From exile in the West German town of Aachen, Issam Attar leads the Moslem Brotherhood, the fundamental Sunni movement which opposes the regime of Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad.
GV & SV Mosque with people queueing outside in Aachen, West Germany.
SV Men praying on mats inside Mosque.
SCU Head of Moslem Brotherhood Mr. Issam Attar listening to question in English.
SCU Mr. Attar answers in Arabic.
GV Reporter asking question in English as Mr. Attar listens.
SCU Mr. Attar answering in Arabic.
VON HAGEN:"Mr. Attar, what are your demands to return to Syria?"
VON HAGEN:"You know Ayatollah Khomeini. Do you have the same ambitions of personal power?"
REPORTER: MARION VON HAGEN
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Background: From exile in the West German town of Aachen, Issam Attar leads the Moslem Brotherhood, the fundamental Sunni movement which opposes the regime of Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad. Mr. Attar's exile began in 1964 when he was refused re-entry to Syria after making the pilgrimage to Mecca. Until then his power at home as leader of the Brotherhood, the general secretary of the Islamic Conference in Damascus and a member of the Syrian Parliament had been growing steadily.
SYNOPSIS: In 1970, Issam Attar arrived in Aachen as director of the Islamic Centre and Mosque. From there he directs the Brotherhood, membership of which now carriers the death penalty in Syria. Visnews' reporter Marion von Hagen interviewed Mr. Attar in Aachen (on Friday 1 August).
In reply, Issam Attar claimed he had no personal demands and said his return would be decided by the Syrian people, and by the dictates of justice. Mr. Attar claims his supporters include not only members of The Brotherhood but a majority of Syrians. Under President Assad, Syria has effectively been ruled by members of the Alawite sect, a religious minority accounting for less than ten percent of the population. Issam Attar believes members of the Sunni majority sect have become increasingly disillusioned by President Assad's regime. He has pledged that the Brotherhood's campaign of bombings and assassinations will continue until the government falls. Brotherhood targets have included Soviet military advisers in Syria, lawyers, Communists, newspaper editors and prominent pro-government figures.
Mr. Attar confirmed he had met Ayatollah Khomeini in France, where the Iranian religious leader lived in exile while the Shah was in power. He said he respected the Ayatollah although their views on some matters diverged. But Mr. Attar believed Khomeini was motivated not by desire for personal influence but by desire for his people's prosperity. The Moslem Brotherhood is totally opposed to Western or Marxist influences which it regards a harmful to Islam, but the Syrian government has rejected the Brotherhood's claim that it is fighting for Islamic purity and has described Brotherhood members as 'enemies of Islam'. President Assad had pledged to track down and eliminate members of the movement in Syria and abroad. But Issam Attar continues to preach violent revolution and believes the Syrian government's downfall is both necessary and inevitable.