Posts Tagged ‘Arab Spring’


Full steam ahead for Salafi freight train

August 12, 2013

Money, guns, and Islamist fanaticism are flowing out of Saudi Arabia faster than the oil from the pumps that fund it.  Rebels have instigated and exploited the instability of the Arab Spring to spread oil-funded Wahhabi and Salafi ideology and turn Middle East and African countries into full-fledged sharia states ruled by Muslim Brotherhood political parties.

Thanks to Arye Leonid Glozman for sending in a link to commentary on the subject by Dr. Murtaza Haider of Ryerson University after reading a new report prepared for a committee of the European Parliament:

European Parliament identifies Wahabi and Salafi roots of global terrorism

Murtaza Haider

Updated 2013-07-22

It is not merely the faith or oil that flows out of Saudi Arabia. The oil-rich Arab state and its neighbours are busy financing Wahabi and Salafi militants across the globe.

A recent report by the European Parliament reveals how Wahabi and Salafi groups based out of the Middle East are involved in the “support and supply of arms to rebel groups around the world.” The report, released in June 2013, was commissioned by European Parliament’s Directorate General for External Policies. The report warns about the Wahabi/Salafi organisations and claims that “no country in the Muslim world is safe from their operations … as they always aim to terrorise their opponents and arouse the admiration of their supporters.”

The nexus between Arab charities promoting Wahabi and Salafi traditions and the extremist Islamic movements has emerged as one of the major threats to people and governments across the globe. From Syria, Mali, Afghanistan and Pakistan to Indonesia in the East, a network of charities is funding militancy and mayhem to coerce Muslims of diverse traditions to conform to the Salafi and Wahabi traditions. The same networks have been equally destructive as they branch out of Muslim countries and attack targets in Europe and North America.

Despite the overt threats emerging from the oil-rich Arab states, governments across the globe continue to ignore the security imperative and instead are busy exploiting the oil-, and at time times, blood-soaked riches.

The European Parliament’s report though is a rare exception to the rule where in the past the western governments have let the oil executives influence their foreign offices. From the United States to Great Britain, western states have gone to great lengths to ignore the Arab charities financing the radical groups, some of whom have even targeted the West with deadly consequences…


Article: “NGOs are now reemerging as sponsors of jihadi activity”

March 11, 2013

The important article in Foreign Policy by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Aaron Y. Zelin highlighted in Money Jihad‘s post yesterday deserves some further attention.

Gartenstein-Ross and Zelin’s analysis is insightful on the escalation of relief aid activities by Islamist rebel groups and Islamic charities themselves in Arab Spring countries.  But just one little quibble on their their statement that NGOs are “reemerging” as sponsors of jihad:  “reemerging” denotes that the phenomenon if Islamic charities funding terrorism stopped at some point and has resumed.

It would indeed be fair to say that there were several significant setbacks for terrorist financing in the 2000s:  the closure of seven terror-financing Islamic charities by the Bush administration after 9/11, the successful prosecution of the Hamas-funding Holy Land Foundation, and the defeat of Al Qaeda in Iraq and their Iraqi financial network by coalition forces during the Iraq war.

But apart from those successes, there hasn’t been much of a lull in the flow of petrodollars to fund Wahhabi Islam and terrorist operations since Saudi sponsorship first ramped up in the 1970s.

It may appear as a reemergence because the Arab Spring is such a visible reminder of the power of the terror financiers to arm and fund Islamist rebels.  In any case, and whatever verbs we use, it’s good that mainstream counter-terror observers are recognizing that Muslim charities continue to play the starring role in the financing of terrorism in the world today.


Islamist rebels using charity for jihad

March 10, 2013

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Aaron Y. Zelin have compiled some very important research in a new Foreign Policy article entitled “Uncharitable Organizations” about the growing sponsorship of jihadist activities overseas by non-governmental organizations.  They write that Islamic charities are using humanitarian aid in countries with Islamist movements including Tunisia, Syria, and Mali in order to 1) strengthen the dependence of the populations on their services, and 2) to provide a cover for their militant activities.

Specifically, Ansar al-Sharia Tunisia (AST) and Syrian Islamic Front (SIF) rebels are accepting aid from Middle Eastern charities that have all been previously linked to terror financing including the Turkish charity IHH, Kuwaiti charity RIHS, and Qatar Charity.  Qatar Charity itself is also active in Mali working in an apparently parallel fashion with rebel fighters.

Money Jihad has taken the liberty of boiling down their article into a few brief slides about three of the groups Gartenstein-Ross and Zelin discuss:

Readers are encouraged to read the original article at Foreign Policy online.


Ten biggest terror finance news stories of 2012

December 31, 2012
  1. Taliban funding remains intact despite international sanctions
    Reports in 2012 revealed that the Taliban’s funding remains intact, that none of the Taliban’s assets have been blocked by U.S. sanctions, that the Taliban retains its taxing authority over Afghans, and that the UN sanctions only 18 percent of the Taliban’s provincial shadow governors in Afghanistan.
  2. Islamic charities remain top terror financiers
    It’s questionable to even call this “news,” but understanding the role of Muslim charities in funding jihad, of which we saw multiple examples throughout 2012, is the Rosetta stone to bankrupting terrorism.  Instances of Muslim charities behaving badly cropped up, and in some cases have worsened, in both in the Middle East and in the West this year.In the Islamic world, the Saudi charitable foundation IIRO, whose branches in Indonesia and the Philippines were previously blacklisted by the U.S. for funding terrorism, is opening seven new branch offices.  In Bangladesh, the chief of the terrorist organization Jamatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) revealed that Muslim Aid, WAMY, the Muslim World League, the Qatari Charitable Society, and the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society, are among the primary donors to his jihad.  Read the rest of this entry ?

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?


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.


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.


Obama’s 10 biggest terror finance blunders

November 5, 2012

  1. Promising to make it easier for Muslims to give zakat.  Pres. Obama has tried to remove the so-called “chilling effect” that George W. Bush, the Patriot Act, the Treasury Department, and law enforcement “created” by closing down Islamic charities that funded terrorism.  Rather than building on the Bush administration’s successful prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation for sponsoring Hamas, Obama won’t prosecute Islamic Relief, he won’t prosecute CAIR, he won’t investigate ISNA or NAIT, and the IRS has been derelict in stripping suspicious Islamic organizations of their tax-exempt status.
  2. Funding the Arab Spring that has led to the rise of Muslim Brotherhood dominated governments in the Middle East who behave against U.S. national security interests.
  3. Minimizing our energy independence from Middle East oil by reducing oil production on federal lands and waters, rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline, impeding hydraulic fracturing permitting, etc.
  4. Making little to no progress on bankrupting the Taliban.
  5. Dragging his feet in adopting sanctions against Al Qaeda and Taliban affiliates such as the Pakistani Taliban and the Haqqani network. Read the rest of this entry ?

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,157 other followers