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Group Forms Ties Between Islamic, Neo-Nazi Extremists

Aired February 28, 2002 - 11:21   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And we are back at 21 minutes after the hour now. The FBI says it is monitoring contacts between extremist groups in the U.S. and terrorist groups overseas. Authorities say that they're trying to prevent the groups from collaborating to plot new attacks. They caution that there is no new evidence of any specific operations, but officials are saying that neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and black Muslims are reaching out to international terrorist organizations.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the war on terrorism has focused attention on what some call a dangerous alliance of neo-Nazi and Islamic extremists. It's a coalition called The Third Position, and one of its staunch supporters is a Swiss man that the U.S. calls a terrorist. The story from CNN National Correspondent Mike Boettcher.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a typical Swiss house complete with garden gnomes, on a quiet street not far from the former residence of the U.S. ambassador, lives a 75-year- old Swiss man who the U.S. government says is a terrorist. The company he helped direct was even targeted publicly by President Bush.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Al Taqwa is an association of offshore banks and financial management firms that have helped al Qaeda shift money around the world.

BOETTCHER (on camera): The United States has listed you, basically, as a terrorist. Were you surprised to see your name on that list?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I was just laughing, because, it's -- first, it's absolutely stupid. It's not even a lie. It's stupid.

BOETTCHER (voice-over): Ahmed Huber may have laughed, but the U.S. government is dead serious. It has frozen Huber's assets, and is pressuring the Swiss government to arrest him for being part of the al Qaeda money network, alleging that al Taqwa management, later called Nada Management, funneled money to Islamic terrorist groups through a complex scheme of offshore banking. Huber was on the company's board of directors.

HUBER: I have never seen anything which was lousy or not correct or suspicious, because I -- you see, I could not have afforded to be a part of something doubtful.

BOETTCHER: That is because, according to critics, Huber has a very doubtful past.

HUBER: You see, here is a rumor I read.

BOETTCHER: One only has to take a tour of his study.

HUBER: It is Osama bin Laden who laughs.

BOETTCHER: There is a smiling Osama bin next to a stern Adolf Hitler, all situated below a photograph of the Ayatollah Khomeini. And, oh, yes, there is one other bit of memorabilia.

HUBER: This piece here is a piece from the house of Hitler on Obersaltzburg (ph), from the kitchen.

BOETTCHER: Huber, if you haven't guessed, is an admirer of Adolf Hitler, and he is convert to Islam, has been for 40 years. However, far from a simple convert, counter-terrorist experts believe that Ahmed Huber is the living, breathing embodiment of a dangerous alliance of neo-Nazi and Islamic extremists, a coalition united in its hatred of America and Jews, a coalition known as The Third Position.

Author Michael Reynolds has been tracking The Third Position and Ahmed Huber for years.

MICHAEL REYNOLDS, AUTHOR: Herr Huber has spent the last 12 years diligently, tirelessly moving this coalition forward. And, in that sense, of course he's dangerous, because this movement, at the end of the day, only sees violence.

BOETTCHER: Huber forged close ties to the Ayatollah Khomeini and the Iranian Revolution.

(on camera): What did you think of Khomeini? You met him, correct?

HUBER: Yes. He was a fantastic man.

BOETTCHER (voice-over): At the same time, he worked with extreme right-wing politicians like France's Jean-Marie La Pen and Germany's neo-Nazi party, the NPD. Now, Huber is after a new generation of believers.

HUBER: Hitler has always said: "The only religion I respect is Islam, and the only prophet I admire is Mohammed." This is very interesting. When I tell this to young Muslims, or to young so-called neo-Nazis, then they drop from their chairs.

BOETTCHER: Huber's critics worry growing numbers of Third Positionists could forge a new transnational terrorist threat.

REYNOLDS: Huber's connections go from Tehran to the United States to Germany.

BOETTCHER: Huber insists he is not anti-Semitic, just anti- Zionist. However, his statements suggest otherwise.

HUBER: We say Jew-nited States of America. We say Jew-York.

BOETTCHER: Huber says he admires the American people, not their government, and rejects terrorists.

But listen to what he says about the September 11 Pentagon attack.

HUBER: If they kill a few American generals in the Pentagon, I don't feel very sorry, because these guys have done a lot of trouble in the Muslim world and in the Third World.

BOETTCHER: And on the subject of al Qaeda?

HUBER: Al Qaeda is a very honorable organization, I mean, apart from some things they did.

BOETTCHER: Bin Laden and Hitler: Two men Huber admires, two agendas rooted in hate and embraced as one; The Third Position: An emerging threat with dangerous potential.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

Apart from the money laundering -- apart from his sympathies, Ahmed Huber says there is no evidence that would link him to a money- laundering scheme for al Qaeda. U.S. authorities disagree, and are pressuring the Swiss for indictments, but so far, Daryn, no indictments.

KAGAN: He might claim -- he might have a disclaimer on some of the things that you think that he might have done, but none-the-less, he had some very strong, rather disturbing opinions. What was like to sit so close and talk -- were you in his home when you were talking to him?

BOETTCHER: Oh, absolutely. He invited us in. We were there four hours, and the interesting thing is, and I've seen this when I've talked to other white supremacists and neo-Nazis is they have a tendency to try to sugarcoat their rhetoric, but you can see through that. You can see through it with him, but his sympathies, he didn't -- he didn't try to hide those.

KAGAN: So you are not just hanging around with these kind of characters, you are also working on a story for later today, a man trying to help out and do some good, and find some answers.

BOETTCHER: Absolutely. It is a story about a hacker in Switzerland named Gido Ridalfi (ph) who had been tracking purveyors of child pornography on the Internet, and after September 11th, he become very angry and had his own hunches about al Qaeda and how it communicates on the Internet, and what he found out is quite amazing.

KAGAN: We will look forward to that. Do you know which hour?

BOETTCHER: 5:00 Eastern. KAGAN: 5:00 Eastern. Wolf's show.

BOETTCHER: Wolf's show.

KAGAN: Okay. We will look forward to that. Mike Boettcher, thank you so much.

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