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Digital Archive International History Declassified

February 01, 1952

THE ISLAMIST AND PAKISTANI ACTIVITIES IN LEBANON

This document was made possible with support from the Youmna and Tony Asseily

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    Muslims in Lebanon fear the country's changes, turning instead toward Pakistan, and plans emerge for the expansion of the Pakistani Legation and the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate.
    "The Islamist and Pakistani Activities in Lebanon," February 01, 1952, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Emir Farid Chehab Collection, GB165-0384, Box 13, File 55/13, Middle East Centre Archive, St Antony’s College, Oxford. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/176100
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55/13

The Islamist and Pakistani activities in Lebanon

All Muslims in Lebanon, the educated and uneducated among them, feel that they are not given their due and that extremist Maronite elements are working through the institutions of power, to make them a totally neglected and worthless minority. They are therefore looking around them for someone to rely on to help and support them. Although they used to count above all on Syria and then on Egypt, they now feel that the internal and external problems these two countries are facing prevent them from coming effectively to their aid. They also do not trust Turkey and do not believe that it could ever appeal to them as a defender of Muslims.

Muslims in Lebanon are afraid that the country might become a Christian country and ally itself with the Jewish State of Israel. The minds of Muslims in Lebanon have therefore turned towards Pakistan when the latter emerged, at the First Islamic Conference held in Karachi in October 1950, as the Islamic country most committed to the defence of all Muslims. This new notion further crystallised this year upon Zufrallah Khan’s, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministers' visit to this country on the first of this month, in Pakistan’s efforts to form an Islamic bloc of nations, and the holding of a conference of Islamic nations in its capital in May.

Conscious of the importance of the role it could play in this country, Pakistan decided to appoint a Minister Plenipotentiary in Syria and Lebanon, instead of a Chargé d'Affaires, to considerably expand the scope of its activities, and establish a wide intelligence network for the Middle East, based in Beirut.

It was Dr Mohammad Assad, Head of the Middle East section at the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, and the person who came twice to this country to study the plan, who suggested the expansion of the Pakistani Legation's responsibilities and the establishment of an intelligence branch in it.

Dr Mohammad Assad is the author of the book 'Islam at the Crossroads’ and an orientalist of Austrian origin and nationality, who converted to Islam during the First World War and, at the end of it, emigrated to Najd and married a local woman. He remained in the Arabian Peninsula many long years studying indigenous habits and behaviour before moving on to Pakistan where it was rumoured that he was also an agent of British Intelligence.

While he was in Lebanon, at the end of February 1952, Mohammad Assad met with Mohammad Jamil Bayhom, Omar Farroukh, Abdel-Salam al-Jaza'iri, and Mostapha Fathallah who represented Beirut at the Islamic Conference which was held in Karachi in October 1950. He told them about the Conference of Islamic Nations which is due to be held in May 1952, and that the Pakistani Government intended to cover the travel expenses of all the prominent Muslim participants in this Conference. He also told them to contact Dr Mohammad Siddiq, the Chargé d'Affaires at the Pakistani Legation in order for him to do the necessary.

At the same time, Pakistan is seeking to strengthen its power through religion by re-establishing the Islamic Caliphate; it wants the seat of the Caliphate to be in Pakistan, which puts it under its jurisdiction, and Haj Amin al-Husseini to become the Caliph.

After the ratification of the economic agreement between Lebanon and Syria during HE Abdullah al-Yafi's premiership, a delegation from the Higher National Council comprising Dr Mohammad Khaled, al-Haj Anis Naja, and Hassan al-Bohsoli went to Damascus and met with Chief Fawzi Sillo and Colonel Adeeb al-Shishakli. They discussed with them the current situation in Lebanon before turning to the poor state of the Muslims in spite of their being, according to their own estimates, the overwhelming majority in the country. They told the two men that they heavily relied on them to defend their rights and pull them back from the brink to which the Maronites wanted to push them. It went so far that at one point Dr Mohammad Khaled said candidly that he himself was so desperate that he was chinking of selling his hospital and property in Beirut and leaving the country.

The two leaders' response was rather political and they did not allow their emotions to match those of the delegation; they said to them: We will monitor events in Lebanon very closely and seize every opportunity to demand that the Muslims be given their rights.

The Islamic Brotherhood's activities

After the arrest of Mostapha al-Seba'i and his colleagues, and the dissolution of the Muslim Brotherhood Organisation in Syria, Mr Omar Bin Mahmoud al-Tarabishi travelled to Cairo on 15/2/1952. The latter was born in 1915 in Damascus, is a merchant in the Sinjikdar area, and one of the people who helped establish the Muslim Brotherhood Organisation there. Sheikh Mostapha al-Seba'i entrusted him with the cask of explaining, to the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, the gist of the Muslim Brotherhood’s situation in Syria. Mr al-Hudaibi, the Supreme Guide, then appointed him as his representative in Syria.

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