Cambridge University Press
0521857309 - Alms for Jihad - Charity and Terrorism in the Islamic World - by J. Millard Burr and Robert O. Collins

Alms for Jihad

Giving to charity is incumbent upon every Muslim. Throughout history, Muslims have donated to the poor and to charitable endowments set up for the purposes of promoting Islam through the construction of mosques, schools, and hospitals. In recent years, there has been a dramatic proliferation of Islamic charities, many of which were created in the declining decades of the twentieth century by the infusion of oil money into the Muslim world. While most of these are legitimate, there is now considerable and worrying evidence to show that others have more questionable intentions, and that funds from such organizations have been diverted to support terrorist groups, such as Al Qaeda. The authors of this book examine the contention through a detailed investigation of the charities involved, their financial intermediaries, and the terrorist organizations themselves. What they discover is that money from these charities has funded conflicts across the world, from the early days in Afghanistan when the mujahideen (Muslim warriors) fought the Soviets, to subsequent terrorist activities in Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, Palestine, and, most recently, in Europe and the United States. This ground-breaking book is the first to piece together, from a vast array of sources, the secret and complex financial systems that support terror.

J. MILLARD BURR worked for many years in the Department of State and was formerly United States logistics advisor for Operation Lifeline Sudan I. He has worked closely with international charities for more than forty years.

ROBERT O. COLLINS is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

   They have previously co-authored three books: Requiem for the Sudan: War, Drought, and Disaster Relief on the Nile (1995), Africa’s Thirty Years’ War: Chad, Libya, and the Sudan, 1963–1993 (1999), and Revolutionary Sudan: Hasan al-Turabi and the Islamist State, 1989–2000 (2003).

Alms for Jihad

Charity and Terrorism in the Islamic World

J. Millard Burr and Robert O. Collins

Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo

Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 2RU, UK

Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
Information on this title:

© J. Millard Burr and Robert O. Collins 2006

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproduction of any part may take place without
the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2006

Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library

Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication data
Burr, J. Millard.
Alms for jihad : charity and terrorism in the Islamic world / J. Millard Burr and Robert O. Collins.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-521-85730-9 (hardback) – ISBN 0-521-67395-X (pbk.)
1. Charities – Islamic countries. 2. Terrorism – Islamic countries. I. Collins, Robert O., 1933– II. Title.
HV435.B87 2006
361.7′5′091767 – dc22 2005024165

ISBN-13 978-0-521-85730-7 hardback
ISBN-10 0-521-85730-9 hardback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.


  List of illustrations page viii
  List of tables ix
  Preface xi
  List of abbreviations xiv
  Introduction 1
1   The third pillar of Islam: zakat 11
  Charitable recipients 12
  Zakat in history 13
  Zakat: the Egyptian experience 16
  Zakat in the Sudan 17
  Sadaqa 18
  Waqf 19
  Saudi Arabia and Islamic education 23
2   Saudi Arabia and its Islamic charities 26
  Charities and charitable donations in Saudi Arabia 26
  Saudi Arabia Red Crescent Society 31
  Muslim World League 33
  International Islamic Relief Organization 35
  Al Haramain Islamic Foundation 38
  World Assembly of Muslim Youth 41
  Al Wafa Humanitarian Foundation 43
  Benevolence International Foundation 45
  Riyadh bombings and Saudi Arabian charities 47
3   The banks 51
  Golden Chain 51
  Investigating the banks 53
  Saudi banking 57
  Islamic banking 61
  Al Rajhi Banking and Investment Corporation 65
  National Commercial Bank 66
  Dallah Al Baraka Group and Bank Al Taqwa 68
  Hawala system 71
  Continuing bank scrutiny 75
4   Afghanistan beginnings 77
  Al Qaeda 77
  Qutb and the Afghans 81
  Emir of Jihad 83
  Osama bin Laden and MAK 87
  Al Kifah 89
  Ayman al-Zawahiri 89
  Shaykh Omar Abd al-Rahman 91
  Peripatetic mujahideen 92
  Foot-soldiers 96
  Wael Hamza Julaidan and the Rabita Trust 100
  Pakistan and the Al Rashid Trust 101
5   Islamic charities and the revolutionary Sudan 105
  Banking in the Sudan 106
  Enter Osama bin Laden 109
  Islamic charities and the Sudan 111
  Revolutionary Sudan 113
  People’s Defense Force 115
  Turabi’s presence 117
  Yassin Abdullah al-Qadi and Muwafaq 121
  Sudanese charities in Somalia 124
  Al Qaeda and Islamic charities in East Africa 127
  Islamic charities in West Africa 128
6   Islam at war in the Balkans 131
  Afghanistan in Bosnia 133
  Al Muwafaq Brigade 137
  Sudanese connections 139
  Third World Relief Agency 140
  Aftermath in Bosnia 143
  Albanian imbroglio 146
  War in Kosovo 149
  After 9/11 153
7   Russia and the Central Asian Crescent 156
  Outsiders begin to arrive 159
  Islam in Tajikistan 161
  Heartland of Central Asia: Uzbekistan 164
  Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan 168
  Kyrgyzstan: door to China 171
  Transcaucasia 173
  Republic of Georgia 174
  Chechnya 175
  Lost opportunity and investigations 180
8   From Afghanistan to Southeast Asia 183
  Moro Islamic Liberation Front 185
  Muhammad Jamal Khalifa 187
  Abu Sayyaf Group 191
  Malaysia 197
  Indonesia 200
  Revolt in southern Thailand 204
  Forgotten Bangladesh 206
9   The Holy Land 211
  Palestine Red Crescent Society 212
  Charities in Palestine 214
  HAMAS 216
  HAMAS abroad 219
  The United States responds 221
  Arafat’s charitable corruption 223
  Reviving the Intifada 225
  More charitable support for Palestine and HAMAS 229
  Lebanon and Hizbullah 233
10   The Islamization of Europe 237
  Muslim Europe 239
  Germany’s problem 240
  Muslims in Italy 242
  Islam and France 245
  Islamic charities, Algerian Islamists, and Palestinians 248
  The Netherlands, Belgium, and the Danes 251
  The United Kingdom 256
11   Islamic charities in North America 263
  Investigating charities 264
  BIF and GRF 267
  Al Kifah and Al Haramain 269
  Holy Land Fund for Relief and Development 271
  Canadian connections 276
  WISE 278
  SAAR Foundation 279
  Epilogue 284
12   Conclusion 287
  Notes 291
  Select bibliography 325
  Index 328



1 The Peshawar–Al Qaeda nexus page 78
2 The Khartoum–Al Qaeda nexus 106


1 The Peshawar Connection 86


2.1   The Saudi royal family and its charitable interests page 28
2.2   Charitable entities belonging to or associated with the Al Qaeda organization 37
3.1   The Golden Chain 52
4.1   Islamist terrorist organizations 95


This book seeks to unravel and bring clarity to the complex, elaborate, and secret world of Islamic charities that have financed terrorism. It is not an attempt to give the kind of learned discourse on zakat, sadaqa, or waqf that can be found in the Encyclopaedia of Islam. Similarly, it cannot provide an extensive analysis of each of the regions where Islamic charities have supported terrorists. Thus, the individual chapters are more an abstract, a précis, to provide a succinct explanation of the composition, financing, money-laundering, and management of those charities through which runs their common objective, the establishment of the Islamist state. It must be abundantly clear from the outset that there are thousands of Islamic charities to assist and support the poor, the destitute, the sick, and the refugee that have nothing to do with terrorism. Many of these charities promote Islam for its religious mission, but that is not what this book is about. Our objective was to have the reader, when reaching the last page, have an appreciation for the global extent, ferocity, and determination of the Islamists who are perpetrating crimes against humanity in the name of religion, and the role that certain Islamic charities have played in supporting those Islamists. The rhetoric of revolution to justify terror to seize political power has become a masquerade that denigrates the very spiritual meaning and power of Islam.

   Although the authors have had to struggle to select the critical evidence from our many sources to satisfy the practical constraints of publication, the genesis of this book began during the writing of Revolutionary Sudan: Hasan al-Turabi and the Islamist State, 1989–2000 (Leiden: Brill, 2003). For those familiar with Khartoum, one of the most striking differences between the city in the 1980s and in the 1990s was the appearance of new Islamic charities and their gratuitous proliferation in prominently situated offices. Who were these charities? What was their purpose? Why the Sudan of all places? The more we sought the answers to this phenomenon, the more we realized that Khartoum had actually been transformed from a rather somnolent outpost of the Islamic world into a center of the international Islamist movement, made possible by the enormous amounts of money made available to its leaders by Islamic charities. The search was on before the trail turned cold.

   The authors owe a debt of gratitude to Olivier Roy and Steven Emerson, investigators whose lone voices were heard in the early 1990s warning governments that an Islamist revolutionary movement was germinating throughout the western world. Emerson distributed a video to convince those who would look and listen that the Islamists had established in the USA “an elaborate support and recruiting network coast to coast with branches in more than 88 American cities.” They served as recruiting centers that supported mujahideen operating around the world. Despite the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, the Khobar bombing of the US military barracks in Saudi Arabia in 1996, and the substantial evidence afterward that Islamist warriors had declared war on the USA and now Europe, Emerson was seen as an alarmist, perhaps because of his well-known Israeli bias. Even though certain intelligence officers understood the dangers of jihad in the USA, the authors determined as early as 1993 that the FBI was extremely cautious in its investigation of Islamic charities.

   A second debt of gratitude is owed Rita Katz, the “anonymous” author of Terrorist Hunter, the story of one woman’s struggle to expose the activities of seditious operators within Islamic charities functioning in the USA. Like Emerson, she was a vox clamantis in deserto, a voice crying in the wilderness, for the abundant evidence she uncovered during a decade of determined investigation. Her book is essential to an understanding of how Islamic charities supported Islamist movements in the USA, but it has been largely ignored by Washington.

   We especially want to thank once again Alan Goulty for reading, as he had done for Revolutionary Sudan: Hasan al-Turabi and the Islamist State, 1989–2000, the early chapters of Alms for Jihad before leaving the UK for demanding diplomatic duties as Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Tunisia. We also want to express our appreciation to Steve Humphreys, Professor of History at the University of California Santa Barbara, for his unflagging support in all matters Arabic, and to Sylvia Curtis, the intrepid research librarian at UCSB, who has always come to our rescue.

   Spellings can be a curse that can result in chaos, particularly when the documentation for a book, like this one, comes in many languages. Motivated by familiarity, practice, or ethnic pride, Africans, Arabs, Asians, and Europeans have spelled the name of a person, place, or event in a transliteration that reflects their own parochialism, patriotism, and panache. The result is often confusion rather than clarity. The only legitimate prin- ciple is consistency of spelling in the text. Consistency, however, is not a universal virtue and does not always guarantee clarity. In the search for clarity, we have consequently Anglicized or given the English equivalent for people, place-names, and events recorded in different languages. Place-names are spelled for understanding rather than in the local patois. Personal names are more precisely retained because they are complex, for everyone spells his or her name to their satisfaction and not by standardized rules of transliteration. As with place-names, variety can produce bewilderment in the reader that can best be resolved by consistency. We have abstained from the use of diacritical marks in transliteration wherever possible, retaining them only for a very few Arabic words (e.g. Shari‘a) and avoiding them when possible in personal names. Currency is expressed in US dollars. This is not academic arrogance. It is a practical response for those who wish to understand what we have written.

   If spellings are a curse, acronyms are a necessary evil. Virtually every government agency, and certainly most Islamic charities, have very long names. It would be stylistically cumbersome to repeat this lengthy nomenclature at every entry. Although there are 206 acronyms on the list, many are rarely used in the text while others, because of their frequency, become instantly recognizable to the reader. When the name of the organization is first presented, the acronym is placed in parenthesis, e.g. Islamic Countries Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization (ICESCO). In a few instances where the acronym appears in a later chapter we refresh the reader’s memory by repeating the full name of the organization, but those are few.

J. Millard Burr
Rio Rico, Arizona

Robert O. Collins
Santa Barbara, California


AAIF Al Aqsa International Foundation (Yemen)
ADF Allied Democratic Forces (Uganda)
AEL Arab–European League (Belgium)
AFP Agence France Press
AFP Armed Forces of the Philippines
AGI Agenzia Italia
AHIF Al Haramain Islamic Foundation (Mu‘Assasat al-Haramayn al- Khayriya) (Saudi Arabia)
AIAI Al Itihad al-Islamiyya (Somalia)
AID Agency for International Development (USA)
AIP Azerbaijan Islamic Party
AIU African International University
AIVD General Intelligence and Security Service (Algemene Inlichtingen-en Veiligheidsdienst, the former BVD) (the Netherlands)
AM The Emigrants (Al Muhajiroun) (UK)
AP Associated Press (USA)
APEC Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation
ARMM Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindinao (Philippines)
ASP Association de Secours Palestinien (Switzerland)
ATF Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (USA)
ATM automated teller machine
BADEA Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (Sudan)
BCCI Bank of Credit and Commerce International (Abu Dhabi)
BfV Office of the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz) (Germany)
BIC Benevolent International Corporation (Saudi Arabia, Philippines) (see also BIF)
BIDC Al Baraka Investment and Development Corporation (Saudi Arabia)
BIF Benevolence International Foundation (in Russia BIF was called Benevolence International Corporation, BIC)
BIF Benevolence International Foundation (Saudi Arabia)
BND German Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst)
BNP Bangladesh National Party
BVD National Intelligence and Security Agency (Binnelandse Veiligheidsdienst) (the Netherlands)
BYL Bangsamoro Youth League (Philippines)
CAIR Council of American–Islamic Relations (USA)
CARE Cooperative for American Relief Everywhere
CBSP Comité de Bienfaisance et Secours aux Palestiniens (France)
CEO chief executive officer
CFCM Conseil Français du Culte Musulman (France)
CIA Central Intelligence Agency (USA)
CIDA Canadian International Development Agency
CIPF Council for International People’s Friendship (Sudan)
CIS Commonwealth of Independent States (former Soviet Union)
CORIF Conseil de Réflexion sur l’Islam de France
CSIS Canadian Security Intelligence Service
CSSW Charitable Society for Social Welfare (USA)
DMI Dal al-Mal al-Islami Investment Corporation (Saudi Arabia)
DUP Democratic Unionist Party (Sudan)
EIJ Egyptian Islamic Jihad (Jama‘at al-Islamiyya)
EU European Union
FATF Financial Action Task Force (OECD, Paris)
FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation (USA)
FBIS Foreign Broadcast Information Service (USA)
FIS Islamic Salvation Front (Algeria)
FISA Foreign Intelligence Service Act (USA)
FIU Financial Intelligence Unit (USA)
FKAWJ Sunni Communication Forum (Forum Komunikasi Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama‘ah) (Indonesia)
FLN National Liberation Front (Front de Libération Nationale) (Algeria)
FOCA Friends of Charities Association (USA)
FSB Federal Security Service (Federal’naya Sluzhba Bezopasnost) (Russia)
FSM Fondation Secours Mondial (Belgium)
FTATC Foreign Terrorist Asset Tracking Center (USA)
GDP gross domestic product
GIA Armed Islamic Group (Groupement Islamique Armé) (Algeria)
GMT Greenwich Mean Time (UK)
GRF Global Relief Foundation (Fondation Secours Mondial) (Belgium)
GSC Zionist Action Group (Israel)
GSISS Graduate School of Islamic Thought and Social Sciences (USA)
HAI Human Appeals International (UAE)
HAMAS Islamic Resistance Movement (Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya fi Filistin)
HCI Human Concern International (Canada)
HLF Holy Land Fund for Relief and Development (Holy Land Foundation) (USA, France)
HUJI Jihad Movement of Bangladesh (Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami)
HuT Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami, international Salafist organization
IAC Islamic African Center (Sudan)
IAP Islamic Association for Palestine (USA)
IARA Islamic African Relief Agency (Sudan, USA)
IBC Islamic Benevolence Committee (Lajnat al-Birr al-Islamiyya, LBI) (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia)
ICC Islamic Coordinating Council (Pakistan)
ICESCO Islamic Countries Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization (France)
ICF Islamic Charter Front (Sudan)
ICII International Council for Islamic Information (UK)
ICP Islamic Committee for Palestine
ICRC International Commission for the Red Cross/Red Crescent
ICS Islami Chhatra Shibir (Bangladesh)
IDB Islamic Development Bank (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia)
IDF Israel Defense Force
IDPs internally displaced persons
IEEPA International Emergency Economic Powers Act (USA)
IHH Foundation for Human Rights and Freedom, known as the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (International Humanitaire Hilfsorganization) (Turkey)
IIA International Islamic Aid (France)
IIB International Islamic Brigade (Afghanistan, Chechnya)
IICO International Islamic Charitable Organization (Kuwait, Philippines)
IIIT International Institute for Islamic Thought (USA)
IIRO International Islamic Relief Organization (Saudi Arabia)
IJMP Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine (Harakat al-Jihad al-Islami fi Filistin)
IMA Islamic Movement for Africa (Nigeria)
IMU Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
INS Immigration and Naturalization Service (USA)
INTERPAL Palestine Relief and Development Fund (UK)
IPC Islamic Presentation Committee (Philippines)
IRIC Islamic Research and Information Center (Kuwait, Philippines)
IRIN Integrated Regional Information Network
IRNA Islamic Republic News Agency (Iran)
IRPT Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (Hizb Nahda)
IRS Internal Revenue Service (USA)
IRSA Islamic Relief Agency (Sudan)
IRS-CI Criminal Investigations Unit of the Internal Revenue Service (USA)
ISCAG Islamic Studies for Call and Guidance (Philippines)
ISI Inter-Service Intelligence Agency (Pakistan)
ISNA Islamic Society of North America (Canada, USA)
ISRA Islamic Studies and Research Association (Munazzamat al-Da‘wa al-Islamiyya) (USA)
JI Jammah Islamiyya (Southeast Asia)
KCC Kurdish Cultural Centre (UK)
KFOR Kosovo Force
KLA Kosovo Liberation Army (Ushtria Clirimtare e Kosoves, UCK)
KMM Kumpulan Mujahideen (Malaysia)
LDK Democratic League of Kosovo
LJ Laskar Jihad (Malaysia)
MAK Maktab al-Khadamat al-Mujahidin al-Arab (Mujahideen Services Bureau) (Pakistan)
MAP Medical Aid for Palestine (Canada, UK)
MAYA Muslim Arab Youth Association (USA)
MEMRI Middle East Media Research Institute
MILF Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Philippines)
MIRO Mercy International Relief Organization (Saudi Arabia)
MNLF Moro National Liberation Front (Philippines)
MSA Muslim Students’ Association of the USA and Canada
MWL Muslim World League (Rabitait al-Alami al-Islamiyya) (Saudi Arabia)
NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization
NCB National Commercial Bank (Saudi Arabia)
NCIS National Criminal Intelligence Service (UK)
NDA National Democratic Alliance (Sudan)
NGO non-government organization
NIF National Islamic Front (al-Jabhah al-Islamiyya al-Qawmiyya) (Sudan)
NMCC National Management Consultancy Center (Saudi Arabia)
NSC National Security Council (USA)
NSRCC National Salvation Revolutionary Command Council (often simply RCC) (Sudan)
NSSWO Non-Sudanese Students’ Welfare Organization (Sudan)
NTFIU National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit (UK)
OECD Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (Paris)
OFAC Office of Foreign Assets Control (USA)
OIC Organization of the Islamic Conference
OPEC Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries
OPIC Overseas Private Investment Corporation (USA)
PA Palestinian Authority
PAIC Popular Arab and Islamic Congress (Sudan)
PCAPM Popular Committee for Assisting the Palestinian Mujahideen (Saudi Arabia)
PDF People’s Defense Force (Sudan)
PDPA People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan
PIJ Palestine Islamic Jihad
PLO Palestine Liberation Organization
POW prisoner of war
PPF People’s Police Force (Sudan)
PRCS Palestine Red Crescent Society
PULO Pattani United Liberation Organization (Thailand)
PWA Palestine Welfare Association
RAFAH Turkish Prosperity Party
RCMP Royal Canadian Mounted Police
RG Renseignements Généraux (France)
RISEAP Regional Islamic Dawah Council of Southeast Asia and the Pacific
RSO Rohingya Solidarity Organization (Bangladesh)
SAAR Suleiman Abd al-Aziz al-Rajhi Foundation (Saudi Arabia)
SAMA Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority
SARCS Saudi Arabia Red Crescent Society
SAS Special Air Service (UK)
SAUDIFIN Saudi Finance Corporation
SCR Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Special Committee for Relief (Saudi Arabia)
SDA Party of Democratic Action (Bosnia)
SDGT Specially Designated Global Terrorists (USA)
SEDCO Saudi Economic and Development Company LLC
SHCB Saudi High Commission for Aid to Bosnia
SHIK Albanian Intelligence Services
SHRC Saudi High Relief Commission
SIDO Sub-Saharan International Development Organization (Sudan)
SJRC Saudi Joint Relief Committee (for Bosnia)
SJRC Saudi Joint Relief Committee for Kosovo and Chechnya (not to be confused with SJRC for Bosnia)
SPLA Sudan People’s Liberation Army
SPLM Sudan People’s Liberation Movement
SSR Society for Social Reform (Kuwait)
TANJUG official Yugoslavia news agency
TMC Transitional Military Council (Sudan)
TWRA Third World Relief Agency (Austria)
UAE United Arab Emirates
UASR United Association for Studies and Research (USA)
UCOII Union of Muslim Organizations of Italy
UK United Kingdom
UN United Nations
UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization
UNHCR United Nations High Commission for Refugees
UNICEF United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund
UNITAF United Nations International Task Force (Somalia)
UNLU Unified National Leadership of the Uprising (Palestine)
UNMIK United Nations Mission in Kosovo
UNOSOM I United Nations Operation in Somalia I
UNOSOM II United Nations Operation in Somalia II
UNRWA United Nations Relief and Works Agency (Palestine)
UNSCR United Nations Security Council Resolution
UOIF French Union of Islamic Organizations
UPI United Press International (USA)
USA United States of America
USC United Somali Congress
USF University of South Florida (USA)
USSR Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
UTO United Tajik Opposition
WAMY World Assembly of Muslim Youth (Saudi Arabia)
WEFOUND Wisdom Enrichment Foundation (Saudi Arabia)
WHO World Health Organization
WISE World and Islamic Studies Enterprise (USA)

© Cambridge University Press