Perhaps the most prominent figure of Arab-Nazi collaborationists, Hajj Amin al-Husseini's influence extended beyond the confines of Palestine. He was born in 1897 of the prominent al-Husseini clan in Jerusalem. He belonged to the Hanafi jurisprudence of the Sunni sect of Islam. After learning to speak Turkish fluently at an Ottoman government school in Palestine, he attended Al-Azhar University in Cairo in 1912, where he studied Islamic theology, Arabic studies and jurisprudence. While in Cairo, he attended an educational institution known as Dar al-Dawa wal-Ershad (The Institute for Propagation and Guidance) created by the Syrian Islamic Salafi leader Mohammed Rashid Rida, who politically promoted a rejuvenation of the caliphate for Pan-Islamism. At Dar-al-Dawa, he was actively exposed to the teachings of Jamal El-Din Al-Afghani that taught him the tactics of Islamic incitement and radicalism. He continued his studies at Cairo University College of Literature and learned administration and leadership at the Ottoman School for Administrators in Istanbul.

After attending the military academy in Istanbul, with the outbreak of World War I he received his commission as an artillery officer in the Ottoman army, entering the College of Reserve Officers. Nine months later, he graduated as a noncommissioned officer and joined the 46th Infantry Regiment stationed at Izmir in Southwest Turkey, with a follow-on assignment to the 47th Infantry Regiment stationed in the Turkish city of Smyrna. Harsh Ottoman "Turkification" of the Arab provinces and the suppression of Arab-nationalist organizations gradually eroded his allegiance to Ottoman Islamic unity. In November 1916, he left the Ottoman army on disability leave and returned to Jerusalem, where he remained until the conclusion of World War I. After the Treaty of Versailles, he became bitter by the sidelining of the Arab Revolt and by the influx of Jewish immigrants into British Mandate Palestine.

From “Hajj Amin al-Husayni: The Mufti of Jerusalem,” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Website, accessed June 29, 2008,