Islam in Europe


Between 2001 and 2010, I wrote a book and a series of articles in the media and academic journals on the roots of radical Islam in Europe. What surprised me the most is that many of the movements that have caused Europe so much trouble didn't come into the continent through immigration, but because of a targeted policy by Islamist groups to infiltrate Europe - often with the help of western intelligence agencies, such as the CIA and West Germany's BND. The key beachhead for this movement: the Islamic Center of Munich.

Based on original archival research in Europe and NorthAmerica, as well as oral history with many key players, most now deceased, the project challenged the view that Islamism is a recent phenomenon in Europe. Instead, I found that the roots of radical Islam went back much further, to World War II and the early Cold War --when western intelligence agencies courted groups like the Muslim Brotherhood in hopes of using it to fight communism.

Through the history of the Islamic Center of Munich, we can see how radical Islam spread through the continent, setting up lobby organizations, fatwa councils and a sophisticated organizational structure. Led by the son-in-law of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, this project took on a life of its own and by the early 21st century all countries in Europe were part of the Muslim Brohterhood's network.

   This project is now mostly completed, although I use my knowledge gained from this to look at radical Islam's impact on places such as China.



A Course in Islamology 

Some of the raw material that appeared the the book, a Mosque in Munich, first appeared in The Wall Street Journal. The key article on the mosque ("The Beachhead") ran in 2005 and can be ready on the Journal site here

That article was actually the second in a series. It was preceded by a look at the banlieus ("Walled Off")--the ghettos--of Islam on the outskirts of Paris and how the local social structures had been shaped by radical Islam. (Because the Journal search functions and archives are a bit whacky, these and other articles are PDFs that you can see and download when you click on the link.)

After the very long Journal story on the Munich mosque came a piece ("Conflicting Advice") looking at how the Brotherhood's fundamentalist version of "engineer Islam" dominates the biggest organization tha dispenses religious advice (or fatwas) in Europe, and then a piece ("Conduit to the Mainstream") putting the organizational strings together, looking at the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe. This Muslim Brotherhood front organization had a lobby group, ran the fatwa council, ran a trust and generally had an interlocking board of directors with numberous other civil society players in Europe. Finally, I tried to end the series on a hopeful note. In a piece called "Odd Couple," I looked at a slum area in the German industrial city of Duisburg, where true civil society players had facilitated the construction of a mosque.

Besides the Journal series, I wrote a piece for the Berlin Journal (page 46), which is published by the American Academy in Berlin. That piece (see the image at the top of this sidebar) was about a course I took on "Islamology," a kind of pop fundamentalism for young Muslims.  I also presented testimony before Congress on Washington's dubious ties with Islamists. 

After the book was published in 2010, I have continued to follow the issue. I wrote a piece for the Middle East Quarterly ("Europe's Underestimated Islamists") summing up some of the lessons, and also for the New York Review of Books "(Our Secret Connections with the Muslim Brotherhood") on the need for more transparency in how the U.S. government deals with Islamists.