I had an unusual education in the Holocaust. When I was working for the Attorney General, I was assigned to do the classified research about the Holocaust, so I went underground to a little town called Suitland, Maryland, right outside Washington, D.C., and that’s where the U.S. government buries its secrets — literally.
There are twenty vaults underground and each vault is one acre in size. Anyone see the movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark”? The last scene of that movie is what the underground vaults are really like, only not as organized as they are in the movie. And in those underground vaults I discovered something horrible.
I learned that many of the Nazis that I had been assigned to prosecute were on the CIA payroll, but the CIA didn’t know they were Nazis because the British Intelligence Service had lied to them. What the British Intelligence Service didn’t know was that their liar was Kim Philby, the Soviet communist double agent — a little scandal of the Cold War. But our State Department swept it all under the rug and allowed the Nazis to stay in America until I was stupid enough to go public with it.
What do you do when you want to go public with a story like this one? You call up “60 Minutes.” We had a great time. Mike Wallace gave me 30 minutes on his show. For a long time, it was the longest segment that “60 Minutes” ever did. When the episode about Nazis in America went on the air back in 1982, it caused a minor national uproar. Congress demanded hearings, Mike Wallace got the Emmy award, and my family got the death threats. It was a great trip.
Then a funny thing happened. Over the last 25 years, every retired spy in the U.S. and Canada and England all wanted me to be their lawyer, for free of course. So I had 500 clients, they paid me $1 apiece. So I am the worst paid lawyer in America, but among the better employed.
Let me give you an example. This year a friend of mine from the CIA, named Bob Baer wrote a very good book about Saudi Arabia and terrorism, it’s called Sleeping with the Devil. I read the book and I got about a third of the way through and I stopped. Bob was writing how when he worked for the CIA how bad the files were.
He said, for example, the files for the Muslim Brotherhood were almost nothing. There were just a few newspaper clippings. I called Bob up and said, “Bob, that’s wrong. The CIA has enormous files on the Muslim Brotherhood, volumes of them. I know because I read them a quarter of a century ago.” He said, “What do you mean?”
Here’s how you can find all of the missing secrets about the Muslim Brotherhood — and you can do this, too. I said, “Bob, go to your computer and type in two words into the search part. Type the word “Banna,” B-a-n-n-a. He said, “Yeah.” Type in “Nazi.” Bob typed the two words in, and out came 30 to 40 articles from around the world. He read them and called me back and said, “Oh my gosh, what have we done?”
What I’m doing today is doing what I’m doing now: I’m educating a new generation in the CIA that the Muslim Brotherhood was a fascist organization that was hired by Western intelligence that evolved over time into what we today know as al-Qaeda.
Here’s how the story began. In the 1920s there was a young Egyptian named al Bana. And al Bana formed this nationalist group called the Muslim Brotherhood. Al Bana was a devout admirer of Adolph Hitler and wrote to him frequently. So persistent was he in his admiration of the new Nazi Party that in the 1930s, al-Bana and the Muslim Brotherhood became a secret arm of Nazi intelligence.
The Arab Nazis had much in common with the new Nazi doctrines. They hated Jews; they hated democracy; and they hated the Western culture. It became the official policy of the Third Reich to secretly develop the Muslim Brotherhood as the fifth Parliament, an army inside Egypt.
When war broke out, the Muslim Brotherhood promised in writing that they would rise up and help General Rommell and make sure that no English or American soldier was left alive in Cairo or Alexandria.
The Muslim Brotherhood began to expand in scope and influence during World War II. They even had a Palestinian section headed by the grand Mufti of Jerusalem, one of the great bigots of all time. Here, too, was a man — The grand Mufti of Jerusalem was the Muslim Brotherhood representative for Palestine. These were undoubtedly Arab Nazis. The Grand Mufti, for example, went to Germany during the war and helped recruit an international SS division of Arab Nazis. They based it in Croatia and called it the “Handjar” Muslim Division, but it was to become the core of Hitler’s new army of Arab fascists that would conquer the Arab peninsula from then on to Africa — grand dreams.
At the end of World War II, the Muslim Brotherhood was wanted for war crimes. Their German intelligence handlers were captured in Cairo. The whole net was rolled up by the British Secret Service. Then a horrible thing happened.
Instead of prosecuting the Nazis — the Muslim Brotherhood — the British government hired them. They brought all the fugitive Nazi war criminals of Arab and Muslim descent into Egypt, and for three years they were trained on a special mission. The British Secret Service wanted to use the fascists of the Muslim Brotherhood to strike down the infant state of Israel in 1948. Only a few people in the Mossad know this, but many of the members of the Arab Armies and terrorist groups that tried to strangle the infant State of Israel were the Arab Nazis of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Britain was not alone. The French intelligence service cooperated by releasing the Grand Mufti and smuggling him to Egypt, so all of the Arab Nazis came together. So, from 1945 to 1948, the British Secret Service protected every Arab Nazi they could, but they failed to quash the State of Israel.
What the British did then, they sold the Arab Nazis to the predecessor of what became the CIA. It may sound stupid; it may sound evil, but it did happen. The idea was that we were going to use the Arab Nazis in the Middle East as a counterweight to the Arab communists. Just as the Soviet Union was funding Arab communists, we would fund the Arab Nazis to fight against. And lots of secret classes took place. We kept the Muslim Brotherhood on our payroll.
But the Egyptians became nervous. Nasser ordered all of the Muslim Brotherhood out of Egypt or be imprisoned, and we would execute them all. During the 1950’s, the CIA evacuated the Nazis of the Muslim Brotherhood to Saudi Arabia. Now when they arrived in Saudi Arabia, some of the leading lights of the Muslim Brotherhood like Azzam, became the teachers in the Madrasas, the religious schools. And there they combined the doctrines of Nazism with this weird Islamic cult, Wahhabiism.
Everyone thinks that Islam is this fanatical religion, but it is not. They think that Islam — the Saudi version of Islam — is typical, but it’s not. The Wahhabi cult was condemned as a heresy more than 60 times by the Muslim nations. But when the Saudis got wealthy, they bought a lot of silence. This is a very harsh cult. The Wahhabiism was only practiced by two nations, the Taliban and Saudi Arabia. That’s how extreme it is. It really has nothing to do with Islam. Islam is a very peaceful and tolerant religion. It has always had good relationships with the Jews for the first thousand years of its existence.
For the Saudis, there was a ruler in charge of Saudi Arabia, and they were the new home of the Muslim Brotherhood, and fascism and extremism were mingled in these schools. And there was a young student who paid attention – – and Azzam’s student was named Osama Bin Ladin. Osama Bin Ladin was taught by the Nazis of the Muslim Brotherhood who had emigrated to Saudi Arabia.
In 1979 the CIA decided to take the Arab Nazis out of cold storage. The Russians had invaded Afghanistan, so we told the Saudis that we would fund them if they would bring all of the Arab Nazis together and ship them off to Afghanistan to fight the Russians. We had to rename them. We couldn’t call them the Muslim Brotherhood because that was too sensitive a name. Its Nazi cast was too known. So we called them the Maktab al Khidimat il Mujahideen, the MAK.
And the CIA lied to Congress and said they didn’t know who was on the payroll in Afghanistan, except the Saudis. But it was not true. A small section CIA knew perfectly well that we had once again hired the Arab Nazis and that we were using them to fight our secret wars.
Azzam and his assistant, Osama Bin Ladin, rose to some prominence from 1979 to ’89, and they won the war. They drove the Russians out of Afghanistan. Our CIA said, “We won, let’s go home!” and we left this army of Arab fascists in the field of Afghanistan.
Saudis didn’t want to come back. Saudis started paying bribes to Osama Bin Ladin and his followers to stay out of Saudi Arabia. Now the MAK split in half. Azzam was mysteriously assassinated apparently by Osama Bin Ladin himself. The radical group — the most radical of the merge of the Arab fascists and religious extremists — Osama called that al Qaeda. But to this day there are branches of the Muslim Brotherhood all through al Qaeda.
Osama Bin Ladin’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, came from the Egyptian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the results of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
There are many flavors and branches, but they are all Muslim Brotherhoods. There is one in Israel. The organization you know as “Hammas” is actually a secret chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood. When Israel assassinated Sheik Yassin a month ago, the Muslim Brotherhood published his obituary in a Cairo newspaper in Arabic and revealed that he was actually the secret leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza.
So the Muslim Brotherhood became this poison that spread throughout the Middle East and on 9/11, it began to spread around the world.
I know this sounds like some sort of a sick fantasy, but go to your computer and type in the words “Banna,” B-a-n-n-a and the word “Nazi,” N-a-z-i, and you will see all of the articles come up. Those are all the pieces of information that the CIA was trying to hide from its employees. It did not want them to know the awful past. So, in 1984, when I was exposing European Nazis on the CIA payroll, at the same time they were trying to hide from Congress the fact that they had Arab Nazis back on the payroll to fight the Russians — a stupid and corrupt program.
So, when Bob Baer studied his files, he was just stunned. A whole generation: the current CIA people know nothing about this. And believe me, the current generation CIA are good and decent Americans and I like them a lot. They’re trying to do a good job, but part of their problem is their files have been shredded. All of these secrets have to come out.
So, of course, my clients in the intelligence community said, “Well, what are you doing?” They gave me an example. They said, “Here’s how the Saudis finance these groups. The Saudis have established a group of charities on a street in Virginia. It’s 555 Grove St., Herndon, Virginia.” So I said, “OK the Saudis are terrorists, so what?” These charities fund Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda. The Saudis are getting tax deductions for terrorism. They have set up front groups so all the terrorists groups in the U.S. and the front groups get the Saudi money as a charitable donation.
I said, “You’re kidding me.” Nope. And they told me that right near where I lived in Tampa, Florida was one of the leading terrorists in the world. There were these two professors at the University of South Florida. One had just left — and he was now in Syria — and he was the world head of Islamic Jihad. His number two, the head of Islamic Jihad in the Western Hemisphere, was Dr. Sami al-Arian, who is still employed as a professor at the University of South Florida. You’ve got to be kidding. This can’t be true.
Yes, these guys are raising money all across America and shipping it to Syria to go down to Palestine, the Palestinian areas, and hire suicide bombers to kill Jews. They sent me the videotapes. There was Professor al-Arian on stage and one of his friends gets up and says, “Now, who will give me $500 to kill a Jew? There are people standing by in Jerusalem who will go out in the street and stab a Jew with a knife, but we need $500.” And he said, “All of this money will go to the Islamic committee for Palestine.” And that is the front group in the United States for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
So I had all my friends in the FBI and CIA send in these files. I said, “Why haven’t you prosecuted this guy? You’ve known about him since 1989.” “We’d love to. We’ve tried to prosecute him but we were told we couldn’t touch him because he gets all of his money from the Saudis, and we are all under orders not to do anything to embarrass the Saudi government.”
I said, “I don’t mind embarrassing them.” You know what I did? I donated money to the charity that was the terrorist fund, because under Florida law, that gave me the right to sue the charity to find out where my money was going. It was hilarious.
In early March, 2002, I drafted a long lawsuit exposing Professor Sami al-Arian, naming all the crimes he’d committed, all the bombings in Israel, the fundraising in America with terrorism. I mentioned how his money got to him from the Saudis and how the Saudis had convinced our government not to prosecute him for political reasons. Because of my high-level security clearances, everything I write is sort of classified material and has to be sent back to the government before publication, for censorship. So I sent my long lawsuit complaint to the CIA, and they loved it. They said, “Oh, great. We don’t like the Saudis either. Go sue them.”
Three days later two FBI Agents showed up at my door, saying, “You know, there are only 21 people in the U.S. government that knew some of this information, and now you’re 22. How did you find out?” I said, “I’m sorry, I can’t tell you, attorney-client privilege.” That’s why my clients pay me $1.00 each.
The day before I went to file the lawsuit, I got a frantic phone call from the United States Department of Justice. They said, “John, please don’t file the lawsuit tomorrow. We really are going to raid these Saudi charities. We’re going to close them down. Just give us more time.” “Oh yeah, you’re going to raid them. That’s what you told me in January – – and again in February, and now it’s March. You want more time? I’ll give you until 4:00 o’clock tomorrow. I’m filing my complaint at 10:00 a.m., so that at 4:00 p.m., I’m going to release the address of the Saudi charities. Back tomorrow. I filed my lawsuit at 10:00 o’clock, and told the press I was going to hold something back for a little bit.
At 10:15, the U.S. government launched Operation Greenquest, a massive raid on all the Saudi charities in homes and businesses, and in one hour we shut down the entire Saudi money-laundering network in America.
From March 20, 2002 to the present, the government has found more and more evidence seized in those archives on that single raid that day. The evidence was so compelling that Professor al-Arian is no longer giving his speeches. He is now in federal prison awaiting trial. His accomplice, Hammoudeh, has also been indicted. Some 32 different people have been indicted in the United States as a direct result of these efforts.
But not the Saudis — not the Saudis.
A month after I filed my lawsuit against al-Arian, I did it: I caused some trouble. I invited some 40 of the top trial lawyers in America to come down to St. Petersburg, Florida. Boy, did I have a deal for them. I wanted them to put up millions of dollars of their own money — I’m poor, I had no money to give them — but I wanted to do something for America.
These are lawyers like Ron Motley that had won billions of dollars in their lawsuits against the tobacco industry and the asbestos industry. I said, “What I want you to do is look at the evidence I’ve collected. It’s the same Saudi banks and charities that funded Sami al-Arian that also funded al Qaeda.” I said, “I want you to bring a class action in Federal Court in Washington on behalf of everyone who died on Sept. 11th. I’m going to work for free and collect all the evidence, introduce you to the experts, provide all the exhibits and documents . . . and we have to do this for America.”
The lawyers studied all the documents I collected, and on August 15, 2002, they filed the largest class-action lawsuit in American history in the Federal District Court in Washington D.C., asking for one trillion dollars damages against the Saudis. The lawsuit said essentially that all these Saudi banks had one thing in common. They were bribing Osama bin Ladin 300 million dollars a year to stay out of Saudi Arabia and go blow up someone else.
Well, on 9/11, we found out we were someone else, and the Saudis had to pay for their negligence. So that lawsuit is coming along very well.
And more and more people in the CIA and FBI are sort of using me as a back channel to get our information. So, believe it or not, they’ve actually given me my own TV show now on Sunday mornings on FOX TV nationwide. I’m on at 11:20 eastern standard time. And ABC Radio has given me a national radio program, but I’m on at 10:30 at night and it’s past your bedtime.
What I’ve become in my old age is a teacher. Twenty-five years ago I was a lot younger, a lot thinner, but now every day I get 500 to 1,000 e-mails from honest men and women around the world from the intelligence community.
And we have to end the evil in this world. We have to recognize that al Qaeda simply didn’t spring up on its own. The evil route was Nazism. The al Qaeda Doctrine is the same as the Arab Nazis held. They hated Jews, they hate democracy, and they hate Westerners for Western culture. Al Qaeda is nothing more than the religious expression of Arab Fascism. We allowed this branch of the Nazi trunk to survive, to flourish, and it has come back to haunt us.
We must do a better job. Look at these children. They are our legacy. If we are to keep our children safe, we must teach them the lessons of the past. Every generation should know what these candles mean. Not only that one of the greatest tragedies in the history of the world really happened, but the evil that caused it — Nazism — survived because we didn’t fight hard enough. We didn’t finish the job.
But we must tell our children that in every generation the men and women of America have stood side by side with our Jewish, Christian, and Moslem brothers. We have risen up together against hatred. America is united now.
We will win the war on terror, and we will finish the job that these soldiers and survivors started more than a half-century ago. We must set the standard that to teach a child to hate is the worst form of child abuse. We must work together to end racism in our children’s lifetime. We must teach our children to remember the Holocaust and be proud, so proud of those who survived and inspired us with their courage. In their name, in their honor, let us go forward and fight together.