Archive for June, 2012

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Billionaire Saudi banker: “I have worked out a meticulous scheme for this endowment”

June 29, 2012

Sulaiman Al-Rahji, co-founder of the Sunni world’s largest sharia bank and one of Saudi Arabia’s richest men, has reportedly set aside all his wealth for an endowment (waqf) and inheritance by his children.  Given the questions raised about his bank’s involvement in terrorist financing and fighting an investigation into the funding of 9/11, this development is not as heartwarming as the Arab News presents in a nearly 3,000 word article last month:

Saudi Arabia’s rags-to-riches billionaire Sulaiman Al-Rajhi is also a world-renowned philanthropist. He is the founder of Al-Rajhi Bank, the largest Islamic bank in the world, and one of the largest companies in Saudi Arabia. As of 2011, his wealth was estimated by Forbes to be $7.7 billion, making him the 120th richest person in the world. His flagship SAAR Foundation is a leading charity organization in the Kingdom. The Al-Rajhi family is considered as one of the Kingdom’s wealthiest non-royals, and among the world’s leading philanthropists.

Al-Rajhi is a billionaire who chose last year to become a poor man at his own will without having any cash or real estates or stocks that he owned earlier. He became penniless after transferring all his assets among his children and set aside the rest for endowments. In recognition of his outstanding work to serve Islam, including his role in establishing the world’s largest Islamic bank and his regular contribution toward humanitarian efforts to fight poverty, Al-Rajhi was chosen for this year’s prestigious King Faisal International Prize for Service to Islam.

In an interview with Muhammad Al-Harbi of Al-Eqtisadiah business daily, Al-Rajhi speaks about how he was able to succeed in convincing chiefs of the leading central banks in the world, including that of the Bank of England, nearly 30 years ago that interest is forbidden in both Islam and Christianity, and that the Islamic banking is the most effective solution to activate Islamic financing in the world and make it a real boost to the global economy.

The story of Al-Rajhi is that of a man who made his fortunes from scratch, relying on grit and determination. Al-Rajhi threw away his huge wealth through two windows — distributed a major part of his inheritance among his children and transferred another portion to endowments, which are regarded as the largest endowment in the history of the Islamic world. He had to fight poverty and suffering during his childhood before becoming a billionaire through hard work and relentless efforts, and then leaving all his fortunes to become penniless again.

Al-Rajhi is still very active and hardworking even in his 80s with youthful spirits. He begins his work daily after morning prayers and is active until Isha prayers before going to bed early. He is now fully concentrated on running the endowment project under his SAAR Foundation, and traveling various regions of the Kingdom managing activities related with it. He always carries a pocket diary containing his daily programs and activities and he is accustomed to stick on to the schedule he had prepared well in advance.

Al-Rajhi scored excellent performance results in almost all businesses in which he carved out a niche for himself. In addition to establishing the world’s largest Islamic bank, he founded the largest poultry farm in the Middle East. The credit of activating the organic farming experiment in the Kingdom mainly goes to him through launching a number of farming projects, including Al-Laith shrimp farming. He also established real estate and other investment projects.

Excerpts:

Sheikh Suleiman, have you become a poor man again?
Yes. Now I own only my dresses. I distributed my wealth among my children and set aside a portion for endowment to run charity projects. As far as I am concerned, this situation was not a strange one. My financial condition reached zero point two times in my life, and therefore I have had the feeling and understanding (about poverty) well. But now the feeling is accompanied by happiness, relaxation and the peace of mind. The zero phase in life this time is purely because of my own decision and choice.

Why did you choose this path?
All wealth belongs to Allah, and we are only those who are entrusted (by God) to take care of them. There were several reasons that prompted me to distribute the wealth and that resulted in performing this virtue. Most important among them is to foster brotherhood and love among my children and safeguard their harmonious relationship. This is more significant than any wealth in this life. I was also keen not to be instrumental in wasting the precious time of courts in case of any differences of opinion among them with regard to partition of inheritance. There are several examples that everybody could see when children entered in dispute over wealth and that led to the collapse of companies. Nation has lost many large companies and their wealth that we could have been saved if we tackled the matter in a right manner. Apart from this, every Muslim should work on some endowments that could benefit him in the life after death. Likewise, I prefer my children to work on developing wealth, which they inherit after my death, during my lifetime itself rather than I continue working to increase them.

Are you getting enough free time after the distribution of wealth?
As earlier I am still working on developing endowments. I will donate and give alms from it until Allah takes over this trusted deposit. I have worked out a meticulous scheme for this endowment and developed it with the support of specialist consultants and agencies. This idea struck me long before. Usually people in the Islamic world set aside one-third or one-fourth of their wealth for endowment and that will be effective only after their death. But in my case, I decided to implement this decision in my lifetime itself. So I invited my children to Makkah during the end of Ramadan and presented the idea in front of them. They readily agreed it and then I distributed my wealth among my children in addition to setting aside a part of it for endowment. I sought the help of consultants to facilitate the procedures for the distribution of all my assets including properties, real estates and stocks, and that was completed in a cordial atmosphere. All my children are now fully satisfied with my initiative and they are now working on these properties in my lifetime.

How much wealth you distributed among children and set aside for endowment?
He laughed without giving an answer.

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Jorisch: blacklist the bonyads

June 28, 2012

Bonyads, the supposedly charitable conglomerates of Iran, are finally getting some international scrutiny.  Security analyst Avi Jorisch has called for a new phase in the sanctions regime against Iran:  targeting the bonyads:

Bonyads are tax-exempt Iranian charitable trusts that control an estimated 20–40% of Iran’s GDP. Subsidized by the government, they answer only to Iran’s Supreme Leader. Bonyads represent an important target for sanctions because they control such a large share of Iran’s economy.

As charities, they supposedly provide social services to the poor and the needy, but in fact, they are also involved in every major industry, including soybean and cotton production, hotel administration, soft drink firms, shipping line ownership and car manufacturing.

The United States should publicly name, shame, and blacklist all major bonyads, thus making it illegal to make a charitable contribution to them.

The United States and its allies have all the tools necessary to punish the banks, corporations and charities helping Iran achieve nuclearization. If we are truly going to stop Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons, we must use as many of the bows in our quiver as possible.

Indeed, loopholes in the current sanctions regime probably do allow for donations to the bonyads under the guise of food and medical aid.

Money Jihad readers may recall that bonyads have also been described as “massive semi-government foundations with vast religious and philanthropic missions [which] have metamorphosed into huge holding companies that dominate the trade and manufacturing sectors while evading competition, taxes and state regulations,” and about which “analysts agree that the scant supervision has encouraged inefficiencies, mismanagement, and embezzlement,” and it has been asked whether “their funds have been used to procure weapons of mass destruction.”

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Global Relief Foundation co-founder at large

June 27, 2012

The scandal is not the “unexplained” actions of the FBI as perceived by the Huffington Post.  The scandal is that the target of the FBI’s scrutiny, Imam Mohamed Sheikh Abdirahman Kariye, is even allowed walk the streets.

In addition to but more important than his conviction for Social Security fraud, this man was a co-founder of the Global Relief Foundation—an Islamic charity that had extensive ties to Al Qaeda and was shut down by the U.S. Treasury Department.  Another co-founder of GRF was deported to Lebanon, but Kariye remains in Portland and even runs the mosque there.

From Creeping Sharia:

Oregon mosque led by convicted Social Security fraudster

Posted on June 18, 2012 by creeping

Yet Helen Jung and others can’t seem to figure out why the terror-linked Oregon mosque is under FBI scrutiny. It takes 20+ paragraphs to find out the mosque is led by a convicted criminal. via Masjed As-Saber, Oregon Mosque Under FBI Scrutiny.

In September 2002, authorities arrested Kariye at Portland International Airport as he and family members prepared to fly to Dubai. He was charged the next day with Social Security fraud, but his arrest by the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force signaled a more ominous suspicion.

The arrest was unusual. A federal prosecutor successfully argued to hold Kariye without bail, saying a customs official at the airport had found traces of TNT on his bags. Tests two weeks later concluded the initial findings were wrong and Kariye was released the following month.

Kariye pleaded guilty six months later to understating his income to qualify for Oregon Health Plan benefits and using a Social Security card with a false birth date to obtain the benefits. A judge sentenced him to probation and he paid $6,000 in fines and restitution.

But that didn’t end the FBI’s interest. An affidavit in August 2003 revealed that agents believed Kariye financially supported a group of Muslims — known as the Portland Seven — who had tried to reach Afghanistan to fight for the Taliban in September 2001. Most had regularly prayed at Masjed As-Saber and were turned in by an FBI informant at the mosque who recorded hours of conversations with two primary defendants.

Kariye was never charged. The FBI affidavit stated the informant failed to record a key conversation that allegedly described the imam’s support.

In March, Wells Fargo abruptly decided to close the bank accounts of the imam and the mosque. Both had accounts at the bank for several years.

A Wells Fargo spokesman, Tom Unger, said he doesn’t know the reasons for the bank’s decision, but maintained that “neither religion nor any other factors that could be considered discriminatory are included as part of that process” for closing the accounts.

But Unger advised doing an Internet search on the mosque’s name, which turns up various links to news stories as well as other websites including those that allege a connection to terrorism.

And unlike Helen Jung, we did an Internet search and found this:

Sheik Mohamed Abdirahman Kariye was a co-founder of the Global Relief Foundation (GRF), which the U.S. government shut down in December 2001 because of its ties to terrorism. For at least one year after GRF’s creation in 1991, Kariye was on the organization’s board of directors.

…federal prosecutors would argue that Kariye funded a trip to Afghanistan for a group of would-be terrorists, all of whom were worshipers at the Islamic Center of Portland. In an FBI affidavit, it was stated that Kariye gave six persons (known as the Portland Six) $2000 each, for the purpose of financing their travels to Afghanistan, where they were to join al Qaeda and Taliban forces in their fight against American troops.  One of the six, Jeffrey Battle, described the Islamic Center of Portland as being “the only mosque to teach about jihad.” Battle stated that he had “talked to Kariye about jihad,” that Kariye “had fought in the jihad,” and that “Kariye told his followers they should fight with other Muslims in Afghanistan against Americans.” Battle further stated that Kariye had provided “$2,000 for each of the men and the money was acquired from members of the mosque.”

More posts on Oregon here.

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Foreign money enters France to build mosques

June 26, 2012

From Vlad Tepes on a Moroccan-funded mosque in Blois, France:

Translation by Hermes from:

Digital Alert:

According to article 220 of the moroccan criminal code, christians who engage in proselytism in the moroccan kingdom have to face penalties of up to 6 years behind bars, churches are closed and foreigner christians are expelled if they dare to publicly display their faith. Moroccans have no right to convert to another religion, and according to the constitution, a christian is not allowed to get moroccan citizenship.

Meanwhile the building of mosques in France and its control by Morocco (and other muslim countries) increases. This is about a territorial conquest of the zones under muslim colonization which are multiplying mainly in France, but also in other european cities.

After the building of the great mosques in Clermont-Ferrand and Saint-Etienne, which were financed by Morocco, now it is the turn of the town of Blois. A mosque and a madrassa in being built on a 1500 square meter plot of land. The king of Morocco donated 787.000 euros to help finishing the building of the complex.

The building of the “Bilal cultural and religious centre”, begun 2 years ago, was at a standstill. The first 600.000 euros collected by the regional muslim community were entirely spent. On the occasion of a private visit of the King of Morocco to one of his numerous properties in France, he was handed over a report explaining the details about the project and the difficulties the project was going through. The king’s reaction was positive and he donated the money needed to end the project

More than 30.000 muslims live in that region: Moroccans, Argelians [Algerians], Turks and Africans of different nationalities. The founding stone was laid down in december 11, 2009. The mosque will have an area of 1500 square meters,including a prayer hall of 450 square meters and a 9.20 meters high minaret.

And from Al Arabiya on the Saint-Étienne mosque:

A new mosque bearing the name of Moroccan King Mohamed VI is now open in France amid praise of the cooperation of the French authorities.

President of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (Conseil Français du Culte Musulman- CFCM) Mohammed Moussaoui inaugurated the Mohamed VI Mosque in the southwestern French city of Saint-Étienne.

The mosque, built on an area of 10,000 square meters, boosts a 14-meter high minaret and accommodates more than 1,000 worshippers.

The mosque bears the name of Moroccan king Mohamed VI who donated five million Euros of the total eight million of the construction cost.

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Fracking our way to energy independence

June 25, 2012

Using hydraulic fracturing to extract heretofore inaccessible energy deposits under the surface of American soil sounds great, but can it really make a difference compared to the oil production juggernaut that is Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf?

Yes indeed.  Even Thompson Reuters has conceded that fracking dramatically increases production.  Take a look at this graphic that shows the significant impact that fracking has had on production in Texas and North Dakota:

More so than sifting through millions of financial transaction data for suspicious activity, more so than combing through thousands of currency transaction reports, more so than sanctioning and blacklisting individual foreign terrorists overseas who may or may not even have any accounts in a Western bank, fracking presents one of the best tools for draining terrorists’ wealth.

Fracking increases U.S. energy output, reduces global prices, lowers dependence on Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf, and minimizes the wealth that accrues to hostile foreign powers who reallocate the profits toward terrorism.

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“Anomalies” checker Sudan’s zakat fund

June 24, 2012

Sudan, one of six countries in the world with a mandatory, government-run zakat collection and distribution program, has accused its zakat chief of “administrative anomalies” regarding fund distribution.

The Koran 9:60 requires that the zakat tax be spent on eight groups:  1) the poor, 2) those in temporary distress, 3) the tax collectors themselves, 4) new converts to Islam as an incentive for conversion, 5) captives for their ransom, 6) debtors, 7) the mujahideen, and 8) wayfarers.

The Sudan Tribune is careful in its reporting to refer to the poor as the only eligible group, as is often the case when English speaking Muslims describe zakat in media that may be monitored by Western analysts.  But Sudanese lawmakers understand that Islam calls for a broader distribution of funds.

The zakat chief herself is probably well aware of group #3 above, and may have felt entitled to shave a little off the top.  The best case scenario is that this is just be another example of the miserable state of corruption, theftineffectiveness, extreme overhead, and incompetence of zakat administration throughout the Islamic world.

The more disconcerting possibility is that some of the unaccounted for funds may have been diverted to group #7 in accordance with the Koran.  But without the proper disclosures, we’ll never really know.

Read it all:

Sudan: Lawmakers Grill Sudanese Minister Over Zakat Authority

>Khartoum — Sudan’s minister of social welfare, Amira Al-Fadil, faced volleys of criticism on Wednesday from members of the national parliament who accused her ministry-run Zakat Authority of administrative anomalies.Al-Fadil appeared in the parliament to answer questions regarding a report she previously presented on the operations of the Zakat authority which is run by the ministry of social welfare.

The head of the parliament’s external relations committee Mohammed Al-Hassan Al-Amin said that the director of the Zakat Authority has been receiving instructions to disburse funds to certain quarters instead of giving it directly to the poor as the authority’s mandate stipulates.

“We want the money to go directly to the poor without passing through intermediaries” he told the minister.

Another MP, Aisha Al-Ghabshawi, also criticized the Zakat Authority, accusing it of being involved in investment and commercial activities. She further faulted the Zakat authority for releasing funds through microfinance projects, saying that this has prevented the needy from receiving their money directly.

Similarly, the MP and former media minister Abdella Massar said that the Zakat Authority has turned into a tax-levying institution. He went as far as saying that the Zakat money was being spent on political agendas.

Massar demanded that the Zakat money be sent to the poor as required by the laws that established it.

Reacting to the criticism, the minister Amira Al-Fadil accused the MPs of being subjective. A remark she was later forced to apologize for after MPs insisted that she retracts her statement.

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Holder stonewalls on HLF documents

June 22, 2012

Attorney General Eric Holder has once again refused to supply Congress with the same documents that were provided to the defendants in the Holy Land Foundation trial who were convicted of funding Hamas under questioning from Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) during a congressional hearing.

Yes, you read that correctly.  The “Holy Land Five” and their attorneys were given access to materials with information about their own crimes which the Justice Department will not even share with the members of Congress who represent the district where the Holy Land Foundation perpetrated its felonious terror funding operation.

Jihad Watch says that Holder “ducked” the question about whether he would provide the documents.  But that is being too charitable.  In video from the hearing (h/t Creeping Sharia), Holder says that DOJ could provide documents that are already in the public domain, which is another way of saying that they won’t provide the documents Rep. Gohmert requested.

The Department of Justice has done a terrible job policing Islamic charities since Mr. Holder and Pres. Obama came into office.  There is probably enough evidence of wrongdoing about the HLF’s co-conspirators in the case that if DOJ released the documents, it would increase the pressure from the public to prosecute HLF’s partners.

Note the passion and conviction of Rep. Gohmert, and the pompous indifference of Mr. Holder to the seriousness of the request:

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