Saturday, December 20, 2008
U.S. lawmakers scold AIG over Shariah finance
U.S. lawmakers scold AIG over Shariah finance
Two conservative U.S. lawmakers have put the nation's largest insurer on notice for marketing Islamic financial products in America, warning that they "support a radical political ideology."
American International Group earlier this month announced it will be offering Shariah-compliant homeowners insurance in the U.S. Hit hard by the financial crisis, AIG is looking for new revenue sources, and sees Muslim finance as a high-growth segment of the insurance market.
"We are pleased to offer socially responsible solutions to this segment of the domestic market," said Matthew Power, president of AIG subsidiary Risk Specialists Companies Inc.
But two Republican leaders in Congress say it's a bad idea, and scolded the federally subsidized insurer for promoting a "Stone Age" legal code "championed by the Taliban and Osama bin Laden." Teetering on bankruptcy, AIG has benefited from $153 billion in tax-supported bailout money.
In a blistering letter sent today to New York-based AIG CEO Ed Liddy, Reps. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., and Frank Wolf, R-Va., warned that a portion of the proceeds from their Shariah offerings could end up financing jihad. Myrick co-chairs the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus, and Wolf co-chairs the Congressional Human Rights Caucus.
"Under Shariah finance, your company must contribute Zakat, the Third Pillar of Islam, which is a 2.5 percent donation to Muslim charity," the lawmakers wrote in their 3-page letter, a copy of which was obtained by WND. "While this may sound honorable, al-Qaida was able to receive between $300 (million) and $500 million from Zakat contributors who used a web of non-transparent charities and front companies to funnel money through Islamic banks."
"We have also seen this in the U.S.," they added, "as Zakat was sent to a front group, the Holy Land Foundation, which was recently convicted by a federal court for sending funds to the terrorist organization, Hamas."
Moreover, they point out that a noted Shariah finance adviser, Yusuf Qaradawi, is a leader in the worldwide jihadist movement known as the Muslim Brotherhood, and chairs some 50 Islamic charities. Qaradawi once called Zakat "jihad with money."
The lawmakers warned Liddy that the charitable transfers made by Shariah finance advisers are notoriously opaque, and his company could potentially be held liable for terrorist money-laundering.
"We hope you can verify what hands your money passes through, because we would hate to see the FBI visit you one day, look into your books, and tell you that money from AIG found its way into terrorist hands," Myrick and Wolf notified Liddy.
They also asserted in their letter that, far from being "socially responsible," complying with the tenets of Shariah law promotes a culture that "enshrines horrific human-rights abuses."
They pointed out that under Shariah law, as practiced in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries:
- A woman cannot leave the house without her husband's permission.
- Men can beat their "insubordinate" wives.
- Women who are convicted of adultery are punished by death by stoning.
- Apostasy from Islam is punished by death without trial.
- Non-Muslims under Shariah law are second-class citizens.
- Slavery is permitted and deemed legitimate.
"It is disheartening to think that your products are helping Shariah to gain a foothold in the United States," the Republican members of Congress wrote.
They also noted that Shariah finance products exhibit the same lack of transparency as the products that helped create the current financial crisis -- subprime loans.
"Many in the financial industry believed subprime loans were a great way to make money and would cause no harm," the letter to AIG warns. "Do not make the same mistake by supporting Shariah finance."
Meanwhile, a public-interest law firm is suing bailout beneficiary AIG to divest itself of Shariah-based businesses. The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Thomas More Law Center argues that, in effect, federal tax dollars are being used to promote a religion.
AIG's Shariah advisory board includes Muhammad Imran Ashraf Usmani, the son of Sheik Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani, who supports violent jihad against Westerners.
Dow Jones & Co. recently removed the senior Usmani, a world renowned Shariah finance adviser, from the Shariah advisory board of its Dow Jones Islamic Market Index after the national newspaper, "Investor's Business Daily,"exposed his radical ties and called for his ouster in a series of editorials.