By Andrew Cochran
Terrorfinanceblog | April 10, 2007
I’m trying to determine why senior U.S. government officials or Congressmen continue to entrust their precious time to those with an extremist or Islamist agenda when they’re searching for “moderate Muslims” with whom to hold a dialogue. It still happens all too often, even years after the 9-11 attacks (I have another example about which to post soon). And I have to conclude that too many government officials around the world and experts are still trusting what they hear from a foreign leader or long-standing Islamist, instead of watching what they actually do. My golden rule, probably due to my experience as a CPA and consultant, is simple: see how the Islamists and their supporters (or their opponents, for that matter) spend their money, and stop trusting what they say.
Analyses of the Muslim Brotherhood illustrate this point perfectly. Douglas Farah took issue with the Foreign Affairs article by the Nixon Center’s Robert Leiken and Steven Brooke, “The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood,” starting a mini-debate here and on the Nixon Center site (see Doug’s last post on it). But look at the angle each party takes in their analysis: Leiken and Brooke barely mention how MB leaders spend their money; it’s all about “expressions of confidence that it would honor democratic processes.” Yes, there is some discussion of “a painstaking educational program,” but nothing about the directions for the “big money.” To the contrary, Doug’s method is to follow the money. Everything he writes on MB, from his recent piece on Sudan to his 2006 analysis of the MB’s international financial network, focuses on the cash flow. Lorenzo Vidino explores the financial angle in his April 6 post, “The Muslim Brotherhood in Holland,” discussing how the MB has worked in Europe since World War II. Other articles in the debate break down along this fault line – see Alyssa Lappen’s response to Nick Fielding, in which she cited MB’s financial support for terrorism, while Fielding discounted or ignored such instances.
I recently mentioned to a senior Congressional staffer that “if you show me the money, I’ll show you 80% of the agenda.” He corrected me – “it’s 90%.” And he’s certainly right in the CT world, in the U.S. and abroad. Find out where a group gets it money and where it spends it, and you’ll know the group’s agenda.
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