The terrorist attacks on Mumbai shocked the world, including the Muslim world. Questions are being asked about who was behind the attacks and the answers seem to be devolving to the group Lashkar-e-Taiba [there are many alternate transcriptions, but I’ll go with this one]. Groups, however, don’t function without funding, which raises its own questions.
Many in the media and blogs see a Saudi hand in this. They note that Lashkar-e-Taiba operates on dual tracks: a militant wing and a charitable wing, Jamaat-ud-Dawa. The bifurcation of activist groups into militant and charitable wings is a tried and true one. Groups as various as the Irish Republican Army (IRA)/Sinn Fein and Hamas have found it a useful tactic to say while fund raising, “Oh, your contribution is only going to be used for good purposes!” And the donors have no easy way to find out just where the money has gone.
From: Crossroads Arabia
The problem, of course, is that money is fungible. Money is collected. What goes to charitable uses is determined by the group. It can use the money as fits its needs, defined by itself. What money is spent on charitable acts—and this is done—is only a portion of that collected. Donations represent money to the group’s coffers that can be spent without draining the funds to support terrorist operations.
While the Saudi government has made attempts to rein in contributions to foreign ‘charitable’ groups, there are many ways to avoid the controls. The easiest of them is to simply move cash around, hand-to-hand. There are Saudi regulations that limit the amount of cash that one can take out of the country, but those are not difficult to circumvent. Cash does not show up on X-ray scans, after all.
Saudis are a soft touch when it comes to charitable giving. They take seriously the Islamic requirement to pay zakat, the 2.5% of one’s assets that should be paid to support the poor or spread the message of Islam. Wealthy Saudis, in particular, actually have trouble getting rid of that much money on an annual basis. They can be successfully approached with a good, tear-jerking story and they’ll come up with a donation. With no way to track just where that money goes, it’s far too easy for it to go astray.