|Erick Stakelbeck||July 17th 2013|
The man they call “Islam’s Savior” appeared in desperate need of one.
Tariq Ramadan, darling of the European Left and arguably the West’s most influential Islamist, had just been informed that eight minutes still remained in our interview, which was scheduled to run a full half hour. He looked at me with a nervous, almost pleading smile and checked his watch, seemingly counting the seconds until he could bolt out the door and back into the warm embrace of his effete leftist admirers at Oxford University, where he’s comfortably ensconced as a professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies.
At that moment, I imagine Ramadan was wondering how in the name of Allah his handler at Oxford could have possibly scheduled our little sitdown. My line of questioning increasingly centered on his alleged ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and while respectful, I kept probing. I had made the hour-plus trip from London to Oxford to learn more about the inner workings of the Brotherhood from Ramadan—a man who is literally heir to MB royalty—and I was determined to make my time with the notoriously evasive Islamo-spin-doctor worthwhile.
“I’m the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was a fact and is a fact and which is well known,” Ramadan told me, barely masking his annoyance. “And even when I was invited [to the United States] by the State Department, this is the way they were introducing me. So, this is something which is known. I’m not a member [of the Muslim Brotherhood], I never was a member—so this is something also which is known.”
Yet one needn’t be a “member” or formally tied, say, to the Brother- hood’s leadership in Egypt in order to promote the Ikhwan’s agenda. As we’ll see, that’s not how the organization operates. For instance, the Brotherhood’s former Supreme Guide, Mustafa Mashour, confirmed in a 1998 interview that belonging to the MB is about adhering to a specific ideology and way of thinking—no membership card required. He added that the work carried out by Tariq Ramadan and his brother, Hani Rama- dan, “is totally in keeping with the purest traditions of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Likewise, French geopolitical analyst Olivier Guitta has written that, “Most European secret service agencies are convinced that, at the end of the 1980s, the Muslim Brotherhood chose Tariq Ramadan to be their European representative.”
When the Muslim Brotherhood’s top global leader says you are marching to the beat of his organization, and European intelligence agencies reportedly agree, you should probably expect to answer a few questions about where your loyalties lie. Furthermore, Ramadan is indeed the grandson of none other than the Muslim Brotherhood’s founder, Hassan al-Banna, and son of one of the most influential global operatives in MB history, Said Ramadan. The elder Ramadan helped establish the Ikhwan network in Europe and played a pivotal role in the founding of both Switzerland’s Islamic Center of Geneva and Germany’s Islamic Center of Munich, two longtime Brotherhood hubs from which the group spread its tentacles throughout the West. But how dare I suggest the apple might not fall far from the tree when it comes to Tariq? The New York Times headline practically writes itself: “Right Wing Television Host, Long Accused of Islamophobia, Levels False Accusations at Muslim Scholar.”
Ramadan’s responses during our conversation were wordy and ambiguous. He seemed slightly irritated by some of my queries about the Brotherhood and perhaps a bit surprised at my level of knowledge about the extremist track record of Granpa al-Banna. This wasn’t the BBC and I wasn’t a clueless left-wing dupe of the sort Ramadan has spun like a top for years. Nevertheless, he remained composed, even as my questions became more pointed. This came as no surprise. French journalist Caro- line Fourest has written an entire book devoted to exposing Ramadan as a master of obfuscation. Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan painstakingly examines Ramadan’s history of radical associations and statements, concluding that he is a devout Islamic supremacist who has cannily pulled the wool over the eyes of Western elites with his talk of a supposed “Third Way” that would essentially see Europe’s Muslims become integrated, but not quite assimilated, into their host countries.
You would think the whole lack of assimilation thing might pose a problem. But that would mean you are actually thinking, whereas our elites in the media, academia, and government, who have lavished praise upon Ramadan, most certainly are not, beyond, “Boy, this Tariq guy is handsome, a sharp dresser, and sounds perfectly reasonable—although I have no idea what he’s talking about. Bingo! We’ve got ourselves a moderate Muslim!” Hence, Ramadan has scored roles as an advisor on Muslim issues for both the European Union and the British government under former Prime Minister Tony Blair. He has also been christened one of the “Top 100 Innovators of the 21st Century” (Time magazine) and “Top 100 Global Thinkers” (Foreign Policy magazine) and has received fawning profiles from the reliably dhimmified New York Times, among others.
Fourest, by the way, is no right-wing rabble-rouser. She is a liberal feminist who had become fed up after years of observing Ramadan’s forked tongue at work in European circles, particularly his portrayal of sharia law as female-friendly and liberating. In Brother Tariq, she high- lights a now infamous 2003 debate between Ramadan and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy—then France’s Minister of the Interior—on French TV in which Ramadan refused to support a ban on the stoning of female adulterers, calling instead for a “moratorium” on the practice in the Muslim world. A visibly outraged Sarkozy responded, “A moratorium? Mr. Ramadan, are you serious? A moratorium, that is...we should, for a while, hold back from stoning women?” The confrontation with Sarkozy came on the heels of an op-ed written by Ramadan’s brother, Hani, which supported death by stoning as the proper punishment for adultery. Tariq and Hani are close; the two have both played prominent roles at Switzerland’s Geneva Islamic Center, a longtime gathering place for Islamic radicals founded by their infamous father. Would it be a stretch to assume they hold similar views on stoning, just as they clearly do on other Islamic issues?
Ramadan’s “moratorium” pronouncement, delivered before some six million French television viewers, would have been a career-killer for a man of lesser talents. Alas, much like the jihadist organization to which his father and grandfather devoted their lives, Ramadan has a Teflon-like quality: declared dead on several occasions only to come back stronger and more influential than before. Over the years, he’s been banned from no fewer than eight countries—including Saudi Arabia and Mubarak’s Egypt—due to his alleged ties to terrorists and, more than likely, his Ikhwan family heritage.
Ramadan was barred from entering France for six months in the mid-1990s for suspected links to Algeria’s Armed Islamic Group (better known as GIA), which carried out a number of deadly attacks in France around that same time. Likewise, his visa was revoked in 2004 by the Bush administration just days before he was set to begin teaching at the University of Notre Dame. The U.S. ban came after it emerged that Ramadan had donated $1,300 to a French Muslim “charity” organization that, in turn, gave money to the terror group Hamas. Ramadan made the donations between 1998 and 2002. The organization was blacklisted by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in 2003.
In explaining the decision to revoke Ramadan’s visa, a Department of Homeland Security spokesman cited a clause in the Patriot Act that bars foreigners who “endorse or espouse terrorist activity or persuade others” to support terrorism. When I spoke to Ramadan about it at Oxford, he remained indignant.
“At one point, in the name of the Patriot Act...my visa was revoked,” he sniffed. “They used the Patriot Act because I was supporting a Palestinian organization.”
Yes, one that was giving money to the Islamist terrorist group Hamas.
“And then it was a political thing,” he continued. “I was critical of the Iraq invasion and American support for Israel...when Hillary Clinton took office and lifted the ban, it showed that it was not a legal thing, it was a political stand [by the Bush administration].”
The Obama administration, always eager to show the Brotherhood and its acolytes some love, lifted the ban on Ramadan in 2010, courtesy of a signed order by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He now travels freely within the United States, attending conferences and giving lectures before star-struck liberal audiences, his faux moderate act undoubtedly reassuring to their naïve Western ears. For instance, when I asked whether he believed Islamic sharia law was compatible with the U.S. Constitution and European law, Ramadan delivered a masterfully deceptive response.
“My position is to say ‘look, sharia is a way. It’s a path,’” he intoned. “So, for example, when I am based in Switzerland—my country—or in the West and the law of the country is saying that we are equal before law, I say ‘This is my sharia.’ So my understanding of sharia is that it is not a closed system. It’s an open system....”
“It’s not a provocation,” he continued. “It’s something that I want the people to understand deeply because this is what you feel at home— the sense of belonging that is important for living together...the very narrow understanding of sharia is problematic not only for the West but for Muslims themselves.”
For a minute there, you might have thought we were talking about the rules for your local fantasy football league rather than Islamic sharia law—a barbaric system that promotes stonings, beheadings, and discrimination against women and religious minorities. Indeed, Ramadan, in keeping with the Brotherhood’s tradition, is an expert in taqiyya, the practice of lying—especially to non-believers—to advance the cause of Islam. This has long been central to the Brotherhood’s strategy, particu- larly in the West. And it works. How else could Ramadan, with his incendiary track record, acquire a position at Oxford University, one of the most famous and prestigious institutions of higher learning in the world? To an English-speaking audience, Ramadan presents himself as a beacon of interfaith harmony and progressive, “European Islam.” But for Muslim audiences, his message, often delivered in Arabic, is far less benign.
He first gained rock star status during the 1990s for his fiery lectures to large crowds of predominantly young French Muslims in the city of Lyon. From there, audiotapes bearing Ramadan’s message of “Islamizing modernity, rather than modernizing Islam” spread throughout France’s gritty Muslim suburbs, with destructive consequences. In 2003, a French court found that language used by Islamist preachers like Ramadan “can influence young Muslims and can serve as a factor inciting them to join up with those engaged in violent acts.”6 It comes as no surprise, then, that a Spanish judge has alleged that Ahmed Brahim—a convicted al-Qaeda member from Algeria—had “routine contacts” with Ramadan. Or that the leader of a jihadist group accused of planning an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Paris said during his 2001 trial that he had studied with Brother Tariq.7 There have also been longstanding rumors—never confirmed—that Swiss authorities believe Tariq and his brother, Hani, helped organize a meeting attended by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and the notorious “Blind Sheikh,” Omar Abdel-Rahman, in Geneva in 1991.
Ramadan, of course, denies it all. And his leftist admirers, enthralled by his harangues against capitalism and Western imperialism, are all too happy to tar his critics as bigoted Islamophobes. When Ramadan assures non-Muslim audiences that the Muslim Brotherhood has eschewed violence and that his grandfather, Hassan al-Banna, was a peaceful reformer, his words are usually taken at face value. “I have studied Hassan al-Banna’s ideas with great care and there is nothing in this heritage that I reject,” Ramadan once told a French interviewer. “His relation to God, his spiritualism, his mysticism, his personality, as well as his critical reflections on law, politics, society and pluralism, testify for me to his qualities of heart and mind. His commitment also is a continuing reason for my respect and admiration.” What Ramadan neglected to mention in this loving ode to his grandfather was al-Banna’s unwavering “commitment” to violent jihad. As we’ll see shortly, al-Banna was a jihadist to his very core who longed for an Islamic caliphate—established by force, if necessary.
“You say al-Banna was against violence,” I pressed Ramadan. “But he did talk about jihad often and I don’t think he meant defensive jihad.” “We have no proof of [al-Banna] asking anyone to act violently in Egypt,” Ramadan answered. “And the only thing he said and is written [approving violence] is in Palestine—against [Jewish paramilitary groups] and the people who were trying to colonize the country—[violence] was legitimate. But in Egypt, it was not.”
In other words, killing Jews who were resettling their ancient home- land, Israel, was a noble pursuit in al-Banna’s (and, presumably, Tariq’s) eyes. In fact, Ramadan’s father Said personally led the Brotherhood’s jihad against the fledgling state of Israel in 1948. Hatred for Jews runs in the family (which may explain Tariq Ramadan’s frequent attacks on “Jewish intellectuals”).
As for Ramadan’s suggestion that al-Banna opposed violence within Egypt, the facts laid out in this chapter scream otherwise. But Tariq Ramadan is not one to let facts get in the way of some good taqiyya.
Besides, to his relief, our thirty minutes were up and it was time for him to rush off to his next appointment. The scion of Muslim Brother- hood royalty is in high demand: there is a boundless supply of Islamists to rile and infidels to beguile. In Brother Tariq’s world, an alleged right- wing hater like me—bearing probing questions and Zionist inclinations— doesn’t deserve thirty seconds, let alone thirty minutes. After a cursory goodbye he was off, carrying eighty-four years of Muslim Brotherhood ideology in his bloodstream.
“What did you think? “ I asked my cameraman as we packed up. “I don’t think he liked you very much,” he replied with a grin.
Perhaps better than anyone else alive today, Tariq Ramadan knows and fully grasps the violent legacy of his grandfather. He simply chooses to lie about it—and it works, time and time again. The reason he’s able to get away with it is simple. The vast majority of today’s Western lead- ers that Ramadan and other slick Islamist spokesmen spend their days hoodwinking flat-out ignore the first rule of war: know your enemy. If you don’t believe me, take a poll of both houses of the U.S. Congress and ask members a) Who Hassan al-Banna was and b) What Hassan al-Banna believed and you’ll mostly be greeted by blank stares as annoyed Hill staffers try to shoo you away. I’ve spent a decade in Washington, D.C. and interviewed dozens of lawmakers from states across the Republic. I’d estimate that out of the 535 members of Congress, maybe forty could pass the hypothetical al-Banna poll. In my experience, Democrats are the most egregiously uninformed, but most Republicans don’t know enough about our Islamist enemies either. Plus, both sides are crippled by political correctness and a refusal to link Islamic terrorism with the Islamist ideology that inspires it. Because that would require, heaven forbid, a serious examination of the Koran and hadiths—the texts the terrorists themselves cite, time and time again—and how they encourage violence. And we just can’t have that, because we all know that Islam is a religion of peace and beyond reproach.
In the House, some of the better informed members are Michele Bach- mann, Trent Franks, Louie Gohmert, and Peter King. The Senate, on the other hand, is a wasteland. John McCain and Lindsey Graham are the Senate’s most vocal members on national security, but both are also die- hard interventionists whose policy prescriptions for the Middle East— arming rebel factions and hoping that an acceptable Islamo-democracy emerges—inadvertently help the Brotherhood and other hostile Islamists. Witness McCain’s bizarre visit to the notorious jihadist hotbed of Beng- hazi, Libya, in April 2011. Reports were rampant then that the rebel forces working to overthrow Gaddafi were riddled with al-Qaeda types, including some who had fought against American troops in Iraq. McCain, undaunted, encouraged the U.S. government to arm these same Libyan mujahideen, whom he called his “heroes.”11 Despite McCain’s giddy endorsement, our dalliance with Benghazi’s Islamists hasn’t worked out so well, if the September 2012 sacking of our consulate and subsequent murder of four Americans there, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, is any indication.
In an age when America is waging war—militarily and ideologically—against Islamic fundamentalists, the pervasive ignorance in Congress about the Muslim Brotherhood and its ilk is not just unacceptable, it’s downright disgraceful. You cannot begin to under- stand al-Qaeda, for instance, without first understanding the history and ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization that spawned AQ and so many other Islamist movements bent on the destruction of the United States.
Which brings us back to Hassan al-Banna. Ever wonder where al-Qaeda, Hamas, and other Islamikaze suicide bombers got their inspi- ration? In his book, Jihad and Jew Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11, German author Matthias Küentzel recounts the Brother-ood founder’s morbid glorification of jihadi martyrdom, or what al- Banna called “the Art of Death.” Küentzel writes:
In 1938, in a leading article entitled “Industry of Death,” which was to become famous, Hassan al-Banna explained to a wider public his concept of jihad—a concept in which the term Industry of Death denotes not something horrible but an ideal. He wrote, “To a nation that perfects the industry of death and which knows how to die nobly, God gives proud life in this world and eternal grace in the life to come.”
According to al-Banna, the Koran enjoins believers to love death more than life. Unfortunately, he argues, Muslims are in thrall to a “love of life.” “The illusion which had humiliated us is no more than the love of worldly life and the hatred of death.” As long as the Muslims do not replace their love of life with the love of death as required by the Koran, their future is hopeless. Only those who become proficient in the “art of death” can prevail. “So, prepare yourself to do a great deed. Be keen on dying and life will be granted to you, so work towards a noble death and you will find complete happiness,” he writes in the same essay, republished in 1946 under the title, “The Art of Death.”
In 2001, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, a Taliban fighter famously proclaimed, “The Americans lead lavish lives and they are afraid of death. We are not afraid of death. The Americans love Pepsi Cola, but we love death.” Clearly, this reasonable chap had embraced al-Banna’s “Art of Death” concept. Repeatedly over the past three decades, Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamenei, and Hezbollah’s Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah have espoused this theme. So have the 9/11 hijackers, the London and Madrid mass transit bombers, and the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch, Hamas. For example, as Israel conducted Operation Pillar of Defense against Hamas terrorists in Gaza in November 2012, Hamas’s military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, released a video declaring that their fighters “love death more than [Israelis] love life.”1 This kind of fanatical mentality, popularized in the mod- ern age by al-Banna, has brought us the grotesque ritual of Palestinian mothers eagerly sending their sons to conduct suicide attacks that murder and maim Israeli women and children.
Every last modern-day jihadist—whether Palestinian, Pakistani, or Parisian—owes a depraved debt, in some form or fashion, to the Muslim Brotherhood. The virtual death cult festering today across the Islamic world can clearly be traced back to the teachings of al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb, and their Brotherhood acolytes.
Erick Stakelback is an author and news analyst for CBN News.