Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Battling the finances

Oddly enough, I do not propose to write about the brave battle that various incompetent politicians are waging against the not-very-competent-but-largely-wealth-creating financial institutions. Well, not this time, anyway.

Yesterday I attended a talk given by Jonathan Schanzer, organized by the indefatigable Henry Jackson Society, entitled Terror Finance and the Transatlantic Relationship. They could not have picked a much better person if they wanted to give us the more or less official point of view:
Jonathan Schanzer is a leading American author & scholar in Middle Eastern studies, and formerly a counterterrorism analyst for the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at the U.S. Department of the Treasury where he tracked the activities of terrorist financiers. Prior to joining the Treasury, he served as a Research Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where he authored the book “Al-Qaeda's Armies: Middle East Affiliate Groups and the Next Generation of Terror”. He also participated in a Washington Institute fact-finding mission in Iraq in 2004. His most recent published book is “Hamas vs Fatah: The Struggle for Palestine”. In addition Mr Schanzer has published numerous scholarly journal articles, national newspaper editorials, and magazine features. He has appeared with frequency on American television channels, such as Fox News and CNN, as well as Arab television channels, such as al-Jazeera. Mr. Schanzer has travelled widely in Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Morocco, Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Territories. He will shortly be joining the Foundation for Defense of Democracies as Vice-President.
To be fair to Mr Schanzer he did make some comments that showed him to be not entirely in sympathy with the present Administration in its extraordinary financial profligacy and even more extraordinary assumption that it is a good idea to follow in the EU3's unsuccessful footsteps and "engage" with Iran. Nor did he seem to be terribly happy about the fact that no Administration has shown itself to be ready to tackle the vexed question of Saudi Arabia, the support for Wahhabi extremism and terrorism that comes from that country and the American reliance on its oil. I am not sure that his idea of renewables would provide a solution in the near future but, at least, he has noted the problem.

Most of the talk was along predictable lines but I was particularly interested in the points he made about Islamic charities and the need the US and UK governments faced to shut some of them down as they were channelling money to terrorists and terror educators.

Let us disregard the inevitable cries of "Islamophobia", which greet every shutting down of an Islamic charity that had been taken over by people whose idea of jihad is most definitely not self-enlightenment but the destruction of everybody else, including and especially other Muslims.

There is the unfortunate truth that many Western charities have succumbed to the same disease. This is not particularly new. I recall being somewhat puzzled when I found out that the address, phone number and personnel of Christian Aid in London was identical with an organization called Defence and Aid, whose work consisted of defending and aiding guerrillas in South Africa and the surrounding countries. Whatever one may think of these people's activity, it was not what people gave money for to the charity.

There is, however, one more point about the subject of funding of terrorism and, especially, terrorist education in places like Gaza - much of that money comes either from charities that have become NGOs and are funded, to a large extent, by various governments and transnational organizations. Even more importantly, funding comes from international aid of various kind. At the very least, that money is fungible; and, at worst, there are no checks at all on what it is spent on. That is why we get such things as the sickening children's programmes on Gaza TV. (Here is the latest news item about Tomorrow's Pioneers. I see there is another large psychotic animal present.)

That subject - the use of taxpayers' money - was raised by a couple of people in the audience (yes, yes, I was one of them) but proved to be a subject too far for Mr Schanzer who rather obviously avoided it.

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