The authors discern “an unbroken chain of terror” linking the spiritual and political leader of the Palestinians for much of the 20th century to Osama bin Laden.
Haj Amin al-Husseini (1895–1974) was a mentor to many modern Islamic fundamentalist and Arab leaders, assert Dalin (Hoover Institute/Stanford Univ.; The Myth of Hitler’s Pope: Pope Pius XII and His Secret War Against Nazi Germany, 2005, etc.) and Rothmann (Fromm Institute/Univ. of San Francisco). Spotlighting al-Husseini’s ties to Adolf Hitler and efforts to aid the Axis cause during World War II, they view those activities as precursors to radical Islamists’ present-day efforts to destroy Israel and attack the United States. Dalin and Rothmann have done extensive archival research, but their book is not a piece of sophisticated scholarship. They tend to dismiss the arguments of al-Husseini and his followers out of hand and take reflexively pro-Israel positions. At least their discussion of al-Husseini’s work with Hitler is evidence-based, which is more than can be said about later chapters. Trying to draw a direct line from al-Husseini to Muslim leaders of the modern era, the authors offer questionable broad-brush analysis. “For the young Saddam Hussein, the mufti’s vision of radical Islam was inspirational,” they write, “and others like Saddam Hussein came to regard the mufti as both hero and mentor.” They decline to note that Hussein, while strongly anti-Israel and anti-Semitic, ran a secular government sometimes at odds with Islamic fundamentalists. Dalin and Rothmann also engage in more speculation than is usually found in history books. Phrases such as “it is not impossible to imagine” are sprinkled throughout, and they include a chapter about where al-Husseini’s imagination might have taken him if he had envisioned what it would be like if Hitler had won the war.
An insightful examination of a rarely studied aspect of World War II—the collaboration of Islamic political parties and Middle East regimes with the Nazis—quickly evolves into a brief for the neoconservative worldview.