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A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West
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A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  103 ratings  ·  27 reviews
In the wake of the news that the 9/11 hijackers had lived in Europe, journalist Ian Johnson wondered how such a radical group could sink roots into Western soil. Most accounts reached back twenty years, to U.S. support of Islamist fighters in Afghanistan. But Johnson dug deeper, to the start of the Cold War, uncovering the untold story of a group of ex-Soviet Muslims who h ...more
Hardcover, 318 pages
Published May 4th 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2010)
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It really helps to know who your friends and who your potential enemies are. Perhaps because of American ambivalence towards intelligence and covert operations, we don't seem to do that very well. A case in point is uncovered by Ian Johnson where we backed the wrong horse after WWII, and unknowingly aided in the infiltration of the Muslim Brotherhood into Europe, and thus helped its ascendancy as the voice of Islam over more moderate Muslims.

Johnson has written a readable and well-researched boo
Margaret Sankey
In another episode Of It Was The Cold War So It Seemed Like a Good Idea At The Time, The CIA aggressively co-opts Nazi Central Asian anti-Bolsheviks and nurtures them for the next forty years in Western Europe as an Islamic bulwark against Communism. What could possibly go wrong?
Elliot Ratzman
During WWII the Germans took advantage of discontent among captured Soviet minorities by creating all-Muslim fighting units. Motivated by anti-Communism and the promise of national liberation, those Muslim were later recruited by the CIA and the W.Germans. “Islam” is then used as a tool against Communism in the Cold War. Munich became the center of plans to build a Mosque for Germany’s small Muslim community, and here the plot thickens. The ex-Soviets aren’t very religious, so they lack standing ...more
Colleen Clark
I picked this up at my local bookstore in Cambridge. The title caught my eye because I lived in Turkey and also in Germany. I assumed it was about the current population of Turks in Germany.

That's where it ends up but the story starts during WW II when the Nazis recruited Muslims from the USSR, mostly Central Asians from the area of the stans - Kyrygzstan, Uzbekistan etc - to be a fifth column for them once they conquered Russia. In the post-war period it moves to occupied Germany and then West
An interesting history of the Islamic Center Mosque in Munich. And the story of how religion (in this case, Islam) was subsumed into international politics using the Islamic Center of Munich as the core of the story.

Well written and heavily researched, Ian Johnson traces the Islamic Center from it's state supported founding by former Nazi soldiers from the Soviet Union, through it's use by the CIA during the cold war, to it's current incarnation as a Moslem Brotherhood cell. He shows how each gr
Mar 19, 2011 Tom marked it as to-read
Shelves: history, journalism
A friend, a Political Science prof raised in former East Germany, recommended this book; praised it highly, said it reads like a novel.
A book that is great in the title and the theme that it takes. but sadly, not a very good choice if you want a great and surprising nonfiction book.

saya bilang sih, bagian awalnya udah sangaaat bagus. berawal dari cerita Ian Johnson yang menemukan tempat yang "tidak biasa" di sebuah atlas tentang dunia Muslim di sebuah perpustakaan di London. Tepatnya, atlas tsb memasukkan Masjid Munich, Jerman didalam gambar atlasnya. Bersanding dengan tempat-tempat lainnya di dunia Muslim seperti Kabah, Masjid
I up till now sort of believed the prevailing myth that during the Cold War tribe, religion, and region were all sublimated, but of course once examined that idea is silly, and Johnson does a really good job of showing how exactly that's the case in this book. His treatment, too, of the way that Nazis tried to mobilize Islamic peoples from the Soviet Union is also really interesting, something I hadn't previously considered. There is, in short, a lot of valuable and paradigm-shifting research in ...more
The subject matter is intensely fascinating, but the details bog the narrative down about half way through. In the beginning, when Johnson is describing how the Nazis co-opted Muslim ethnic groups from the caucuses to fight for them, I was riveted by this fascinating and unknown piece of history. About halfway through, as Johnson then describes how these ex-Nazis-- all ethnic Muslims-- became targeted by the CIA for their opposition to Communist Russia, I was still fairly riveted... but by the t ...more
It's an interesting piece of history: muslims in Soviet bloc countries were recruited and often manipulated in the fight against communism, first by the nazis and then later by the CIA. These muslims ultimately interacted and networked with Middle Eastern muslims and used their training and resources to evolve into modern Islamic political (and sometimes fanatical terrorist) groups that play important roles in geopolitics today.

While the story itself is important and interesting, the story gets
James Huston
The title is better than the book. Ian Johnson clearly knows what he's doing from a journalistic point of view. He knows how to write, and knows how to make things compelling. But as happens on occasion when trying to write a gripping story about historical events, you're wedded to the facts. And here, the facts desert him. The story isn't that interesting, and the mosque isn't that important. It's an historical footnote. The extremely detailed, where we are given word for word conversations abo ...more
Uneven coverage of a very interesting story about the connection between the Germans' anti-Soviet agitation during the war, similar (and competing) efforts by the USA and West Germany in the Cold War era, and Islamism in the 9/11 era. Of course source materials for the more contemporary period may not yet available from the various governments…does whet the appetite for more attention to this topic. Crossing fingers that real historians will fill in the many blanks left by this author in future ...more
Sharina  MS
Learning the other side of Ramadhan Al-Buti and Muslim Brotherhood (MB) from an investigative writer who has made extensive effort of 5+ years facts finding through piles of documentation and interviews with ppl around Al-Buti and his fellow MB in Germany. Definitely not the information that you'll find in any MB's publication. Ian Johnson was right when he said "If MB formed a government back then, Al-Buti would be their Foreign Minister".
Let me be clear - this is superbly written, SUPERBLY researched, and superbly constructed. But I can't help but feel that by page 100 I felt lost amid the density of this text. There is SO much going on here, which might be more a reflection of me than the book. But I should of taken the hint from the cast of characters in the Preface, which would seem ordinary in a 500+ page book, but not a 250 page one. Overall, a harrowing story.
Caloway Gavin
Well researched, well documented and well written. But read it for the history vs clear links to modern Islamic extremist elements. The most interesting aspects of this book are WWII until the 60s, height of the Cold War and tons of CIA and German intel links to pretty dodgy people and groups set the stage for later more violent Islamic based terrorist groups.
This was a great read! Filled with facts, but that didn't overwhelm the story being told. I picked this up after seeing Mr. Johnson speak at a literary festival... and I was not disappointed. If you don't know much about the Muslim Brotherhood or how the Munich Mosque came to be so important, then this a great way to start learning.
Tommy G
The author has done is research and I feel bad only giving this book three stars. Unfortunately there is just way too many names of people and organizations that don't amount to much (in the story). Interesting none the less and worth reading.
Ted Barbieri
Well researched. Well written. Not a very enjoyable to read. Pretty dry content, very detailed (to the point of being hard to follow) and not very conclusive.
Ian's homework is well done and he weaves a tale of how the radicalization of Islam was started by the actions of many people and how it all makes sense
A brilliant read about the history of The Islamic Center of Munich. But unfortunately, writer's view of Islam is skewed.
Aaron Shields
Title is great, book is not. Too many names, boring story. Great research, but my attention was gone at page 150.
May 30, 2011 VaughanPL added it
Shelves: nonfiction
Click here to find it in the catalogue.
Interesting and disturbing for many reasons, this will hopefully be followed up by further studies.
very dry reading, but informative. excellent source material for groups operating in Europe.
What a misleading cover! Not a good read at all....
Sara Phelps
Very interesting, but a little hard to follow.
very interesting and enlightening
mike hixson
mike hixson is currently reading it
Mar 22, 2015
Ahmed Nour El Deen
Ahmed Nour El Deen marked it as to-read
Mar 20, 2015
Shira marked it as to-read
Mar 20, 2015
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