Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

A New Chapter in a Big Charade | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The Council of Senior Ulema in Saudi Arabia has taken a firm and sharp position on the issue of financing terrorism. The council has made an important and historical decision in this regard that was issued in the form of a fatwa that clearly bans such an action and proves it false. In this fatwa, the Council of Senior Ulema explained the types of financing in mind and clarified that terrorism is a crime that aims at spreading corruption, undermining security, causing the loss of life and money, and inflicting harm on private and public property, such as houses, schools, hospitals, factories, bridges, and planes. This is in addition to destroying the state’s public resources, such as oil and gas pipes, among other resources.

Financing terrorism is considered a way of assisting such a crime. Therefore, the Council of Senior Ulema has established the illicitness of funding terrorism and considered it a crime punishable under Islamic Shariaa. This includes the provision and collection of money and participation in such activities through any means. Saudi Arabia is credited for this decision, which represents a historic and unprecedented form of refutation in a world where an exceptional degree of vigilance and continued caution have become a necessity. Terrorism has no fixed shape. Its direct and indirect financers exist in society in different forms. They do not necessarily don ragged attire and hide in caves. They could be well known or unknown figures who hide behind queues of dazzling labels, astounding projects, and suspicious forms of charitable activities. These include contracting services, hospitals, donations, schools, and thank you advertisements posted under personal names or even under the names of mothers, uncles, or other relatives. Accordingly, it is now required to address terrorism in a more extensive and accurate way.

Today, the world has become a small interconnected village, in which borderlines intersect in the most amazing way. Accordingly, the statement voiced by a prominent US congressional leader regarding a Gulf financial case deserves scrutiny and careful consideration because of its importance.

In a letter he addressed to the US attorney general (this post corresponds to that of the minister of justice there), Congressman Peter King, ranking member of the US House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, expressed extreme concern and great fear. In his letter, King said that he is concerned about the existence of potential lapses in oversight over the national banking system that may allow US financial institutions to play a role in massive global money laundering operations that are run by a well-known figure in the Middle East. He directly mentioned the name of a Gulf figure implicated in charges of forgery, lying, fraud, theft, and money laundering filed by local, regional, and international parties.

Here is this issue building up like a snowball to include the US Congress, which has clearly become involved in it through one of its foremost members. Perhaps what concerns Congressman King is the fact that this legally pursued “figure” has used an account at the Bank of America in New York to perform transactions that were portrayed as suspicious. This is in addition to the bank not raising red flags to warn of the existence of tremendous violations and fears.

The member of Congress did not stop here, he also clarified that, what is even more serious is that, if the allegations against this pursued figure prove correct, then the banking system’s failure to detect such a money-laundering scheme from a high-risk region could serve as a presage for even more ominous events that might perhaps involve sources of terrorist financing. This is the new and serious subject matter under discussion. Now, leads are being gradually discovered through the papers, documents, and pieces of evidence that proved forgery and then uncovered the money-laundering scheme (the aforementioned figure is facing legal action on both charges in different parts of the world and by several parties). Nowadays, there is talk about the existence of possible question marks regarding the use of indirect means to finance terrorism through third parties.

This issue is real and terrifying. It is more serious than any scenario that one can imagine or any scene from an action or adventure movie. The Saudi Shariaa-based opinion and the US legislative action prove that, in achieving the higher interest, action is required when it comes to suspicious money. This is the responsibility of the international community as a whole. The invented story that has been based on bubbles of lies has almost reached its end. As a new page is turned, the “stinking” smell and “disgraceful” conduct become more apparent. It is such a bad end. However, as it has been said in the past, it is said at present that “righteousness will prevail,” regardless of how much “cosmetics” of goodness are applied to beautify evil. This is because evil will continue to be evil and is bound to perish.