Money Jihad blog uncovered an important report from Thomson Reuters which details financing for the Islamic terrorist organization Abu Sayyaf, which operates in the Philippines.
In the report, an entire section is devoted to zakat funding for Abu Sayyaf, particularly from Saudi Arabia.
Thomson Reuters maintains that the zakat money is only coming from Filipino expatriates living and working in Saudi Arabia, but this is almost certainly not the case. Direct funding of Jihad by wealthy Saudis has been documented going back well before 9/11.
Thomson Reuters also maintains that many zakat donors are unaware that their money goes to fund terrorism. This may be the case with some zakat donors, but certainly not all. Again, zakat funding of Jihad has been too extensively documented over the years for anyone to truly believe that donors have no awareness, particularly wealthy Saudis who are financially sophisticated.
It is rather surprising that Thomson Reuters would even publish this report, given the fact that they have major contracts providing information services specific to the Shariah Finance industry–and industry that funds zakat.
The problem of Saudi funding of terrorism via individual wealthy Saudis is one that just will not go away. The Saudi regime, which otherwise rules with an iron fist, surely is aware of these activities, yet has not stopped them. Saudi funding of Jihadist terrorism continues in the post-9/11 world, despite claims by members of the US government that we are making great progress in curtailing terrorism financing.
Here is the relevant section excerpted from the Thomson Reuters report–before someone at their corporate headquarters removes it from the internet!
The ASG has also maintained the collection of Zakat, one of its traditional sources of funding, though not as profitable as its criminal activities. Zakat, which prescribes Muslims to donate 2.5% of their net revenue to charity, is legitimate under Shariah law. The ASG which claims to struggle for the establishment of an independent Islamic state in Mindanao, benefits from Zakat collected locally and abroad. Locals and those abroad who believe that militant groups are in pursuit of jihad donate substantially to support their operations and upkeep. Some donors however, are not aware that their donations end up in the treasury of militant groups.
Crucial to the collection of Zakat in the Middle East are a small number of sympathetic Filipino workers who help source donors and channel funds to the militant groups through the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) remittance system. The Philippines is one of the major exporters of labor to Saudi Arabia with more than a million Filipino workers in that country. Annual remittances amounting to more than a billion pesos have literally kept the Philippine economy afloat. Lack of regulations or monitoring of these remittances allows the flow of funds from supporters abroad to militant groups like the ASG.
The ASG has not established a stable support group in any other country except for Saudi Arabia. They depend only on a few core supporters, mostly relatives and friends, both locally and abroad. In the past they collected donations during Friday congregational prayers and used the proceeds for the procurement of ammunition, medicines, and military supplies. It is estimated that from 1992 to 2007, the ASG collected almost ₱20 million from Zakat.
Propaganda is critical for the continuity of Zakat. There is no recent evidence that the ASG is publicly engaged in propaganda which suggests less reliance in Zakat. Previously, the ASG organized lectures and seminars to encourage people to take part in jihad by sharing their wealth through Zakat. The ASG is also known to compile video footages of militant training and actual combat operations. In October 2007, the ASG had appealed for funds and recruits on You Tube by featuring a video of two slain ASG leaders.