It's the same idea expressed by Sheikh Qaradawi in 1995 when he said,
"We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America, not by the sword but
by our Dawa [proselytizing]."
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One might be led to think that if international law enforcement authorities and Western intelligence agencies had discovered a twenty-year old document revealing a top-secret plan developed by the oldest Islamist organization with one of the most extensive terror networks in the world to launch a program of "cultural invasion" and eventual conquest of the West that virtually mirrors the tactics used by Islamists for more than two decades, that such news would scream from headlines published on the front pages and above the fold of the New York Times, Washington Post, London Times, Le Monde, Bild, and La Repubblica.
If that's what you might think, you would be wrong.
In fact, such a document was recovered in a raid by Swiss authorities in November 2001, two months after the horror of 9/11. Since that time information about this document, known in counterterrorism circles as The Project, and discussion regarding its content has been limited to the top-secret world of Western intelligence communities. Only through the work of an intrepid Swiss journalist, Sylvain Besson of Le Temps, and his book published in October 2005 in France, La conquête de l'Occident: Le projet secret des Islamistes (The Conquest of the West: The Islamists' Secret Project), has information regarding The Project finally been made public. One Western official cited by Besson has described The Project as "a totalitarian ideology of infiltration which represents, in the end, the greatest danger for European societies."
What Western intelligence authorities know about The Project begins with the raid of a luxurious villa in Campione, Switzerland on November 7, 2001. The target of the raid was Youssef Nada, director of the Al-Taqwa Bank of Lugano, who has had active association with the Muslim Brotherhood for more than 50 years and who admitted to being one of the organization's international leaders. The Muslim Brotherhood, regarded as the oldest and one of the most important Islamist movements in the world, was founded by Hasan al-Banna in 1928 and dedicated to the credo, "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope."
The raid was conducted by Swiss law enforcement at the request of the White House in the initial crackdown on terrorist finances in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. US and Swiss investigators had been looking at Al-Taqwa's involvement in money laundering and funding a wide range of Islamic terrorist groups, including Al-Qaeda, HAMAS (the Palestinian affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood), the Algerian GIA, and the Tunisian Ennahdah.
Included in the documents seized during the raid of Nada's Swiss villa was a 14-page plan written in Arabic and dated December 1, 1982, which outlines a 12-point strategy to "establish an Islamic government on earth" -- identified as The Project. According to testimony given to Swiss authorities by Nada, the unsigned document was prepared by "Islamic researchers" associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
What makes The Project so different from the standard "Death of America! Death to Israel!" and "Establish the global caliphate!" Islamist rhetoric is that it represents a flexible, multi-phased, long-term approach to the "cultural invasion" of the West. Calling for the utilization of various tactics, ranging from immigration, infiltration, surveillance, propaganda, protest, deception, political legitimacy and terrorism, The Project has served for more than two decades as the Muslim Brotherhood "master plan". As can be seen in a number of examples throughout Europe -- including the political recognition of parallel Islamist government organizations in Sweden, the recent "cartoon" jihad in Denmark, the Parisian car-burning intifada last November, and the 7/7 terrorist attacks in London -- the plan outlined in The Project has been overwhelmingly successful.
Rather than focusing on terrorism as the sole method of group action, as is the case with Al-Qaeda, in perfect postmodern fashion the use of terror falls into a multiplicity of options available to progressively infiltrate, confront, and eventually establish Islamic domination over the West. The following tactics and techniques are among the many recommendations made in The Project:
In reading The Project, it should be kept in mind that it was drafted in 1982 when current tensions and terrorist activities in the Middle East were still very nascent. In many respects, The Project is extremely prescient for outlining the bulk of Islamist action, whether by "moderate" Islamist organizations or outright terror groups, over the past two decades.
At present, most of what is publicly known about The Project is the result of Sylvain Besson's investigative work, including his book and a related article published last October in the Swiss daily, Le Temps, L'islamisme à la conquête du monde (Islamism and the Conquest of the World), profiling his book, which is only available in a French-language edition. At least one Egyptian newspaper, Al-Mussawar, published the entire Arabic text of The Project last November.
In the English-language press, the attention paid to Besson's revelation of The Project has been almost non-existent. The only mention found in a mainstream media publication in the US has been as a secondary item in an article in the Weekly Standard (February 20, 2006) by Olivier Guitta, The Cartoon Jihad. The most extensive commentary on The Project has been by an American researcher and journalist living in London, Scott Burgess, who has posted his analysis of the document on his blog, The Daily Ablution. Along with his commentary, an English translation of the French text of The Project was serialized in December (Parts I, II, III, IV, V, Conclusion). The complete English translation prepared by Mr. Burgess is presented in its entirety here with his permission.
The lack of public discussion about The Project notwithstanding, the document and the plan it outlines has been the subject of considerable discussion amongst the Western intelligence agencies. One US counterterrorism official who spoke with Besson about The Project, and who is cited in Guitta's Weekly Standard article, is current White House terrorism czar, Juan Zarate. Calling The Project a Muslim Brotherhood master plan for "spreading their political ideology," Zarate expressed concerns to Besson because "the Muslim Brotherhood is a group that worries us not because it deals with philosophical or ideological ideas but because it defends the use of violence against civilians."
One renowned international scholar of Islamist movements who also spoke with Besson, Reuven Paz, talked about The Project in its historical context:
The Project was part of the charter of the international organization of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was official established on July 29, 1982. It reflects a vast plan which was revived in the 1960s, with the immigration of Brotherhood intellectuals, principally Syrian and Egyptians, into Europe.
As Paz notes, The Project was drafted by the Muslim Brotherhood as part of its rechartering process in 1982, a time that marks an upswing in its organizational expansion internationally, as well as a turning point in the alternating periods of repression and toleration by the Egyptian government. In 1952, the organization played a critical support role to the Free Officers Movement led by Gamal Abdul Nasser, which overthrew King Faruq, but quickly fell out of favor with the new revolutionary regime because of Nasser's refusal to follow the Muslim Brotherhood's call to institute an ideologically committed Islamic state. At various times since the July Revolution in 1952, the Brotherhood has regularly been banned and its leaders killed and imprisoned by Egyptian authorities.
Since it was rechartered in 1982, the Muslim Brotherhood has spread its network across the Middle East, Europe, and even America. At home in Egypt, parliamentary elections in 2005 saw the Muslim Brotherhood winning 20 percent of the available legislative seats, comprising the largest opposition party block. Its Palestinian affiliate, known to the world as HAMAS, recently gained control of the Palestinian Authority after elections secured for them 74 of 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council. Its Syrian branch has historically been the largest organized group opposing the Assad regime, and the organization also has affiliates in Jordan, Sudan, and Iraq. In the US, the Muslim Brotherhood is primarily represented by the Muslim American Society (MAS).
Since its formation, the Muslim Brotherhood has advocated the use of terrorism as a means of advancing its agenda of global Islamic domination. But as the largest popular radical movement in the Islamic world, it has attracted many leading Islamist intellectuals. Included among this group of Muslim Brotherhood intellectuals is Youssef Qaradawi, an Egyptian-born, Qatar-based Islamist cleric.
As one of the leading Muslim Brotherhood spiritual figures and radical Islamic preachers (who has his own weekly program on Al-Jazeera), Qaradawi has been one of the leading apologists of suicide bombings in Israel and terrorism against Western interests in the Middle East. Both Sylvain Besson and Scott Burgess provide extensive comparisons between Qaradawi's publication, Priorities of the Islamic Movement in the Coming Phase, published in 1990, and The Project, which predates Qaradawi's Priorities by eight years. They note the striking similarities in the language used and the plans and methods both documents advocate. It is speculated that The Project was either used by Qaradawi as a template for his own work, or that he had a hand in its drafting in 1982. Perhaps coincidentally, Qaradawi was the fourth largest shareholder in the Al-Taqwa Bank of Lugano, the director of which, Youssef Nada, was the individual in whose possession The Project was found. Since 1999, Qaradawi has been banned from entering the US as a result of his connections to terrorist organizations and his outspoken advocacy of terrorism.
For those who have read The Project, what is most troubling is not that Islamists have developed a plan for global dominance; it has been assumed by experts that Islamist organizations and terrorist groups have been operating off an agreed-upon set of general principles, networks and methodology. What is startling is how effectively the Islamist plan for conquest outlined in The Project has been implemented by Muslims in the West for more than two decades. Equally troubling is the ideology that lies behind the plan: inciting hatred and violence against Jewish populations around the world; the deliberate co-opting and subversion of Western public and private institutions; its recommendation of a policy of deliberate escalating confrontation by Muslims living in the West against their neighbors and fellow-citizens; the acceptance of terrorism as a legitimate option for achieving their ends and the inevitable reality of jihad against non-Muslims; and its ultimate goal of forcibly instituting the Islamic rule of the caliphate by shari'a in the West, and eventually the whole world.
If the experience over the past quarter of a century seen in Europe and the US is any indication, the "Islamic researchers" who drafted The Project more than two decades ago must be pleased to see their long-term plan to conquer the West and to see the Green flag of Islam raised over its citizens realized so rapidly, efficiently and completely. If Islamists are equally successful in the years to come, Westerners ought to enjoy their personal and political freedoms while they last.
This English translation of The Project has been prepared by Scott Burgess and was first published in serial form by The Daily Ablution in December 2005 (Parts I, II, III, IV, V, Conclusion). It is copyrighted and reprinted here with his permission. It is based on the French text of The Project published in Sylvain Besson, La conquête de l'Occident: Le projet secret des Islamistes (Paris: Le Seuil, 2005), pp. 193-205.
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent and Merciful
(Points of Departure, Elements, Procedures and Missions)
This report presents a global vision of a worldwide strategy for Islamic policy [or "political Islam"]. Local Islamic policies will be drawn up in the different regions in accordance with its guidelines. It acts, first of all, to define the points of departure of that policy, then to set up the components and the most important procedures linked to each point of departure; finally we suggest several missions, by way of example only, may Allah protect us.
The following are the principal points of departure of this policy:
Point of Departure 1: To know the terrain and adopt a scientific methodology for its planning and execution.
Point of Departure 2: To demonstrate proof of the serious nature of the work.
Point of Departure 3: To reconcile international engagement with flexibility at a local level.
Point of Departure 4: To reconcile political engagement and the necessity of avoiding isolation on one hand, with permanent education and institutional action on the other.
Point of Departure 5: To be used to establish an Islamic State; parallel, progressive efforts targeted at controlling the local centers of power through institutional action.
Point of Departure 6: To work with loyalty alongside Islamic groups and institutions in multiple areas to agree on common ground, in order to "cooperate on the points of agreement and set aside the points of disagreement".
Point of Departure 7: To accept the principle of temporary cooperation between Islamic movements and nationalist movements in the broad sphere and on common ground such as the struggle against colonialism, preaching and the Jewish state, without however having to form alliances. This will require, on the other hand, limited contacts between certain leaders, on a case by case basis, as long as these contacts do not violate the [shari'a] law. Nevertheless, one must not give them allegiance or take them into confidence, bearing in mind that the Islamic movement must be the origin of the initiatives and orientations taken.
Point of Departure 8: To master the art of the possible on a temporary basis without abusing the basic principles, bearing in mind that Allah's teachings always apply. One must order the suitable and forbid that which is not, always providing a documented opinion. But we should not look for confrontation with our adversaries, at the local or the global scale, which would be disproportionate and could lead to attacks against the dawa or its disciples.
Point of Departure 9: To construct a permanent force of the Islamic dawa and support movements engaged in jihad across the Muslim world, to varying degrees and insofar as possible.
Point of Departure 10: To use diverse and varied surveillance systems, in several places, to gather information and adopt a single effective warning system serving the worldwide Islamic movement. In fact, surveillance, policy decisions and effective communications complement each other.
Point of Departure 11: To adopt the Palestinian cause as part of a worldwide Islamic plan, with the policy plan and by means of jihad, since it acts as the keystone of the renaissance of the Arab world today.
Point of Departure 12: To know how to turn to self-criticism and permanent evaluation of worldwide Islamic policy and its objectives, of its content and its procedures, in order to improve it. This is a duty and a necessity according to the precepts of shari'a.
THE FIRST POINT OF DEPARTURE:
Know the terrain and adopt a scientific methodology for [The Project's] planning and execution.
a- Elements:Know the influential factors in the world, whether they act as Islamic forces, adverse forces, or neutral forces.
THE SECOND POINT OF DEPARTURE
To demonstrate proof of the serious nature of the work.
a- Elements:Clarity of the principal objectives of the dawa in the eyes of all, as well as clarity of the temporary objectives, necessitates exploitation, channeling and orientation of the energies.
THE THIRD POINT OF DEPARTURE
Reconcile international engagement with flexibility at the local level.
a- Elements:To define the guidelines that everyone [worldwide] must follow.
THE FOURTH POINT OF DEPARTURE
To reconcile political engagement with the necessity of avoiding isolation, on the one hand, with permanent education and institutional work on the other.
a- ElementsLiberty to function politically in each country according to local circumstances, without however participating in a process which makes a decision which would be contrary to the texts of Shari'a.
THE FIFTH POINT OF DEPARTURE
To dedicate ourselves to the establishment of an Islamic state, in parallel with gradual efforts aimed at gaining control of local power centers through institutional action.
a- ElementsTo channel thought, education and action in order to establish an Islamic power [government] on the earth.
THE SIXTH POINT OF DEPARTURE
To loyally work alongside Islamic groups and institutions in various areas and in agreement on a common ground in order to "cooperate on points of agreement and put aside points of disagreement".
THE SEVENTH POINT OF DEPARTURE
To accept the principle of temporary cooperation between Islamic movements and nationalist movements in the broad sphere and on common ground such as the struggle against colonialism, preaching and the Jewish state, without however having to form alliances. This will require, on the other hand, limited contacts between certain leaders, on a case by case basis, as long as these contacts do not violate the [shari'a] law. Nevertheless, one must not give them allegiance or take them into confidence, bearing in mind that the Islamic movement must be the origin of the initiatives and orientations taken.
a-Elements:To combine all efforts against the supreme forces of evil in accordance with the principle that one must "battle one evil with a lesser evil".
THE EIGHTH POINT OF DEPARTURE
To master the art of the possible on a temporary basis without abusing the basic principles, bearing in mind that Allah's teachings always apply. One must order the suitable and forbid that which is not, always giving a documented opinion [according to shari'a]. But we should not look for confrontation with our adversaries, at the local or the global scale, which would be disproportionate and could lead to attacks against the dawa or its disciples.
a- Elements:To evaluate the education of individuals and not to excessively use typical modern education that does not correspond to reality, which is devoid of flexibility and could have grave consequences such as the conflict between individuals for a simple comment or a simple failure.
THE NINTH POINT OF DEPARTURE
To construct a permanent force of the Islamic dawa and support movements engaged in jihad across the Muslim world, to varying degrees and insofar as possible.
a-Elements:To protect the dawa with the force necessary to guarantee its security at the local and international levels.
THE TENTH POINT OF DEPARTURE
To use diverse and varied surveillance systems, in several places, to gather information and adopt a single effective warning system serving the worldwide Islamic movement. In fact, surveillance, policy decisions and effective communications complement each other.
a-Elements:To make the policy decisions to collect important and precise information.
THE ELEVENTH POINT OF DEPARTURE
To adopt the Palestinian cause as part of a worldwide Islamic plan, with the policy plan and by means of jihad, since it acts as the keystone of the renaissance of the Arab world today.
a-Elements:To provide an Islamic view on all areas, problems and solutions relative to the Palestinian question, based on the precepts of Islam.
THE TWELFTH POINT OF DEPARTURE
To know how to turn to self-criticism and permanent evaluation of worldwide Islamic policy and its objectives, of its content and its procedures in order to improve it. This is a duty and a necessity according to the precepts of shari'a.
a-Elements:To conduct constructive self-criticism, in order to avoid pitfalls.
1. "L'islamisme à la conquête du monde,"
2. Olivier Guitta, "The Cartoon Jihad," Vol 011, Issue #22,
February 20, 2006,
3. "The Project," Scott Burgess, host, The Daily Ablution,
November 29, 2005,
Part II. http://dailyablution.blogs.com/the_daily_ablution/2005/
Part III. http://dailyablution.blogs.com/the_daily_ablution/2005/
Part IV. http://dailyablution.blogs.com/the_daily_ablution/2005/
Part V. http://dailyablution.blogs.com/the_daily_ablution/2005/
Part VI. http://dailyablution.blogs.com/the_daily_ablution/2005/12
4. The Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) Official English Website,
Patrick Poole is an author and public policy researcher. He also maintains a blog, "Existential Space," where he writes on a number of cultural, political and religious issues. This article appeared in Front Page Magazine
(www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=22415) May 11, 2006.
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