Haj Amin Husseini, who was appointed by the British High Commissioner as Mufti of Jerusalem during the British Mandate for Palestine, was the link for managing the recruitment of Arab fighters to the Nazi army, the Saudi newspaper Okaz reported in an article published on Friday.
Titled “The Nazi Ikhawn (Brothers),” the article refers to the close connections between the Muslim Brotherhood leaders and the Nazis.
Saudi Arabia formally designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization in 2014 and banned it in the kingdom.
Relations between Saudi Arabia and Hamas, an offshoot of Muslim Brotherhood, have been strained in the past few years. Last year Hamas accused the Saudi authorities of arresting several of its prominent figures and members in the kingdom.
“Husseini, who was the representative of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine, contributed with his friend and leader Hassan al-Banna, the founder of Muslim Brotherhood, to recruiting a Muslim Brotherhood army of Egyptians and Arabs, gathered from orphanages and poor rural areas, to work under the Nazi army led by Adolf Hitler,” the newspaper said in an article written by its assistant editor-in-chief, Khalid Tashkandi.
According to Tashkandi, the number of Arabs recruited by Husseini and Muslim Brotherhood was estimated at 55,000, including 15,000 Egyptians.
The Saudi editor said there were a number of reasons why the Nazis were interested in Islam. “On the one hand, the Nazis were aware that the oppression of Muslims in a number of Islamic areas under occupation and colonial powers would facilitate the recruitment,” he said. “On the other hand, the Nazis saw the Muslims as stiff fighters ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of their faith.”
According to the editor, the Nazis launched a propaganda campaign in 1941 that promoted Nazism as a protector of Islam, “and the leaders of the Nazi army distributed educational pamphlets on Islam to German soldiers.”
Tashkandi said he has concluded that Hitler’s statements and views show that he was interested in rapprochement with the Islamic world in order to serve his political and military goals, chief among which was pitting Muslims against his enemies.
Michael Milshtein, head of the Palestinian Studies forum at the Tel Aviv University-based Dayan center, said the “harsh article in the Saudi newspaper reflects the deep political and ideological tensions between Saudi Arabia and Hamas.”
Milshtein told The Jerusalem Post that Hamas’s close relations with Qatar, “considered by the Saudis as an arch-enemy,” was another reason behind the tensions between Saudi Arabia and Hamas.
He pointed out that the Saudis were also “very angry” with Hamas because of its strong ties with Iran.
“Hamas, for its part is angry with [Crown Prince] Mohammed bin Salman because of his alleged normalization [with Israel] and fear that he’s supporting US President Donald Trump’s recently unveiled plan for peace in the Middle East,” Milshtein said.