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Lebanese Shia Muslims ♥ Hezbollah

December 20, 2010

Let’s take one more look at the Pew Research Center’s recent findings about public opinion in the Islamic world (see also here and here).  Pew found that 94 percent of Shia Muslims approve of Hezbollah.  That’s not just a majority—that’s a complete and utter lock on that demographic.

Bar graph of Lebanon's love-hate relationship with Hezbollah

94 percent of Shia Lebanese adore Hezbollah

Here are a few of my own random reactions to this poll from a terrorist financing standpoint:

  • Financially, it may be a larger problem when Shias support an organization than when Sunnis support an organization.  The Shia khums tax, which demands 20 percent of all profits that Shiites made during the year, adds up fantastically.  All that dough goes into the hands of imams who are at their own discretion on what to do with it.  Many Iranian imams, for example, chose to give it to Hezbollah as we have covered here.  Combating cash flows of 20 percent of earnings could be a tougher job than combating the 2½ percent zakat tax.
  • That reminds me, there were probably some serious khums payments made during the Shia pilgrimage to Karbala for Ashura.  And some of it will go to Hezbollah—guaranteed.
  • The poll may also help explain Lebanon’s indifference to terrorist financing.  From the U.S. State Department’s Country Report on Terrorism from Aug. 5, 2010:
    • Lebanon’s financial intelligence unit is the Special Investigation Commission (SIC), an independent legal entity empowered to investigate suspicious financial transactions, lift banking secrecy, and freeze assets. In 2009, it investigated 116 cases involving allegations of money laundering, terrorism, and terrorist financing activities. The SIC referred requests for designation or asset freezes regarding Hizballah and affiliated groups to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but the Lebanese government does not require banks to freeze these assets because it does not consider Hizballah a terrorist organization.

What a stinking mess.  How would sanctions and the occassional terrorist designation of a Hezbollah leader by the U.S. Treasury Department ever change the fundamental religious root of the problem?

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