Counter-Terrorism: Al Qaeda Fund Raisers Scramble


October 2, 2009: Yet another al Qaeda video fund raising effort has been discovered. This one, featuring Saudi terrorist Saeed al Shehri, appeals to Saudi Arabians to send money to the new "Al Qaeda In Arabia" headquarters in Yemen. Saudi police found the video on the cell phone of a recently arrested terrorist suspect. The video included the assurance that, "the bearer of this message is trusted by us." It appears that al Qaeda is trying to develop and expand a network of fund raisers in Saudi Arabia. The members of this network collect the donations and get the cash back to Yemen, or buy weapons and supplies and see to it that the stuff gets to where it is needed (which might be Saudi Arabia, which is still seen as the major target for "Al Qaeda In Arabia".) This group had to move to Yemen because Saudi counter-terrorism efforts have proved too successful for al Qaeda to risk keeping most of their people in the kingdom.

Last year, most Arab nations agreed on a new set of regulations to crack down on terrorist fund raising and money laundering in their countries. Until the recent defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq, it was considered too politically risky to go after wealthy donors to Islamic radical groups. Money laundering was another untouchable area, because corruption was so common, and money laundering was part of that. But "reform" has become increasingly popular in the Arab world over the past few years, and these new counter-terrorism efforts are part of it.

 It's no longer fashionable (as it used to be) to rejoice whenever a Islamic terrorist bomb goes off in the West, or anywhere else for that matter. Since 2003, most of the al Qaeda violence has been against Arabs, and after a few years of this, public opinion turned on the Islamic terrorists. Public opinion wants these butchers shut down, especially in Arab countries. This means that those who support Islamic radicalism are no longer as tolerated as they used to be.

 Another aspect of the crackdown on money laundering is the growing popularity of honesty is business and government. Lots of corruption is still tolerated, and many Arabs insist that corruption is "part of the culture." But the money laundering is seen as primarily criminal, a tool largely for gangsters and terrorists.

Many Arab nations have also cracked down on Islamic charities, at least the ones that serve as fronts for terrorist fund raising. More troublesome are Islamic charities that are largely legit, but often send money to recipients who are wither terrorist groups, or who share the donations with terrorists. This has to be addressed in the nations where the donations end up.

As expected, the many (20 percent or more of the population) Arabs still willing to support terrorism, have simply become more discreet. Thus the fund raising videos use someone the potential donors may be familiar with, and include a pledge that the person delivering the video is "trusted."

Al Qaeda has been having increasing cash problems over the last six years. Once al Qaeda went on the offensive in Iraq in 2004, and began slaughtering Moslem civilians, especially children, popular support throughout the Moslem world began to decline. It is still declining, despite al Qaeda efforts to cut down on the civilian deaths.





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