TWENTY QUESTIONS ABOUT MONEY JIHAD
Thank you for visiting Money Jihad. You have questions about how jihad terrorists finance themselves, and you have questions about this blog. You deserve answers.
- How is jihad terrorism principally funded?
- Isn’t hawala the main problem behind Al Qaeda’s funding as determined by the 9/11 Commission?
- Could you explain what all the terms used in this blog—like zakat, hawala, and money laundering—really mean?
- What is the connection between Islamic taxation and terrorist financing?
- Don’t most Muslims give the zakat freely, and want it to go to truly charitable causes, and not to terrorism?
- But doesn’t every system of government require tax revenues to operate?
- How do Islamic tax rates compare to Christian tax rates?
- Does the Bible allow tithes be used for holy war?
- How do Islamic tax rates compare to European or American taxes?
- Shouldn’t we be glad if our enemies over-tax themselves?
- Are jihadists funded by sharia finance?
- If sharia finance doesn’t directly fund jihad, why should I care?
- Why do you post charts on your blog about military expenditures by countries in the Middle East?
- Why don’t your military spending figures match Wikipedia’s?
- Why don’t you examine the funding of all America’s enemies, not just the Islamists?
- Why focus on jihadist financing? The jihadists are murdering thousands, persecuting non-Muslims, threatening fundamentalist coups throughout the Middle East, trying to seize Pakistani nukes, Saudi oil, and destroy Israel, and you’re only concerned about the financials?
- Why do you examine Islamic taxes? Aren’t the terrorists getting at least as much revenue from criminal activity including drugs as through revenues allowed by Islamic law?
- What qualifies you to pass judgement?
- You’ve made provocative statements I’m not sure I believe or agree with. Your response?
- What sources can I go to for more information or to make up my own mind?
1. How is jihad terrorism principally funded?
The Islamic zakat tax, what some call “Islamic charity” is a massive source of jihadist revenues. The 9/11 attacks were funded almost entirely by “donations” (zakat) to Al Qaeda, and zakat from the Persian Gulf is behind the 2009 rebound in Taliban finances. Jihadists are also reliant on money referred to in the Western press as “protection payments” or “extortion,” but many of these payments resemble the Islamic jizya tax or Koran-approved ransoms for non-Muslims. Terrorism against Israel receives major funding through the state sponsorship of Islamic Iran. Other funding sources of jihad around the world includes criminal enterprises, the drug trade, and, to be frank, Western taxpayers (through foreign aid) and Western consumers (through petro-dollars).
2. Isn’t hawala the main problem behind Al Qaeda’s funding as determined by the 9/11 Commission?
Not exactly. Hawala is a system of transferring debts—it is not a source of revenue unto itself. Students of anti-terrorist financial law should distinguish between where the money comes from (zakat, state actors, etc) versus how the money gets there (hawala, money laundering, Sharia finance, etc).
3. Could you explain what all the terms used in this blog—like zakat, hawala, and money laundering—really mean?
A glossary of terms is available here, and we usually add one word to it per week. You can also use Money Jihad’s tag cloud to find out more about any subject or term that confuses you. We try to provide definitions or hyperlinks to off-site explanations on posts as we go.
4. What is the connection between Islamic taxation and terrorist financing?
The Koran stipulates that the zakat shall be spent on several purposes, the most important here being “for the cause of Allah,” ie, holy war (9:60). Other Islamic taxes described in the Koran and Hadith may be used for the same purposes as the zakat. Given that paying the zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam, and that Muhammad promised that non-payers will “taste the burning” of hell, Muslims have powerful incentives to pay the tax. A great deal of the zakat revenues end up, either knowingly or unknowingly, in the hands of Islamic charities that funnel the money to terrorists.
5. Don’t most Muslims give the zakat freely, and want it to go to truly charitable causes, and not to terrorism?
It is hard to say whether it is freely given, because the eternal consequences of not giving as laid out by the Koran are so grim.
As for whether the givers intend to support jihad, we have no real way of knowing. Certainly, many Muslims only want their money to go to good, charitable causes, but one-quarter of Muslims worldwide “express confidence” in Osama Bin Laden, according to Pew Research Center. That’s more than one-quarter of a billion Muslims who support Bin Laden.
Of course, many Muslims are unaware of how their donations are really used. Terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda use “charitable” front groups to siphon zakat payments for jihad. That is why American Muslims and organizations like CAIR should be jumping up from their seats clamoring for deep, penetrating audits of mosques and Islamic charities so they can see exactly where God’s gifts are going. But instead, we’re greeted with silence or outright opposition to the meager restrictions that have been placed on Islamic charities since 9/11.
6. But doesn’t every system of government require tax revenues to operate?
Normally, yes, most modern systems of government do require tax revenues to fund their operations. However, most major world religions do not impose mandatory taxes on their believers.
7. How do Islamic tax rates compare to Christian tax rates?
There is no such thing as a Christian tax rate. Jesus said to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s (Matthew 22:21). Taxation was despised in New Testament times, although Jesus believed that tax collectors like Matthew could be saved by renouncing the sin and corruption endemic to tax farming.
Voluntary Christian tithing is traditionally regarded as one-tenth of your income. Islamic law prescribes different tax rates for different concepts (2.5 percent of one’s liquid assets, 10 percent of one’s harvest, and 20 percent of ones profits [among Shias], etc) so it is difficult to draw a direct comparison of rates.
8. Does the Bible allow tithes be used for holy war?
No. Jesus is considered to be the Prince of Peace. Gifts are to be used to spread the gospel, to glorify God, and as recognition that earthly prosperity should not be our objective. The Jews allowed tithes to pay the salaries of their religious leaders. But nothing in the Bible allows church moneys to be used in armed struggle against non-believers.
Some of you will ask about the financing of the Crusades. “Ultimately most crusaders had to pay their own way…” according to Alfred Andrea’s Encyclopedia of the Crusades. There were periodic, ineffective attempts at royal taxation of European subjects during the Crusades, and even papal taxation on the clergy, but there was never any uniform “Catholic tax,” in Christendom, and even if there had been, it would not have been justified by the Scriptures.
9. How do Islamic tax rates compare to European or American taxes?
Modern tax rates in the United States and Europe are extremely high. However, the tax rates are established by legislatures in representative democracies and are subject to legislative change and the will of the voters.
Islamic tax rates are somewhat lower than most modern economic systems, but many Muslims around the world are paying both Islamic taxes to their mosques plus secular taxes to their governments. The effective tax rate on Muslims is hefty.
10. Shouldn’t we be glad if our enemies over-tax themselves?
a. That would be a cynical strategy. People should be free to worship as they please and lose their property only under due process of law. Thankfully, these rights are protected for Americans by Amendments I and V of the the U.S. Constitution—rights that other countries should recognize and codify to protect in behalf of their own people. Nobody should be subjected by a religious authority to fork over their property without their consent.
b. Higher revenue collection by terrorist organizations could only lead to an increase in their operations, which is obviously a direct threat to American interests.
11. Are jihadists funded by sharia finance?
Sharia finance is a system, not a revenue source. Neverthless, funds have been purposefully transferred as corporate zakat by sharia bankers to terrorists (for example, by Islami Bank Bangladesh), and Al Qaeda used sharia banks such as Al Rajhi, National Commercial Bank, Arab Bank, and Al Shamal to transfer funds. Connections are still being unearthed.
12. Is its link to terror finance the only problem with sharia banking?
No, sharia finance poses a threat to American capitalism (and to European socialism) because sharia is an awkward, anachronistic system that would damage the global economy. The prohibition on charging interest creates a host of, presumably, unintended consequences including the distortion of the value of money and the overall economic failure of modern Islam despite untold oil wealth.
13. Why do you post charts on your blog about military expenditures by countries in the Middle East? What does that have to do with terrorism or jihad?
The classic definition of jihad is regular, armed warfare of an Islamic army against an “infidel” army. All too often, America is cast as the Great Satan, the global imperialist, and the fount of the military-industrial complex. These charts are designed to show the truth about militarism in the world today.
14. Why don’t your military spending figures match Wikipedia’s?
Sometimes they match, sometimes they don’t. Money Jihad does thorough research with full acknowledgement of the sources used. For calculations like military spending as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), we don’t just lift a percent amount quoted by a third party. We find actual GDP figures, usually from economic sources like the International Monetary Fund, and defense expenditures from military sources, and then use simple arithmetic. How some of the figures arrived at and quoted repeatedly in Wikipedia and elsewhere are arrived at is a mystery.
15. Why don’t you examine the funding of all America’s enemies, not just the Islamists?
There are certainly disturbing developments in the economies of North Korea, or in the funding of non-Muslim terrorist organizations like the FARC. But as a practical matter, this blog can’t cover everything.
16. Why focus on jihadist financing? The jihadists are murdering thousands, persecuting non-Muslims, threatening fundamentalist coups throughout the Middle East, trying to seize Pakistani nukes, Saudi oil, and destroy Israel, and you’re only concerned about the financials?
I’m concerned about all of those things, but other blogs such as the matchless Jihad Watch, are already doing a great job of compiling and analyzing those developments. Money Jihad strives to fill the niche of jihadist financing, and to do so with proper context, insight, and humor.
17. Why do you examine Islamic taxes? Aren’t the terrorists getting at least as much revenue from criminal activity including drugs as through revenues allowed by Islamic law?
a. Money Jihad examines the axis between Islamic taxation and terrorist financing because no other blog does, at least not consistently. Various sites on the Internet periodically address terrorist use of the jizya or the zakat, and counterrorism blogs often address Islam, but no other site exposes the connection more clearly and with as much context as we do. Terrorism without revenues sanctioned by Islam would be insolvent. Nobody else wants to admit that these funding streams were designed and permitted by Muhammad.
b. The Western press uses terms like “extortion” or “protection payment,” whereas the Middle eastern press or terrorist groups themselves refer to the “jizya” or “ransom.” It can be difficult to discern the “ground truth” from English language press accounts. For example, drug money, if it’s collected on crops at the time of harvest and used to promote Islam, would be designated properly as the ushr, Islam’s harvest tax. Drug money may also be taken as a type of customs duty that is permitted by Islamic law. One cannot accurately discern whether a revenue measure is “Islamic” or not based on reading American or European news articles alone.
18. What qualifies you to pass judgement?
You can read about the blog and its primary author, “American Delight,” on MJ’s “about” page. Also, opinions put forward on this blog are given with supporting arguments, facts, quotations, hyperlinks, and logic.
19. You’ve made provocative statements I’m not sure I believe or agree with. Your response?
Dissenters are welcome at Money Jihad—you’re invited to comment on any post to confront the author, challenge the facts, or just voice your opinion!
20. What sources can I go to for more information or to make up my own mind?
If you want to learn more on your own, read the Koran and Hadith. If you don’t like reading, you can watch “The Message” (pro-Islamic movie) and “What the West Needs to Know,” (anti-jihad documentary), both of which are available online through a Google or YouTube search. Also, visit Jihad Watch blog at least once a week.
Read the Hadith for specifics on Islamic finance, especially Sahih Bukhari Book 24-25, 34-38, 41-48, 80, and 83 and Sahih Muslim Book 5, 10, and 11. Shariah Finance Watch is a useful blog about the creeping threat of Islamic finance. IPT runs frequent stories about terrorism in general, and many of the items reference funding of the terrorist operations. The Wall Street Journal’s Corruption Currents blog offers breaking news on sanctions, money laundering, and financial crime.
There are many books on the subject of terrorist financing. Be forewarned, however, that some of them provide sanitized views of financing, treating it like white collar criminal activity, rather than providing the Islamic context that helps make everything make more sense.