Monday, December 20, 2004

Financing of terrorism:

An (exceptional) article printed in Al-Sharq al-Awsat, an Arabic newspaper published in London (October 20, 2004) concludes that funds donated for charity are used for the financing of terrorism and nurturing of extremism

Follow the money

by Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed 1

Without funding, extremist groups would not have been able to spread all over the world in terms of ideology, organization and arms. [Likewise, they would not have been able] to deliver blows from Bali to Casablanca, using the most costly explosive materials available. Without money, they would not have been able to manage such a vast army of people: friends and associates, ideologists, organizers, supervisors, perpetrators, preachers, camps, positions, arms, print shops, hideouts, broadcasting stations and programs.

Contrary to current belief, ideology is not the secret behind the organization, nor is enthusiasm the fuel that keeps it running. Extremist movements are not popular resistance groups whose members meet each other at street corners, violate public order or block roads. Spontaneous resistance movements do not have missiles, car bombs, airline tickets, millions of dollars, rented houses, extensive smuggling networks, cells in dozens of countries, and satellite telephones.

The reason for that is the naivety and zeal of the writers and preachers who call upon the public to donate funds for various causes, including the war against the occupation in Palestine, Iraq and Chechnya. Ultimately, the money ends up in the nearby neighborhood and is used against them in [the Saudi cities of] Riyadh, Buraydah and Medina, and [the village of] Tamir.

When we have recently warned against uncontrolled funds, everyone was astonished, even though there were plenty of signs. Now, many cases have been uncovered where the people's money was found in the terrorists' pockets—Riyals and Dollars—some of it still inside charity boxes labeled “Palestine” and “Chechnya”.

Money laundering has not stopped and it will continue in the future, by means of [collecting funds] for humanitarian purposes for the poor and the needy, fast-breaking dinners, dialyses and excavation of wells; however, these funds ultimately end up in terrorists' houses. Even though officials say they have established rules and set inspectors, it will be almost impossible to monitor hundreds of associations and thousands of donors and collectors.

The statement made by arrested terrorist Al-Faraj 2, on the methods used to collect the good men's funds, is yet another proof that some of the charity funds were used for funding extremism, both on the ideological level as well as for acquiring arms. Therefore, it is necessary that the methods used by the associations for collecting donations be fully reassessed, rather than merely reorganized anew.

It is clear that this money is the source of the power of terrorism, for ideology without funds would remain an ideology of words and nothing but words. A person who wanted to commit suicide, then, whatever his purpose and interest in dying for his cause may be, could crash his car but not detonate it and kill hundreds of people.

The results of drying up the financial resources of terrorism were clearly seen in Egypt. When the government froze the assets of Al-Jama'ah al-Islamiyyah, the extremists were forced to rely on robbing jewelry stores to fund their activities, and when they could rob no longer their activities dwindled until, eventually, they surrendered. In the Persian Gulf countries, as long as the preachers associated with those movements are able to find sufficient money and enthusiastic youngsters, they will have the means to perpetrate acts of terrorism against those who previously assisted them.

1 Abd al-Rahman Rashed is a highly regarded journalist. Formerly, he was the editor-in-chief of Al-Sharq al-Awsat, where he currently writes a daily column.
2 Khaled Hamoud Jabar al-Faraj, an Al-Qaeda terrorist who operated in Saudi Arabia. Described as an administrative and logistic supervisor. He was arrested by Saudi authorities (January 2004) and interviewed on a Saudi television program (September 2004).

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