Posts Tagged ‘scandal’

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Anti-graft board reveals Koran buying scandal

July 31, 2012

It’s never been clear who’s funding the recent, massive Koran giveaways in traditional non-Muslim countries such as Germany and Hong Kong, although religious ministries or charities from Islamic countries are the likeliest sponsors.

And if recent developments from Indonesia are any indication, one should also wonder how aboveboard the contracts between the Koran printers and the distributors have been.  From Foreign Policy:

In the name of Allah, most gracious and merciful, I steal

Posted By Endy Bayuni Friday, July 6, 2012 – 1:51 PM


Before performing any deed, a good Muslim would say “In the name of Allah, most gracious and most merciful” — either to make sure that he or she is not committing an act of sin, or asking God to show mercy in case a sin is committed. But would a Muslim say that before stealing, too? The bad ones probably do.

The Muslim politicians and bureaucrats involved in the latest scandal over the procurement of a Quran, no doubt would have said bismillah (in the name of God). But while they may believe God will be merciful, don’t expect the public to be so forgiving.

In Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, you don’t go any lower than stealing in the name of God.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has named Zulkarnaen Djabar, a Golkar Party member of the House of Representatives, and his son as suspects in the scandal. It’s possible, though, that the case may soon expand to include more suspects.

Zulkarnaen, a member of the House’s Budget Committee and Commission VIII (which deals with religious and social affairs), played an active role in pushing the House to approve hefty increases in the budget allocated for the government’s program to procure Qurans. Zulkarnaen had a personal interest in the project: His son, Dendi Prasetya, got the lucrative contract to supply Qurans to the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

Other Commission VIII members have since confessed that they each received over 500 copies of the Quran from the Ministry. None of them saw this as a kickback for securing the budget increases. Some claimed they were simply helping the Ministry to distribute Qurans (no doubt to appease voters before the 2014 elections).

Others claimed that the free, government-distributed Qurans would help promote moderation and tolerance in Islam as part of the campaign to fight radicalism. This claim has been refuted by an Islamic group that found that the government-issued Qurans carry translations that promote violence and radicalism.

At a cost of Rp 1 million ($106) each, these volumes of the Holy Book must be among the most expensive Qurans ever found in Indonesia.

Public reaction to the news has been largely muted — primarily because no one was really that surprised. It’s not the first time that God’s name has been corrupted. The Ministry of Religious Affairs has already earned a reputation as one of the most corrupt state institutions, according to a Corruption Eradication Survey conducted in 2011.

Rather than a fortress of morality, the Ministry of Religious Affairs has long since become a bastion of hypocrisy.

To many bureaucrats and politicians, God has become a commercial project, whether it’s procuring Qurans, or dispatching a huge Indonesian delegation to the haj pilgrimage in Mecca, the most lucrative of all government projects. Not surprisingly, the Ministry of Religious Affairs has jealously guarded this project in spite of repeated calls to leave it to an independent agency that would subject it to closer scrutiny to ensure better management.

Indonesia sends more than 200,000 pilgrims to Saudi Arabia each year, the largest contingent from any country. As far as business goes, this is a captive market over which the government holds a monopoly. The ministry rakes in huge profits from the project, and it now sits atop a $4 billion endowment.

The temptation is just too big…

There is more at this link, particularly about corruption in Indonesia’s hajj allowances.

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Fix for contract scandal: stop nation building

September 25, 2011

A guest on the Fox News Channel has offered a possible solution to the Afghanistan war contracting process that has helped line the pockets of the Taliban.  Kerry Patton of the National Security Leadership Foundation says the U.S. should cease foreign aid to Pakistan and stop nation building in Afghanistan.  The other members of a Fox News panel dismissed the solution as “a bit dramatic.”

A recent U.S. investigation found that the Taliban has received $360 million in U.S. funds since the invasion of Afghanistan.

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How Afghan contracts line Taliban pockets

September 23, 2011

In its August report, the U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting provided nuts & bolts descriptions of how American taxpayer dollars have ended up in Taliban hands.

One piece of visual evidence from the report shows how the Taliban shakes down Afghan subcontractors working on U.S. reconstruction contracts.  This letter is from the “Islamic Imarat of Afghanistan” (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan), which is how the Taliban refer to themselves.

Taliban message for construction company

The Commission elaborates on how the subcontracting problem takes place (internal citations omitted):

In Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. funds have been diverted to insurgents and warlords as a cost of doing business in the country. In Afghanistan, insurgents, warlords, or other groups control or contest parts of the country. They threaten to destroy projects and harm personnel. The Commission finds it particularly alarming that Afghan subcontractors on U.S.-funded convoys, road construction, and development projects pay insurgent groups for protection.

While there is no official estimate of the amount of U.S. funds diverted to insurgents, it certainly comes to a significant percentage of a project’s cost. The largest source of funding for the insurgency is commonly recognized to be money from the drug trade. During a March 2011 trip to Afghanistan, experts told the Commission that extortion of funds from U.S. construction projects and transportation contracts is the insurgent’s second-largest funding source.

Afghan contractors hired under the Host Nation Trucking program have turned to Afghan private security contractors. These Afghan subcontractors in turn pay off the insurgents or warlords who control the roads their convoys must use.

Almost 6,000 Afghan truck movements a month are funded under the program. Diversion on this scale did not occur in Iraq, where the U.S. military provided most of the escorts for similar convoys. Many contracts other than transportation provide opportunities for diversion:

  • Afghan subcontractors on a USAID community development program in Kunar Province were paying up to 20 percent of their total subcontract value to insurgents for “protection.” The USAID IG estimated that over $5 million of program funding was at risk of falling into insurgents’ hands.
  • A congressional staff report cited Afghan Taliban demands for pay-offs from businesses and households for electricity generated by USAID-funded projects. This occurs in Taliban-controlled areas like Helmand Province.

Because they directly strengthen the insurgency, diverted funds pose far more danger than other kinds of waste and have a disproportionately adverse impact on the U.S. effort.

H/t JihadWatch.