May 16-17, 2016 -- CIA gave "moderate" pass to Muslim Brotherhood in the 1980s

publication date: May 16, 2016
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May 16-17, 2016 --  CIA gave "moderate" pass to Muslim Brotherhood in the 1980s

The influence of pro-Sunni Muslim Middle East "experts" Graham Fuller, the
National Intelligence Officer for Near East and South Asia, and the present Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan, the CIA's Arabic-speaking Middle East specialist, can be seen in a newly-declassified CIA report titled "Islamic Fundamentalism in the Middle East and South Asia: Looking Ahead." The formerly Secret report is dated December 1986 and it reflects the CIA's wrong-headed approach to allying with Islamic extremists in pursuit of its agenda against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and other countries.

The Muslim Brotherhood, a creation of British intelligence in Egypt in 1928 using as the front man Hassan al Banna, an Egyptian Sufi schoolteacher, was a valued Egyptian ally for the CIA in recruiting jihadists to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The CIA report refers to the Muslim Brotherhood as "moderate" and "pragmatic" and primarily interested in forcing the Hosni Mubarak government into adopting sharia Islamic law in Egypt.

The CIA also made a critical error in judgment in seeing only the potential for Shi'a radicalism in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province as a threat to the Saudi regime. Again, the CIA found itself in bed with the Saudi monarchy in receiving Saudi financing for Langley's adventurism in Afghanistan on the side of Afghan Islamist guerrillas.

The CIA also believed that Syria greatly benefited from President Hafez al Assad's rule in his cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood in 1982 with the result that "intense ethnic, class, and sectarian loyalties" inhibited the development of a religious-based opposition movement. The CIA failed to read its own reports when Brennan decided to provide assistance to Syria's Al Qaeda and other groups allied with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to topple the government of Bashar al-Assad.

The CIA was willing to stoke the flames of Muslim fundamentalism in countries that had secular leadership. Muslim Brotherhood and other jihadist cells threatened all the secular and anti-fundamentalist leaders in the Middle East, including Mubarak, Hafez al-Assad, Libya's Muammar Qaddafi, Algerian President Chadli Benjedid, Iraq's Saddam Hussein, and the leaders of South Yemen. These cells would eventually be used by the CIA to help depose Mubarak and Qaddafi and seek to oust Bashar al Assad in Syria.

ZB_Khyber_Pass
Zbigniew Brzezinski with his jihadist Afghan resistance fighter friends at the Khyber Pass in Pakistan, a few miles from the Afghan border, in 1980.

The motivation of CIA support for Islamist fundamentalists in the 1980s is found in this key passage in the report: "The Soviet Union is unlikely to benefit directly from fundamentalism -- which is anti-Communist." So, in the interest of undermining the Soviet Union, the CIA favored Islamist extremists. Jimmy Carter's Russophobic and Polish-born national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski saw no problem in arming jihadists as long as they killed Russians. Herein lies the origins of Al Qaeda, ISIL, and all the other jihadist groups that are now active around the world.

The CIA created the false category of "moderate Muslim fundamentalism" to sell its aid package for the Afghan jihadist mujaheddin to the Ronald Reagan administration, Congress, and the American public. The CIA understood the terms "moderate" and "fundamentalist" in the Islamic context was an oxymoron.

Even the CIA's own definition of "moderate fundamentalist" creates a question when it comes to "moderates" encountering extremist Wahhabists in the Gulf states. The 1986 report states: "Moderates, who seek to establish Islamic states through legal means, offer a more complex challenge. Moderates are usually older and more established in business and the professions. They seek to gain wider followings through their support of social welfare programs and education. Thus, the Sunni Islamic Call Party, a hitherto nonpolitical religious education society based in India and with more than 1 million members worldwide, recently has been calling attention to its branches in the Gulf states by adopting goals similar to those of other fundamentalist groups."

In other words, when non-political fundamentalists encountered radical Sunni Wahhabists in the Gulf states, the end result was that the "moderates" became radicalized by the Wahhabist agenda. The CIA's definition of "moderate fundamentalist" would have applied to Dr. Ayman Zawahiri, an older Egyptian physician who became the deputy chief of Al Qaeda in the 1990s.

The CIA's creation of and subsequent support for Muslim fundamentalists as a way to fight the Soviet Union is summed up by this paragraph in the 1986 report: "The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and meddling in the internal affairs of such states as South Yemen have used up much of the political capital Moscow had in the Muslim world. Some fundamentalist groups, notably the Muslim Brotherhood, train volunteers to fight with the Muslim insurgents in Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have provided considerable financial assistance to the Afghan resistance. Even if the USSR were to withdraw from Afghanistan, we do not believe Soviet stock among fundamentalists would rise quickly or significantly."

After the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989 and the country devolved into civil war and ultimately, a Taliban-run state that harbored Al Qaeda and its "Arab Legion" of mercenaries, including Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden, the "moderate fundamentalists" turned their attention away from the Soviet Union, which collapsed in 1991, and toward the United States. Soon, these "moderate fundamentalists" were no longer "insurgents," "resistance fighters," and "moderates" in the CIA's lexicon but overnight became "terrorists" and "jihadists."

Just as Germany, today, has welcomed jihadist elements from around the world as "refugees," in the 1980s Germany sponsored a number of jihadist groups, including the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood faction that aimed to oust Syrian President Hafez al Assad from power. Under the sponsorship of West Germany's federal intelligence service, the exiled Syrian Muslim Brotherhood operated in plain sight in Aachen. It also coordinated Muslim Brotherhood destabilization efforts in other Arab countries, including Jordan.

The CIA's creation of the term "moderate fundamentalist" has today morphed into the commonly-used and false term "moderate Arab governments" to describe Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and other Wahhabist states. The United States has but one country to blame for the rise of Islamist jihadism and radicalism around the world: itself.



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