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Austria, a historic bastion of the Muslim Brotherhood, has become the brotherhood’s sworn enemy

15 July 2021 Investigations   2836  

With the new anti-terrorism law, passed on Thursday by the People’s Assembly, Austria has taken the step of becoming the first European country to ban the Muslim Brotherhood.

By Atmane Tazaghart

Nothing is going well for the Muslim Brotherhood networks in Austria. In the crosshairs of the ecologist-conservative government since the Vienna attack (4 dead and 23 injured on 2 November 2020), the Islamic Brotherhood has just been blacklisted as an organisation linked to “religiously motivated crime”. Its slogans and literature are banned. Their possession or propagation is now punishable by a €4,000 fine and one month in prison.

Vienna was immediately accused by the Muslim Brotherhood and their Turkish cousins of the Millî Görüs of “feeding Islamophobia” and “multiplying attacks against Muslims”. However, Austria can hardly be accused of Islamophobia: the only country in Europe to recognise Islam as an “official religion”, it has long been one of the main strongholds of the Muslim Brotherhood and one of the financial hubs of so-called “political” Islamism on the Old Continent.

It was in Graz, capital of the province of Styria (145 kilometres south-west of Vienna) that the followers of Hassan al-Banna established their very first European networks in the mid-1960s. Youssef Nada, the occult financier of the Islamic Brotherhood, set up the first factories (production of cheese and dairy products!) of his industrial empire founded with the Brotherhood’s “war chest” in 1969. Before he migrated to neighbouring Switzerland to found the famous al-Taqwa bank.

Based in the Italian enclave of Campione, in the heart of the Swiss canton of Ticino, this Islamic bank was singled out by US investigators in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Accused of financing terrorism, it quickly filed for bankruptcy. This allowed the Muslim Brotherhood’s “war chest” to fly to new financial centres.

As a result, Britain, which hosts the command of the Tanzim al-Dawli [International Organisation] (an occult body that federates all movements linked to the Muslim Brotherhood throughout the world), has imposed itself as the new financial stronghold of the Brotherhood in Europe.

In February 2017, Donald Trump threatened to put the International Muslim Brotherhood on the blacklist of terrorist groups. Panic-stricken, the European branches of the Brotherhood (including the ex-UOIF, the French branch of the Muslim Brotherhood), meeting in Istanbul, decided to change their names and solemnly announced their “withdrawal” from the International Organisation, whose very existence had been denied until then by the Muslim Brotherhood!

Money being the sinews of war, the financiers of the Islamist Brotherhood have discreetly initiated movements of funds aiming at taking the Muslim Brotherhood’s “war chest” out of Great Britain, to ward off possible American freezes. Their choice was Austria, and particularly Graz, where the Brotherhood has strong political and associative links. According to a confidential note quoting internal sources within the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe, it was even envisaged, at one point, to transfer the headquarters of Tanzim al-Dawli from Great Britain to Austria.

However, the flow of funds to the Styrian capital soon aroused the suspicions of Austrian investigators. This was the starting point of a long battle that led, two years later, to the banning of the Islamic Brotherhood.

On the orders of the Graz public prosecutor and the Styrian Office for the Protection of the Constitution, a vast investigation was launched: code name “Operation Luxor”. It lasted nearly two years and covered four provinces (Styria, Vienna, Carinthia and Lower Austria). About sixty entities (associations, mosques, socio-cultural clubs, shops, etc.) were targeted. And after 21,000 hours of wiretapping and 1.2 million images, the prosecutor decided to close this gigantic investigation and drew up a list of 70 Muslim brothers suspected of “links with a terrorist organisation, financing of terrorism and money laundering”. A major raid was decided. It was to take place on the morning of 3 November 2020. But the day before, Vienna was – as if by chance – hit by a jihadist attack!

The information about this raid leaked to the press. The public immediately saw this correlation as a cause and effect. Especially since the Graz public prosecutor revealed that his investigation had led to the freezing of more than 20 million euros of dirty money. And that an “Enemies List” of personalities opposed to political Islam was seized during the searches!

So much so that the day after the attack, the Minister of the Interior, Karl Nehammer, promised to attack “the roots of political Islam”. In the wake of the attack, the Minister of Integration, the ecologist Susanne Raab, announced the creation of a “Documentation Centre on Political Islam” charged with closely monitoring the Muslim Brotherhood. And when a new anti-terrorism law was tabled before the People’s Assembly (federal parliament) on 16 December, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced that the aim of this law would be to “affirm the will to fight political Islam”.

Indeed, after a long legislative process, the new anti-terrorism law was adopted on Thursday 8 July. It offers the authorities wider prerogatives in the field of surveillance and control of extremist groups. But its strongest provision is the inclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood on the blacklist of “extremist groups linked to religiously motivated crime”.

The Brotherhood’s name is added to four other Islamist organisations on this blacklist since last November: ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hamas and the armed wing of Hezbollah. The political wing of Hezbollah was then added in May to the blacklist, which also includes three other nationalist organisations: the Kurdish PKK, the Turkish Grey Wolves (also banned in France and Germany) and the Croatian fascist movement Ustasha.

According to the provisions of this new anti-terrorism law, any possession or dissemination of slogans or documents that glorify the groups on the blacklist will be punished by a €4,000 fine and/or a one-month prison sentence. In the event of a repeat offence, the sentence could be as high as a €10,000 fine and six months in prison.

This Austrian strategy of “banning symbols” is more effective than simply banning groups or associations, which are immediately reconstituted under new names. According to the Minister of the Interior, Karl Nehammer, more than 27,000 offences have been recorded since it was introduced in the wake of the November 2020 attack. Extending it to the Muslim Brotherhood is the hardest blow ever dealt to the Brotherhood in Europe.