Saudi Dollars and Jihad
By Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld
October 24, 2005
Earlier this month, President George W. Bush finally declared that our war is with Radical Islam.
He said: “In pursuit of their goals, Islamic Radicals are empowered by helpers and enablers…They are strengthened by front operations – such as corrupted charities – and those who aggressively fund the spread of Radical, intolerant versions of Islam.” Defeating “the murderous ideology of the Islamic Radicals,” he stated, is the “great challenge of our century.”
This plague cannot be eliminated by appeasement, dialogue, or negotiated solutions. The religious and philosophical justifications for promoting Jihad – which means holy war – around the world, is found in the Quran, says Dr. Hussein Shehata, a leading Islamic scholar at al-Azhar University in Cairo. According to Dr. Shehata, the following terms in the Quran seek to justify the spreading of Jihad: in Arabic, Al-Jihad bil-Lisan, which means Jihad of the Tongue, and al-Jihad bil-Qalam, Jihad of the Pen, both combine to promote Jihad.
These commands are complemented by Al-Jihad bil-Mal – the Financial Jihad – which is raising and contributing money to support the Jihad warriors – known as the Mujahideen. The Islamists of al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hizballah – from Egypt and Saudi Arabia to Spain, England, Africa, Asia, South America, the Caribbean, the U.S. and Canada – vow to convert the world to Islam. As documented by Jonathan Dahoah Halevi, Director of Orient Research Group in Toronto, “if a country does not allow the propagation of Islam to its inhabitants, then the Muslim[s] ... would be justified in waging Jihad against that country.”
President Bush declared repeatedly that, “money is the lifeblood of terrorist operations.” Stopping the flow of money to the terrorists would stop the Financial Jihad which feeds the efforts to revive the Islamic Caliphate. It would also stop the financing of terror attacks, hate propaganda and education, and their undermining of democracy. In Israel, Financial Jihad has funded more than 26,000 terror attacks in the last five years, including 144 suicide attacks.
This comes to at least 14 attacks a day in a country the size of Vancouver Island. While acknowledging the dangers of Radical Islam, and the support its propagators receive from “authoritarian regimes – allies of convenience like Syria and Iran,” the President neglected to mention Saudi Arabia, and the illegal drug trade that provides major financial resources for Islamist and other terrorist organizations worldwide.
Despite the oil crisis, we can no longer pretend that the Saudis are our allies in the war against Radical Islam. Continuing to do so only sets us up for failure. Former U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director James Woolsey testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Government Reform in April this year that “Some $85-90 billion has been spent from sources in Saudi Arabia in the last 30 years, spreading Wahhabi beliefs throughout the world.”
The U.S. National Intelligence Reform Act of December 2004 requires development of a Presidential strategy to confront Islamic extremism, in collaboration with Saudi Arabia. So far, says a September Government Accounting Office (GAO) report, U.S. agencies have been unable to determine the extent of Saudi Arabia’s domestic and international cooperation.
Indeed, the Saudis continue to fund terror: in August, Y'akub Abu Assab, a senior Hamas operative, was captured after he opened the Judea regional Hamas Communication Center in East Jerusalem. Assab transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars, as well as operational instructions from Hamas headquarters in Saudi Arabia to Hamas operatives in the West Bank and Gaza for terror attacks in Israel, as well as funds for the families of suicide bombers.
On Iqra TV, on August 29, 2005, Saudi Arabia's secretary-general of the official Muslim World League Koran Memorization Commission, Sheikh Abdallah Basfar, urged Muslims everywhere to fund terrorism. He said: "The Prophet said: 'He who equips a fighter -- it is as if he himself fought.' You lie in your bed, safe in your own home, and donate money and Allah credits you with the rewards of a fighter. What is this? A privilege.”
Under U.S. pressure, Saudi Arabia declared repeatedly that it would close some charities identified as spreading Wahhabism and funding terrorism. However, the GAO report notes that “in May 2005, ...it was unclear whether the government of Saudi Arabia had implemented its plans.” Despite Saudi promises to establish a new National Commission for Relief and Charity Work Abroad, the GAO said:” “as of July 2005, this commission was not yet fully operational.”
At least two members of the Saudi government, Riyadh Governor Prince Salman and Minister of Defense Prince Sultan, are sponsors of the Saudi High Commission, which evidence in the 9/11 victims lawsuits shows “has long acted as a fully integrated component of al-Qaeda’s logistical and financial support infrastructure.” Moreover, the lawsuits detail that “the Sept. 11 attacks were a direct, intended and foreseeable product of [the High Commission’s] participation in al-Qaeda’s jihadist campaign.”
Princes Salman and Sultan are also affiliated with the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), which “had been involved in terror plans and plots and had purposely directed its activities against the United States.” The Princes have also been affiliated with the Saudi Charity al- Haramain, whose U.S. branches were shut down.
The most important finding by the GAO, however, was buried in a footnote. It says: “the distinction between the [Saudi] government’s support and funding, versus that provided by entities and individuals, especially in the case of Saudi charities’ alleged activities, is not always clear.”
While the U.S. Treasury Department is obligated to monitor funders of terrorism, the GAO reports that Treasury is not fulfilling its duty, in that Treasury “does not identify, monitor, or counter the support and funding or the global propagation of Islamic extremism as it relates to an ideology.” This ideology, according to the GAO, “denies the legitimacy of non-believers and practitioners of other forms of Islam, and that explicitly promotes hatred, intolerance, and violence…”
Meanwhile, legal systems in the West are doing their best: the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in California decided on October 20th that the U.S. can designate foreign organizations as terrorist groups and bar Americans from financially backing them—in a case involving money raised for the Iranian terrorist group, Mujahedin-e Khalq.
Similarly, The European Court of Justice ruled on September 22, 2005 that the EU has the right to freeze assets belonging to suspected terrorists on a United Nations list. The case was brought by the Saudi based Al Barakaat International Foundation and two individuals, Ahmed Ali Yusuf, a U.K. citizen of Pakistani origins, and Yassin Abdullah Kadi, the Saudi who headed the Muwafaq foundation. Both organizations and individuals were identified as funding al-Qaeda.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting, which was held in Paris earlier this month, and the many other conferences devoted to terrorism financing, have issued self-congratulatory statements and plans for further meetings. But as important as the statements, new laws and banning of terrorist organizations are, they are useless as long as the financing of Radical Islam is allowed to flourish. Indeed, without the political will to stop the direct and indirect financing of terrorism, no law or convention will stop it. Until we face up to sources of terrorist money being provided or condoned in various ways by our putative allies, we will continue to issue more lame statements condemning future attacks without implementing real measures that can protect our country. We have the ability to end the plague of terrorism if we only target the funding that makes it possible. We owe it to future generations to do so.