Defense & National Security

Financial Jihad

"A universal Islamic banking system is a jihad worth pursuing to abolish this slavery [to the West]," former Malaysian Prime Minister Mohamed Mahathir told a banking conference in Kuala Lumpur in November 2002. The conference was convened following the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. “to absorb the 11 September shock and reinforce the stability of Islamic finance.” Representatives of nine Islamic nations gathered to set up an Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) to “act as a global authority for Islamic banking and finance” and to compete with secular U.S. and international banking regulatory agencies.

Since 2002, internationally and domestically the Islamic impetus to impose Sharia-governed banking on the West has only increased.

Today, the Lariba American Finance House, based in Pasadena, California, operates its Islamic banking services in 28 states, modeled on the Sharia’aa Foundation guidelines of "His Eminence" Sheikh Yusuf al Qaradawi. The good sheikh endorses suicide bombing, wife-beating—and attacks against America. Lariba also sells Islamic mortgages to Fannie Mae.

In the investment markets, Dow Jones has since February 1999 operated the Dow Jones Islamic Markets indexes, which measure the market activity of "shariaa compliant" stocks. Advising the financial news organization on Sharia is a Board whose members include Syria’s Abdul Sattar Abu Ghuddah, Pakistan’s Taqi Usmani and Yusuf Talal DeLorenzo of the United States.

Abu Ghuddah and Taqi Usmani are also on the Shari’a Board of Al Baraka Investment and Development Corporation. The victims of 9/11 allege that this bank financed al Qaeda; although charges against the bank were dismissed, the victims contend that the bank, together with Saudi officials and businessmen, facilitated the attacks on America.

DeLorenzo is a member of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA), which according to Investigative Project Director Steven Emerson, harbors many terror-sympathizers.

  • FCNA Chairman Taha Jaber Al-Alwani, according to Emerson, is an unindicted co-conspirator in the U.S. case against alleged Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader Sami al-Arian. Court documents name Alwani as an official of several northern Virginia entities allegedly connected with terror financing and documents released in Al Arian’s trial show that Alwani funded PIJ fronts in Tampa.
  • Past FCNA Trustee Abdurrahman Alamoudi, recently named by the Treasury Department as an Al Qaeda financier, is now serving 23-years in prison for immigration fraud and illegal financial dealings with Libya; He also admitted participating in a plot to assassinate the then Saudi Crown Prince and new King Abdullah, and has vocally supported the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups.
  • FCNA member, former PIJ board member and Hamas supporter Sheikh Muhammad al-Hanooti gave a 1998 speech promoting jihad against the U.S. and the U.K. He said: "Allah will curse the Americans and British" and "Allah, the curse of Allah will become true on the infidel Jews and on the tyrannical Americans."
  • FCNA President Muzammil Siddiqui, at an October 28, 2000 Washington D.C. rally in Lafayette Park said: "America has to learn — if you remain on the side of injustice, the wrath of God will come!"

Commercial banks in the US are licensed either by the individual states or the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) and are supervised by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. If they accept deposits, they must also apply for FDIC insurance. Accordingly, they comply with the U.S. rules applicable to the particular type of bank. But U.S. banking officials see no ostensible reason why Islamic banks and products cannot be certified under the Federal and State banking laws, despite the fact that they are operating according to the Sharia, which does not, yet, correspond to U.S. laws.

U.S. regulators "are open to Islamic financial products," New York Federal Reserve Board Executive Vice President William L. Rutledge recently told the Arab Bankers’ Association of North America (ABANA). "Our mindset is to try to accommodate a variety of approaches to finance, focusing to the extent possible on the underlying substance—that is, focusing on what the implications for safety and soundness and consumer protection would be of a given product." He warned that the Fed "will hold Islamic financial institutions to the same high licensing and supervision standards to which we hold conventional ones" but at the same time was willing to "become more familiar with the principles and practices unique to Islamic finance…."

Internationally, economists and banking officials go even further. Leading British economist Sir Howard Davies, director of the London School of Economics and Political Science, told the 10th World Banking Islamic Conference in 2003 that Islamic banks should be integrated into the international banking system. Likewise, officials at the International Monetary Fund in 2002 received a prize in Islamic economics for their “outstanding contribution in this area.”

In the U.S., both large and small banks—from big international organizations like USB, HSBC and Citibank to small community banks such as Devon in Chicago—already offer Islamic products. Moreover, at least 20 Islamic banks operate in the U.S. According to Business Week, “From Jakarta to Jeddah, 265 Islamic banks and other financial institutions are now operating in some 40 countries, with total assets that top $262 billion.

The trend would not be alarming in itself were Muslims not so blatantly pursuing ulterior motives. But Islamic banking is not only banking: it is, according to Muslim scholars, a means of “financial jihad.”

Saudi banking scholar M. Nejatullah Siddiqi writes in a 1999 paper for Harvard University, “Islamic Finance and Beyond”:

Although the prohibition of interest can help cure the ills of contemporary finance, much more must be done to create a safer, saner financial world. Islamic economics incorporates altruism along with self-interest: the institution of waqf is a witness to the reality of individual behavior with a social purpose. The scope of morally inspired economic behavior, common today as well as in the past, needs to be broadened.

In another June 2001 speech, “Towards a Grass-root Based Islamic Finance for All,” Siddiqi said:

Islamic financial movement can now be placed in the broader perspective of disenchantment with the excesses of capitalism and the uncaring financial system ensuing from it. The quest for socially responsible financial management that yields a fairer distribution of benefits tends to become a universal endeavor.

All this fits well with bin Laden’s statement. The message could hardly be clearer. On Sept. 21, 2001, he laid out his plan to conduct economic warfare against the U.S. Bin Laden said:

The Muslim companies should become self-efficient in producing goods equal to the products of Western companies.” Economic boycott of the west is not possible unless economic self-sufficiency is attained and substitute products are brought out.

Why are Western banking and financial officials and regulators playing into bin Laden’s hands?

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