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What Drives Saudi Arabia to Persist in Terrorist Financing


No. 531 23 Iyar 5765 / 1 June 2005
What Drives Saudi Arabia to Persist in Terrorist Financing?
Al-Jihad bi-al-Mal - Financial Jihad Against the Infidels

Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi

The U.S. offensive against terrorism has succeeded in reducing the extent of
global terrorism. However, under the surface, the financial channels that
the arteries of radical Islamic movements from Hamas to the Chechens
to operate. U.S. pressure has managed to force Islamic financiers to alter
their pattern of operations, but the substance of their support persists -
a financial jihad that backs the wider global jihad against the infidels.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states remain the most significant source of
flowing to the Islamist movements. New documents found at "charitable
foundations" linked to Hamas, as well as a careful examination of the
Palestinian press, indicate a continuing flow of funds directly from
Saudi organizations to these foundations, which were declared by both Israel
and the U.S. as terrorist organizations.

Palestinian Authority officials recently confirmed that Saudi Arabia
to fund charitable foundations controlled by Hamas. The World Assembly for
Muslim Youth (WAMY) and the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO)
are active in transferring these funds. Captured documents show that the
charity al-Haramain transferred funds to the al-Quran and a-Sunna Society in
Qalqilia in August 2003 - almost two months after President George W. Bush
announced in a summit meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, that he had
assurances from Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah and other Arab leaders
that they would halt all financial assistance to terrorist organizations.

In a later captured document, dated 8 February 2004, the Hamas-linked Idhna
foundation in the Hebron area thanked al-Haramain for its assistance. The
chairman of the al-Haramain administrative council was the Saudi Minister of
Islamic Affairs, a member of the Saudi cabinet.

The financial support funneled to Hamas charitable societies under the
of "humanitarian aid to the needy" is part of a financial jihad, subsidizing
the military operations of the terrorist group. The Hamas civilian
infrastructure is comprised of economic, educational, and social
that serve the terrorist wing. Intelligence services should devote more
attention and resources to uncovering how terrorist organizations avoid
international control mechanisms by operating through "innocent" front
Western financial institutions must not allow the transfer of funds that
nourish the global jihad.

Suicide Attacks in the Path of Allah

Islamic scholars who are considered to be mentors of terrorist movements
attribute great importance to "suicide attacks in the path of Allah,"
describing them as the highest level of jihad against the "enemies of
One prominent radical Saudi scholar, Safar bin Abd al-Aziz al-Hawali,1 in
"call upon the Muslims to salvage their brothers in Palestine" (January
termed the armed intifada "the pinnacle of jihad," explaining: "The jihad of
our brothers is glorious jihad in the path of Allah, designed to defend the
Islamic Holy Places, to remove injustice, and to restore their land and the
Muslims' land."2

Since September 2000, the unprecedented phenomenon of Palestinian suicide
bombing attacks has offered an inspiring model of jihad for many Islamic
terrorist movements. The Israeli General Security Services (GSS) reports
during 2000-2004, there were 138 suicide attacks employing explosive belts
booby-trapped cars, as well as 431 thwarted attempts. This is in addition to
many hundreds of shooting attacks by Palestinian terrorists that were also
suicide attacks.

Hamoud al-Oqala al-Shuaibi,3 the late Saudi scholar whose Islamic edicts
adopted by Hamas and al-Qaeda, determined that "the highest and most exalted
degree [in jihad] is the self-sacrificing jihad [martyrdom], as it is the
difficult for warriors, demanding of them the greatest self-sacrifice of
martyrdom. The reward promised by God to the martyrs is well-known [marriage
to 72 virgins, the right to intercede with God to bring 70 family members to
Heaven, and enjoying the pleasures of Heaven] and is based on the premise
[self-sacrificing jihad] brings about the decisive submission of the
enemy...imposing terror on him and breaking his spirit. Thus, victory is

Financial Jihad in the Quran

The definition of jihad in Islam, is not confined merely to waging war with
arms, but includes several other aspects of support for "holy war." Islamic
scholars specify these as:

Al-Jihad bi-al-Lisan - Jihad of the Tongue, and al-Jihad bi-al-Qalam - Jihad
of the Pen, namely preaching and calling for jihad

Jihad al-Nafs - Jihad of the Soul - the personal struggle to avoid sin and
adhere to Allah's commandment

Al-Jihad bi-al-Nafs - Self-sacrificing Jihad in the path of Allah

Al-Jihad bi-al-Mal - Financial Jihad: fundraising for needy Muslims and
supporting the jihad warriors - the mujahideen

The Islamic sources of financial jihad are found in the Quran, often
intertwined with self-sacrificing jihad. The importance attributed to
financial jihad in Islam is illustrated in the following Quran verses:

"Go forth, light-armed and heavy-armed, and strive with your wealth and your
lives in the way of Allah! That is best for you if ye but knew." - al-Tawba
(Repentance), Chapter 9, verse 41

"Those who believe, and have left their homes and striven with their wealth
and their lives in Allah's way are of much greater worth in Allah's sight.
These are they who are triumphant." - al-Tawba (Repentance), Chapter 9,

"O ye who believe! Shall I show you a commerce that will save you from a
painful doom? Ye should believe in Allah and His messenger, and should
for the cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives. That is better for
you, if ye did but know." - al-Saff (the ranks, battle arrays), Chapter 61,
verse 10-11

"The (true) believers are only those who believe in Allah and His messenger
and afterward doubt not, but strive with their wealth and their lives for
cause of Allah. Such are the sincere." - al-Hujraat (the private apartments,
the inner apartments), Chapter 49, verse 15

"Alms are only for the poor and the needy, and the officials (appointed)
them, and those whose hearts are made to incline (to truth) and the
of) captives and those in debt and in the way of Allah and the wayfarer; an
ordinance from Allah; and Allah is knowing, Wise." - al-Tawba (Repentance),
Chapter 9, verse 60

All Islamic scholars are unanimous in their interpretation of these verses
regarding the centrality and importance of financial jihad as part of
jihad commandment to Muslims. Some interpretations note the verses' internal
order, in which "wealth" precedes "lives," as evidence of the significance
financial jihad and, in certain circumstances, its precedence over
self-sacrificing jihad. In his Islamic edict on jihad in Chechnya,
determined that the "significance of financial jihad is not inferior to
self-sacrificing jihad, being even more important."5

Dr. Hussein Shehata,6 a professor at al-Azhar University in Cairo, explains
the uniqueness of the financial jihad commandment as being "a trial of
strength of Muslim faith" and "a means to purify the soul from stinginess."
Through financial jihad, according to Shehata, Allah gives wealthy Muslims
opportunity to allocate some of their money for da'awa (literally, the call
for Islam), the Islamic effort to teach or to convert people to Islam.7

Dr. Ajeel Jassem al-Nashami,8 secretary general of the International
Organization for Zakat (Islamic alms) in Kuwait, argued that donations made
Muslims for zakat should be funneled to finance jihad warfare in Palestine
against Israel. In his interpretation of the Quranic verse (al-Tawba,
9, verse 60), he noted that Allah determined eight ways for using zakat for
the benefit of Muslims, four of them designated to support jihad and the
four aimed at helping the needy.9

Praising the merits of financial jihad, Muslim scholars also rely on Islamic
tradition (hadith) attributed to the Prophet Mohammad, which assures Muslims
who donate money for jihad the same reward in Heaven as the mujahideen
themselves. According to hadith: "One [Muslim] who equips a person on his
to raid [the enemy's camps] in Allah's path [jihad] is considered to have
same status as the raider [mujahid]. One [Muslim] who substitutes [the
concerning his family and [taking care of their needs] with good deeds is
considered to have the same status as the raider [mujahid]."10

In practical terms, financial jihad is designed to sustain self-sacrificing
jihad and enable it to achieve its goals on the battlefield. Dr. Abdullah
Qadiri al-Ahdal,11 a Saudi professor at al-Medina University, referring to
duty to support the Palestinian mujahideen, determined that "financial jihad
applies to all of us [Muslims] in accordance with each person's capability.
excuse can dismiss anyone from donating money to the mujahideen and their they are in urgent need of food, medication, clothing,
and other [basic] necessities of life."12 Al-Ahdal views financial jihad as
vital means for the mujahideen in financing their military activity
(purchasing weapons, etc.) and at the same time in securing proper social
conditions for the families of the mujahideen, who are willing to sacrifice
their lives for the sake of Islam.

In another fatwa, Hussein Shehata argues that financial jihad is designed to
assure mutual indemnity among Muslims and the commitment of Muslims to their
warriors. According to Shehata, Muslims are committed to "financially
the families of the mujahideen who joined the call for jihad and left behind
them their women and children....They [the families] are in desperate need
money and basic necessities of life such as food, drink, and accommodation."
Shehata explains that the financial jihad commandment given by God is
"to calm the mujahideen's [worries] by demonstrating that there are those
[Muslims] who practice financial jihad and do not skimp on money for their
families, even if they have fallen on the battlefield or their houses are
damaged or destroyed."13

In Seventy Ways to Support the Chechen Jihad, published on the official
website of the Chechen mujahideen, the importance of financial and material
donations is emphasized. The Chechen mujahideen called upon Muslims to
jihad in Chechnya against the "Russian enemy" in any way possible, and to
begin by transferring financial and material support.14
39 Principles of Jihad, a book by Mohammad bin Ahmad al-Salem15 that appears
on websites affiliated with al-Qaeda, offers readers an opportunity to
comprehend the broad meaning of the concept of jihad as interpreted by
scholars. Jihad is not only an expression of violent action against
but comprises diverse acts that every Muslim is commanded to perform in
to sustain jihad. Eight of the 39 principles deal with various aspects of
financial jihad:

Financing jihad - Muslims can join in jihad by donating to jihad and the
mujahideen. The donation's value is determined by its quality and
and not only by the amount of money given.

Supplying the fighters' needs - Believers who are unable to take part in
(for instance, women and the handicapped) can perform their duty by
money and equipment to the mujahideen. By doing so, the donor is considered
mujahid and deserves the same reward.

Taking care of the mujahideen's family - Believers who support the
mujahideen's family are considered mujahid and deserve half of their reward.
On the other hand, neglecting the mujahideen's family may bring them
misfortune and death by the hand of God.

Assisting the families of the fallens - by supplying the special needs of
orphans and widows.

Assisting the families of prisoners and wounded warriors - by supplying

Collecting funds for the mujahideen - Money is the lifeline of jihad. Its
importance also stems from the action of gathering donations, which arouse
spirit of jihad in the hearts of believers. There are many ways to carry out
this duty: at mosques, public venues, family gatherings, charity events,
monthly donations, or by urging the wealthy to open their hearts to the

Granting charity donations to the mujahideen - who enjoy priority in Islam.

Financing medical treatment for wounded mujahideen.16

Hamas Sees Financial Jihad as Indispensable

Hamas leaders and sages make clear that financial jihad is indispensable for
sustaining the "military" aspects of the intifada, including suicide
Mohammad Hassan Sham'a,17 one of the founders of Hamas and a senior leader
responsible for its social and economic infrastructure, emphasized that the
"social aspect (e.g., the activity of Hamas societies) in the intifada is no
less important than public relations or political aspects, as it is the
of power for the intifada...and its lifeline for steadfastness and
confrontation with the enemy....The material support provides the strength
persist and escalate the intifada.18 He described Arab support for the
"mujahideen in Palestine" and the Paletinian cause as "support for the Hamas
movement to pursue jihad."19

Yusuf Qardawi, a well-known Egyptian scholar and preacher and prominent
spiritual guide who today resides in Qatar,20 encourages Muslim believers in
his sermons to open their hearts in every possible way, including
to sustain the Palestinian intifada. In his eyes, this is the only way to
bring about the destruction of Israel and the establishment of an Islamic
state in Palestine. "We should replant in the [Muslim] nation's [mind] the
passion of death, the desire for self-sacrifice in the path of
youth, the youth of Hamas and Islamic Jihad as well as the Fatah rebels, are
those who terrorize the Zionist entity."21

Qardawi regards financial jihad as the main tool for supporting the jihad of
self-sacrifice - suicide attacks committed by men and women alike, which
legitimized in his Islamic edicts.22 He said: "Our brothers [in Palestine]
commit the Jihad bi-al-Nafs sacrifice themselves every day....The
[Palestinian] mother when notified that her son has fallen in the path of
Allah...utters trilling cries of joy...and the fathers...react by reciting
verses praising Allah. This is the [Islamic] nation which sacrifices martyrs
every day." Qardawi ruled on this basis that Muslims should adopt reciprocal
actions by "sacrificing the money for them [the mujahideen]."

In this context, he defines the activities of the Islamic charitable
sustaining the intifada as a "new type of jihad," "financial jihad," through
which financial support is guaranteed to the martyrs' families, Palestinian
prisoners and detainees, and every Palestinian whose property is damaged
during the conflict."23 ardawi further argues that financial jihad, with its
various financial and social aspects, is the central mainstay for preserving
the flames of jihad during the intifada.

Qardawi has criticized the Arab regimes for their passivity, saying: "If the
Arab states cannot wage a war [against Israel]...they should at least
the intifada. The resistance should persist, the intifada should persist.
intifada has its martyrs, wounded, handicapped, and detainees....Many
[of the intifada] need long as the battle continues, it is
essential to support it with money." Qardawi illustrates his point by
mentioning the Qatari Id bin Mohammad charitable society as an example of
"praiseworthy" activity of charitable societies in support of the
people, and thus focuses attention on the importance of these societies in
sustaining the intifada.24

Saudi Financial Support for Hamas

The Saudi Committee to Support the al-Aqsa Intifada ("the Saudi committee")
provides an example of the concept of financial jihad for the Saudi regime.
The committee, established by royal decree several weeks after the intifada
erupted in October 2000, has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars
by Saudi individuals and institutions to Palestinian charitable societies,
most of which are controlled by Hamas. These donations are distributed to
several categories of Palestinian beneficiaries: "martyrs' families"
(including families of suicide bombers), prisoners and detainees' families,
the wounded and handicapped, needy families, and Palestinians whose property
was damaged or destroyed during the intifada. The financial support bestowed
by the Saudi committee was transferred directly to the Palestinian
beneficiaries and the charitable societies, which are mostly front
organizations of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Saudi scholars supplied the
justification for the committee by defining the intifada as a "legitimate
jihad," thus ruling that Muslims have a duty to financially support the
Palestinian intifada.25

Saudi financial support for Hamas charities has not ceased, even after a
commitment to President Bush in June 2003. At the Sharm el-Sheik summit
attended by Saudi Crown Prince Abdallah and Palestinian Authority Chairman
Mahmoud Abbas, President Bush underscored that Arab leaders "have declared
their firm rejection of terror regardless of its justifications or motives"
and are "committed to practical actions to use all means to cut off
including arms and financing to any terror group."26 Yet the Saudi committee
is continuing its financial support for various projects within the PA,
through Palestinian charities.27 Documents seized by the Israel Defense
(IDF) have revealed that the Saudi al-Haramain charitable foundation
(dismantled in 2004 due to American pressure because of its suspected ties
al-Qaeda) transferred 5,624,370 Jordanian dinars on 20 August 2003 to the
al-Quran and a-Sunna Society in Qalqilia, which was designated by Israel in
2002 as a "terrorist organization." Other documents demonstrate that the
society (affiliated with Hamas) had contacts with al-Haramain until at least
February 2004.

Financial jihad includes many aspects whose common denominator is the direct
and indirect support of self-sacrificing jihad, the Islamic holy war against
the infidels. The financial framework supportive of jihad is based on the
perception that jihad can only achieve its goals if its financing is
guaranteed and if social and economic security is arranged for the warriors
and their families.

Hamas's Charitable Infrastructure

The Palestinian Islamic terrorist organizations share this same outlook and
vision. Hamas, under the leadership of Ahmad Yassin, was the first
organization to develop a widespread social, economic, and educational
infrastructure supportive of its military wing. At the front are the
"charitable societies," which are in fact an integral part of the Hamas

In an interview into al-Hayat newspaper in early December 2003, Khaled
Mashaal,28 head of the Hamas political bureau, detailed the historical
background of establishing the supportive infrastructure of Hamas. The first
step was the reorganization of the local Muslim Brotherhood movement, from
which Hamas originated. The internal reforms concentrated on deepening
penetration and influence in all segments of society. The institutions
established by the Muslim Brotherhood supplied social and educational
to youth and needy Palestinians who were considered the weakest segment and
thus a preferred target.

Mashaal affirmed that donations from wealthy Muslims worldwide facilitated
financing of these activities. In response to a question about whether Hamas
received donations from the Muslim Brotherhood in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and
other states, Mashaal replied: "Indirectly. Any [charitable]
proposals [for projects and]...the societies met with benevolent Arabs and
merchants...who were briefed on the projects. Those who were determined to
support the nation donated zakat [Islamic alms] to the charitable societies.
After the establishment of the al-Mujama al-Islami [by Sheik Ahmad Yassin],
the Islamic [charitable] society [al-Jam'iya al-Islamiya] was established in
Gaza, as well as other societies in the West Bank, Hebron, Nablus, and
al-Bireh. One of them was the Muslim Youth Association [in Hebron]."29
acknowledged that the Hamas charitable societies "received hundreds of
millions of dollars."

In another interview, Mashaal noted that Arab donors transferred donations
Hamas and other organizations for financing jihad. According to Mashaal,
used the money to cover expenses needed to sustain the jihad by funding
mujahideen activity and supporting the families of more than two thousand
martyrs and detainees in the West Bank and Gaza.30

Another Hamas leader, Isma'il Abu Shanab (killed by Israel in 2003),
the reciprocation between the charities and Hamas to the al-Watan newspaper.
Shanab termed the al-Salah charitable society (alongside with al-Mujama
al-Islami and al-Jam'iya al-Islamiya) as an integral part of the social
infrastructure of Hamas.31 Furthermore, when asked about ways to implement
financial jihad in Palestine, Isma'il Haniya, a close assistant to Ahmad
Yassin, recommended transferring donations to these three charitable
societies. Calling these societies "reliable" in their support for "martyrs'
families, the wounded...prisoners and detainees," Haniya emphasized that
functions as a movement that unifies all aspects of its activities,
social, humanitarian, and military (its terrorist wing). He noted that Hamas
operatives run the humanitarian and social activities of the movement and
assigned to bestow support to the Palestinian people on behalf of Hamas.32

Thus, financial support for Palestinian charities often finds its way into
hands of Hamas operatives who use the money to enhance the movement's
popularity. The Palestinian daily Al-Quds reported on 14 March 2003 that
received from several charities and committees (including the Saudi
to Support the al-Aqsa Intifada33) were given directly by Hamas operatives
needy students at a-Najah University in Nablus. Each student received $300
cash and another $100 was transferred to his bank account. In this way,
was able to strengthen its grip on the university campus, reinforcing it as
hothouse for recruiting students to its military wing, Iz a-Din al-Qassam,
as suicide bombers against Israeli civilians. Hamas leaders have even called
a-Najah the "suicide bombers' university" due to its success in recruiting
many students for such actions.34

The Hamas fundraising campaign in the Gaza Strip on 9 April 2004
the important function of the charitable societies in supporting the
movement's military wing. The campaign was held two weeks after Arafat
a freeze on the bank accounts of 38 charitable societies, most of which were
run by Hamas. Under the slogan of a "campaign in support of the financial
jihad in the path of Allah," Hamas military-wing operatives collected $3
million. Palestinians were called upon "to join the honored jihad by
money in support of the way of jihad and resistance." Nizar Rayan, a senior
commander of the Hamas military wing, referred to the Palestinian Authority
when he said: "those who decided to freeze our money should know that the
of jihad persists....In spite of their policy which strives to strike and
weaken the resistance, the Palestinian people with its men, children, and
women came out to support the mujahideen and swore to follow the path of

Money funneled to charitable societies in the Palestinian Authority under
title of "humanitarian aid to the needy" is used in practice as part of the
financial jihad conducted by the Islamic terrorist movements, primarily
That movement's civil infrastructure, which comprises economic, educational,
and social institutions, serves as an organizational framework to support
terrorist wing.36 To combat Islamic terror effectively requires
cooperation in both the political and intelligence arenas. Intelligence
services should devote more attention and resources to uncovering how the
terrorist organizations avoid the international control mechanisms by
operating through "innocent" front organizations. Defeating terror is
once the financial resources that nourish jihad are eliminated.

* * *


1. Safar Hawali, an influential Saudi cleric, is a professor at Umm al-Qura
University in Mecca. Hawali was identified in the first World Trade Center
bombing trial as a spiritual adviser to bin Laden. He was jailed for
radicalism during the 1990s in Saudi Arabia.
3. Hamud bin Uqla al-Shuaibi is a prominent and influential Saudi scholar.
students included a number of important Saudi religious leaders, including
current grand mufti. Al-Shuaibi published religious edicts supporting the
Taliban regime in Afghanistan, including the destruction of the Hindu
as part of jihad against the infidels. He religiously justified al-Qaeda's
attack on the U.S. in September 2001 and gave religious legitimacy to the
suicide attacks against Israel carried out by Palestinians. In October 2001,
bin Laden cited al-Shuaibi when he spoke of his justification for killing
and Christians.
6.Dr. Hussein Shehata is a professor at al-Azhar University in Cairo. He
served as financial consultant for Islamic institutions and zakat funds in
Arab world.
8. Dr. Ajeel Jassem Al Nashami is a professor of Islamic Law at Kuwait
University. He has published Islamic edicts justifying suicide attacks aimed
at Israeli civilians.

11. Dr. Abdullah Qadiri al-Ahdal is head of the Islamic Law department at
al-Medina University in Saudi Arabia. Al-Ahdal published Islamic edicts
regard Muslims who collaborate with the American Army in Iraq as "traitors
the Islamic nation."
15. The author's name, Mohammad bin Ahmad al-Salem, does not appear in other
writings, suggesting the possibility that the author preferred to conceal
identity from the Saudi government, which under American pressure has
tightened its grip on radical Islamic organizations and operatives.
17. Mohammad Hassan Sham'a is Chairman of Al-Mujama Al-Islami in the Gaza
Strip. He was deported by Israel to Lebanon in 1992 with 412 other terrorist

20. Yusuf al-Qaradawi is a prominent Islamic scholar known as a member of
Muslim Brotherhood. Qaradawi heads the Sunni studies department at Qatar
University. He was the first Sunni Muslim scholar to give religious
to the suicide operations of Hamas (1995), and to the participation of women
in suicide attacks. Qaradawi has generally defended bin Laden as a
representative and defender of oppressed Muslims against "American and
evilness," even though he condemned the attacks on American soil against
innocent civilians.

25. Al-Yaum (Saudi Arabia), 17 December 2002.
27. The Saudi Committee is a member of the "Union of Good" - a coordinating
organization for Islamic charities headed by Sheik Yusuf Qardawi. This
organization was designated by Israel as "terrorist entity"; On the Saudi Committee
activities in the PA, see also;;;;;;
28. Khaled Mashaal is the Hamas bureau chief in Damascus. In 2004, Mashaal
became the undisputed leader of Hamas. Mashaal supports the armed struggle
against Israel by all means including suicide bombings.
29. Al-Hayat (London), 5-6 Decmber 2003.
34. Ibrahim Abu al-Hija [Hamas senior leader]: "We should not forget that
a-Najah University is actually named the suicide bombers' university and
that all its cadres within the students are included in the wanted list of the
36. See the Israeli Center for Special Studies report on how the Hamas civil
infrastructure supports its terrorist wing at

* * *

Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi is a researcher of the Middle East and radical
Islam, and a founder of the Orient Research Group Ltd. He is a former
to the Policy Planning Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The
expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the IDF. A version of
essay is to appear in the forthcoming book, Fulfilling Bin Laden's Promise
the Undermining of the U.S. Economy, by Rachel Ehrenfeld.

The Jerusalem Letter and Jerusalem Viewpoints are published by the Jerusalem
Center for Public Affairs, 13 Tel-Hai St., Jerusalem, Israel; Tel.
972-2-5619281, Fax. 972-2-5619112, Internet: In
Center for Jewish Community Studies, 5800 Park Heights Avenue, Baltimore, MD
21215 USA, Tel. (410) 664-5222; Fax. (410) 664-1228.

The opinions expressed by the authors of Jerusalem Viewpoints do not
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