardly faredbetter.A seniorcIA officialwho spcnrrnany years in the Middle East, including severalyears i' cair. in the rg7os, saysthat someof Egypt'sown intelligence peoplewarned him not to underestimatcthe clangerfrom the Islamists."l had a good friend, a senior l]gyptian intelligenceofficer,who once told rlc: 'yor-r peoplehaveg.t to understandthe power of the mosque.\wc irreg,i'g to losecontrol, and peoplewill believe<lnlyin the mrsclr-rc."'12 Kathy christis.n, wh. j'ined the cIA i, r97 r and he,ded thc crAs E.eypt deskfr<rm1977to rc)77,s'<lys that the p.tential dangerof lslzr.ris' in Bgypt cl-rringth'se years wasn't s'mething tl-ratthe agcncy worricd about. "I'd heardirboutthc Muslim Rrrxhcrhoocl. of course.but fhcre was very littlc emphasison Islarn," she says. "It was very casy ro ignoreIslarnat the timc."rl There is no questionthat r.rnrajor reirsoll why the Islarnicright in Egyptwas ignoreclis because Anrericanintclligenceancipolicy officialshad for decadesseenfir rr view lsla'risnr as an anti-S<tviet force. Irilts saysthat during his tenurc as a'rbassador,fr'm t974-'wr-ten Flgyptand the united Statesrcestablished cliplomaticries-untir ,,)79, it was difficult for thc embassyand the clrA to meet with or'rherwise contactthc Islamists,especially thoscwho were now startingto adclpt explicitly anti-governmentpositions."The llovernmenttook a dim view of open contacts between the United Statcs and opposition forces,on the grounds that it would encouragcthe opposition forces to believethat they were supported by the United Srares,"saysEilts. "So one had to handle these things very carefully, meeting these people at receptionsgiven by others." During Kissinger'sshuttle diplomacy in the wake of the t973 Arab-Israeli\Var, Eilts says,the U'ited Statespromised Sadat that the crA would not act clandestinely against Egypt. "So rhar limited the intelligencerhat we could get," he adds. "You can talk about covert contacts fwith Islamistsl, but it's a little hard to get them arranged."34

The Sorcerer'sApprentice


t 6r

Besides,the CIA wasn't exactly well equipped to go hobnobbing with bearded,radical Egyptian imams and violence-orientedIslamic Community activists.Reflectinga problem that has plaguedthe CIA for decades,the agency lacked the requisiteskills: few non-Western caseofficers,few fluent Arabic speakers,few peoplewith credentials in Islamic history and culture. One CIA officer who served in the Middle East,and who did not want his name used,tellsan illustrative story of one doomed effort to grapplewith Islamism."I remember sceingthis litde office, run by this red-headedofficer, who told me that his office was in chargeof 'penetratingfundamentalistIslam,"' he says,laughing."And I rememberthinking, Don't givc me a redargreat headedIrishrnanto go out and 'penctrate'Islam. It rcqr-rires I don't think thereis dealof pl;rnnirrgand strategyand understanding. :r tougher intelligenceproblem to deaI with, unlessyou're a Muslim and you can go to the nosqlle and talk to thesepeopleirnd get your handsar ound the probl em.A nd w e di dn' t do it."rt For the lslarnicright, the ]97os was a decadeof transition.Thc sort of Islanricfundamentalismthat the Unitccl Statcshad known sincethe end of World \flar II still cxisted-and still existstoday.But :rlongsidcit, a new ancl rnore virulent strlin was tarkirrgshape.In Egypt, it took the form of the lslamic (lommunitv's raclicals,wh<r later formcd the corc of fslamic.fihacl,led by Ayman al-Zawahiri,Al hy the ultraQacda'snumbcr two leader.In Iran, it wrrs rc1'rresenterl who formeclthc radicalwing of Ayamilitant Shiitefr-rndamentalists tollah Khomeini'smovement.And in SaudiArabiir,the austeredesert home of thc Wahhabi,it gaveriscto C)samabin l-adenand his followers, who considcredeven Saudi Arabia's orthodor clergy false and impiousMuslin-rprctcnders. The Statc Departmcnt and thc CIA failed to pick Lrpon the trirnsubstantiationof the Islamic right in the r97os. Instead,they sirw antiwhat they wantedto sec:a politicalIslamthat was conservativc, communist,and contentto busy itself with the finer points of sharia as interpretedby its beardedscholars.A handful of Americanspecialists on Islam and the Middle East arguedthat the Islamic right was not only anti-communist but anti-democratic, anti-\il/estern,and prone to violence,but in the late r97os that was a minority vrew.

t 6z

D E vrr' s


Even after the stunning eventsof the next severalyears-the revolution in lran, the seizureof the Grand Mosque in Mecca,sadat'sassassination, Hezbollah'struck bomb in Lebanon that killed zar U.s. Marines-the Islamic right was still viewed as an ally. above all dur_ ing the Afghan 1ihad. Part of rhe reasonwhy Islamismcontinued to have appearin the West was the rise of Islamiceconomicsin the 1c17os. Many of the verv same militants whose acolytesengagedin terrorism also wore surts. built busi'esscs,f.unded banks, and appearedt' all the world to bc nothing more tha' prosperous,if pious,citizens.yet the businesses and banksgeneratedborh profits and exrremistf<rllowersof thc prophet. The Br other hood' s B ank Besidespolitics, econrmics played a critical role in rhe spread ,f Islarnismin Egypt in the r97os.When Sadatcameto power in r97o. fhe clam'rous vestedinterestsof the pre-Nasserancien r6gime-the very sameforcesthat the clIA had tried and failed to mobiljzeagainsr Nasscrin the late r95os-saw an opportunityto restoretheir wealth and political connecti.ns.Many of rhem, especiallythe semi-feuclal land.wning families,whose power had been reducedbut not eliminated, rnaintaincd close ties to the Islamic right. Indeed, acrossthc Middle Easr, from Pakistan and lran to Turkey and Egypt, the big landowning families and the bazaar,the wealthy merchanr families. had intimate ties to Islamists.In many cases,they were family tics: a wealthy [andowner,r'tr bazaari, might have a brother or cousin who was an imam, mullah, or ayatollah.And they worked hand in hand. The Brotherho.d becamebig supportersof Sadat,splan to expand free enterprisein Egypt, and they enthusiasticallyjoined in support of sadat's new economic policy of openness, or infitah. From the outside, the inlitah was driven by the austeriry-mindeddemandsof the International Monetary Fund. During the r96os and r97os, the IIVIF forced brutalchangesin many Third world economies,as a conditio' for receivinginternational loans. Theseso-calledconditionalitiesIed to severeeconomic pain in country after countrp as subsidieswere eliminated, jobs lost, and industries privatized. often, IMF policies

The Sorcerer'sA'Drentice '


led regimesinto confrontations with the left and with labor unlons. Egypt was no exception.The IMF's strict demandsfor austerity and cutbackswere the direct result of vigorous U.S. efforts to encourage free-enterpriseeconomicsin the Third'STorld and to combat socialism. In Egypt, right-wing Islamistsand conservativebusinessowners quickly found common cause. The Call, the magazineof the newly liberatedMuslim Brotherhood, receivedsubstantialfinancial support from wealthy Egyptian rightists. Businesses capitalizingon Sadat'sinfitah policy provided the bulk of the magazine'sadvertising."Out of the total of nearly 180 pagesof color advertisingin al-Datua lThe Calll, 49 were bought by real-estatepromoters and entrepreneurs,5z by chemicaland plasticscompanies,zo by automobileimporters,rz by'Islamic' banksand investmentcompanies' and 45 by food companies,"accordingto GillesKepel.Forty percentof the magazine'sads came from iust three companiescontrolled by Muslim Brotherhoodmemberswho'd madefortunesin SaudiArabia'rn lnterviewed in an Egyptian weekly, the Muslim Brotherhood'sTelmassaniwas forced to admit that "most of the commanding leversof the policy of economicopening(infitah)are now in the handsof former Muslim Brethrenwho were in exile and havenow returnedto Egypt."17 ln t974, the Muslim Brotherhoodformally issueda declaration commanding its membersto support Sadat'spro-lMF infitah- Suchan action was true to form for political Islam. Throughout their history, Islamistshave always been militantly pro-capitalist,opposing classstruggle politics on principle. Rarely did they rally support for the poor, the disenfranchised,or the downtrodden. In Egypt, espccially, the Islamistsdid not make common causewith aggrievedworkers or farmerswho failed to benefitfrom Sadat'seconomicpoliciesor whose livelihoods were thrown into turmoil by the infitah; instead, they engagedin strikebreaking,enthusiasticallyopposingtrade unions and intellectualsallied to the left. The rise of so-calledIslamic banks was central to the Islamization of Egypt's economy. Organized on the questionableprinciple that ordinary commercial banks do not operateaccordingto Islamic law, especiallybecausethat law supposedlydoes not allow interest to be charged on loans, Islamic banks often disparagedtheir non-Islamic

t : 64

D ev t t - 's


comperitorsfor being irreligious,and even,most offensively,for being .,Jewish.,'They used an insidious tactic to market their servtces. warning that usersof conventional banks were anti-Islam and were thus "destinedto go directly to hell."-18 The developmentof an "lslamic economy" in Egypt further encouragcd the spreadof political Islam. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood drew on the financial and businessresourcesof its wealthr 'wealthr supporrersro srrengrhenits social and political organizing. membersof the Islamic right and Muslim Brotherhood operarivestrr financial institutions directed funds to mosques, small businesscs. friendly media outlets, and other venturesthat bolsteredthe communi ry. B ccauserhe B rorhcrhoodoperarcsas a clandesr incfr ater nitr . some of this could be done secretly,with a wink and a nod' E'gypt's Islamicright still drew on Saudisupport,but it was becomingfinancially independent.Says a leading Egyptian analyst, "They created and banks, and they had solidarity with each other. many businesses A Muslim Brotherhood member is happy to give half his income tcr the Muslim Brotherhood."3e The creatignof the FaisalIslamic Bank of Egypt (FIBE)in t976 reenergizedthe Muslim Brotherhood in that country, in tandem with Sadat'sefforts to mobilize the Islamic right. The bank was the cornerstone of an empire of Islamic banks run by Prince Mohammed alFaisalof Saudi Arabia, a son of King Faisal,and it played a decisiye role in the Islamizationof Egypt and the region' By all accounts' Prince Mohammad was not a member of the Brorherhood,in keepingwith the policy of the Saudi royal family to use the organizationas an arm of its foreign policS but to avoid getting too close ro it. The prince tended to rely more on establishment figures,including Egypt'sgrand mufti, to gain legitimacyfor the bank' And he won sadar'ssupporr for a speciallaw to charter the FIBE.a Among the founders of FIBE were former Egyptian prime minister Abdel Aziz Hriazi. who would move on to become a leader of the Islamic economicmovement,and uthman Ahmed Uthman, an ultrawealthy industrialist known as "the Egyptian Rockefeller" who played a key part in bankrolling the Muslim Brotherhood's resurgence in the rg7os.a1 Influential Muslim Brotherhood members.

The Sor c er er ' sApPr enti c e'


includingYusuf al-Qaradawi,Abdel-Latif al-Sharif,and YoussefNada all joined FIBE's early board of directors.a2Each one of these men rr,ould play a critical role in the growth of Islamismnot only in Egypt but throughout the region. And each one, in later years,would hover on the fringes of the most extreme wlng of the Islamist movement. The most notoriousof FIBE'sfottnderswas the blind Islamicscholar ,rnd rabble-rouserC)marAbdul Rahrnan.Abdul Rahman w:rs "spiritr-raladviscr" to Islamic Jihad, the fundamentalistgrollp whose mt:mbers would murder Sadat. Later, Abdul Rahman wotrld help thc C.IA recruit martyrdom-seekingholy warriors for the anti-Soviet Afghanistaniihad. He would then imrnigrateto the United States, rvhcrehe would bc arrestedand convictcclfor his role in the r993 bomLringof New York's World Trade Ccnter. stetcilssistirncc The FaisalIslamicBank was givcn unprecedented it guaranteedthat thc The spcciallaw that iruthorizec'l rrt its four-rdirrg. bank could not be nationalized,that it would not be subiectto stanclarclstatc banking regulations,that it would bc excmpt frorn tlany Thc official who tilxes,and that it could operatc in total secrecy.4l presentcdthe law to the Egyptianparliamentwas not the econorrlics endtlwments'"fhe passilgcof thc nrinisterbut the ministerof religi<ttts lrrw siriledthough parliarnenthecausceven left-wing dcputieswerc airaiclto appearto be "votirtg againstAllah."aa Al-Sharif,who woulclbe lailedby Egypt irrthe r 99os,wlts a ntltorialer who traded on his connectionsto rnilitant ous wheeler-cle From his position at FIBI'I,he becamcinvolvedwitlr the fastIslan-rists. IslamicMoney ManagemctrtCompanics,which cmcrgcclin rrnd-loose the r9[3osils go-go, frcc-markct investment firms, offcring rates of return to investorsthat werc significantlyhigherthan thosepr<lfferecl by trtrditionalbanks.An IMMC typicallyofferedx 2-t perccntrcturn, cloublethe usualratc at a bank. Orle of thc lirst, and nlost importirnt, r,virs the Al-sharif (iroup, which "had tiesto the Muslim Brothers."a5 The IMMCs wcre highly political,and covertlyintervencdto support Muslirn Brotherhood-linkedcandidatesin Egypt's parliamentary especiallyin t.)87. The high-flyingIMMC systemshattered electi<rns, in the late r 9 8os,threateningthe very foundationof the Islamicbanking network, and Faisal'sFIBE in particular."It was rumored that



D r : v r i . 's


Pri'ce Mohammed al-Faisalloadedplaneswith billio's ,f U.s. d.i lars,with ordersthat they bc sentdirectlyfrom clair' arirp'rt to Faisirl Bank bra'ches in .rder t. meet the withdrawal demandsof dcp'sitors," wrote soliman.a6ln r.)r)1,saleh Kanrel Al-Baraka bouehr 'f the Al-SharifGroup for g r 7o rrillion. Yusuf al-Qaradawi,the Egyptian Muslim Ilrotherhrod acivist i. Qatar,was anorhcrFIBI,fou.der. earadawi is widcly krrw' i' the Aral. world for his militant, tablc-thurnpingspcc-chcs, which circularcon cr.lssettes.He is ir vocrrlsupporterof suicidelrombersagainstIsraelancl,afte r thc LJ.s.invasionof Iraq,hc issuecl proclanrations to justifythe nrurcler.f U.S. civiliilns there. But Qaradawi tones down his cxtrcmist rhetorre whc'r talking to \westernaudicnces.In zoo4 hc was invited to attcncl a B.rkings lnstitufirn-'rganizedirrternation:rl forurn.' Islam. Perha;lsthc m.rsr irrp'rtant ,f the l.lBE Mrslinr Br'thcrhr..l f'unders is YoussefNada. Nada, .f the ,rigirar, prc-Nasser. 'ne mernbersof the Br.therhood,was inrplicatcdin a r 95,1assassinati.n attempt againsrthe lrgyptian lcadeqand likc SaiclRarnadan.Naclr cscapedEgypt,flccingt' clerr,ary arcl ther t'Italy. Ar'ng witl-r Muslim Brrtherh.'cl vuerans, Nada hclped fou'd the lla'k'thcrAl T :rqw :r (" l ' car' f ci od"), wi th cc' ters in the Baham as,r taly, antl sw i tzerl a' d. A l Tacl wa i s secn as the Muslim Br.thcr h.'d's scnr ioffici.l bank. Abclelkadershoheib,a' Egyptia' journalistwho spenr ycars following Nada, observcs,"lnitially, A.T. Ilank was c.ncei'etl as ir centrelecononricinstrumentof the Muslim Ilrothcrhood,in p;rrticular its interrational branch." Thc internati.nal bra'ch was l'rq associatedwith Said Ramaclan,who is the sorr-in-lawof Hass:rnrrlBanna, f'under of the MLrslrmBrotherhood ir Ge'eva. and wh. f.unded the Islamic cenrer in (ieneva,switzcrla.d. Al Taqwa u,a, "directed by YoussefNada," said Shoheib.lTA c.nfidential list .t Bank Al Taqwa'sfoundersincluded leadersof the Muslim Brrrherhood in Syriaand Tunisia,alongwith yusuf al-earadawi,who Ser\re ti as "presidentof A.T.'s office of religiousaffairs."asMany of thosc connectedto the FIBE-Taqwacircleswould later rurn up in the in'.estigation of Al Qaedaand its allies.In zoor, Nada was designated br the U.S.Department of the Treasuryas a terrorist FIBE's connecion to radical Islamistswasn'r the only thing rh.rr

The Sorcerer'sApprentice


r 67

helpedbring it down in the r 98os.The bank alsoenjoyedan inrimate rclationshipwith the infamous Bank of Credit and CommerceIntern:rtional(BCCI).otherwiseknown as the "Bank of Crooks and Criminals International."BCCI, owned by Pakistaniancl Gulf invesrors, rr.rsnororiouslyinvolvedirr helpingro finarrcctcrrorism,g,urrrunning. .irug trafficking, and unadulteratedlinancial chicaneryuntil its spectrrcularcollapsein r988. The CIIA was a frequent BCCI customer, tusingthc bank to deposit U.S. and Saudi funds to finance the .\tghanistanwar-funcls that suppliedertremistIslarnicmilitantstied to the rnujahideenthcrc. BClClI, though not ofliciallyan Islamicbank, nrrrdecrtensiveuse of Islamichank creclentials, language,and symlrolism.\Whenit crashed,invcstigators found tlrat ll(l(ll had $589 million in "unrecor deddcposits,"of which $245 nrillion "belongcd t<r rhc Faisallslan- r ic Bank of }rgypt."t" After Sadat'sassrlssinetior.r, nrany of thc raclicalswho'c'l been plrrccdin senior positions at FIBE were ousted, including Nadir, (]araclawi,ancl Al-Sharif. Irgypt'sStatc Sccurity Office spccifically .rskedPrincc Moharnrred thrrt tlrcy bc removecl.slYet thc clamage ri'rtscione.PrinceMohar-nmcd's bank had helpedinstitutionalizethc Islrrnricrcvival in F.gy1rt, which fostcrcda violcnt unclergrouncl of terrorists.l)uring the rgllos r.rnclr99os, this network would resistall tiforts by thc govcnrmentof Husni Mr-rbar:rk to clismantlcit. Saclat'sdeath was thc cncl of thc roacl for the believer-presrdent. P,utby thcrr,Iran wrrsnnclerthe sway of I(homeini'sversior-r of Islarn, rhe U.S.-backc lihad d in Afghanistirnwas in fLrllswing,and Islarnism hirclbecorncthe c'lefininuideokrgy of activists frorn North Africa to tleep in Soviet ClentralAsia. This cxfraordinary seriesof devcloplrcnfs were uradepossiblcin part by Saclat'sand America'sfevoritc .rlly, Saudi Arabia. Now awash in tcns of billions of pctrodollars, thrrnksto thc Ic)7osoil-pricc incrcirscs irnposedby thc Organizarion of Petroleun-r F.xportingOountries,the Saudisusedcold, hard cashto l''uilda pro-Americanempire of Islamic bilnks and financialinsrirutions in Lgypt, Sudan,Kuwait, Turkey, Pakistan,irnd elsewhcrc.It nirs the marriagebctwcen the Muslinr lJrotherhood'sideologyand the powcr of Islan-ricbanking that finally catapulteclright-wing Islamismto worlclwideDower.



IN rttE r97 os, pol i ti calIsl am w as bolsteredlry the explosionof r r parallel force: economic Islam. Part of thc virst wealth pourirrg into the Arab oil-exportingcountrics found its way into a network ol banks and investmentcornpaniescontrolled by the lslarnic right ancl the Muslim Brctherhood. In country after country, these Islamic banks did much more than serve as money-changers. Somctimes openly, sometimes secr:edy,they supported sympathetic politicians and army officersand funded activistsand political parties,Islamistrun mediacompanies,and businesses controlledby the Brotherhood. From r 974 onward, the Islarnic banking systcm servcdas thc financial backbonefor the Islamic right. And throughout it all, the Islamic banking system-which went from zero to global powerhouse in the two decadesafter 1974depended heavily on the advice and technological assistancert receivedfrom a host of American and European institutions. including such major banks as Citibank. To \Testern bank executives,International Monetary Fund officials,and free-marketideologues,the Islamic banks seemedideal. Thc Islamic right had long made clear that it preferredcapitalismto atheistic communism. None of the important Islamist movements,fronr

The Riseo{ Economic Islam



the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to Pakistan'sIslamic Group to the Shiite fundamentalistsin Iraq, preachedsocial and economic justice. Instead,they opposedstateownership,land reform, and socialwelfare programs. Like the Muslim Brotherhood itself, Islamic banking was born in Egypt, financed by Saudi Arabia, and then spread to the far corners of the Muslim world. At first it seemedinnocuous, a free-marketoriented systemof financial power that professedfealty to the Koran but deliveredcold, hard cashto its many supporters;soon enough,the Islamistpoliticaldimensionof lslamic bankingmade itselffelt. Evenrually,the Islamic banking movementbecamea vehiclenot only for cxporting political Islam, but for sponsoring violence. Often the Islamic banks had direct or tacit support from \iTesternbanks and governments. At the beginning,the growth of economiclslam seemedto fit perfectly with \Tashington'sClold War design for thc Middle East. It of the cmergedas a marriagebetweenmilitant economictheoreticians Islarnicright in the Arab world and the technologyand know-how of leading$Testernbanks,financial institutions,and universities. se-veral It beganslowly in the r95os, as Muslim Brotherhoodeconomistsand rrvo leading Iraqi clergymcn developedthc early prototypes for an Islamiceconomy.[t gatheredmomentumin the r96os, when a Musfinancierfoundedthe first lslamicbank. And it took lrrn Brother:hood Kuwaiti, and Ar:ab off in thc rL)7os,with the full support of Sar.rdi, (iulf potentates,especiallyafter oil pricesquadrupledin r977-74. PrinceMohammed irl-Faisal,the brother of the Saudiforeign minister, finally brought it all togetherJcreatingthe first multibillion-dollar netrvork of Islamic banks and building a reputationas Islam's"prince of tithes." Throughout these years, the Islamic banking netwttrk was organized,staffed,and often controlled by wealthy Muslim Brotherhood activists,who usedthe banksto financeright-wing politicaltransformationsin lrgypt, Sudan,Kuwait, Pakistan,Turkey,and.fordan. Economiclslam operatedon two levelsin the r97os. First, Saudi .\rabia itself,wielding huge dollar surpluses,dangledtheserichesin front of poverty-strickenMuslim nations such as Egypt, TurkeS Pakistan, and Afghanistan, offering aid in exchangefor a pronounced

r 7o


D r , v t r - 's


political shift to the right. Second,a tightly disciplined network of Islamic banks set up shop in Cairo, Karachi, Khartoum, and Istanbul. where they not only becameimportant financial players but quietly' funded the growth of the Islamic right. In Egypt, Islamic bankers joined Sadat to support that country's transition from Arab socialismto Sadat'sinfitah (economicopening) to restore free-marketpolicies, and in the processthey helped build the political momentum of the Islamicright. ln Kuwait, the royal family invited Muslim Brotherhood-linked bankers to fund a political forcc against nationalistsand Palestiniansin that tiny oil emiratc. In Sudan,Jordan, and Turkey, the Muslim Brotherhood and right-wing politicians built financial empireson the foundation of lslamic banks and used their wealth and connectionsto advancethe causeof the Islamic right. Often, as in Egypt, they identified their economicpolicieswith economicreforms demandedby the InternationalMonetarv Fr-rndand by inviting in multinational corporations and foreign lenders. Thanks to economicIslam, there was now a direct line from ultrawealthy Saudi, Kuwaiti, and Qatari sheikhs,princes,and emirs to Muslim Brotherhoodbusinessmen and bankersto street-levelthugs of of it fueled by petrodollars.It was a force that transformedthe Middle East. the lslamic right-all

Isr-el trc

B eN K S A N D THn'Wn,sr

Big banks, oil companies,and U.S. government institutions eagerly encouragedthe Islamic bankers in the r97os.The ry73 OPEC price increasesmade the Gulf important not just becauseof its oil wells, but for its financial clout as well. Vast quantities of U.S. military goods poured into Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other Gulf countries. Egypt joined traditional U.S. allies such as Israel and Turkey as outposts of 'Western influence. And the United Statesand Great Britain began constructingand expanding air and naval basesand bolsteringfleets in the Indian Ocean, the Horn of Africa, southern Arabia, and the easternMediterranean.

The Riseof Economic Islam


r7 L

Islamic clerics and medieval-mindedMuslim Brotherhood scribblers didn't get the Islamic banking movementoff the ground on their own. \Testernbankers,salivating at the prospectof tapping into the vast stores of petrodollars that were accumulating after OPEC's r973-74 price increases,did more than play along. The big banks rvere already major players with Saudi and Arab Gulf conventional bankers,so when the Islamic banking movement emergedit seemed too good an opportunity to miss.Major \Westernbanks and financial pitched in to provide expertise,training, and the latest ir-rstitutions banking technologyto facilitatethe explosionof Islamic-rightbanking power.Reassuredby C)rientalistsand academicswho assertedthat Islam'scommitmentto capitalismwent back to M<thammed,the big moneyccnterbanksplungedin. Major participantsincludedCitibank;the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation; Bankers Trust; ClhaseManhattan; thc Milton Fricdman;the Internadisciplcsof the Univcrsityof CJhicago's tional Monetary Fund; Price Waterhouse;U.S., British, and Swiss technicians;the major oil companies;Harvard Univcrsity;and the Universityof SouthernCalifornia;among others.Creatinga banking svstcmthat didn't chargeinterest,and yet still could function both legallyand cfficientlyin the world of global finance,was no mean trick. It is beyond thc scopeof this book to discussthc theory of lslrr m ic finance, ancl thc mechrrti smsthat rtllowctl nott-intcrcst "lenclers"to recouptheir "loans" and still make a profit. Sufficeit to saythat a complcx and multilayeredtheory of cxactlyhow to clojust that developedin the r97os.l More important, for our story,is how thesebanks propelledthe growth of political Islam, with the conniv:rnceof Westernhankers. Ibrahim Warde, one of the keencstobserversof the world of lslamicfinanceconcludes:

The international barrkirlgsystemwas . . . instrumental in thc very c rc ation of Is l a m i c b a n k s . Th e fl e d g l i n g Isl ami c banks, l acki ng experience and resources,had little choice buf to rely on the ex pertis eof th e i r i n te rn a ti o n a lco u n te rp arts.A nd as Isl arl i c banks gained experience, the world of finance was undergoing major


Dtrvrr-' s


transformaticlns. so ratherthan beingphasedout, the cooperatioll with \x/esternbanks-in the form of joint vL'nrurcs, rlrurigement agreements' tech'icalcooperation and cclrresp<lndenr bar-rkrrrgwas steppedup, leadingt. increased converllence ancl f'si'' between cclnventional and Islamicfinance."2

Sorneof the groundbreakingw'rk on the deveroprrenr .f a the.ry of Islamicbanking,includingh.w to organizea m.dern bank using non-intercst-bearing securities,was being drne in pakistan,in l,.rd'n, and, in the r 96os,at the Universityof (ihicag., by the ec.nrmisr Lloyd Metzler.IBy the L97os,when petrr-rslamtr.k they wcre 'ff, ready. "citibank, BankersTrust, chase Manhattan, all the Amerrcan banks at the time werc doing a l't work for the Saucris, s. when 'f this Islamicbankingphen.menonstarted,it wirs secnASi'r opporrllnity t. d'busincss," sayswardc. "G .l dman sachswas activei'crcating certaintypesof commodity-based productsf'r Islamiclrarks."a Between r975 and zooo, U.s. institutionssuch as Fannie Mac ancl FreddieMac did pilot projcctsfor Islarnicmorrgagcs,the U.S.Fecrcral Reservestartcdlslamic banki'g programs,the wrrrld Bar-rk's Inrerrational Finance (iorpor:rti.n got i.rvolved, and evc' Big oil uscd Islamic financial instrumentsfor project fir-rancing..,The large wcstern multinationals. . . opencdIslarnicwindows f'r rcceivingdcposits frorn their wealthyGulf clients,"wrote cjlerrrent He'ry. ..TheFrench, led by BanqueNationalede paris. . . j.ined rhe Americanand 'rany Britishpresences, headedby citibank and KleinworrhBens.n."t In fact' Islamic banks set up hcadquartersin L,uropearrd othcr worldwide money centers.lslamic banki'g "operatesmore out of London, Genevaor the Bahamasthan it doesout of -|cddah,Karachi or cairo," accordingto warde. It hewed closelyto an alliancewith neoliberaleconomists."ldeologically,both liberalismand economrc Islam were driven by their common oppositio' to socialismand economic dirigisme."6 Islamic finance repeatedly relied on right-wing economists and Islamist politicians who advocatedthe privatizing, free-markerviews of the chicago school. "Even Islamic Republics have on occasion

Tbe Riseof Lconomic Islam


r 71

openly embracedneo-liberalism,"wrote \X/arde."In Sudan,between r99z and the end of 1993, Economics Minister Abdul Rahim Hamdi-a disciple of Milton Friedman and incidentally a former Islamic banker in London-did not hesitateto implement the harshest free-market remedies dictated by the International Monetary Fund. He said he was committed to transforming the heretoforestatist economy'accordingto free-marketrules,becausethis is how an lslamic economy should function."'7 Similarly',the radic:rlAlgerian Islamist moverrrent,which would force that nirtiou it'rtoa ;lrotracted civil war in the r 99os, openly backccltl-reIntcrnirtionalMonetrlry Fund's harsh prescriptionfor Algeria. "When foundeclin r9[J9," wrote Clement l-{cnry,an astute observerof lslamic finance,"the clu Salut(FIS)aclvocrrtecl nrarkct refolnrs in AlgeriarrFront Islrrrniclue its party prograrr-inclucling :rligningthc clinar lAlgcria'scurrcrrcyl irt inferniltion:rlmrrkct r:rtesrrsthe IMF was insistingat fhe 1i111cirtg."\ lr r d lslr tr nic['tanl< Clitibankwrrsa pionccr."(litibank bcc,rtrctlre flrst Vestcrn bank It would continuet() pay t() set Llpau Islrrnricwitrdow," saysWarclc.'r dividends.ShaukLrtAziz, who scrvcclon tlrc boarclof clirectursol (liti SaucliArnericarrllrtnk. artcl lslilmic IJirnkanclthc (litibank-conttectccl who spentthir ty vcarsas an Isl arni cbattkcr,sct up Clitibank'sIslamic risefo bcconrc w<lrrlrlerverttr-rally barrkingprollranrin lJahrain.toAz,iz. r-ninister of financerrnclcc<lnotricrrffrrirsi,i Pekiste'rrntl, irr zoo4, Pervcz Aziz would he nrrrncciPakistan'sprinre ministcr by l)resiclent Mr"rsharraf. What excited'Westcrnfree-trtirrkctgllruls\vils tl'renotion thrrt b1,its Islanrwas a capitalistrcligion.Mohanrmed,thc Prophet,was a r.rature traclerwho believedin iree markcts,low capitalisttrnclprofit-seeking and his carly taxes,privateenterprise,:rndthe absenceof regulatiol'ts, Islan-ric regimein Mecca obeyedrulesthat woulcl make a neo-liberal economistsmile-or irt leastthat is the portrait paintcd by Islamic fundamentalistsand by free-marketideologuesfrotn the West. It was a portrait that not only justifiedWesternsupport for thc cconomic projectsof the [slarnicright but providedyet anothermeansto attack and dirigismeas "anti-Islamic." Arab socialism,state-runeuterprises, religioustracts and Though the idea of drawing upon seventh-century

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fourteenth-century Islamic economic theories to build a modern eco'Western bankers and secularnomic system might seem laughable, minded Middle Ii a st p o l i ti ci a n s co u l d n ' t resi st the l ure of the money flauntec'lby Muslim Brotherhood financiers. T he Is lam i c F re e Ma rke t In sti tu te , a conservati ve foundati on i n Virginia, is s ued a p a p cr ca l l e d " l sl a m a n d the Free Market," w hi ch captures the outlgok perfectly. Citing scores of Koranic verses, IFMI proc laimed th a t b e i n g a tru c Mu sl i m means opposi ng soci al i sm , res is ting tax e s, re sp e cti n g p ri va te p ro p e rty ri ghts, and obeyi ng the unirlterable la w o f su p p l y a n d d e tn a n d : ^fl.rc(]r-rr'arrexplicitlv recluiresa free market of open trade basedon . . . Ir-rdeed,Islam commands c<lnsetrsual,voluntary trattsacti<tns. its followers to go ()ut irrt<lthe markct and eartl their livelihood and profit,.to support their families and enioy prospenty.. . . lslam specificallvproviclcsfor private property rights. In conlsl:tm enshrir.resprivate property in a sacred trast to s<tcirrlisrn, T rr-rs t.Is la n r rcco g n i ze sc()n tra ct ri g h ts as w el l and the Qur' an c otlntrrttds fo l l < l w crs to fu l fi l l th e i r contractual promi ses. Muhamtnird ' stca ch i n g sa l so p ro vi d e clth :l t pri cesshoul d be detern' tinc dby su p p l y a n d cl e l n a n di n th e o p e n marketpl aceand not set arbitrarily b v i n te rve n i n g o ffi ci a l s. T hi s refl ected the l ongc s t:rblis h edn re rch a n tb a ckg ro u n d o f h i s tri be, as w el l as hi s ow n merchanrtradins .rctivities.. . . lrr his rule of the city of al-Madinah, Muhrrmm erde xp l rci tl y ch tl se n o t to i mpose any taxes on trade, nrirking thc city an . . lsl:rrn's thor<lughly free-rnarket ecclnomic policies produced an cnormolts ccorromic boom it't the lands it governed, as has always been true evervwhere such policies have been tried. As a result, while Europe remairredmired in the anti-market feudalism of the Dark Ages, the Islamic World would become the dominant t economic power or.rearth for almost 5oo years.l The idea that the Koran somehow provides guidance that might be used to outlaw socialism and to insist upon unfettered private enterprise is unfounded, since its strictures are far from explicit and certainly cannot be applied to modern economic systems. Yet that didn't

The Rise of Economic lslam


r 75

stop conservativeWesterneconomistsfrom sayingit did, and it didn't stop Muslim clergy,including well-known Iraqi and Iranian ayatollahs, from issuing legal rulings (or fatwas) to codify such narrowminded interpretation. Graham Fuller,a former CIA officer who headedthe Middle East Council in the early r9Sos,later deskat the CIA National Intelligence argued that America's interestsare not incompatible with the rise of Islam.In the mid-r98os,as a CIA official,he authored fundamentalist estimate(NIE) that proposedthat a controversialnationalintelligence the United Statesseekcloserrelationswith Iran'sayatollah-ledregime in or der to pr eventS ovi etgai ns,e pJperthet contrihtrte.lro the initrative by the Reaganadministration'sOliver North and William Casey that becameknown as "lran-contra." Fulleq now a prolific author, has also written extensivelythat the econttmicvision of the lslamic right is friendly to free-marketadvocates."There is," he wrt)te, "n{) mainstreamIslamist organization. . . with radical s<lcialvicws."l2 Continued Fuller: itr thc Islamdoesnot favor,in principlc,heavystetcitltcr','t'rlrion or in the ccononticpr<lfile<tfsttcietv....Strangely, marketplace rernaincluiteambivalentabotrtor evclthostileto s<tcial Islamists rev olutic ln.l J Islamists strongly opp()se Marxist illtcrpreteti(lt'tsof society .l' lam i s ts a re :l mb i va l e n t o l t th e rttl e of the strrtci n rhc economy-a disparity between tlreory ancl practicc. . . . (llassical s e ro l e o f th e sti rteas l i rni tedto faci l i tatls lamic theo ry e n vi sa g e th ing the well-b e i n go f ma rke ts i rn d me rch al ttsri l thcr thrrttcotrtr< l l ling them. ls l a m i stsh a ve a l w a ys p o w e rful l y obi cctcd to soci al i snr and c ommun i s m. . . . Isl a m h a s n e ve r h i rd probl ems w i th thc i cl ea that wealth i s u n e ve n l yd i stri b u te cl .r5 Is lamic bank i n g g re w a stro n o mi ca l l y. A ccordi ng to thc C i eneral Counc il of Is la m i c B a n ks a n d F ' i n a n ci a l Insti tuti ons, by zoo4 thert: were more than z 7 o Isl a mi c b a n ks w i th assetsof $z6o bi l l i on and depos its of $z oo b i l l i o n .r6 C h i e f cre d i t b e l ongs to an Iraqi cl ergyman, an Egyptian banker, a Saudi prince, and a cluster of Kuwaiti royals. Their stories follow.

't J6

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The man who laid thc cornerstonefor "economicIslam" was an lraqi Shiite clergymannamed Mohammed Bakr al-Saclr,the patriarch of the Sadr:family ancla closerelativeof lraqi rebel cleric Muqtada alSadr, whose Mahdi Arn-ry cmerged as a powerful force in Iraq in Loo1.AyirtollahSadr'sideasprovidedthe theoreticaljustificationfor an lslirrtrist econonricpolicy. In r96o, Saclrwrote ()ur F.cortctry, which becalncthe Holy Bible iunclanrentirlisnr's ecotrotnictheorics. His Nctnusurious oi lslrrrr-ric IJanksin lslun (ryl j) r,vasone of tlrc first tonrescxplicatingthe basis of Islarnicbanl<irtg.r; Prothr,vorkswould bc rrnrongthe foundingdocur r elr ts for ir ;rro-cupi tal i st, rrnci tri l i tatrtll'anti-socialist,lslamist politicrrlecor.ron-ly. lt is not surprisittgthat MuhirrnntadIlakr al-Sirdr founclan unclergrouncl, tcrroristlslamistparty,thc Islarnic irlsohclprccl ( iall ( Al Dawa) i n the r9.tos.The (l al l was est:rblishcd as an antiforce in llaghclacl, <lrgrrnizing conserviltivcIraclistttdents c<lmnrrrnist covcrt supagirinstMarxists on crrmplls;later,it reportccllyreccivecl port from lran's SAVAK secrctserviccin orclcrto underminethc lJaath Pirrty in Irirq, carryins ()ut ;.lssilssinrti()rrs rrttdbomltingsfor decades againstIraclileaclers. Saclr'str)irrtncrin crcating thc Clell wrrs Ayatollah Muhsin rlpolitical lraclifr-rnclatncntirlist Hakirn, founclerof another lorrg-lasting dynasfy,whose sciorrswoulcl also take prlrt in thc U.S.-installed (louncil for the IslamicRevolurep4irne in zoo3 through thc Suprrcrne of righttion in Iracl(SOll{l).SaclrirnclHrrkim lvcrethe co-organizers wing politic:rlIslirnrin lraclin thc late r95os.What propelledthem to orgiu.rizctheir movementwirs the growth of left-wing activism in Iraq and the strengthof the Iraqi CommunistParty.The communistsand the left were strongestamong the disenfranchisedShiitesof Iraq, espeslumsof Baghdad.Accordcially in the sprawling,Shiite-dominated ing to a former CIA official, "Membership in the leftist organizations during the period was so strong that one author on the period describesthe Communist Party in Iraq as the only political party that represented the Shi'a."18What frightenedSadr and Hakim was that

The Riseof F,conomic lslam

hundreds of young Shiites,especiallyon universiry campuses,were abandoning their allegianceto Islam and joining the socialists,rhe communists,the Baath, or the pro-Nasser forces. Led by Ayatollah Hakim's son, Mahdi al-Hakim, the Call "was organizedalong strict party lines.. . . The party functioned in secrecy,with small cells, anonymity,and a strict hierarchy."le Many of Iraq's leadingclericshad long-established ties ro British inteiligence.F'or more than a century,I-ondon had maintainedties to the Shiiteclergy of Iraq and Iran, especiallythose basedin the holy cr ty of Najaf,Ir aq. From r85z ur-rti l theearly r9jos, through a clever linirncialmechanismcallec'l the Oudh Bequesr,imperialEnglandand its intelligenceservicekept hundredsof Iraqr Shiiteclergy in Najaf and Karbalaon thc Britishparyroll.z0 After the overthrowof England's Iracliking in r 9 5[], many of thoseayatollahsbeganorganizinga!]arnsr thc Iraqi left and the Iraqi Communist Party,and it was during this periodthat the Islanric(lall was foundcd,with directtics to thc Muslirn llrotherhood in Egypt (dcspitethe fact that the Brothers were Sunnianclthe lr aqis were S hi i tes).t'In 1c16o a joint Sunni-shiitedeclarirtion representinllsomethingcalled thc Islamic Party issued a strong rlttitck<ln the Irircligovernmentand its communist allics,irn attack that was cndorseclby Ayatollirh Hakim. Cioncluc'led Yirzhak Nirkash,the author of Thc Shi'isof lrdq, "Hakim nor only supported the memorandlrm,bLrthimselfissr-red a fatwa attackingconrmunlsm by namc and asscrtingthat it was incompirtiblcwith lslam."22 Thc rrnti-communistorganizingand cconomic thcorizing of the two Iraqi Shiite ayatollahsinspiredan iconoclasricyoung Saudi to builclthe first Islamic banking emprire:PrinceMohammed al-Faisal, son of the late King Faisaland brother of PrinceSaudal-Faisal,rhe Sirr-rcli foreignministcr.PrinccMohammed,thc "prince of tithes" and founder of thc Faisal (iroup, thc worldwide network of Islamic banks, along with Saleh Kamel, the brother-in-lawof then-Saudi ClrownPrinccFahdand a billionaircwho createdthe Al Barakabanking empire,pioneeredthe rapid expansionof economicIslam. PrinceMohammed,SalehKamel,and their alliesnot only launched the Islamic banking movement,but changedthe face of the Middle East.Not all Islamicbankerswere political,and evenfewergravitated

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hard to roward the violent lslamic-rightfringe, but in practiceit was tell thcnrapar r .S omel sl ami cbanki ngci rcl eswere run by non-activist ' pious Muslims who simply spiedan opportunity to make somemoney' tc) Many more were activists,who saw lslamic banking as a means their advance thc cause of militant, political Islam, and who used either banks ro supporr the Brotherhoodand its allies.And still others founded Islamic banks, or utilized existing ()nes,as inn<lcent-looking fronts for terrorism, arlns trade, and other skullduggery'Unfortuwas natelyfor the CIA, and for Citibank, knowing which was which by all but impossible-and often, all three worked togethercheek jowl: the pious,the political,and the perpetrators' M:rny of the leadinglslamistactivistsof the last four decadeswere involved with Islamic banking both in theory and practicc' often underthe wing of PrinceMOhamn]edal-Faisal.Many wereconnected was to the Brotherhood.Sayyid Qutb, the extremist from Egypt who hangcdis 1c166,wroteSocialJusticein Islam, purporting to be a blueprint for how fundamentalistMuslims ought to look at ecclnomictheory. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian scholar of lslamic law' who his relisertledin the vahhabi Gulf sheikhdom()f Qatar, parlayed gious credentialsintO seatson the board of severalIslamic banks. Mohammed al-Ghazali,anorherIrgyptianMuslim Brotherhoodleader who found a haven in the Gulf, wrote tracts on Islamic econtlmics, including Islam and EconctmicQuesti<tns' In Egypt, the man who got it all startedwas Ahmed al-Naiiar'a Mit German-trainedEgyptian banker who, in t963, created the the Ghamr Bank, describedas "the first Islamic bank in tlgypt and world."23 Mit Ghamr was begun with German banking assistance the and, through Najiar's family, with the support of forces within public the Egyptian intelligenceservice'It was done covertly' Neither an nor the Egyptian governmentwere told that it was intendedto be lslamic bank.2aAt the time, in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood was Nasser'snemesis,and Najjar took stepsto distancehimself, at least publicly, from the violent underground movement' But Najiar was certainlyconnected.The foreword to a book that he wrote describing his experienceas the pioneerof Islamic banking was written by Jamal al-Banna,the brother of Hassanal-Banna,the Muslim Brotherhood's

The Riseof Economic Islam



founder. "The main distinction between Dr. Najjar and fotherl economists. . . is that he doesnot considerlslamiceconomicsas a scienceor a study,but as a causefor awakeningthe Muslims, and a method for their renaissance.Therefore, he considers'Islamic banks' only as a basefor his mission."25Najjar himselfwrote that the reasonhe started the first Islamic bank was to "savethe Islamicidentity which was starting to fade away in our society. . . in preparation to shift to Marxism." He bitterly attacked Nasser and bemoaned the fact that Egyptianswere "ashamedof Islam and proud of socialismor nationalism." Yet in public, saysNajjar, "I could not declaremy true goals."26 The Muslim Brotherhood was deeply involved in Najjar's work, By t967,it and many of its membersinvestedin his early ventures.2T was clear that the Muslim Brotherhoodhad essentiallytaken over Mit Ghamr, and the bank was closed. Egypt's experiment with Islamic banking in the t96os was "liquidated," says Monzer Kahf, when "Islamic revivalistsand former Muslim Brotherhood members infilAt its trated Iit] as clients,depositors,and probably employees."28 peak,Mit Ghamr had nine branchesand z5o,ooo depositors.Najjar, in his memoirs, blamesNasserfor the undoing of his bank. Undeterred, he went to Sudan, where he was welcomed by the Muslim Brotherhood there. "The Society [of the Muslim Brothersl in the Sudan was a harmoniousIslamic and democraticcivilian one," he wrote, specificallyciting as his interlocutor therc'HassanTurabi, thc leaderof the Muslim Brotherhood in Sudan,who would riseto power in the late r97os.zeWhen the Sudanesegovernmentwas overthrown by Jaafar Numeiri, who pledgedloyalty to Nasser,Najjar fled. Naijar traveled to Germany,Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Malaysia, spreading the gospel of Islamic banking. He would turn up over the next three decadesvirtually everywherean Islamic bank openedits doors. "He was a promoter of the idea of Islamicbanking to anyonewho would listento him," saysAbdelkader Thomas, the founder of the American Journal of Islamic binance, 'Vfhen the who worked with Citibank on Islamic finance in Bahrain. Saudi-backedOrganization of the Islamic Conference created the IslamicDevelopmentBank (IDB) in Jeddahin r97 5, Najjar was there. The IDB was the granddaddyof Islamic banks, generouslysupported

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by Saudi Arabia, Libya, Kuwait, and the UAh,. lt was quickly followed by the Dubai lslamic Bank (r975), the Kuwait FinanceHouse Bank Ggzz), the Islamic Bank of Sudan (tgzz), the Jordan Islamic for Financeand Investment(rg78), and the Bahrain Islamic Bank ( tst8) . Najjar recruitedhis most important acolyteswhen he convinced PrinceMohammedal-Faisaland SalehKamel to get into Islamicbanking. "lt was the sameguy," saysThomas. "lt was his mectingsthey the samepcrson attendedin the I qzos.Their ideasare similarbecause inspired them. They started trt the sametime, and many of the same peopleworked with them."l0Accordingto Naiiar,he first encountered Prince Mohamrned at a meeting9f the Islamic Devclopment Bank in the ear ly 1c17os.1l Mohammed al-Faisal'slslamic banking ernpire started with the of the FaisalIslamicBank of F)gypt(I-IBL,)in t,)76.Of all the creari<rn Islamic banks, FIBE was the most formal and carefullystructured, establishinga sharia board made up of carrefullyscreenedFlgyptian als11founded thc lnternational Associetion clergy.PrinceMohar-r-rmed crf Islamic Banks, creared the Handboctk of Islamic Banking, and set up the global network called the "Faisal Group." That group included all or part of the Jordan lslamic Bank, the FaisalIslamic Housein Turkey (r985)' In Bank of Sudan ftgz8),and F-ai sal Fi nance rg8r, ar an Islamicsummir meetingin Taif, in SaudiArabia, Prince Mohammed put togerherrhe House of IslamicF'unds(in Arabic, Dar al-Maal al-Islami,or DMI), a huge holding company that servedas rhe nervecenterof his empire.DMI, basedin the Bahamasand with in ten its operationscenterin Geneva,at one point had subsidiaries countries, including Bahrain, Pakistan, Turkey, Denmark, Luxemand bourg, Guinea,Senegal, SalehKamel, meanwhile,was settingup his own empire,the AlBarakaGroup. Kamel, a Saudibillignairerelatedto the royal family .,sponsorsan annual seminar at which scoresof ecoby marriage, nomists and bankers meet with sharia scholars."33At Al Azhar, the thousand-year-oldCairo centerof Islamic learning,he establishedthe Saleh Kamel center for Islamic Economic studies. The managing director of Al-Baraka Invesrmentand Developmentcompany was a

TheRiseof Economic Islam . r 8r leading Muslim Brotherhood member,3aand its branchesin Sudan, Turkey,and elsewhereworked closelywith the Brotherhood. Throughout the r97os and r 98os, both DMI and Al-Baraka found strong alliesin London, New York, Hong Kong, Switzerland,and off, shore money centersin such placesas the Bahamasand the Cayman Islands.Ibrahim Kamel, DMI's vice chairman and CEO, told an 'West Islamic banking conferencein Baden-Baden, Germany,that the very existenceof DMI's Geneva operations center could not have occurred but for the assistanceDMI receivedfrom Price Waterhouse: "The people who explained IIslamic bankingl to rhe SwissBanking Commissionare Price Waterhouse,who have been auditing us for ovcr threeyears."Literallydozensof conferences took placein Westprestigious ern moneycenterson Islarnicbanking,and academicinstitutions got into the act. h,ventually,even Harvard University would yoin in, with its Harvard IslamicFinanceInformation Program,supported financiallyby WesternanclIslamic banking circles. Islamicbanking provideda mechanismto bring togetherwealthy conservatives, Islamistactivists,and right-wing Islamiclaw scholars in an environmentthat empoweredall three. Islamic banking providcd the enginethirt made Islamic revivalismgo. During the Cold \War,no thought was given to the notion that Islamicbanking might havea cleleterious impact on Micldle Eastsocicties,and that it might boomerangagainstthe West. Timur Quran, the Turki$h author of lslam and Mammon, points out now that lslamic econornics"has prornotedthe spreadof anti-rr-rodern :rnd in somerespectsdeliberately anti-Western currentsof thought all acrossthe Islamicworld."r5 The most vivicl description of how Islarnic banking fostered the expansionof politicalIslarn:rppearsin the writing of Monzer Kahf, a radicalIslamistfrom Syria.Kahf, who receiveda Ph.D. in economics from the Ur-riversity of Utah, gradr-rated from the Universityof Damascus and studied Islarnicjurisprudence(fiqh). From r975 ro r98r, Kahf ran the financial:rffairsof the IslamicSocietyof North America, a militant Muslim fundamentalistorganizationbasedin Indianawith closeties to the Muslim Brotherhood.After a stint as a banker in New York, Kahf went to work for the Islamic Researchand Training Institute of the lsl:rmicDevelopmentBank (IDB) in Jeddah,from r985 to

l ) r . r 'r r . 's


r999. Sincethen, Kahf has beena consultantand lectureron lslamic financein California,and has wrimenwiclelyon thc subject. ln a paper presentedto the zooz Harvard Forum cln Islamic Financcand Banking,Kahf describes how the big Islan-ric Lranksforged a political-ccor.romic alliancewith thc Muslirn clergy,tlrc ulcnra. The formalsystenratic contirctbcnvecnbankersanc'lshariirsch<llarsc:urc'duringthe alurosrc()ncLlrrcnt preparrltion for the esta[r lishmetrt of lslarnicbanksin Egyptrrnd.jorclan in fhc scconcl half < lfthe l97os . \When the n e w sp e ci e s()f i n te rn e ti o n rrlIsl al ni c Investrncut F unds emc reecl ,th o u g h n trtn a g ccll ty W e stern bankers, br< l kcrs, and hous c sof fi n a n ce ,th e y h a cl to sct sl ra ri rrschol arson b< l arcl , t()o, in order t< l g :ri n l cccp ta n cc:rn cil e g i ti rnr.rcy. Thc mr.urvsernrllars , meerine s,co n fe rcn ce s,a n cl svrtrp < tsitlarat ensucclsi nce the rnic l-r97osin th e fo u r c()rn e rso f th c w o rl cl have furthcr enharrcecl this rtew illiance b e tw e e nIsl a n ri cb a rrkers rrndshrrri aschol arsancl clcveIopcd nru tu:rII y rerv,rlcli n g rvork i n g rclationsl.ri ps. F rorn the p o i n t o f vi e u ,o f th e u l e rn a ,rh i s ncw rrl l i ancebri ngs thern balc kt() th c frtre fro n t < l f th e p o l i ti ca l sccneat i r ti me w hcn they nc c dedthi s b o o st vcry rn u ch .... T h i s al l i i rnccrrl sogi ves the ulenra a new source <lf inc<lnreancl a r.vinclt)wro r'rnew lifestyle that inc luc lc srri r tri rve l , s()me ti mcsi l r p ri vrrtr j crs, rtrryi ng i n fi vcs t:rr hotels , be i r.rgu n d e r th e fo cu s o f rn cd i a attenti on, provi cl i ng their opinions to p e o p l e o f h i g h so ci a l a n cl ccorrorni crank, w h< l c otre runrring fo r l i ste n i rrg ,b e i n g co r.n rn i ssi onecl to uncl ertrrke paid-for fiqh r e sca rch .... T h e y i n f:rct b ccrrmecel ebri ti esi n thei r res pec tiv cc < t nn tri e s, a n d e ve no u tsi cl eth e i r b orders. T he alliarrcecrca te s rrn a tn ro sp h e rco f fresh pol i ti cal rapprr> c henrent by th e Isl a mi c n ro ve me n ra n d thc governmentsi n thc Mus lim, :rnc lesp e ci a l l yth e A ra b , co u n tri e s..j .' By rapproc hement, K a h f me :l n s th e Isl a rn i za ti on of soci al and pol i ti c al s oc iety in the Isl a mi c w o rl d . K a h f a d d s that the shari a schol ars who were picked for thc advisory boards irnd other posts were carcfully s elec ted. T ho se w h o w e re to o ra d i ca l , and w ho w oul dn' t be 'Western accepted by moderate government officials and bankers, were avoided; at the same time, the "government-cheering ulema"

The Riseof Economic Islam


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were similarly excluded.3T The processcreatedan entire new classof wealthy,right-wing Islamists,with accessto money and media.

T ne


oF KuwArr

The exper:ience of Kuwait provides a classiccasein point of how the Islamic banks changedthe Middle East. There is a distinctive pattern to the political evolution of Islamic banking.One or more lslamic banks establisha beachheadin a particular capital. The bank servesas an economic headquartersfclr Muslim Brotherhoodbusinessmen and other lslamist activists.The bank builds a baseof devout followers,while establishinglucrativc allianceswith politicians,both religiousand secular.Islamistorganizations then draw strength from the bank's economic power, and Islamistinstitutions-including mosques,charities,and businesscsprosperas a result.And a new classof wealthy Islamistsemergesto hclp financethe Muslinr Brotherhoodand Islarnistpoliticalfronts. Unlike SaudiArabia, which is stronglyinfluencedby the Wahhabi sect,the tiny, wealthy statelctof Kuwait is traditionallymore liberal and freewheeling.But in the r 97os, the I(uwaiti royal family, the Islamicright, and Islamic banking groups joined hands to do battle with a risingnationillistmovement.As a result,the PersiariGulf emirAte was fundamentallytransformed.The centerpieceof the effort was an lslirmicbank calledthe Kr-rwaitFinanceHouse. Kuwait was ncver especiallya haven for the devout. The Wahhabi militancy that seizedArabia for the Saudisand had influencein Qatar ,rnclpirrtsof the United Arab F.miratesneverfound a foothold there.Its playboy-dominatcdroyal family; maintained in power by force of tlritish arms,seemedmostly contentwith its lot. Yet it was a shaky,artiflcial nation, carvedout of Iraq's southernprovincesand the Ottoman F.rnpire,createdstrictly as a British outpost in the (lulf that doubledas an oil field for British Petroleumand Gulf Oil. A seriesof Iraqi governrnentslaid claim to it, and its fragile existencewas preservedagainst Iraqi irredentismat leasttwice, by British forcesin r96r-when

it first

r rJ4

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achievedindependence-andby an American-ledcoalition in t99r. Irvenafter r96 r, Kuwait was dependenton British civil servants,army officers,and Anglo-Americanoil experts,and the arrangementwas satisfyingto both sides:the Anglo-Americanswould haveexclusiveaccess to Kuwait's oil, and its royal family would gratefullyaccepttheir protection and a healtl-rycut of the proceeds.Still, it was a largelysecular society,and in the Clulf,Kuwait was known for its relativelyliberal traclition, with an on-again, off-again parliamcnt, a rnostly free mcdia, and a modcstlyflourishingpoliticaldebate. Bccause the tiny population of Kuwirit prcferred not to work if they didn't have to, Kuwait imported hundredsof thous:rndsof workers from the Arab world and Asia,especially Palestinians. And that w:rsthc rub. "Kuwait was a listcningpost fclr Arab nationalism," s:rysTalcott Seclyc,who was a U.S.foreignserviceofficerin Kuwait in the late r 95os. "Nassc.rism,sccular Nasserism,w:rs the predominant pcllitical fclrcc thcn,and it ovcrshaclowed Islam."The revolutionin Iraq in r95ll,led lry contmunistsand nationalists,found widespreaclsympathy in Kuwait, evenamong a minority in thc royal family, the Al Sabah."I remembcr sitting with ShcikhJabr al-Sahah,who is now the ruler," recallsSeelye. "l mcntionedthe king of lrac1,he went like this"-drawing his finger rrcross 1[16215-c'11; indic:rte,'He hasto go.'" Seelyesaysthat cventhen,a lot of Palestinians had gatheredin Kuwait. "lt was very much a secular society,"he says."But the Britishwere in control."J8 Dr-rringthe r 96os, Kuwait's lfovernment,though it wouldn't be m istlkcn for e Creck ei ty-stl tc.wrs am()ngthc leasteuthoriterianilt the Middle East.Palestinians, who made up a great part of Kuwait's working and professionalclasses,along with students,were an important force. The Islamists,representedby the Muslin-rBrotherhood, had only marginalimpact then. "I usedto attendthe National Assembly in those days," says a former CIA official who served in Kuwait, "and I was always amusedby listeningto the conservative Islamists,who were always criticizing the Sabahs."Yet they were not a significantfactor, nor were they organized."There was always the Muslim Brotherhood, coming out of Egypt," says the CIA veteran. "But I never thought that the Islamic sidewas significant."3e

The Riseof Economic Islam


Many of the most progressivePalestiniansin Kuwait had emerged from the ranks of the Arab Nationalist Movement, founded in the r94os by GeorgeHabash, who would later createthe Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine(PFLP).The ANM, which was liberal and secular,receivedsome backing from Nasser and from the Arab Baath SocialistParty,and it built a significantfollowing among Palestinians in Beirut, Amman, and Kuwait. "ln r968, when the PFLP was formed, they were all ANM," says another CIA official, who often dealt with Palestinianleaders."l talked to a lot of the ANM people back then."40The ANM was only one expressionof Arab nationalism and pan-Arabism,which beganto gain adherentsin Kuwait during the r95os and r96os, first among erpatriate Arabs working in Kuwait, then spreading to privileged Kuwaiti nationals, and even gaining support among some membersof the oligarchic Kuwaiti ruling family. By the mid-r97os, the strengthof Arab nationalistsin Kuwait alarmed the dominant branch of the Al Sabahclan, and likc Sadatin Egypt, they reachedout to the Islamists. For the story of how an Islamic bank helpedchangeKuwait, we are indebtedto Kristin Smith, author of a brilliant and instructivec.lse study of how right-wing Islamist money and a threatenecloligarchy joined"The Kuwaiti government,alarmed over the volatile mix of the opposition's rhetoric and the large Palestinianexprrtriate communityworking in Kuwait, dissolvedthe parliamentIin rr176lf<>r the first time sinceliberation and begancastingabout for new alliesto counter the Arab nationalists,"wrote Smith. "It found them in the Islamic forces."42 In reachingout to the Islamists,the Kuwaitis had Jordan in mind, where the Muslim Brotherhoodhad helpedKing Husseincrusha Palestinian insurgency.That small state, whose monarch was descended from the Hashemitedynasty installedin Amman by T. E. Lawrence, Churchill, and the British Arab Bureau, hosted a huge population of Palestinianrefugees.After yearsof tension,a civil war eruptedthere in remembered as "Black September," King Hussein r97o.ln a massacre mobilizedJordan'sBedouinmilitary to defeatthe Palestinianuprising. The Muslim Brotherhood of Jordan, which had long supported the

I I J( i

D uv r l 's

G nl . t - :

the Jordanian monarchy, threw its weight into the battle against the So, king' PalestineLiberation Organization in support of the Kuwaiti rulers must have reasoned,the Islamic right might also provide important leverageagainstthe Arab and Palestiniannationalists in thc Clulfsheikhdom. At the time virtually no Kuwaiti women wore veils.In mosques, mostly the elderly prayed.In Kuwaiti universities,men end women attendedclassestogether.Most Kuwaitis believedthat religion was important in private life and in cultural activities,but not in politics. I'oliticalIslam in Kuwait had only a tenuousfoothold, althoughthe small Muslim Brothcrhood was efficientlyorganizedthrough the SocialReform Society,which had beenformcd in t96z' But beginningin the mid-r 97os,the Al Sabahand Islamistsjoined hancls.As the politicalpressurcmountedfrom nationalists,Pl,C)supportcrs, and restiveKuwaitis excludedfrom power by the royal famThe ily, thc Al Sabahclampeddown, eliminatingthe noisylegislature. of the parliamentby the ruler was applaudedby the Musclissolution lim Brotherhoodand the SocialReform Society,whosechairmanwas br<tughtinto the governmcntas minister 9f religiousendowments. That ministcr,in turn, encouragedand helpedcreatean intercst-frec bankinginstitution,the Kuwait FinanceHouse (KFH) in t977' Based on discreditedtheoriesthat the Kgran prohibits intereston loans' a thesisthat modern Islamic scholarsridicule, Islamistsin Kuwaitbackcclby thc Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt-had beenlobbying for the establishmentof such a bank since the early tg7os. Almost clvernight,KFH grew into Kuwait's second largest bank, under the patronageof the Al Sabah. with a 49 percentgovernmentsharein the KFH was established capital,and it has enjoyedperksnot affordedother banks'most significantlyfreeclomfrorn central Bank regulationand protected monopolystatusasKuwait'sonly Islamicbank' . . ' KFH is a conof the de facto allianceberweenthe ruling familv crereexpressron and the Islamic movement.. ' . Islamicfinancein Kuwait, then, embodiesthe growingIslamizationof publiclife in Kuwait under the benigngazeofthe Kuwaiti government.4r

The Rise of Econctmic lslam



KFH had another effect,too. It bypassedKuwait's merchant elite, the private traders who resentedthe Al Sabah'sdominance of the minination. Many in the merchant classhad gravitated toward the Arab nationalistsin opposition to the Al Sabah.But they were barred from involvementin KFH; instead,the Kuwaiti governmentmobilized the Bedouinsagainst the merchants.The tribal Bedouins desert-based were the force that King Husseinusedagainstthe Pl,O, and they provided the core of the most rcactionaryforcesin SaudiArabia. A leadingKuwaiti professor,ShafeeqN. Ghabra,calledthe rising influenceof the Bedouinin Kuwait "desertization": valuesand thc between Bedouinconservative The n-rarriage Tl rc l naioritv of thc relatively Islam icl m ovementmil turecl .... to thc forcdeprivcdBedouintribes havcmovedfronrthesidclincs and equalitl,,the basisfor front in dem:rndingsocietalrecognitiot.t populist[slirmists infltrcntial have whichis foundin Islarn.Several of "desertization," as the r iscnfr om their ranks.... Thi s pr()cess thc most BahrainithinkerMuharnmadAnsarilabclsit, is nrodern processcs in the Middle East.It undermines destructivc valucs societyby bringinginto urbansocietyfhe ultraconservativc Islalnic populisrn.aa with of the dcsertarrclnrixingthenr The Al Sabah werc prepared to risk evcrything to cncollragc Islamismagainstthe left. It workccl. Whert thc Al Sabahclecidedit was szlfeto restoreparliament,lslamistsquickly took advantagc,winning two seatsin r98r and steadilygainingafter thirt.'Wrotc(ih:lbra, "In the elections lof r9t3rl, the secular p:rn-Ararbistforccs wcrc dcfcatedby the Islamists,who bccamethe only organizedpolitical None of this, of coltrse,was the result of group in Parliirment."'+'i some native, legitimatelslamist upsurgc; rathcr, it was thc dircct taken by the Kuwaiti rulcrs,and it was resultof a consciousclccisior-r House. Kr-rwait Finance backed by the The deeppocketsof KFH bankrolledthe growth of the Islamistsin Kuwait from 1977 forward. It was widely reported in Kuwait that KFH "repays Islamist politicians in kind, putting its considerable resourcesbehind their election campaigns." KFH, Kristin Smith


'l ) l . v t t . 's

C nv l

Its wrote, used"money,real estate,jobs... to influenceelections."a6 real estatewas reportedly usedfor ralliesand demonstrations,and its huge workforce enlistedin lslamist campaigns.KFH also becamc home to more than a hundreclIslamic charities, usually tied ttr Islamistâ&#x201A;Źlroups.Someof the KFH-basedmoney was divcrtedto support radical Islamist groups in Egypt, Afghanistan,and Algcria. Islamistcashfrom KFH alsodirectlysupportcdKuwaiti charitiesand social groups run by Islamists,and at leastone <lf the KFH-linked charitieswas reportedlytied to Al Qaeda.aTInsidc the bank, KFH inrposedstrict segregation of the sexes,erndoutsidcit created"Islamiacctlrcl<trganizcd cally run" buildings,shoppingmalls, and sch<tols principlcs.Its tentacleswereeverywhcre: ing to ultraconservative field sportsoring irl educatiorr, interested KFH hasbeencspecially Islarnric to study stlldents enctlr.rraging trips'toKFH, scholarships (Koranicmemorization irnclthe econclmics, Islar-nic competitions of pri vatcl sl ilrlricschools....KFH like) ,and the establ i shmcnt A/ rnagazinc, reachesout to societyat largethrough its nlclntl-rly Nr.,or, wh i c h has a c i r c ul at i on of ov er t o, ooo . 4 E

The presenceof the KFH, which bccame a $ r billion institution, accelcratedthe spreadof right-wing Islamismin prcviouslysecular Kuwait. The teachcrs'associationand the ministry of educationwere taken over by Islamists,and curriculawere changedto reflectthe new religiosity.The rninistryof informationalsofell under the influenceof Islamists,and televisionbroadcastsbecamemore conservativeand sublectto censorship.Books, too, were censored,while pamphlets preachers and audiotapesreflectinglslamistviewsand revivalist-style flooded the The desertization of Kuwait is just one exampleof how the moneyed power of the new Islamic right extendedthe movement'sinfluence.But what appearedbusinesslikeon the surface-to the CIA and even to many rulers in the Middle East-had a dark side, in the surreptitious growth of an Islamist underground whose wrath was directednot solely againstthe left and the nationalistsbut againstthe United States,the West, and its Arab and Middle Easternallies.The

The Rise of Ecorutmic Islam


r 89

institutions of economic Islam-banks, finance houses,and charities establishedby the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies in the Gulfquietly helped to spawn this new generationof Islamists,including the forerunnersof Al Qaeda. Yet the United States,SaudiArabia, and Pakistancontinuedblithely to make use of the Islamic right in their foreign policy calculations, and other countriesjoined in. In the late r97os, as the United States laid the groundwork for the jihad againstthe USSRin Afghanistan, two key U.S. allies,Israeland Jordan,launcheda mini-jihad of their own, mobilizingthe Islamicright againstSyriaand the Palestinel.iberationOrganization.




tN the Mi cl dl e East never seemedtnore securethan during the lerte r97os. Only a handful of so-called rejectioniststates-lraq, Syria, t.ibya, ar-rdthe PalestineLibcration Organiz-ation-51e1;61 outside America's nascent empire. And the United Stateswas on the offensive.Along with its allies, including

Am r ,ntcR's

Washingtonsoughttcr Israel,Egypt,.Jor:dan, and the Gulf n-ronarchies, minimizingtheir role weakenand isolatethe rernainingreiectionists, in the regionand evenseekingregimechanges,usinga combinationof threats,persuasion,and bribes.Two mernbersof the anti-U.S.bloc' Syria and the PLO, found thernselvesfacing simultaneouscivil wars against forces led by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic right. ln turn, the Muslim Brotherhoodwas supp<trtedby two U.S. allies, Israel and Jordan. And the United Statestacitly backedits alliesin promoting Islamist unrest against Damascusand the PLO's Yasser Arafat. The Israeli-Jordanianeffort in support of the Muslim Brotherhood took off in the late t97os, and it continued well into the r98os. During that time, the Islamic right would begin to exhibit the radical and anti-American characteristicsthat would later mark its Osama bin

Israel's Islamists

Laden-linked terrorist phase. A hostile Islamist takeover in Iran' a maior Islamist revolt in Saudi Arabia, and the murder of Sadat by Muslim Brotherhood-linked terrorists all erupted in ry79-8r' But before, during, and after theseevents,Amman and Jerusalemwould continue their recklesspolicy in support of Brotherhood-alliedgroups in Syria and Palestine.Although there is no evidencethat the United Stateswas directly involved in the Israeli-Jordanianefforts, according to U.S. officialswho servedin the Middle East during this period, the CIA reported on thesedevelopmentsand U.S. officialswere aware of what Israeland.fordan were doing. At no time did the United States dissuadethem. It might seemsurprisingthat a Jewish state and a secularArab monarchywould join forceswith Islamic fundamentalism.But both thc Muslim Brotherhoodwas seen,cyniin Amman and in Jerusalem, cally, as a weapon against Syria and the PI-O. ln Syria, thc Brod-rers carriedout systematicattacks,terrorism,and uprisingsin a civil war that left thousandsdead. And beginningin r967 through the late r98os, Israel helpedthe Muslim Brotherhooclestablishitself in the Ahmed Yassin,the leaderof the Brothoccupiedterritories.It assisted erhood, in creatingHarnas,hetting that its Islamistcharacterwor-rld weakenthe PI-O. It did, though it backfiredin a way that the Israeli supportersof Hamas didn't count on, evolvinginto a terroristgroup that in the r 99oscarriedgut suicidcbombingsthat killed hundrcds9f IsraeliJews.TogethcqIsraeI and .fordanunleasheda monster'

Isnnn L' s TR A INE o Zr,l't' "lsrael startedHamas," saysChilrlesFreeman,the veteranU.S.diplomat and former U.S.ambassadorto SaudiAr:abia."lt was a projectof aplencyl, which had a feeling Shin Bet lthe Israelidomesticintelligence that they could useit to hem in the PLC)."r In Arabic, Hamas-an acronym for the lslamic Resistance in 1987, Mt;vement-means "z.eal."Though it was formally established of Muslim Brotherhrlod, members the the foundersof Hamas were all

t 9z

D E vrr-' s

C eur.

especiallyin the Gaza Strip.In the wake of the t967 war, and Israel's occupation <tf Gaza and the West Bank, the Islamistsflourishedwith support from both lsrael and Jordan. Officially, the Brotherhood in the occupied territories fell under the supervision of the Muslim Brotherhoodof Jordan, and Hamas was a wholly owned subsidiary of the organization. The roots of Hamas go back to the r9jos. Beginning with the activities of the pro-Nazi (and pro-British) mufti of Jerusalem,Haj Amin al-Husscini,Palestinianactivismhas all along had a minoriry Islamist component. The mr"rftimet Hassan al-Banna'scmissaricsir-r r935. A forerunner of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine,the Makarem Societyof Jerusalem,was set up in r943.2 Many Palestinian nationalistswho wcluld [Jo on to become leadersof the sccular, non-lslamist movenlent for a Palestinianstate were attracted to the Brotherhoodar the time, as branchesbeganto proliferatein Amman, in the Syrian citics of Alcppo, Hama, and l)arnascus,ancl in Gaza, Jerusalem,Ramallah, Haifa, and elsewhcrc.Thc Muslim Brothcrhood'sfirst officein Jerusalemwas openedin r 94 5 by SaidRamadan, and by 1947 therewere twcnty-fiveMuslim Brotherhood branchesin Palestinewith as many as 25,ooo mcmbcrs.sIn Octobcr r946, and againin L947,theMuslim Br:otherhood held a regionalconventionin Haifa, with delegatesfrom l-ebar-ron and Transjordan,calling for the "spreadof Muslirn BrotherhoodchaptersthroughoutPalestine."a In the early days,the movementwas bifurcated.In Gaza,the Muslim lJrotherhoodwas affiliated with the organization'sheadquarters branch in Cairo. On the \fest Bank, the area of Palestinethat came under .fordanian administration after 1948, the Brotherhood was attachedto the Jordanian branch. In r95o, the West Bank ancl.fordanian branchesof the Muslim Brotherhood united to form the Muslim Brotherhood of Jordan. It was a docile, conservativegroup that developed increasinglyclose ties to the monarchy, and which was scorned by nationalists.sThe Hashemites,in turn, encouragedthe activities of the Brotherhood, seeingit as a force to counterbalance communist, leftist, and, later, Nasseristand Baathistsentiments.The founder and organizationalleader of the Brotherhood in Jordan was Abu Qurah. a wealthy merchanrwith no interesrin upsetringany

Israel'sIslamists '

r c)3

apple carts. Qurah had close ties to Syrian businessmenin Amman and to Banna and Ramadan in Egypt. King Abdullah "granted the Brotherhood legal status as a welfare organization,hoping to secure its support against the secular opposition."6 The king regarded the Brotherswith somesuspicion,but he hoped that by coopting them he could enhancehis legitimacy as an Islamic leader.His father, T. E. l.awrence'sSharif Hussein of Mecca, maintained a well-publicized but spurious claim to be a direct descer-rdantof the Prophet Mohammed, and althoughthe aura was dimming, Abdullah and his grandson,the future King Hussein,would do what they could to keep it alive. The Brotherhood,like the Islamicright everywhere,was strongly anti-communist,arguing"that in the twentiethcenturyEgypt and the restof the Islamicworld were threatenedby the onslaughtof comntunist and nationirlist ideologieswhich dcnied the supremacy of shdria."7The Muslim Brotherhoodwas a loyal force in support of in King Husscin,and bitterly opposcclto pan-Arabism.Its socialbarse .fordirnwas rooted in the wealthy,East Bank landowning familicsivhtr saw socialisrnand land reform as existentialthreats.When Jordan's left-leaningprime ministerSuleimanill-Nabulsi,who was influcnccd by Nasscr,challcngedthc monarchyin a showdownin r.)\7 that can-te closeto topplingit, thc Brotherhoodsidedwith the king and savedhis throne."Frorn this point t)n," wrt)teBoulby,"thire existedan unn'ritof coeristcrtcebetweenKing Husseinand the Brothten understarnding crhood."8Yusafal-Azm,a lcaderof the Brothersin.fordan, said:"Wc agreedwith thc king bccauscNasscr was irrational in his irttacks againsthim, lancllto protectourselves,becauscif Nasser'sfollowers had risen to power in .fordan,thc Muslim Brotherhoodwould have been liquic'lated,as thcy werc in llgypt."'r The Brotherhood'ssupport for the king came at a critical moment. Nasscr and his allieswere the king of Iraq (a fellow Hashemitc)was overthrown,and ascenclanf, U.S. policy had shifteddecisivclyagainstF.gypt.In r95tl, U.S.troops wcre sentto l.ebanonand the Britisharmy to .fordanand Kuwait, t<r halt the nationalistupsurge,and the Brotherhoodioined in. While communist, Baathist, and Nasseristparties were suppressedby the king, the Muslim Brotherhoodwas encouragedto run candidatesin

r 94

D r - : v l r - 's


elections for .fordan's sham parliament, winning seats in Hebron, Nablus, and other West Bank cities.The Jordanianarmy also provided military training to Brotherhoodparamilitary forces.10 In Gaza, later a stronghold of Hamas, the Muslim Brothcrhood took root among Palestinianstudents coming from Cairo and Kuwait. The Brothers createdthe Lcague of PalcstinianStudents, many of whose leaderswould latcr abandonthe Islamistsand form the corc of the Pl,O, including YasserArafat, Salah Khalaf, and thc Hassanbrothers.l I In Gaza,then under Egyptianadministration,the Brotherhoodfouncl itself feelingthe heat when PresidentNasserof Ilgypt crushedthc organizationin Cairo. ln .July r957, Khalil al\flazir, il future PLC)leader,wrote a paper proposing that "the Palestinian Brothcrhood establisha specialorganizationalongsidetheir own which hasno visibleIslarniccoloratiorror agenclabut which has thc sta.tedgoal of liberatingPalestine."From this momcnt on, the Ptrlcstinian lnoverrentwas clividcd.On one sidewerethe nationalists. thosc who ilgrced with Waziq who wcnt on to forrr-rthe Palestine Nationirl LiberationMovement,or Fatah,in r958-59. On the othcr siclcwcre the Islamists,those who prcfcrredto rernainkryal to the Muslim Brotherlrood,who did not join Fatahand, irr 1960,cxplicitlr ll o1-rpclsed the ncw organizirticln. Fatah-which began guerrilla artacks against Israel in r965wor-rldembody Palestiniannationalism and ally irself, somcfimes uncomfortably,with Nasser'svision of Arab nationalism.The Brotherhood,on the other hand, remaincdin the camp of the Arab conservatives,allied to the Jorclaniankir-rg,and supportedby SaudiArabia. Kuwait, and the soon-ro-be-independent Gulf sheikhdoms.The Brotherhood'smembershipamong Palestinians, which had reached many thousandsin the r94os, declinedsharply as Arab nationalism becamethe rallying cry in the Middle East. Pro-Nasserparries, the Baath, communisrs,and Farah all gained. The Muslim Brotherhood had a membershipof lessthan a thousand on rhe West Bank, and a thousandin Gaza,before the rr)67 war with Israel.In the West Bank. the Brotherhood was tolerated by the Jordanian authorities,while in Gaza it was repressedby Nasser'sEgypt. It is during this period that Ahmed Yassinfirst emergedas the fun-

Isrdel's Islamists

r c)5

damentalist firebrand who would win Israeli backing in the r97os and r98os and who would found Hamas in r987.r3In r965, Yassin was arrestedby Egyptian intelligencein one of Nasser'scrackdowns. 'West Bank and Gaza, things Alter ry67, with Israel in control of the Mishal and Avraham Shaul changed.Yassinwas freed. According to Sela,Israeli scholarswho wrote The PalestinianHamas: Israelwas more permissiveregardingsocialand cultural Islamrc activity,irnd the very fact that the'WestBank and the GazaStrip were under one government enabled a renewed encounter This in turn pavedthe betweenIslamicactivistsof both regi<tns. endeavors. . . . ln of joint organizational way for the development of Islamicirctivityfor the Gaza the late r 96os,a joint organizaticln Stripand the WestBank-the UniteclPalestini:rn IMuslim]Brotherhood Organization-wasfounded.. . . The I97os witnessed growing links betweenthe Muslim Brotherhoodin the IsraeliThus le:rcling Musoccupiedtcrritoriesand Israel'sArab citizens. lim Brotherhoodfiguresfrom the West llank and Ciaza,like Sheikh Yassin,visited Israeli Muslinr cornnlunitiesfrom rhc (lalileeto theNegevto preachand lcadFrid:ryprayers.ra Soon Israelwould beginto seeYassin,and the Muslim llrotherhood, as valuablealliesagainstthe PLO. ln iL)67the Muslirn Brotherhg6cl beganto createits infrastructure,undcr the tolcrant eyi of the now all-powerful Israeli authorities.Charity organizationsproliferated. The religiousendowments(waqfs) grew richer,controlling I o percent and thousands of all the real estatein Gaza,hundredsof busincsses, of acresof agriculturalland. And, like Egypt,Sudan,and other counwerc beingIslamized.From r967 t<t the Palestinians tries after 1c167, 1987thenumbersof mosquesin Gazagrew from 2oo to 6oo, and on rhe WestBank,from 4oo to z5o.l ' ln r 97o, the PLO was expelledfrom jordan after beingdefeatedin The Muslim Brotherhoodin the civil war that eruptedin September. Jordan supportedthe king and his Bedouin army againstthe PLO, and Israel helpedKing Hussein,threateningaction if the Syrian army moved to help the PLO. That sameyear,Ahmed Yassin,leaderof the Muslim Brotherhoodin Gaza,askedthe Israelimilitary administratign



D r v r l 's


for permissionto establishan organization.His appealwas rejected, but three years larer,under the watchful eye of the shin Bet, yassin founded the Islamic center, an Islamistgroup rhat was only thinly disguised as a religious institution. Yassin began to establisheffective control over hundreds of mosques.Many of these mosques,along with charitiesand schools,servedas recruiring vehiclesand political organizingcentersfor Islamists.rn r976, Yassin'sIslamic center spun off the Islamic Association, a membership group with branches throughout the Gaza Strip, and the movemenrgrew. Israel'sformal support for the Islamistsoccurred after r977,when MenachemBegin'sHerur Party and the Likud bloc stunnedthe Israeli Labor Party in national elections.rn r978, Begin'snew government formally licensedAhmed Yassin'sIslamic Association.It was part of a full-court pressagainstthe PLo. civil war was raging in Lebanon, where lsraeli-backedMaronite christian militias were battling the Palestirrians. In the west Bank and Gaza,Begintried to underminethe PLo's prwerful influencein two waysr by fosteringthe Islamistmovement, and by the crearion of so-calledvillage Leagues,local councils run by anti-PLO Palestinianswho were carefully vemedby the Israeli military authorities. Yassin and the Brotherhood won significant influenceovcr the Village l.eagues.up ro zoo membersof the Leagues were given paramilitary training by Israel, and Shin Bet recruited many paid informers through the nerwork.r6The leaguesrhemselves, run by quislings,were desrinedto fail, scornedand ridiculed by palestinians in the occupied rerrirories.But the Brotherhood would continue to gain, at the expenseof both Fatah and the more left-wing Palestiniangroups, such as the Popular Fronr for the Liberation of Palestine. David shipler, a former reporter for the New york Times, cites the Israeli military governor of Gaza as boasting that Israel expressly financedthe Islamistsagainstthe pLO: Politically speaking,Islamic fundamenralistswere sometimes regardedas usefulto Israel,becausethey had conflictswith the secular supportersof the PLO. Violence betweenthe two groups eruptedoccasionally on'WestBank universitycampuses, and the

I srael'sIslamists

r c) 7

Israeli military governor of the Gaza Strip, BrigadierGeneral yitzhak Segev, oncetold me how he had financedthe Islamicmovement as a counterweightto the PLO and the Communists'"The IsraeliGovernmentgaveme a budgetand the rnilitarygovernment givest<t the mosques,"he said.In 1980, when fundantentalist protestorssetfireto the officeof the Red CrescentSocietyin Gaza, headedby Dr. Haider Abdel-Shafi,a Communistand PLO suponly whenthe mol'r porrer,theIsraeliarmy did nothing,intervening to threatenhim pcrsonally'I' marchedto hishomeandseemed Israelwas not the only suppctrterof Yassinand the Muslim BrotherArabia,t(x)' wantedto undermirrethe hood. Religiouselenrentsin Sar-rcli secularPl.C),ar-rdwealthy SaudibusinessleaclcrshelpedfinanceYassin, on the goodwill of the althgughhis ability to operatein Gazaclepended "ties with the Muslim Brothcrhogdin Jgrdan Isrzreliauthorities.Yassil't's were instrutnentalin enablingthem to forgc closerelationswith Islamic and rgtios providcd in Saudi Arabia, which in the 1c17os institr-rrit;ns Still,the gtlvernmentof gcnerollsfinancialaid to Islamicassociations."ls of Yassin,and cventuallyit would SaucliArabiir remainedsuspici<lus seekro halt evenprivateSaudiaid to the Yassin-ledmovcment.Perhaps to cgrry favor with conservative Saudi Islamists and Wahhabiinfluencedmenrbcrsof tlre royal farnily,the Brgthcrhgodattackedthe outlook. The Brothcrhooclsaic'lthat thc I']I-O PLO for its irreligior,rs .,dgesnot serveGocl," and Yassilrdeclarcd:"Thc' pt.() is secularist.It utrlessit becomesIslanlic."l'r cannot be acceptedas a rcprcsentative At the time, ir scemedunlikely that thc Muslim Brothcrhood Firstof all, manv would gain much of a footholclirmongPalestinians. were Christian,anclwould haveno truck with an organiPalestrnians zation pledgeclto creatc an Islamic state. Palestinianswerc alstr among the Arab world's nrost modern, educated,ancl Westernized populations,and as a diasporathey were well trirveledand well connectedthrgughout the Arab world, the UniteclStates,and llurope, not ro mentionthe USSR.Above all, they were nationalists.On the other hand, the very nature of the PalestinianIslamistswas to oppose instead nationalism,and to opposethe creationof a stateof Palestine, focusingon the necessityof first IslamizingPalestineand the Arab the appealof Islamismgrew as Israel's world. But among Palestinians

r 9[ l

D pv r r - 's

G al t l

relentlessrepressionof the PLO causedpeople in the West Bank and Gazato l ook for al ternati ves. U.S. diplomats and CIA officialswere aware that Israelwas fostering lslamism in the occupied territories. "\(/e saw Israel cultivate Islam as a counterweightto Palestiniannationalism," says Martha Kessler,a senior analyst for the CIA who early on was alert to thc importanceof the Islamistmovementand the threat it could posc to U.S. interestsin the region.20But neither the CIA nor the State Department tried to stop it. Throughout the foreign serviceand the national securitybureaucracyin Washington,there was division as to the significance of PalestinianIslamism.Somesaw it as benignor useful, some as possiblyharmful, and sttmesimply believedit wouldn't catchon, that Islamismwouldn't attracta following among Palcstiniirns.SaysKesslcr: RadicalIslamand extremismdidn'tconteinto playils muchwith at leastcarly<ln.Many arnongthe the Palestinians as elsewhere, and sccular. Palestinian diasporilwere cducated,soplristicated, place until later. didrr'ttakc TheirrnovetowardIslamicradicalism The Israelisencouragedit quite a bit. Although they weren't resporrsible for it completely,they dicln'tcrack clownorl it. They allowedthem to flourish.Wherethey could fiddlearound with of Fatah,they wtluld' eventsto elevateIslamiststo the detrir-nent They'dtreatreligiousfigureswith deference.2l "I thought they were playing with fire," saysDavid Long' a formcr Middle L,astexpert at the State Department'sBureau of h-rtelligence and Research."I didn't realizethey'd end up creatinga monster.But I don't think you ought to messaround with potentialfanatics."zz Meanwhile, in Syria,lsrael and Jordan were doing just that.

T e n cE T :


In the r97os,Israel and Jordan were technically at war with each other,but they had a complex and cooperativerelationshipbehind the

ls r ael 's l s l am i s t s '

r 9c )

scenes.King Hussein was on the CIA payroll, and Israel'sand Jordan's intelligenceserviceshad a relationshipthat, while it couldn't be characterizedas warm, was at leastprofessionallycorrect. "There is a long tradition of complex covert relations between the Hashemites and the Zionists, over many years," according to Philip Wilcox' an Israeland Jordan also had a experiencedU.S. foreign serviceofficer.Z3 common enemy:Syria. The Syrianruler,Hafez Assad,was vulnerableon Islamicgrounds. He was. of course.a secularleaderand a Baathist.But Assadwas also a memberof a religiousminority in Syria,the Alawites,a quasi-Shiite secf that was viewed with disdain by the ultra-orthodox Muslim Brotherhoodand which was considcredun-lslamicby \Tahhabiclerics. Perhapsmore than in other Arab countries,thc Mr-rslimBrotherwith kaleidoscopically shifting hood irr Syriawas highly factionalized, power centers both in Syrian Sunni strongholdssuch as Alcppo, Hclrns,and Hama ilnd among Muslinr Brotherhoodleadersin exile in Switzerland,and London. Ciernrany, Muslim Brotherhoodwas also an early offshoot of The Syriar-r Hassan al-Bantra'smovement in Egypt. Thc Br:otherhoodin Syria drew its membersfronr thc ranksof Syrianstudentsreturningfrom Al Azhar in Clairc in thc nrid-t93os,and it formcd hranchcsin Syria's nrajor cities under the namc Shabab Muhammed (Young Men of Alcppo, in northern Syria,scrved,ls thc he,ldcluarters Mr-rhammed). in r9j5.r4 [n r944, its headBrotherhoodbeginr-ring of the Muslir-r-r qlrartersmovedto Damasclts,and it was led by MustafaSibai,a graduate of Al Azhar and fricnd of Hassanal-Banna.In the r9-tos' as Nasser cracked down on the movement' a significantnumber of IJrotherhoodnremberstook refuge in Syria. Ilut rrs Syria moved intcl the nationalistcamp, first joining Nasseras part of the United Arirb Republicand thcn underthe Baathin the r96os,the Muslim Brother. ln t964, the Brothersleclanti-Baath h<rodfound Syrialesshospitable "Islam or Baath." ln t967, during and riots in Syria,under the slogar-r after Syria'sdefeatin the war with Isr:rel,the Brotherhood'smost militant faction declareda iihad againstthe Syrian government.Their animosityonly intensifiedafter r973, when Assadproclaimeda new

Loo'D r , v l t - 's

G au r

secularconstitution for Syria that describedthe country as a "democratic, popular, socialiststate." Violent Islamist demonstrationsfollowed.25 In the mid-r97os, as Lebanon'sagonizingcivil war began,drawing in Israel and Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood launchedan all-out assaultagainstthe governmentof Syria. Beginningin t976, the Muslim Brctherhoodin Syria carried out assassinations, bomb attacks,and other violent actionsin numerous cities,including Damascus.Next door, in Lcbanon, Syriawas engaged in a proxy war with Israelin the midst of l-ebanon'scivil war, and the Brothers proved to be a formidable anti-Assad force. Accusing the Syrian regime of being run by "false Muslims," the Brotherhood declaredjihad, its campaign led by Aclnan Saad al-Din, a former member of the l.gyptian Muslirr-rBrotherhood. Thc Clombat Vanguard of .Fighters,an undergroundparamilitary arm, assassinatcd Baath officials and prominent Alawites, security agents,and informers, along with Sovictmilitary advisersin Syria.Graduallythe crisis escalatedinto violent demonstrationsand strikes,and then to major terrorist attacks. In June r97L), a gang of Brotherhood tcrrorists attacked a Syrian rnilitary school in Alcppo, killing eighty-three cadetsby locking them into a building and attacking it with automatic weaponsand firebornbs.The following year,the Muslim Brotherhood attemptedto assassinate Assad,and the governmentretaliated in an unrestrainedcounterattack.In October r98o, the so-called IslarnicFront of Syriawas established, uniting the IslamicLiberation Party, both factions of the Muslim Brotherhood, and other fundamentalistgroups. Fighting intensifiedin r98r, and in November a massivecar bomb in Damascuskilled two hundred people.26 To carry out such sophisticatedoperationsagainsta stateknown for its security apparatus,the Muslim Brotherhcloddependedon support from both Jordan and Israel. The two nations did not try very hard to keep their support secret,establishingtraining camps for Muslim Brotherhood fightersin Lebanon and in northern Jordan, near the Syrian border. Israel funneled support for the Muslim Brotherhood through Lebanon,part of which went to the FreeLebanon Forces,a private army of mostly Christian, but partly Shiite, militiamen in southern Lebanon

Israel's Islamists '

2o r

run by a charismatic rebel military officer, Major Saad Haddad. In 1978, in the midst of the Lebanesecivil war, Israelsent 2o'ooo troops into I-ebanon,and in withdrawing, left paff of Lebanon under the conffol of Major Haddad's FLR which remained allied with Israel until the mid-r9Sos. In a seriesof communiqu6sin the early r98os, Haddad boastedof training the Muslim Brotherhood.For example: the Free Lebanon commander,Ma1. Sa'd Haddad' Yester:day openedthe seventhtraining camp for the Muslim Brotherhood somewherein Freel.ebanon.About 200 persons,most of them areattending thiscourse.In and includingsomeLebanese, Syrians to train ot't commandrr trainees the urged Haddad Maj. a speech, liberate Syriafrom the operationsso that theyand their colleagues factionalAlawi regime.. . . The Major said: "The trainingyou and includes theart of surwhichis of highstandards will receive, prisingthe enemn is not availableanywhereelsein the regionor evt'nitt the wholeworld."lHaddad providedthe Actually,the trainingthat the Israeli-backcd Brotherhood was avirilablein at least two other placesat that exact moment: northern .fordan, and the Maronite Christian enclavein a fascist-likemilitia run by the proLebanon,where the Phalangists, Nazi Gemayelclan and supportedby Israel,ran Brotherhoodcamps for war in Syria. The campsin Jordanopcratednlorc or lessopcnly.In r 98 r, Syria's foreign minister denounccdKing Husscin: "The king's policy has driven him to transform Jordan into a base for the gang of murder and crime,the Muslim Brotherhood'in order to exert pressureon and Two weekslater,Assaddclivcreda lengthyspeechin confuseSyria."28 which he bitterly criticized.|ordanfor supportingthe Muslim Brotherhood insurrectionin Svria: Problemscreafedby the Muslim Brotherhoodlhave begunlto in Syria.Of course,the Muslim Brotherhood emergeincreasingly historicallink in thechainof reactionary-imperialist is an essential relationsin the region.. . . It was naturalfor theJordanianregime and the Muslim Brothersto exchangesupport'. . . It was natural

Loz . D gvtt-' s


for the Muslim Brotherhoodgang to implementthe ordersand for that gang to find all the necessary arms,training,and financial facilitiesin the Jordanianarena.. . . We arrestedcrirninals belongingto the Muslim Brotherhoodgang in Syria and at the borderwho told us they had beenin Jordan, .fordanian-Syrian lwherethey receivedlsumsof money,weapons,and forgedidentity cards.2e And a month later, Abdullah Omar, a leading Baath Party official in Syria,said that Syriahad evidencethat the Muslim Brotherhoodwas backedbyJordanand by the "Phalangistgangsin Lebanon,supported in by Isr:reland U.S.imperialism.'r0After the explosionin l)amascr-rs rgtlr that killed hundrcds,Syriaaccusedthe Muslim Brotherhoodof actingas "agentsof Israel."sl All of Assad'sand Omar'schargeswere true. The scalcof the attacksin Syriawas harelyrcportedin the United "C)ver thc past five Statcs.A rare cxception appearedin I,Jewstuceft. yearsthe Brotherhoodhasassassinated hundrcdsof Alawite members of Assad'sruling Baath Party,along with their relativcs,Assad'spersonal dcrct<rr, and a nurrrberof Sovietadvisers,"l,lewsweekreportcd. "Assad has irccused Jordan of providing shelterand training for Syrian Brothcrs."ll But for thc most part, the Brotherhoodterror campaign in Syriawas invisibleto Americans.Not so to U.S.intelligcnce, however."We knew about the Muslim Brotherhoodthere,a lot more than what was in the papers,"saysDavid Long. "I was the division chief for Near Eastat INR lthe Bureauof lntelligenceand Researchl. 'We looked benignly upon it. We knew it was risky, but life is risky."3l I'or Assad,the Muslim Brotherboodpresentedan existentialthreat. Martha Kessler,the former CIA analyst,saysthat Israeland Jordan . . . were playing with fire, and I don't think they realizedhow dangerous it would become.But for Assadit wascritical.He spent nearlyfive yearstrying to deal with the Muslim Brotherhood,to accommodate them or co-optthem.In the end,he'd virtuallylost control of the northernthird of the country.He was going down at the time.He was reallvin trouble."3a

lsrael's Islamists '


U.S. diplomats were aware of Jordanian support' at least' for the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, but claimed that the United Stateshad a hands-offpolicy. Talcott Seelye,the U.S. ambassadorto Syria at the time. says: to Syriafrom 1978to 1981,and that'swhen I I was ambassador of an undergroundlrlovementin Syria, because becameaware of Baathist therewas a carnpaignof bombingand assassitlatiolls of6cials.By 1979 we sensedthe Islamicmovementin Syria.In 1980,while I was out of the country'someonegot into Assad's officeand threw a bomb, and killed one tlf Assad'sbodyguards who had a lot of peoplethere,would br.rtmisscdhim.Thc Soviets, pr()tecred vehi cl es. r idcar ounclin hcavilv Seelycsaysthat Assadsummonedhim to cornplainabout the Muslim Brotherhoodviolence. which King Husseinhad propitiatedthc fMuslim Brotherhoodl, carnpsin northJordan.I wentto seeAssad,and he hadestablishcd is behindthis." lsaicl,"l'cllikc States told me: "l know the I-Jnitcd I can tell you Ioo percentthat wc are not." to secthe evidence. \Whether King Husseinwasactivelyinvolvcd,I don't know. But Scelye adds:"I don't think it bothercdus too mdch theltthey werc r' ceusingpr oblclnsfor Assa.l ." Actually, King Hussein was involved. Four years later, Jordan adrnrttedits role in support of the Muslirrr [Jrotherhtlodand apologizcdto Syria."lt turns out that somewho did havea connectionwith the bloody eventsin Syria were presentin our quArters"'wrote the king, in a letter tO Assad.36In what was called an "extraordinary admissign,"Husseinsaid that his country had permittedthe Brgtherhood to wagewar on Syriafrom the kingdom but, in seekinga reconciliation with Assad,he now believedthat the Muslim Brotherhood ..outlawscommitting crimes and sowing seedsof dissension were among people."King Hussein'sprime ministervisitedl)amascus,and the king declaredthat he wanted to warn "againstthe evil designsof

z o4


D r . : v r r . 's

( l av r ,

this rotten group."37A few days later,hundredsof anti-SyrianMuslim Brotherhoodmemberswere roundedup in Robert Baeq a CIA operationsofficer who worked in the Middle East and India, has written about his encounterswith thc Muslim Brotherhood,criticizingthe agencyfor its willingnessto play along with the Brothers. "Syria," wrore Baer, in Sleepingwitb the Deuil, "seemedto be the real problem." That counrry was critical to the prospectsof Middle East peace and, officially, $Tashingtonwantecl Assadgone. "But," wrote Baer,"if he wcrc replacedby thc Brothers, you could count on things gettinga lot worse." Baer askedhis boss, Tom Twetten,about the Muslim Brotherhood: "The Jordanians He shrugged. givc thcrnnr()ncyand rcfugc,but only becausethey hate the Syrians-nrvcnemy'scncrly is rrrv friendsortof deal.""What do the.fordarrians sayabourthern?"I asked."We'don'tpresstheJordaniirns for clctails. And thcv d<lrr'r volunteeranythir-rg. The Muslim Brotherhoodisn't a targetf()r us." 'WhatTwettenwastellingrnewasthat he had no instructions to spyon the MuslimBrotherhood. . . . Sincethe Muslim lJrotherhood wasn'ta target,lthe CIA inl Amman wasn'tsr-rpposed to wastemoneyon them.te Did the United Statessupporr the Muslim Bnrtherhood directly? Accordingto Baer,the answeris highly classified."Peoplesiridthere were code-wordfileson this," he says,meaningthat only thosewhcr were directlyinvolvedcould accessthoseultra-secret reports."l don't know. It was supportedby SaudiArabia, which was supportedby us. 'What happened was, you simply went to governments and said: Here'ssomemoney-do your dirty work. Or, we'd give ther-nsupplies and equipment." According to Baeq the Muslim Brotherhood wasn't gerring slrpport only from Haddad, the Israeli-backedmilitiaman in southcrn Lebanon. "It wasn't just Major Haddad, it was the LebaneseFront," he says, meaning the right-wing LebaneseChristian bloc that had closeties to Israel. "The LebaneseFront was protecting the Brotherhood in Beirut, in Christian East Beirut." Baersaysrhar the CIA failed to take the organization seriouslyas a potential threat. "\7e missed

Israel's Islamists


the Muslim Brotherhood. It was seen as 'tlteir' problem," he says. "Our approachto the Middle L,astwas definedb1,the Cold \X/ar,and if these guys were going after Assad, well, so what? \7e certainly didn't confront King Husseinon this."a0Nor did we confront or challengethe Israelis.


A N o H,A .NaRs

In different ways, lsraeli and Jordarriansupport for the Muslirn Brotherhoodcameto a headin the r98os. In Syria,the final showdown betweenAssad'sgovernmentand the Brotherhoodtook placcin Hanra,a Syriancity of zoo,ooowhich had always beena strongholdof Sunni fundamentalism.It began,recalls former U.S. ambassadorSeelye,with a rumor. "The eventsin Hama started with a false rcport that Assad had been overthrown," Seelye says.Excitedby the news,the Muslillt Brothcrhoodwent on a murder hundreds of soldiers ar-rdSyrian offisprec in the citp slaughterir-rg cials."The Islamistskilled all of the Baathistofficialsin the city," says For Assad,it was an intolerableprtlvocation.He assernbled his arn-ryspeciirlforces, uncler the command of his brother, Rifaat Assad,a notoriously heavy-handeclenforcer.Thousandsttf troctpsrz,ooo, accordingto Amnesty Internatitlnal,with rhe lJrotherhood claimingthere were upwardsof 5o,ooo42-enteredHlttrl, ruthlcssly supprcssingthc insurrcctionand leavingnrany dead. Again, figures vary. An early report in Time said that I,ooo were killed. Most observerscstirnatedthat 5,ooo pcople died. lsraeli sources,and the Muslim Brotherhood,both chargedthat the deathtoll passedzo,ooo. Over tirnc, the legendof Hama grew.It was usedby Syria'scriticsttr portray Assadas a ruthless,Stalin-likekiller, a depictionthat Assad did little to discouragebecauseit intimidatedMuslim Brotherhood ReportedTime,wceksafter the crisis,"There were no troublemakers. signslastweek that the trouble in Hama was spreadingclsewherc."ar "That," says Seelye,"was the encl of the Islarnicntovr:mentin Syria."aa But in Israel'soccupiedterritories,the Brotherhoodwas still gaining

206'l ) E vl t . 's

G aup.

momenturn.In the early rgtlos Israelsupportedthe Islamistson several fronts. It was, of course,supportingthe Gaza and \WestBank Islamiststhat, ir-rr987, would found Hamas. It was, with Jordan, backingthe Muslim IJrotherhoodwar againstSyria.In Afghanistan, Israclcluietlysupportedthe jihad againstthe USSR,backingthe Muslim Brothcrhood-linkedfundamentarlists who led the mujahideen. And Israelbackcd lran, thc rrrilitantheart of the Islamistmovement, during its long war with Iraq. Not cveryoncin Israelwas happy with the policy of collaborating with Islanists. From all accounts,it was prirnarily lsrael'sfar rightBegin, Prinre Ministcr Yitzhak Shamir, and DefenseMinister Ariel The Labor Party Sharon-who pr,rrsucdthis policy most aggrcssively. in Isrireltendcdto secthe PLO as a viable partner for negotiationson a final scttlerncnt.[Jutthe Israeliright opposeda settlementon principle rrndwantcd to hold on to the occupied\WestBank,citing biblicalreasonsfor wanting control ovcr .fucleaand Samaria,the ancientnames for thi.rtdisputeclreal csfate. "The fact is thilt Israel'spolicy was a mistakein the long run," says Patrick [.ang, thc forrner Middle F.astdircctor for the DefenseIntelliger-rce Agency.[.ang s:rysthat the not everyonein the Mossad, Israel's intelligencescrvice,agreedthrrt supportingAhmed Yassin'sMuslim Brothcrhoodwas a good idea. Especiallythose in the Mossad who were most knowlcdgeableabout Arab and Islamic culture were opposed."Thc Arilbistsin Israelisecurityservicesdidn't like it. But the lsraelileaders{iguredthey would kill off the PLO terrorists,and then they coulc'lclcalwith Hamas. They misunderstoodthe phenomenon. The Israelis,most of them, were secularists,too, and they thought thesereligious terronsts were a flash in the pan. They were trying to defeatArab nationalismusingMuslim zealots."45 Victor Ostrovsky,a former Mossad officer who left the agencyand becamea strong critic, is the author of two books on the Israelisecret service.a6 According to Ostrovsky, "right-wing elementsin the Mossad" feared that the popularity of L,gypt'spresident Anwar Sadat might force Israelto give up territoriesthat it wanted to hold on to, so they backedfundamentalistEgyptian groups "under falseflags," that is, by disguisingthe fact that the aid was coming from Israel.aTAnd

Israel's Islamists '


Ostrovsky leveledchargesthat the Israeli right deliberatelyfostered Islamic fundamentalismamong Palestinians. Supportingthe radical elementsof Muslim fundamentalismsat well with Mossad'sgeneralplan for the region.An Arab world w ttul dnot he I pert) t() erlvncg()tiilti()rr\ r un by fundamenral i sts with the West,thus leavingIsraelagainas the onlv democratic, rationalcountryin the region.And if the Mossadcould arrange streetsfrom the PLO. for Hamas. . . to take over the Pirlestinian thenthe picturewould be cotnplete.aE During most of thc r98os, the Muslim Brothcrhooclin (laza :rncl to thc Israclioccuprltion. the'West Bank did not support resistance Most of its energywent into fighting the Pl-O, especi:rllyits morc lefrwing factions,on universitycampllses.Yassin'sfclllowersusedcluLrs, chains,and even guns in violent clasheswith pro-P[.O Palestinian nationalists.The IslamicUniversityin Ciirzawas the siteof nunrerous battles,with PLO supportersseckingto secularizethe universityancl the Muslim Brotherhood trying to prcserveits [slirrnistcharacter.In one clash akrne, on .fune 4, rc)83,Iltore than 2oo studentswere injured. Similar confrontationsoccurred at Birzcit Univcrsity and Najah Universityin the West Bank.a"Fatah,the nrain componentof seekingto arrangea the PLO, tried to co-optthe Muslim Brotherhoocl, howcvcqdcnrandcd workablecompromise.The Muslirn Brothcrhoocl, nothing lessthan the completeIslamizationof the P[,O, includingthc eliminationof the P[-C)'sleft wing. "The Muslirn Brothcrhoodlcaclcrship urged Fatah to purge its ranks of Marxist elements,to be alvitre and to cooperatccloselywith the Islemic of the futility of secularism, "'50 Efroups. In r983, there occurreda curious and still unexplirinedinciclent critics to sllspectthat he hacl which has led some of Ahmed Yassit't's secretties to the Shin Bet. Itarly in the year, Yassinwris arrestcd by Israeliauthoritiesafter he "ordercd mcmbersof lthe IslamicCenterl arlons to secretly gather firearms, which werc then clistribr-rtecl selectedoperatives."5lSomeof the weaponswere stored in Yassin's to own house,and he was jailed. At the time, Palcstinianresistance lsrael was far more subdued than during the two ttprisings,or



D svt t - 's


intifadas, of later years, when armed Palestinianfighters were common. In 1983,however,a collection of deadly weaponry would have beenseenas a very seriousoffense.Although Yassinwas sentencedto thirteen yearsin prison, he was releasedafter only a yeaL Compounding PLO suspicions,Yassin claimed that the weapons were being gatherednot to attack Israeli forces but to combat other Palestinian factions. In t986-87, Yassin founded Hamas. Even then, as the intifada beganto develop,there were reports that Israel was backing Hamas. "There were persistent rumors that the Israeli secret service gave covert support to Hamas, becausethey were seen as a rival to the PLO," saysPhilip Wilcox, a former U.S. ambassadorand counterterrorism expert, who headed the U.S. consulate in Jerusalemat the time. "I have never seenan intelligencedocument to that effect,but I 'Wilcox saysthat U.S. officials wouldn't be surprisedif it were true." in Jerusalemdealt "regularly and intensively" with Hamas in the late r98os, calling it a "complex organizationwith different strains... ' There is a more moderateelement,which we've alwaysthought might be amenableto negotiations,and then there are the fanatics and the militants."52 Although Hamas won support from Kuwait and from some wealthy Saudis, the Saudi government was suspiciousof Hamas. "Saudi Arabia didn't want money going to an Israeli front organization," saysCharlesFreeman,who was U.S. ambassadorto SaudiArabia. "So they pulled in Prince Salman,the governor of Riyadh' and made him the head of a committeeto stop the collection of money in the mosques that might go to Hamas." Eventually, however, as Hamas seemed to grow more independent of Israel, and as the intifada gathered momentum, the committee stopped functioning and Saudi Arabia began to look the other way. "Probably there are membersof the Saudi royal family who give money to Hamas," says Freeman.53 Not everyonein the U.S. governmentwas h"ppy about the emergence of Hamas, particularly the Arabists and the more anti-Israel centersof power in the Pentagon.The DefenseIntelligenceAgency, alarmed at the strength of the PalestinianIslamists,began collecting

Israel's Islamists .


data for an analysisof the phenomenonin the mid- to late r 98os. "For us, at the beginning,the PalestinianIslamicmovementwas way below the radar," saysLang. "\7e tried to write an NIE [National Intelligence Estimatelat the end of the r98os, sincenothing had beenwritten. But the friendsof Israelin the Reaganadministrationstoppedus."'54 Even after the Palestinian uprising began in t987, the PLO accusedHamas and Ahmed Yassinof acting "with the direct support of reactionaryArab regimes. . . in collusion with the Israeli occupation." YasserArafat, the chairman of the PLO and presidentof the PalestinianAuthority, told an Italian newspaper:"Hamas is a creature of Israel,which, at the time of Prime Minister Shamir,gavethem money and more than 7oo institutions,among them schools,universiArafat told the paper that former Israeli prime ties, and mosques."s-t minister Yitzhak Rabin admitted Israeli support for Hamas to him, in the presenceof Egyptian presidentHusni Mubarak. Arafat said that Rabin describedit as a "fatal error." The establishmentof Hamas roughly coincided with the starr of the first intifada (ry82-gl). It was the first major, coordinatedPalestinian uprising in the occupiedterritories,and virtually all Palestinian factions supported it, including Hamas and the PLO. The uprising, which included both violent and nonviolent tactics, had several important effects.It once again brought the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to world attention,and it propelledmoderateIsraelis,suchas Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres,and Ehud Barak, toward negotiationswith the PLO. The inauguration of the peace talks in Oslo, Norwag which beganthe so-calledOslo process,raisedthe first realistichope for an Israeli-PLOsettlementsincets 62. Hamas, which had previously used violence only against other Palestiniangroups, took up arms against Israel during the intifada, leading to an Israeli crackdown. Many Hamas leaderswere arrested, including Yassin, in t989. Despite the support of Hamas for the intifada, however,the PLO and Hamas were engagedin a constant tug-of-war. \Thenever the PLO and the Israeli Labor Party moved toward an accord, Hamas would unleasha violent wave of attacksto disrupt the talks. "Undermining the peace processhas always been the real target of Hamas and has played into the political ambitions of

2r o

D rvrr' s


Likud," wrote one analyst. "Every time Israeli and Palestiniannegotiators appearedready to take a major step toward achievingpeace, an act of Hamas terrorism has scuttledthe peaceprocessand pushed the two sidesapart."s6 Hamas soughtto gain advantageover the PLO by promoting itself as the most militant force. ReportsRay Hanania: The more the Labor-Arafatpeaceprocessadvanced,the more Hamasturnedto violence.When . . . PLO officialsdenounced the murder of touristsin Egypt in Februaryr99o, Hamascountered by sendingvehicleswith loudspeakers throughthe streetsof major Palestinian cities,praisingthe attacksand denouncingthe PLO for its criticism.'57 BesidesHamas, which joined other Islamist organizationssuch as PalestinianIslamicJihad and Hezbollah (Party of God) in adopting a rejectioniststance,the Israeli right, led by Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon of the Likud, were fundamentally opposedto the kinds of concessionsRabin, Peres,and Barak were willing to offer. From r993 onward, Likud and Hamas would reinforceeachother'sopposition to peacetalks, often taking advantageof high-profile provocations from one side or the other. Initially, Hamas found itself outflankedby Oslo. "During the years of the Oslo peaceprocess(from Septemberr993 to Septemberzooo) the political and military sectorsof the Islamic movement in which Hamas predominatedwere substantivelyweakened by a number of factors."-58 The Israeli Labor government and the PLO combined to undermineHamas. In addition to arrestsand executionsof leadersof Hamas, secular Palestinianswere mobilized to support the peace talks. Popular opposition to rerrorism was widespread.But the Israeli right, including its terrorist far right, would fatally undermine Oslo. In February r994, an Israeli terrorist named Baruch Goldstein, a member of the extremist Kach movement, entered a mosque in Hebron, in the West Bank, and murdered dozens of unarmed worshipers.The massacreinvigoratedHamas, which portrayedthe attack as an assaulton Islam requiring an armed jihad in response.A wave of suicide bombings followed. Then, in November r995, another

l s r ael 's l s l am i s t s '


Israeli Likud-inspired terrorist murdered Prime Minister Rabin. The death of Rabin left a vacuum in Israelipolitics,and the continuing suicide attacks by Hamas panicked the Israeli electorate,leading to the electionof Netanyahu'sLikud in ry96. The tough-talkingNetanyahu launched an unsparingcampaign of repressionaimed at all Palestinian groups, and in 1997 he ordered a botched attempt to kill a top Hamas official in Jordan. But Yassinproved to be a survivor. In the aftermath of that debacle,Israel and Jordan reachedan accord that freed SheikhAhmed Yassinfrom prison, where he'd languishedsince his r989 arrest.SuddenlyYassinwas back in action in Gaza,thundering againstOslo and building opposition to the PLO. The pattern repeateditself in zooo. Netanyahu fell in t999, and was replacedby Barak, who reengagedthe PLO in negotiationsand, with PresidentClinton's help, camecloseto reachinga comprehensive deal. Once again, however,the Israeli right provoked the Islamists.In September2ooo, Sharon made a heavy-handed,provocative visit to an Islamic holy site, the Haram al-Sharif/TempleMount, an action calculatedto provoke the Muslim Brotherhood fundamentalists,and it did. The result was the second intifada (zooo-zoo4). Suicide attacks in Israel murdered scoresof Jews, and stampededsecurityminded Israeli voters into Sharon'scamp. Sharon was overwhelmingly elected prime ministeq dooming any chance of a PlO-israel deal. Longtime observersof Israeli politics werb stunned that Israel would be led by a man who conductedterrorist attacksagainstPalestiniansin the 195os,as headof the infamousUnit ror, and who bore responsibilityfor the massacreof hundreds of Palestinianrefugeesin the Sabra and Shatila camps near Beirut by Israel'sPhalangistallies, during the r98z Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Called "the Bulldozer," General Sharon launched an all-out effort to destroy both the PLO and the PalestinianAuthority. Arafat was caught betweenHamas and Sharon:the Islamistswould carry out an atrocity, and Sharon would hold Arafat responsible,retaliatingagainstthe PLO. Both Sharonand the Bush administrationrefusedto talk to Arafat, marginalizingthe PLO leaderand creatingfurther room for Hamas to grow. The result was predictable.Polls show that in t996, only r5 percentof Palestiniansbackedthe Islamists;by zooo, it was still only

zrz . D rvrr' s


r7 percent. By zoor, however, 27 percentof Palestinianssupported Hamas, and by zooz, aBirzeit University poll revealedthat 42 percenr of Palestinianssupported the Hamas idea of an Islamic state. This was, Roy says,"totally unprecedented."5e At times it seemedas if Sharonwas intent on demolishingany possibility of a PLO-Hamas agreement,even though the Israeli government ostensiblywas demandingthat the PLO end Hamas'scampaign of suicideattacks.In zoor, when the PLO secureda Hamas pledgeto halt its terrorist attacks, Sharon ordered the assassinationof a top Hamas official. "\Thoever gave the green light to this act of liquidation knew full well that he was thereby shatteringin one blow the gentlemen'sagreementbetween Hamas and the PalestinianAuthority," wrote AIex Fishman in the Israeli newspaperYediot Achronot. Again, in zooz, only ninety minutes before Hamas's Yassin was to announcea.cease-fire, Israel bombed a Hamas headquartersin Gaza, killing seventeenpeople, including eleven children. lil/rote Roy: "Some analysts maintain that while Hamas leaders are being targeted,Israeliis simultaneouslypursuing its old strategyof promoting Hamas over the secularnationalist factions as a way of ensuringthe ultimate demise of the [PalestinianAuthority], and as an effort to extinguishPalestiniannationalism once and for all."60 Yassin,and severalother top Hamas officials,were assassinated by the Israeli military and secretservicesin zoo4. Yet Hamas continues to grow. In zoo4, Sharon announcedplans to withdraw unilaterally from the Gaza Strip. After years of violencethere, Hamas is reportedly the most powerful presenceon the ground, and if Israel does withdraw, Hamas will make a play to emerge as the leading force in Gaza,especiallyin the vacuum left by the death of YasserArafat. The story of Hamas-from an Israeli experimentalpet project to the PLO's chief nemesisto the main sourceof anti-Israeliviolencein 'West Gaza and the Bank-ran the gamut of Islamist political expansion from the r96os to the r99os and beyond. From an Israeli standpoint, the growth and transformation of Hamas over thesedecades was an earthquake, and it signaledto many in Israel that political Islam was not a force to be trifled with. But the radicalization of the PalestinianIslamist movementwas really not an earthquakeso much

lsrael's Islamists


as an aftershock.The original earthquakewas the one that shook Iran in t979, toppling the shah and leading to the establishmentof the Islamic Republic of Iran. That eventtransformedIslamismfrom being a non-stateactor to the governmentof one of the region'smost powerful states,and it excitedthe Islamic right throughout the region. For the United States,perhaps,the forces of Islamism being used against Syria and the PLO were small potatoes. But Iran, one of America's twin pillars of the PersianGulf, was at the heart of U.S. interestsin the region. For the first time, after the Shiiterevolution in Iran, the United Stateswas moved to take a seriouslook at whether the Islamic right was a double-edgedsword that could pose a serious threat to the West.



NsvER Dr D A RE V oLU TToN catch the United Statesmore by surprise than did the one rhar swamped Iran in ry78-79. For a moment) it seemedas if the entire U.S. position in the Middle East might crumble, that SaudiArabia and the Gulf would fall to a revolution like that in Iran, that no Arab monarchy-from Jordan to N[s1ecg6-was safe.Panicky U.S. officials ordered the CIA to determine if lran's Islamic revolution might spread,and the U.S. government hired a steadysrreamof expertson Islam to provide insightsand predictions.National securityexpertsworried that the line of defense along the SovietUnion's sourhernflank had been breachedand that the USSRwould take advantageof the collapseof Iran to swoop inro the region and supplant the United Stares. For the first time, political Islam moved to cenrer srage,and the consequences would be profound. In Iran, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in widening, concentriccircles,the Islamic right was no longer a marginal force but the driving energy behind a porenrially regionwide transformarion.For analystsof the big picture, it was no longer unthinkable to envisage a string of Islamist regimes from North Africa through Egypt and Sudanto Syria,Iraq, and SaudiArabia and into Pakistanand Afghanistan.

Hell'sAl,atollah .


Yet when the dust cleared,the American positiclnheld. Iran-or so it appeared lost to American influence, but the rest of the empire seemedsecure.With the exception of marginal Sudan,where the Islamic right seizedpower in the 198os,the Iranian virus seemed to have beencontained.So for many policy makers,spooks,and specialistsin the Middle East,it was back to businessas usual.Tne revolution in lran was dismissedas a specialcase,and while Iran itself was regardedas a regionalthreat, the United Statesdid not beginto regard the Islamic right as a significant foe. The United Statesmaintained closeties-including covert ones,through intelligenceliaisons-with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan,the two bastionsof Sunni Islamic fundamentalism. The Islamist insurrections against Syria and the PLO crestedin the r9Sos,and neitherone causedany alarm in U.S.policy circles.And in the r9Sos the United Statesspentmore than $3 billion supporting the Afghan mujahideen,whose political objectiveswere difficult to distinguishfrom those of Iran's ayatollahs.The American alliancewith the Islamic right rolled on. In various ways, too, the United Statestried to connect with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Carter administration'sliberalstried to befriend the seeminglymoderate,American- and European-educated Islamistsaround Khomeini, who wore suits instead of clerical garb, while many U.S. neoconservatives,including officials in President Reagan'sadministration,reachedout insteadto the'hard-coreclergy and the Qom-basedayatollahswho were the real power in Teheran. Neither of theseinitiatives bore fruit, however,and Iran for the next quarter-centurywould bedevilU.S.policy. The revolution in lran stunnedand confoundedthe United States. A confused,bumbling, and often contradictory policy toward Iran's revolutionariesmarked U.S. policy from r977, when the first stirring of the revolt occurred,through the uprising, the fall of the shah, the near-civilwar that gripped Iran until 198r, and the consolidationof the clericalregimein the r98os. First, Washington exhibited an inertial reliance on its nearly unlimited confidencein the shah.Throughout the r97os, U.S. intelligencereports repeatedlyconcludedthat the shah'sregimewas secure, and theseoptimistic assessments continued up to the very eve of the


D rvtr' s

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revolution, leading many U.S. policy makers to believe that the shah was not seriously threatened.In these reports, Iran's Islamic movement was usually ignored or relegatedto a footnote. The CIlt's aid to Iran's Islamistsin r95J was ancienthistorg and in the decades that followed the shah marginalizedthe ayatollahs,exiling someincluding Khomeini-and buying off others. The State Department and the CIA complacentlyignoredIslam in Iran, which suitedthe shah iust fine: the shah vigorouslyopposedU.S. contactswith lran's clergy, evenwith the more docile,pro-regimeayatollahson the shah'spayroll. But after the Carter administration got its national securityteam in place in 1977, the United States began pressing the Iranian monarch for reforms and establisheda pattern of intensive,sub rosa consultationswith lranian opposition groups, including key religious leaders.This had the effectof weakeningthe shah'sresolve,confusing his regime, and bugying the religious right. The U.S. goal in making thesecontactswas not revolution, but what many hoped would be a more stable,pro-U.S.constitutionalmonarchy.Part of what was driving this effort were persistentrumors-apparently backed by solid U.S. intelligencereports-that the shah had cancer.(He did, and he died in exile in r98o.) Those who pursued this policy apparently beiieved that the shah was strong enough to weather a transition peacefully,and that it would result in more power for Iran's intellectual elite,the aging heirs of Mohammed Mossadegh'sNational Front, the technocrats,and a smattering of moderate Shiite religious elements. \fhat they didn't realizewas that the anti-shah movement would be driven increasinglyby the religious right, above all by the steely,l.enin-like figure of Ayatollah Khomeini. Then, however, during the revolution itself-especially from November ry78 to the capture of Teheranby Khomeini in February ry79-the Carter administrationfell into bitter internalwarfare, with some arguing that the United Statesought to abandon the shah and others urging that the United Statessupport a bloody military putsch againstthe revolution. During those crucial four months the United Stateshad no policy at all, and in any caseit was too late to change the course of events.The shah fled, his government collapsed,and the Islamic Republic of Iran was born. Those who had argued for

Hell's Ayatollah


abandoningthe shah had clearly underestimatedthe Islamist revolutionaries, and now they counted on the emergenceof a democratic successorregimewith a slight Islamisttinge, not a dicratorship.Those who had argued for a coup, which would have led to tens of thousandsof deaths,had also underestimatedthe depth and power of the Khomeini movement.Their view was often colored by the insistenr, though absurd, belief that the USSR was behind the trouble in Iran. How could so powerful an American ally as the shah of Iran be toppled if it weren't Moscow's doing? American policy wasn't any clearer after the revolution. The United Stateshad preciousfew experts on Iran's Islamist movement. The U.S. diplomats who went to Iran after the revolution were mostly not Iran specialists,and they knew little about Islam or about Khomeini and his ilk. Many of them worked hard to implement the official policy of trying to work out a modus vivendi with the Islamic republic, but that policy came crashingdown when the U.S. embassy was invaded by a mob in November ry79. The'Western-educated, suit-wearing aides to Khomeini-men like Ibrahim Yazdi, Sadegh Ghotbzadeh, and Abolhassan Bani-Sadr-were swept away in the "second revolution" that followed the embassy takeover, and the Qom-basedclergy and Khomeini assertednear-dictatorialcontrol. Meanwhile, U.S. hard-liners were not ready to give up on lran. Som esaw Ir an's Islamicorientati onas a threat ro rhe SovietUnion. They counted on Iran's fear of its Russianneighbor to the north and on the Islamists' hostility to communism to move Iran back into accord with the United States.Supportersof Israel-and, of course) Israel itself-saw even the militant mullahs as potential allies. Even during the U.S. embassy crisis, Reagan and the neoconservatives made overturesto the mullahs. By the mid-r98os, the neoconservatives,Israeliintelligence,and Col. Oliver North of the National Security Council joined Bill Caseyof the CIA in a secretinitiative reaching out to the strongmanof Iran, Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani. The religiousrevolution in Iran did more than kick the props out from underneathAmerica's most important outpost in the region. It crystallized a fundamental change in the character of the Islamic right, one that had been taking shape since the rise of the Muslim

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Brotherhood decadesearlier.As it gained strength in the r97os) the Islamic right grew more assertive,and parts of it were radicalized. Violence-proneoffshoots,typified by the emergenceof an Islamistterrorist underground in Egypt, emergedto challenge'STestern-oriented regimes, and the terrorist Hezbollah movement gained force in Lebanon.Even the more mainstreamIslamistgroups were inspiredby the example of Iran, and many Muslim Brotherhood-linked otganizations took on a more pronouncedpolitical character. The errors that the United Statescommitted during and after the in their tragic scope.An revolution in Iran were almost Shakespearean enormouspart of the blame falls on the U.S. intelligencesystem.The fall of the shah was the most significantfailure of U.S. intelligence betweenPearl Harbor and the attacksof Septemberrr' zoor. As the United Stateseagerlylent support to the Afghan jihadists and reached out to supposedlymoderatemullahs in Teheran,almost no one in the intelligencecommuniry was looking ar the big picture. To the American public, the dark-eyed, scowling visage of Ayatollah Khomeini symbolized the emergenceof a threatening new force on the world scene. But for U.S. diplomats and intelligenceofficers, right-wing political Islam continued to be profoundly misunderstood.Even as Islamism's power made itself felt-in the violence in Mecca, civil war in Syria, Sadat'sassassination-the United Statesfailed to grasp its implications.Even after Iran, Islamism was not seenas a worldwide movement linked by fraternal bonds and secretsocieties,but as a fragmented, country-by-country ideological movement. The narve argued that Iran was a unique case,a conservativedictatorshipthat had fallen to a peculiar form of Shiite militancy that would have no resonance among the Sunni Muslim majority. Others, naive in a different and more dangerous way, were seizedwith the notion that Iranian-style Islamism and the Muslim Brotherhood could be mobilized in Afghanistan and Central Asia as a tool for dismantling the Soviet Union. Despite the pronounced anti-American feeling at the heart of Islamism, key officials-from Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, to Ronald Reagan'sCIA director, Bill Caseywould aggressivelypursue the idea that political Islam was just another Dawn on whatBrzezinski called "the Grand Chessboard."

Hell's Ayatollah







On February 2, 1979, just a day after Ayatollah Khomeini made his triumphant return to lran, George Lambrakis, a senior U.S. embassy officer in Teheran, dispatched a long missive to \Tashington. In it, he mused about the implications of the takeover of Iran by Khomeini and his ilk. And he wasn't too worried. His assessmentis worth quoting at length, because it shows how profoundly

the United States

underestimated the Khomeini movement only days before the ayatollah took control of Iran: to date is that the Shia Islamic movement is far Our best assessment better organized, enlightened, and able to resist communism than its detractors would lead us to believe. It is rooted in the Iranian people more than any 'Western ideology, including communrsm. However, its governing procedures are not clear, and probably have not totally been worked out. It is possiblethat the processof governing might produce accommodations with anti-clerical, intellectual strains which exist in the opposition to produce something more closely approaching'Westernizeddemocratic processesthan might at first be apparent. . . . The Islamic establishmentis neither as weak nor as ignorant as the shah'sgovernment and some 'Westernobservers.wouldportray it. It has a far better grip on the emotions of the people and on the money of the bazaar than any other group. In many ways it supports a reformist/traditionalist view of Iran which is far more attractive to most Iranians at this time than the models of communism representedby the SovietUnion or mainland China. On the other hand, it is not guaranteedto operate in a parliamentary democratic fashion as we understand it in the lVest. . . . A good deal of authority is likely to be exercisedby an Islamic Council. Though the make-up of such a council is still not clear, under the movement's program, political leaders rather than mullahs would appear destined to play the preponderant role in making 'We suspectthat the Moslem and executing government policy. . . . establishmentwould probably not be able to avoid making some accommodations with Westernized ideas of government held bv many in the o p p o s i ti o n mo ve me n t.I

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Khomeini had returned to Iran, from Paris, on February r, just a day before Lambrakis'smemo was written. Nine days later, the interim governmentof Iran collapsedand the mullahs createdthe dictatorship that has lasted more than a quarter of a century. PresidentCarter welcomed the new Iranian governmentand optimisticallyreachedout to its leaders,but ominouslS on February r4, a Khomeini-inspiredmob seizedcontrol of the U.S.embassyin Iran, only to withdraw after tense negotiations. Nine months later, a similar mob invaded the embassy and held scores of American personnel hostage for more than a year,precipitating one of the greatestdiplomatic crisesin American history. By the end of it, Khomeini reigned unchallengedas Iran's dictator. How could Lambrakis have beenso wrong? \fhy did a seniorU.S. government official-and he was not alone-believe that Khomeini and his clerical mafia would cede power to "political leadersrather than mullahs"? \fhy would he describethe Khomeini movement as "enlightened"? \7hy would he expect that something "closely approachingWesternizeddemocraticprocesses"would emerge? There is plenty of blame to go around. Neither the StateDepartment, nor the CIA, nor the vauntedcommunity of foreign policy think tanks, nor academiagot lran right. Most of the blame must go to the U.S.government,for mixing blind ignoranceof Iran with sheerincompetence.But the blindnessextendedto many leading U.S. academic specialistson Iran. Several-the University of Texas'sJamesBill, the Universityof Texas'sMarvin Zonis, and the Universityof Pittsburgh's Richard Cottam, the former CIA officer-acted as semi-official consultants to the \fhite House and the State Department in r978-7r1. Bill, whose book, Tbe Eagleand the Lion, is often cited as a definitive work on U.S.-Iranrelations,authoreda major piecein loreign Affairs, the journal of the Council on ForeignRelations,in late r978 that, like Lambrakis's missive, also completely missed the mark. Even as Khomeini thunderedagainstthe shahfrom Iraq and then from France, and mobs carried photos of the ayatollah down the streetsof every major Iranian city, in "Iran and the Crisisof t978" Bill concludedthat . . . the most probablealternativeif the Pahlavidynastyshouldbe destroyedby force and violenceis that a ieft-wing, progresslve

Hell'sAyatollah '


group of middle-ranking army officers would take charge. . . . Other future possibilitiesinclude a right-wing military junta, a liberal democratic system based on Western models, and a communist government.2

Nowhcre in the piece does Bill even mention the possibilityof an Islamic republic,even though by then Ayatollah Khomeini was the clearlyacknowledgedleaderof the revolution.Bill, one of the United States'few experfs on lran, was not the clnly one to misread Iran's f-uture.As the wave of lran's revolution crestedin Novemltsv 1c;78,a high-levelrneetingat the StateDepartlrent was calledto irnalyzethe unfolding crisis. I-Ienry Precht, the departrncnt'sIran desk officeq rccallshow-despite all thc intelligenccavailableto him-he got his an:rlysisfrom a handful of lr:rniansfudentshc nretthe night before: irr all the expertson Iran,offiLatc in Novemberr978,we callec'l cerswho'd scrvedthere,others,and we hadthisbig confabto cliscusswhat to cloaboutIran and what was goingto happenthere. at a classat American Well, the night beforeI'd gr:est-lectured lot <lflr:rnianstudcnts there were a it turnecl out and Universitp what they thoughtwirsgoingto happcn there.And whcrrI asl<ed T'hcnext clay,at our in lran, they all saicl:lslarnicgovernnrent. r<lont all sayirrg what we thought the we went around confcrcnce, peoplewcresayingthingslike,"Thepewill bc :rr.rd rvouldl.rrrppen, with thc NationrrlFrout,and Kh<lmcini will a Iibcralg()vernrncnt, "lslarnic government." I go to Qonr." \7henlny trlnrcatne] said, wastheonly one.' J'he fact thc U.S.governmentgot lran so wrong cannot be seenas anythingbut a massiveintelligencefailure. But thc failurewas not due to a lack of information, for thc revolution was unfolding in the streets. and Khomeini was not an invisible actor. Yet the United Statcs,which initiallyhad supremeconfidencein the shahof lran, was to rcvolution.Even that Iran was stableand not susceptible convincecl clear as the revolutiongaineclmomentum,and it sectnedincreasingly that the shah could not survive, the United Statesrefusedto believe prethat Khonrcinianclthe clergywould seizepower for themselves, hybrid democracy ferringto believethat somesort of religious-secular

[ ) l vl t - 's

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would emergein the chaosthat followedthe fall of the shah.Thomas Ahern, the CllA stationchief in lran in r979, arrivedmonths after the mob that revolutionand was taken hostagcby the Khomeini-directed seizecl thc embassyon November4, spcnding 444 daysas a captive. Accordingto Ahcrn, the revolutionshouldhavebeenplain to sce,for anyonewho cared to look out the winclow in tc)78.He recallsthat in r98r, irfterbeingfreed,the when hc rcturneclto CllA headquarters irgencywas bentoaningits failureto anticipatethe revolution."Aftcr I got back,thcrc was a seniorpcrsonirr thc Near ItastDivisionlamcnting tlre intelligcncefailr-rrc irbout thc fall of the shah," recallsAhern. "Ancl I lookedat him anclaskcclhirn if he hadn't beenlooking at what going on in the strccts!"Thc C.lA,Ahcrn said,trcatedthe probrnu,as fashion, lcrn of pre-revolutionaryIran in traditional spy-versus-spy and the stamrlvernent trying to cliscoversccrctsabout the Khomeini bility of the slrirh..But,hc says,the CIA failcd to draw obviousiniercncesfrom what was going on in day-to-clayilff:rirs,and so it str-rck with its sceminglysafepredictiotrthat the shah was gtlit'tgto survive. "We joincd the rest of the govcrnrncntapparatlrsin tellingthe White House what it watrtedto heaq which is that this was just a nuisance supportfronl and that the shahwas iust fine,anclthat with ur-rlimitcd thc United Statcshe would wertl.rerthc storm. There was a failureat the working levelto speaktruth to power."+ In the r 97os,that powcr restedwith drrecfactionsin U'S. policy circles,cach of which approachedlran in differcntways, and-each in its own way-didn't scc Khomeini'svictory cttnting.For each,Ayatollah Khorneiniwas like a Rorschachtcst, i1dark figure in whom specialists on lran and seniorpolicy makerscoulclseewhat they wanted to see.All mademistakes,and in doing so helpedKhomeini succeed. Firstwerethe Kissinger-led realists,who guidedU.S.policy toward Irarr in thc first half of the decade.For them, Khomeini was nearly invisible.They'd spentthe r97os building Iran into a regionalpower, the policemanof the Gulf, and America'sbulwark againstthe USSR and Arab nationalism. Their allies included the CIA, from Richard Helms, the CIA director appointedas ambassadorto han in r973 rvho as a boy had gone to school with the shah in Switzerlandin the

Hell's Ayatollah '


r93os, to the veteransof t953, includingthe Rooseveltbrothers:Kermit, the covert operator extraordinaire, and Archie, another CIA veteranwho was a senior official at David Rockefeller'sChaseManhattan Bank. Kissinger,Helms, the Roosevelts,Rockefeller,and the big oil and defensefirms had spent years turning Iran into a virtual American colony, especiallyunder PresidentRichard Nixon. They grumbled at the shah's occasionalefforts to assertindependenceas Iran grew stronger,and they were annoyedat the shah'sextravagance and seemingmegakrmania.They bristled at the shah'sreadinessto make businessdeals with thc Sovict Union from timc to time. Ilut more important was the bottom line: Iran was hostingtens of thousandsof U.S. military advisers.[t was the numbcr-oncmarket for expensiveweaponssystents,and could be counted as :rn ally in thc Cold War everywhere.And it was a very profitableplaceto do business.Iran was an Americanoutpostat the heartof thc world's oil supply. Zbigniew Brzezittski, the national During the Clarteraclministration, securityadviser,most closclyapprorimatedthc Nixon-Kissingervicw of Iran. Secondwerc the Clarteradministrationliberals.For them,Khon'reirti was not invisible,but hc was a vagueforce in thc background,seemingly less important than ir diversecollectionof intellectuals,lcftliberals, reformcrs, and former National Front activists.Thc Clarter wcre wary of the shah anc]conccrncdabor.rtthe liberalsin Wershington they weretroublccl armsbuildupin lran. Not as hawkishas Brzezinski, to by the Nixon-Kissingcrwillinlaness allow the shaha blank chcckin with thc shah'srecord building up his military.They wcre also r"rnhappy on human rights anclwith the authoritariannatureof the regime.In keeping with C:rrter's oft-spoken desire to promote hurnan rigl-rts abroad,they prcssedthc shahto liberalizcthc rcgimc.Someclearlyfelt that wholesalercform, and even the end of the shah'srcgimc, wits rut important goal of U.S. foreignpolicy.[n that conncction,Khomeini's forceswere seennot as a threat,l'rutas a suitablyanti-communistjunittr partner in a broad Iranian national reform moventent. l)uring the administration,the liberalswerc representedby the StateDepartment, particularlythe Iran deskand the human rightsteam.

z L4


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Third were the hard-right advocates.f cold war supremacyand Americanmight. Toda6 they would be calredthe "neoconservatives." During the carter adrninistrirtion, the right was mostly in

'pp.sition, and it graduallyc'alescedaround candidateRonald Reagan in the late r97os. cl.sely alliedwith Israel-which, i'rurn, was joineclwith Iran in an axis againstthe Arabs-the ne,c.r.rservatives wcre''t fazcd by Khomeini. Though they supportedthe shah,they didn't hcsitateto developcl'se, though covcrt, connecti'ns with thc I(h'rnei'i rcginrc after r 1179.ln r98o, Rcagan'steam engagedin sccrettalks on irrms and hostages with Teheran'sayatollahsin a calculatecl eff,rt to urdermine carter, in what hasc'me t. be known as the "oct.lrer Surprise" scandal.Besidcsarms, Israel als' pr.vided ira' with intclligence throughoutits war with Iraq. And, together,Isr:rcland the r'eoconse vatives,along with Bill casey, iriruguratedthe Iran-c.ntra scandal, involvingyct additlonalarms salesto Khomci'i's regime,fro'r both Israeland the United States.

Carter dnd the Shah The inaug'rari.rr of Jim'iy carter as presidenralarmeclthe shaha'd encouragedthe Iranian opposition, from the intellectr-rals irr thc National Fror.rtto rhe ayatollahsof the Islamicright. clarter'sr'auguration in r977, for many Iranians,triggeredrnemoriesof an earlier period in U.S.-Iranrelations-nrt the cllA's r95l coup d'6rar,which the shah to power, but the early r96os, when the Kcnncdy administratio.royed with the idea unsearingthe shah and rcplac'f ing hirn with a less aurhoritarian regime. The carrer white F{ouse placed great ernphasison human rights, ancl many admi'ristration of6cialsobjectedto the old policy of building up thc shah'spower. Both the monarchy and the mulrahs remernberedthe Kennedy administration, and they saw it as a prececlent.I)uri'g the Kennedy years' John Bowling, the Iran specialist at the State Deparrmenr, wrote a paper analyzi'g lran's opposition forces and "discussingthe advantagesof a sTesternpolicy shift of supporr for a narionalist,more popularly based,Mosaddiqistcoup.".tBut the doubtsabout the shah

Hell's Ayatollah



didn't start with Kennedy, according to a former high-ranking CIA official who was involved in the discussions: There rvas a big debate,in the U.S. governmentand in the embassy:Shouldwe support the shah,or a nationalistgovernment? This had been going on sinceabout r95ti, when the itself.The questionwas:Do we want NatiorralFront reconstituted Thcrewas talk to supplantthe shahor supportthe nationalists? real power with monarchv, British-style a like about something madethe Kennedy In the end, restingin an electedgovernment. to supporttheshah,but on conditionthat therewouldbe decision real reforms,and that the shahwould acceptIthe reformistlAli Arniniasprimeminister.'llill noted:"Kennccly'sdoubtsabout the shahwere so In his l'rook,.)amcs strongthat he evcl.tconsidercdforcing his abdicationin f:rvorof rule by conrcgencyuntil his youngson cameof age."7In principle,Kennedy's cern about the shah wasn't misplaced,but the problcrn in the early cxistedoutsidc9f the I 96os,irsin thc late r 97os,was that no nrlternative clcrgyto rcplacethc shah.Thc National Front had lost nearly:rll of its slrpportin the ycarssinceMossadegh,and increasinglyit was cgnfined t9 salonsin Tehcran,with alliesamong intellectualsin WcsternF-uropc. lrressedby the Ur-ritedStates,the shah made halfheartcclefforts at refgrm. in what he calleclthe Whitc Revolution.Scnsing$196d,the clergy had bcgun ro srir, and in the outlying districtsthe rcligious right-which had closctics to the wealthy landedfamilies-beganto mobilizc thc population againstland rcform. Violent inciclentstook place in many provincesand the prin-rernovcrswerc the mullahs, lcd by RuhollahKhorneini.Not yet an ayatollah,hc came irrcrcasingly after making a demagogicspeechin t963 denouncing t<rpr<rminence thc shah.T9 creatc his political organization,Khomeini establishecl led by twenty-onewealthy hazaari the Coalition of IslamicSocieties, rnerchantsfrom three maior Teheranmosques.Many of the participants in Khomeini'scoalition would later becomethe leadersof the regimein t97.1and serveas top officials9f the lslamic Republican HosseiniBeheshti.s Party,includingMohan-rmed



D s v r l 's


The shah had nothing but disdain for the clergy.In a January 1963 speech,he sputteredwith rage at the Khomeini-led mullahs: They were alwaysa stupid and reactionarybunch whosebrarns have not moved [for] a thousandyears.'Who is opposing[the White Revolutionl? Black reaction, stupid men who don't understandit and are ill intentioned.. . . It was rheywho formed a small and ludicrous gathering from a handful of bearded, stupid bazaaristo make noises.They don't want this country to develop.e Suchtalk didn't endearthe shahro the clergy.In r963, Khomeini was arrcsted by SAVAK. Rumors circulated that he was to be tried and executed.But it was unprecedentedto imposethe death penalty on an ayatollah.ln r964, Khomeini was expelledfrom Iran, first to Turkey and then to lraq, settling in the holy city of Najaf, where he would r cm ain until r978. ln t977, recallingthe Kennedyyears,the shah and thc clergy both anticipatedthat the new U.S. r:egimemight begin to put pressureon the monarchy,creatingroom for the clergyto organize.Indeed,it did. According to the Iranian ambassadorin London, the shah feared "that.|immy Carter might have 'Kennedy-typepretensions.''10 The shah had crackeddown on his clericaloppositiononce again in the early t.17os,arrestingmany of Khomeini's allies,including Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani,the future strongman of rhe Khomeini regime. But the election of Carter, whose commitment to human rights resonated in Iran, stirred the clergy once again. In May 1977, Cyrus Vance, the U.S. secretaryof state, visited Teheran to see the shah. "After Vance'svisit, the word spread quickly through the extensive Iranian grapevinethat the shah had just been given his orders from \Tashington: liberalize or be removed," wrote Bill. "It soon became acceptedfact in Teheran.. . . The opposition . . . concludedthat they could now operate under an American protective umbrella that had beenraisedby CyrusVance."11 According to Charles Cogan, a former CIA official who headed the agency'sNear East Division, Vanceforesaw a peacefulrevolution in Iran leadingto a regimethat might eveninclude Khomeini:

Hell'sAyatollah ' zz7 Vanceand, shall we say'the StateDepartmentin generallooked forward towardsthe possibilityof a smoothtransitionwhereby who were the monarchywould cedesomepower to the dissidents consideredto be not iust Khomeini but moderatesaround htm' transitionto and therewere some,and this could be a successful the parliamentaryconstitutionalmonarchy.l2

Slowly at first, and then acceleratingas the rebellion against the shah gathered momentum, U.S. embassyofficers,visiting American \il/ashingtonbegan officials, the CIA, and semi-officialenvoys from making contactswith the opposition. "The shahwas very angry in the late rc)7osover the fact that opposition figuresand membersof the clergy were going in and out of the U.S' embassy,"saysJuan Cole, a University of Michigan professorand expert on Islam.13That view is confirmed by Charles Naas, a senior political officer at the U.S. embassyin Teheran, who worked under Ambassador Bill Sullivan. Sullivan, a tclugh-talkinglrishman who served in some rough-andtumble posts, including l,aos during the cIA's covert war in that country, arrived in Iran in r 977, replacingHelms. According to Naas, Sullivan aggressivelysought contacts with the anti-shah opposition: "'When Bill Sullivan went out, I told him that I'd never worked on a country where I knew less about the politics there," says Naas. "When he got there, he startedencouragingthe political sectionto go out and meet more people,and they talked to young technocratsand National Front people, including a few people who had a good fecl "ra for the religiousleaders. The shah,saysNaas, "was aware that we had changedour m.o. and had started encouragingthe opp6sition." In his memoirs, the shah put it this way: "The Americanswanted me out. . . . I was never told about the split in the Carter administration [norl about the hopes some u.s. officialsput in the viability of an 'Islamic Republic'as a It hulwar k againstcommuni sm." The key player in bridging the divide betweenthe secularNational Front and the clergywas Mehdi Bazargan,the founder of the Liberation Movement, a religious,pro-clerical party.Destinedto becomethe first prime minister of Iran after the revolution, Bazargan had a long

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history of working with the mullahs, but he also maintained a longrunning dialogue with U.S. State Department and CIA officers. In fact, Bazarganhimself was a quasi-mullah. "Bazargan," says an exCIA operationsofficer who servedin Iran, "was basicallyan ayatollah, or what they called an 'ayatollah without a turban.'"r6 Inevitably,the U.S. effort to reach out to the opposition not only disrnayed the shah but emboldenedthe opposition, especiallyits religious conponent. "These signals were mistaken by Bazargan and othersr" says Naas. "After the revolution, Bazargantold me, 'You have no idea how encouragedwe were by PresidentCarter.' This is one of thosesignalsthat goeswrong." From his post at thc United Nations, FereydounHoveyda, Iran's ambassador,watched as thc Carter administration undermined the shah. A coalition was emerging between the opposition liberals, Bazargan'sreligigus movement, and the Khomeini-led clergy. "The .\m er icar tswer c in eonstantcontact wi th the liberalsin Iran after r977." he says."They told theseliberals,especiallyBazarganand the Natiorral Front. that the time had come to come out with dissentand protest.That I know for sure. Some of them told me at the time: the Americansare telling us, 'It's time to protest.' . . . I told [Americansl that it was like playing with fire. You are bringing in the worst possible enemy of the West." A top official in the StateDepartment recalls a meetingrn 1977 during which he usedthe very samewords. "Jessica Tuchman and some of the other people on the National Security Council staff were arguing against supporting the shah, arguing against supplying him with tear gas to use against the demonstratc)rs," he says."And I told them: 'You don't know what you are talking about. You have no idea of the political dynamicsof Iran, because nobody does.You're playing with fire."'17

U.S. Intelligence and Iran Ayatollah Khomeini's revolution unfolded in slow motion' over several years.Only the most obtusecould be surprisedat its outcome. A string of U.S. intelligencereports on Iran were wildly off the

Hell's Ayatollah



mark. A State Department analysis written in May t-972 suggeststhat even then some diplomats saw Khomeini as embodying "liberal values ," albeit with d i mi n i sh i n g a p p e a l : T he Shah of Ir a n ma i n ta i n s:r p o stu re o f p ubl i c pi ety and champi ons Is lamic c a l l se s e ve n th o u g h l ra n i a ns . . . are not greatl y attrac tedby p a n -l sl a mi cse n ti me n ts.T h e Irani an cl ergy no l cl nger have major political influence.. . . They have been, for the past decade,fighting a rear-guard and losing action against the growing tide of :r s e cu l a rsta fe .... A ya to l l a h K hornei ni , arrestedand exiled to lracl in tL)6qirs a result of his anti-g()vernmentactivities, irs piresto lead Ira n i i rn Mu sl i ms, b r-rth i s cl o secoopcrati onw i th the Gov ernment o f Ir:rc1i n a n ti -S h a h p ro p a g anda and :rcti vi tv harve ruled out any ch a n ce< l f re c< l n ci l i a ti o nw i th rhe prescntshah and reduc edhis ap p e a lto ma n y Iri l n i a tt Mtrsl i rnsw ho mi ght otherw l sc s hirres ome of h i s b a si ca l l yl i b e ra l va l u e Charles Naas, who served irs the State l)epartment's dircctgr of Irar-t affairs from r L)7 4to r9 7 tl , a n d th cn se rvcclersdeputy chi ef tl f n' ri ssi orl ir-rT eheran during th e re v< tl u ti o n ,sa ys th a t throughout the peri ocl l eading Lrpt< ' tt97c ;, L I.S . g o ve rn mcn t a n a l ysi s o f l ran w as poor, espcci al l y when it c ame to s o -ca l l e clN a ti o n a l l n tcl l i g e rrceE sti mates (N l F.s), preparc d by thc CllAs N a ti o n a l In te l l i g e n ce C ounci l . " In cl oi t-tgN IF.s at the tin"re,tl-regcr-reralview was that thc rcligious right clidn't represent a threat to the regi me ," N a a s strys." T h e rc w as practi cal l y no reporti ng on thc Is lamic gro u p s i n th e co u n try, so w e w ere caught rel ati vcl y fl atfooted." In the Au g u st r9 7 7 N a ti o n a l In te l l i gence l l sti mate on Iran, "lran in rhe r98 o s," th c C l l A co n cl u d e d that " thc shah w i l l be an elc riv epartic ipirn t i n Iri l n i a n l i fe w e l l i n to thc r98os" and that " therc will be no radica l ch a n g e i n Ira n i a n p o l i ti cal behavror i n the nci l r future." A y ear l a te r, i n A u g u st 1 c1 7 8a, se cond (i IA report concl r" rded that lran s eemc dto b e h e a d e d fo r a smo o th transi ti on of pow er i f and when the shah left the sccne.The CIA went on to say: "lran is not in rr rev ollrtionary or e ve n a ' p re -re vo l u ti o n a ry' si tuati on." t' ) B y t....78, President Carter, who rvas watching lran disintegrate on televisiorr, cornplained in writing to the national security bureaucracy, saying that

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he was "dissatisfiedwith the quality of political intelligencc"he was getting on lran.20Yet the CIA, lacking lran spccialists,Farsi spcakers, and expertson Islamism,could not do bctter. Adnriral StansfieldTurner was Cartcr's CIA dircctor. "ln t977. lslarnas a political force was not on our radar scope,"hc says."The intelligence communitywas not adequatelypreparedto understandit. Wc undcrcstinrated Khomcini'spotcntialby a largc margin."ll But it virtually was worsethar-r that. Outsideof a hirr-rdful of Iran specialists, no onc in thc Clarteradrninistrationhad any idea of who Khorneini was until it was too lirtc.Henry Precht,who servedas the lran desk officer rn tr)78, recallsgettinga clispatchfrom Teheranat the height of the revolutionaryfervor. "The dcpartmentrcceiveda cablc fronr the embassyin Teheran,nrentionirrgKhomeiniand idcntifyirrghim as 'an Iranian religiousleader."' says Precht. "To have iclcntifiedhinr like that to yoLrrrc4ders back in Wasl-rington told rnethat thcrc wastt't a greatawareness of who he was." Although thousandsof Amcricans, including hundrcclsof U.S. officialsand a major CllA station were Lrirsed in lran, few if any of them hacl any farniliarity with Iran's subcultures,religious underground, and oppositionforces.Virtually all U.S. oflicialswho have written memoirsabout the Iranian revolution recallthat thc United Statesrelieclon the shah and his inner circlc for infortnationabout 'Washington lran's intcrnal politics.Partly that was because trustcd the shah implicitly and believedthat his intelligence and securitysystern were infallible, and partly it was becausethe shah strongly objectedto any efforts by the United Statesto contact the clergy and thc opposition.Walter Cutler, a veteranU.S. diplomat who servedin Tabriz, Iran's secondlargestcitS in the r96os, saysthat even then it was difficult to establishcontactwith the clergy."ln Tabriz,when I was there,I was instructedto talk to the mullahs,"he recalls."But it was clear with the shah: Don't messaround the religiouselements.There was a healthy presenceby SAVAK."ZZBy the t 97os)when Niron and Kissingerestablishedthe U.S. partnershipwith the shah,U.S. officials were discouragedby \Tashington,too, to stay away from the opposition and the religious elements.The huge CIA station in Iran was

Hell's Ayatctllah '

zJ 1

focused primarily on Cold War objectives,keeping track of Soviet apparatus the U.S. surveillance bloc personnelin Iran and overseeing lran. aimedat the USSRin northern A senior CIA official who servedin Iran said that becausethe shah was an ally who didn't want U.S.spiesmeddlingwith the clergSthe religiousoppositionwas off-limits.2lPrechtindicatesthat U.S. contacts with the clergywere beingcarefullytr:ackedby Iran's intelligence service."At one point, the embassypolitical officerhad arrangedto go talk to a mullah," says Precht."And the ambassadorgot a call frurmthe mil-risterof the coLlrt, saying, 'Your political officer has an appointmcntwith so-rlnd-so.'We don't think that'sa good idea.'"24 were pickcd up, Bcginningin thc rnid-t97os, howevcr,rur"nblings corrlttunity.Accorclingto remotelyat first, by the Li.S.irttelligence sevcralU.S. officials,the first to senst:troLlblewcrc thc British,who presence itt the c<turrtry, and werc ableto draw on tlreircctrttrrics-long the Israelis,whosc secrctscrvice,the Mossad, was pluggcdinto the werc the llritish," saysPrecht."Thcy I l-racl bazaar."The bestsoLrrces werc rnuch morc informed, lttllch tnore insightful.And their reportwere not upbe:rt."Israel,too, senscdthat the irrg, their assessmcnts shirh was finishedlong bcforc the Unitcd Statcsdid. Around r.)76. saysPrccht,while hc wirs cscortinga U.S. senatoron a tour of Iran, thcy beganwith a briefirtgfrotn AtrLrassadorHclns, who told the scnilt()rthat lran sccure."Well, wc wcnf to see[Jri LLrbrirni,the Israelitt lratr, anclhe saidthat the shah nran in chirrgeof representing That was was facinga seriousproblctnfrom his religiousopp<tsition. the lirst timc I'd hcarclthat. No one in the entbassywas sayingthat." Two ycars later,:tccorclingttl Precht,thc wilrnings from Israelwerc nroreLrrgcnt."ln r c|78,anIsracliforcignserviccof{icercameto secus at thc Department,and he said:''Wcare alreaclyin thc post-shahcra'' preparcoursclvcs."25 At the timc, most U.S. He tolcl us, we shoLrlc'l that the shahwould weatherthc storm' governmentoflicialsbelicvec'l Startingin the nicl- r 97os,it beganttt dawn on policy makersand U.S.intelligenccofficialsthat the shah would firll. "You could take a who was then calendarof r977 arrd r978," sltysHarold Saunclers, the assistantsecretaryof statefor Near L,astand SouthAsian affairs,

z jL


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"and put people on the calendaras ro when rhey decided that the shah'sregimecould not endure." A critical,but previolrslyunexaminedaspectof U.S.decision making on Iran in the r 97os is related t. the shah'sfatal illness. lt is important becauseif it were known that the shahwas fatally srrickcn, it would drasticallyaffectall calcurations abour Iran'sfurure:wererhc shah to die in oflice, with no clear mode of transferringpower; a v..ry real dangerwould crist that Iran c.uld prungeinr. chaos. The shah's illnesswas diagnoseclas early as r96c1.accordirrgto H'veyda, brother was Iran'sprime minister."rt was'nly in the rr-rid-r97os th.t I heardthat he had cancer,"he says,though it was a cl.sery guardecl secret.But he insists:"The United Statesmust have kn'wn, because secretslikc that cannot be kept, espccialrybecausethe shah gor second and third opinions,and he was consultingwith Anrerican physi_ cians, 16s."26carter. administratio' policy makers and i'telligence officialsprovide c'.flicting resrinronyab.ur how rnuch the united Statesknew ab.ut the shah'scancer,and whe' it lcarned alr.ut it. Harold saunders,thc Middle lrastchief at thc StateDep:rrrmenr, says that the Unitcd statesdid nor know that the shah was sick untir after he'd left Iran. But charles c).gan, the ex-crIA official, said that the Iran crisisin fact began"when thc shah'silrncssbecarne apparenr,nor to us bur to the French,very early in'72. Anc'lI think thar wc finally becameaware of the gravity of it in '76.-zt According fo oogan, RichardHelms, who was U.S.ambassadorto Teheran,suspected that the shahhad cancerand told washingto. s.. "r think ir was'7y that Helms wrore something to that effect back to washingrrn, bur ir seemedto escapepe'ple's attentio'," sayscogan. "The French were aware of this as far back 2.s tc)7L, ,f the d'ctors that was treating the shah was in some way affiliateclwith the French i'telrigenceservice."28 Another senior cIA official with enormousexperlence in Iran says flatly: "we knew the shah was iil. we had reporrs from-well, from a very good source.,'2e By the late r97os,it wasn,t hard for u.s. intelligenceto pur rwo and two rogerher, and to conclude that the shah was nearingthe end of the road. David Long, who worked in the state Department'sintelligencebureau,says that lt was

Hell's Ayatollab


enoughto make actionablejudgments:"The fact that the shahwas ill, that he had cancer,was known. But it was very closelyheld. But we knew enough, the worker-bees,to know that this guy was in heavy doo-doo.It was our iob to handicapthis."3i) Among the very last to come to the conclusionthat the shah was pro-shahpartifinishedwere Brzezinskiand the Rockefeller-Kissinger sans,who clung to the belief late into rc178that the shah would survive. The U.S. embassyin Teheranwas slow to realizethe extent of the threat to the shah, but U.S. consulatesoutside the capital were more in tune with the pulseof the country, and their reporting back to Washingtonwas somewhat more perceptive.Individual CIA experts, someof whom had spentyearsin lran, were among the first to understand that Iran was collapsing."I left Iran in r976, and I told four close friends to get their money out of the country, that Iran was going down the tubes," says one CIA officer.3lButthat pessimism didn't find its way intr the rosy-scenariointelligenceestimatespreparcd for the U.S. gclvernment. in Teheran,held on to the belief in the sumAmbassadorSr-rllivan, mer of rc178that the shah'sregime would continue. In his memoirs, Mission to Iran, he notcd that somediplomatsfelt that the shahwould fall, citing in particular a l"renchembassyofficial who "expectedthe shah to be overthrown within a year." Yet, said Sullivan:"We felt that the shahwas in trouble . . . but we did not seethe beginningsof a revolution."J2A year earlier,in a dispatchto \Washingtonentitled "Straws in the 'Wind," Sullivanhad taken notc of growing religiousunrestin Iran, adding: "There are hints that despitetheir right-wing fanaticism, some of the more pragmatic conservativeIslamic imams and ayatollahs are willing to ride the human rights horseinto alliancewith those on the left Ii.e., the National Front] whcre mutual interestscan be made to coincide." Obliqueln Sullivan mentioned that religious "restiveness"had been reinforcedby a parallel revival of Islamismin Pakistan,SaudiArabia, and Turkey,but concludedthat the shah'sgovernmentwould keep the religiousmovement "under control."3'lIn his memoirs, Sullivanadmits that he was mystified about Islam and that neitherhis staff nor the CIA could help him:

;'34 . D r,vrr' s


My effortsto penetratefurther into the mysteriesof Shiismwere constantlyfrustrated.. . . Neither our political officersnor our intelligenceofficerswere able to satisfymy interestin obtaining furtherinsightsinto the workingsof the

Ricbar d Cottam and the " A meri cans" One former U.S.officialwho purportedto understandthe "Shia mind" was RichardCottam. In the earlyand mid-r95os, Cottam servedin Iran as part of the Cllfs covert operationsteam. "He was a caseofficer of '\)7aller, mine," says.fohn the station chief in Iran in the late r94os and early r95os.35Cottam becamea Universityof Pittsburghprofessorin r958, but didn't leaveeitherthe CIA or skullduggeryfar behind.During the r 96osand r97os, Cottam maintainedclosetiesto Iraniandissidents, from the National Front to leadingreligiousfigures.He was especially closeto two men who would serve,in t978, as Khomeini'sclosestaides during his exile in Paris,while the revolution in Iran was unfolding: Ibrahim Yazdi and SadeghGhotbzadeh-nicknamed "the Americans." Both rnen spent many years living in or visiting the United States,and both worked with the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Muslim Students Ass<riation,which Yazdihelpedto found in t963. Cottam had first met Yazdi in Iran in the r95os, while working as a CIA officer,and the two men becameclosefriends.During the r96os, Yazdi traveledback and forth between lran, Paris, and the United States, working with Ghotbzadehand many other religious-mindedIranian activistswho supported Ayatollah Khomeini. ln 1967, Yazdi settledin Houston, Texas, taking up a researchand teachingpost at Baylor Medical College. Early in 1978, Cottam's name beganto show up in secretor confidential StateDepartmentand CIA dispatchesfrom Iran. In May, John Stempelfrom the U.S. embassyin Iran met with a leaderof the proKhomeini movement, Mohammad Tavakoli, who "asked if Stempel knew Professor Richard Cottam." According to a dispatch from Stempel,Tavakoli asked "if Stempelhad someway of proving that he was a StateDepartment officer and whether he would mind his name being checkedwith ProfessorCottam."36A few weeks later, Stempel met Tavakoli with Bazargan, the leader of what was now called the

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National Liberation Movement, and Tavakoli-obviously referring to Cottam-curiously askedif the Carter administration has a "separate channel" into the embassyoutside State Department channels. "He noted that the Movement had supplied much information to Richard Cottam when he was a StateDepartment officer and continCottam continuedto make back-andued to do so," wrote Stempel.3T forth visits to Teheranand Paris,where he met Khomeini, Yazdi, and Ghotbzadeh.In June 1978, CharlesNaas of the U.S. embassywrote to Henry Precht, the Iran desk officer: "'$ilefind it fascinatingthat Richard Cottam, as severalof us had thought, is still a principal contact for the [Liberation Movement] in the U.S., and they were willing to confirm this."18By December,when the revolution was clearly about to succeed,a confidential State Department dispatch from the embassynoted rumors that Cottam had secretlytraveledto Teheran. "To the best of our knowledge,Cottam is not here.Would appreciare it if Department could discreetlyconfirm his presencein Pittsburgh." But by then Cottam was seeking to establishovert connections betweenYazdi,Ghotbzadeh,and othersin the Khomeini circle with official Washington,outsidc State Department channels.Precht says that Cottam rcpeatedlytried to open a dialoguc betweenKhomeini's circle and the U.S. liovernment.ln late 1978, says Precht,Cottam "said that Ibrahim Yazdi was coming to Washington,and that we ought to meethim. And he calledGary Sickat the NSCIwith the sanc idea. But Cottam was persona non grata at the State l)epartment, . . . Somebecausehe had all thosecontactswith Iranian dissidents. (lohen, dealt times,the peoplein the human rights office, under Steve with them." EventuallyPrechtand other StateDepartmentofficials did open a dialoguewith the revolutionaries,including Yazdi ancl Shahriar Rouhani, Yazdi's son-in-law.The meetingscontinued in Paris, and in TeheranCottam introducedU.S. embassyofficialsto Ayatollah Beheshti, who was Khomeini's official representativein Iran in the months before the revolution.The Iraniansassuredthe U.S. officialsthat Khomeini was not to be feared,and that he did not havepoliticalambitionsfor A few months later, Khomeini had seizedpower, and he beganto construct the institutions that would guarantee that power would



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remain in the hands of the clergy for the nexf quarter-century:the komitehs, or Islamic committees the pasdardn, the guard; vanous bodiesof Islamic"experts" and jurists;the Islamiccourts;the revolutionary council. Hundreds,perhapsthousandsof officialsfrom thc shah'sera were summarilyerecuted,and countless<ttherswere nturderedby Khomeini'sfollowers.

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The United Statesstruggledto recoverfron-rthe shockof the.JanurrrvFebruaryt97r1rcvolutionin lran. A major cffort was rlade to cstablishsomethingresernblirrg rrormal diplomaticrelationswith rhe new regimein Teheran,but thcy got off to a bad start. "I(/e wanted to establish:r dialogue," says Walter Cutler,the veteranU.S. diplornatassignedto bc Amcric:r'sambassador to the IslamicRepublicin the middle of rr)7r)."1 was to go our thereand try to cstablishsome sorr of rapport with thc ncw reginrc, from Khomeini on down."'10(luder had servcdin Iran as cor.rsulin Tabriz in the mid-r96os,and spcntmuch of the rgtlosas U.S.arnbassador to SaudiArabia. Named to succeedBill Sullivan,the ourlloinr U.S.ambassadorwho was fatally tainted by his associarionwith the shah, Cutler was asked to asscmblean Iran team quickly. "My appointmentwas pretty rushed,and I had to pur togethcr ir whole new team fast. fSecretaryof State Cyrusl Vance said,'Pick anyone you want, and I will break their assignment,"'meaningthat Vancc would reassignto Iran anyone Cutler wanted. What Cutler didn't know, of course,is that many of the people assignedto his team would be taken hostage in November and hcld for fifteen monrhs under brutal conditions. "We had to prove to the lranians that we were not the Great Satan," saysCutler.The fact that the Iranian revolution was basedon Islam, not left-wing nationalism, was something that encouraged many U.S.policy makers,diplomats,and CIA officials,from Zbigniew Brzezinskiat the NSC on down. "\7e were in the Cold \rVar,"says Cutler, "and here was an Islamic revolution, and I'd been there long

Hell's Ayatollah



enoughto know what suspicionexistedabout the Russians.I thought that we could handle the possibilitythat the SovietUnion might try to increaseits influence,becauseof the strength of Islam. . . . If vou're looking for common interests,our sharedconcernabout Sovietpenetration of that part of the world was one." But Cutler never reachedIran. A congressionalresolutioncondemning Khomeini itt rL)79 infuriated the ayatollah, and, according to Cutler, Yazdi later told hin-rthat Khomeini wanted to break r:elations with the United Statesentirely.InsteadYazdi persuadedKhomeCutlcr's ini to take just ir "half step" and to refusethe arnbassador. appointmentwas withdrawn.4rBut other U.S.officials,most of them fatedto be taken captivcin November,lreganarriving.Some,but not all, had servedin Iran bcfore but virtually none haclany expcricncc with or knowledgeof Islar-nisrrr. Bruce l,aingcn, who headed tl"rcernbassyin thc abscuceof :rn frankly,"I am hacltwo bricf stirrtsin Iran before but snrys anrbassador, no cxpert on thc subjcctof Islam." Hc was pluckeclfronr an asslllltment that would havetakcn hirn to.fapanauclhustlcclto lran, bcc:ruse the StateDcpartmcntwas "castingrrrounclfor avililirblc,clisprcnsable, transfcrableFSOslforcigrtscrviccofficersl."I)icl he get a l()t of plcparation to clealwith lslanritncll(honreini'sidcology?"No," hc sirys. " Alr nost nonc."4l'l-horrras A hcrn, the uew (llA strrtionchief,callslris ncl i:tcciclcnt," arrds'aysthat he receivccl appointmenta "burertucrrrtic help from the U.S. govemmcnt that enablcdhir"nto undcrstanclthe "Yru crtnc'luotcmc as sirylslamicnt() clynamicof I(l-ronrcirti's sort on the politics, ing that therewas no instructionof an rrcaclcmic culture, and economicsof lratt," he says. "lt was strictly a tr:rclelne to take overrccrtlrinfr.rnctiorrs rrncl schooltypc of thing, preparir-rg diplornatwho certaincontacts."4r .fohn l.irnbcrt,rutothcrvetcrilltLJ.S. "voluntccr to a cirble,sayingsomething spokefluerrtF'ilrsi,respondccl go lrrrn pcople to to help rebLriltl, or salvagcsorreto need like,'\Wc thing out of theseevents.'Narveas I wils, I and trany of rny colleagues felt that now we coulclfinally establisha healthy relationshipwith Iran." But did Limbert, l.aingen,artcltheir fellow officersundcrstand following? "We lslam, or the nature of Khomeini's didn't know it," says Limbert. "We didn't understandit."aa By

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November, Laingen,Ahern, Limbert, and scoresof colleagueswould be prisonersof a rnob secretlydirectedby Khomeini. The new Iranian government was a two-headed creature. There was thc "official" government: Prime Minister Bazargan, Yazdi, (ihotbzadeh,and the man who would eventuallybe electedas the first presidentof the IslamicRepublic,AbolhassanBani-Sadr.Then there was the r-rnofficiirl, parallel government,consistingof Khomeini, a handful <rfkcy ayatollahs,the komitehs, the pasdardn, and the hardcore set of Islarnistinstitutionsthat were taking shapeto implement Khomeini'stheocracy.The new U.S. embassyteam and visiting CIA and State Depirrtment officials were con{incd, for the most part, to intcraction with the ever-less-powerfulofficial government, while Khorneinikcpt the Unitcd Statesat arm'slength.Khomeiniembarked on rr plan to isolatc:rnd dcstrov,one by one, all of the secular,leftwing, and modcratereligiousforcesthat had joinedthe anti-shahrev<rlutionin thc 1c17os. His ultimate goal was the consolidationof virtually all power under his personalcontrol and in the Revolutionirry Council, the shadowy body rhar was made up primarily of proKhomeiniayatollahs. Accordingto [,aingen: We had very little contactwith the clergy.I neversaw Khomeini. And we never really talked to rhe RevolutionaryCouncil. We sensedthey were there.$7eknew they were there.But we didn't appreciarc how much power they reallyhad. We saw our mission as to reiterateour acceptance of the Islamicrevolution,and to conrmunicatc thirtwe werea spiritual-minded country.That it was feasiblefor the United Statesto come ro an undersranding with politic:rlIslilm,and that the shahhadno future.\Werecognized that Khomeiniwould not be disestablished. But we werecaughtup rn the belief that the secularside of the revolutionwould prevail. Bazargan, Yazcli,and Ghotbzadeh believed that theywould be able to cope,that theywould manageto containKhomeini' Embassyofficialsdid talk to a limited number of mostly more moderate Shiite clergy,but it didn't do much to open doors to Khomeini's inner circle. Many of the more cooperative Islamist mullahs were

Hell's Ayatollah


or forced into exile as Khomeini consolipushed aside,assassinated, dated power. The embassywasn't gettingmuch help from the CIA, either,which failed to produce any intelligenceestimatesabout the future of Iran in t979. SaysAhern: I don't recallany estimateor forecastof what would happen. 'WhatWashingtonwantedfrom the embassyas a whcllewas tcl be in hope of supportingthe Yazdis,the Bazargarrs, encouraging, rnoderate then'r the regressive ter.rdencies of helping moderating,clr theregime.As I recall,thiswasirll on the levelof rvistfulhope,not or basccl pl:rnning <lnindications frornIrattion thelevelof seri<>us ansthat thiswasgoingto wclrk.a6 But if the CIA wasn'tproducingmany conclusionsabout the futurer f about Iran's Iran, it was askedto passon to Iran crucial intelligence neighbor,Iraq. Yet lcssthan a year latcr tl-rctwo countrics wor,rldbc cngagedin a bloodS decacle-longconflict that reportedly left rnore than a million dead. llesidesthe CIA station chief, other seniorCIA officials,including Robert Ames and Georgc(iavc, rnadcvisitsto Irirn in 1979, before thc embassytakcover.On at lcast onc oceirsi()n, Ames-who headedthe CllAsNear F.astDivision-rret with Ayatollirh Beheshti,and other agencyofficialsmet Yazdi,Amir Abbas llntezam, and other non-clergyIraniirnofficials.A systcnrof intclligenccsharing was estab[ished,particularly in connection with Irac1."Oncc thc Bazargangovernment was esttrblished,we triecl to do businesswith them," recallsa CIA official involvcclwith Iran at the tirne, aclcling that the CIA warned Iran in 1r179 al'tctutIraqi wirr intcnti<'rns.47 Laingenconfirms reports that the UnitcclStatespasseclon ir-rtclligence to Iran about Iraq: \Wehad concernover Iraq. RelationsbetweenIrln anclIraq were distirste closeto their lowestpoint,anclKhomeinihaclenornr<lus for SaddamHussein.He hacla desiret() exportthc rcvolutiont<r Iraq. lraq was certainlya major target.I recallbriefingthe Iranion Iraq. $7egavethenrinformatiorr anson Americanintelligence It troop enrplircements, intentions. aboutIraq'smilitarycrrp.tcity.



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wils a ncw experienccfor rne, suddenly being invcllvedin the intelligenc es idc o f d i p l o rn a cy.a s While the Unitc c l S t a te s p rsse clo n i n te l l i g ence to d-remr.rl l ahs,i ncl udirrg Behc s hti, it g ra cl u rrl l y b cca n c cl c:rr that the' B azargi rns, Y azdi s, and Ghotbz irde h s h a cl vi rtu a l l y n o p o w cr, and thi rt the S hi i tc cl ergy c orrtrollc c lc v ery th i n g . T h a t w a s csp e ci a l l y true i n e()nnccti on w i th the rnilitary . " T lrerc w a s n o co o rcl i rra ti r)nb ctw ccn l l azargi rn and the rni l i tary . I l< now this fo r i l i rl ct," si rysi r fo rrn cr C ,tA offi ci al . " The nri l i tary was unc ler the i ro n cl rrcl co n tro l o f th c nrul l ahs. A ncl the rnr-rl l ahs div ided lran into s cve n tce n vi l l rrg cs,rrn d a ssi grredpcopl c to run each one, th rough thc komitch s." 4') F iv en s o, a h rrn d fr" rlo f L I.S . p o l i cy n ral < ers began to scc l ran' s Is larnis t oric ntati o n a s th re a tcn i n q to th c L IS S I{.One oi thc rrrostsurpris ing to reac h tl -ra tco n cl u si o n w rrs l l rze zi nski , tl rc hrrcl -l i ne nati onal s c c urity ac lv is c r w h o ' cl b ccn a n a d vo crrte for usi ng a rni l i tary col rp i r.r Iran to s top Kho l n e i n i ' s re vo l u ti o n . C i ra cl r-ral l y, B rzezi nski changcd hi s minc l, c uv is ioni n g w h e t h c ca l l e cl :l n " A rc of cri si s" stretchi ng from northc irs t Afric ir to ce n tl a l A sra . l t w a s a hi gh-stakes zonc of confl i ct bc twec n thc tw o sL rp crp o w e rs, a n d i t subsumed a regi on cnti rel y inrbr.rc cwith l the Is l a mi c re su rg e n cc.H e n ry P recht, w ho l -radbeen one of the U.S. offic i a l s mo st o p p o se clto th c sh ah and w ho favorcd tryi ng to c s tablis h gooc l rc l a ti o n s w i th th e Isl a mi c R epubl i c, recal l s the si tr-ration in thc mic ld l e ,-rf 1 c1 7 c..: After the revolution, we still consideredlran to be territrly important to U.S. i n te r e sts.A t o n e p o i n t H a l S aunders[assi stantsecrctary of state for Near Eirst affairsl went to the White House for a meeting, :rnd when he came back he told,"You'll be very pleas ed.\7e' re g o i n g to try to d e vcl o p n ew rel ati ons w i th Iran." There was this icleathat the Islamic f<-rrces could be used against the Soviet Ur.rion.'Ihe theory was, there was an arc of crisis, and s o an arc of Is l a m co u l d b e mo b i l i ze dto contai n the S ovi ets.It w as jo l Brz ez ins k ci t.,n e e p t.

Brzezinski,in his memoirs, says that he began to press for an allencompassingU.S. securitypolicy along the arc of crisis even before

Hell's Ayatollah


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the Iranian revolution had run its course. By that, he meant strong U.S. military ties to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan,and Turkey, four Muslim countries inside the arc, flanking U.S. support in Oman, Somalia,and Kenya, and U.S. basesin severalcountriesand in the Indian Ocean."By late r978:'wrote Brzezinski,"I beganto pressthe 'arc of crisis' thesis, [arguingl for a new 'security framework' to reassertU.S.power and influencein the region."-s1 Brzezinskisaw the lossof the shahas "catastrophic,"accordingto Cottirm.At first Brzezinskiwanted an IranianPinochet,a military dictator who would suppressthe Islamic revolution at an)i cost, but when that becameimpossibleBrzezinskiopted for a "de facto alliance with the forces of Islarnicresurgenceand with the regime of the Islamic l{epublic of lran," wrote Cottam. "Stability was not even implicitly lrisobjective.His primary concernwas to form an cffcctive allianccin the regiot-the describedas an 'arc of crisis.'By .1nti-Soviet thc summer 9f r.17c1l\rz.ezinskiwas convinccd of the sincerityof "'tz Khon-rcini's fierceanti-cornmunism. A few months lirtcr, il.r pursuit of tl-ratdream, Brzezinskirnet in Algierswith Prime Mir-ristcrBirzargan,F'oreignMinister Yirzdi,and l)efenseMinistcr Mustirfa(]hamran.The timing, however,could not havc been worsc. Weeks earlier. the Clartcr administration had allowcd thc dying shah,strickenwith citncer,to comc to Ncw York for rncdicalcare.If was a rnovethat inflamedKhonreini'smost radical followcrs,and Khomeini scizedon it to move againstthe BazarganYazdi faction in thc lranian governmcnt,just three days aftcr the Brzczinski-Bazargan cncolrnterin Algiers.What seemedat thc time tcl be a spontancouslyassembledrnob of studentsinvadedthe grounds of LJ.S.embassyin Teheran,irnd one of the most significantdiplornaticcriscsin U.S.historywas l:runched.With its dipkrmatscaprive, therc w:rs no possibilityfor dialoguebetweenthe Unitcd Statesand lran. The lranian govcrnmcntmaintainedthe polite fiction that the hostagctakerswere simply militant "studentsr"but there is no doubt that the entirc action was carefully orchestratedby Khomeini and his inner circle as a means of consolidatingthe political power of the unofficial,parallelgovernmentthat had beengrowing in strength



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alongsidethe official one. Vladimir Kuzichkin, the KGB station chief in Teheran who defectedto the West a few years later, had direct information on who organized the terrorist operation. "!7e knew from our sourceswho it was who sanctionedand then carried out the seizure of the etnbassy,"wrote Kuzichkin. "The seizurewas sanctioned at the very summit of the Iranian leadership,and was carried out by a trained team that consistedexclusivelyof membersof the ( .or ps of Revoluti()nery G uards."i ' The Carter administrationhad not the slightestcluc about how to deal with Khomeini after the cmbassytakeover.Coundessbooks, memoirs,and scholarlypapershave been written about thc hostage crisis.Br.rtnothing sums up the futility of Carter'scfforts better than a chief of passagefrom the mentoirof Hamilton.fordan,thc president's staff, who had a lead responsibilityfor resolvingthe standoff.Jordan dcscribesseeingCarter at his desk,writing: "Seeme laterif you don't mind-l'rn writing a letterto Khon-reini." I wasamusedat the ideaof the SouthernBaptistwriting to the Moslemfanatic.What will he sayto the man?I thought.Maybe hc'll signthe letter"The CreatSatan.". . . "lf Khomeiniis the religiousleaderhe purportsto be," Carter the hclldingof our people."54 said,"l don't seehow he cancclndone It was the beginningof the end of the Carter administration,too. The seizureof the U.S. embassycreateda sustainedcrisis that President Carter could not extricatehimselfflsm-no1 by negotiations,not by threats,not by a bungledmilitary rescuemission.Although Teheran engagedseveraltimes, often using dubious middlemen, in talks with Washington, it was clear that Khomeini had an internal political agendathat precludedthe releaseof the hostagesuntil he was ready. " ln January r 9 8o," saysHarold Saunders," a prominentIslamicstatesman said: 'You won't get the hostagesback until Khomeini puts in placeall the elementsof his Islamicrepublic."' That proved to be the case. The revolution in Iran changed everything. For Washington, it eliminateda reliableally,listeningpost, and baseof operations.For the other big player in the Cold War, the revolution in Iran was perhaps

Hell's Ayatollah



even more alarming. Despitethe shah'sopen alliancewith the United States,the SovietUnion had grown comfortable dealingwith Iran on terms that, more often than not, were marked by the kind of respect that two neighboring powers give each other. In economic relations, in particular, the USSR and Iran got along well. More important, Iran's stability meant that Moscow did not have to worry about instability or irredentismon its flank in southwestAsia. Now, all betswere off. For the first time since the r9zos, the Soviet Union started to worry about Islam. And the United Stateswas planning to make sure it had somethingto worry about.



T sE nEVo LUTIo N I N Iran col l apsedthe more importanfof the two pillars holding up the American edificein the PersianGulf-thc other being Saudi Arabia-and sent Pentagonplannersand Central Intelligence Agency analysts scramblir-rgto calculate its impact on other U.S. allies,on the region, and on the overall American presencein the Middle East.From SaudiArabia to Morocco, Americanexpertsfrantically scannedthe horizon to determineif, or when, the Khomeini phenomenon might replicateitself in other Middle Eastmonarchies. But along with the threat from Khomeinism,someU.S.policy maker salsosaw opp()rtuni ty. The emergenceof hard-coreIslamic fundamentalismas a governing force in Iran worried all of lran's neighbors-including its biggest, the SovietUnion. The Khomeini regime was a volatile, unpredictable new factor in the region, and some analystsbelievedthat the Islamic resurgenceled by the Iranian ayatollah could inspire sympathies insidethe SovietUnion's Muslim republics.That idea gavenew impetus to long-held ideasabout using the Islamic right to undermine the Soviet Union in its own empire, deep in Central Asia. At the same time, plans were under way to useMuslim Brotherhood-linked organizationsin neighboringAfghanistanto underminethe Sovietstakein

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that country, which for decadeswas seenas part of Moscow's sphere of influence.The twin Islamic movements,in Iran and Afghanistan, inspired Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser,and Bill Casey,PresidentReagan'sCIA director,to pursuethe Islam-in-Asiathemeaggressively-mostemphaticallyduring the holy war in Afghanistirn. The U.S.proxy war in Afghanistan,which cost $3 billion and sevalliance eral hundred thousand lives, fook America'sdecades-long politicalIslamto a new,rnoreaggressive level. with ultra-conservative that is, Until Afghanistan,the dominant idea was Islam-as-bulwark, that political lslam was e-rbarrier againstSoviet expansion.But in The Islamic right Afghanistan the paradigm was Islam-ars-sworcl. bccamean offcnsivewcilpon, sigrralinga significantcscalationin the policy of coopcratirrgwith the Muslim Brotherhoodin Egypt, the bloc, irnd othcr elementsof politicalIslam. SaudiArabia-leclIslzrrnic Although the war in Afghanistan was sometimesportrayed as a coalition effort, the nrujahideenwere overwhelmingly broircl-basccl Islamists,and two-thirdsof the U.S.supportfor the mujahideenfightfundamentalistparties,channelcd ers in Afghirnistanwent to Islirrr-ric through Pakistanand SaudiArabi:-r. The Afghan jihad also brought about a significanttransformation of the Islamistmovcmentitsclf.F'irstof atll,the Afghan jihad empowercclits most raclicalfringe, which took creclit'for battling toe to toe with a superpowcrin Afghanistan.Second,thc Afghan war createda of Islanristsskilleclin gucrrilla wirrfare,intelligencetradenew cr:rdre skills,and the making of car bombs.And third, it craft, assassination v:rstly strcngtheneclthe intcrnational boncls that tied tollether lslamistsin North Africa, F.gypt,the Clulf, Central Asia and Pakistan. ln onc sense,thc nrovementhad zrlreadyrcachcd its takeoff point in the r97os, buoycd by the newfound power of Saudi Arabia's oil of the highly politicalIslamicbanking system, wealth,the ernergence rrndthe establishmcntof powerful new Islamistinstitutionsin Egypt and other conservativeMuslim countries.But after Afghanistan,the movement-radicalized, and feelingits power as neverbefore-flexed its muscle.In the late rgflos, Islamistsseizedcontrol of Afghanistan and Sudan,held significantpowcr in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan,and



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threatenedto capturc Egypt and Algeria. The foundation for Al was laid in theseycars. Qaedaanclits terroristundergrouncl Some of this, perhapsmost of it, was ignored by or invisiblettr abor"rtthc U.S. intelligenceand policy makers,who were starry-cyecl prospectof dealinga body blow to thc SovictUnitx'rin Afghar-ristrn. Not only that, hut thc more radicalarnongLJ.S.officialssirw Cjentral Asia ils the soft Muslim "urrderbelly"of the SovietUnion, and pictured thc disintegrationof thc USSR beginningin its ClentralAsiirn r cpublics. Finally,in the broadcststrategictenrs, thc Afghan iihirclcncrgizcd pipc clrcaln: mercly a rtc()c()nscrvxtivc what until the rgtlos had beerrr of the PcrsianGulf anclirs oil ficlds.Thcre is ir the military occr-r1-rittion rrnclthc currcnt U.S.nrilidirect linc bctwccnthe war in Afghirnistrttt irnd othcr prlrts oi tJzbekistrtn, tirry presencedeep into Kirzakhstr-rn, oil-rich (lcntral Asia. It wirs rr conflict thrt brougl-rtthc Unitcd Statcs thc U.S. into ir part of thc worlcl which, until thc Igfios, lrry ot-ttsiclc sphcreof influerrcc.That beganin the r9[3os,when Afghan iihaclists Israrcli, anclothcr weaportsto fight the ltccl Arrny. took U.S.,Cihinese, with Statescooperatccl It continucdinto the r 99os,whcn thc LJnitccl the risc of thc militar-rtTaliben movernent.It lasted on into the prcsent, when yct anothcr Afghan war has fircilitateda lllrlssive Muslirn (-lerrtralAsialrl ir-rthe newly indeperrclent U.S. entanglernent linked its Middle L-astirncl hasscarnlcssly republics.The United Strrtes Persian(iulf cnpire, conrplctewith :rn archipelagoof rnilitary bases in the Gulf, thc Indian C)ceirn, and pointswest,with a new necklaceof basesencirclingIrac1,Afghanistan,anclClcntralAsia.If the conflictsof the twenty-firstcentury pit the Unitcd Statcsagainsteither Russiaor China, or both, in a strugglefor control of the oil and gas resources of southwestAsia, the United St:rtesalrcadyhas the upper hirnd.For, bcgirrningwith the Afghan jihad, the U.S.milit:rry beganto assemble a proto-occupationforce for the Clulf and surrounding real estate. None of this existedat the time of the Iranian revolutionand the start of the jihad in Afghanistan.But the war in that country allowed the United States,for the Iirst time, to begin to proiect U.S. military forcesdirectly into southwestAsia and the Gulf. It led to new military relationshipswith Egypt, SaudiArabia, and Pakistan,the creationof

lihadI: The"ArcctfIslam" . 247 the Rapid Deployment Forceand the U.S. Central Command, and the establishmentof new basessurroundingthe region.The processbegan just weeks after the Soviet Union moved troops into Afghanistan, when, in January r98o, PresidentCarter proclaimedwhat hascome to be called "the Carter Doctrine," a forceful restatementof earlierU.S. claims to the Persian Gulf that had been enunciated by Franklin DelanoRoosevelt(rc+l) and Dwight D. Eisenhower(ry57). "Let our position be absolutclyclear," said Carter. "An attempt by any outside forceto gain control of the PersianGulf regionwill be regardedas an assaulton the vital interestsof the United States."Aimed mostly at the SovietUnion, Carter'sannouncementwas, for thc most part, bravado. In r9[io, thc UniteclStatesdid not havceventoken forcesin the Gulf to repcl :rn attack by the USSR,and it lacked the ability to airlift and Of course,the sealiftthe U.S. military to the Gulf in an emergency. SovietUnion had no intentionof invadingor occupyingthe Gulf. lts relucterntmove into Afghanistanin rc)7c)was taken as arlast-ditch threat from Afghan dcfensiveactiorl against a carefully calcr"rlated lslarnistprovocatcursbackcd by the United Statesand Pakistan.If there existcdany threat to U.S. intercstsin the (lulf, it was entirely internal,but even in this arcna U.S. cirplcitieswcrc suspect.Sliould lran or Iraq go to war againstthc Arab Gulf statesor shoulcla n-rilitary coup in SaudiArabia unseatthe royal farnily,Anrerica'sability to reacteffcctivelywirs far from certain. l-rxrg l'reforcthe crisis in Afghanistan,there had been talk in the of SaudiArabia and the occupaUnited St.rtesabout a U.S. invasictt't in This mid-r97os, aftcr the Arab oil ficlds. began the tion of its oil ernbargoand fourfold increasein the priceof oil imposedby the Organization of Petrolcum FlxportingC<;untricsin r 973-74. Stratcgic thinking about a U.S.military tnoveinto the Gulf originatedwith SecIn r975, an articleheadlined"Seizing retaryof StateHcnry Kissinger. Arab Oil" appearedin Harper's.The author,who usedthe pseudonyrl Miles lgnotus,was identi{iedby the magazineas "a !flashington-based professorand defenseconsultantwith intimatelinks to high-levelU.S. policy makers." Reputedly,the author was Edward Luttwak, a neoconservativemilitary analystat the JohnsHopkins Schoolof Advanced InternationalStudies(though Luttwak deniesbeing its author). At

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around the samc time, another Hopkins professor,Robert \f. Tucker, wrote a similar piecefor the American Jewish committee,s commentLlry tnagazine,and other articlesadvocatingthe seizure of the Saudi oil ficlds began popping up elsewhere.According to JamesAkins, the U.S.amb:rssador to SaudiArabia in the n-rid_r97os, theHarper,s articleoutlined "how we could solveall of our econornic anclpolitical problemsby takrngover rhe Arab oil fields landl bringingin Texans and oklah.mans to operatethem," saysAkins, wh. trok ..te the sudden epidemic ,f such arricles:"I kncw that it had t<r 'f have becn the result ,f a deep backgrrund don,r have eight pcoplec<;mingup with thc samescrewyidea at the sametime. independe ntly." l Then Akins made wherthe cilllshis "fatirrnristake,"ar"rd rt eventually got hir-nfired as u.S. ambassad'r."r said on terevisi.n thirt anyone who would proposethat is either a madman, a criminal, or an irgent'f the SovietLjnio'." S'on afterward,he learned that the background briefing had been conductedby his boss, Hcnry Kissingcr. Akins was fired later thar ycirr.Kissir-rger has neverackn.wredgecl his .le in errc<rurirging thesearticles.But in an intcrvicw with Business \x/eekthat sameyear,he delivereda thinly veiledthreat t, the Saudis. rnusing abour bringing oil prices ckrwn through "mAssive poritical warfare againstcountrieslikc Saudi Arabia and Iran to make thenr risk thcir prlitical stability erndmaybe their securityif they did nor ctoperatc." Something thc flavo.f Kissinger'sattitude towarcl 'f saucliArabia and the (]ulf sraresis also capturedin a story told by a f,rmer senior clA rf{icial wh. served in rhe persian Gulf in thc t97os. Determined to make a show of f.rce in orcler to intimidate SaudiArabia' Kissingersummoneda cIA execurivewho was heading out to the Middle East .n an unrelated mission. ,.'we have to tcacir saudi Arabia a less'n," Kissingertold the cIA man. ,.pick one ,t thosesheikhdoms,any of them, and .verthrow the government there. as a lessonro the saudis." According to the crA official: ,.The iderr was to do it in Abu Dhabi or Dubai. But when rny bossgor out to thc Gulf, and met with all the cIA station chiefsfrom rhe region, nor one of them thought it was a good idea. So it was dropped. And Kissinger never brought it up again.',2

JihadI: The"Arcof Islam" . z4e Until Afghanisran's war, U.S. military planners knew that the united states didn't have the capability to rapidly dispatch tens or hundreds of thousandsof U.s. forces ro rhe Gulf in the r97os, and America's naval presencethere was only a token force, despite the bravado about occupying Arab oil fields. Along with announcing the carter Doctrine, Presidentcarter took stepsthat beganto give the United statesthe ability ro inrervenedirectly into the persian Gulf, if only in rudimentary form. carter ordered the creation of the Rapid Deployment Force (RDF), an "over-the-horizon" military unit capable of rushing at leastseveralthousandu.S. troops to the Gulf in a crisis. Under PresidentRonald Reagan,the RDF would be expanded, transforming itself into the central command, a brand-newu.s. military structurewith authority for the PersianGulf and the surrounding region, from East Africa to central Asia and Afghanistan.k was the central command, or centcom, that fought the first persianciulf war, the 2oor war in Afghanistan,and the zoo3 Iraq war. But in r979, a massiveU.S. military presencein the Middlc lrast, the Gulf, and central Asia was jusr a gleam in the eye .f Zbigniew Brzezinski. For the national security adviser, the solution to the seething"arc of crisis" was the "arc of lslam."

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The ideaof mobilizingIslam againstthe USSRhad a long hist'ry during the cold war. F.r the most part, it was viewed skepticaily by mainstreamu.s. strategisrs, especiallyduring the r9_5osand r96os. $Torkingagainsrthe notion that SovietMuslims might be induced or cncouragedto revolt against rule by Moscow was the fact that the Soviets seemed ro have succeededin pacifying its central Asian republics,colonizing Russiansettlersthere, forcibly relocatingMuslim ethnic populations,and suppressingMuslim religiousmovemenrs. In addition, it was a remote region, limiting united Statesaccessto the population. But in the r97os severalfacrorscombined to provide strongerargumentsto those who, for many years,had sought to play the Islam card againstMoscow. ln t97o, a censustaken in the Soviet

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Union showedthat the Muslim population of SovietCentral Asia was growing far more rapidly than the populations of the other Soviet republics, particularly the Russians.Then revolution in Iran catapulted militant Islam to the forefront of regional politics, in Afghanistan and in Azerbaijan and other Soviet republics.And suddenly,the Soviet-leaningregime in Kabul seemedvulnerableto a ragtag coalition of Islamist forces, and Afghanistan itself emergedas a potential battleground. At least that's how it looked to a small fraternity of U.S. officials assembledby Brzezinskiand the CIA.'$Tithin the Carter administration the NationalitiesWorking Group was the organizationalcenterof r his str ategicplanni ng.Thc NWG w as a rump inferagcncy task force created with the expressapproval of Brzezinski's NSC and including officials from the CIA, StateDepartment, Pentagon, and other agencies.The chairman of the NWG was Paul Henze, a Brzezinskiaide and a former CIA official, who worked with a closeknit group of outside players and consultantswho'd long believed that restive Soviet minorities would be the undoing of the USSR. Many of them had been associatedsincethe r95os with the creation of Radio Liberty, a CIA-supported broadcastingsystem-parallel to Raclio Free Europe-that beamed propaganda into the Soviet bloc during the Cold War. Radio Liberty's focus on Central Asia got off to a modest start in the r95os. According to James Critchlow, a longtime Radio Free Europe/RadioLiberty (RF'E/RL)executiveand author of Nationalism in Uzbekistan,Radio Liberty began its first broadcastsinto Central Asia through the Turkestan desk in Uzbek, Turkmen, Kazakh, Tajik, and Kyrgyz, along with other broadcaststhrough its Caucasusdesk in Georgian,Azerbaijani,and Chechen.The broadcastswere limited to half an hour a day in eachlanguage,and they containeda mix of news and editorials."Commentariescriticizingthe Sovietregime,including especiallyits repressivepolicies toward Islam and other religions, were a major componentr" says Critchlow. But, he says,in keeping with the program's modest goals in the r95os, the broadcastscontained an explicit ban on secessionist agitation, a prohibition that was "resentedby someof the staff."3

JihadI: Tbe"Arc c:fIslam" . 2 sr From time to time, hard-line Cold \Tarriors would call for an inrensification of the U.S. propaganda and even subversionaimed at the Central Asian republics.For example,in r958, Charles'W'.Hosrler,a former u.s. intelligence officer, wrore in the Middle East Journal that "the soviets actively fear combined anti-Sovietaction by the Turkish peoples" in Asia, that NATO-linked Turkey could inspire rheseMuslims to "political independencefrom the Soviets,"and that "the rWest must interest itself more in thesepeoplesand their aspirations." He called for an expansionof u.s. radio broadcastsin central Asian languagesand an expansionof U.S. governmentfunding for "researchin the CentralAsian and Caucasianpeoples,areas,and languages."4 In the 196os,Brzezinskihimselfjoined the ranks of thosecalling for strongerU.S. support for Central Asian Muslims. GeneSosin,former director of program planning for RFE/RI,, noted: Zbigntew Brzezinskiwas a consistentsupporterof Radio I.ree Europeand Radio Liberty.But he did not alwaysagreewirh some of our policies. This became evidentin earlyr966, whenour CIA sponsorsaskedhim to join [inl a confidenrial analysisof borh radios.. . . Professors Brzezinski and [MIT's Williaml GriffithcriticizedRadio Liberty'snationalitypolicy,which they felt was roo passive. They arguedfor adoptinga more militant line in rhc nonRussianbroadcasts, which would stimula(eanti-Russian antas()nism.5 As a scion of a P.lish elite family, Brzezinskiwas a militant a'ticommunist who saw the Soviet Union as a powerful but fragile mosaic of seethingethnic and religious minoriries. Ar the NSC, he assembleda team of aidesand consultantswho wanted to exacerbate conflicts insidethe SovietUnion in order ro hastenits fall. According to Robert Gates, a senior CIA official who later becamethe CIA,s director,the StateDepartment was cauriousabout getting inv'lved in supportingdissidentminorities in SovietCentral Asia. "Brzezinski,on the other hand, was deeply interested in exploiting rhe Soviets' nationalitiesproblemr" wrote Gates,in his memoirs. "He wanted tr,r pursuecovert action."6 The core of the Brzezinski-Henze N\WG were acolyresof Alexandre

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Bennigsen, a count and lruropeanacademicwho was a prolific writer and the guru of the scho.l that viewedIslam as a p.werful threat to Sovietauth.rity. Bennigsen's family backgr.und gave hirn a narural affinity for Brzezinski.He was born in St. petersburg,Russia,the son of a Russiancounr whr foughr on rhc side rf thc anti-Bolshcvik whites in thc civil war that followed the Russianrevrlurion. In the r95os l3er-rnigsen establishecl himsclf firsr ar thc Ecole des Haurcs Etr-rdes cn sciencessocialcsin Paris,and later at the lJnivcrsityof chicirg'. His rnany b.rks and articles Islam in ccntral Asia f.s'n tereda nrovemcnrof scholarsand public officialswho belicvecl irr rhe viability of thc Islamiccard, and who took up residcnce at the University .f chicago, the RAND oorporation, in think tanks,ir'd in parrs of the natio'al security bureaucracy.T Am'ng thosc influcnceclby Bennigscr-r were Brzezinski,PaulHenzc,anclS. Enderswimbrsh, wh<r later serveclas a RAND Srvict specialistand as a Radi. Liberry official in M unich. From the late r95os on, Bennigsenproduceclerstcadystreamof b.'ks, arficles,and researchpapers advancingthe n.tion that a. undergroundnrovementof Islamistswas gaining strengthinsidethc ussR. In Thc lslamic Thredt to thc souiet,srale,Irennigsensaid that the movement harkcd back to "armed rcligious resistancc lthatl bcgan in the lirte cighteenrhcenrury. . . spearheadcdby mystical Sufi hrotherho.ds (tariqa) fighting to cstablishthe reign of God rn earrh" and opposedtr thc Russianimperialpresence.s Soviet eff.rts to fracturc and suppress Islam, says Bennigscn,ir thrived. Even during the r95os, when Nikita Khrushchevcrackcd down on Islam, "far from destroyingforever the religiousfeelingsof the Muslim populati,n, it only gavea new impulseto the fundamentalist, conservativetrend representedby the 'parallel,' underground Sufi lslam."eBennigsenclaimedthat thesesecrersufi brotherhrods led the resistancero the soviet authority in broad swarhsof central Asia: Sincethe victory of the Bolsheviksup to the presentday,the onlv serlolrs,organizedresistance encollnteredby the Sovietsin the Muslim territorieshas come from the Sufrtariqa, what Sovier sourcescall the "parallel,""nonofficial,"or ,.sectarian" Islam. "ParallelIslam" is more powerful and more deeplyrooted than

libad I: The " Arc of Islam"


official Islam.The Sufi brotherhoodsare closed,but not wholly secret, societies. . . . Soviet sourcespresent Sufi brotherhoods as "dangerous,fanatical,anti-Soviet,anti-socialist,anti-Russian reactionary forces," but they recognizetheir efficiencyand dynam ism.lo According to Bennigsen,the mosr significantof the sufi brotherhoods was a secretsocietycalledthe Naqshbancliya, a Freemason-style fra_ terniry closely tied to the elite of Turkey, which had long-standing connectiousin central Asia. The Naqshbandiyawere especially strong in chcchnya, Dagcstan,and parts of centrar Asia, incruding southernUzbekistan."The Naqshbandiyaadeptshave a long tradi_ tio' of 'Holy \ffar' againstthe Russians,"wrote Bennigsen. His c'nclusionwas thaf nati'nalisrnin central Asia was inextricirbly borrnd up wrth radicalpoliticalIslam: SiuccIw<rrldlfar III sorne.rdersh:rvebecomem()rcand rn're infr-rsecl with with thc result that irny nati'nalist 'ati":rlisrn, m()vemert-cvenprogressivc-which is boundto emergewill be srronglyi'fluenced by the traditi.naristconservative icrea.f Sufisnr. Tharsuchrl movemcntwill cnrerge is bey''cl cloubt.ll Ilennigsen,and in hrs circle, urged rl srrorger U.S. effort to 'thers encouragepolitical Islan-rin thc Sovietrepublicsro revolt, even though,'bably, as Bcnnigsenwrotc, the most likely would be a 'rtcomc conservafivc Islamicrardicalism comparablcto thrrtof the present_day 'lslamic Rev'luti.'' in lr:lrr."l2 Bennigsen's rather cavirlierattitucle t.ward the emergence radical-rslamist llovernmentsrn central Asia 'f prcciselyparalleledBrzczinski'sbeliefthat the unitccl States ought to fosterthe sprcad.f Islamisrnin Afghanistanwithout worrying ab'ut the conseclr-renccs. "In the t97os1Bennigscnand I taught rr seminar.n Sovietnationality affairs," says Jererny Azrael, auth.r of Emergent Nationality I'roblems in the u.t,sR ( rc)77).The university of chicago program proclr"rced a cohorr of expcrts on soviet central Asia and Islam, mostly followers of Bennigsen'scontroversial the'ries, ano some, includingPaul Goble,becamenoted crA analysts.n the topic. Azrael

:.54 . D r.vrr_,s (i nvE himselfjoined the cIA in r97g as a guesranalysr. "once r was on board there, I becamea charter member of the SovietNationalities working Gr.up." During the Brzezinskiera, efforts were at first restrictedto smallgesturcs,suchas the distribution of K.rans in centr:rl Asian languagesancl stepped-upefforts, in c.ordination with saudi Arabia'sintelligenceservice,to contactSoviet Muslims vrsrting Mecc:rfor the hajj, accorclingt. Azrael.* But the revolutirn in Iran stimulatcdthe inraginationof cveryoneinvolved. "I br.ught Bennigsento the cIA t, give a recturc at the timc the 'f the shah," recal[sAzrael.It w.s an excitinga'd chalre'g'verthr.w'f i'g m'mcnt. By toppling thc shah,Kh.rnei'i hird rewritten the rulesof what Islan-r accrmplish, and c.lcr \7ar anarystsin rhe United 'right Strrteswerc alivewrth the prssibilities.Thc neoconservatives, in particular, with .ther crlcl war hard-lincrs, sirwan for an anti'peni.g S'viet jihad, n.t just in Afghanistan,but rhrrughrut the region.After thc S<rvictinvasioir of Afghanistan in Dccember r979, Zalnay Khalilzad-a neoconservativea'alysr, RAND strategist,and futurc U'S. :rrnbassirdor t. Afghrrnistan-wrote a paper in whrch he suggested thc prrblcms thirt Khrmeini's regimehad createdfor the uSSR. ,.Thc Khomeirri regime also posesrisks to the Soviets,,, he wrote..,The change rf regimc has encouragedsimirar movements in lraq and Afghanistan,:rndrnightevenaffe* SovietMuslim central Asia.,,raHe added: The costfor the SovietUnioncouldinclude. . . possible domesric unresrin rhoseregirns the USSRreferredt' by rhe soviets as 'f their "interralc.l.ny"-the Islamicp.pulatior-r S'viet centrar 'f Asia, which might rcach roo million by the year zooo_where despitc.fficial a*empts at assirniration, Isramicconsciousress forns a kind of cclunterculture a'cr rnaybe susceptibre to Muslim agitatio'rif the Sclviets c,ntinue t. makewar on their ethnicand religiouscounterpartsacrossthe border.. . . Hostility to the sclvretsmay incre:rse generally in Muslimcounfries It was, of course,straight out of Bennigsen. Henze,the chairman of Brzezinski'sNationalities working Group, was himselfa longtime advocateof the Bennigsen view. Henze,whose

" lslam" ' 255 JihadI: The Arcof the rnidCIA station chief in Turkey in careerincludeda stint as r98os views' He earnedrenown in the rgTos,heldradical and offbeat the that for the discreditednotion as one of the leading advocates were behind the attemptedassassinaussR and Bulganan intelligence as t958' by a Turkish fascist'r{'Asearly tion of Pope John Paul II referSovietUnion's "shamil problem"' Henzewrotean artlcle on the Muslim resistanceleader who opposed ring to a nineteenth-century was inspiredby Henze' like Bennigsen) Russianexpanslonin Asia' Llnion eventuallythe collapseof the Sovict Shamil and believedthat ln his r95tl article'Henzewrote: could beginin CentralAsia' howevcr'ttl for SovictCommunists' It will be extremelvdifficult "anti-colonial"policyfor several continuetheir activepro-Arab of provokingunrcstamongtheir yearswithou' "'n"tni thc risk Shenrildclrate ancl(lt'ltt"l Asian peoples'The own Caltcastan intelligentsir inclirred narionalisric:rlly showsthat, p.,rua, ts ' ' ' The SovietLJniotl thescpe<lples' al'n()n!! l-rasagilindevelopecl of its <lwtl'thoughthe clay nttt immunefrorn Algeriansituatiotrs stagcmigl.rtreachsuch which are still in an irrcipient when issues is stil l fer off ' l Pr oPor ti( ) ns ltlnger scemcd so far off to Benttigscrr' By the latc r 97os, it no Br zezinski,andHenze.Theyj tl i nedftl rceswithRichardPipes,lltlothcr Central who hacl becrrwritirrg about advocateof the lslarnic card' l9''os' to the Sovict Union sincethe Asiar-rMuslims and the threat including" ,* .,- oo,.anal ysi spubl i shecl i r-rtheMiddleLast.|ournaltrt and of Sovict Central Asia: Trcrrds r 95 5 cntitled: "Muslims areaof ClentralAsia' includIn it, Ptpeswrote: "Thc entirc Prospects." always which RussianCentral Asia has ing ChinescTu'kt't'n with the direcwell tend to movc with time in beenclosely.n'-t'-tttttd'may tionofindependentstatehcl od.[ti sntl ti ncclnceivablethatthisvasttcri" a new Turkic' Muslim state ritory may some day bc enconrpa::t-tl that Soviet East'" ls Pipes'who oncewrote orientedtoward the Middlc ..."plud. into genocidalfury" againstMoscow,leals<l Muslims would Central Asia' nationalitiesproblem in Soviet wrote extensivelyon the PipesassLlmed pte'ident ReaganreplaceclCartcr in rgtlr' and when Working Group' chairmanshipof the Nationalities

LS 6'D P vt r , 's

( i A ME

on the Soviet Union disagreed Many other scholarsand experts anti-Soviet and in any caseno such with Bennigsenand his followers' not a factor in the *"dical political Islam was Muslim revolt.-"';;;' of the Berlin pt'"'troika' the collapsc clissolutionof the uisn uftt' The (lentral of Ct'-tt'"I Asia's reRublicl' establishment the and Wall, tinged with in the I99os were not Asian regimes that emerged Islamists themselvesbattling militant Islarnism. Instead they found casc can be Liberation Party' and a from Al Qaeda tt' tht Islamic in Asia support for political lslanr made that, if anything,America's Chechnya' lslamistundergroundin hasaidedthe growth nf " ""o'i't in the region' Uzbekistan,and other countries



rN A pcH A NIs' rA N

BEFoRE 197')

in Asia might underminethe USSR ln r97.1,the theorY that Islam Arabia offiStates'Pakistan' and Saudi becamepracticc' The Unitecl in jihad that thrcatenedthe governrnerrt cially launcheclthe t'lu*l't ancl Union into invading Afghanistan' Kabul, provoked the Soviet tied The Afghan war' for Brz-ezinski' war' civil ten-year the spawned of Islam" in was his idea of an "arc two conceptstogether'The first Fawaz Gerges' argainstthe USSR' As southwest Asia, as ' bu"it' Islam' wrote: author rtfAmerica and Political arr said Brzez'irrski'dictared Containing Sovret Cornmunisn.r' the to split Israrnicopposition avoidanceor nnyrni,a-thut,r-,ight "It now c<l.rfrontation: rr-rilitary Soviets,.rpttiutty n fj'S'-ttnnito forge an anti-sovietIslamic seemedto me 'io"-tt-'O"ttant hopedto r96os'the UnitedStates coalition."As ln the r95osand tn' their athtist uselslam ugui""-'uaiii, "tul"'forces^and lllt' officialsnow recognizedthe SovietUnion' Carter administration w.ith Islamic resurgenceand new possibilitiesfor cooperation and materialresourcesagarnst hoped to harnessits icleoiogical in U'S' officials' nrinds Communtstexpansionisrn'Uppermost was and r96os' when Islam were the lessonsof the r95os secular' weapon in the fight against employedas an icleological pan-Arabnationalism'20

JibadI: The " Arc Of Islam'


notion of mobilizing Islam as a weapon The Bennigsen-Brzezinski against Moscow's Asian "underbelly" was the secondsalient of this strategicPlan. yet the Afghan Islamists didn't emerge fuily developed,out of nowhere, when they began receiving official cIA support. l,ong before rg7g, the Islamic right had emergedas a potent force inside Afghanistan,where,from the rg5os on, it did battlewith progressive, left, and secularforcesin Kabul. America'sconnectionto the Muslim Ilrotherhood-linked Islamic fundamentalistsin Afghanistanbeganat leastas early as rhe rg,5os,and u.S. support for the Islamic right's politicalmovementin the country beganas far back as rc)73' Although the CIA did not have a great presencei1 Afghanistanin \i7ar,it did dispatcha team therc thrgugh the early decadesof the Cold l)uring thc officcsof the Asia Foundation,a CllA fr6nt 11rganiz:rtign. provicledsignificantsupport the r95osand r 96os,the Asia Foundati<trt to Kabul Llniversityand had severalmodest proiccts thirt dcalt with Afghanistan'sorganizcd Muslirn community. According to Johrr and RgseBirnnigan,longtimeAsia Foundationofficialswho wgrkcclfor the foundatiorrir-rbgth Pakistanand Afghanistanin the t96os, the 6rg.rnizatign helpeclthe Islamic ResearchInstitute in l.ahore, Pakistrrn,to pu$ish the Urdu Encyclopediaof Islam. "'We were also involveclwith through the departmentsof Islamic the<llog5" the maj6r ur.rivcrsities, the Brlnrlil]rlrls end Afgherristen. .johr r[hr r niBr lnsrys. In hoth P rki stl rr wgrked with student groups to combat pro-Sovietstudent org.tnizatigns."Thc studcntswcre targetnumberone," he says.In Afgh.rnisten, accordingto Rose Bannigan,the Asia founclationestablishedrelirtions with the Muiaddidi family, that country'sleadinglslarnicclericalflmily, and with thc minisrry of iustice,which was headedfor ir timc by a The foundationalsosentShafiqKamawi,the deputyminisMLrjaddidi. ter 9f justicc,to Henry Kissinger'sseminaron internationalaffairs at Harvard,shesays."A lot of peoplein the ministry9f justicewere nru[lahs,includingthe legaladviserto the AsiaFoundation'" It is not clear to what extent the CIA maintainedregular contacts with Afghan Islamistsin the I96os, sinceAfghanistanwas not a priority for U.s. policy until well into the following decade."when I was there in tg57, Afghanistanwas alreadya Sovietclient state," saysa former



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senior CIA official. "They wanted me to find out everything I could about the Sovietpresencein Afghanistan,becausePresidentL,isenhower wanted a study of the importanceof the country to U.S. strategyand its relevancein Washington." But the study proved only that Afghanistan was not vcry important. "We concluded that there wasn't any relevance,"he says."Even if the Sovietstook it over,therewas no greatrisk to the United States."2lStill,in the r96os, the Asia Foundationmaintained a presencein Afghanistan, with two or three permanent U.S. staffersand perhapsa dozenor more U.S.advisersand consultants.22 During the r96os, the Islamist movement in Afghanistan underwent a slow but steady politicization. Although Afghanistan society had alwaysbecna conservative, traditional one in which Islam playeda centralrole, the versionof Islam that prevailedin the country,at least until the r 96os,was pious but not political.Islam in Afghanistanwas a faith and not a sociopoliticalcredo.But under the influenceof outside religiousand intellectualforces-especially Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, Pakistan'slslamic Group, and the internationalorganizationof the Brotherhoodbasedin Clenevaand led by Said Ramadan-Afghan Islarn underwent a critical transformation,becoming politicized and more militantly anti-communist.Leading Afghan Islamist organizers and scholarsbeganto return to Afghanistanfrom Egypt, where they had come into contact with the heirs of Hassanal-Banna'smovement. According to Olivier Roy, a leadingFrench Orientalist and expert on Afghanistan and Islam, the origin of political Islam in Afghanistan beganwith a semi-secretclique called "the professors,"who came to prominencein Afghanistanafter studyingat Cairo'sAl Azhar mosque, where they hobnobbedwith the Muslim Brotherhood.The movement in Afghanistan coalescedin r958, when a leading Afghan religious scholarclashedwith Muhammad Daoud, the king's cousin and future leaderof the Afghan republic. Many Islamistswere arrested,and the nascent organization was forced to operate underground. It called itself the Islamic Society.23 By the mid-r96os, the Islamic Societyand its offshoots were following in the mode of Islamist organizationsin Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq, and elsewhere,physically assaultingleft-wing and communist stu-

lihad I: Tbe" Arc of Islam" '


Led dents and threateningviolenceagainsttheir political opponents. by many of the samemen who would , tn :l979,becomethe beneficiaries of the cIAs largesse,they also began open political agitation. Wrote Roy: The "professors"greatlyinfluencedtheir pupilsand in r965' the yearof the foundationof the communistparty, the Islamiststuopenlyby distributinga leafletentitled. . . the dentsdemonstrated "tract of the holy war." The period from :.965to t'972was one of political turmoil on the campusat Kabul' ' ' ' They were verv much opposedto communism,and a great number of violent fightsbrokeout on Kabul campusbetweenthem and the Maoists' Althoughat the beginningthey wereoutnumberedby the commuand they gaineda nists,the Islamists'influencesteadilyincreased of t97o'24 maiorityin the studentelections dispatch As early as June r97o, a confidential State Department religious from the u.S. embassy in Kabul identified Afghanistan's Mujadiddis' as a leadership,in particular the clerical family of the ,.tiu" force. It concluded that agitation by the mullahs strong "nd .,setback the leftist cause)at leastin thc countryside" and that "rclivividly demtlngious conservatism,for the first time in many years' government must strated that it remains a force with which .the .,The mullahs are reliably reported to have agrcedto concontend." embassy'spolitical tinue the good fight in the provinces," wrote the efforts to keep the officer. "Here, in Kabul, there have been some He added,with some flame of religiousfervor burning in the bazaat.., not be known for irony given future developments:"It will probably militancy has'"25 sometime how much stayingpower the clerical movement in the early Among the leadersof the Afghan Islamist was affiliatcd r97os were Abd.,l Rasul Sayyaf,whose organiz-ation Burhanuddin Rabwith the Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi Arabia; led maior components bani; and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, all of whom to Roy' "The movement of the jihad forces in the r98os' According Youth' and a more secret functioned on an open level, the Muslim leaderof "the professors," level,centeredupon the 'professors."'The



D ev t t . 's

G au s

and the man who led the semi-secretOrganization of Muslim Youth, was ProfessorGholam Muhammad Niyazi of the faculty of theology at Kabul UniversitS a major beneficiaryof CIA support through the Asia Foundation.In 1972, Rabbani, Sayyaf,and later Hekmatyar formed a guiding council for the movement, and Hekmatyar supervised its secret military wing. The entire organization operated in srnallcellsof five members,and in the early r97os-again, following the pattcrn set by the Brotherhoodin Egypt and Pakistan-they began to inllftrate the armed forces.26 In r972, declassified U.S. embassy documentsrevcal,a member of the Muslim Youth met a U.S. official "describingin somedetail the antiseveraltimes to requestassistance, communist activitiesof his group" (includingthc murder of "four leftists")andrequestingcovertU.S.aid to buy a printing prcss.But it was too early for direct CIA help, and the embassyofficial turned down the request,while expressingsympathy for the group's goals.27 Beginningabout this time, the CIA beganto take a more activerole on behalf of the Afghan Islamists.Previously,the ClAs assistance was modest, rnuch of it funneled through the Asia Foundation to Kabul University and more establishmentIslamic forces. But then in r971, PrinceMuhammad Daoud-with the assistanceof the communiststoppled the king and establishedan Afghan republic. Caught off guard, bitterly dividcd into factions basedon ego and ideology,the Islan-ricright in Afghanistannevertheless moved into open opposition to Daoud. They soon found a plethora of friends abroad. The CIA, Pakistan-first under Zulfrkar Ali Bhutto, and then under the Islamist GeneralZia il-Haq-and the shah of Iran began urgent efforts to undermine the new Afghan government. It was years before the Sovietinvasion of Afghanistan,long before the r98os jihad, but the momentum for an Islamistholy war in the landlockedAsian nation was alreadygathering-with the full complicity of the CIA. Yearslater a Pakistani government official working for Bhutto's daughter, who was then prime minister, admitted that the CIlt's support for the Islamistsin Afghanistanbeganimmediately afterDaoud's r971 coup. "Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's SpecialAssistantNasirullah Babar reportedly stated in a press interview in April t989 that the United

lihad I: Tbe " Arc of Islant" '


Stateshad beenfinancingAfghan dissidentssince r973 and that it had its taken [Islamic PartYJ chieftain Gulbuddin Hekmatyar 'under to umbrella' months Prior to Sovietmilitary intervention," according one account.28 recently Diego Cordovez and Selig Harrison, drawing heavily on United the released soviet archives, described in detail the effort by Islamic right States, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan to rnobilize the ins ide Afghanis ta n : S hah It was in th e e a rl y tL )7 o s' w i th o i l pri ces ri si ng' tl -rat :rn.rbi ti ous hi s on e mb arked Mohammed R e z a P a h l i rvi o f Ira n and effort to roll b a c k So vi e t i n fl u e n cei n n e i ghbori ng countri es of tl.reancient Persiarlernpire. ' . ' Begincreate a nrodcrn versi<>n ningintgT 4,th e s h a h l a u n ch e d a d e tcrmi nedefforttodraw rcgiotraI econ<lnlic Teheretn-centered KabLrIinto a \rVestern-tilted, and the Persirrlr Pakistiru and security sphere err.rbrircinglr-rdia, thi s rol l c iulf s tates .... T h e u n i te cl S ta te srrcti vel yencouraged brrc k polic y a S p a rttl fi ts b ro a cl p a rtn e rsh i pw i ththeshahi nthe throughec onomican d s e c u ri tys p h e re sa s w e l l a s i n c< l vertacti ol l t i a .2 ' ) out s ()uthwe s As supported by saudi The goal of the U .s .-l ra n i a n e ffo rt, w h i ch w as al so ,rnd conservrl ti v(' Arehit rnc l lhk i s te n . w ts t() stre n l l th cn ri ght-w i ng to pul l A fgheni srarl forc es in Daoud ' s mo d e ra te g o ve rn me n t, i n order Harrison: out of the Soviet orbit. According to Clordovez and in ltltlsc c<llSavak and the CIA workcd lrand in h:lnd' s<lnletimes fr-rndanrentalist Islarnic laboratior-r with undergrr>und Afghan had their own grotlps that shared their anti-soviet obiectivesbut ..g.ndo,as w e l l .T h e A fg h a n fu n d a rn e n ta l i stsw erecl osel yl i nked,i n lkhwan al-Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherturn, to the Cl:riro-basecl (Muslirn \wtrrld l.eague)'a hood) and the Rabitat al Alam al lslanri leadingex p()n e n to fs a u d i W a h h a b i < l rtl -r< l d< l xy.A scl i l prtl fi tsskyfundamentalist r<lcketed,emissariesfr<lm thesenewly affluent Arab Like bankrolls' bulging with scene Afghan groups arrived on the cjommrrnisr identify to i"u"k, they hired informers who artempted throughout the Afghan governmentand armed forces' syn-rpathizers



D E v r r . 's


The authors added that lran's intelligenceservice fed weaprns a.d other assistance to undergroundgroups in Afghanistantied to the Islamic r:ight,while pakistan'sInterservices IntelligenceDrrecforare (lSI)helpedcoordinateraiclson Afghan targers...s:lvak,the crA, ancl Pakistaniagentswere als. involved in the abortive, fundame'taristbackcd coup attemptsagainstDa'ud rn Septe'rber and Decemlrer 1.173andJune r 974.,i0 In r975, Afghan's lslarnistsfert that they had enough power ro Iaunch an all-.ut rebellirn against Da.ud, who, tlrough wave'rg, was still alliedt. Afghan'sc'rnmunists.But thc r-rprising wirscrushed, many of the rebelswere arrestec] a'd executcd,and others-such as Hckmatyar and Rabba'ri-fled intr exire,nrostly pakist:rn, to whcre thev bcga' to gersignificantsupporrfrorn the pakistani nriritaryrnterligencescrvice.F.r the ncxt f'ur years,thc ISI crevcr'pecr an incrcasingly closcrelationshipto rhe nr'rrey coaliti'n Afghanisranrebcrs, 'f cspeciallyits Islamistc.rc. A c'nfidential Statc Departnrenta'arysis tf the crisis irr Afghanistanin r97; specificaily lirkcd thc Mr-rsrinr BrothcrhoodanclISI: \x/hatwent alrn'sr unnrticeclin trrc excltement.f alresccl pilk-

is tani inv olv en rc -nw t a s fh c fa ct th a t D a o L rdw i l s 1r IrLrrri l l ld,r1y1l l rnar.rifes tatic .f l n " i n tcrn a ti o n i rl " l sl a rn . A fgha' nati ol ral s w h' werc ringlead e rsi ' th e i n su rg e ' cy, i n a d d i ti .n to bei ng pers()rs allegecllysubverted by pakrstani ai'rs, werc rcp.rtedry rncnrrrers .f ' ' ' the Mus l i m B r' th e rh rrd , a n d i t w as the l l r' rherho.d as part ()f a larger group that was said to have entereclan agreement rv ith Pak is tan ' sc h i e f o f i n tel l i g e n ce ,C i e n e ral l ai l ani .tl

Inside Afghanistan' however, the vacillating Daoud began to tilt right, under pressure from the United states, the shah of lran, and pakis tan. Between r97 S a n d r9 7 g , D a o u d sw i tched si cl es,breakrng deci _ sively with his left-wing supporrers and embracing the army and Afghanistan's conservative establishment. In r976, Daoud met with the shah and Prime Minister Bhufto, and in response he began ro install right-wing officers and other pro-wesrern leaders in key posrs. By r978, Afghan government death squads started assassinatingleftist

JihadI: The"Arcof Islam" '


and communist leaders,and the communistsand the left were purged from the Kabul regime.Increasingly,Daoud's power basewas reduced clique and the armed forces,and, accordto a small, ultraconservative power was wielded ing to Cordovezand Harrison, behind-the-scenes by SAVAK,the alliesof SaudiArabia's Muslim World l-eague,and the Muslim Brotherhood.rzThe crisisraged until April r978, when Nur MohamrnedTaraki, a cornfilunist,stageda pro-Sovietcoup d'6tat and signed a friendship treaty with the Soviet Union. The Islamic right, by the ISI,carricdout a countrywidccampaignof terrorism, sr-rpportcd hundrcdsof tcachersand civil servantsin a Pol Pot-style ass:rssinating aftack ilgainstseculirrand educatedAfghanis. Thc United States was wcll awarc that the organizationsin Afghanist:urcarrying out anti-Soviettcrrorism were affiliertedwith the Muslirn lJrotherhood,accorclittgto nunlel:rtusState I)epartntentand One, frotn a CIENTOttreetingin tc)78,saysflatly enbassydispatches. drat thc "main thrcat to ucw reqimccould come from tribcs and such grollpsas fhc Muslirr Brothcrhood."ilArtothcranalysisnotcd in April coalescc that "sonre of thc clericill opposition could cvct-ttr-rally 1c17c.. ar<rundthe Ikbutan-i Muslimin Muslirn Brotherhood."r4In .lune tr.-7r1 "(lurrent Statusof thc Insurrcctiottitr in:r lcngthydocunrentcntitlec'l Afghanistan," in crlbassy officcr noted that "cntire provinccsin the centra[,eastern,atrd wcstern portiotts of Afghrrnistanhave slid undcr rebelcontrol." It siridthat tl-rerebclsare "known by many uames-such as mujahidccn ('l-rolywirrriors') landl lkhwan-i-Mttslimiz ('Muslim tl-ratthe Afghangoverltment witl-routcot-ltlnent Brothcrhoocl')."It r-rotcd as "madc-in-Londotrmullahs."15 referrcclto the otr'rposition revolution in Iran Drrring this pcriocl, even as the rc178-7c.tiesto the Afghan Islitmistsgrew strongcr,and so Pakistan's runfoldecl, own Islamistlcanings.ClencralZia institutecla regitnc did Pirkistan's thc growth of Pakistan'sIslamic b:rscdon lslarniclaw irnd cncouragecl (iroup, lcd by Abul-Ala Mawcludi.As AyatollahKhonreiniwas busili, creatinghis lslamicRepublicof lr:rn,ZbigniewBrzczinskiand the CIA arrnyit.tAfghanistan.But it was nrorethan launchedthcir Isltrmic-right jr.rstan Afghanistanstrategy.Brzezinski'seffort was designedto implement thc cataclysmicview of the Bennigscnschool,to Lrsethe Islamic right as a sword againstthe USSRitself.


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In his oft-quoted 1998 interview with Le Nouuel Obseruateur, Zbigniew Brzezinski revealed a secret behind a secret,that the CIA's assistanceto the mujahideenin Afghanistan began before, not after. the Sovietinvasion: Accordingto the officialversionof history IsaidBrzezinski],CIA aid to the mujahideenbeganduring r98o, that is to say,after the Sovietarmy invadedAfghanistan,on December24,r979. But the reality, secretlyguarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed,it was J,tly 3, r979, that PresidentCartersignedthe first directivefor secretaid to the opponentsof the pro-Sovietregime in Kabul. And that very day I wrote a note to the presidentrn which I explainedto him in my opinion this aid was going to inducea Sovietmilitary intervention.36 But behind that secret,of course,was yet another:that the United Stateshad been involved with the Islamic right in Afghanistan and the Middle East throughout the r97os.In addition, the Afghan holy war beganin earnestnot in r98o, after Soviettroops crossedthe border,and not in 1979, when CIA aid officially beganto flow, but in r978, wherr the Afghan Islamic right begana coordinated uprising with ISI support. starting in northeastAfghanistan.In March r979,the westernhalf ot the country exploded, especiallyHerat, a major provincial capital irr the west, close to Iran. A hard-core Islamist organization, linked to warlold Ismail Khan and supported by the Islamic Republic of Iran. rose up and slaughterednumerous Afghan government officials. More than a dozen Soviet adviserswere hacked to death, along with their wives and children. During this period, the United States maintained relations with Iran's military and intelligenceapparatus and with the new Iranian government of Prime Minister Bazargan,and the CIA was providing Iran with intelligenceabout the USSR, Iraq. and Afghanistan-a secret collaboration that continued until the seizureof the U.S.embassyin Teheranby Khomeini'sagentsin December 1979.

lihad I: The " Arc of Islam" '

26 S

In March r979,the CIA completedits first formal proposal for direct aid to the Afghan Islamists,coinciding with the revolt in Herat. According to Gates, some in the CIA believed that Soviet involvement in Afghanistanwould "encouragea polarization of Muslim and Arab sentiment againstthe USSR." Not only that, bnt there was a practical side, too: the CIA had surveyedAfghanistan as a possiblesite to replacethe listeningpoststhat U.S. intelligencehad in Iran untll t979, accordingto At the beginningof r979, the United Statesbeganto consider Gates.37 to the jihadis,and both Pakistanand SaudiAraactive,covertassistance bia were askingthe United Statesto get more involved."In SaudiArabia, a senior official . . . had raisedthe prospectof a Sovietsetbackin Afghanistan and said that his government was considering officially proposingthat the United Statesaid the rebels."rsEven though some U.S.analysts,includingsomeCIA officials,believedthat for the Afghan rebelscould lead to a Sovietattack on Pakistanand a worldwide showdown between thc United Statesand the USSR,the U.S.governmentwent ahead.The CIA contactedSaudiArabia and Pakin istanabout providingaid to Afghan rebelsand, asBrzezinskiasserted, July r979 PresidentCarter signed the first presidentialdecision,or "finding," to havethe CIA supply "nonlethal" aid, includingcommunicationsequipment,to the lslamicright in Afghanistan. In the Nouuel Obst'ruatcurintcrview,Brzczinskiadmitted that his intcntionell along was ro pr<lvokert S ovi ctinvrtsionof Afghanistaneven though, after:the Sovict action occurrcd, LJ.S.officialsexpressed shock and surprise."'We didn't push the Russiansto intervene,but we the probabilitythat they would," saidBrzezinski. knowinglyincreased 'Whenhe was askedif, in retrospect,hc regrettedsupportingthe riseof Islamic fundamentalismand providing arms ancl training to future terrorists,hc answered: What is moreimportantto the historyof thc world?The Taliban of the Sovietempire?Sonrestirred-upMuslimsor or the collapse the liberationof CentralEuropeandthe endof thecoldwar? "No*," he told PresidentCarter in t979, "we can give the USSRits Vietnamwar."39



D pv r r 's


By the end of r979, more than three-fourthsof Afghanistanwas in open revolt.Just beforeChristmas,the Red Army invadedAfghanistan to shore up the beleagueredAfghan government. One of the quirks of the American jihad in Afghanistanwas that from the start the United Statesallowed Pakistan'sISI and General Zia to control the distribution of aid to the Afghan muiahideen. 'Wars is a "Zia," wrote Steve Coll, a journalist whose book Gbost jihad, "sought and obtainedpolitical definitiveaccountof the Afghan control over the CIAs weaponsand money.He insistedthat everygun and every dollar allocatedfor the mujahideenpassthrough Pakistani hands. He would decide which guerrillas benefited.. . . The CIA acceptedISI's approach with little dissent."40Prince Turki al-Faisal, then the head of the GeneralIntelligenceDepartmentof SaudiArabia, visited\Tashington,metBrzezinskiand the CIA, and agreedto match U.S. contributionsto the Afghan jihad dollar for dollar. What unfolded, in the years after r98o, was an alliance between Pakistan'sISI, GeneralZia, and the Islamistsin Pakistan,on the one hand, and a nexus of Saudi Arabian government and private net'World League to works, from Saudi intelligence to the Muslim Osama bin Laden, on the other. Saudi Arabia and Pakistanhad been closefor years;this included closemilitary ties, with Pakistanitroops and mercenariesbeing dispatchedto help protect the Saudiroyal family and train Saudi forces. "Pakistan'srelations with Saudi Arabia, and with other Gulf Arab states,dated to the early t96os," wrote ShireenHunter. "Pakistani military officers,for example,had trained the Saudi and Gulf militaries. One such officer was General Zia ulHnq.'ot ln addition, in the r97os first Bhutto and then Zia depended on Saudiaid, especiallysincethe OPEC oil price increasesof ry73-74 drained the Pakistan treasury of hard currency to pay for oil. The Saudi aid came with political strings attached. The growth of Islamismin Pakistanwas directly tied to Saudi aid to Islamabad. For the United States,the Saudi-Pakistanialliance was made to order, since both countries were staunch U.S. allies that could be counted on to join in a crusadeagainstthe USSR.The fact that both Saudi Arabia and Pakistan had ulterior motives and their own grand designswas ignored or overlooked by the Carter and Reagan

JihadI: The"Arcof Islam" . 267 administrations, who were eager to bloody the Soviet Union in Afghanistan whatever the cost. Pakistan, always concernedwith its main foe, India, saw Afghanistanas strategicdepth and an ally in the subcontinentagainstNew Delhi, and GeneralZia envisioneda kind of "Greater Pakistan." Saudi Arabia had its own interests,too, and saw the conflict in Afghanisranas part of its broadercompetirionwith Iran, whose Shiite fundamentalistregime was threareningIraq and the Gulf states.Saudi Arabia saw Afghanistan and Cenrral Asia as a flank in the strugglewith Iran, and Riyadh wanred ro strengrhenthe orthodox Sunni Wahhabi forces in Afghanistan and beyond, ro weakenIran. Brzezinski,and then Casey,embracedthe Pakistan-Saudiaxis. But both Pakistanand Saudi Arabia had their favored clients in Afshanistan. For Pakistan,it was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar,the militant Islamist whosegroup was calledthe IslamicParty (Hizb-i Islami).Hekmatyar had a well-earnedreputation for being a brutal fanatic: Gulbuddinwas the darlingof Zia and the Pakistanintelligence service.Likc other rnujahideen leaders,he had beenworkine with the ISI sincethe early r97os,when Pakistanhad begunsecrerly backingfundamentalist studentsat the Universityof Kabul whcr were rebellingagainstSovietinfluencein the.Afghangovernment. BackthcnGulbuddinwasverymucha partof theemerging global waveof Islamicradicalism. By all accounrs, he wasresponsible for the practiceof throwing acid in the facesof Afghanwomen who failedto coverthemselves properly.a2 Hekmatyar'sspecialtywas skinning prisonersalive.asSigbhatullah Mujaddidi, an Islamist of somewhat less radical srripes, called Hekmatyara "true monster."44 But Representative Charles'Wilson, a TexasRepublicanwho was the leadingcongressionaladvrcate for the Afghan jihad, approvinglynored thatZia was "torally committedto Hekmatyar,becauseZia saw the world as a conflict betweenMuslims and Hindus, and he thought he could count on Hekmatyar to work for a pan-lslamicentity that could stand up to India."a5 Hekmatyar'sIslamicParty was one of the six to eightAfghan parries

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It was the largest,and it also that made up the anti-Sovietresistance. was reputed to have the fiercestfighters, which increasedits appeal to the CIA. "We didn't think, at the beginning,that we would defeatthe Soviets,"saysa CIA official who helpedoverseethe jihad. "But we did want to kill as many Russiansas we could, and Hekmatyar seemedlike was il the guy who could do that."46 His bone-chiliingruthlessness plus. "The CIA officersin the Near EastDivision who were running the Afghan program also embracedHekmatyar as their most dependable and effectiveally," accordingto Coll. "At leastHekmatyar knew who For those. the enemy was, the CIlt's officersreassuredthemselves."4T like Casey and Brzezinski,who envisioned Afghanistan as the key to weakeningthe SovietUnion among its Muslim republics,Hekmatvar had appeal, too, since he wanted to expand the war beyond Afghanistan.Hekmatyar,accordingto Dilip Hiro, "talked of carrying the guerrilla raids beyondthe Oxus River into SovietCentral Asia and rolling back communism by freeing the Muslim lands of Bukhara. Tashkent,and Dushanbe."48 Saudi Arabia's favored client was Abdul Rasul Sayyaf,the Afghan Muslim Brotherhood leader.As the war evolved, both Hekmatyar anti Sayyafwould emergeas the Afghan leadersclosestto the legionsof foreign, mostly Arab, fighters who flocked to Afghanistan to join the iihad. By the end of the r98os, it would be these so-calledAralr Afghanswho would graduateto becomeleadersof the militant and terrorist Islamistsin Egypt, Algeria, SaudiArabia, Iraq, and elsewhereincluding Chechnya and Uzbekistan. Hekmatyar and Sayyaf, though not allies,were also closeto Osama bin Laden, whose rise to promtnencebegana5early as t979-8o, when he enlistedin the Afghan jihad. "Once in Pakistaniexile, [Hekmatyar] gatheredaround him the most radical, anti-Western,transnationalIslamistsfighting in the jihadincluding bin Laden and other Arabs who arrivedas volunteers."4e So the stagewas set for a climactic showdown betweenthe United Statesand the SovietUnion in Afghanistan.In the wake of the Iranian revolution, the United Statescontinued to pursue the chimera of ar-r Islamic bloc against the USSR, leading Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt into battle in the remote mountains of Central Asia. Hundreds of thousands of jihadis, electrifiedby the holy war, flocked to war

JihadI: The " Arc of Islam" .


camps along the Pakistan-Afghanistanborder from all over rhe world. The United Stateshad little comprehensionof the forcesthat it was unleashing.But that did not prevent the Reaganadministration from pushing the war in Afghanistaninto the SovietUnion itself and trying to enlist evenKhomeini'sIran in the jihad.



\wsE N r ur AurnrcA N- spoN s oRE o j i had in Afghanistanbegan in the history of in t979,it took placeduring a criticaltransformation political lslam. firmly attachedto From r945 until r979,the Islamic right seemed During this the Western,and anti-communist,camp in the Cold'War' have seenpolitical period, it was understandablefor many analyststo leastsympatheticto Irlu* n, docile and, if not pro-American,then at In the Afghan American political and economic goals in the region' of communism; in mountains, fierce mullahs expressedtheir hatred \wahhabi establishmentthundered againstleftist the saudi deserr,the East,and Pakistan; and nationalistforcesin North Africa, the Middle Baghdadand Cairo' and on campusesfrom Kabul and Islamabadto theM uslim Br otherhoodbattl edsecul ari stsandpreachedagainst Marxism. Khomeini's Starting rn r979, however,things changed'Ayatollah interests'Moreover' revolution in lran was a frontal challengeto U'S' offshoots that the Islamic right had begun to spawn deadly terrorisf from the Grand attacked U.S. interests and pro-Western leaders' predatory terror in Mosque in Mecca to Anwar Sadatto Hezbollah's graspthe lessons Lebanon.The united stateswas exceedinglyslow to

Jihad II: Into Central Asta

L7 I

of these developments.First, it failed to concentrate resourceson Islamist terrorism after t979, despite pleas from Arab leaders like Egypt's PresidentMubarak to do so. More important, the United Statesfailed to understandthe larger lesson:that the Islamic right was not just anti-communist,but fundamentallyopposedto the West and to its most reliablelong-term partnersin the Middle East,namely,the secular,democraticnationalists. Despitethe mounting evidencethat the Islamicright was a devilishly dangerousally,the Reaganadministrationjoinedtheir jihad. The scopeof the U.S.-Islamist alliancethen is hard to imaginenow, in the midst of what the Bushadministrationcallsa globrrlwar on terrorism againstAl Qaeda and its ilk. But, just as in r9-yj, when Said Ramadan of the Muslim Brotherhoodwas usheredinto the C)val Office to seePresidentEisenhower,in r 9t3r Rcagan'stough-mrndedand often neoconservative-nationalsecurityofficialsand intelligcnce professionalspursued the Afghan jihad with a vcngeance.ln fact, who today lead the chargefor a "clash of the sameneoconservatives war on terror then presscdthe harclestfor an allicivilizations"-style ance with the Afghan lslamistsand, at the same timc, rcpeatedly reachedout for a dealwith the ayatollahsin Teheran. The U.S.-Islamistallianceof thc r98os was r.rndcrtaken with all (]arter r9[iz, thc Fnrm rgTc) to Reagan deliberateness. and administrations consideredthe existenceof a threat from right-wing lslarn, and decidedto ignoreit. Following the Iraniar-rrevolution, Ciarteradministrirtiorrofficials conveneda government-widemeeting to analyzepolitical Islam. It includedStateDepartmentexperts,intclligenceanalysts,and ambassadorsfrom the Middle East."There was a big analyticaleffort," says Harold Saunders,who was rssistant sccretaryof state for Near L,ast affairs, and it centeredon the conservativeArilb statesatndmonarchies."The main focus was to gain an understandingof whether it could happen in Jordan, in Egypt, in Saudi Arabia, or perhapsthis was sui generisto lran." According to Saunders,and to other U.S. officialsand intelligenceofficers,the conclusionof this reevaluation was that political Islam was not threatening."'We realizedthcre would be a ratchetingup of political Islarn," says Saunders."Thc

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question was, could the existing governmentsdeal with it? I pushed pretty hard on Saudi Arabia, and I couldn't get anyone to say that Saudi Arabia would fall. In Egypt, at the time, we thought Sadat could handleit."1 Certainly, no effort was made to discourageSaudi Arabia from pursuing its long-held notion of a foreign policy basedon right-wing Islamism.No effort was made to discourageSadatfrom cozying up to the Muslim Brotherhood. No effort was made to discourageIsrael and Jordan from supporting the Muslim Brotherhood'scampaign of terrorism against Syria and the PalestineLiberation Organization. And, of course, in Pakistan the United Statesjumped into bed with GeneralZia ul-Haq, whose Muslim Brotherhood-linked regime and ISI intelligenceservicewere organizingthe Afghan jihad. In the end, the Islamistmovementwas seenas a force that could be containedby existinggovernments.No real effort was made to understand how those governments might be changed, how it might affect the societiesthesegovernmentspresidedover, and how the Islamists were organizedacrossinternationalborders.Policy makerscontinued to believethat Islamismwas too diverseto be looked at globally,and insisted it could be dealt with on a country-by-country basis. "'We concluded that we couldn't have a policy toward political Islam," recallsSaunders.2 In the wake of the Iranian revolution there was a brief flurry of directivesfrom \X/ashingtonto CIA stations overseasto provide an evaluation of Iran's impact. Intelligenceanalystsat the CIA and the StateDepartment took a look at countries that might be threatened with Khomeini-style revolution, and concluded that the internal threat seemedminimal. As long as existing,pro-U.S.regimeswere not at risk, almost no U.S. officials raised alarm about the growing strengthof political Islam, its effectswithin countriesplaguedby it, or the eventual possibility that radical Islamistsmight turn against the United States."At first, there was the assumptionthat it was going to spread,that it was going to happen in Morocco, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, that the monarchieswere an anachronismr" says a former CIA station chief in Morocco. "I got to Morocco and found nothing like that. There was a very small Islamist movement." In the CIA's

.lihad Il: Into Central Asia '


field manual for Morocco, there were eight pageson Islam and politics, he says."I'd tell my caseofficers:Know it cold. And when they were talking to an Islamist,I told them to say: 'I don't understandthis or that.'And then listen."3The conclusionreachedin Morocco, as for other states,w21sthat there was nothing to worry about. At the CIA, Martha Kesslerwas one of the few analystswho consistendypaid attentionto political Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood. In the ficld, shesays,many CIA operativesmissedit, becausethe most 'World were organizingunder the radar. "rWehad a militant Islan-rists War il-era systcmof just plopping our officialsdown in capital cities, irnd the Islamistmovementwasn't happeningin those cities,it was happerringout in thc country and in small towns." In her opinion, it was taking on a decidedlyanti-Americancharacter.She wrote an rrnalysisat the time wirrning that when governmentssuch as Egypt, Sudan,and Pakistanbeginto play ball with Islamists,it would have "I said that whcn governmentsin the region profound conseqllenccs. stirrteclrnaking efforts to co-opt the Islamists,it would change the shcsays."l was of thc schoolthat it characterof tlroselaovernrncnts," woulcl be largely anti-Westernin tone."a Necdlcssto say, Kessler's policy makersfrom the Afghanjihad. analysisdiclnot dissuacle The samc view prevailedarnong U.S. governmentcounterterror"After thc Sadatassassination, I was in the counism professior-rals. terterrorisnr centcr," srlys Robcrt llacr, a former CIA operative. "l cilmeilcrosssomedocumcnts,sontctrial transcriptsfor lthc assassins of Saclatl,and I started:rskirrg,Who arc thesepeople?What's their What's thc connection?I startedkroking for clocumentsolr irgcncla? the MLrslirnBrothcrhood." ISut,he says,"It just wasn't in our con"' sciotr sncss to go rtiter thcscpe<l pl e. Sadat,who had used the Muslim Brotherhoodand the financial rcsoLlrces of its Islamic banking network to strengthenhis grip on power after becomingprcsidentof Egypt in r97o, was least of all awarc of how dangcrousthe Islamicright might be. Within days of joined the the Sovietinvasionof Afghanistan,Sadirtenthusiastically United States,Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan in sending jihadists to Pcshawar.and war. So the jihaclin Afghanistanerpandedinto a full-scalewar. And the



D n. v r r 's

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'Sfar, struck a deal with Reagan team, preoccupiedwith the Cold Iran's ayatollahsin r98o, winked as Israel armed Iran from r98o to 1987, gave Khomeini's regime secret intelligenceabout the Iranian left, and finally, in the Iran-contra affat, actually sold U.S. arms to Iran in searchof mvthical Islamist "moderates."


A nae


The war in Afghanistan was fought, for the most part' by the mujahideenof the fractiouscoalition backedby Pakistanand made up mostly of guerrillasassociatedwith one of four fundamentalistorganizations. "In Afghanistan," says a former CIA official who ran the covert operation, "there were about 3oo,ooo fighters, all of whom, with the exceptionof about r5,ooo moderates,were Islamists."5The vast majority were Afghans, but some were jihadists drawn to the fighting from other parts of the world, especiallyfrom Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf. These would be the raw material for Osama bin Laden and the fledglingAl Qaeda organizationthat grew out of the jihad. The so-calledArab Afghans included bin Laden himself, Ayman al-Zawahiri of Egypt's Islamic Jihad, Al Qaeda'ssecondin-command,and tens of thousandsof jihadistsfrom the Arab states, Indonesia,the Philippines,Chechnya,and other far-flung corners of the Muslim world. They were the guerrillaswho, after the war was over, went home to Algeria, to Egypt, to Lebanon,to SaudiArabia, and to Central Asia to continue the jihad,. Many, of course, learned terrorism skillssabotage,car bombs-at the hands of the United States assassination, and its allies. In January r98o, Brzezinskivisited Egypt to mobilize Arab support for the jihad.'Within weeks of his visit, SadatauthorizedEgypt's full participation, giving permission for the U.S. Air Force to use Egypt as a base,supplying stockpilesof Egyptian arms to the rebels, and recruiting, training, and arming Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood activistsfor battle. "Sadat and his governmentbecame,for a time, virtual recruiting sergeantsand quartermastersto the secret army of

lihad ll: Into Central Asia .

27 \

zealotsbeing musteredto fight the Sovietsin south and central Asia."7 U.S. cargo planes took off from Qena and Aswan in Egypt, ferrying suppliesto the jihad basesin Pakistan,and, accordingto John Cooley, "Egypt's military inventories were being scoured for Soviet-supplied arms to sendto the jihad. An old arms factory near Helwan, Egypt, was eventuallyconvertedto supply the samekind of weapons.,'8 Egypt-and other Arab counlliss-supplied more rhan weapons. A number of counrriesin the Muslim world decidedit would be prudent to send Islamist militants to rhe Afghan war, perhaps thinking that they were killing two birds with one stone:they were pleasingthe United States,which was looking for recruirs,and they were geting rid of somerroublemakers. sadat,like other leaders,perhapsfelt that most of them would be killed during thc jihad. "Muslim governmenrs emptiedtheir prisonsand sentthesebad boys over there," saysa CIA official who spentseveralyearsas sration chief in pakistan during rhe jihad.'Nrt only were thcy packagedand shippedto Afghanisran,bur they receivedexperttraining from U.s. SpecialForces. "By rhc end of r9flo," wrote Cooley,"U.S. military trainerswerc sent to Egypt tcr impart the skills of the U.S. SpecialForcesto rhoseEgyptianswh<r would, in turn, passon thc training to th.: Iigyptianvolunrcersflying to the aid of the mujahidecnin Afghanisran. "l0 The British, for whom Afghanistan was thc playground for the Great Game of the nineteenthcentury and who had long-standing colonialtics to Pakistan,had an cxtensivehistory of dealingwith thc tribes and religirus leadersrf thc Pakistan-Afghanisran area. Gus Avrak.trs, a cIA official closely involved with the jihad f'r years, reported that the British "have guys who have Iived over there for twenty yearsas journalistsor authors or tobaccogrowers, Iandl when the Soviets invaded, MI6 activated these old networks." Added Avrakotos:

The Brits were able to buy things that we couldn't, becauscit infringedon murder,assassination and indiscriminatebombings. \Wecouldn'tdo that because They could issuegunswith silencers. a silencerimmediatelyimpliedassassination-andheavenforbid car bombs!No way I could evensuggestit, but I could sayto the



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Brits, "Fadlallah[the radical Shiiteleader]in Beirut was really effectivelastweek.They had a car bomb that killed 3oo people."I 'What gaveMI6 stuff in good faith. they did with it was always Much of this training in assassination,car bombs, and the like found its way to the Arab volunteers who eventually became Al Qaeda'sfoot soldiers.Somemujahideenwere eventrained to organize the low-tech, Afghan version of car bombs. "Under ISI direction, the mujahideenreceivedtraining and malleableexplosivesto mount car bomb and even camel bomb attacksin Soviet-occupiedcities,usually designedto kill Soviet soldiersand commanders,"wrote SteveColl. "ICIA Director] Caseyendorsedthesetechniquesdespitethe qualms of someCIA careerofficers."12And it was not just Sovietsoldierswho were blown up by such devices. In at least one instance, the mujahideencarried out an extensionof the battlesthat ragedat Kabul University during the r96os and r97os, when a briefcase bomb explodedunder a universitydining room table.13"This is a rough business," said the CIAs Bill Casey."If we're afraid to hit the terrorists becausesomebody'sgoing to yell 'assassination,'it'll never stop."14 Soon, the CIA and ISI were providing stealthlikeexplosivedevicesto the mujahideen.includingbombsdisguisedas pens,watches.cigarette "Do I want to order bicycle bombs to lighters,and tape recorders.l'5 park in front of an officers' headquarters?"asked Avrakotos. "Yes. That's what spreadsfear."16Among the targetsof mujahideenbombs were soft targetssuchas Kabul cinemasand cultural shows. Although the Afghan mujahideen rebelled at the idea of suicide bombs, Arab volunteersdid not: It wasonly the Arab volunteers-fromSaudiArabia,Jordan,Algeria, and othercountries,who had beenraisedin an entirelydifferent culture, spoke their own language,and preachedtheir own interpretationsof Islam while fighting far from their homes and families-who later advocatedsuicideattacks.Afghan jihadists, tightly woveninto family,clan,and regionalsocialnetworks,never embracedsuicidetacticsin significant numbers.lT

Jihad ll: Into Central Asia .


Afghan mujahideen were also rrained inside the united Srates, beginningin r98o under Brzezinski'soversight,ar various u.S. facilities on the East coast, by Green Beretsand u.s. Navy SEALs. ,,The deadly secrerswhich rrainers of the Afghan holy warriors passedon numbered over sixry. They included the use of sophisticatedfuses, timers and explosives, automatic weapons with armor-piercing ammunition, remote-controldevicesfor triggering mines and bombs (laterusedin the volunteers'home countriesand againstthe Israelis) Iand] strategicsabotage,demolition,and arson."l8 The Afghan war unfolded in severalphases.It started slowly, and over the first five yearsthc u.S. objectivewas not to win the war) nor t' defearthe SovietUnirn and force its withdrawal, but simply to bleedthe ussR, embarrassir, and win prrpaganda points. In r9g4, hrwever,pr.dded by Rcp. charlie wilson and with casey,senthusiasticsupp'rt, clA funding of the war-and saudi Arabia'smatching grants-rose rapidly.Fundingfor the jihad in r984 totaled$z5o milli'n, "as much as all thc previousyears combined."leAnd it continued tcr skyrocket:$47o rni l l i on i n r986, $6jo rnillion in r9g7. The United statcsalso worked hard to bring orher counrriesint, the wirr, includingchina. Accordingto charles Frecman,who servedas u.S. am bassad' r to chi n:r, "From r98r to r9g4, there was about $6oo million from Beijingin arms f'r Afghanisran,"sirysFreeman.2, Not'r-rly did c]aseyexpandthe Fundingfor the war, but hc grew more ambitious in his g.rrls. Now seekingvict.ry, hc s.ught to provide nrorcsophisticatecl w.:aponryro thc mujahidcen,includingthc Stinger ground-ro-airrnissilcs that allegedlyhad a dccisivcimpacton the military dimer-rsion of the conflict.2l As the jihacl cxpanded i' both goals and scope, more and more Arabs and

foreignerswere drawn in. various Arab governments, 'ther including Egypt anclSar"rdi Arabia, inrernarionalorgirnizationsticd to the Islan-ricright-such as the Muslim Br.therhoocl, the Muslim \forld Leagne,the InrernationalIslamic Relief organization, and the Tablighi .farnaar,a Pakisran-based Islamic missionary organizationran campaignsro recruit jihadis. It was osama bin Laden'sdream corne trlre: Muslim fundamentalistgroups mobilizing worldwide tcr



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find militant fighters,bring them to Pakistan,and then smugglethem into Afghanistanfor a jihad. "Many were offered trips to Pakistanfor religiousstudies,"wrote Cooley: Usually,during about six weeks'religiousstudies,the new adepts were not offeredmilitary training immediately,or even briefed about the jihad againstthe Russianand Communist"enemiesof God." This cameat the end of the six-weekperiod.ISI officers, usuallyin mufti, would then appearand offer opportunitiesfor training. [Training v,,asprovided forl thousandsof Algerians, Saudis,and others.22 Egyptians,Sudanese, According to Ahmed Rashid,a Pakistanijournalist and author of Taliban, between r98z and t99z j5,ooo radical Islamistsfrom fortythree countries fought alongsidethe mujahideen in the war and its aftermath, and tens of thousandsof additional iihadis trained in the madrassasthat General Zia created along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. "Eventually more than roo,ooo Muslim radicalswere to have direct contact with Pakistanand Afghanistanand be influencedby the iihad." 23 Some of the recruiting for the mujahideen took place inside the United States,in Arab and Muslim communities. At the Al Kifah Afghan RefugeeCenter in Brooklyn, many Arabs signed up for the iihad. "There were hard-to-tracesuitcasesfull of cashand anonymous bearer chequesor bank drafts, from the Muslim'STorld League.the Tablighi Jamaat, and other missionary and charitable organizations locatedin Pakistan."24One of the key individualsinvolved in the U.S. recruiting effort in the mid-r98os was Abdullah Azzam, a radical PalestinianIslamistwho was bin Laden'sprofessorand who would be the co-founder of the predecessororganizationto Al Qaeda, the Services Bureau, which was establishedby bin Laden and Azzam in Peshawar,Pakistan,in r984. The innocently named ServicesBureau playedthe centralrole in moving Arab and foreign iihadisinto the war. Azzam,born in Jenin,Palestine,in rg4r,joined the Muslim Brotherhood as a Palestinianyouth in Syria, where he studied Islamic law in the early r96os, when the Brotherhood was leading the antiNassermovementin the Arab world.2-tAlthough he initially belonged

lihad II: lntu Cetrlrnl Asia .


to the PalestineLiberation organization, he split with the pl-o during the showdown with King Husseinin Black September,r97o, when the Brotherhood backed rhe monarchy. He spenr time ar the Al Azhar mosquein cairo, during the time that Anwar sadat was bringing the Muslim Brotherhood back to Egypt, and ended up as a teacher of Islamic law at King Abdel Azizuniversity in saudi Arabia, where bin l-adenwas his studenr.The Muslim world l.eaguehired Azzam to headits educati.nsection,and in r98o he first traveledto pakistan.In t c184, in additionto foundingthe Services Bureau,Azzamestablished Al Iihad magazineand wrore prolificallyon rhe duties of Muslims. Pr<rvidingan carly roird map tr hrs plan f'r a global jihad, Az.zam wrotc the oft-quoteclcall to arnrs: "-fihadwill remain an individual .bligati.n until all other larndswhich f'rmerly were Muslim come back t' us and Islam reignswithin thcm once again. Bef're r-rslie Palestine, Ilukharar,l.ebanon,Clhad,Eritrca,Somalia,the philippines, Burnru,S<luthYemcn,Tashkcnt,And:rlusia.'J2r, li) sweetenthe prt, jihad Azzamt.ld potential recruirsthat osama bin l-adenw.uld pay g3oo a monrh ro Arirbswho wanredto fight in Afghanistan. Mikc scheucris rlre cllA official who, in later ycars,w.uld bc in ch:rrgcof U.S.efforts t' hunt d'wr.r osama bin Ladcrr.In zooz, under the nanrc "," hc wrote Tbrough ()nr Enemies, Lyes,a detailcd elccounr the rise bin l-aden and Al eaeda. In it, he 'f 'fdescribedthc role of tlie Servicesllurcau, also knowrr by its Arabic acr onyn M AK: Bi' l-aderrg.t in .r rhe ground flo'r rf thc development .f IslanricN(los f.r nrilitary-supporr activities whenhe j.i'ed with Shaykh Abdullah Azzarnro found thc Makhtah at-Khidimdt (MAK)-or ServiceBureau-in Peshirwarin rhe rnicl-r 9flos. While rhc MAK providec'l reliefto Afghan w:rr vicims, it als<r received,organized,irnd rnoveclint<lAfghanistanthe v<llunteers, arnrs,:tnclmoneyflowing t. tl.remujahideenfrom thc MLrslirn w<rrlcl.In the financialrealnr,Al-tMatdnal-Arahi h.s said thrrt between1.17.2 and 19[39about $6oo million was sent to bin Laden's.rga' in the Gulf, especiallythose in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, the UAE, Bahrain,rrnclQatirr.lT

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to a According to Scheuer,bin Laden and Azzamwerewell connected Muslim host of other Islamic-rightcharities,including IIRO and the jihad, the 'srorld League.According to cIA officialsinvolved with the in recruiting cIA did not directly engagewith Azzam and bin Laden Robert Arab volunteers,although the cIA did not opposethe effort. ways Gates,then the CIA director,revealedthat "the CIA examined nothro increasetheir participation." Although no action was taken, ing was done to discouragethe "Arab Afghans," either'28 jihad was hisAs the CIA beganto figure out long after the Afghan only source tory, the joint U.S.-Saudifunding for the war was not the refersto of cash for the muiahideen,as the $6oo million that Scheuer Brothindicates.Privateand semi-privatedonationsfrom the Muslim it was of none erhood and its apparatus poured into the iihad, and ISI provided subject to even the minimal oversight that Pakistan's According to over the distribution of the U.S. and Saudi largesse. jihad pennedby Afghanistan:The Bear Trdp, ariveting accountof the a parallel a former Pakistaniintelligenceofficeq Mohammad Yousaf' with war supply systemdevelopedoutsideofficial channels'complete and a significantpart of it was funded freelancersand wheeler-dealers, that saved with private Arab donations. "It was largely Arab money individuals the system,"wrote Yousaf."By this I mean cashfrom rich government or private organizationsin the Arab world, not Saudi gettingto funds.'s7ithoutrheseexrra millions the flow of arms actually is it all the Muiahideenwould have beencut to a trickle. The problem went to the four Fundamentalistparties'not the Moderates'"2e Rasul In particular,Yousaf wrote, a lot of the cash went to Abdul one and S"yy"i, the chief.Muslim Brotherhood activistin Afghanistan society of the lslamist"professors"who helpedto organizethe secret along with that emergedin the tg6osand early r97os' It was Sayyaf' whose Gulbuddin Hekmatyar-the fanatical muiahideen leader in the Islamic Party was the largestand fiercestof the organizations jihad-who were closestto Osama bin Laden' lion's share Sayyaf,Hekmatyar' and other fundamentalistsgot the to the of the Arab money becausea large part of it was transferred Group mujahideenthrough the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Islamic

Jihad II: Into Central Asia


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of Pakistan,the Islamist political party that was createdby Abul-Ala Mawdudi.3oThe Islamic Group (Jamaat-eIslami), founded rn r94o, had spent much of the r95os and r96os battling Pakistan'sleft and secularists.In the r97os, the Islamic Group becamemore powerful as it absorbedsurplus petrodollars funneledits way by the Gulf Arabs, and it helped push Pakistan to the right in the r97os, under Prime Minister Zulfi.qarAli Bhutto and GeneralZia ul-Haq. "The Muslim Brotherhood was spreadingits money around," says SeligHarrison, an expert on south Asia and the co-author of Out of Afghanistan. According to Harrison, the head of the Islamic Group was relatedto Zia, and he worked closelywith them and helpedthem, and many of the key playersin the ISI and the military were membersof the Islamic Group. Through the Muslim World l-eagueand other Muslim Brotherhood elementsin the Gulf, money had startedto flow to the coffers of the mujahideen even before the Soviet invasion of Afghanisran, says Harrison. "It was all done through Pakistan,with the help of Rabitat Ithe Leaguel,and theJamaat-eIslamiwas gettingrich, too."rr At the time, virtually no one sensedthe importance of bin Laden and Az.zam,and the non-Afghan jihad volunteersseemedlike a minor part in the mobilization of several hundred thousand Afghan 'Warjihad mujahideen.The CIA was so fixated on its Cold that it never stopped to consider the consequencesof .empowering a worldwide Islamistarmed force.And, in the meantime,Bill Caseywas busy openinpla secondfront, pushinghard to expand the Afghanistanwar into Central Asia-with resourcesthatZbigniew Brzezinskiand Alexandre Bennigsenc<luldneverhave dreamedof just a few yearsearlier.

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In carrying the Afghan lihad into the SovietUnion itself, Caseyexhibited both a messianic,religiouslyinspiredversion of anti-communism and a high-stakes,high-risk approach to foreign policy. S(ithin the Reaganadministration,there were at leasttwo competing schoolsof thought: The first, hewing to the traditional rules of U.S. diplomacy,

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saw the SovietUnion as a mighty competitor that neededto be challenged worldwide, in order to prevent Soviet gains; and the second, which includedthe neoconservatives and Casey,advocateda policy of rolling back the SovietUnion in the Third'World, easternEurope,and Central Asia. "The real split in the Reagan administration was not betweenliberalsand conservatives,"saysHerb Meyer, who servedas Casey'schief of staff at the CIA in the r98os. "The real split was betweenthose who wished not to lose the Cold War and those who wished to win it."32 Casey was in the latter camp, and for him Afghanistanwas the key. 'War, In order to win the Cold Casey believed, it would take a strong working alliance among the countries of Brzezinski's"arc of Islam"-including Egypt, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia-and Casey' paid specialattention to Saudi Arabia as the linchpin of the effort. The CIA director saw Saudi Arabia as more than a financial resource to support the jihad, and as more than the center of ultra-orthodox Islam. According to Meyer, Caseyalso mobilized Saudi Arabia's oil weapon againstthe USSRin the r98os. "The Saudiswere very helpful to us in winning the Cold War," saysMeyer. Becausethe SovietUnion was so dependenton oil exports to earn hard currencS Caseyasked Saudi Arabia to ramp up its oil output and collapsethe price of oil. "Bill played a key role in working with the Saudisto get the price of oil down," says Meyer. "They hated the Soviets." Saudi Arabia expandedproduction, the price of oil dropped to historic lows, falling from $28 per barrel to $ro per barrel in a matter of weeks,and Soviet income was severelycurtailed. "It was a body blow to the Soviets.It was the equiv4lentof steppingon their oxygen tube."33 Casey,a devout Catholic, combined a fierce belief in the power and importance of religion with a Machiavellian attitude toward the political utility of religious belief. "He was a deeply religious man, and he had a good working relationshipwith the pope," saysMeyer. "Casey," wrote Coll, in Ghost 'Wars,"saw political Islam and the Catholic Church as natural allies in the 'realisticcounter-strategy'oi covert action he was forging at the CIA to thwart Soviet imperialism."3aIn this view, Caseywas encouragedby his chief intelligence

Iihad II: lnto Central Asia


Lg j

adviseron the Middle East,Robert Ames, who was the CIAs leading regionalexpert.In a speech,CaseycreditedAmes with having emphasized to him the importance of efforts by the Soviet Union and its allies in the Muslim world to extirpate organizedreligion, becauseof the threat that it supposedlyposedto communist or nationalist party control. The communists wanted to "uproot and ultimately change the traditional elementsof society," said Casey,citing Ames. "This meant undermining the influence of religion and taking the young away from their parentsfor educationby the state." For that reason, the world's two great religionshad to cooperate."Becausethe Soviets saw all religious faith as an obstacle,they suppressedchurchesand mosquesalike." Caseywas convincedthat "militant Islam and militant Clhristianityshouldcooperatein a common cause."lt5 Insidethe CIA, Caseyoften infuriatedprofessionalcolleaguesby his nonchalant view of the growing power of political lslam. "l worked with Casey," says Richard Krueger,a formcr CIA operative who spent the last severalyears of the shah'sreign working right inside the shah'sown office. "After the revolution, I sponsoredwith Caseyand the headsof all the intelligcnceagenciesa futurist cxercise at Camp Perry to analyze the lslan-ricmovcmcnt." According to KruegeqJohn McMahon, Casey'sdeputy,clashedwith Caseyovcr the bctweenCasey issue."I can remembermajor, major unpleasantries and McMahon over the long-termimplicationsof the Islamicrcvolution, with McMahon taking an almost alarmist position and Casey position," recallsKrueger."Caseywrrnted taking a couldn't-carc-less McMahon jumped in. He to just wave it off, and uncharacteristically how Islamicfundamentalism was going to was agitated,talking abor.rt spreadto Indonesia,the Philippincs.He believedthe movementwas a through all sorts of religiousand social natural to internationalize, But it wouldn't appearto be state-sponsored." that connections,and Cr sey ditl not egree.l n Casey'sviews on religion and politics dovetailedwith President Reagan'sown rock-ribbed faith, and together the two men had n<r trouble seeingthe Afghan iihad as a religiouswar in which Christianity and lslam were alliesagainstthe atheisticSovietUnion. Fawaz

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Gergeswrote that Reaganconrinuedthe U.S. tradition of supporting Islamic religiousforcesin the Middle East: Under Reagan,U.S.policy remainedweddedro supportingconservativereligiouselementsagainstsecular,socialistand third world nationalist forces. ril/hereasthe administrarion'spublic statements were exceptionallyhostile,no corresponding changes markedits actualbehaviorrowardthe new Islamists.. . . Reagan's flirtation with the Islamistmujahideenfactionsin Afghanistan shouldbe situatedwithin the contextof the secondphaseof the Cold \War.Like his predecessors in the r95os and 196os,President Reaganalliedthe United Stateswith Islamistgroupsand sratesAfghanistan,Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan-ro combat what he calledthe 'evil empire'and its third world clients.3T Sometimes, Casey's willingness to encourage political Islam seemedstrictly cynical. That was especiallytrue when Casey dealt with SaudiArabia's King Fahd. Gus Avrakotos recountedthe srory of a discussionabout Casey'svisit to Saudi Arabia to nail down that year's Saudi matching contribution to the iihad fund. "I told Casey that he should talk to the king about 'your Muslim brothers,' about using the money for food for families, for clothing, weapons, for repairing the mosques.You should talk to him about being 'keeperof the faith."' Casey replied: "Jesus,fuck, I like that-'keeper of the faith.' Oh, fuck, I like that-'keeper of the faith."'38 A former CIA official involved in the jihad confirmed that srory. "We would tell the Saudis what a good thing it was that the religious Afghans were expellingthe atheisticcommunists," he adds. "It was rhe politic thing to sayto King Fahd,"3e Starting rn t984, Casey pushed the Saudi-Pakistanalliance to undertake a much more explosive strateg5 launching propaganda, sabotage,and guerrilla activity acrossthe Amu River into the Soviet Union's Muslim republics."The bordersin that part of the world are, well, sort of sloppy," saysMeyer, Casey'saide. "So all sorts of interestingthings happened."40A CIA official who worked with Caseyat the time says: "There were occasionalforays that took place within the territory of the Soviet Union, which scared the crap out of Moscow."4l In taking such provocative steps,Caseydrew on covert

lihad II: Into Central Asia

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action plans that had originally been developedduring the Carter administration, but which had been rejectedbecauseof the very real danger that the USSR would counterattack in unpredictableways, including either a direct strike at Pakistan or an effort to foment a rebellion in Pakistan'sunstableprovince of Baluchistan. The ISI's Yousaf provides the most detailedaccount of the jihad's move across Afghanistan'snorthern border. "The people on both sideswere Uzbeks,Tajiks, and Turkomans," he wrote. "They shared a common ethnic identity and, despitethe communist clampdown on religious activities,they also shared the same faith, Islam."42Casey declared, according to Yousaf: "This is the soft underbelly of the Soviet Union." During a visit to ISI's headquarters,Casey "was the first personseriouslyto advocateoperationsagainstthe Sovietsinside their own territory. . . . He u'as convincedthat stirring up trouble in this region would be certain to give the Russianbear a bellyache."At first, the effort was restricted to smuggling propaganda into the USSR'sMuslim republics,seekingto stir up Islamic fervor.During the of Korans were printed in Central Asian languages r98os thor,rsands and covertly moved acrossthe Afghan border. Some of the Korans were printed in Saudi Arabia, others by the CIA itself, using Muslim connectionsin ntresternEuroPe. Saudi Arabia, especially,was interestedin Central Asia becauseit saw lran, and the new a competitortrying to spread its version of Shiite fundamentalism into Central Asia, againstSaudiArabia's ultra-orthodox'Wahhabibrand of Sunni Islam. A former CIA operationsofficer who worked closelywith SaudiArabia says that Saudi intelligenceofficers told him about their idea of " colonizingthe'Stans": Theywantedto getin thereand steala marchon the Iranians,and and make surethat SunniIslamprevailed undercutthe Russians, over Shialslam.The Saudiswere readyto go. They said,"\(/e've got to get in there,into the 'stans,we'vegot to work together,use Islam to break the grip of communismin the 'stans,in Kazakhall throughthere."It wasopenseason.Different stan,Uzbekistan, Saudiprincesand clericswould go up thereor sendstuff up there, Koransand othermaterial.a3

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Beginning in 1984, however, it was more than just Korans and Islamist books and propaganda. "The United Statespur in rrain a major escalationof the war which, over the next three years,culminated in numerouscross-borderraids and sabotagemissionsnorth of the Amu," wrote Mohammad Yousaf. "During this period we were specificallyto train and dispatch hundreds of Mujahideen up to zj kilometresdeepinsidethe SovietUnion. They were probably the most secretand sensitiveoperationsof the war." He added that the Soviet Union's "specific worry was the spread of fundamentalism and its influence on Soviet Central Asian Muslims."aa The ISI official was prepared to "send teams over the river to carry out rocket attacks, mine-laying, derailment of trains or ambushes."45Teams that did crossthe Sovietborder soughtcontactsamong Muslim activistsin the region. "I was impressedby the number of reports of people wanting to assist," wrote Yousaf. "Some wanted weapons, some wanted to join the Mujahideen in Afghanisran,and othersto parricipatein operations insidethe SovietUnion."46Accordine to Yousaf: Thesecross-border strikeswere at their peak in 1986. Scoresof attackswere made acrossthe Amu from Jozjan to Badakshan Provinces. Sometimes Sovietcitizensjoinedin theseoperations,or cameback into Afghanistanto yointhe Mujahideen.. . . That we werehitting a sorespot wasconfirmedby the ferocityof the Soviets' reaction.Virtualiy every incursionprovokedmassiveaerial bombingand gunshipattackson all villagessouthof the river in the vicinityof our strike.aT It was, of course, an offensive that not only risked inflaming latent Islamist sentimentinside the SovietUnion but which could have provoked Moscow to retaliate against Pakistan itself, something that could lead to a U.S.-Sovietglobal conflagration-and all of this unfolded secretly,without the knowledge of the American public. According to various accounrs of the Afghan conflict, and from Yousaf's own testimony, eventually cooler heads in \Tashington got the upper hand, and the cross-borderattackswere halted. "By r98 5, it becameobvious that the United Stateshad got cold feet," mourned Yousaf. "Somebody at the top in the American administration was

Jihad II: Into Central Asia



getting frightened." But, he asserted,"the CIA, and others, gave us every encouragementunofficially to take the war into the Soviet IJnion."48 In the end, the Casey-lSloffensiveinto the SovietUnion failed to theory of a provoke a Muslim uprising. The Brzezinski-Bennigsen restive Muslim population chafing to revolt against its Soviet overlords, and loyal to an undergroundnetwork of Sufi Islamists,proved flawed, at best. Yet there is no question that the Casey-ISIactions aided the growth of a significant network of right-wing Islamist extremistswho, to this day, still plaguethe governmentsof the former Sovietrepublics,now led by regimesof varying authoritarian,but not Islamist, character.In particular, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Islamic Liberation Party (Hizb ut-Tahrir), the powerful Islamist $oups in Chechnya and Dagestan, and the shadowy Al Qaeda presencein Central Asia all gained momentum in the r98os, thanks to the spilloverof the Afghan jihad.


E ND ro


The Afghan jihad did not end when the Soviet Union withdrew its forces. The United States had no exit strategy and no plan for Afghanistanin the wake of the war. Most policy makers in \Tashington believedthat the weak pro-Sovietgovernmentin Kabul that was left in place would collapsein short ordeq but it lingered on. The mujahideen, who fractured into factions after the war and fought amongst themselves,continued to fight. And Pakistan, which saw Afghanistan as its partner in a coalition against India, heavily supported the Islamistsin the shatteredcountry. None of this seemedto bother top U.S. officials at the time. "'We knew we were involved with Islamic fundamentalists,"said Caspar \Weinberger, who served as PresidentReagan'ssecretaryof defense. "\7e knew they were not very nice people, and they were not all people attached to democracy.But we had this terrible problem of making choices.. . . Rememberwhat Churchill said, 'If Hitler invaded Hell. I would at least make a favorable referenceto the Devil in the

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House of Commons.'"4eIt was an apt characterization of U.S.policy toward Afghanistan, Central Asia, and the "arc of Islam" in the r 9 8os. There is no question that the U.S. support for the mujahideen, most of which went to the hard-core Islamists,was a catastrophic miscalculation.It devastatedAfghanistanitself, led to the collapseof its government,and gave rise to a landscapedominated by warlords, both Islamists and otherwise. lt created a worldwide network of highly trained Islamist fighters from a score of countries, linked together and roughly affiliated to Osama bin Laden's soon-to-be establishedAl Qaeda organization. It left behind a shatterednation that played host to Al Qaeda and other assortedterrorist formarions. And it set up conditions under which Pakistan'sISI could encourage the growth of the Taliban movementin the rgc)os. Yet advocates of the jihad, even those who in 2ooj are rhe staunchestproponentsof the global war on terrorism directedagainst Islamist groups, assertthat it was correct policy. "I think it was the right thing do to," saysDaniel Pipes,the prolific campaigneragainst political Islam and son of Richard Pipes, who coordinated the NationalitiesSTorkingGroup in the early yearsof the Reaganadministration. During those years, Daniel Pipes was a State Department and National SecurityCouncil official. "\Wesupported Stalin against Hitler," he says,echoing \Teinberger'srheory of dealing with devils. "These are real-world choices." The most militant among the mujahideenwere the best fighters, according to Pipes. "If anything, the radical Islarnistswere seenas more vehementlyanti-Soviet."50It is a view echoedby numerousU.S. veteransof the Afghan war, including many CIA officials and policy makers. "The people we did support were the nastier,more fanatic rypesof mujahideen,"said Stephen P. Cohen, who was a top StateDepartment official in the r9Bos. "If you want to win the Cold rVar and defeatthe Sovietsin Afghanistan, you can't usethe SalvationArmy."-it Needlessto say, the "fanatic types" did not fade away after the Soviet Union decided to withdraw from Afghanisran, although the people sponsoringthem changeddramatically: Bill Casey died, and both General Zra and the head of ISI were killed in an unexnlained

Iihad II: Into Central Asia



plane crash.But the Islamic right was entrenchedin both Afghanistan and Pakistan.The Islamic Group of Pakistanwas rich and powerful, and well connectedwith the Muslim Brotherhood'sworldwide networks. Most of the top ISI officials were now confirmed Islamists with Muslim Brotherhood links. The Islamic Group and the Brotherhood, in turn, maintained strong ties to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and the other militant Islamists in Afghanistan, and ro the burgeoning mujahideen network from dozens of countries who came and went freely though the madrassasystem.The Sovietwithdrawal was celebrated as a tremendousvictory at the CIA and the Pentagon,and for the most part they turned away from Afghanistan, assuming that the pro-Soviet regime that still ruled in Kabul, led by President Najibullah, would quickly fall. The CIA drew an analogy with how quickly the government of South Vietnam fell after the U.S. withdrawal there, and they assumedthat Najibullah would collapse in short order. Still, an odd sort of morning-after queasinessdeveloped in U.S.gover nm entci rcl es. At the StateDepartment,and evenat the CIA, there was somedisquiet over the prospectof Hekmatyar and other fundamentaliststaking over in Afghanistan. Soviet officials were among rhose warning \Washingtonof the dangersinherent in the Islamist movement.Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadzetried to feel our Secretaryof StateGeorgeShultz about the possibiliryof a U.S.-Sovietgenrleman's agreementon the terms of a soviet pullout, and he "asked for American cooperationin limiting the spreadof 'Islamic fundamentalism.'" However, other than Shultz, the adminisrration was unsympathetic and "no high-level Reagan administration officials ever gave much thought to the issue.They neverconsideredpressingPakistaniintelligenceto begin shifting support away from the Muslim Brotherhoodconnectedfactions." Moscow was exceedinglyworried about Islamic fundamentalismtaking root along its southernfrontier, however,and even Vladimir Kryuchkov, the head of the KGB, sat down with CIA Director Gatesto explain why Sovietleaderswere "fearful about the rise to power in Afghanistanof another fundamentalistgovernment,a Sunni complementto ShiiteIran."-52To no avail. By default, the United States allowed Pakistan and the ISI to

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maintain control of the political levers in Afghanistan. The official Saudi spigot for cash had largely shut down, but the unofficial, private sourcesof funding-through various wealthy princes, through the Muslim'World League,through the Muslim Brotherhood'snetworks-were still up and running. According to two U.S. ambassadors who served in Saudi Arabia at this time, the United States handled the end of the war badly. "\fhere I was, nobody was looking aheadat what would happen to theseunemployedfreedom fighters," says'WalterCutler,who was U.S. ambassadorin SaudiArabia during most of the r98os. "I don't recallany discussionabout, 'Gee,I wonder if theseguys are going to pose any threat?' 'Wedidn't really focus that much on political Islam. Ir was the Cold 'S7ar.The fact that you had thesezealots,trained and armed with Stingers,didn't come up."-53 "\7e start wars without figuring out how we would end them," says Charles Freeman,who was ambassadorto Saudi Arabia at the '$Var end of the 198os and during the first Gulf rn rggr. "Afghanistan was lurching into civil war, and we basically didn't care anymore." Adds Freeman: The Afghan struggledidn't stop. Someof us were concerned-I was, and so was [Robert]Oakley [U.S.ambassador in Pakistan], who was concernedaboutthe ISI screwingaroundin Afghanistan and Kashmir,and that the Saudiswere complicit in this. You couldn't really figureout if the Saudiswere beingused,or were witting. I talkedto [Prince]Turki [the headof Saudiintelligencel about it, and to the ClA, and my message was, basically, that we needto startthinkingaboutdisentangling ourselves. But therewas somequestiona.boutwhetherSaudiArabia had beencapturedby the ISI. The ISI would take their money and start implementing things,and we didn't know what they weredoing.Certainlya lot of Saudimoneywas going to Hekmatyar.But we couldn't really figureout what the Saudiagendawas.There'dbeenup to $3 billion a year flowing into the war, in all, from the United States, Saudi Arabia, and others. You can'r just turn the spigot off overnight.Both Bob and I thoughtwe shouldhavea seriousdialogueabout it, but we couldn'tget anyoneelseinterested, including [Robert] Gatesand [\X/illiam]Webster[both CIA directors]. Part of the attitude in \Tashingtonwas, "'Sfhy should we go out

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there and talk to peoplewith towels on their heads?"So we weren'teffective.5a According to Yousaf, who had a bird's-eyeview of the end of the war from his post at ISI, as the dust cleared in Afghanistan some Americansdid becomealarmed at the prospectof Hekmatyar and his fellow fundamentaliststaking power. "The Americansbeganto look at an Afghanistanwithout the Red Army," he wrote. "'What they saw alarmed them." But, he said, Gen. Akhtar Abdel Rahman Khan, the ISI architect of the jihad, managed to counter the ineffectual U.S. efforts to strengthenpotential Afghan non-fundamentalistgroups, including the forcesallied to the exiled king,Zahir Shah,and to other, lessIslamistpartiesand individuals. "General Akhtar understood[the Americans'] aims and methods and opposed their every move." Akhtar also opposedwhat Yousafcalls "the Americans'bright idea of bringing back the long-exiled Zahir Shah to head a government of "55 nationalr econciliation. Even had the United Stateswanted to exert itself to minimize the power of the fundamentalistsafter the war, and to enhancethe strength of the moderates,centrists,and secularists,it would havebeendifficultfor the simple reason that most of them were dead. At the same time that the largely Islamist mujahideen were battling the USSR,they were also killing potential postwar Afghan opponenti by the thousands,in a little-known secondfront of the jihad directed against non-communist Afghanis. "In Afghanistan, we made a deliberatechoice," says Cheryl Benard,a RAND Corporation expert on political Islam, who is married toZalmay Khalilzad, who servedas U.S.ambassadorin Kabul. "At first, everyonethought, There'sno way to beat the Soviets.So what we have to do is to throw the worst craziesagainst them that we can find, and 'We knew exactly who thesepeople there was a lot of collateral damage. were like, and we didn't care," she their organizations were, and what says. "Then, we allowed them to get rid of, just kill all the moderate leaders. The reason we don't have moderate leaders in Afghanistan today is becausewe let the nuts kill them all. They killed the leftists,the moderates,the middle-of-the-roaders.They were just eliminated, during the r98os and afterward."56

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The wreckageleft behind in Afghanistancould have been evenworse had the Reagan administration'ssecretinitiatives toward Iran from r98o to r986 borne fruit. There are three episodesin regard to Iran that paralleled America's alliance with fundamentalist Islam in Afghanistan: the so-calledOctober Surprisein r98o, Israel's secret relationship with Iran during the r98os, and the ry84-86 covert Reaganadministration approachto Ayatollah Khomeini'sIran. In r98o, as Carter administration officials frantically tried to securethe releaseof the U.S. hostagesin Iran, it appearslikely that membersof the Reagancampaign team, including CaseSestablished contactswith Iranian officials,in an effort to postpone the hostages' releaseuntil after the election. Gary Sick,a U.S.Navy officerwho servedon the National Security Council staff under Ford, Carter, and Reagan,concludedyears later that the Reagan-Bushcampaigndid in fact enter into secrettalks with Iranian leadersto prevent the releaseof the hostagesand to promise to ship U.S. and Israeli arms to Iran in r98r. He penned a detailed account of his findings in the book Ocrober Surprise: America's Hostagesin Iran and the Election of Ronald Reagan.In it, he concludes:"The Reagan-Bushcampaign mounted a professionallyorganized intelligence operation to subvert the American democratic process. "57 Sick suspectedthat the basisfor the GOP-Iran talks was a promise that a Republicanadministrationwould look with favor on the shipment of Israeli and other arms to Iran, possibly including U.S. stockpiles of weapons that the shah had ordered and paid for. Iran desperatelyneededweapons for its fight with Iraq, which erupted into a full-scalewar in September198o. Israel,which had a long military relationship with Iran going back to the two countries' first major arms deal in 1966, was eagerto supply Teheran'sclericalregimewith weapons,despitethe hostagecrisis. "Israel'salmost frantic efforts to reopen an arms relationship with Iran were being thwarted by President Carter, who stubbornly refusedto acquiesceto even token Israeli

.lihad II: Into Central Asia

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arms shipmentsuntil the hostageswere free," wrote Sick.s8Interestingly, the key Iranian broker for arms talks betweenIsrael and Iran was Ahmed Kashani, the son of Ayatollah Seyyed Abolqassem Kashani,the cleric who receivedCIA paymentsin r953 in order to organize mobs demanding the overthrow of Mossadegh and the return of the shah. Kashani visited Israel in r9t3o, according to Sick, who adds that "other channelsbetweenIsraeland Iran were functioning long beforehe arrived." In the spring of r98o, a small Israeliarms shipm entar r ivedin lran.' o Sick providesa detailedaccountof contactsand meetingsbetween Casey,other Reaganofficials,and a host of Iranian go-betweens,several of whom would turn up as part of the ry84-86Iran-contra scandal.60Some of them, in turn, had close contacts in Israel, and Israel and Iran begancloser military cooperation in late r98o, includingmost spectacularly-Israel's June 7, r98r, air raid that destroyed Iraq's Osirak nuclearfacility, only days after the outbreak of the IranIraq war. "Israel provided lran with information on how to attack the nuclearfacility but . . . the Iraqi air defensewas too good for the Iranian air force," reportedSick.nlSo Israeldid it. Casey,according to Sick, helped Iran break the U.S. embargo on Israeli arms for Iran. "'sfilliam Casey struck exactly the kind of unsentimentalbargain with the Iranian clericsthat the Iran lobby in Israel had been looking for," wrote Sick. "Isriel was approachedin August not only by Caseybut by officialswithin the CIA who encouraged Israel to cooperatewith the Republicaninitiative as a meansof At the NSC, Sick was gettingreports of Israeli freeingthe hostages."52 arms deliveriesto Iran, in defianceof Carter'sopposition. "The Israeli leadership,at the very highestlevel,had deliberatelSalmost contemptuously turned its back on Jimmy Carter's administration."6sIn the end, the hostageswere freed, but only on January zo, t98r, minutes after Reaganwas sworn in as America'sfortieth president."Few suspected," wrote Sick,that the releaseof the hostages"was the denouement of an elaborate plot that had been hatched months before by \(iilliam Casey."64 contactswith Iran in r98o-8r foreshadThe secretReagan-Casey owed efforts during the Reaganadministrationto maintain covert ties



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with the Iranian ayatollahs.SomeU.S. officials saw Iran as an ally in the growing war in Afghanistan,sinceKhomeini was bitterly opposed to the Soviet Union and wanted to extend Iranian influence inro Afghanistanand Central Asia. Others saw Iran as a counterweightto Iraq, for two reasons:first, becauseof the SovietUnion's closetresto Baghdad,but second,and more important, becausea powerful iraq was seenas a threat to Israel. During the Iran-Iraq war, the United Statespursuedtwo policiesat the same time. \Washington'smain approach was the "tilt" toward Iraq during its war with Iran. Officialswho supportedthe pro-Iraq tilt correctly saw Iran as the major threat to American interestsin the region, sincethe defeatof Iraq by Iran's fundamentalistregimewould open the way to Iranian domination of the entire PersianGulf, including Kuwait and SaudiArabia. Virtually the entire Arab world backed Iraq in its war with lran, and the United Statesprovided limited support to Iraq, including intelligenceon lran's capabilitiesand troop deployments. But Israel-along with many U.S. neoconservative officials,including Casey-saw it differently. From r98o to t987, evenas the United StatesofficiallybackedIraq, the IsraelissuppliedIran with a steadystream of arms, ammunirion, and spare parts. Whether or not it was part of a secretdeal between Casey,Israel, and lran, the Reaganadministration did norhing to ger Israel to stop arming the ayatollahs.In doing so, Israel was drawing on its many contactswith Iran during the shah'srule. \Whenthe shah was toppled, the Israeliscontinued to work with Iranian army and intelligence officers.they knew, even though the officers were now reporting to mullahs and ayatollahs.Israel'sties to Khomeini's Iran were multifaceted.They had links to lran's armed forcesand the successor organization to the shah's SAVAK secret service. In addition, thousands of Iranian Jews had long been active in the bazaar merchant class,many of whom had immigrated to Israel but maintained ties to Iran, including links to rhe families of the wealthier,conservative ayatollahs.Israelcapitalizedon thoseconracrs,roo. "Israel was dealing with the regime in Iran as a semi-ally," says Patrick Lang, who headed the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency's

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"They were dealingwith the samepeoplethey Middle East section.6'5 dealt with under the shah.During theseyears,the Israeliswere having meetingsonce a month in Europe with people from the Iranian air force." According to Lang, theseIsrael-Iranmeetingstook place for many years. Israel, he said, would ask Iran what sort of arms it needed,then take Teheran'sshoppinglist to seewhat it could provide. At the time, the Reaganadministrationhad institutedwhat was called Operation Staunchin r984, to cut the arms flow to Iran and Iraq, but the Israelisflouted it and Reagan never used America's influencein Israelto get them to halt the arms deliveries."The Israeliswere doing this all along," Lang says. "At the DefenseintelligenceAgency,we found out about it when an Iranian air force colonel defectedto us and told us about it." Still, saysLang, PresidentReagan'steam looked the other way. "My impressionis that we didn't try too hard to stop it," says Lang. In just the immediate period after the releaseof the U.S. hostages,Israel supplied Iran with $3oo million worth of military equipment.The shipmentsincluded spareparts for U.S. F-4 aircraft, M-48 tanks,and M-r r3 armoredpersonnelcarriers.66 An important incident in r983 revealsthe extent to which Casey's CIA worked with Iran's intelligenceservicewhen it was in both countries' mutual interestto do so. In t982, Vladimir Kuzichkin, u'ho had servedas the station chief in Teheranfor the SovietKGB, defectedto Great Britain. During the r:evolution,Kuzichkin had ably represented Soviet interestsin Iran, but in fact the Soviet presencein Iran was quite small, and did not threateneither the United Statesor the shah. According to Kuzichkin, who later wrote a book about his experience,the KGB had a grand total of two agentsin governmentand official Iranian circles."I could not believemy eyes,but it was a fact, and facts do not go away," he wrote. "I was very surprisedat the small number of agentsin Iran."67Kuzichkin also wrote that the USSRvalued the stability of Iran under the shah and that Moscow never had any contactswith either the Islamist revolutionariesor the so-called groups that briefly made common cause with Khomeini.6sBut the KGB station did support the small and ineffective Tudeh Communist Party in Iran. When Kuzichkin defected, he decided to win favor in AngloIslamic Manist



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Americancirclesby giving MI6 and the CIA everythinghe knew about the Tudeh and its members. "He provided the British with a list of severalhundred Soviet agentsoperating in Iran," wrote James Bill. Almost immediately,MI6 and the CIA handed Kuzichkin's information to the Iranian intellisenceservice: Kuzichkin'sinformationwas sharedwith the Iranian authorities, who arrestedover r,ooo Tudehparty members,many of whom had already been under surveillance.Those arrestedincluded Nureddin Kianuri [the Tudehleader,who admittedlthat he had maintainedcontactwith Sovietagentssincer945. This dramatic destructionof the Tudehparty in r983 completedthe dismantling of the Iranianleft.6e None of this, of course,was made public at the time. Americansknew nothing about the CIAs sub rosa cooperation with Khomeini's Iran, nothing about Israel'songoing arms supply to lran, and, later,nothing about the Iran-contra initiative toward Iran, until it was revealedby a Lebanesenewspaper.Mel Goodman, a former CIA analyst who headed the agency'steam analyzing Soviet policy in the Third World, confirms that the CIA was part of the Kuzichkin-Ml6 connection to Iran. "The CIA was involved in that, too," says Goodman. "They were working with the ayatollah to wrap up the Tudeh Party. There was a lot of lcable] traffic on it. Kuzichkin was being run by the British and he provided a lot of information." According to Goodman, the CIA and MI6 were working with Iranian intelligenceofficials who had been part of the old SAVAK organization, and who simply shifted loyalty to th,enew Islamic republic.T0 Most notorious among the former SAVAK officialsnow cooperating with the new regimewas HosseinFardoust.Fardoustwas a childhood friend of the shah,who had attendedschool in Switzerlandwith both the shah and future CIA director Richard Helms. Fardoust had risen to a high position in Iranian intelligencein the r97osr and in r976he was namedto headthe Organizationof Imperiallnspection, which was reconstituted by the shah. In his memoirs, the shah describesthe inspectorateas "a modern version of what the ancient

Jihad II: Into Central Asia



Persianshad called 'the eyesand ears of the king.'"71 Its lob was to keep track of political currents in the country, including among the clergy. But Fardoust joined the pro-Khomeini opposition, secretly. PrincessAshraf, the shrewd and ruthlesssisterof the shah,recalledin her memoirs that Fardoust failed, deliberately,to inform the shah of what the mullahs were doing: Curiously,SAVAK-the supposedly all-seeing, all-knowingintelligence source-made no reports on the extent and manner in which the mullahswere now using the sanctityof the pulpit to underminethe throne.. . . Eachday my brothermet with Hossein Fardoust,. . . the sameFardoustof childhood,whoseassignment was to gather,evaluate,and distill all intelligence reports.. . . I am convincedthat Fardoustmust have withheld vital information from the Shah and was, in fact, in active negotiationwith Khomeini during the last yearsof the regime.I think the events following the revolution support my view; at a time when anyone with the Shahwas beingsummarilyexecuted, remotelyconnected HosseinFardoustremainsalive and well, prosperingunder the new administration as one of the heads of SAVAMA (which is Khomeini'snamefor SAVAK).72 'Whether it was the mysteriousFardoustor someoneelse,both the CIA and the Israelishad channelsinto Iran's intelligenceservicefrom the first days of the revolution through the start of the Casey-North conspiracy in the mid-r98os. Seen in this context, the Iran-contra affair is not some strange aberration, but simply an extension of a preexistingrelationshipthat dated back to ry79.Vithin the Reagan administration,a small clique of conservatives, and neoconservatives, were most intimately involved in the Iran-contra initiative, especially thoseU.S. officialsand consultantswho were closestto the Israelimilitary and intelligenceestablishment. The record of the han affaft has been told and retold in various books, memoirs, and official governmentreports.T3The entire businesswas complex and multilayered,and it tied U.S. and Israeli arms shipments to Iran to illegal financial support for the Nicaraguan guerrillas backed by the Reagan administration. Critics of the U.S.

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approach to Iran accuseReaganand his advisersof seekingto trade arms with Iran for the releaseof U.S. hostagesin Lebanon held by Hezbollah, an Iranian cat's-paw.Indeed,to PresidentReaganhimself, the deal with Iran may have appearedto be simply an effort to get the hostagesreleased,although the president(in later testimony)said that he could not recall approving the arms transfersto Iran. To his advisers,however-especially to the neoconservatives and Casey-it had a much broader purpose,namely,an attempt to reengagewith Iran, in direct opposition to the official U.S. policy of supporting Iraq in its r esistance to Ir anianexpansi oni sm. The context for the secretCasey-North approach to Iran was the National SecurityCouncil's :r984 reevaluationof U.S. policy toward Iran. That reevaluationwas pushed by a small clique of U.S. officials opposedto the American tilt in favor of Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war. Robert McFarlane, the national security adviser,ordered the NSC review, and severalofficials-including Howard Teicherand Donald Fortier at the NSC, Graham Fuller at the CIA, and others-began a two-year-longcampaign to shift U.S. policy in favor of Iran. Their effort dovetailednicely with parallel Israeli efforts to isolateIraq and connect with Iran. At the time, Israel was supplying arms to lran, backing the rise of the Islamic right in the occupiedterritories,fueling the Muslim Brotherhood'scivil war in Syria, and fiercely supporting the Islam istsin Afghani stan. In 1985, Fuller-working along with Teicher and Fortierproduced an infamous SpecialNational IntelligenceEstimate (SNIE) that called for the United Statesto provide arms to the ayatollahs' regimeand a draft policy paper that said that the United Statesshould 'Western "encourage allies and friends to help Iran meet its import requirements. . . including provision of selectedmilitary equipment."Ta 'Weinberger Both Secretaryof State Shultz and Secretaryof Defense strongly opposedthe idea, but CIA Director Caseybacked it. In the midst of this internal battle, Israel steppedin, using intermediariesto propose a joint U.S.-Israelieffort to approach Iran and sell Teheran weapons. The U.S. contact for the Israeli intelligenceschemewas Michael Ledeen,a neoconservativeNSC consultant,who was sent to

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Israel by McFarlane to discussthe idea. Specifically,Israel wanred to ship HAWK antiaircraft and TOW antitank missilesto the Iranians, weapons consideredcritical in Iran's war with Iraq, along with a U.S. commitment to resupply Israel with the missilesonce they were sent. Israel's rationale was the releaseof the U.S. hostages,but of courseIsrael-and elementswithin the American administration-had broader,pro-Iranian strategicconcerns,not related to the hostages. Teicher,in particular,vehementlysupported the Iran initiative. In r98o, when Iran and Iraq went to war, "l renewed my campaign against the nascenttilt toward Iraq," wrote Teicher in his memoirs. He added that some U.S. officialsviewed the war as a way to undermine the Islamist threat from Iran, which at the time was holding fifty-three Americanscaptive. "The Arabists in the U.S. government saw the lr aqi invasionas an opportuni ty to eliminaterhe growing threat of Iranian-sponsoredIslamic fundamentalism."T's Advocatesfor sellingarms to Iran made two seriouslyflawed arguments. The first was that there were moderates inside Iran who wanted to deal with the United States,and who would look with favor upon a U.S.goodwill offer to replenishIran's dwindling arsenal. The secondwas that Iran was internally weak and unstable,and ripe for a Soviet takeover that could bring the USSR into the Gulf. Both argumentswere wildly inaccurate-and so was the belief that token arms shipmentscould win freedom for U.S. hostagesin Lebanon. At the start of the Iran initiative, an Israeli intelligence official told McFarlane that "the Israelisplanned to provide somearms to moderates in Iran who would opposeKhomeini." The idea that somepowerful faction of Iranian moderateswould emergeto greet the United Statesand Israel with open arms and take action against Khomeini captivated many of the U.S. participants in the lran-contra affair, including Caseyhimself. But it was a mirage. According to a former seniorCIA official, it took a lot of doing in the mid-r9Sos to convince Caseythat the chimerical "moderates" were not there. "There were 'When no moderatesto speakof in t986," saysthe CIA official. Ollie North, McFarlane,and other U.S. and Israeliofficialswere planning a secretvisit to Iran to try to make a deal, the official says,Casey-who

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had approved the plan-wanted to know if the plan would work. "Casey called me in and asked,Did I think this mission had a chance I told him, 'Not much.' And there wasn't really a chance of success? of success."Asked if Caseyultimately believedthat Iranian moderates would respond in a positive way to the U.S. gambit, the official says: Patrick Lang, who was "Probably not after talking to me."76Says'V7. then director of the DefenseIntelligenceAgency's Middle East section: "Their view was that there were lots of moderatesin lran who are not what they seemto be, which was a bunch of jackasses.And I said,that's exactly what they 2rs-lackasses." The more significant argument, that Iran might fall to the USSR, was absurd on its face. The Soviet Union was battling insurgentsin Afghanistan,it had little or no assetsinsidelran, and Sovietleadershad no intention of crossingthe red line into the PersianGulf, a region that FDR, Eisenhower,and Carter had all proclaimed a zone of American predominance.Yet in a NIay r985 memo to CaseScalled "Toward a Policy toward Iran," the CIAs Fuller argued,"The Khomeini regrmeis faitering.. . . The U.S. has almost no cards to play; the USSR has many." According to Fuller, U.S. intelligenceanalystsfelt that Moscow was making "progress toward developing significant leverage in Tehran" and that the U.S. policy forbidding arms salesto Iran "may now serveto facilitateSovietinterestsmore than our own." He added: It is imperative,however,that rve perhapsthink in terms of a bolder-and perhapsriskier-policy which will at least ensure greaterU.S.voicein the unfoldingsituation.Right now, unlesswe are very lucky indeed,we standto gain nothingand losemore in the outcomeof developments in lran, which are all outsideour control.TT Fuller was developinga view that made him increasinglysympathetic to fundamentalist Islam, and in his testimony to the Tower Commission,a three-manpanel, appointed by PresidentReaganand led by former senatorJohn Tower of Texas,assignedto investigatethe NSC's role in the Iran-contra scandal,he said that a problem was that "the Iranian regime perceivedus as implacably hostile towards an

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Islamicrepublicin principle."78In his controversialSNIE and orher analyses,Fuller insistedthe United Statesrvould drive Iran ir-rtothe soviet camp unlessit allorvedIsrael and other allies ro arm tl'remullahs.It saidthat to the extentthat American"allies," includingIsrael, "can fill a military gr,rpfor Iran rvill be a critical *easure of the \rvest's ability to blunt Sovietinfluence."7" Fuller'sanalysiswas hotly disputeclby .ther: officiirls. Fuller'sSNIE said that "the Iran revoluri.n rvasphony, that it was led by a bunch of agricultural reformers who didn't really care alrour Islam and that they would make common cause with the Soviet LJnion," saysthe DIA's Lang. "I got another NIE started,which was finished five months later. And it said exactly the opposite, but it didn't have the same impact." In the rneantime,Fuller, Teicher,and others pressedaheadto rranslareFuller'sSNIE into U.S. policy, seeking to draft a presidentialdirectivethat called for "a vigorous policy designedto block Soviet advancesin the short-term while trying to restore the U.S. position in Iran r,','hichexisted under the shah."'Ihe directive,couchedin anti-Soviet,Cold'War rerms,virtually called for an alliancewith the Islamic Republicof Iran againstthe USSR,including "continued Iranian resistanceto Sovietexpansion(in particular,in Afghanistan)." The draft encouragedIsrael and other U.S. allies to arm Iran, and it called for the United Sratesro "esrablishlinks with, ar r d pr ovide supporr ro. Irani an l eadersw ho might be receptivero efforts to improve relations with the United Stares."It also called on the Voice of America to "increase efforts to discredit Moscow,s Islamic credentials." "Iran still representedthe strategic prize in the modern Great Game," wrote Teicher."McFarlane agreedwith Fuller'sanalysisand directed Fortier and me to draft an NSDD [National SecurityDecision Directivel. The NSDD was based on Fuller's analysis [and it] argued that . . . the United States should establish a dialogue with Iranian leaders.The proposal included the provision of selectedmilitary equipment to Iran as determinedon a case-by-case basis."80 The Iran initiative proceededbur was later shot down by Shultz and lVeinberger.The latter scribbleclthe word "absurd" on Teicher's draft

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,,I also added that this is roughly like inviting Qaddafi over for a cozy lunch," said'weinberger.8lAccording to Teicher,vice President Bush and CIA Director Casey"strongly supportedit.''82 By the end of the Reagan administration, the Iran-contra initiative had come to light, and it was being investigatedby journalists,a


specialprosecutor,and congressionalcommittees.The olive branch to the Iranians had failed. Only a single hostage had been released during the initiative, and not necessarilybecauseof it. No Iranian "moderates" spoke up, and those who cooperatedwith the Reagan administration and Israel in secfet, such as Ali Akbar HashemiRafsanjani,a future Iranian president,coveredtheir tracks by appearing to becomeevenmore bellicose. The Afghan jihad ended-or appearedto end-with the withdrawal of Soviet forces. But the legacy of that conflict, including well-trained terrorist operativesand a worldwide Islamist machine,would continue to plaguethe United Statesand the'West.In the r99os, Afghanistanfell to the \Tahhabi Taliban movement; Algeria was engulfedin a civil war against the Islamic right; and Islamist terrorists wreaked havoc in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon; and Osama bin Laden put AI unsuccessQaeda together.Through it all, the United Statesstruggled' full,v, to adopt a coherent policy toward political Islam. The consequencesof its failure to do so, and its continued benign view of the Islamicright, would becomepainfully obviouson SeptemberII' zool.



TnB coro \7en endedin t99t. But, if the cold war was world war III, doesthat mean, as someconservativesargue,that the united states is now engagedin world \Var IV, this time against Islam? Is Islamic fundamentalismthe "new communism" ? Is the war on terrorism the twenty-first-centuryequivalentof the global struggleagainst the soviet union? How serious,really,is the threat of Islamisrrerrorism?And how-if at all-did America'srelarionshipto polirical Islam changewith the end of the Cold \far? The central theme of this book is that the Islamic right was seenas a valuable U.s. ally during the cold war. rwas that alliance superseded, or rendered superfluous,by the disappearanceof the u.S.'s7ith soviet rivalry? the elimination of its communisr enemy,did the Islamic right direct its wrath insteadroward the Great saransof the 'west? secular Is the united states now facing a worldwide enem),, comprisinga hydra-headedmonster tied to a network of srates-Iran, syria, Libya, sudan, and saudi Arabia-that Michael Ledeen. the Iran-contra veteran,calls the "terror masters"? Sinceseptemberrr,2oor, the notion that the United Statesand the Muslim world are on a collision coursehas gainedcredence.If the 6rst Iraq war in t99r marked the start of the short-lived New world


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Order, does the second Iraq war in zoo3 symbolize an entirely different era: the Clash of Civilizations?Proponentsof this viewpopularizeclby BernardLewis and SamuelHuntington-see President Bush'swil: on terrorism not as a struggle against Al Qaeda and its radical allies,but as a titanic strugglepitting Judeo-Christiancivilization againstthe Muslim world. Fittingly, in the Pentagon,the Global 'War on Terrorism is known by its acronym, G-WOT, pronounced "geewhat," thus neatlyrhyming with "jihad." the former CIA I-eadingneoconservatives, such as James$7oolse1', director and Commentary'sNorman Podhoretzproclaimed that the struggleagainstIslam was indeedWorld'Sfar IV. Joined by key Bush administration officials, they compared the power of the Islamic right-and sometimes,the religion of Islam itself-to that of fascism or communism. It was, they said, a globe-spanningopponent whose existencethreatenedAmerica'ssurvival, and becauseof it, previouslr' 'S7ar IV would unthinkable steps had to be taken. To fight World require a new U.S. doctrine of unilateral, preventivewars, an offensive posture that included wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, and then other nations, and vast increasesin U.S. military and intelligence budgets.It would mean the creation of a surveillancestate at home. with the Department of Homeland SecuritSthe USA Patriot Act, the Pentagon'sNorthern Command for deployingthe armed forcesinside the United States,and new JusticeDepartment rules giving the FBI. the police, and Joint Terrorism Task Forces in fifty-three U.S. cities significant new authority. On closerexamination.however.the clash of civilizations,the war on terror,and the Bushadministrationcampaignto reshapethe Middle Eastwere rife with paradoxes,contradictions,and outright lies. The enemythat attackedthe United Stateson Septemberr r was not Islam,nor was it Islarniclundamentalism,nor was it the Muslim Brotherhood,Hezbollah,Hamas, or any other group of violence-pronemilitants on the lslamicright. Rather,it was Al Qaeda.Osama bin Laden'. organizationis not a global power, and it does not posean existentrt, threat to the United States.It is a group of fanaticswith a tightly discrplined comrnand structure demanding mafia-stylc,blood-oath lo1'al'Washinetonin zoor outraged thc ties. Its attack on New York and


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entire world, and an effectivecounterattack-using intelligence,legal action, political and diplomatic pressure,and highly selecrivemilitary strikes-could have weakenedand then destroyedit. Unquestionably, the destruction of Al Qaeda could have been accomplishedwithout a war in Afghanistan,without a war in Iraq, and without a "war on terrorism." But the Bush administrationdeliberatelyinflatedthe specificthreat from Al Qaeda itself. Certainly, bin Laden'sgroup has proved itself capableof inflicting severedamage.Since9/r r, it has struck targetsin Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, and elsewhere.Despite Attorney General Ashcroft's unsubstantiatedclaim in zoor that thousands of Al Qaeda operativeshad infiltrated the United Srates,however, in the almost four years after glrr not a single violent act by Al Qaeda occurredin America. And there is no shredof evidencethat Al Qaeda has acquired or is about to acquire any nuclear,biological, or chemical weapons. In short, while bin Laden can launch terrorist strikes, and may do so again, the actual threat that Al Qaedaposesis crrcumscribed and manageable.Many other nations, including Israel, Ireland, and Italy, have weatheredfar more seriousterrorist threatsover many years. Equally, neither Al Qaeda, nor its ideologicalcomrades,nor the Islamic right as a whole-nor, for that matrer, the entire Muslim world-present the kind of challengeto America'sglobal hegemony that the Soviet Union clearly did. No combination of Middle East states,most of which are weak, impoverished,and wracked by inrernal divisions,is able to mount a threat to rhe United Statesin a manner that would justify an enterprisecalled "'World \Var IV." But by describingthe Islamist threat in such an exaggeratedway, the Bush administration and its neoconservativeallies createda pretext for an imperial expansion of the U.S. presencein the grearerMiddle East, including Pakistan,Central Asia, and the easternMediterranean/Red Sea/IndianOcean region. It is fair to ask if the virtual U.S. occupation of the Middle East is related to goals other than anti-terrorism.Is it becauseneoconservatives want to anchor U.S. global hegemony by planting the flag in that vital, but unstable region? Is ir becauseas much as two-thirds of the world's oil is in SaudiArabia and Ira<r? Is it


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becausethe Bush administrationhas forged such intimate ties to Ariel Sharonand the Israeliright? The notion that Islamist terrorism is really the U.S. government's target is contradicted by the targets of the Bush administration's Middle East policy. \7hy, if the enemy is Islamist terrorism, did the administration invest so much energy against lraq, Syria, and the PLO? Both Syria'spresident,Bashir Assad, and the late chairman of the PLO, Yasser Arafat, were implacable opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood, but they found themselvesadded incongruouslyto the list of Al Qaeda'sallies. By attacking lraq, the Bush administration also found an inappropriate target. Sincecoming to power in t968, SaddamHusseinwas a determinedenemyof the Islamists,from lran's Ayatollah Khomeini to terrorist Shiite groups to Al Qaeda itself. The Arab Baath SocialistPartS in both its Iraqi and Syrian branches,is resolutelysecular,and the Bush administration'sefforts to link Iraq to Al Qaeda were ridiculed by the CIA and the StateDepartment.In fact, in invading lraq, PresidentBush made common causewith the Islamic right: before,during, and after the invasion,the United States supported the Iraqi National Congressexile coalition, in which two Shiite fundamentalistparties, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), and the Islamic Call (Al-Dawa), played prominent roles. Both SCIRI and Dawa had close ties to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and after the war, both worked closelywith Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Not only did the Bush administration pick the wrong targets,but its military-run war on terrorism is exactly the wrong way to reduce the appeal of the Islamic right. Putting Al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, and similar terrorist groups to one side, the far broader constellationof right-wing Islamic groups, institutions, and political parties in the Muslim world does in fact representa significantthreat-not to U.S. national securitybut to governments,intellectuals,progressives,and other freethinkersin the swath of nations from Morocco to Indonesia. From Algeria's FIS to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood to the Palestinian Hamas to Iraq's Shiite fundamentaliststo Pakistan'sIslamic Group, togetherwith the support of ultra-orthodox \Tahhabi clerics in Saudi Arabia, organizatronssuch as the Muslim \World League,and

Clash of Ciuilizations? -


the Islamic banks, there is indeed a rhrear ro rhe Middle East. It is, however,a threat that cannot be dealt with by military means.Indeed, it will get worse in preciseproporrion to the intrusivenessof the U.S. political, military, and economicpresencein the region. Only by rapidly withdrawing from Afghanistan and Iraq, by reducing America's overweeningpresencein Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, and by reversing U.S. support for Israel'saggressiveopposition to Palestiniannationalism can the United Statesundercut the anger,frustration, and resentment that fuelslslamism. ReducingAmerica'sfootprint in the Middle Eastis the polar opposite of the Bush administration'spolicy, however.Cynically perhaps, the administration has wielded the idea of a broad struggle againsr terrorism to pursue a policy aimed at redrawing the entire map of the Middle East.The radical, or "idealist" neoconservatives, from administration officials to armchair strategistsat think tanks such as the American EnterpriseInstitute, the Hudson Instirute, and the project for a New American Century, announcedthat the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were just the first two salvosin a sweepingplan to seizecontrol of Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf srates.Even the more mainstream Bush administration officials, while eschewingsome of the neoconservatives' visions,support the idea of a greaterU.S. military presencein the region from North Africa to Indonesia. Astute critics of the Bush administrarion's military-based antiterrorism policies and imperial pretensionshave argued that it is a strategyguaranteedto backfire,and one that seemsdesignedto create more terroriststhan it kills. Anger againstthe occupationof Iraq and Afghanistan is likely to draw new jihadists inro battle in those rwo countries,and the conflict could spreadinto both Pakistanand Saudi Arabia, where conservative,Islam-orientedgovernmentscould fall to far more radical dissident groups associatedwith bin Laden, the mujahideen,the Taliban, and a \Tahhabi extremistunderground. A secondprong of the Bush adminisrrarion'sMiddle East policy is likely to prove equally counterproductive,namely,its vauntedcall for democraticreform. The administration'ssupport for democracy in the region is, on the surfaceat least,a stunningabout-face.For years,especiallyduring

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the Cold'War, the United Statespropped up dictators, kings, emirs' and presidents-for-lifein the Middle East and around the world. In the Arab world-in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and the Gulfmany of theseautocratsruled in part by forging an alliancewith the Islamic right, with the support of U.S. policy makers. Throughout these years, opposition to the region's kleptocraciesand right-wing regimescame exclusively from the left-from American liberals, from the Europeanleft, from the SovietUnion. Certainly,the elimination of dictatorshipsand the establishmentof fledgling democraciesin the Arab world,Iran, Pakistan,Afghanistan,and Muslim Africa ought to be a valued goal. But the Bush administration's version of democratic reform is suspect. First, it is opportunistic. Much of the momentum for the Bush administration'semphasison Arab democracy came only when the 'sfhite House's stated objectivesin zoo3 invasion of Iraq belied the launchingthe war: to find Saddam'sweaponsof massdestructionand 'When those two ratioto uncover Iraq's supposedties to Al Qaeda. nalesproved to be fictional, PresidentBush shiftedto a new one-that America'sraison de la guerrewas to bring democracyto Iraq. Second,the Bush administration cynically distinguishesbetween pro-American dictatorships in the Middle East and anti-American ones,concentratingits pressurefor democracyon the latter. In the context of the Bush administration'simperial Middle East policS its call for imposing democracycan only be seenas a spearheadfor intensified U.S.political and military involvementin the region.True democracies in the oil-producing countrieswould pursue bold, nationalist initiatives that are almost guaranteedto run afoul of the Bush administration's long-range plans for the region. Only the naive believethat the United States,in pursuing a "regime change" strategyin a part of the world that contains two-thirds of the world's oil, desiresthe emergence of governmentsthat might resist U.S. regional hegemony.Certainly, the Bush administration does not favor the developmentof Arab or Iranian democraciesthat would forge closer ties with, say. Russiaor China at American expense.Instead,its calls for democratic change in the Middle East allow the Bush administration to apply

Clash of Ciuilizations? .


greater or less pressureselectivelyon governmentsin the region in order to achieveparticular U.S. national securitygoals. Thus, Syriais now squeezedbetweenIsraeland U.S.-occupiedIraq, and Iran is positionedbetweenIraq and NATO-occupiedAfghanisran. since zoor, the united stateshas achieveda position of unparalleled supremacyin the region. The neoconservatives who argued successfully for war in Iraq want norhing more than a calibratedAmerican effort toward forcible regime change in Syria and Iran, in order to createa block of new statesin combination with Israel, Turkey, and Pakistan-but organizedand managedunder U.S.tutelage. And what about the pro-American autocraciessuch as SaudiArabia, Jordan, and Egypt?To the exrenrthat PresidentBush extendshis pressurefor imperial democracy beyond Iraq, Syria, Iran, and the PLO to the pro-\Testern governmentsin the region, the effort must be taken with a grain of salt. Becauseit is comprised of constituencies with differing perspectives, the administration has senrmixed signals in regard to its two most important Arab allies.Mainstream U.S. policy makers, officials at the CIA and the State Department, and rheir allies with vestedinterestsin the region-the oil companies,banks, and defensecontractors-want the Bush administrationto go slow on pressingCairo and Riyadh for change.Others,more ideological,seem to exhibit the messianicbelief that the experimenr in Iraq musr be forcibly replicatedin both Egypt and Saudi Arabia. And someradical neoconservatives, such as Richard Perleand Michael Ledeen,roughly lump Saudi Arabia with Syria and Iran as a supporter of Al eaeda and demand that Riyadh be added ro the president'saxis,of-evilenemies' list. All of them overlook the fact that both Egypt and Saudi Arabia have beenunder both internal and externalpressureto liberalize their regimesfor decades,and from rime to time both have experimented, cautiouslS with democraticreform-only to pull back. The needfor delicacyin dealingwith theserwo counrriesoften escapesthe Bush administration'smore ideologicalpartisans. But in the context of examining U.S. policy toward the Islamic right, the twin casesof Egypt and Saudi Arabia are fraught with dangerous possibilities.Pressingtoo hard for liberalizationin eithercounrry could result in bringing the Islamic right to power in both Cairo and Riyadh.


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As during the Cold 'War, however, when the United Statespreferred Islamism to Arab nationalism,the Bush administration and its neoconservativeallies have sometimesexpressedtheir preferencefor the Islamic right, too. If forced to choose betweenregimesin Egypt and SaudiArabia led by left-leaningArab nationalistsor right-leaning Islamists,Washingtonwill pick the Islamistseverytime. Despitetheir rhetoric about a clash of civilizations, the Bush administration has not been averseto seekingallies among the Islamic right. In Iraq, the Bush administration after the war found itself in a partnership with Ayatollah Sistani, two lranian-connectedparties, and the forces ol also suporganizedShiitefundamentalism. Leadingneoconservatives ported the Shiite right elsewhere,including in Saudi Arabia, where they went beyond calls for democraticreform to demand the breakup of Saudi Arabia and the creationof a Shiitestate in Saudi Arabia's easternprovince, where Shiitescomprisea majority. In Gaza and the West Bank, Ariel Sharoncontinued to toy with using Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah to undercut the PLO, and in zoo5 Hamas emergedas the most powerful electoralforce in Gaza. It seemsthat even those who issuethe most dire warnings about a titanic, Islamvs.-Christianitvstrugglereadily manageto find accommodationwith right-wing Islamists. Still, for purposesof public relations,the Bush administrationhas beencontent to allow its Middle Eastpolicy to be portrayedas a clash of civilizations.Someof its allies,especiallymembersof the Christian right, explicitly disparageIslam as an evil and violent religion. Proclaiming that Islamic fundamentalistsand bin Laden "hate our freedoms," rather than U.S.policies,Bushhas framedthe war on terrorism in the starkestterms, as a showdown between a God-fearing America and an "axis of evil." Despitethe paradoxesof the war on terror, it is safeto say that millions of Americanshave beensold on the idea that the Christianand Muslim worlds must battleeachother to the end. 'What happenedbetween r99r and 2oor to transform Islam from an ally to a malignant evil? The easyansweris blame the shock that followed Al Qaeda'szoor attacks.But 9/r r was precededby a decadeof confusionin the United States.To follow the transition from the New World Order to the clash

Clashof Ciuilizations?

J Il

of civilizations, it is necessaryto touch on rhe three crisesof political Islam during the nineties: Algeria, Egypt, and the rise of the Taliban. The twelve years from the first Iraq war to the secondwas a period of dizzying change for the Middle East. In Algeria, the Islamic right plunged the counrry into a brutal civil war when it was deniedthe fruits of an electoral victory in r99t.In Egypt, a terrorist underground, discreetly supported by the Muslim Brotherhood establishmenr,nearly toppled Mubarak in the mid-r99os. And then, in Afghanisran, rhe Pakistan-backedTaliban movement seized Kabul and imposed the world's strictesttheocracy. During these crises, the administrations of George Bush and Bill clinton failed to develop a coherent policy toward political Islam. Even though the Muslim Brotherhood and right-wing political Islam had seizedcontrol of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Sudan-and threatenedAlgeria, Egypt, syria, and the PalestinianAuthority-neither Bush nor clinton graspedthe implications.The u.S. inteiligencesystem and its vauntedcounterterrorismmachineryfirst missedthe rise of Al Qaeda and then, when the organizationmade its presenceknown with a seriesof spectacularattacksin the late r99os, failed to stop it. Had they responded differently, had they realized the significanceof the Islamist movement then, and had U.s. intelligenceanalystsand operativesmore carefully tracked the violent offshoots of the Brotherhood and the Taliban, perhapsthe eventsof zoor and beyond would not have occurred. certainly had the united States mapped out a coherent policy toward Islamism during the r99os, the dangerous notion that America is facing a clash of civilizations would never have gainedtraction. The U.S. government,academia,and the world of policy-oriented think tanks were divided over how to respond to the Islamic resurgenceat the end of the cold 'war. some wanted to developa comprehensivepolicy toward Islamism, others demandedthat it be treated on a country-by-country basis. some wanted to confront the Islamists,others to co-opt or placatethem. pragmatistsbelievedthat u.s. policy ought to stick with support for the existing regimes in Cairo, Amman, Algiers, and elsewhere,but idealists supported the idea that democracyhad to flower in the region, even if the Islamists

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were positioned to win elections.In the decade between t99t and zoor, U.S. policy toward the Islamic right was confusedand contra'S7hen not ignoring it, everyoneagreedthat Islamistterrorism dictory. was bad, but that's where the agreementstopped.The end of the U.S.Sovietstrugglein the Middle East left the United Statesfacing a region in which political Islam was a major player.The Islamic right covered a spectrum from the conservativeIslamist regimes in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, to the radical regimes in Iran and Sudan, to extragovernmental organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban and Hezbollah, to radical-right terrorist cells such as Al Qaeda. Somewere allies, some were vaguely threatening,some dangerouslyhostile.But how to tell friend from foe?


CRTsE S rN TH E r99os

During the r99os, the United Statesdealt uncertainly with flare-ups by the Islamic right, first in Algeria, then in Egypt, and finally, once again, in Afghanistan. In all three cases,the Islamistswere able to draw on battle-hardenedveterans of the U.S.-sponsoredAfghan jihad, who applied the skills acquired in that war-including bombmaking, assassinations, and guerrilla-styleattacks-in their struggle. As the SovietUnion melted away, the Islamic right beganto emerge as a threat to stability, securitg and U.S. interests."One year after Muslim rebels ousted the communist government in Afghanistan, the long Afghanistan war reverberatesthroughout the Islamic world, as veterans of the conflict take up arms to try to topple governmentsin Algeria, Egypt, and other Arab countries," the New York Times reported in t993. "Vestern diplomats and Arab officialssay thousandsof Islamic militants engagingin clandestine,violent campaignsto overthrow governments in Algeria, Egypt, Yemen,Tunisia, Jordan, Turkey and other predominantly Muslim states currently use Afghanistan as a base."1 Imbued with a new consciousnessand the belief that their insurgency had defeateda superpower in Afghanistan, the Islamic right tested the limits of its newfound power.

Clash of Ciuilizations?

J 1.3

Algeria The t99z-99 crisis in Algeria triggered the first government-wide review of u.S. policy roward political Islam sincethe Iranian revolution. And, during rhe seven-yearcivil war in Algeria, u.s. policy was pulled this way and that by contradictory views-amid chargesin Parisand elsewherein Europe that $Tashingtonwas cozying up to the Algerian Islamistsin order to advanceits own oil, gas, and industrial interestsin North Africa, at Europe'sexpense. The conundrum for the united Statesin Argeria was having to choose between an Islamist insurgencythat had gained an electoral advantageand an entrenched,military-dominated but secularregime that then suspendeddemocracyin order to block the Islamists'victory. The issue was not whether the united states should inrervene directly-neither side in Algeria wanred that, and it was impractical in any case.But'vTashingtonhad to choosebetweenaffirming its support for Algeria's experiment in democracS thus aligning it with a radical Islamist movemenr,or siding with the Algerian army. Though rJTashingtonlooked for a middle ground, in the end, correctly, it tolerated the army's suppressionof the Islamists.It was not an entirely hnppy ourcome. Yet had the united states condemnedthe Algerian regime and thrown its diplomatic support ro the Islamic right, the consequences-in Algeria, and across the region-could have been catastrophic. The usual version of the Algerian crisis srarts in r9g9, with the establishmentof the Islamic Salvation Front, known by its French abbreviation,FIS. In June r99o, the FIS won a resoundingvictory in local elections.Then, in December r99r, FIS stunnedthe ruling party, the National Liberation Front (FLN), winning rrg parliamenrary seatsto the FLN's r6. But before the secondround of the vote, and before the FIS took power, the army intervened to annul the vote, arresting ro,ooo FIS membersand supporters.Denied its victory, the FIS unleasheda campaign of terrorism. The presidentof Algeria was assassinated, ministrieswere bombed, and hundreds of security officials and policemen were killed by FIS gunmen. civil war began.

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During the decade,a second organization called the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) emerged,with a murky relationshipto FIS. As the violenceintensified,Islamistvigilantesand shadowy paramilitary groups carried out a campaign of horrifying slaughter,decimating villages, massacringwomen and children.Tensof thousandsdied.2 But the FIS did not emergesuddenlyin 1989. As happenedin Pakistan, Egypt, Syria, Sudan, and Afghanistan during the Cold \Var, the Islamic right built its power by battling the left and Algerian nationalists, especiallyon campuses.As in Afghanistan, where "the professors" tied to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood built a secret society of Islamistsin Kabul in the r96os and r97os, in Algeria a host of professors and teachersfrom Egypt, many of whom were membersof the Muslim Brotherhood and who had studied in Saudi Arabia's Islamic universities,were imported to teachArabic to the francophoneAlgerians. Mohammed al-Ghazali and Yusuf al-Qaradawi, rwo of Egypt's leadingIslamic scholarswho had fled to the Gulf, and who "were fellow travelersof the Muslim Brothersand very much in favor with the oil monarchiesfand who encouraged]the 'Islamic awakening' at work" in Algeria in the mid-r98os.3 Throughout the 198os, this cadre of Islamic-rightactivistscarried out a seriesof terrorist attacks against the Algerian government.Many of the terrorisrsinvolved had beento Afghanistan,or traveledback and forth to the jihad, and one of them, Abdallah Anas, joined forces with bin Laden and Azzam in the pre-Al Anas took Qaeda "ServicesBureau." \7hen Azzamwas assassinated, over. By the time the FIS was created,it had seizedcontrol of thousands of mosquesacrossthe country and built a political-religiousmachine. Like the Taliban,whereverFIScontrolled municipal or provincial governmentsit instituted its version of Islamic cultural restrictions,forcing women to wear the veil, closingliquor and video stores,and often persecutingthosewho did not go along. The FIS denouncedAlgeria's educated,secular middle classesand announced its intent to "ban France from Algeria intellectually and ideologically."4One monrh before the December election that catapulted the FIS to victory, in November r99r, a supposedlyindependentor renegadeband of Algeria's Islamistsshockedthe country with an outrageousact of terror:

Clasb of Ciuilizations?

)r 5

Their first spectacular operationwas a bloodyassaulton a frontrer post,in the courseof which a group of "Afghan" veteranscut off the headsof somewretchedarmy conscripts. . . . The date was carefullychosento celebratewithin four daysthe secondanniversaryof the martyrdomof Abdullah Azzamin peshawar. It marked the beginningof a jihad on Algeriansoil.5 Many Algerians feared that an Islamisr governmentwould institute a reign of terror. Arab governments,including Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco, were alarmed, fearing that an Islamist-run Algeria would be infectious.And for the united Srares,the Algerian army's action posed a delicatepolitical problem: would \fashington endorsethe army's suppressionof the election results,or defend the FIS and the Islamic right? For the Bush adminisrration, preoccupied with the New \forld order, it was a puzzle. Bush and secretary of StateJames Baker were uneasyabout the prospectof Islamismin Algeria,and they sidedsemiofficially with the Algerian army, adopting a position that a Senate report called "somethingof a wink and a nod."6 Baker,explaininghis position later, said: "\7hen I was at the StateDepartment, we pursued a policy of excluding the radical fundamentalistsin Algeria even as we recognizedthat this was somewhatat odds with our support of democracy."7But many other U.S. officials, including CIA officers who had contactwith the FIS,did nor agreewith the Bush-Bakerpolicy. According to Robert Pelletreau,a former u.S. ambassadorand senior official at the state Department, there was serious disagreement about the Bush-Bakerpolicy of blocking the Islamistsin Algeria. "In the immediateaftermathof the military's decisionto block the election result, we were very critical," says Pelletreau.,,Twenty-four hours later,we reversedourselves,and took a much more nuancedview"8 The Bush administration,uncerrain about how to deal with the Islamist challengein Algiers, undertook a policy review. But it was a hodgepodge,an effort to forge a consensusabout how to deal with a phenomenonlittle understoodevenby expertsand about which politicians, top administration officials, and members of congress were utterly ignorant. Battle lines had nor yet hardened,but at leasttwo currents had already started to emerge. one was an accommodationist

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point of vieq whose adherentsargued that the United Stateshad nothing to fear from the Islamic right and that U.S. diplomats and CIA officials ought to begin a worldwide effort to open conracts with the Islamistswho were willing, for the sakeof dialogue,to eschewviolence. A second (still nascent) point of view was rhe clash-of-civilizations school,which believedthat the Muslim world was unalterably and fundamentally hostile to the 'West.According to them, the enemy of the United Stateswas not just Al Qaeda, and not even right-wing political Islam, but the very nature of the Muslim faith, the Koran, and Islamic civilization as it had evolved over thirteen centuries.Throughout the r99os, thesetwo schoolswould gain momentum and confront each other. Two leading academicswould come to represenrthe two sides: for the accommodationists,John Esposito of Georgetown University; and for the clash of civilizations,Bernard Lewis of PrincetonUniversity. In t992, a decisionwas taken to haveEdward Djerejian,then assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, spearheadthe effort to invent a policy toward Islam, and he was chosento delivera speechin "The StateDepartment Junet992, at Meridian House in'STashington. came to me and said, '\X/eneed an Islam policy,"' saysDavid Mack, then Djerejian's deputy. According to Mack, rhe speech was parrly designedto counter administration officials who were starting to argue that the United Statesshould treat Islam as a new global enemy."Some of the folks, especiallyRichard Schifter of the bureau of human rights, were sayingthat Islam was dangerous,and of coursethis was the time when the thesisof the clash of civilizationswas starting to surface," says Mack. "'Well, we prerty much managed to head it off. 'We had a big, in-house conference,with people from [Near East affairs], [the Bureau of Intelligenceand Research],human rights, and a lot of outside experts on Islam. And I drafted a speechfor Djerejian. \7e brought it to Jim Baker, who said, 'Okay, fine, if you want to do this."'e Schifter,the assistantsecretaryof statefor human rights, saysthat he adheresto JeanneKirkpatrick's distinction between "authorirarian" and "totalitarian" regimes.In the Algerian crisis,he saysthat he supportedthe view that the United Staresought to back the Algerian army's suppressionof the Islamists.But for Schifter,and for many

Clash of Ciuilizations!


z L7

hard-liners and neoconservatives,the issue was much larger than Algeria. "what I saw was the developmentof a movement similar to communism," he says. "It's the third totalitarian attack on democracy, after fascismand communism."l0 According to Mack, schifter wanted a much rougher line in the speechthan was adopted. ,,schifter and the bureau of human rights felt it was a soft-mindedapproach," saysMack.11 In the end, Djerejian'sspeechlaid down some rmporrant markers, but it also avoided crucial quesrions.Djerejian rejectedout of hand the clash-of-civilizationsidea. "The u.s. government does not view Islam as the new 'ism' confronting the \7est or threatening world peace,"he said. "The Cold $Varis not beingreplacedwith a new com_ petition between Islam and the west. The crusades have been over for a long time. Americans recognizeIslam as a historic civilizing force among the many that have influenced and enriched our culture." But he went further: Much attentionis beingpaid to a phenomenonvariouslylabeled politicalIslam,the Islamicrevival,or Islamicfundamentalism. ... In countriesthroughout the Middle East and North Africa, we thus seegroups or movementsseekingto reform their societiesin keepingwith Islamicideals.. . . !7e detectno monolithic or coordinatedinternationaleffort behindrhesemovements.lfhat we do see are believersliving in different countriesplacing renewed emphasison Islamicprinciplesand governments accommodaring Islamistpolitical activity to varying degreesand in differentways. Djerejian wenr on to add that the united Stateswanred free elections and enhancedcivil rights in the region, but said, in an obvious referenceto the crisis in Algeria: "\7e are suspectof thosewho would use the democraticprocessto come to power, only to destroy that very processin order to rerain power and political dominance.,'And he said that the United Stateswas opposedto those who engagein violence,repression,or "religious and political confrontation."l2 In other forums, Djerejian spoke favorably, but vaguely, about "moderate Islamists," although he failed to definewhat he meant by "moderate."l3 \fhile Djerejian condemnedterrorism and noted that

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the United Stateshas good relationswith countries"whose systemsof governmentare firmly grounded in Islamic principles," such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, he completely avoided any discussionof the Islamic right itself and its manifestations."Unfortunately," Gerges wrote, "the Meridian addressdid not clarify the Bush administration's approachtoward thosevery Islamistgroups." If Djerejian's speech failed as an ourline of American policy toward political Islam, it worked well as a more particular response to events in Algeria, where the United States tacitly supported the army's suspensionof democracy.But the situation went from bad to worse, as Algeria was engulfedin a cycleof violent attacksand counterattackspitting the army againstbattle-hardenedjihad veterans. In r993, the Clinton administration tried to encouragea dialogue betweenthe Algerian authoritiesand elementsof the Islamist opposi'Western tion. But Europe, particularly France, accusedthe United Statesof using its dialogue with the Algerian Islamists to securea political and commercial advantagein Algeria in the wake of what many expectedwould be an Islamic revolution. "The Frenchattacked American motives for meetingwith Islamists,suspectingthe U.S. government of favoring the FIS over rhe Algerian regime," accordingto Gerges,who reports that CharlesPasqua,the Frenchinterior minister, accused\Tashingtonof harboring "fundamentalistterrorists."laThat was a referenceto Anwar Haddam, the FIS representativein Washington, who maintained on-and-off contactswith U.S. officialsin the early r99os. "The French wanted us to expel the FIS guy here," says Pelletreau,who servedunder Clinton as assistantsecretaryof statefor Near East affairs. "But,we neverhad any callto expel him."15 The loudest voice calling for a reconciliation with Algeria's Islamistswas none other than Graham Fuller,the former CIA analyst who had worked with Casey to build a justification for the ry84-86 Iran-contra approach to Teheran.Then ensconcedat the RAND Corpcrration, Fuller wrote a book entitled Algeria: The Next Fundamentalist State?In it, he virtually endorsedFIS as Algeria'snext rulers and urged the United Statesnot to worry. "The FIS is unlikely to presenta massivechallengeto U.S. and'Westerninterests,"wrote Fuller. "Is the United Stateswilling to inaugurate democratic processesin which the

Clash of Ciuilizations? .


Islamistsstand a very good chance of gaining a significant voice in power?"15Fuller admitted that FIS would suppresswomen's rights and spread the gospel abroad, "emboldening other Islamist movements in Egypt, Tunisia,Libya, and Morocco [with] asylum,financial aid, evenweapons."17But he argued that its momentum was unstoppable. "Ir will be very difficult, if not almosr impossible, ro srop Islamistforces," said Fuller."Islamist governmentsin the Middle East are likely to multiply in the years ahead, taking numerous different forms. They, and the'west, are going to have to learn to live with each other."18Fuller arguedthat FIS "is likely to welcomeu.s. private sector investmentin Algeria and to undertakeclosecommercialrelations with the united srares.. . . The FIS has long had good ties with saudi Arabia and received a great deal of Saudi funding until recent years'"1eFuller's monograph was written for and sponsoredbv the U.S. Army. To Fuller, the FIS movement in Algeria was a grand experiment, and one that the united Statesought not to turn away from-and his views were certainly influential during the clinton administration. But many Algerians,especiallyveteransof the revolution that ended in 1962, were not so ready to abandon secularismand socialismfor free-marketIslamism. "It's fine for others to talk about conducting a grand political experimenrin Algeria," said Maloud Brahimi, former head of Algeria's League of Human Rights. .,Bur what do we look like-white rats?"20

EgvPt on the heelsof the Algerian explosion,a dire Islamistthreat to Egypt emerged in the rggos, creating another dilemma for the clinton 'was administration. Egypt, the original home of the Muslim Brotherhood, about to fall to an Islamist revolution?And if so, what should U.S. policy be? The Bush administration'st99z review,and the task force that Djerejian creared,did not provide much guidance.unlike Algeria, which after all was on the periphery of the Middle East, Egypt was its very hearr-and PresidentMubarak a staunchally. In the r99os, Egyptian Islamistswaged an assaulton the Egyptian

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regime strong enough to threatenthe country's stability.Hundreds of people were killed by armed militants, including military and police officers,governmentofficials,and leading Egyptian writers and intellectuals.Despite heavy repressionafter the death of Sadat in r98r, and periodic crackdowns in the r9Sos, the Brotherhood had made steadygains,especiallyin civil society.The organizationwon control of many of Egypt'sprofessionalassociations-doctors, lawyers,engineers,and, of course, student groups, its traditional stronghold. In r99j, the Sunday Times of London reported that the CIA issued a National IntelligenceEstimatewarning that "Islamic fundamentalist terrorists will continue to make gains across Egypt, leading to the eventualcollapseof the Mubarak government."2l James'Woolseywas the CIA director at the time. "'Wewere very worried, and as I rememberwe offered Egypt whatever assistancewe could reasonablyprovide," he says."Generally speaking,therewas a substantial amount of support in the U.S. government,certainly in the intelligencecommunity, for Mubarak doing whatever he had to do to prevent an Islamist takeover."22The United Statesprovided security assistance to Egypt'spolice and intelligenceservice."In Egypt we'd trained a Special Operationsgroup among the Egyptian authorities,with the help of the CIA," saysEdward \J7.\falker, the U.S. ambassadorftom 1994 to 1997. "They were usedin cleaningup a few of thesecells."23 The truth, however,is that even though the United Statescooperated with Egypt to a degreein combating Islamist terrorism in Egypt, that cooperation was far lessthan it ought to have been, for several reasons.First, within the U.S. government, there was a persistent belief that the Muslim Brotherhood was a potentially useful partner in efforts to bring democracyto Egypt, and throughout the r99os that belief undercut U.S. assistanceto Egypt's security and intelligence agencies.Second, the Mubarak regime's often very heavy-handed repressionof its opponents,including arrestsof all manner of dissidentsand the use of torture againstprisoners,made the United States skittish about helping Cairo. Both'Woolsey and'Walker say that the United Stateshad strong reservationsabout the harshnessof Egyptian methods. "They were very aggressive,more aggressivethan we were willing to support. Some of the people they seizedwere found shot

Clash of Ciuilizatictns?


with their hands tied," says'walker."\7e had to stop the program.,,2a And third, there was sharp disagreementamong u.s. intelligenceand diplomatic officials about the narure of the Brotherhood itself: rfas the organization cooperating with the radical, openly terrorist subgroups like Al Gamaa or Islamic Jihad, whose leaders included Ayman al-zawahiri, osama bin Laden's future chief aide? or was the Brotherhood a moderate,even establishmentgroup whose rhetorical commitment to democracycould be relied upon? For Mubarak, at least, the answer was provided by Algeria. The Egyptian leaderwatched in horror as that country plunged into civil war, and he vowed not to allow the Islamistsin Egypt to gain enough strengthro mounr a frontal challengeto his regime.Beginningin the r98os and continuingthrough septemberrr, zoor, Mubarak criticized the united Statesrepeatedlyfor its failure to take acrion against the Islamic right in its basesin western Europe and in the united states itself. Those included overt Muslim Brotherhood organizational units in London and GermanS Said Ramadan'sIslamic center in Geneva,New York-New Jerseycellssuch as the one affiliatedwith blind sheikh omar Abdul Rahman, the ringleaderof the r993 attack on the world Trade center, and other U.S.-basedcells,mosques,and Islamic centers.Until zoor, no concertedu.S. effort to investigate thesenetworks was undertaken. "Neither Europe nor the United Stareswere cooperatlng wlth Egypt, not unril 9/tr," says Abdel Moneim Said of the Al Ahram Center in Cairo: omar Abdel Rahman was being harbored in the united states, having escapedin between trials and going t. Sudan. The united States was not cooperating. They'd say to Lls, ,,you are not a democracy,you are not making reforms.', So they were creating a worldwide terrorist network, and we were practically on our own during this period. !7e wanted the United statesro give theseguys to us, to sabotagetheir propaganda networks, to sabotagetheir financial networks, to disturb their connection with the trouble spots in Afghanistan. \we tried several times to get the United states involved, first in r986, when president Mubarak called for an international conferenceon terrorism, announcing it at a meeting


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'We of the Europeanparliamentin Strasbourg. knew a lot by then: that the internationalcentersfor this movementwere in London, New Jersey,Frankfurt,with other centersin Hamburg, Geneva, to this in Europein the They werenot at all sensitive Copenhagen. r 9Sosand r 99os.25 The two U.S. ambassadorsto Egypt during this period had con'$falker,who served flicting views about the Muslim Brotherhood. from l994 to 1997, was skeptical of the Muslim Brotherhood and mostly sympatheticto Mubarak's crackdown. Pelletreau'who served in Cairo from t99l to 1993, was more apt to seethe Brotherhood in a favorable light-even il it attracted the attention of Egypt's intelligence service. "Ned [\Talker] and I had different policies," says Pelletreau."I felt we had to be talking to members of the Muslim Brotherhood. I did [talk to them]." Pelletreau'scontacts with the Brotherhood angered Mubarak. "At one point I received a very strong messagefrom the [Egyptian] government, demanding that I break off those contacts.I said that I would not. I didn't meet with them myself, but people from the political sectiondid' \7e developed people as contactswho were inside the movement. But in Egypt you have to be very careful, becausethe Egyptianshave a very' very effective counterintelligence capability."26 Pelletreaurecallsa visit to Washington by Mubarak in which the Egyptian presidentlost his temper over U.S. inaction: Soonafterward,Mubarak cameto Washington,and the secretary of stateinvitedhim to lunch.'WarrenChristopheraskedMubarak I'll neverforgetwhat aboutthe bestway to dealwith the Islamists. happenednext. Mubarak sat up sharply,rigidly. "This is not a new phenomenonin Egypt,"he said,gettingangry."Thesepeople killed my predecessor!"Then he raised this huge fist, and he slammedit down on the table hard, and everythingon the table jumpedand rattled.Bang!"'Whenthey comeout, we haveto hit them!"27 But Pelletreausays: "I told Mubarak that it was the right policy to crack down on terrorists, but not on the Muslim Brotherhood." The

Clash of Ciuilizations? .


questionof how to rell the differencewas somethingthat u.s. intelligencecould not answer,accordingto U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers.The line betweenthe overtly terrorist organizationsand the more establishmentMuslim Brotherhood was not a clear one. The Brotherhood ran clinics, social welfare centers,and mosques,had a powerful presenceamong professionalgroups, and set up a semiofficial political parry. According to Pelletreauand'walker, the link berweenthe official Muslim Brotherhood and the underground terrorisr cells was probably organizedthrough independentmosquesand Islamic cenrersin Egypt run by "emirs." They apparently maintained a membershipin the Brotherhood,which was a secretsociety,while giving encouragement, support, and theological justification to the terrorists. "The Egyptiansclaimed that they discoveredsome links, and I guessyou could say that the whole line became blurred between the Muslim Brotherhood and the armed groups," sayspelletreau."A lot of independent emirs start popping up here and there, in various parts of cairo, and some of the clerics develop a group of folrowers. They don't usually engagein acts of violencethemselves,but they can condone violence.Say,someonewill come to them and say,'Is it permitted to do such and such?' and they will say, ,yes, according to Islam .'" walker, who followed Pelletreau,had a somewhatdifferentview. "\fe'd realized it was a much bigger problem,', he says. ,,'Wewere very closeto the Europeansin cooperatingto roll up thesethreats.'we createdflow charts of how thesegroups inreractedwith eachother. A lot of the leaderswere in placeslike Italy and London, and we'd cooperate by interceptingcommunicationsback into Egypt, and then the Egyptianswould roll them up." But,'Walker says,Egypt was not sat_ isfiedwith U.S. and Europeancooperation."I can't count the number of times that Mubarak yelled ar me about how the British were giving the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamistssafehaven,,,he says.,.In Egypt, everybody seemedto see it as a problem, but they couldn't convinceus."28 Like Pelletreau,'Walker maintaineda relationshipwith the Muslim

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,,when I was there in Egypt we engagedwith members Brotherhood. of the Muslim Brotherhood, as individuals, on the level of the embassypolitical counselor.But it was an illegal organization, so it was sensitive.The Muslim Brotherhood was more acquiescentthan someof the other groups,such as IslamicJihad. The Muslim Brotherhood had a lot of sympathy from some people in Washington, who held it should be accommodated,"he says."For many of those who support bringing democracyto the region, the Muslim Brotherhood 'Walker, and was seen as a legitimate domestic opposition force." someCIA officers,didn't agree."Terrorism had two sources.One was the Palestinians,and one, the Muslim Brotherhood. They had a checkeredhistory. One day you're friends, and then they try to assassinateyou," \Talker says."Our intelligencepeople saw it as a kind of international fraternity of terrorists. Some specific mosques were involved. It is not a coherentorganizationalstructure.But if someone comesalong, they help them."2e Mubarak repeatedly slammed the United States in public, too, attempt against especiallyafter the Islamistsmounted an assassination him in rgg5, murdered severalEgyptian governmentofficialsabroad, To Americanswho urged him to coopand bombed Egypt'sembassies. erate with moderate Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood' ,,'who are the moderates?" he said. Mubarak dripped with scorn. .,Nobody has succeededin defining them for me." He ridiculed the of dialoguewith the Islamists."Dialogue with whom? It effectiveness 'We had a dialoguewith them for fourwill be the dialogueof the deaf. teen years, and every time we engagedthem, they became stronger. Dialogue is old-fashioned.The ones who are asking for dialogue do not know [Islamists].'Weknow them better."30 The shadow of Iran's .-979revolution haunted Mubarak. Again and again, he accusedthe United Statesof conducting secrettalks with the Brotherhood. "You think you can cofrect the mistakesthat you made in Iran, where you had no contact with the Ayatollah Khomeini and his fanatic groups beforethey seizedpower)" Mubarak ..But, I can assureyou, these groups will never take over this said. country, and they will never be on good terms with the United States."31To a large extent, Mubarak was right that many U.S. offi-

Clash ofCiuilizations? .


cials expectedthat the Islamistswould seizeconrrol of Egypt, and so they sought an insidetrack with the Islamic right. Foreshadowingthe neoconservativedreamsafter zoor of reshapingthe Middle East and imposing somenew democraticorder there,an official at the National security council said in early r995 that Egypt's Islamistswere rhe wave of the future: The existingMiddle Easternregimes,saidthis official,are boundto disappearin the future becausechangeis inevitable;one of 's7ashington'smajor policy objectivesis to managethe transitionto a new Middle Easternpoliticalorderwith minimal cost.The United states views Islamistsas integral playersamong the broad social forces operatingin the region.Thus, to survive,the dominantruling elites will haveto broadentheir socialbaseby integratingIslamistsrnto the political 6eld.This realityexplainsthe rarionalefor the clinron administration'searly decisionto maintaina discreetdialoguewith the Algerianand EgyptianIslamists.32 Neither Algeria's government nor Mubarak thought much of that "reality," however, and they acted to crush the Islamist insurgency. Following the t995 assassinationamempt, Mubarak launched an assaultagainst the Muslim Brotherhood that recalledthe r954 and t964-66 crackdowns by Nasser.Hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood leaderswere arrested,their institutionswere dismantled,professional syndicatesclosed,and show trials held. some U.s. officials predicted that the repressionwould backfire,but instead,during the secondhalf of the r99os, the Islamic right in Egypt retrearedwith one glaring exception: a series of spectacular terrorist acts directed against tourists in Egypt in t997. The Islamic right in Egypt had, once again, been beaten into submission.But it did not go away. Its violenceoriented underground scattered,or went into hiding. Its moderateseemingideologues,preachers,and politicians sought alliance with Egypt'sdemocraticopposition,declaringtheir support for electionsto replaceMubarak. Many u.s. governmentofficials, sympatheticorientalists,and think tanks-from the Brookings Institution to rhe u.s. Institute for Peace-insisted that the Muslim Brotherhood was a promising partner in a reformed Egypt.

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The Taliban The third Islamist eruption to confront U.S. policy makers was the meteoricrise of the Taliban in war-shatteredAfghanistan. The most incisive account of the founding, growth and victory of the Taliban is Ahmed Rashid's Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil, and Fundamentalism in Central Asia. A veteran Pakistani reporter, Rashid spent years covering Afghanistan and Pakistan's ISI. According to Rashid, from the start the Taliban had strong support not only from SaudiArabia, which financedit, and from Pakistan,whose ISI intelligence servicewas the primary force behind the Taliban's conquest of warlord-dominated Afghanistan, but from the United Statesas well. "Between r994 and r996,the U.S.A. supportedthe Taliban politically through its allies Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, essentiallybecause 'sflashingtonviewed the Taliban as anti-Iranian, anti-Shia, and pro'Western,"he wrote. "Between t995 and ry97 U.S. support was even more driven becauseof its backing for the Unocal project [for an energypipelinefrom Turkmenistanthrough Afghanistan]."Many U.S. diplomats,he wrote, "saw them as messianicdo-gooders-like bornagain Christiansfrom the AmericanBible Belt."33 The U.S. support for the Taliban was strategic.It preciselyechoed Brzezinski's"arc of Islam" policy and Casey'sdream of using Islam to penetrate the Soviet Union. Even in the post-Cold l$far world, the United Statessought to gain advantagein oil-rich Central Asia, and '$Tashingtonjockeyed for position' In the throughout the r99os and its comPakistan, American view, its allieswere SaudiArabia and petitors were Russia, China, India, and Iran. A ry96 State Department memo, written just before the Taliban captured Kabul, warned that Russia,Iran, and India-all of which fearedSunni fundamentalism in the region-would back an anti-Talibanforce in Afghanistan,3a and that is preciselywhat did happen, as the Ahmed Shah Massoudled Northern Alliance emergedin the late r99os as the chief opponent of the Taliban'sfanaticalregime.(Ironically,it would be the Northern Alliance that would be the chief ally of the United Stateswhen, after the attack on the \7orld Trade Center and the Pentagon,the United StatesinvadedAfehanistan.)

Clash of Ciuilizations? .


Graham Fuller, in The Fwture of political Isram, accurarely described how the Taliban threatened narions compering with the united Stares in Central Asia: Important external forces that shared a stake in Afghan events were disturbed at the implications of a Taliban takeover: Iran becausethe Taliban were fiercely anti-shiite and treated the Shiite Hazara population with extreme harshness;and Russia, Uzbek_ istan, and Tajikistan becausethey feared the Taliban would turn their sightstoward expanding Islamist movementsnorth into central Asia. India, too, geopolitically sought to deny pakistan straregic dominance in Afghanistan, which a Taliban victory would represent.washington was initially neutral and hoped, with pakistani urging, that the Taliban had no anti-U.S. agenda, could at last unify the country so long wracked by civil war; could facilitate the passageof Turkmen gas pipelinesthrough Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean, skirting Iran; could impose control over rhe rampant poppy production, and crack down on the presenceof Muslim guerrillasand training camps in the country sincethe anti_ Sov ietjihad.3 5 cold'war

or nor, the united Sratesexplicitly stated its intenrion to challenge Russian hegemony in cenrral Asia and Afghanistan. u.s. policy, said sheila Haslin, an NSC official, was to."promote the independence of these oil-rich countries, to in essence break Russia's monopoly control over the transporrarion of oil from that region, and 'western frankly, to promore energy security through diversity of supply-"se unocal, the prime backer of plans for a pipeline to guarantee that diversity, hired numerous former U.S. officials to promote rts

scheme,from Henry Kissingerto zalmay Khalilzad, the future u.S. ambassadorin Kabul. Khalilzad, a specialistat the RAND corporation, said in t996: "The Taliban does not practice the anti-u.S. style of fundamentalismpraciced by Iran-it is closerro rhe Saudi model. The group upholds a mix of traditional Pashtunvaluesand an orthodox interpretationof Islam."37 Besidessaudi Arabia and Pakistan, two orher u.s. ailies ioined in the regional straregy for ousting Russia and containing Iran: Israel and rurkey. In the r99os, Turkey-which was increasingly

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falling under the spell of its own Muslim Brotherhood-linkedIslamist to extend its influmovement-was being encouragedby'VTashington ence into Central Asia, where a large Turkic population was, they thought, ready to respond to a Turkish-led bloc stretchingfrom the Bosporusto China. At eractly the same time that Osama bin Laden was setting up headquartersin Afghanistan,after beingaskedto leaveSudanin t996, the Taliban leaderswho hostedhim, and who were becomingincreasingly dependenton bin Laden'sfinancialsupport, were crisscrossing the United States,meeting U.S. officials, oil men, and academics. Protestsagainstthe Taliban from women's groups, who opposedthe Taliban's hateful treatment of Afghan women) were (at first) overlooked by the Clinton administration and by Unocal, who preferred to see the Taliban as a mini-version of Saudi Arabia's ruling elite. "The Taliban," said a State Department official, "will probably developlike the Saudis.There will be Aramco, pipelines,an emir, no parliament,and lots of sharialaw.'We can live with that."38 During the U.S.-Talibanera of cooperationfrom ry94 to 1998which endedwith the bombings of two U.S. embassiesin Africa, when the United Statestargeted not only bin Laden but his Afghan allies as well-a key Unocal consultant was a University of Nebraska academic named Thomas Gouttierre, director of the Center for AfghanistanStudies there. During and after the Afghan jihad, Gouttierre'scentersecured more than $6o million in federal grants for "educational" programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan.Although the funding for Gouttierre'swork was funneled through the StateDepartment'sAgency for International Development, the CIA was its sponsor.And it turned out that Gouttierre's education proâ&#x201A;Źlram consisted of blatant Islamist propaganda, including the creation of children'stextbooks in which young Afghanis were taught to count by enumeratingdead Russiansoldiersand adding up Kalashnikov rifles, all of it imbued with Islamic fundamentalistrhetoric. The Taliban liked Gouttierre'swork so much that they continued to use the textbooks he created,and when a delegationof Taliban officialsvisitedthe United Statesin ry97 they made a specialstop in Omaha to pay homage to Gouttierre. In 1999, another Taliban delegation, which included military commanders with ties to bin Laden and Al

Clash of Ciuilizations?


Qaeda, was escortedby Gouttierre on a tour of Mount Rushmore.3e "You sit down with them and they are relatively regular Joes," said Gouttierre, according to the Omaha.World Herald.a0'Vfhenthe United Statesinvaded Afghanistan in zoor, one of its tasks was to purge and replace Gouttierre'sTaliban-endorsed(and ClA-funded) Islamiststext-Washington Pos/ reported, books in the schools. "The primers," the "were filled with talk of iihad."a1

A Cr-asH oF C IV TLTzATToNS? By the end of the r99os, a tense stalemateexisted respectingthe power of the Islamic right in the Middle East and south Asia. In Egypt and Algeria, the Islamistshad been beateninto submission,but they maintaineda low-levelpresence.In Afghanistan,Iran,and Sudanthey held the high ground, controlling radical Islamic republicsunder dictatorial regimes.In Pakistanand SaudiArabia, the Islamistsexercised extraordinary power in alliancewith ruling elites,although the royal family in Saudi Arabia and the army in Pakistan were increasingly edgy about their respectivedealswith the devil. Islamismwas making unprecedentedgains in Turkey, whose seventy-yearseculartradition reaching back to Kemal Ataturk was threatened by right-wing Islamiststied to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Naqshbandi Sufi secretsociety. In the United States,from the Iranian revolution until the late r99os, almost no one gavea thought to the problems in the Middle East caused by Islamism. Even that violent subset of Islamismnamely,Islamic terrorist groups-was essentiallyignored, according to'Woolsey and other CIA officials,with the exceptionof Hezbollah. The CIA and U.S. counterterrorism officials finally respondedto a seriesof wake-up calls (the t996 destructionof the U.S. military's Khobar Towers facility in SaudiArabia, the r998 car bombing of U.S. embassiesin Kenya andTanzania, and the zooo attack on the U.S.S. Cole off the coast of Yemen) by creating a seriesof task forces dedicatedto Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda,and its allies,who becamePublic Enemy No. r.

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But the U.S. effort to find and eliminate bin Laden was laughably incompetent. A $27 billion U.S. intelligencesystem, with perhaps roorooo employeesspreadamong a dozenagencies,with a vast array of satellites,surveillancedevices,spies,agents,and informers, failed to find him. At the sametime, however,countlessjournalistsfrom the United Statesand Europe, including televisionreporters from CNN and Frontline, found him with ease and conducted lengthy interviews. N7ould-beterroristswith questionablebona fides,such as John 'Vfalker Lindh, managed to get close to bin Laden, but the CIA couldn't replicatethe feat. Cruise missile attacks against allegedbin Laden hideoutsin Afghanistanfailed miserably,and attackson facilities in Sudan allegedlytied to Al Qaeda efforts to produce weapons of mass destruction managed to destroy that country's only factory for producing medicines.A schemeto kidnap bin Laden, meticulously planned,was aborted. Then, on Septemberrr, zoor, those who believedin the clash of civilizations got the opening they needed.Their views, until then consideredodd at best and extremist at worst, won a far wider following. And the Bush administration, while not endorsingthe idea of a struggle betweenChristianity and Islam, seizedthe notion of a clash of civilizations to propel the United Statesinto an unprecedentedexpansionof its imperial presencein the Middle East.

Lewis and Huntington Until that date, the two men most responsiblefor popularizing the idea of a clash of civilizations, Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington, were regardedas curiositiesby mainstreamnational securityand foreign policy experts.Their Ivy Leaguecredentialsand accessto prestigious publications such as Foreign Affairs, and the edgy radicalism of their theories,guaranteedthat they would generatecontroversy,and they did. But few took their ideas seriously,except for a scattered array of neoconservatives, who, in the r99os, resided on the fringe themselves.The Lewis-Huntington thesiswas hit by a withering salvo of counterattacksfrom many journalists,academics,and foreign policy gurus.

C l as h of C i ui l i z at i ons ?'


Samuel Huntington, whose controversial book Tbe Clash of Ciui' Iizations amounted to a neoconservativedeclaration of war, wrote that the enemywas not the Islamic right, but the religion of the Koran itself: The underlyingproblemfor the'Westis not Islamicfundamentalism.It is Islam,a differentcivilizationwhosepeopleareconvinced with the inferiof the superiorityof their cultureand are obsessed ority of their power.The problem for Islam is not the CIA or the 'West,a differentcivilization U.S.Departmentof Defense.It is the whosepeopleareconvincedof the universalityof theircultureand believethat their superior,if decliningpower imposeson them the obligationto extendthat culture throughoutthe world.a2 '$fhat

followed from Huntington's manifesto,of course,was that the Judeo-Christianworld and the Muslim world were locked in a state of permanent cultural war. The terrorists-such as Al Qaeda, which was still taking shape when Huntington's book came out-were not just a gang of fanatics with a political agenda,but the manifestation of a civilizational conflict. Like a modern oracle of Delphi' Huntington suggestedthat the gods had foreordained the collision, and mere humanscould not stop it. Huntington acknowledged-without mentioning the role of the United States-that Islam had beena potent force againstthe left during the Cold War. "At one time or another during the Cold'War many governments,including those of Algeria, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, and Israel,encouragedand supportedIslamistsas a counter to communist or hostile nationalist movements," he wrote. "At least until the Gulf 'War, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf statesprovided massivefunding to the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist groups in a variety of counrries."43But he had a neat explanation of how the alliance between the West and the Islamistsunraveled. "The collapseof communism removed a common enemy of the West and Islarn and left each the perceivedmajor threat to the otherr" he wrote.aa"In the r99os many saw a 'civilizational cold war' again developing between Islam and the'West."4sHuntington, who is not an expert on Islam, observeda "connectionbetweenIslam and militarism,"46and he asserted:"Islam has from the start beena religion of the sword and it glorifiesmilitary

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virtues."47Just to make sure that no one could miss his point, he quoted an unnamed U.S. Army officer who said, "The southern 1is1"-i.s., the border betweenEurope and the Middle East-"is rapidly becomingNATO's new front line."48 Huntington quoteshis guru on matters Islamic, Bernard Lewis, in order to prove that Islam presentsan existentialthreat to the very sur'Sfest: vival of the "For almost a thousand years," Bernard Lewis observes,"from the first Moorish landing in Spain to the second Turkish siegeof Vienna, Europe was under constant threat from Islam." Islam is the only civilization which has put the survival of the West in doubt. and it has done that at leasttwice.4e

How exactly the weak, impoverished,and fragmented countries of the Middle East and south Asia could "put the survival of the West in doubt" was not explained.But it was a thesisthat Bernard Lewis had beenrefining sincethe 195os. Lewis, a former British intelligenceofficer and longtime supporter of the Israeli right, has been a propagandistand apologist for imperialism and Israeliexpansionismfor more than half a century.He first used the term "clash of civilizations" in 1956, in an article that appeared in the Middle East Journal, in which he endeavoredto explain "the present anti-'Westernmood of the Arab states." Lewis assertedthen that Arab anger was not the result of the "Palestine problem," nor was it related to the "struggle against imperialism." Instead,he argued,it was "something deeperand vaster": lil/hat we are seeingin our time is not lessthan a clashbetween civilizations-more specifically, a revolt of the world of Islam againstthe shatteringimpact of 'Western civilizationwhich, since rSth the century,has dislocatedand disruptedthe old order . . . The resultingangerand frustrationare often generalized against 'Western civilizationas a whole.50 It was a themehe would return to againand again.By blaminganti'Western feeling in the Arab world on vast historical forces, Lewis

Clashof Ciuilizations?


absolvedthe \il/estof its neocolonialpost-World War II oil grab, its support for the creation of a Zionist stateon Arab territory, and its ruthless backing of corrupt monarchies in Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf. In his classicr964book,The Middle Eastand the his nostrum: "'WeImust] view the presentdiscontents West,herepeated of the Middle East not as a conflict betweenstatesor nations,but as a clashof civilizations."5lLewis explicitlymadethe point that the United Statesmust not seekto curry favor with the Arabs by pressuringIsrael to make peace."Some speakwistfully of how easyit would all be if only Arab wishescould be met-this being usually interpretedto mean thosewishesthat can be satisfiedat the expenseof other parties," i.e.' Israel.52Instead,he demanded,the United Statesshould simply abandon the Arabs. "The \7est should ostentatiouslydisengagefrom Arab politics, and in particular, from inter-Arab politics," wrote Lewis. "It should seekto manufactureno further Arab allies."53Why seekalliance with nations whose very culture and religion make them unaltercivilization? ably opposedto tWestern Over several decades,Lewis played a critical role as professor, mentor, and guru to two generationsof Orientalists,academics,U.S. and British intelligencespecialists,think tank denizens,and assorted while earningthe scorn of countlessother academic neoconsefvatives, specialistson Islam who consideredLewis hopelesslybiasedin favor of a Zionist, anti-Muslim point of view A British Jeiv born in t9r6, Lewis spentfive yearsduring World'S7arII as a Middle Eastoperative for British intelligence,and then settledat the University of London.5a In tc)74 he migrated from London to Princeton,where he developed ties to people who would later lead the fledgling neoconservative movement. "l.ewis becamefSenatorHenry] Jackson'sguru' more or less," said Richard Perle,ssa former top Pentagon official who, as chairman of the Pentagon'sDefense Policy Board, was the most prominent advocatefor war with Iraq in zoo3, and who is a longtime acolyte of Lewis's.Lewis also becamea regular visitor to the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University,where he developedclose links to Ariel Sharon. By the r98os, Lewis was hobnobbing with top Department of Defense officials. According to Pat Lang, the former DIA official,

BernardLewis was frequentlycalled down from Princetonto provide tutorials to Andrew Marshall, director of the Office of Net Assessments, an in-house Pentagon think tank.'56Another of Lewis's studentswas Harold Rhode, a polyglot Middle East expert who went to work in the Pentagonand stayedfor more than two decades,serving as Marshall's deputy.Over the past twenty years'Lewis has servedas the in-house consultant on Islam and the Middle East to a host of including Perle,Rhode, and Michael Ledeen.Asked neoconservatives, whom he drew on for expertiseduring his tenure as CIA director, 'Woolsey says, "\7e had people come in and give seminars.I James r em em bertalking to B ernardLewi s."i Although Lewis maintained a veneerof academicobjectivity,and though many scholarsacknowledgedLewis'scredentialsas a primarysourcehistorian on the history of the Ottoman Empire, Lewis abandoned all pretenseof academicdetachmentin the r99os.In r998, he officiallyjoined the neoconcamp. signinga letterdemandingregime changein Iraq from the ad hoc Committee for Peaceand Securityin the Gulf, co-signedby Perle,Martin Peretzof The New Republic, and 'Wolfowitz, David future Bush administrationofficials,including Paul 'Wurmser,and Dov Zakheim. He continued to work closely with neoconservativethink tanks, and in the period after Septemberrr, zooa) Lewis was ubiquitous, propagating his view that Islam was unalterablyopposedto the'West.Two weeks after 9lrr, Perleinvited Lewis and Ahmed Chalabi to speak before the influential Defense to Policy Board. inauguratinga rwo-yeareffort by neoconservatives prove a nonexistent link between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.Chalabi, a friend of Perle'sand Lewis'ssincethe r9Sos, led an exile Iraqi opposition group, the Iraqi National Congress,and Chalabi was responsiblefor feedingreamsof misleadinginformation to U.S. intelligenceofficersthat helpedthe Bush administrationexaggeratethe extent of the threat posedto the United Statesby Iraq. Lessthan a month after Lewis and Chalabi'sappearance,the Pentagon createda secretrump intelligenceunit led by Wurmser' which later evolvedinto the Office of SpecialPlans (OSP).It was organized by Rhode and Douglas Feith, the undersecretaryof defensefor policy' "Rhode is kind of the Mikhail Suslovof the neocon movement"' says

Clashof Ciuilizations?


Lang, referring to the late chief ideologuefor the former SovietComIt was Rhode and Feith'sOSP, munist Party. "He's the theoretician."'58 under neocon Abram Shulsky,which manufacturedfalse intelligence that blamed Iraq for ties ro Al Qaeda.And it was the oSP which created talking-points papers for Vice PresidentCheney' Secretaryof DefenseDonald Rumsfeld, and other top Bush administration officials claiming that Iraq had extensivestockpilesof chemicaland biological weapons,long-rangemissiles,unmannedaerialvehicles,and a well-developednuclear program.seChalabi'sfalsifiedintelligencefed by Cheney, directly into the OSP,from whenceit endedup in speeches Rumsfeld, and other top Bush administration officials.On the eve of the Iraq war, Lewis, who was close to Cheney,had a private dinner with the vice presidentto discussplans for the war in Iraq,60and' in Loo3, Lewis dedicated his book The Crisis of Islam "To Harold Rhode."

The War on Terror In going ro war, first in Afghanistanand then in Iraq, and in declaring the start of a global war on terrorism with no end in sight, President Bushwas carefulnot to embracefully the Lewis-Huntingtontheory of a civilizational clash. In speechafter speech-and despite an initial clumsy referenceto the campaignin the Middle East25 2 "g1s52ds"the president insisted that the United Stateswas engagedin a war againstterrorists,not a war againstthe people of the Koran. In fact, however,Bush'swar on terrorism is merely an excuseto implement a radical new appfoach to the Middle East and Central Asia. It is not a policy toward Islam, or Islamic fundamentalism,or even toward terrorism, Islamic or otherwise. From the start, the president'sresponseto glrr displayeda broad imperial vision. He imagined a domino-like seriesof regime changes in the Middle East, tied to an expanded U.S. military and political presencein the region: First the Taliban, then SaddamHussein,then regimesin Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and beyond would fall before the onslaught of an imperial democracy.The Bush administration was heavily influenced by neoconservativesinside and outside



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who preachedthe gospel of sweepingregional change. Inside were \Tolfowitz, Feith, Perle,Marshall, Wurmser,and Shulsky,along with other key officials in the Pentagon, such as Michael Rubin and William Luti, Lewis Libby in Vice PresidentCheney'soffice, John Bolton at the StateDeparrment,Elliott Abrams at the NSC, and many others; outsidewere a host of think tank and media activists,including Tom Donnelly and Gary Schmitt of the Projectfor a New American Century, \Tilliam Kristol of the lMeeklyStandard, Michael Ledeen of the American EnterpriseInstirure,Max Singerof the Hudson Institute, and The ltlew Republic's Peretz and Lawrence F'.Kaplan, and James\Woolsey. "The mission beginsin Baghdad,but it doesnot end there," wrote Kaplan and Kristol in The War Ouer Iraq. "Ve stand at the cusp of a new historical era. . . . This is a decisivemomenr. . . . It is so clearly about more than Iraq. It is about more even than the future of the Middle East and the war on terror. It is about what sort of role the United Statesintends to play in the world in the rwenry-first century."61 At a press conferenceon the eve of the invasion of Iraq, Ledeenput the strategyevenmore bluntly. "I think we are going to be obliged to fight a regional war, whether we want to or not," he said, assertingthat the war could not be limited to Iraq. "It may turn out to be a war to remakethe world."62 Such grandioseideashad long marked rhe neoconservativevision of the world. In the infamous blueprint for their srraregy,drafted in r996 as a policy memorandum to then-PrimeMinister Netanyahu of Israel, Perle,Feith, 'Wurmser,and others describeda comprehensive regionalpolicy. The memo, entitled, "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securingthe Realm," called on Israel to work with Turkey and Jordan to "contain, destabilize,and roll back" various statesin the region, overthrow SaddamHussein,pressJordan to restorea scion of its Hashemitedynasty in Baghdad,and launch military action against Lebanon and Syria as a "prelude to a redrawing of the map of the Middle East [to] threaten Syria's territorial inregriry." Nowhere, in the long memo, did it suggesta policy of countering fundamentalist Islam, the Muslim Brotherhood,or evenAl Qaeda.63 Nor is democracythe real oblectiveof the Bush administration in

Clash of Ciuilizations?


the Middle East, despitethe central place that idea occupiesin the president'srhetoric. Neoconservativeswant to control the Middle East, not reform it, even if that means tearing countries apart and replacingthem with rump mini-statesalong ethnic and sectarianlines. The Islamic right, in this context, is just one more tool for dismantling existing regimes,if that is what it takes. In "Rethinking the Middle East" in Foreign Affairs, Bernard Lewis forthrightly described a processhe called "Lebanonization": [A] possibility,which could even be precipiratedby fundamentalism,is what has of late beenfashionableto cail "Lebanonrzation." Most of the statesof the Middle East-Egypr is an obvrous exception-are of recentand artificialconstructionand are vulnerableto sucha process. If the centralpower is sufficientlyweakened,thereis no real civil societyto hold the polity together,no realsenseof commonidentity.. . . The statethendisintegrates-as happenedin Lebanon-into a chaosof squabbling,feuding,fighting sects,tribes,regionsand parties.6a That, of course,is indeed one possiblefuture for Iraq in the wake of the U.S. invasion,one foreseenby Chas Freeman."The neoconservatives' intention in Iraq was never to truly build democracythere," he says. "Their intention was to flatten it, to remove Iraq as a regional threatto Israel."55 Not only Iraq is vulnerableto disintegration,but the neoconservatives have made explicit their intention to collapseSaudi Arabia, too. .War In their book, An End to Euil: Hotu to 'Win the on Terror, Richard Perle and David Frum, both fellows ar the American Enrerprise Institute, suggestmobilizing Shiite fundamentalistsagainst the Saudistate.Becausethe Shiitesare a powerful force along the shoreof the PersianGulf, where Saudi oil fields are, Perleand Frum nore that the Saudis have long feared "that the Shiites might someday seek independencefor the EasternProvince-and its oil." They add: Independence for the EasternProvincewould obviouslybe a catastrophicoutcomefor the Saudistate.But it might be a very good outcomefor the United States.Certainlyit's an outcometo ponder.


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Even more certainly.we would want the Saudisto know we are ponderingit.66 Max Singer,the co-founderof the Hudson Institute,has repeatedly suggestedthat the United Statesseekto dismantlethe Saudi kingdom by encouragingbreakawaystatesin both the EasternProvinceand the western Hrjaz. "After [Saddam] is removed, rhere will be an earthquake in the region," saysSinger."If this meansthe fall of the [Saudi] regime, so be it."67 Ledeenwrote that the fall of the House of Saud could lead to the takeover of the country by pro-Al Qaeda radicals. "In that event," he says, "we would have to extend the war to the Arabian Peninsula,at the very least to the oil-producing regions."68 James Akins, the former U.S. ambassador in Riyadh, says: "I've stopped saying that Saudi Arabia will be taken over by Osama bin Laden or a bin Laden clone if we go into Iraq. I'm now convincedthat that's exactly what [the neoconservatives] wanr ro happen.And then we take it over."6e During the first four years of Bush'swar on terror, many critics argued that by invading Afghanistan and Iraq and by raising America's profile in the Middle East so high, the Bush administrarion was creating a new generationof radical Islamistswho would blame the United Statesfor all the ills in the Middle East. Despite its rhetoric about combating Islamist-inspiredterrorism, in neither Afghanistan nor Iraq did the Bush administration demonsrratea successfulstrategy for reversing the spread of Islamic fundamentalism. Michael Scheuer,writing as "Anonymous" in Imperial Hubris, statedthe case most forcefully: U.S.,British,and othercoalitionforcesaretryingto governapparently ungovernable postwarstatesin Afghanistanand Iraq while simultaneously fightinggrowing Islamistinsurgencies in each-a stateof affairs our leaderscall victory. In conductingtheseactivities, and the conventionalmilitary campaignsprecedingthem, U.S. forces and policiesare completingthe radicalizationof the Islamicworld, somethingOsamabin Ladenhas beentrying to do with but incompietesuccesssincethe early r99os. As a result, I

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think it is fair to conclude that the United States of America remains bin Laden'sonly indispensableally.70

Whether or not Afghanistan can defeat the remnants of the Taliban, reverse decadesof Islamization, dismantle the underground forcesof the Islamic right, and createa stable,secularstateremainsto 'Whether Iraq can produce a seculargovernment,crush the be seen. forces associatedwith Al Qaeda that have collectedthere, suppress Shiite fundamentalistparties such as SCIRI and Al Dawa that have dominated postwar Iraq, and hold off efforts by Iran's ayatollahsto exerciseinfluence inside the territory of their Arab neighbor is also an open question. Chances are at least fifty-fifty that in the not-roodistant future Afghanistanwill fall back under the sway of hard-core Islamists and that Iraq will end up with a theocracy only slightly less militant that lran's. By the same token, the clerical leadership in Teheranappearsto have consolidatedits iron grip over power in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In Pakistan, President Musharraf-who akeady toleratesthe muscular influenceof Islamistsin Karachi-could at any moment fall to an Islamist coup d'6tat from the army and the ISI, in alliancewith the Muslim Brotherhood or other militant parries and groups on the Islamic right. Indonesiaand Bangladeshare facing Islamist insurgencies,Turkey has been drifting into the Islamist camp for more than a decade,and Syria,Lebanon,Jordan, and Palestineare all facing severepressurefrom the Muslim Brotherhood. The heart of the Arab world, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are both facing pressureto open up their political systems,which many observersbelievecould lead to the establishmentof Islamic republicsin both countries. The caseof Iraq is most startling. PresidentBush went to war in Iraq after accusing Saddam Hussein of forging an alliance with Al Qaeda.He warned that Saddammight be inclined to give weaponsof massdestructionto bin Laden'scells.But, as becameevidentin zoo3, Saddam'sregime had no ties to Al Qaeda and no weapons of mass destructionto distribute.The regimein Baghdad,dictatorial though it was, was a secularone whose Baath Party leadershipwas a confirmed enemyof the Islamists-both the Shiitevariety and the Sunni Muslim



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Brotherhood. But Bush, consciouslyand with deliberation, encouraged Iraq's Islamists to reach for power. American forces and the cIA brought an ayatollah from London to Najaf, Iraq, and forged a pragmatic alliancewith anorher ayatollah, Ali al-sistani,an Iranian cleric who became the kingmaker in Iraq after rhe war. The united states worked with a radical Iraqi cleric, Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, who commanded the zo,ooo-strong paramilitary Badr Brigade, a force that was armed and trained by Iran. And it promoted a terrorisr group called the Islamic call, or Al Dawa, a group thar over its forty-year history had conducted bombings, assassinations, and other violent attacks,including an attack againstthe American embassyin Kuwait in the early r98os. on the sunni front, in central Iraq, the chief political party to emergeafter the war in 2oo3 was the Iraqi Isramicparty, the Muslim Brotherhood'sofficial branch in Iraq. The Bush administrationhas set into motion a chain of eventsthat could lead to a repriseof the Algeria crisis of r99z incountlessstates in the region. Even tiny statessuch as Kuwait, where the Brotherhood is strong, and Bahrain, with its sunni royal family and its Shiite majority population, are vulnerable to Islamic revolution or ballotbox Islamisttriumphs-or both. Reuel Marc Gerecht is a former cIA officer with experiencein Iraq and the Middle East, a fellow at the American EnterpriseInstitute, and a neoconservativehard-liner who was a leading voice in supporr of the u.s. invasionsof Afghanistanand Iraq. For three yearsafter zooz,he appearedat AEI forums alongsideperle, Ledeen,and other neoconservatives, while writing for the \yeekly standard and many other rightwing publicarions, including the Wall Street Journal,s op-ed page. Early in zoo5 Gerecht dropped all pretense of opposing the Islamic right, issuing a clarion call for the united states to encourage both sunni and Shiite fundamenralism throughout the entire Middle East. In a January zoo5 appearanceat AEI, Gerecht announced the releaseof his new book, The Islamic paradox: Shiite clerics, sunni Fundamentalists,and the coming of Arab Democracy.In it, Gerecht declaredthat the future of the Middle East lies with the Islamic right, and that the united states ought ro welcome it. Although many Amer-

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icans hope that moderate, secular Muslims are the silent malority in the Middle East, Gerecht says, "'Moderate Muslims' may not be the key to a neq less threatening Middle East'"71 He added: Most American liberals and conservativeswill strongly resist the idea that lslam's clergymen and lay fundamentalists,who usually dislike, if not detest, the United States, Israel, and progressrve causeslike women's rights, are the key to liberating the Muslim Middle East from its age-old reflexive hostility to the West. These men, not the much-admired liberal Muslim secularistswho are always praised and sometimesdefendedby the American government and press, are the United States' most valuable potential democratic allies.72 Gerecht compares Khomeini favorably to Mubarak: Khomeini submitted the idea of an Islamic republic to an up-ordown popular vote in r979, and regular electionswith some elernent of competition are morally essential to the regime's conception of its own legitimacy, something not at all the case with PresidentHusni Mubarak's dictatorship in Egypt.73. . . AntiAmericanism is the common denominator of the Arab states$'ith "pro-American" dictators. By comparison, Iran is a profoundiy pro-Ameri c a nc o u n try' -a And after acknowledging the direct intellecrual connections between Hassan al-Banna's Muslim Brotherhood and Osama bin Laden's AI Brotherhood dicQaeda, he concludes, astonishingly, that a Muslim tatorship in Egypt would be better than Mubarak's regime: Egypt is probably the Arab country that has the best chance of quickly marrying fundamentaiism and democracy. It is certainly possible that fundamentalists, if they gained power in Egypt' would try to end representative government. The democratic ethic, although much more common in Egypt than many'Westerners believe,is not as well anchored as it is among the Shiitesof Iran or in the fatwas of Grand Ayatollah Sistani.But the United States would still be better off with this alternative than with a secular dictatorship.T5

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Sixty yearsearlier,when the United statesbeganits odysseyin the Middle East,there were other voiceswho wanted conservativeIslam, and early fundamentalistgroups associatedwith the nascentIslamic right, to do battle with the secularleft, with Nasser,with Arab communists and socialists.Now, six decadeslater, the Bush administration is pursuing a srrategyin the Middle East that seemscalculated to boost the fortunes of the Islamic right. The united statesis counring on Shiite fundamentalistsin Iraq to save its failed policy in that country' and a major theoreticianof that campaignexplicitly calls for the united states ro casr its lot in with ayatollahs and the Muslim Brotherhood. The devil'sgame continues.

Devil's Game - Robert Dreyfuss  
Devil's Game - Robert Dreyfuss