Tuesday 26 March 2013

Investigating Funders of Terrorism in Nigeria

As security agencies intensify efforts to uncover those behind the funding of terrorist activities in Nigeria, investigations have moved to accounts of foreign agencies, politicians and high caliber individuals and corporate entities in the country believed to possess the financial muscle to fund terrorism. The authorities are collaborating with banks and other financial institutions in the country to unearth a possible link.

Good and reasonable as the move is, we are of the opinion that the security agencies may lose out on the real financiers of terrorists and their activities in Nigeria if they keep looking down at the expense of looking ahead above the shoulders to see where the funds are gathered from and distributed to for the sake of prosecuting a what Islam term “holy war”.

Recently, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) through its Public Relations Officer in the 19 Northern States and Abuja Mr. Sunny Oibe made a startling revelation to the effect that 90% of northern politicians are Boko Haram members. Instead of analyzing the assertion in its proper perspectives many of us dismissed it with a wave of the left hand. But has it not done on us now that there is more in the disclosure than we can imagine as Boko Haram continues to widen both the scope and impacts of its nefarious activities? Lodgments into bank accounts associated with members of the group are usually in millions of naira if news reports are facts. Recently, we were told that a politician paid substantial amount of money to the group for what he claimed to be “purchase of ram”.

The beaming of searchlights on big shorts’ accounts are good starting points as the probability that these accounts could be used to launder money and finance terrorism is relatively high.

Embassies or foreign consulate accounts also pose higher risk in terrorism funding as experience has shown. Banks and other financial institutions need to take note of accounts where large currency transactions take place, especially if they involve countries categorized as high risk, such as Iran, Pakistan, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Mauritania, Yemen, Sudan, and other nations associated with Islamic fundamentalism. It is on record that some Nigerians are involved in terror-related activities and are believed to have been trained in Pakistan, Yemen, Mauritania, Mali, and so on.

Terrorism is a capital intensive venture, involving extensive planning, organization, recruiting, training, acquisition and provision of necessary technology, mobilization and deployment of the terrorists and enticing financial compensation and convincing promise of a place in paradise. Where do these terrorists get their funding from? Who are the sponsors of Boko Haram? How do these monies get to Boko Haram? If there are foreign sponsors, who are the local links and how do they get funds transferred from abroad?

As CAN rightly reveal, 90% of northern politicians are involved in funding Boko Haram, directly or indirectly. Providing the required funds for jihad or Al Jihad bi-al-Mal, is mandated by many verses of the Qur’an, including chapter 61 verses 10-11, which says, “you, should strive for the cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives”, and chapter 49 verse 15, implores, “The (true) believers are only those who… strive with their wealth and their lives for the cause of Allah”.

The legal justification for financial jihad was reiterated and popularized by a Qatar-based Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi in a lecture he delivered on May 4, 2002 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In that lecture, he emphasized that, “collecting money for the mujahideen (jihad fighters) was not a donation or a gift but a duty necessitated by the sacrifices they made for the Muslim nation”. Shari’a financing is aimed at promoting the Ummah or “Community of the Believers” (ummaht al-mu’minin) – the Muslim world.

The basic goal of the financiers of Boko Haram is to Islamize Nigeria and this is in total agreement with the main aim of Boko Haram which sees nothing good in the Nigeria state but bent on the proclamation of Islamic nation or Umman in the territory known as Nigeria.  

Shari’a finance is a weapon in the arsenal of perpetrators of a conceived Islamic nation or Umman supremacy worldwide. Both the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) which Nigeria was smuggled in as a member and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) which is also doing everything to commence operations in Nigeria operate on the principles prescribed by the Muslim Brotherhood and in accordance with the tenets of the shari’a. The primary purpose of which is to sustain “the growth and advancement of the Islamic way if life”, maintained Nasser M. Suleiman.

The secret behind all the frantic efforts made by the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi for the establishment of Islamic Banking in Nigeria is perhaps to advance shari’a financing and the coming Umman supremacy; to take over the Nigeria economy; and Islamize Nigeria.

It was Osama bin Laden who soon after the 9/11 called on Muslims all over the world to look for the pillars of the enemy’s economy. “Strike the key pillars of the enemy again and again and they will fall as one”. This instruction is today being carried out around the world by Muslim fundamentalists.

Zakat, we were made to believe, is to help the needy. But over the years Muslims have found the practice of Zakat as a channel through which to finance terrorism. According to Janine A. Clark in the book, “Islam, Charity, And Activism: Middle-Class Networks and Social Welfare in Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen”, Zakat is used to support the middle class, to strengthen its loyalty to the rulers, and to back their radical ideology.   

Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader, Yusuf al-Qaradawi also proclaims that “Declaring holy war is an Islamic duty, and fighting is the Way of Allah for which Zakat must be spent” and in his 1999 publication, Fiqh az-Zakat, al-Qaradawi he said, “The most important form of jihah today is serious, purposefully organized work to rebuild Islamic society and state and to implement the Islamic way of life in the political, cultural and economic domains. This is certainly most deserving of Zakat”.  

Muslim jihadist-terror groups such as Boko Haram are indeed prominent Zakat recipients. J.  Millard Burr and Robert O. Collins in their book, “Alms for Jihad: Charity and terrorism in the Islamic World”, observed that when Zakat, which is obligatory to all Muslims, is given “in the path of Allah,” it is given to fund jihad. There are seven broad categories of eligible recipients: the poor, converts, wayfarers, those in bondage or in debt, those committed to Allah for the spread and triumph of Islam, newcomers whose faith is weak, and new converts to Islam “whose hearts have been reconciled. “Moreover, Zakat may be used to support those who administer it”, (emphasis mine). 

Revealing how charity funds or Zakat are used Saudi Arabia’s Secretary-General of the Official Muslim World League Koran Memorization Commission was quoted by Rachel Ehrenfeld and Alyssa A. Lappen in their book, “The Cure for the Wahabbi Virus”, to have said that, “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.”

Today, the Islamic world is building thousands of mosques, Islamic centers, and Islamic studies programmes in universities across Nigeria to advance Umman’s power and undermine western education and legal structures and to replace them with the Shari’a and Nigerians are looking the other way. There are more mosques and Islamic centers springing up in all parts of western and eastern Nigeria now than ever before. Have you ever wondered “why”?

Many states in Nigeria today especially in the north and west have perfected state Zakat (and Sadaqat) as channels, probably, through which finances move to the jihad fighters who they believe are prosecuting the “holy war”.

Recently, the Sokoto Zakat and Endowment Committee was said to have disbursed N20 million to less privileged persons in the state. This is a welcome development that deserves commendation but for security reasons we are more concern with the sources of such funds and the end uses of the Zakat money than the moral and spiritual justifications which may both be detrimental to Nigeria as a country.

Similar public and private Zakat and or Sadaqat organizations exist in most states of the federation using one ruse name or the other, or operating as a non-governmental organization (NGO) but actually fronting the funding of terrorism in the country. Bank accounts and other monetary transactions of such bodies need to be properly scrutinized for both financial links/funding and miscellaneous supports of terrorism activities in Nigeria or elsewhere. 

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