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Britain and the Islamic movements
Arab News
October 20, 2012

Britain`s Prince Charles (CENTRE L) and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall smile during a visit to the Dawoodi Bohra Mosque in Northolt, west of London February 4, 2009.

I have just finished reading studies that centered on the relationship between the British intelligence (MI6) and political Islamic movements. I also had discussion with three intelligence personnel who worked for security agencies in Iraq, Sudan and the Gulf. We focused on the history of British diplomacy, the skills, leadership and strategic planning that once made Britain - an isolated island - an empire where the sun never sat.

The clandestine relationship between MI6 and Sufi, Shiite and Sunni religious movements puzzled me for a while. Britain supported and hosted movements with ideologies that contradict with the British policies. For instance, the Tahrir Party, which calls for the restoration of the caliphate system, is holding its conferences in London. Additionally, there are different opposition groups in London such as Shiite, Sufi and Ismaili movements. Furthermore, you can find all kinds of extremists living in London. Each group can be employed differently.

In 1916, the British Foreign Office sent a cable to one diplomat in Tehran asking how the British interests could be served in case a change took place in Iran. The ambassador reported back saying that the clergymen would just do that for Britain. Britain unsuccessfully attacked the Iranian coasts in 1915 and then it used its tools. Britain picked the grandfather of Khomeini - Sayid Ahmed Hindi - to implement the British scheme of destabilizing Iran. Complying with the British plan, Sayid Ahmed Hindi incited tribes against the Iranian regime. This paved the way for Britain to occupy Iran in 1941. Interestingly, the British used the same tactic against the Shah of Iran by supporting and empowering religious men.

Meanwhile, I had the opportunity to access important papers and memoirs of diplomats who served in Arab countries and India. I frequently visited India for that purpose. Once I also visited Pakistan to understand more about these movements. I found that Britain had a role in the establishment of many of these movements. According to a Palestinian leader Britain was behind conflicts in the Middle East. It was behind the catastrophe in Palestine because of the infamous Balfour Declaration and its policy of divide to conquer. In some cases, Britain interfered in a way that pitted one minority against the other.

Britain established links with some tribes and families but withdrew from the east of Suez in 1961 and ceased to exist there. That said, now it fights to have a presence especially after the Arab Spring that grant the Muslim Brotherhood an opportunity to ascend. After the digging of the Suez Canal, Britain tried to use the religious factor to control the Egyptian street in line with British interests. Interestingly, Muslim Brotherhood leader Khairat Al-Shatir told an American official that all America needed to do was to support the Islamists and then they can rally the street behind the Americans in one religious verdict. In the United Arab Emirates, officials expressed their anger at the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, the Egyptian and Tunisian experiences prove their lust for power. Instead of offering practical solution they call on people to adopt austerity at a time they are establishing their ideology.

It seems that Qatar has taken the same course in London and began to attract secular and Islamic oppositions. It organizes seminars and conferences for Islamists and liberals alike. It also supports the Muslim Brotherhood and enjoys links with both Israel and Iran. Al Jazeera has been running exclusively video tapes and statements of Al-Qaeda. Qatar`s support for Arab revolution is well documented. On top of that, Qatar hosts academies for change in the region and has been using money for political ends. The British press is full of articles for Islamists close to Britain while London does not care about the criticism voiced by some British writers about the covert and hidden relationship between London and the Islamic movements.

Mark Curtis in his book “Secret Affairs,” says that at the heart of the relationship between Britain and Islamic movements is the policy of divide and conquer that was adopted by Britain in the past. To that effect, Britain exploited the Islamic forces to reinforce the imperial interests in many countries such as India, Palestine, Jordan and Yemen. The book tries to uncover the depth of collusion between radical Islam and Britain before and after the latter`s imperial decline.

In his book, “MI6: Inside the Covert World of Her Majesty`s Secret Intelligence Service,” Stephen Dorril argues that the British intelligence succeeded in setting up a solid network of relations with Muslim Brotherhood since the second and third decades of last century. In the aftermath of World War II, the American CIA stepped in to fulfill Britain`s role. The American involvement does not mean Britain`s the level of communication with Islamists had decreased. The problem is that Britain, hit by financial crisis, is forging ties with Islamic movements and has established alliances with them. Britain is doing that though many Arab intellectuals and analysts believe that the phenomenon of Muslim Brotherhood is a passing one and most likely the party will not win next elections.

What can be done when Britain exploits the political Islamic movements? Not surprisingly, Britain, that has lost its prominent role in world affairs, will use them as a pressure card to balance the French and American presence in the region. Britain kicked out by India after hundreds of years of occupation should understand that the Arab Spring is not inviting colonizers to the region. These revolutions will make new symbols and those who have taken religion as a springboard to hold on to power will fall.

Arabs cannot forget history and will not accept incomplete freedom. People`s demand for justice and freedom does not mean harming our national aspirations. Britain should understand that the years of messing in this part of the world are over and that the empire where the sun never sat has eclipsed.

Today`s Britain that defends freedom and movements of political Islam is the same Britain that tortured the opponents of Qaddafi. Britain`s former Minister of Foreign Affairs Jack Straw was accused of misleading members of the British Parliament regarding the role of Britain in deporting Abdulhakim Bilhaj and Sami Al-Saudi, the opponents of Qaddafi. Those two figures were handed over to Qaddafi. In brief, we are aware of the economic shock that has hit the Western countries and made their leaders think they still can drag the Arabs into colonization.

© Copyright: Arab News 2012.

Hizb ut Tahrir and MI6 connection
Dr. Jassim Taqui
Pakistan Observer
June 24, 2011

Prince Charles wears traditional Islamic dress to the opening of the Mohammedi Park Majlis in Northolt, north-west London.

The ISPR spokesman Major. Gen. Athar Abbas disclosed that the arrested Brigadier Ali Khan and four other majors were detained for questioning on their links with London-based Islamist party Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT). HuT is an international political party whose proclaimed aim is the establishment of a global Islamic Caliphate. The party claims that it desists violence and that it seeks to achieve its objective through peaceful means. However, security agencies found something mysterious and dangerous about the party and banned it in 2003.

No grounds were given by the authorities on banning HuT. However, experts believe that the party enjoys close ties with MI6, which stood with the party despite complaints from Arab and Central Asian countries about its link with the militant parties that seek to destabilize these countries. Former President Gen. Pervez Musharraf also complained to the British authorities that HuT was engaged in propaganda drive against military leadership.

The party has been active in the Middle East. It sought to overthrow Arab regimes by penetrating their armed forces in an attempt to bring change by military coups. Therefore, one after another, all Arab countries banned HuT. Following Geronimo Operation, HuT revived its activities against the civilian and military leadership through processions, pamphlets, posters, SMS and write-ups in the internet especially in Facebook and Twitter. From 1986 to 1996, under leadership of Syrian born Omar Bakri Muhammad, HuT grew from a very small organization in Britain to a one of the most active Islamic organization in the country. In 1996 Bakri split with HuT over disagreement on policy, style and methods, and focused on another organization Al-Muhajiroun.

HuT is legal in Britain. It dominates the Islamic scene with some 8500 members. The SCO nations are very worried on the activities of HuT in Central Asia. The party leaders themselves never explain why the party is so interested in this region. However, experts believe that HuT is used by the MI6 as part of the Anglo-American strategy to contain the influence of Russians and Chinese in Central Asian Republics.

HuT is reportedly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood which has long been a front for the CIA and MI6. the Brotherhood has been used by MI6 and CIA to weaken the independent governments in the Middle East. Former DCM of Egyptian Embassy in Pakistan Dr. Reza Shihata established in his Ph.D. thesis that the Brotherhood was linked with the CIA. He relied heavily on “see-only” references in the library of the American Congress on the secret contacts between the Brotherhood and CIA.

Presently, the HuT has been given the task of destabilizing Pakistan by targeting the armed forces, which is under attacks by TTP and imperial powers. The real game of HuT is implement the foreign powers agenda in Pakistan by demoralizing and discrediting the Pakistani soldiers and attempting to break military discipline.

© Copyright 2011. Pakistan Observer

Britain Plans to Reach Out to Muslim Brotherhood
NPR: Morning Edition
February 17, 2006


Hamas` surprise victory along with electoral successes elsewhere of militant Islamist groups poses a dilemma for governments in the West. In Britain, it appears to be prompting at least a rethinking of foreign policy towards the Middle East. A foreign office memo leaked and published yesterday in Britains New Statesman magazine proposes more engagement with what it calls political Islam, specifically Egypt`s banned Muslim Brotherhood.

NPR`s Rob Gifford joins us now from London to talk about the new policy recommendation. And Rob, what exactly does this memo say?

ROB GIFFORD, reporting:

Well the memo is from a senior member of the Foreign Offices` Israel, Arab, and North Africa Working Group. And it is part of the broader strategy within the British foreign office called Engaging With The Islamic World. And this person is suggesting to other various senior members within the British government that they should, indeed, engage with political Islam and engage specifically with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and also recommending that the U.S. and EU countries do the same. There has been an MI6 study within the British government that says that there is no direct violence that is caused by the Muslim Brotherhood, although some donations are probably finding their way towards Hamas and other people, and that really, engagement is the way forwards with these people and by engaging, the British government may be able to change or affect the direction that the movement takes.

MONTAGNE: What is the argument behind this possible change in policy?

GIFFORD: Well, it`s part of the ongoing dilemma really, which is happening in the United States as well, and throughout the European Union, of what to do when you`ve encouraged democracy in the middle east. And we`ve seen it, of course, with the Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections several weeks ago. What do you do when you encourage it, and then the Islamist groups take power. And this particular memo, is saying that reall, the credibility of the British government is at stake. That once you`ve encouraged democracy, you can`t then, just ignore people who have taken part in that democracy. And the Muslim Brotherhood have just participated recent Egyptian elections and won 88 seats-which is more than they ever have done before. They were not allowed to run as the Muslim Brotherhood, it should be said, they had to run as independents. But that is still and important move in the Egyptian political landscape.

MONTAGNE: Remind us Rob, exactly who is the Muslim Brotherhood.

GIFFORD: Well, it has its roots back in the 1920s. It was founded in 1928 and its aim is to implement Sharia law, but it says `through democratic means.` It`s very, very influential, as we`ve just been hearing, on Hamas, on other Islamic groups around the region. One important point and one thing that has really affected how people see the Muslim Brotherhood, of course, is that Ayman al-Zawahiri, the number two in al-Qaeda to Osama bin Laden, used to be a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood and so it`s very much seen as this extremist group and in many ways, it`s clear it has links with extremist groups around the region.

But as Linda Gradstein was just saying from the Middle East just then, it also does support the poor; it has a lot of grassroots support among ordinary Egyptians and helps the poor and helps with education and all these other areas as well.

MONTAGNE: Well, has Tony Blair`s government decided to move this way and just, quickly, would it be ironic, given that the Blair government has pushed to outlaw speech glorifying terrorism and there is that history here?

GIFFORD: Well, there is obviously this whole attention here in this whole debate. It clearly looks as though the British government is moving that way, although the fact that this memo was leaked suggests that there are some people within the British government who are not happy with going in this direction. One of the memos that was leaked at the same time to the new statesman is a memo from the British ambassador in Cairo basically saying that the government -- advising the government not to do this and this will, as he put it scare the horses in the Egyptian government, and he pours scorn on the idea that you can affect the direction of the Muslim Brotherhood by engaging it.

MONTAGNE: Rob, thanks very much.

GIFFORD: Thank you very much, Renee.

MONTAGNE: NPR`s Rob Gifford speaking to us from London.

© Copyright 2004 National Public Radio®. All rights reserved.

How Britain backed holy warriors
by Kim Sengupta
The Independent
July 30, 2010

Britain`s secret proxy war in Syria

For years, violent Islamist groups were allowed to settle in Britain, using the country as a base to carry out attacks abroad. This was tolerated in the belief that they would not bomb the country where they lived and that, as long as they are here, the security service would be able to infiltrate them. At the same time mosque after mosque was taken over through intimidation by the fundamentalists. Police and others in authority refused pleas from moderate Muslims with the excuse that they did not want to interfere.

There was even a name for this amoral accommodation: the “covenant of security”. We now know that jihadists will indeed blow up their home country and that the security agencies signally failed to infiltrate the terrorist cells while they had the chance.

The part played by officials in the growth of terrorism in Britain is a relatively small-scale affair compared to what went on abroad. Successive UK governments had nurtured and promoted extremists for reasons of realpolitik often at a terrible cost to the population of those countries. Mark Curtis, in his book on “Britain`s collusion with radical Islam”, charts this liaison. He points out how reactionary and violent Muslim groups were used against secular nationalists at the time of empire and continued afterwards to back UK and Western interests.

The price for this is now being paid at home and abroad. I am writing this review in Helmand, where a few days ago I went on an operation with British and Afghan troops against insurgents whose paymasters, across the border in Pakistan, have been the beneficiaries of US and British largesse.

Curtis points out that two of the most active Islamist commanders carrying out attacks in Afghanistan, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalalludin Haqqani, had particularly close contacts with the UK in the past. Hekmatyar met Margaret Thatcher in Downing Street when he was a favourite of MI6 and the CIA in the war against the Russians. Haqqani, while not the “Taliban`s overall military commander fighting the British” as Curtis says (he runs his own network parallel to the Taliban), was viewed as a highly useful tool in that conflict.

The Western use of the Mujaheddin as proxy fighters is well documented. It resulted in the spawning of al-Qa`ida, the spread of international terrorism, and the empowering of ISI, the Pakistani secret police, who became their sponsors. Curtis examines the lesser known by-products of this jihad: the dispatch of Afghan Islamist veterans, with the connivance of Britain and the US, to the wars in the Balkans and the former Soviet republics in central Asia, and ethnic Muslim areas of China. Vast sums of money from the West`s great ally, Saudi Arabia, helped fund the Reagan administration`s clandestine war in support of repressive military juntas in Latin America while, at the same time, buttressing the aggressive Wahabi faith embraced by many terrorist groups.

The use of hardline Islam by the West was particularly prevalent at the time of the Cold War. In many instances, however, the targets for destabilisation were not Communist regimes but leaders who had adopted left-wing policies deemed to pose a threat to Western influence and interests.

The UK attempted to combat “virus of Arab nationalism”, after Gamal Abdel Nasser came to power in Egypt and nationalised the Suez Canal, by forging links with the Muslim Brotherhood, an organisation involved in terrorism. The nationalisation of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company by the democratically elected Iranian government of Mohammed Mossadeq led to a British-American organised coup which was facilitated by Ayatollah Seyyed Kashani, one of whose followers was the young Ruhollah Khomeini. In Indonesia, the removal of Ahmed Sukarno in another military coup by the UK-US was carried out with the help of Darul Islam. Its followers went on to massacre socialists and trade unionists.

In each of these cases the clandestine backing of Britain and the US strengthened Islamist groups at the expense of secular bodies and moderate Muslims. These groups then went to form terrorist groups whom the West would later have to confront in the “War on Terror”.

Here in Afghanistan, its most ferocious and violent front, moves are once again under way to negotiate with Islamists as the West seeks an exit strategy from a conflict increasingly costly in lives and money. The UK, more than the US, has been pressing President Hamid Karzai to come to an agreement with the insurgents. This goes beyond reintegrating the foot soldiers - a sensible policy - to a settlement with the leadership of Haqqani, Hekmatyar and Mullah Omar. The Pakistani ISI is eager to help broker such a deal and Karzai, who no longer believes Western politicians have the stomach for a long-term military commitment, is veering towards this as the option which will keep him in power.

The Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras, minority communities who had fought the Pashtun Taliban in the past, warn this will re-ignite the civil war. Human rights groups fear hard-won civil liberties, especially for women, will be sacrificed in order to cut a deal with the Islamists. For Britain and the West the result is likely to follow the past pattern of the history of involvement with extremists: short-term gain followed by long-term loss as the international jihad continues to grow and gain ground.

Kim Sengupta is Defence Correspondent of `The Independent`

Books | SECRET AFFAIRS by Mark Curtis Serpent`s Tail, £12.99, 460pp £11.69 from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030

© 2010 Independent & Media PLC

MI6 kept secrets from Israel, Brotherhood are terrorists and Hamas is Iran`s puppet
By Martin Bright, Political Editor
The Jewish Chronicle
April 01, 2011

ONE OF Britain`s top spies has described the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood as “at heart a terrorist organisation” and labelled Hamas and Hizbollah as surrogates of the Iranian state.

In a rare – and extraordinarily candid — public appearance, Sir Richard Dearlove, who was head of MI6 at the time of the 9/11 attacks, told an audience at foreign affairs think tank Chatham House to be wary of the Brotherhood`s influence in Egypt.

Speaking at a conference on Wednesday marking the 60th anniversary of British-Israeli diplomatic relations, Sir Richard said: “I, for one, have absolutely no illusions about what the Muslim Brotherhood is, or can be. It can be a social organisation. It can be a political organisation. But it is at heart, in my view, a terrorist organisation.”

He said it was not clear in what direction events in Egypt might lead. “What is the medium to long-term threat from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt? I worry greatly about what may or may not happen in a semidemocratic Egypt which is trying to change its constitution very fast, at speed faster than it is possible to create new political organisations.” He added that the Muslim Brotherhood was by far the most organised political movement in Egypt.

The former head of MI6 made clear that cooperation between the UK and Israel on Iran was “immensely important”.

He added: “Of course it does overflow into the role of Hamas and Hizbollah, both of which are largely, in terms of the way they behave towards Israel, Iranian surrogates.”

He was also worried about Islamist influence in Libya, adding that the rebel stronghold of Benghazi was “rather fundamentalist in character”.

Sir Richard was also frank about British- Israeli relations. He said there were common security interests against a background of significant policy differences. “The relationship with Israel is difficult. But that doesn`t mean it`s not important and that it`s not given close attention professionally and politically”.

Expanding on the distinction between “professionals” (intelligence officers) and politicians, he added: “On a day-to-day level there are a lot of hot potatoes being dropped in the direction of ministers, so that the professionals can ensure they have political cover for whatever they are doing.” He revealed that there remained a significant level of suspicion from British spies towards their Israeli counterparts.

“There is no doubt that Israel plays by a different set of rules than the rules that we observe in the UK. I`m not going to expand on that, but I will just have to leave it to the imagination.”

He also noted that UK politicians and MI6 were not always certain they could share intelligence with the Israelis. “

I was quite frequently in discussion with Robin Cook as foreign Secretary about what should or shouldn`t be passed to our Israeli colleagues — and there are obvious reasons for that, because we could never guarantee how the intelligence might or would be used by the state of Israel.”

Speaking on the same panel, Uzi Arad, former chairman of the Israeli National Security Council, used the occasion to criticise the UK`s anti-terror strategy and its concern with addressing the grievances of the Muslim community.

“This gives me an uneasy feeling,” he said, especially when it was linked with the Middle East peace process.

Israeli President Shimon Peres used the conference to pledge his support for the “revolutionaries” of the Arab Spring. “It is a great moment and I pray for their success,” he said. “The Arab world is entering the 21st century. I feel they can win. What can we [Israel] contribute to help?...To use the short time of the open window to bring an end to the conflict with the Palestinians. We have to take away this excuse that they [the Arab rulers] fight for the Palestinian people.”

Foreign Secretary William Hague, who gave the closing keynote speech at Chatham House, restated the government`s support for Israel and its right to defend itself. However, he added: “This does not mean that we will agree on every expression of that right or on every one of Israel`s actions.”

He restated the UK government`s feelings of increasing frustration with the stalled peace process and urged Israel to reconsider over settlement building. “Time is working against the interests of all those who want peace.

The British government has made clear our concern about ongoing settlement expansion. We believe it is illegal, an obstacle to peace and a threat to a two-state solution.”

More provocatively, he called on Israel to learn lessons from the uprisings across the Middle East. “One of the most important lessons from the Arab Spring is that legitimate aspirations cannot be ignored and must be addressed. It cannot be in anyone`s interests if the new order of the region is determined at a time of minimum hope in the peace process.”

In a separate intervention at the conference, outgoing Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor delivered a stinging attack on British universities for tolerating extremism on campus, becoming the focus of the boycott movement against Israel and even educating members of the autocratic elites of the Middle East The ambassador, who is due to become Israel`s envoy to the United Nations, said there had “never been so much hostility, hatred and hypocrisy towards the state of Israel in British universities.”

He taunted UK higher education institutions for their connection to Middle East dictatorships. He joked acidly that he blamed the British for the unrest in the Middle East as they had been responsible for educating Saif al Islam, the son of Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

He added that although government relations were good between the two countries, he was worried that relations between the two societies were less positive.

Copyright 2011. The Jewish Chronicle.





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