via Rachel Ehrenfeld at the The Terror Finance Blog. There’s so much information that we’ll skip to the last section
* First published in “Saudi Arabia & the Global Islamic Terrorist Network”, Chapter 10, pp-123-151, PalgraveMacMillan, November 2011.
“Saudi Arabia today remains the location from which more money is going to terror groups and the Taliban—Sunni terror groups and the Taliban—than from any other place in the world.”
As with other contagious diseases, to successfully fight the spread of virulent Islamic radicalism, one must identify the origins of the outbreak (Saudi Arabia), as well as the contributing factors to its spread (Saudi oil revenues).
While Western cultures place a premium on coexistence, negotiation, compromise, and multiculturalism, Islam does not. Sharia—law—requires the subjugation or destruction of all non-Muslims. Its adherents value only the sharia, and join the jihad for its global domination, to create the ummah (Islamic nation). Exposing sharia and its radical proponents, be they states, organizations, or individuals, is crucial to our ability to protect ourselves and to take the necessary measures to curtail the spread of radical Islam.
Successive US Administrations have demonstrated willful blindness and recklessness vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia’s cultivation of Islamic radicalism and terrorism financing activities. The United States still trusts the Saudis to self-report on the progress of their counterterrorist financing efforts. When it comes to Saudi investments or contributions in the United States, the American government does not disclose information, making it difficult to discover the true extent of the Saudi financial, political, educational and social influence in America.
CAIR, ISNA, and other Saudi and Muslim Brotherhood organs enjoy ties to the American political establishment and are often portrayed in the media as religiously moderate and socially positive advocacy organizations. Legitimizing radicals as if they are moderates fosters the spread of terrorism throughout the world, including the new phenomenon of “homegrown” terrorism in the United States.
Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the Virginia-born psychiatrist, massacred 13 people at Fort Hood in 2009. Eyebrows were raised when Pennsylvania native and Muslim convert Colleen LaRose, a.k.a. “Jihad Jane,” pled guilty in 2011 for plotting to murder Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks because he had lampooned the prophet Muhammad in one of his cartoons. In upstate New York, the “Lackawanna Six” were local Yemeni-Americans who had attended al-Qaeda terrorist training camps in Kandahar prior to September 2001; they pled guilty to supporting terrorism in Buffalo two years later in a case that received little public attention.
FoxNews reported in March 2011 that data compiled by the Department of Justice indicated “there has been a class-one terrorism case with a direct link between U.S. citizens … and foreign terrorist groups on average every two weeks since January 2009.”
The mosques, Islamist NGOs and advancing homegrown terror starkly symbolize the depth of Saudi penetration into American civic life. Yet, because the US is so dependent on Saudi oil, little has been done to stop this penetration, and it is unlikely to be addressed anytime in the foreseeable future. The media, public and Congress should demand full transparency from the government and full disclosure of Saudi investments in and contributions to the US.
I. The US must impede the growth of the Saudis’ radicalizing influence on American education, business and politics. An important step towards achieving this most difficult task should be the ban of contributions to American educational institutions, nonprofits – including religious and charitable organizations from countries that prohibit religious freedom.
The 2010 annual report of the US Department of State on International Religious Freedom, and the 2011 annual report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, designated countries that have “engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom” as Countries of Particular Concern (CPCs). The list includes Iran, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Pakistan, Egypt, Eritrea, Afghanistan, China, to name a few. There is an additional Watch List of countries where the government engages in serious violations of or that tolerate violations of religious freedom.
While Saudi Arabia is the only country on the CPC list that enjoys “indefinite waiver of Presidential actions under section 407(a)(2) of IRFA,” it is also the largest contributor to US educational institutions, charities and non-governmental institutions (NGOs). Direct and indirect large contributions are also sent by the United Arab Emirates, Iran and Kuwait.
The influence of Saudi and Gulf largesse on the radicalization of their American recipients has been widely documented, but no attempts have been made to stem the flow of the money that advances the agendas of regimes, which openly oppose the fundamental democratic freedoms provided by the US Constitution. Moreover, such contributions fund the development of subversive elements that use our First Amendment rights to undermine those rights.
The US would not be the first to ban such contributions. In November 2010, when the Norwegian government halted construction of that Arctic Circle mosque due to the Saudi pledge, the foreign ministry spokeswoman explained, “It would be paradoxical and unnatural to approve financing coming from a country where religious freedom does not exist.”
Following in Norway’s footsteps, the US Congress should pass a bill that would require the disclosure of all contributions in cash and in kind to US charities, NGOs, educational and religious institutions from countries listed by the State Department as prohibiting religious freedoms or severely discriminating against religions other than the official religion. To deter Americans from receiving and/or soliciting such contributions, the US Justice Department should impose large fines and publish the violators’ names. This would be an important step towards curbing Islamic radicalization and influence.
II. The proposed Justice Against Terrorism Act (JASTA), an important bill to deter terrorism and provide justice for victims, was first introduced in December 2009 by Senators Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Charles Schumer (D-NY). The bill proposed removing the existing prohibition against suing foreign states or foreign officials civilly for damages related to acts of terrorism. JASTA would “expand the liability of foreign states for tortuous acts committed against U.S. citizens during a terrorist act and allow civil actions against a foreign state” and its officials, as well as “impose liability on any person who aids and abets an act of international terrorism, provides material support or resources to terrorist organizations, or conspires with terrorists.”. Increasing the courts’ jurisdictional reach would allow plaintiffs to sue for appropriate damages and help deter individual or corporate entities from transacting with terrorist groups. This critical bill never became a law, and, as of this writing, has yet to be reintroduced in Congress.
III. Saudi and Gulf terror financiers use libel laws and suits, mostly, but not only, in the UK, to silence investigations into their funding of radical Muslim organizations. After the 9/11 attacks, this tactic of lawfare known as libel tourism successfully chilled freedom of speech in the US and the world over. By pressing frivolous and extortionate libel suits in British courts, one Saudi billionaire, Khalid bin Mahfouz, alone managed to muzzle over 45 major media outlets and authors, including many Americans.
The threat of libel tourism to American authors and publishers ended in the summer of 2010. This was accomplished under costly and difficult personal efforts. The unwavering support from the Board of Directors of the American Center for Democracy, which I head—in particular, R. James Woolsey, Michael Mukasey, and Nicholas Rostow—and my brilliant, patient and generous attorney, Daniel Kornstein, made my struggle more tolerable. And the perceptive Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee with their dedicated staff, and many other supporters, made the passage of the SPEECH Act possible.
Rather than caving in after being threatened with a libel suit in London in 2005, I sued in New York, to block the enforcement of the English default judgment in the United States and then engaged in a multiyear campaign to pass remedial legislation at both the state and federal levels. New York, Illinois, Florida, California, Utah, Tennessee, Maryland and Louisiana all passed laws to protect against the enforcement of libel tourist suits. These, along with the federal SPEECH Act which became law in August 2010, provide protection to all American authors and publishers in print and on the Internet from frivolous libel suits abroad. No longer intimidated by the threat of foreign libel judgments, American investigative researchers are now free to take advantage of the uniquely strong protections for freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
IV. To curtail the frivolous libel suits in the US, by Saudi-linked organizations such as Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) file against their critics, Federal Anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) legislation is under consideration in Congress. Together with the SPEECH Act, the anti-SLAPP legislation will deter frivolous libel suits within and outside the US and help secure the free speech rights Americans need to protect their freedom of expression.
V. But the battle does not stop there. In addition to following the Saudi money trail, Americans should be encouraged to openly criticize and pressure their own government’s obfuscation of Saudi Arabia’s role as the world’s primary sponsor of radical Islam and Islamic terrorism. As the Wikileaks cable on Saudi Arabia shows, this cover-up rises to the highest levels of government—American presidents, their Cabinet members, government officials, and diplomats continue to publicly praise Saudi Arabia while fully aware of its role as the primary global terrorism funder.
VI. Cutting off the money lifeline to terrorists requires effective and evenhanded enforcement of counterterrorism and finance regulations. Instead, the US Government uses a selective process that allows activities of known terrorism fronts to continue. While authorities have arrested several members or affiliates of the primary Islamist organizations, the organizations remain open.
The terror ties of CAIR—a documented Muslim Brotherhood front—have long been laid bare in numerous court cases, the most recent of which is the aforementioned 2009 Holy Land Foundation (HLF) case. That case exposed HLF as a Hamas fundraising front, declared ISNA “one of the chief conduits through which the radical Saudi form of Islam passes in the United States,” and implicated both ISNA and CAIR as unindicted co-conspirators of HLF. At least 15 CAIR officials have been identified in terror investigations, including CAIR founder, Ghassan Elashi.
As the primary endorser of chaplains of the Muslim faith assigned to federal prisons, ISNA hand-picked imams to preach to inmates until the Bureau of Prisons discovered ISNA’s true agenda during the course of an investigation into the spread of radical Islam in American prisons and suspended the organization. CAIR and ISNA should be shut down.
The US Treasury should freeze the assets of such groups and similar seemingly nonprofit organizations that are, in actuality, tools for spreading fundamentalist Islam through cultural influence and the sponsorship of terrorism. Such organizations include a host of Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated entities, such as the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), the Muslim World League (MWL), and the Muslim Student Association (MSA). 
Congress should also demand an explanation of why the government allowed the reopening of an office of a terrorism front—the Florida office of the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), designated as a terrorist organization by the US Department of the Treasury. Another disturbing example was described in the September 2010 testimony of attorney Eric Lewis before the House Committee on Financial Services regarding the possible laundering of up to $1 trillion(!) through the United States by “the Money Exchange,” a Saudi-based remittance company.
Spearheaded by Maan al-Sanea, the chair of Saad Group and a major stakeholder in HSBC Bank, the Money Exchange operated internationally through a series of shell companies and correspondent banks, funneling billions of dollars annually through American bank accounts. The nature of the business and its transactional volume should have triggered close monitoring by US banks. Yet Lewis’s testimony reveals an utter lack of due diligence on the part of US financial institutions and the resulting silence on the part of the press and the American government.
Such silences, if unchallenged, will jeopardize the national security of the US and lead to the suppression the freedom and democracy that are unique to America. Saudi and other radical-Islam promoting regimes’ direct and indirect involvement in and support of terrorism must be fully exposed and addressed if we are to maintain our security protect our liberty.
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