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Jewish World Review
Sept. 16, 2008
/ 16 Elul 5768
Into the fire
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
The question on Wall Street in the wake of the latest
meltdowns in the U.S. financial sector is "Who's next?" The more
important issue is not which of the major banks or investment firms will
follow Lehman Brothers into bankruptcy or Merrill Lynch into fire sale.
Rather, the question should be "What's next?"
After all, the problem afflicting so much of the U.S.
capital markets - and, therefore, those around the world - is not one of
individual corporations hitting a rough patch and requiring bail-outs
from the federal government or the private sector. It is, instead, the
result of a reckless disregard for sound investing practices in the
unscrupulous pursuit of profit. In a word, the last "what" was
As we all know by now, the practice of building financial
houses of cards on various investment instruments based in
non-transparent and problematic subprime mortgage-backed securities was
a formula for disaster. It induced firms that not only should have
known better but are required to behave better to perform
unconscionably. In the process, they violated industry standards and
government regulations with respect to transparency, disclosure, due
diligence, good governance and accountability.
Tragically, in the process of leaping out of the scalding
subprime frying pan, Wall Street is heading directly into a fire that
promises, if anything, to be more devastating than the present disaster.
Incredibly, it bears all the hallmarks of subprime with respect to a
lack of transparency, a systematic failure to disclose and an utter
absence of due diligence, good governance and accountability. The next
"what" is called Shariah-Compliant Finance (SCF).
Shariah, of course, is the term the Islamists use to
describe the ruthlessly repressive, totalitarian program they believe
should govern every aspect of the lives of faithful Muslims. It is also
the instrument they intend to use to rule the world. The first clue
that something is wrong with Wall Street's next big thing is that it is
The next clue is how Shariah-Compliant Finance works. Like
subprime, it is a black-box, in which management and investors alike are
told to trust in the experts. In this case, the experts are Shariah
authorities who are accorded exclusive responsibility for determining
whether investments are "pure" (halal) and therefore acceptable, or
"impure" (haram) and not.
As an important monograph on the subject recently issued by the
McCormick Foundation and the Center for Security Policy (for copies
contact the Center at www.SecureFreedom.org) makes clear, these
authorities are, unsurprisingly, adherents to Shariah. A number of them
explicitly embrace its call to jihad (including a former senior member
of the Dow Jones Islamic Index, Sheik Taqi Usmani). This "holy war" is
to be waged where possible through violent means, where necessary
through "soft" means like Shariah-Compliant Finance. For this reason,
such Islamists call SCF "financial jihad."
Earlier this year, David Yerushalmi, a litigator specializing in
securities law and an expert on Shariah, produced a riveting legal
memorandum (soon to appear in the University of Utah Law Review)
examining the civil and criminal exposure inherent in Shariah-Compliant
conclusion: banks and investment houses offering SCF products may be
enabling or engaging in the following: racketeering, anti-trust
activity, securities fraud, consumer fraud and/or material support for
What makes Shariah-Compliant Finance even more dangerous than subprime
is that, in its effort to legitimize and institutionalize Shariah in
America, it is advancing a criminal conspiracy whose purpose is the
violent overthrow of the U.S. Constitution and government in favor of
Islamic rule. That would make it sedition.
For these reasons, we should be especially wary of the purported
silver-lining to the current Wall Street crisis: the infusion of vast
quantities of petro-dollars, primarily from OPEC's Saudi Arabia and
other Islamist nations in the Persian Gulf. It is bad enough that these
putative rescuers of our subprime-fueled liquidity debacle are buying up
engines of our capital markets for pennies on the dollar. Worse yet,
they are, in the process, putting themselves in a position to promote
Shariah-Compliant Finance and the seditious theo-political agenda it
A forthcoming book about SCF by Center for Security Policy Vice
President Alex Alexiev offers a further, sobering thought about the fire
next time: It is becoming ever-harder to differentiate between the Gulf
states' so-called Sovereign Wealth Funds (actually they are the slush
funds of the sovereigns) and Shariah-Compliant Finance. The former is
increasingly being invested in ways that promote the latter, adding
unfathomably large pools of funds to what is estimated already to be an
$800 billion global industry.
The Center for Security Policy has sent copies of David Yerushalmi's
legal memorandum to the heads of scores of Wall Street firms and the
nation's leading commercial banks, warning them of the ominous
similarities between subprime and SCF. Interestingly, only the late
Merrill Lynch bothered to respond, albeit with a vacuous note blithely
affirming its concern about terrorism.
Fortunately, Congress is beginning to recognize the possible peril in
what may happen next to Wall Street. Notably, last month, a senior and
highly respected member of the Senate Finance Committee, Arizona
Republican Jon Kyl, wrote SEC Chairman Chris Cox, Fed Chairman Ben
Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Attorney General Michael
Mukasey asking them to respond to Mr. Yerushalmi's analysis of
Shariah-Compliant Finance. The question occurs: Will they encourage or
discourage the capital markets' leap into the fire via a headlong plunge
into subprime on seditious steroids?
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JWR contributor Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. heads the Center for Security Policy. Comments by clicking here.
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America has been at war for years, but until now, it has not been clear with whom or precisely for what. And we have not been using the full resources we need to win.
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© 2006, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.