Tariq Ramadan: The State Dept. Was Right to Deny Him a Visa Says the Weekly Standard

Historians in the News

[Olivier Guitta is a foreign affairs and counterterrorism consultant in Washington.]

ON SEPTEMBER 20, the State Department denied a visa to Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan on the grounds that he had contributed around 600 euros to a French charity classified as a terrorist organization since 2003 because of its relationship with the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. This latest exclusion follows on the revocation of Ramadan's visa to live and work in the United States while teaching at Notre Dame in 2004, a step taken at the express request of the Department of Homeland Security. While the American Civil Liberties Union and the leftist literary group PEN, among others, present Ramadan as a moderate and accuse U.S. authorities of intolerance, the background and views of Tariq Ramadan suggest the government's move was entirely justified.

For starters, Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, the highly influential Islamist organization born in Egypt in 1928. It was the Brotherhood that invented the now-familiar Islamist modus operandi of covert organization, assassination, and extremist theology. Its goal was to overthrow the Egyptian regime, install a fundamentalist Muslim government, and impose sharia (Islamic law) as the new constitution. Tariq's father, Said Ramadan, was a major figure in this organization, expelled from Egypt by Gamal Abdul Nasser for Islamist activity.

Said Ramadan took refuge first in Saudi Arabia, where he was a founder of the World Islamic League, one of the largest Saudi charities and global missionary groups. He then moved to Geneva, where in 1961 he created the Islamic Center, a combination mosque, think tank, and community center. The philosophy of the Muslim Brotherhood influenced a generation of wealthy Muslim kids, including Osama bin Laden. Interestingly, Said Ramadan also had U.S. connections: He had a close relationship with Malcolm X and was personal mentor to Dawud Salahuddin, a black convert to Islam who murdered an Iranian dissident, Ali Akbar Tabatabai, in Bethesda, Maryland, in 1980. After fleeing the United States, Salahuddin spent a few days in Geneva visiting Said Ramadan before taking refuge in Iran. Profiled in the New Yorker in 2002, Salahuddin confirmed that Ramadan remained his adviser and spiritual guide until Ramadan's death in 1995.

Said Ramadan was one of the most important Islamist thinkers of the 20th century. He is probably the author of "The Project," a 14-page document dated 1982 found by the Swiss secret service in 2001. "The Project" is a roadmap for installing Islamic regimes in the West by propaganda, preaching, and if necessary war. (It can be read here.)

Tariq Ramadan was born in 1962 in Switzerland. After toying with a career as a professional soccer player, he settled into the family business as an Islamic scholar. He became a teacher of philosophy and theology in Swiss universities. Most European secret service agencies are convinced that, at the end of the 1980s, the Muslim Brotherhood chose Tariq Rama dan to be their European representative. In 1991, he went to Cairo to study with Islamist professors. Upon his return to Switzerland, he founded the Movement of Swiss Muslims. His objective was to reach Muslim youth by Islamizing modernity rather than modernizing Islam.

Charming and smooth, Ramadan holds out Islam as the solution to all the problems of Muslim youth--in keeping with the slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood, "Islam is the solution." The first indication of his fundamentalism came in 1993, when he lobbied to outlaw a play called Mahomet, being produced in Geneva, which represented the prophet in a light that did not fit with Ramadan's views. In 1995, Alaa el-Din Nazmi, an Egyptian Secret Service agent assigned to watch the Ramadan family, was murdered in Geneva. No one has been arrested for the crime....

... Ramadan often speaks equivocally. Commenting on the September 11 attacks ten days after they occurred, he explained that one couldn't say for sure that bin Laden was behind them. He then asked, "Who profits from the crime?" noting that no Arab or Muslim cause was the better for it. This is an argument used by Islamist conspiratorialists who accuse Israel of perpetrating 9/11. In an interview with the French newsmagazine Le Point, Ramadan used the neutral term "interventions" when speaking of the major terrorist attacks in New York, Bali, and Madrid. And when asked recently by an Italian magazine whether car bombings against U.S. forces in Iraq were justified, he was quoted as saying: "Iraq was colonized by the Americans. Resistance against the army is just."

Ramadan's views about Israel are unsurprising: He strongly favors the elimination of the Jewish state. As one French DST (equivalent to the FBI) agent told the magazine Le Nouvel Observateur, Ramadan's long-term goal is to bring about the legal extinction of the state of Israel through a major Muslim lobbying campaign, first in Europe, then in the United States.

For her 2004 book Brother Tariq, Caroline Fourest, a French expert on Islamic fundamentalism, studied Ramadan's 15 books, 1,500 pages of interviews, and--most important--his 100 or so tapes, which sell tens of thousands of copies each year. Her conclusion: "Ramadan is a war leader." When an interviewer from the weekly L'Express asked Fourest how she could be so sure that Ramadan was indeed the "political heir of his grandfather," Hassan al-Banna, here's how she replied:

"Because I've studied his statements and his writing. I was struck by the extent to which the discourse of Tariq Ramadan is often just a repetition of the discourse that Banna had at the beginning of the 20th century in Egypt. He never criticizes his grandfather. On the contrary, he presents him as a model to be followed, a person beyond reproach, nonviolent and unjustly criticized because of the 'Zionist lobby'! This sends chills down one's spine when one knows the extent to which Banna was a fanatic, that he gave birth to a movement out of which the worst Jihadis (like Ayman al-Zawahiri, the number 2 man of al Qaeda) have emerged, and that he wanted to establish a theocracy in every country having a single Muslim. Tariq Ramadan claims that he is not a Muslim Brother. Like all the Muslim Brothers . . . since it's a fraternity which is three-quarters secret. . . . A Muslim Brother is above all someone who adopts the methods and the thought of Banna. Ramadan is the man who has done the most to disseminate this method and this thought.

In response to her book, Ramadan calls Fourest an agent of Israel but doesn't refute her findings. Predictably, as soon as her book was published, an Islamist website threatened Fourest and posted her address and the pass code to get into her building....

Read entire article at Olivier Guitta in the Weekly Standard

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