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Amin al-Husayni

Born in Jerusalem in 1893 at that time part of the Ottoman Empire, Amin al-Husayni (aka Amin al-Husseini), a member of Jersalem's most prominent family (the al-Husayni family), was the grand mufti of Jerusalem and important Arab nationalist figure who played a major role in Arab resistance to Zionist political ambitions in Palestine.

Husayni studied in Jerusalem, Cairo, and Istanbul. He early became a strong voice in the Arab nationalist and anti-Zionism movements. In 1921 the British High Commissioner appointed Amin al-Husayni to be the grand mufti of Jerusalem and made him president of the newly formed Supreme Muslim Council, which controlled the Muslim courts and schools and a large portion of the funds raised by religious charitable endowments.

Husayni came to dominate the Palestinian Arab movement after a bitter clash with the Nashashibis, Jersualem's other most prominent family, who tended to be more moderate and accommodating than the strongly anti-British Husayni Family. During most of the period of the British mandate, bickering between these two families seriously weakened the effectiveness of Arab efforts. In 1936 they achieved a measure of unity when all the Palestinian groups joined to create a permanent executive organ known as the Arab High Committee under al-Husayni's chairmanship. The committee called for a general strike, nonpayment of taxes, and the shutting down of municipal governments and demanded an end to Jewish immigration, a ban on land sales to Jews, and national independence. The general strike developed into a rebellion against British authority lasting from 1936 to 1939. The British removed Husayni from the presidency of the Muslim Supreme Council and declared the Arab High Committee illegal in Palestine. In October 1937 Husayni fled to Lebanon, where he reconstituted the committee under his domination. Husayni retained the support of most Palestinian Arabs and used his power to punish the Nashashabis.

The rebellion forced Britain to make substantial concessions to Arab demands in 1939. The British abandoned the idea of establishing Palestine as a Jewish state, and, while Jewish immigration was to continue for another five years (allowing a total of 75,000 Jews to immigrate), immigration was thereafter to depend on Arab consent. Husayni, however, felt that the concessions did not go far enough, and he repudiated the new policy.

In 1939 Husayni fled - by way of Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Italy - to Nazi Germany, from where he broadcast appeals to his fellow Arabs to ally with the Axis Powers against Britain and Zionism. Yet the mufti failed to rally Palestinian Arabs to the Axis cause. Although some supported Germany, the majority supported the Allies, and about 23,000 Arabs enlisted in the British forces.

During World War II Al-Husseini actively supported the Nazis through:

  1. radio propaganda on behalf of Nazi Germany
  2. espionage and fifth column activities in Muslim regions of Europe and the Middle East
  3. the formation of Muslim Waffen SS and Wehrmacht units in Bosnia-Hercegovina, Kosovo-Metohija, Western Macedonia, North Africa, and Nazi-occupied areas of the Soviet Union
  4. the formation of schools and training centers for Muslim imams and mullahs who would accompany the Muslim SS and Wehrmacht units.

During the war, Great Britian deployed 20,000 soldiers in Mandatory Palestine to prevent the outbreak of Arab rebellion against the Mandate.[1]

Al-Husseini succeeded in recuiting large numbers of Bosnian Muslims into Waffen SS units, including the the Hanjar (or Handschar) 13th Waffen SS division, the Kama 23rd Waffen SS division and the Albanian Skanderbeg 21st Waffen SS division which operated in the Balkans. These units participated in the implementation of the Final Solution in that region. In 1945, Yugoslavia sought to indict the Mufti as a war criminal for his role in recruiting Muslim volunteers for the SS, who participated in the killing of Jews in Croatia and Hungary. BBC-WATCH: BBC's Warped Timeline, Serbianna: Islam Under the Swastika

At the Nuremberg Trials, Adolf Eichmann's deputy Dieter Wisliceny (subsequently executed as a war criminal), testified:

The Mufti was one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry and had been a collaborator and adviser of Eichmann and Himmler in the execution of this plan. ... He was one of Eichmann's best friends and had constantly incited him to accelerate the extermination measures. I heard him say, accompanied by Eichmann, he had visited incognito the gas chamber of Auschwitz. Palestinefacts: Grand Mufti

At the war's end he fled to Egypt. In 1948 Amin al-Husayni declared the All-Palestine government in the Gaza Strip. However, because his government was totally dependent on Egypt, it was short-lived. The failure of this venture and al-Husayni's lack of credibility because of his collaboration with the Axis powers during World War II did much to weaken Palestinian Arab Nationalism in the 1950s.

Husayni died in Beirut, Lebanon in 1974.

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