Special Report

Mohamed Atta and the Muslim Brotherhood

The 9/11 hijacker was a member of its Engineers Syndicate. The Times and willful blindness.

By 2.15.11

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"One of the main points of his critique (of Egyptian society) was the contrast between a few rich people and the mass of people with barely enough to survive."
-- 9/11 Egyptian hijack leader Mohamed Atta socialist's beliefs as described by a friend

"The wild beast is checked. We can afford to loosen the chain."
-- Bavarian Prime Minister Dr. Heinrich Held on releasing Adolf Hitler from prison in 1924

"[A] con job needs a con man and a sucker. In their case many suckers even managed not to take in what they saw with their own eyes, or rather somehow to process unpleasantness mentally into something acceptable…. Mind-set seems too strong a word: these were minds like jelly, ready for the master's imprint.… [T]his was an intellectual and moral disgrace on a massive scale."
-- Historian Robert Conquest on the Left and Stalin's Russia 

Mohamed Atta.

An Egyptian, it was he who forced his way into the cockpit of American Airlines Flight 11 after it left Logan Airport in Boston on the morning of September 11, 2001.

An anti-capitalist, it was he, whom friends later described to the UK's left-leaning Guardian newspaper as being "very critical of capitalistic, Western development schemes… of big hotels and office buildings" -- and became infamous for ramming a Boeing 767, flying at 500 miles an hour and loaded with 15,000 gallons of jet fuel, into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. A building that was the very symbol of capitalism mere blocks from the heart of Wall Street.

It was he, trained as an architect and a pilot and belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled "Engineers Syndicate," who had practiced repeatedly for this moment of mass murder in the tallest of buildings. A moment that arrived precisely at 8:46 a.m. as he expertly leveraged the speeding jet between the 93rd and 98th floors of the North Tower, causing the structure to collapse.

On that morning, it was Mohamed Atta -- Egyptian, Muslim Brotherhood disciple, anti-capitalist -- who succeeded in slaughtering 1,434 Americans in that North Tower.

This does not include the 92 passengers of American Airlines flight 11 whom Atta -- on a suicide mission -- included.

In this now-famous video by the Naudet brothers, at the time filming New York City firefighters, Mohammed Atta's handiwork was captured in real time.

Mohamed Atta, as mentioned, was also a member of the "Engineers Syndicate."

What is the Engineers Syndicate? "The Engineers Syndicate" is an auxiliary of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood that brings together Muslim professionals in fields related to engineering (there are similar groups for doctors and lawyers) as seen here in this link to the English language website of the Muslim Brotherhood itself.

The current Secretary General of the Engineers Syndicate is Dr. Mohamed Ali Beshr. Dr. Beshr, as seen here, is also a member of the Muslim Brotherhood Executive Bureau. The group is also an advocate of that left-wing favorite "social justice."

And as mentioned here in the Washington Post on September 22, 2001 -- only eleven days after 9/11, when Post reporter Peter Finn reported of Atta:

In 1990, after finishing his studies in architecture, Atta joined what is called an "engineering syndicate," a professional or trade group. Like the school that trained many of its engineers, the syndicate was an unofficial base for the Muslim Brotherhood, where it recruited and propagated its ideas, including the demonization of the United States.

The day after the Post story on Atta appeared, the previously cited story in the UK's Guardian, was saying this of Atta:

Atta made no secret of where his sympathies lay. He had graduated from a faculty that was a hotbed of fundamentalist agitation and gone on to join the Engineers Syndicate, one of three professional associations controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Got that? The Engineers Syndicate is controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood. It is an advocate of "social justice" -- a keystone of socialism.

The Muslim Brotherhood is also the self-same organization the Obama White House went out of its way to invite to President Obama's 2009 speech in Cairo.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the parent of the Engineers Syndicate that provided the ideological hot house for Mohamed Atta, is the same organization President Obama refused to condemn in his Super Bowl interview with Bill O'Reilly.

The same organization Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised for agreeing to participate in "the dialogue that we have encouraged" as the Egyptian crisis unfolded. The same organization outgoing White House press secretary Robert Gibbs described as one of Egypt's "important non-secular actors." The very same organization cited in the astounding statement by no less than the Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper when he said that the Brotherhood -- one of the premiere Islamic fundamentalist gangs on the entire planet -- is "largely secular." A statement Clapper was forced to recant before the sun set.

As Ronald Reagan might say: there they go again.

You know, it's not just that the Left doesn't learn.

It's that they stopped learning 80 years ago. Stopped learning and began engaging in a distinct pattern that the historian Robert Conquest would later term "willful blindness" -- a deliberate unwillingness to see reality with their own eyes. Most particularly if there was the slightest of whiff of leftism coming from anyone involved. (A hat tip to Andrew Bostom's website.)

This assessment of historian Conquest -- made in relation to the American Left's love-affair with a murderous Stalin -- easily applies to the Left's repeated pattern in refusing to understand the consequences of other emerging tyrants and tyrannies, from Hitler's Nazis and Mussolini Fascists (Italy's "Hope of Youth, Man of Tomorrow" once gushed the New York Times of Il Duce) to Cuba's Fidel Castro and the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran ("a twentieth century saint" said Jimmy Carter's UN Ambassador Andrew Young; "Gandhi" admired Carter's Ambassador to Iran William Sullivan).

This time Egypt's President Mubarak is departed. And before the day of his departure was out the Muslim Brotherhood -- which through its "Engineers Syndicate" had incubated the anti-capitalist Mohamed Atta -- was demanding the Egyptian army, the one source of stability left in the country, yield control. Citing -- yes indeed -- the need for "bread, freedom and social justice."

It is important here to understand Conquest's very sharp point: this is not the first time down this path of willful blindness for leftists. Indeed, the response of the Obama administration, liberals, the Times -- and, disturbingly, some conservatives (see this comment over at the Frum Forum taking Sean Hannity to task for being "obsessed" about the Brotherhood) -- to the Muslim Brotherhood and its vastly underestimated ability to eventually overtake the Egyptian Revolution is a chilling example of Conquest's point. 

But for our purposes here we'll settle for this piece from the New Republic written by reporter Michael Crowley. There's no intent to focus on Crowley personally other than as but one example of the willful blindness that seems to be operating with so many in and out of government.

Datelined in June of 2009 and written from Cairo as President Obama prepared to arrive for his speech. Reporter Crowley headed out into the city to get the low-down on the Muslim Brotherhood. What did he find? The Brothers, he said,

… may sound more sinister than they are: Dedicated to an Islamist society in Egypt, they are a badly weakened political party which -- although linked to terrorism in past decades -- now operates nonviolently in the Egyptian parliament…

This is a deeply different assessment of the Brotherhood than that offered the other day by the redoubtable Andrew McCarthy over at National Review. What McCarthy is describing here is an omnipresent, considerably well-organized group that has fashioned itself as the representative of Islam -- terrifying an entire population into a fearful silence.

William L. Shirer, in his classic The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, describes Hitler's use of precisely the same organizational technique, saying Hitler "was an organizer as well as a spellbinder," who had "set to work with furious intent to… make of it [the National Socialist German Workers Party] an organization such as Germany had never seen before. He meant to make it like the Army -- a state within a state." Right down to Nazi divisions for the young (Hitler Youth) and similar Nazi groups for professionals -- just like the Muslim Brotherhood's "Engineers Syndicate" which drew in Mohamed Atta.

Although he doesn't mention the Robert Conquest phrase, what Mr. McCarthy is describing is but the latest example of "willful blindness." As mentioned, there have been other examples having no relation to today's issue with the Muslim Brotherhood. So let's take another example of willful blindness, written by the Michael Crowleys of the day -- this time in 1932.

Adolf Hitler, to pick a not unsubstantial example of this deadly phenomenon, was no big deal. Who said so?

The willfully blind New York Times said so.

After leaving prison in 1924, where his violent political tendencies had already landed him, a supposedly chastened Hitler had presented himself to Dr. Heinrich Held, the head of the Catholic Bavarian People's Party who had been elected Prime Minister of Bavaria, where the young Hitler had been imprisoned. Still on parole as he sat down across from the unsuspecting Dr. Held, Hitler promised. He promised sincerely. He would be on his best behavior. Really.

Impressed, Dr. Held lifted the ban on both Hitler's Nazi Party and its newspaper. Said the Prime Minister to his Minister of Justice afterwards about his reasoning in letting Hitler go and lifting the Nazi ban: "The wild beast is checked. We can afford to loosen the chain."

Memorable phrase, no? "The wild beast is checked."

What the wild beast was doing was quietly organizing Germany. Thus came the moment eight years later when the New York Times sought to educate readers on the political buzz about the increasingly prominent Hitler and his Nazis. It is a case-study in willful blindness.

Hatred for the Jews? Humbug. In spite of all that scurrilous talk, evidence that Herr Hitler, as the Times referred to him (that would be "Mr. Hitler" to you), had set off some deadly fever of anti-Semitism across Germany "aside from oratorical abuse [was] all but negligible."

If you were reading the Times on March 10, 1932, the very idea that Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist German Workers Party -- the Nazis -- posed any kind of a threat to German Jews, much less the rest of the world outside Germany, was laughable. Had there been a talk radio and Fox News in 1932 those maddeningly unsophisticated rubes-on-radio and television would have been accused by the Michael Crowleys of the day of getting it all wrong, just like reporter Crowley insisted some Americans were getting it wrong in 2009 about the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Just as Sean Hannity is today being accused of being "obsessed."

Assured the Times: "Hitler's Prospects Regarded as Slight."

Say again: "Slight." Just as Crowley insisted the Muslim Brother was "badly weakened" -- a thought he apparently picked up from this piece in… gasp! … the Wall Street Journal! -- the New York Times in 1932 was telling readers Hitler and his party had only a "slight" chance to go anywhere. Period.

And this barely months before Hitler actually took power, declared a state of emergency, replaced religion with a "National Reich Church," made book burnings celebrated public events, banned all opposition parties and then made himself the supreme leader. And then…and then…well…we know the rest, no?

Anti-Semitism with the Nazis? Asked the Times: What Anti-Semitism?

"Anti-Semitism Discounted" the paper told Americans in a headline of the day. The Nazis themselves were "discouraging" the notion that they had this Jew-hating obsessive kind of thing going. Got that? Really. Germany, after all, had long had a history of a bit of this admittedly unseemly sentiment, don't you know. So there was nothing really new here. Certainly nothing to get excited about.

However, there were those irritating Americans back in the U.S. who were concerned about Hitler, wrote the unnamed Times reporter in a "Special Cable" for the paper. Word of this unsettling worry had reached the Times bureau in Berlin and, well, being right there on the scene and all the reporter could say for a fact that this kind of thing was actually just… crazy. To be specific, the Times wanted to allay "some anxiety" that a "Hitler gospel of hate" had any traction as a political movement. You know, the kind of political movement that could actually take over all of Germany and pose some sort of imaginary threat to its European neighbors, as silly an idea as that obviously was to the Timesman on the scene.

Reported the crack Times reporter in Crowley-esque terms: "Among those whose opinions are worthwhile because they know Germany best, the chance of a victory for Adolph Hitler is calculated at a small percentage indeed."

Uh-huh.

It was those nasty outsiders -- read anxious Americans and a cranky out-of-government Brit named Winston Churchill -- who were constantly spreading these scurrilous rumors of life and politics in the Germany of 1932. The paper insisted -- insisted -- that "rumors from outside of a widespread anti-Semitic revival because of the Nazi campaign [are] discounted by the facts." 

What a relief! Exactly how did this rejection of anti-Semitism come about? Well, believe it or not, it seems that "the Nazi leaders themselves are not encouraging it."

Phew! That was great news, no? The Nazi leaders told the Times and the Times believed the Nazi leaders.

Fortunately, this wasn't good enough for everybody at the New York Times. Nope, the paper was determined to get out there in the German countryside and see for itself just what examples of Nazi anti-Semitism they could find to illustrate all of this hysterical psychodrama being played out in some anxious American and British minds. By golly, what they found was some uncomfortable evidence those Nazis had an inappropriate sense of humor. You see, there was "concrete evidence" that was just as solid as could be that Adolf's merry pranksters had actually been caught "pelting" a Jewish school kid with "orange peels and banana skins." Banana skins, get it? The Nazis (and today's Islamic fundamentalists) referred (and refer) to Jews as "apes." Yuk, yuk. Actually, it was really Nazi-sympathizing kids who did this and there was no solid link to Mr. Hitler. And the paper was happy to say that "the offenders were promptly disciplined by the school authorities." That was showing 'em.

See? No problem, Americans of 1932. The wild beast was indeed checked. It was OK to let loose the chain. Adolf Hitler and his Nazi's were Just One No Big Deal.

Besides, even if some sort of highly unlikely series of events led Herr Hitler's National Socialist German Workers Party to some degree of participation in a German government they just wouldn't have the votes to get what the Times labeled "the visionary economic measures" (ahhhh, the lure of parties with words like" Socialist" and "Workers" in their title -- even then sucker bait for Timesmen) actually enacted into law. As a matter of fact, in another unsigned "wireless" report for the Times later in the year when, amazingly enough, Herr Hitler and his party seemed to have gained a wee bit of traction in spite of all the poo-pooing from the Times, the power they now seemed to be on the verge of grabbing would -- damn! -- have to be obtained strictly "through legal means." 

So how would a Nazi participation in governing Germany actually work? The Times explained. "The party, it is thought, will possibly figure as part of a coalition Cabinet with the majority…possibly as a Cabinet minority dependent…on tolerance by the actual Reichstag majority." See? No problem. Even "Financial Berlin" was not "alarmed" at this, the Times said.

But there was a problem. Hitler quietly noted to one supporter that everything he was promising was in fact a charade. All of it. His promise to act within the democratic system, to be non-violent, all of it was a fraud. "We shall have to hold our noses and enter the Reichstag" as elected members, he said. "If outvoting them [the other parties] takes longer than outshooting them, at least the result will be guaranteed by their own constitution. Any lawful process is slow…. Sooner or later we shall have a majority -- and after that, Germany."

After that, Germany. And the rest, as they say, is history. The pelted orange peels and banana skins became concentration camps that murdered six million Jews -- and eventually World War II.

Why is any of this important today? Who cares if the New York Times of 1932, like the liberal Prime Minister of Bavaria in 1924, got Hitler hopelessly wrong, illustrating in vivid terms a mind-boggling naiveté? This is 2011. We're talking about Egypt, not Germany in 1932.

Right? Wrong. Would it be great if the "Twitter Revolution" provided Egyptians who won't be terrorized into an Iranian-style Islamic dictatorship? Or an Egyptian version of the Nazis? Of course.

The late conservative philosopher Russell Kirk long ago pointed out that one of the (many) troubling aspects with modern liberalism (and old style radicalism) was its endlessly foolish belief in what Kirk termed "the perfectibility of man." Evil in the human race exists today as it did in 1932 -- as it has forever. Can today's Egypt become yesterday's Nazi Germany Islamic-style in a blink?

Of course.

Americans need no reminder that the wild beast has already visited America. His name was Mohamed Atta. And yes, yes indeed, he was very much a part of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

The question? 

Has the wild beast that is the Muslim Brotherhood been unchained in Egypt?

We will see.

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About the Author
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com.