Archive for December, 2012

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Muslim Brotherhood offshoot pushes zakat at UN

December 14, 2012

The International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT), a creation of the Muslim Brotherhood that was once under federal investigation in connection with terrorist financing, has sponsored a recent forum at the United Nations to accelerate the use of zakat globally.

Zakat, an Islamic tax on wealth, has funded terrorist attacks including 9/11 and the Iraq insurgency.  The Koran mandates that a portion of zakat be allocated to the mujahideen—the holy warriors of Islam.

Modern advocates of zakat rationalize their support for the tax as a means of poverty amelioration and social justice.  However, countries that impose mandatory zakat, such as Pakistan and Sudan, suffer from the worst economic inequalities in the world.  Zakat creates dependence, and after decades of Pakistani zakat, officials acknowledge that nobody who has received zakat benefits has ever stopped receiving those benefits.  Even when given solely to the poor and not to terrorists, zakat is not a social ladder—it is a dungeon.  As the auditor general of Malaysia has noted, more zakat equals more poverty.

For a creature of the Muslim Brotherhood to endorse such a system to United Nations is of little comfort to the world’s poor.  At best, expanded reliance on zakat will create a new generation of impoverished leaches.  At worst, it will fund the current and next generation of jihadists in carrying out terrorist attacks against the West and continued assaults on non-Muslims in the Middle East.

Here’s the background on IIIT from TGMBDR:

IIIT was founded in the U.S. in 1980 by important members of the Global Muslim Brotherhood who wished to promote the “Islamization of Knowledge.” IIIT was associated with the now defunct SAAR Foundation, a network of Islamic organizations located in Northern Virginia that was raided by the Federal government in 2003 in connection with the financing of terrorism. The organization appeared to withdrawn from public view following the 2003 raids, but seems to be enjoying a renaissance of late. IIIT has a network of affiliates located in Europe, Africa, the MIddle East, and Asia. Although little is known about the activities of these IIIT affiliates, recent posts have discussed plans by IIIT to construct colleges in Bosnia and Lebanon.

A report in the Washington Post from June 2007 indicated that IIIT and the SAAR Foundation were still under investigation by the Justice Department.

And here’s what they’re up to now (h/t to EWI Blog for unearthing the story from IIIT’s website):

IIIT Sponsored Forum at the United Nations on Zakat’s Potential Role in Accelerating Global Development

On November 16th, The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) sponsored a forum at the United Nations brining [sic] together international development leaders and experts to look at  the importance of Zakat in advancing the global UN development agenda at a forum titled “Linking Muslim Giving to the MDGs”. The forum was co-hosted at the United Nations by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), The World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists, and the UN Millennium Campaign.

“While some countries have made impressive gains in achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), others are falling behind. The Muslim world is no exception. Faith emphasizes building communities, sharing wealth and upholding the rights of the poor and marginalized. Faith-based giving such as Zakat which amounts to billions of dollars needs to be spent in more strategic and effective ways to accelerate development in OIC member countries” stated Ambassador Ufuk Gokcen, the permanent observer of OIC at the United Nations, in his address.

Speakers from UNDP, International Institute of Islamic Thought, Islamic Relief USA, and Kimse Yok Mu shed light on the role of faith based giving in improving lives and shared real examples from around the world of successful partnerships between faith based organizations and development agencies…

Oh, Islamic Relief is involved too?  Not surprised.

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Eid meat used as cover for funding Al Qaeda

December 13, 2012

Attorneys for two of the defendants say that their clients only collected money to buy meat for Eid, but French prosecutors allege that the money went to an offshoot of Al Qaeda.

Eid presents a noteworthy opportunity for Muslims living in the west to transfer money to the Middle East under the guise of charity for meat purchases for poor families.  The radical Turkish flotilla “charity,” IHH, which has been banned by Germany for funding Hamas, has used Qurbani meat distribution as its pretext for operating in 95 countries.

From Radio Free Europe on Dec. 4:

Paris Trial Begins Of 10 Alleged Fundraisers For IMU

Ten defendants have gone on trial in the French capital on charges that they helped finance the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), an extremist group accused of links to Al-Qaeda.

The suspects, who are described as mainly of Turkish origin, are alleged to have collected thousands of dollar from people at mosques in French cities to send to the IMU between 2003 and 2008.

They were arrested in 2008 in France, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Lawyers for at least two of the defendants have rejected the charges, saying the money was collected for “humanitarian” uses.

The IMU, which was formed to overthrow the Uzbek government and create an Islamic caliphate in Central Asia, is officially considered a terrorist group by the United States.

In October 2001, the UN Security Council formally listed the IMU as being “associated” with Al-Qaeda.

H/t to Twitter user El Grillo for alerting me.

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Muslim “ghost charities” give $200m to Taliban

December 12, 2012

Arab states and the Gulf Cooperation Council are behind multi-million dollar zakat donations through Islamic shell charities to fund jihad in Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to an Afghan analyst.  Of course, this is how Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and 9/11 were funded in the first place, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise to regular readers of this blog.

But isn’t it noteworthy that 11 years after the terrorist attacks against New York City and Washington, D.C., that the Taliban is getting just as much money from the same old sources and the same old methods as it always has?  Attempts to bankrupt the Taliban have been an utter failure.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have blown smoke in our diplomats’ faces, promised reforms that have never fully materialized, and created nice policies against terrorist financing on paper while simultaneously serving as the world’s ratline for funding jihad.  Disgraceful.

Thanks to Twitter user @webcomobile for alerting me to this story from Gulf Daily News:

Terror funds linked to shady charities

By SANDEEP SINGH GREWAL, December 10, 2012

HUNDREDS of millions of dollars a year are being channelled into the hands of the Taliban – much of it from the Gulf, an expert told the GDN yesterday.

Shady charities in the GCC continue to funnel cash to Afghanistan to fund insurgents, said Afghanistan Centre for Research and Policy Studies director Haroun Mir.

He accused Gulf countries of not doing enough to monitor bogus charity operations, which he accused of filling terrorists’ coffers with cash to buy weapons, equipment and conduct operations.

“The Taliban gets $200 million a year to carry out its activities and recruit young people to spread terror across the world,” he said on the sidelines of the Manama Dialogue, which ended yesterday at the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa.

“This huge amount of money is coming from somewhere and one main channel is bogus charities in GCC and Arab states, which collect funds that are used for illegal activities instead of noble causes.”

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Al-Nusra jihadists in Syria sanctioned by U.S.

December 11, 2012

The U.S. State Department listed al-Nusra Front as a foreign terrorist organization yesterday (h/t Twitter user Sal Imburgia ‏@salimb94).  A parallel designation by the Treasury Department will include a prohibition against business deals between Americans and al-Nusra and a freeze of al-Nusra assets in U.S. banks.

A BBC profile of the al-Nusra Front calls the group’s ideology “clearly jihadist,” and says that al-Nusra has claimed responsibility for “many of the bombings that have rocked Syria since the uprising began in March 2011.”

Additional reports have indicated a warm relationship between al-Nusra and Al Qaeda.

Given U.S. support for many groups fighting in the Syrian rebellion, the designation may present a schizophrenic approach to American foreign policy in Syria wherein certain Syrian rebels receive financial support and rebels that they work alongside with receive financial penalties.  McClatchy lays out several other complicating factors in the al-Nusra designation in a good report here.

Kenneth Rijock also weighed in prior to the the designation on what it would mean for U.S. banks with commercial relationships in Syria and the Palestinian territories:

Multiple reports of the imminent OFAC  designation of the Al-Nusra Front, a radical Sunni organisation fighting the Assad regime in Syria, should alert compliance officers whose clients are sending relief funds, and supplies, to Syrian Opposition groups. Its Arabic name is Jabhat Al-Nusra, and the approximate English translation is Front for the Protection of the People of the Levant.

One important detail: Al-Nusra, which has spewed forth anti-American and Anti-Israeli hatred, reportedly contains a fair number of Palestinians. Don’t get caught in an OFAC violation if your clients are in the midst of what you thought were contributions to Palestinian causes, but go straight to Al-Nusra. It has been reported that the OFAC action will take place around 12 December.

I would piggyback on Rijock by making the following suggestion to non-profits, NGOs, charities and their donors:  if you are involved with relief work in either Syria or the Palestinian territories, you should factor the risk of funding this Al Qaeda offshoot into your aid distribution plans.  Are making such donations so important to you that you would risk supporting an Al Qaeda takeover of Syria?

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Government funds go to halal slaughterhouse

December 10, 2012

The state government of Victoria has given a halal abattoir a half million dollars to put more sheep to death under the knife of the Muslim slaughter man.  Along with the funding, an export license granted to the abattoir to ship halal meat to the Middle East has helped double the number of sheep it exports, according to ABC.  Surely, Australian taxpayers will be delighted to learn that their money is being given away to subsidize halal butchery:

Abattoir upgrades for halal sheep processing

By Lucy Barbour

Tuesday, 20/11/2012

A Victorian abattoir has received half a million dollars in funding from the State Government to expand its facilities at Stawell, in the state’s west.

The Frewstal abattoir will use the money to build a freezer room in the hope of increasing halal sheep meat exports to the Middle East.

General manager Greg Nicholls says most abattoirs are now using halal slaughter methods for both export and domestic product.

“You’ve got to be halal to be able to get rid of all your offal, and even though not all our meat goes to the Middle East, a lot of the offal does,” he said.

“To be able to find a market for those products, you’ve got to go down that track.”

What’s worse, as an accompanying radio report from ABC points out, is that about 80 percent of the meat sold domestically in Australia is halal, unbeknownst to consumers.  Without labeling or other disclosure requirements on the halal industry, Christians are unwittingly eating meat killed under recitation of a Muslim prayer, and animal rights advocates unknowingly eat the meat of animal killed in a brutal procedure.

Take a listen:

The halal food industry is a lot like the sharia finance sector and the Islamic charitable sector.  These sectors are used as vehicles to deepen the Islamization of Western cultures, and the profits are siphoned off for mysterious causes.

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Energy independence from Arab oil

December 9, 2012

A recent column by Tom Keane points out the tremendous growth in U.S. energy production thanks in large part to American innovation in hydraulic fracturing.  As he indicates, freedom from Middle East oil presents several benefits:

  • Reduced influence of OPEC
  • The risk of supply interruptions decreases
  • Military spending could decrease without jeopardizing security
  • Domestic economic/job growth

The purpose of independence isn’t necessarily about the price at the gas pump—that is a straw man set up by fans of foreign oil dependence and environmental extremism as a reason to halt progress toward energy freedom.

But let Keane tell it:

A new world of American energy independence

The United States is soon to be awash in oil and natural gas, positively brimming with the stuff whose scarcity and unreliability of supply has plagued us since the end of World War II. It is a remarkable, stunning turn of events — largely unforeseen just a few years ago yet now an imminent although still hard-to-believe reality. And the implications of this new reality will be dramatic too — almost all of them positive although not without some risks. Remember when the United States once trembled at the power of OPEC? In a short while, we may be running the thing.

Last month the well-respected International Energy Agency declared, “A new global energy landscape is emerging . . . redrawn by the resurgence in oil and gas production in the United States.” Within eight years, the America is expected to be the planet’s largest producer of oil. By 2030, we’ll be producing more than we need — exporting, not importing. The reason is technology. Techniques such as hydraulic fracturing have been invented and improved so that they can now economically unlock the vast stores of oil and natural gas across the middle of the country. The flyover states may finally start getting some respect.

It’s uncomfortable to admit this, but Sarah Palin had a point: The key to American energy independence is “drill, baby, drill” — or perhaps more correctly, “frack, baby, frack.”

Don’t count on this abundance making for cheaper gasoline, however. Oil is a global commodity, and, unless the United States decided to subsidize its price, it will still sell to the highest bidder. Nevertheless, the fears of supply disruptions and embargoes — remember the gas lines of 1973? — will largely disappear. Should some country decide to block the Strait of Hormuz, it’ll be other nations, not the United States, feeling the pain. (US law currently prohibits us from exporting oil. Even though it likely will be changed, we’ll still make sure our domestic needs are met first before shipping overseas.)

On the other hand, these newfound supplies may get us a cheaper military budget. Why is the United States so deeply involved in the Middle East but not in, say, Africa? Oil. For at least the last 60 years, its constant supply has been a paramount worry: without energy, the economy collapses. But that policy, while necessary, cost us blood, treasure, and integrity. Too often, we sacrificed our ideals to support a local strongman who could keep pipelines safe. And the wars, both far afield as well as attacks on our soil, have been a burden.

What happens when we no longer need Middle East oil? Foreign policy changes. Conflict is reduced, and our goals can, one hopes, become principled — less tarnished by economic exigencies, more focused on human rights.

There will be dramatic changes at home too. The states with oil reserves will see a huge bump in their economies (already shale-rich North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate in the country). The entire nation’s economy will benefit too. With energy supplies and prices abundant and stable, business will thrive.

There are risks, two of which are obvious. Fracking can contaminate underground water supplies (and uses lots of water to boot). That’s an issue of smart regulation, however. We already take huge risks with offshore drilling — BP oil, for example. Fracking’s potential impact is arguably less risky and also more manageable.

The other has to do with global climate change. The scarcity of oil (“peak oil” — the theory that supplies are about to diminish — is now, at least for this century, largely kaput) had the beneficial effect of driving us toward conservation and cleaner energy. With a glut of petrochemicals, will that push stop, causing greenhouse gas emissions to worsen? Possibly but not necessarily. The natural gas being extracted by fracking is actually cleaner than oil. Then too, every barrel of oil saved by conservation or alternative energy is a barrel sold overseas — meaning there’s an economic incentive for using renewables.

Those risks notwithstanding, our new world of energy should be a cause of great optimism. Many fear our time is over; the Great American Century finished. The renaissance of domestic oil and gas are of such magnitude, though, it may be another Great American Century is about to begin.

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Saudi Arabia still head of terror finance octopus

December 7, 2012

Saudi Arabia remains the world’s top financier of terrorism and sponsor of fundamentalist Islam throughout the Arab Spring.  U.S. media and Treasury officials don’t really like to discuss it in public, but a report earlier this fall from France 24 gives further confirmation, if you needed it, of the fact that Saudi petrodollars are behind the latest Salafist inroads in the Middle East.

Read it all:

How Saudi petrodollars fuel rise of Salafism

Since the 2011 Arab revolts, a loose network of underground zealots has evolved into a potent and highly vocal force. Behind the remarkable rise of Salafism lies the world’s leading producer of oil – and extremist Islam: Saudi Arabia.

By Marc DAOU

When protesters incensed by an anti-Muslim video scaled the walls of the US embassy in Cairo on September 11, tearing down the Stars and Stripes, a black flag could be seen floating above the battered compound. From Sanaa, in Yemen, to Libya’s Benghazi, the same black banner, emblem of the Salafists, soon became a ubiquitous sight as anti-US protests spread like wildfire across the Arab world. The 2011 Arab uprisings have served the Salafists well. With the old dictators gone, a once subterranean network of hardliners has sprung into prominence – funded by a wealthy Gulf patron locked in a post-Arab Spring rivalry with a fellow Gulf monarchy.

The ‘predecessors’

A puritanical branch of Islam, Salafism advocates a strict, literalist interpretation of the Koran and a return to the practices of the “Salaf” (the predecessors), as the Prophet Mohammed and his disciples are known. While Salafist groups can differ widely, from the peaceful, quietist kind to the more violent clusters, it is the latter who have attracted most attention in recent months.

In Libya and Mali, radical Salafists have been busy destroying ancient shrines built by more moderate groups, such as Sufi Muslims. Fellow extremists in Tunisia have tried to silence secular media and destroy “heretical” artwork. And the presence of Salafist fighting units in Syria has been largely documented. Less well known is who is paying for all this – and why.

‘Export-Wahhabism’

For regional experts, diplomats and intelligence services, the answer to the first question lies in the seemingly endless flow of petrodollars coming from oil-rich Saudi Arabia. “There is plenty of evidence pointing to the fact that Saudi money is financing the various Salafist groups,” said Samir Amghar, author of “Le salafisme d’aujourd’hui. Mouvements sectaires en Occident” (Contemporary Salafism: Sectarian movements in the West).

According to Antoine Basbous, who heads the Paris-based Observatory of Arab Countries, “the Salafism we hear about in Mali and North Africa is in fact the export version of Wahhabism,” a conservative branch of Sunni Islam actively promoted and practised by Saudi Arabia’s ruling family. Since the 1970s oil crises provided the ruling House of Saud with a seemingly endless supply of cash, “the Saudis have been financing [Wahhabism] around the world to the tune of several million euros,” Basbous told FRANCE 24.

Opaque channels

Not all of the cash comes from Saudi state coffers. “Traditionally, the money is handed out by members of the royal family, businessmen or religious leaders, and channelled via Muslim charities and humanitarian organizations,” said Karim Sader, a political analyst who specializes in the Gulf states, in an interview with FRANCE 24.

Until the Arab Spring revolts upended the region’s political landscape, these hidden channels enabled the Salafists’ Saudi patrons to circumvent the authoritarian regimes who were bent on crushing all Islamist groups. These were the same opaque channels that allegedly supplied arms to extremist groups, particularly in Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to Western intelligence officials.

Free education

Other, slightly less shadowy recipients of Saudi petrodollars include the numerous religious institutions built around the Arab world to preach Wahhabi Islam, as well as the growing list of Saudi satellite channels that provide a platform for radical Salafist preachers. A large share of the booty also goes to Arab students attending religious courses at the kingdom’s universities in Medina, Riyadh and the Mecca.

“Most of the students at Medina University are foreigners who benefit from generous scholarships handed out by Saudi patrons, as well as free accommodation and plane tickets,” said Amghar. “Once they have graduated, the brightest are hired by the Saudi monarchy, while the rest return to their respective countries to preach Wahhabi Islam”. According to Amghar, the members of France’s nascent Salafist movement follow a similar path.

Direct funding

Exporting its own brand of Islam is not the only item on Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy agenda. “While they see themselves as the guardians of Islamic doctrine and have always generously financed Muslim missionaries, the Saudis’ priority is not to ‘salafise’ the Muslim world,” explained Amghar. “Their real aim is to consolidate their political and ideological influence by establishing a network of supporters capable of defending the kingdom’s strategic and economic interests.”

Since last year’s Arab revolutions, these supporters have benefited from more direct – and politically motivated – funding. “With the region’s former dictators out of the way, Salafist groups have evolved into well-established parties benefiting from more official Saudi aid,” said Sader, pointing to the spectacular rise of Egypt’s al-Nour party, which picked up a surprising 24% of the vote in January’s parliamentary polls.

“The Saudis were genuinely surprised by the Arab Spring revolts,” said Mohamed-Ali Adraoui, a political analyst who specialises in the Muslim world. “Riyadh’s response was to back certain Salafist groups (…) so that it may gain further clout in their respective countries,” Adraoui told FRANCE 24.

Gulf rivalries

The Saudi strategy is similar to that adopted by its arch Gulf rival Qatar – a smaller but equally oil-rich kingdom – in its dealings with the Muslim Brotherhood, the other great beneficiary of the Arab Spring. “When it comes to financing Islamist parties, there is intense competition between Qatar and Saudi Arabia,” said Sader.