In light of the current American administration’s rapprochement with the Muslim Brotherhood, it is hardly surprising that many observers would regard a recent book by former Wall Street Journal reporter Ian Johnson as, in effect, the book of the hour. Bearing the sensational title A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West, Johnson’s volume contains an even more sensational thesis: namely, that the U.S. had already gotten involved with the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s and that the Brotherhood’s leading representative in Europe at the time, Said Ramadan, was even a CIA asset! On Johnson’s account, the CIA helped Ramadan to seize control of the “mosque in Munich” of the book’s title. The claim is all the more sensational inasmuch as the mosque would in the aftermath of 9/11 come to be linked to al Qaeda. It is not difficult to understand, then, why Johnson’s book has been hailed as a “cautionary tale.”
And this it would be, were it not for the fact that the tale Johnson tells is not supported by the evidence. Recent German research based on many of the same archival sources does not only cast doubt on Johnson’s conclusions, it also broaches an obvious question that Johnson simply ignores: namely, to what extent were German authorities — and, in particular, the CIA’s German counterpart, the BND — cooperating with the Muslim Brothers? German author Stefan Meining has uncovered evidence that by the early 1980s there indeed existed a full-fledged “alliance between West German intelligence agencies and the Muslim Brotherhood.”
See my new essay in the current issue of Policy Review magazine – available online here.