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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Al Taqwa, the Ramadan brothers and Pakistani radicals

Jean-Charles Brisard

Ali Ghaleb Himmat and Ahmed Idris Nasreddin have been designated as financiers of terror for their involvement in Al Taqwa Bank, an Islamic financial institution that, according to the OFAC, “provided investment advice and cash transfer mechanisms for Al Qaida and other radical Islamic groups”.

Ali Ghaleb Himmat, was designated by the United States on November 7, 2001, and by the United Nations on November 9, 2001, Ahmed Idris Nasreddin was designated by the G7 on April 19, 2002, and by the United Nations on April 24, 2002 . While several companies owned or managed by Himmat and Nasreddin were subsequently designated and procedures opened against them by several nations (with more or less success – see Newsweek story), both of them remained in the board of trustees of a UK charity until the mid-2003. Records of the “Islamic Foundation” at that date mention the names of “Ahmad I. Nasreddin” and “Ghalib Himmat” (Islamic Foundation, Trustees’ report and audited financial statements, 2003). It’s only in May 2003 that the UK Charity Commission “discovered by its monitoring process” that two of the individuals named on the United Nations Sanctions Committee Consolidated List under resolution 1390 (2002) matched the names of two individuals listed as trustees of the charity, and decided to open a formal inquiry.

And according to the inquiry report, it’s only on July 9, 2003 that the board of trustees of the charity met and “unanimously accepted letters of resignation from the two trustees” . The Islamic Foundation is an Islamic center for education, training, research and publication established in 1973 by Ahmad Khurshid, an Islamic scholar who has held various positions in economic and philanthropic institutions in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, and is the current Vice-President (Naib Ameer) of Jamaat E Islami in Pakistan . Jamaat E Islami (JEI) is a fundamentalist group with many links to the Al Qaeda network. While denying these links, the organization was listed as a terrorist group by the Russia's Supreme Court on February 14, 2003 and is accused of financing terrorist organizations within Chechnya. According to a Spanish intelligence report, at least six terrorist training camps in Afghanistan (including Suleiman Farsi Camp and Al-Badar in the Khost province) were financed or controlled by JEI (“Informe sobre arabes afganos y el concepto internacional de terrorista Islamica”, Tomo 25, Spanish procedure 35/01 on Al-Qaida). According to Kabul Payam-e Mojahed in Dari, weekly newspaper of JEI, when Osama Bin Laden traveled to Pakistan in 1981, he donated money for the Mujahideen, and gave it to the JEI Pakistan in Lahore ("I Used to Love Usama", Kabul Payam-e Mojahed in Dari 17 Jun 04) Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was arrested in the house of a JEI leader and at least four other top Al Qaeda figures had ties to JEI (« Terrorism in South Asia », CRS Report RL 32259, December 13, 2004. Interestingly, Jamaat E Islami contact details in Lahore appeared in the Al Taqwa phonebook seized by the Italian police during searches of Youssef Nada’s house, the Al Taqwa founder. The UK Islamic Foundation denies any link with Jamaat E Islami but still publishes biographies and various texts of the JEI founder, Maulana Sayyid abul A’la Mawdudi, a modern jihad theorician. One of his books, “Jihad fi sabilillah” (Jihad in Islam) was even translated by Ahmad Khurshid. Mawdudi here defines the concept of a global jihad: “[T]he objective of the Islamic Jihad is to eliminate the rule of an unIslamic system, and establish in its place an Islamic system of state rule”… “The division of Islamic Jihad into “offensive” and “defensive” is not permissible. Islamic Jihad is both offensive and defensive at the same time. It is offensive because the Muslim Party attacks the rule of an opposing ideology, and it is defensive because the Muslim Party is constrained to capture state power in order to protect the principles of Islam in space-time forces.” Maulana Mawdudi was a founding member of the Muslim World League (MWL) in 1962, along with Said Ramadan, son-in-law of Hassan Al Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. Interestingly, another trustee of the Islamic Foundation in Leicester is Abdullah Omar Naseef. Naseef is the former deputy chairman of the Saudi Shura Council, former Secretary General of the Muslim World League and founder of Rabita Trust, a subsidiary of the MWL which was designated SDGT on October 12, 2001. Wa’el Hamza Julaidan, co-founder of Al-Qaida, was appointed to its Board of Trustees in February 2000 and served as Rabita Trust Director General. Wa’el Julaidan was also designated as financier of terror on September 6, 2002. The nexus formed by members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Pakistani radical groups under the auspices of the Al Taqwa Bank management is also evidenced elsewhere in Europe, including in Switzerland.

Despite his designation by the US and UN as financier of terror, Ghaleb Himmat is still a member of the board of a charity based in Geneva. The official registration of the International Islamic Charitable Organization (IICO), Sharq Koweït, Geneva Office, reflects that three directors of the Islamic Foundation in London are members of the board of the IICO in Switzerland: Ghaleb Himmat, Ahmad Khurshid and Abdullah Omar Naseef. Youssef Al Qardawi also seats on the board of directors of the organization. Other board members include Saleh Abdul Rahman Al Hussayen, uncle of Sami Al Hussayen (IANA), Mani b. Hammad Al-Juhani, Member of the Consultative Council and General Director of World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY). Ghaleb Himmat also entertained very close ties with Tariq Ramadan’s father Said Ramadan and was a driving force behind his return in Europe in 1958. Said Ramadan, who had lived in Pakistan where he became in the 1950s “cultural ambassador” for the country’s Islamic groups , first settled in Germany where he founded the Islamische Gemeinschaft in Deutschland e.V., (IGD) in Munich. Said Ramadan remained President of the IGD until 1968, before Ghaleb Himmat from 1973 until 2002 . The IGD was considered by several German security agencies to be the main body of the Muslim Brotherhood in Germany. The IGD was controlled by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and founded by “MB member Said Ramadan.” . Said Ramadan then established the Islamic Center of Geneva in 1961 with several Pakistani scholars. An obvious “moderate” center whose current director, Hani Ramadan recently posted on its website a sermon entitled "Parenthesis on Iraq" in which he opposed the armed insurrection in Al Fallujah, (carried out in its operational base by the followers of the terrorist group Al Qaida in Iraq), to the "true terrorists", “the American administration, Sharon’s government, Putin’s government". The “moderate” Tariq Ramadan, the new special advisor of the British government, is still a member of the board of the Islamic Center of Geneva with his brothers and sisters, while he often states he is not involved in the Islamic Center. He will probably also state he has nothing to do with Pakistani radicals, while he was recently appointed as visiting scholar of the Islamic Foundation’s Institute for Higher Education, known as Markfield Institute of Higher Education and while he already spent one year at Markfield as a lecturer in 1998 and while the Islamic Foundation published several of his books . Tariq Ramadan, the grandson of the MB founder, “shares the heritage” of the Muslim Brotherhood, but denied being one of its members. As part of this legacy, a founding document of the Muslim Brotherhood explains that their strategy is to adapt one’s positions to the country in which one finds oneself, so as to “infiltrate the organs of influence” and “have a decisive role in political decisions”. The MB founders couldn’t find a better set of circumstances.
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