Militant Islam and Right Wing Extremism – A Disturbing Alliance

“Strange Allies” – Writing for the Weekly Standard, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross reviews an fascinating and disturbing history of collaboration between Muslims and the neo-Nazi far right, Strange Allies: The Alarming Convergence of Militant Islam and the Extreme Right (University Press of Kansas 2006).

Prof. Michael details several phases of collaboration between Muslims and right wing extremism — beginning with the “cordial relationship between Hitler and the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini,” followed by post-World War II collaboration with Middle Eastern nations, when “out of work Nazis” lent their expertise in the development of the military and intelligence agencies of Middle Eastern nations:

After Gamal Abdel Nasser became Egypt’s president, for example, a number of Nazis were given prominent positions in his government. Nazi commando Otto Skorzeny trained thousands of Egyptians in guerilla and desert warfare, and even organized early Palestinian terrorist forays into Israel and the Gaza Strip in the mid-1950s. Johann von Leers, who had been a high-ranking assistant to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, produced material for Nasser attacking the United States and Israel. Von Leers even converted to Islam during this period, adopting the name Oman Amin von Leers. Corresponding with a fellow fascist, von Leers opined that “if my nation had got Islam instead of Christianity we should not have had all the traitors we had in World War II.”

The third stage was the rise of Palestinian terrorism in the late 1960s. Apparently the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics gave rise to new appeals by the far right for collaboration and some involvement in anti-Israel operations. And in the 1990’s, the attacks on American soil on 9/11 won the right’s twisted admiration and support:

In the United States, late National Alliance founder William L. Pierce praised Osama bin Laden prior to his death. The Aryan Nations established a Ministry of Islamic Liaison, and the group’s head August Kreis declared his solidarity with Osama bin Laden during an interview with CNN.

As Gartenstein-Ross notes, the extent of future collaboration is not yet certain — “neo-Nazi groups, in their current state of decline, may be viewed as a liability rather than an asset by Islamic militants.” Nevertheless, there are signs of trouble.

The Middle East’s Reception of Holocaust Revisionism

In January 2006 Edwin Black wrote on Iran’s enthusiastic support of the Holocaust-revisionism (Denial of Holocaust nothing new in Iran, San Francisco Chronicle January 8, 2006):

Iran has become a refuge for the biggest names in European Holocaust denial. When in 2000, revisionist author Jürgen Graf was sentenced in Switzerland to 15 months in prison for Holocaust falsification, Graf fled to Tehran “at the invitation of a group of Iranian scholars and university professors who are sympathetic to Holocaust revisionism,” according to the Institute for Historical Review, a denial clearinghouse.

What’s more, in May 2000, Iran’s embassy in Vienna granted asylum to Austrian Holocaust denier Wolfgang Fröhlich, who testified as a so-called expert witness during Graf’s 1998 trial. This saved Fröhlich from Austria’s severe anti-Holocaust denial statutes. Fröhlich argued that evidence proved no Jews were killed by Zyklon B gassing.

Earlier, about 600 journalists and 160 members of the Iranian parliament signed petitions supporting French revisionist Roger Garaudy, who was fined $40,000 by French authorities for his book claiming the Holocaust was a myth. When Garaudy landed in Iran, the country’s supreme spiritual leader, Ayatollah Sayyad Khamenei, granted him an audience and lauded his work.

William Baker – Neo-Nazi on the Muslim Lecture Circuit

Another example of collaboration between Muslims and the extremist right is the strange case of William Baker. Baker is founder of “Christians and Muslims for Peace,” and author of the book Theft of a Nation — a purported history of Israel, the premise of which is that “The entire country of Palestine has been ‘taken’ by political Zionists, and it would seem the entire world has believed, supported and participated in the ‘theft’ of an entire country from an entire nation.”

In 1984 Baker organized the convention for The Populist Party, founded by Willis Carto, whose platform called for the repeal of U.S. civil rights laws.

The Orange County Weekly’s Stan Brin ran an expose on Baker in 2002, documenting his ties to right-wing extremism (Hour of White Power OC Weekly Feb. 14, 2002):

In a written statement, Baker claimed he did not know the Populist Party was racist and that he never shared Carto’s racist politics.

“I never supported the views of Willis Carto,” he wrote. “I was chairman of the Populist Party for a short time and publicly resigned due to infiltration from various racist individuals and organizations.”

But evidence supplied by the Anti-Defamation League shows that Baker delivered a 1983 speech to the racist Christian Patriot Defense League in Licking, Missouri, in which he made several references to Carto’s neo-Nazi newspaper, Spotlight. A 23-page transcript of that rambling speech reveals a number of anti-Semitic remarks, including Baker’s reference to Reverend Jerry Falwell as “Jerry Jewry.” (Falwell is known to be friendly to Jews.) In the same speech, Baker described his disgust at traveling to New York City: “God help me. Why? ’Cause the first people I meet when I get off the plane are pushy, belligerent American Jews.”

Two years later, Brin wrote a follow-up piece on William Baker’s transition to the “Muslim lecture circuit” (From Nazis to Schuller to Arabs OC Weekly January 22, 2004). In 1999, Baker’s Christians and Muslims for Peace and the Institute for Arabic & Islamic Studies coordinated a trip to Damascus, Syria for the American televangelist Dr. Robert Schuller, founder of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California. Schuller expelled Baker from the Crystal Cathedral Ministries following the Orange County expose, but Baker continued to speak for Muslim student organizations, in one case at the invitation of CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations).

* * *

The Neo-Nazi interest in, and in some cases collaboration with, Militant Islam is a disturbing but not entirely unexpected phenomenon.


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