Satanic Purses

Satanic Purses: Money, Myth, and Misinformation in the War on Terror

R.T. NAYLOR
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 430
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt81756
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  • Book Info
    Satanic Purses
    Book Description:

    Naylor argues that bin Laden's role in various terrorist activities has been grossly exaggerated and that the idea of al-Qa?idah as a well-financed, centrally directed movement is a fable akin to misconceptions about the Mafia. Satanic Purses makes clear that the myths surrounding the war on terror, especially the alleged existence of hordes of Islamic terror dollars, have led Western countries, particularly the US, to policies that create death and disorder abroad and the loss of due process and privacy at home.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7488-5
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Prologue
    (pp. 3-11)

    On 9 November 1989 the Berlin Wall fell in triumph, and out of a delighted West came paeans of joy about the “end of history.” On 11 September 2001 the Twin Towers collapsed in smoke and flame, and out of a shocked West came cries of warning about a “clash of civilizations.” History, it seems, had just pulled the wooden stake from its heart and risen from its grave.

    Fingers almost immediately pointed at Usama bin Lāden. As a result an abiding and, for the powers that be, eminently useful myth was born, one that continues to misinform, confuse, and...

  5. 1 The Crucible Afghanistan, the Anti-Soviet War, and the Roots of the al-Qā’idah Myth
    (pp. 12-28)

    In the aftermath of 9/11, all eyes focused on Afghanistan, a country that, Americans suddenly learned, had been turned into the world epicentre of Islamic terrorism by an alliance between Usama bin Lāden’s Arab hordes and local fanatics sporting beards and turbans. Yet, only a short time before, Afghanistan had been a marginal, almost unknown place where nearly two decades of civil wars followed by three years of severe drought had left four million people homeless, five million facing famine, and most of the population vulnerable to a series of winters of exceptional severity – all under the radar screens of...

  6. 2 Vengeful Green Giant? Bin Lāden, “Fundamentalism,” and the Rise of the Islamintern
    (pp. 29-45)

    Usama bin Lāden, so the story goes, emerged from the maelstrom of 1980s Afghanistan, Kalashnikov in one fist, Qur’an in the other, primed to lead a worldwide jihād against a decadent West while scheming to overthrow or undermine “moderate” governments in the Middle East. He was believed to have three special qualifications for the job. First, his central role in the Afghan struggle gave him organizational skills, knowledge of irregular warfare, and contacts with countless adoring acolytes ready to heed his call to arms. Second, the power of his violent Islamic convictions sufficed to whip his followers into a homicidalsuicidal...

  7. 3 Conspiracies of Evil Crime, Law, and the Politics of Fear
    (pp. 46-58)

    In a 20 September 2001 address to Congress and to the US people, President George W. Bush declared that “al-Qaeda” was to terrorism what the Mafia was to crime.¹ Thus he captured in a pithy phrase a common belief – that crime and terrorism were both the work of fabulously wealthy, hierarchically structured, transnational entities whose commitment to tear asunder the moral and economic fabric of US society could be countered only by emergency military or legal measures, both of which he took.

    This view, heartily endorsed both by media pundits and by the growing army of post-9/11 “national security experts,”...

  8. 4 Usama of Khartoum “Anti-Christian Jihad,” Nerve-Gas Plots, and the Transnational of Terror
    (pp. 59-74)

    When Usama bin Lāden fled Saudi Arabia for refuge in the Sudan, at first glance he had chosen an ideal incubator in which the recently born al-Qā’idah could grow into a global menace. The country, it seemed, was a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism and hence receptive to bin Lāden’s message. It provided a setting from which bin Lāden could develop the worldwide business connections through which to subsequently direct his covert flow of terror dollars. Because it was engaged in a holy war against its own Christian minority, it provided a testing ground for the larger jihād Usama had in...

  9. 5 Pipe Dreams and Political Hallucinations Usama, the USA , and the Tāliban
    (pp. 75-87)

    When the Sudan decided in May 1996 to unburden itself of bin Lāden after unburdening him of most of his money, there was a real question about where he would go. Saudi Arabia did not want him back unless he agreed to publicly kiss and make up; and the United States regarded him as a loudmouth whom it preferred to have out of sight, sound, and, hopefully, mind, particularly after its Justice Department had determined (before the embassy bombings) that there was still insufficient evidence for a criminal indictment.¹ In the meantime how much trouble could he possibly make almost...

  10. 6 Trials & Tribulations Prosecutors in Paradise and Usama in Wonderland
    (pp. 88-106)

    In November 1998, a federal grand jury in the District Court of the Southern District of New York issued a criminal indictment against Usama bin Lāden alleging a long-term conspiracy to kill US citizens and to attack US facilities overseas. To further such a plot, the indictment claimed that bin Lāden’s “al-Qaeda” forged an alliance with other terrorist organizations; purchased land and other facilities to train terrorists; created a command and control structure to manage their actions; constructed a secret financial network including NGOs (AKA Muslim charities) to handle the necessary funds; arranged to run weapons and explosives around the...

  11. 7 Rocket’s Red Glare Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of “Victory”
    (pp. 107-119)

    The US strikes against “chemical weapons facilities” in Khartoum and “terrorist training camps” in Afghanistan that followed the 1998 embassy bombings played well back home, where commentators followed the missile flights with the reverence that used to be accorded a fireworks display on Independence Day. However, for the Tāliban they were not an unmitigated disaster. They gave the regime international sympathy it had formerly lacked and improved relations with China, whose experts were invited to examine the remains of the US state-of-the-art Tomahawks. According to some tall tales, Usama himself brokered a deal.¹ No doubt improved models were soon deployed...

  12. 8 To the Shores of Muqdisho Usama in the Land of Qāt, Clan, and Cattle
    (pp. 120-136)

    With Afghanistan so well secured, the United States turned to deal with other threats. For a time it seemed that the next target was to be Somalia. The usual prime-time experts on places to which they had never been, with names they could not pronounce, insisted that Usama received much of his terror treasure from sympathetic Somalis, well known for their hoards of clandestine wealth, that his operatives (including those responsible for the 1998 embassy bombings) had taken advantage of Somalia’s lawless society, long shoreline, and porous borders to smuggle guns and operatives, and that bin Lāden himself was intent...

  13. 9 Terror Dollars and Nonsense Finding, Freezing, and Seizing the Horde’s Hoards
    (pp. 137-151)

    On 24 September 2001 the Bush administration issued an executive order under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act blocking property of and prohibiting transaction with persons “who commit, threaten to commit, or support terrorism.” It was accompanied by a list of eleven organizations and fourteen individuals to which it immediately applied, with many more added in the weeks, months, and years to follow.¹ Shortly after the initial freezes came a new law, the Patriot Act, with a remarkable increase in government powers to find, freeze, and forfeit terror-dollars and to punish those who allegedly raised, moved, and used them.

    Of...

  14. 10 Quartermasters of Terror Inscrutable Orientals and Underground Banks
    (pp. 152-166)

    By 9/11, law enforcement felt it had a fair grip on the techniques by which criminals created, managed, and moved their loot. The problem had been that legislatures and courts refused to permit the cops to burrow deep enough into the catacombs of clandestine finance, or gave them only picks and shovels instead of dynamite and bulldozers, much less the financial equivalent of a nuclear bunker-buster, to do the job. The Patriot Act was heavy equipment long overdue. But, to handle terror-dollars, more was required.

    Criminal money begins life as an outcast, then usually ends up blending with respectable society....

  15. 11 Monetary Mujahideen? Mall versus Mosque in the War on Terror
    (pp. 167-185)

    Usama bin Lāden, the Independent Task Force observed, worked his monetary magic with the usual tools of clandestine finance – cash couriers, shell companies, coded bank accounts, and the like. He also employed the notorious hawāla system, although, doubtless for reasons of national security, the Task Force was unable to specify a single instance. And allegedly he had yet another trick up the sleeves of his loose-fitting burnoose.

    Over the previous two or three decades, Islamic charitable foundations (along with Islamic banks and investment companies) had spread widely. They could, so the story went, raise money in wealthy places like the...

  16. 12 Original Sin Palestine and the Rise of Modern Political Terrorism
    (pp. 186-205)

    Modern political terrorism in and around the Middle East, including bombings of civilian infrastructure designed to maximize the death toll, did not begin with Usama bin Lāden. Nor was he a pioneer either in using funds of illegal origin to commit his reputed crimes or in deploying clandestine methods to hide and move the money. Decades before al-Qā’idah was even a synaptic leap in some us prosecutor’s febrile brain, a future Israeli prime minister, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and honored guest at the White House was lighting the path, along with (metaphorically speaking) the fuse of the bomb that destroyed...

  17. 13 Pray or Prey? Fifth Columns, Cooked Books, and Charitable Frauds in the USA
    (pp. 206-226)

    When the US government expanded its original terror list to embrace individuals and institutions who provided “material support,” it demonstrated its commitment to the First Amendment right to freedom of (selective) religion by freezing the assets of the country’s three major Muslim charities: the United Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the Global Relief Foundation, the Benevolence International Foundation. Declaring such a freeze under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act also criminalized any support offered to the foundations by us citizens, even if such assistance, financial or otherwise, had been intended and used for legitimate purposes. Apparently the government...

  18. 14 Neither to Give nor to Receive Requiem for Islamic Charity in the US?
    (pp. 227-238)

    The US had good reason to keep a sharp eye out for charitable fraud after 9/11. Along with a burst of philanthropy by people horrified at the events came vultures seeking to turn the tragedy to their own profit. New York State saw the almost immediate formation of about 250 new charities listed with the State Attorney General, plus a host of others who did not bother. They would hit the phone lines to solicit donations by cash, check, or credit card. Undoubtedly most were bona fide, but some would disappear with the money; others used a small portion on...

  19. 15 Chasing Green Herrings The Netherworld of Terror Meets the Underworld of Crime?
    (pp. 239-261)

    The war on terror-dollars had three objectives. First, close the channels through which money moved to terrorist plotters. That required better monitoring of financial flows, including closer scrutiny of charitable institutions. Second, locate and freeze hoards before the money could find alternative routes. Third, stop fundraising at the source to prevent replenishment or replacement. This was the trickiest, particularly with money of criminal origin, which, by definition, begins life underground before proceeding through hidden channels, making it a double challenge.

    Criminal money deployed for terrorist purposes seemed to be particularly abundant. Once law enforcement overturned the rock under which Al-Qā’idah...

  20. 16 Conflicts of Interest? On Bloody Diamonds and Tarnished Gold
    (pp. 262-276)

    A few years before 9/11, the world’s curiously selective conscience was shocked by images from the little West African country of Sierra Leone. There, an insurgent group fond of hacking off hands and feet with machetes funded its war by exploiting slave labor in diamond fields, smuggling gemstones via complicit dealers (Lebanese, naturally) to Liberia, then onto world markets. To horror stories from Sierra Leone (and Liberia) were soon added those from Angola, where the government was locked in a protracted battle with the UNITA guerrilla movement (created and long sustained by the CIA), and from the Congo (AKA Zaire),...

  21. 17 Striking Out! Al-Qā’idah Cells in the Global Petrie Dish
    (pp. 277-313)

    After 9/11, Middle Eastern militants seemed poised to strike repeatedly across the world. Some plots took place to terrible effect. Others, potentially as lethal, were fortunately caught beforehand. Some others were real, but the work of bungling amateurs or psychotics like Richard Reid, the “shoe-bomber.” Yet others were sting operations to entrap the naive, the foolish, or the confused to permit the authorities to proclaim another “victory” in their Terror War. Either that or, as in the case of José Padilla, the “dirty bomber” who never had a nuclear device, never tried to get one, and never had any instructions...

  22. 18 Securing the Home Front The USA’s Hunt for the Enemy Within
    (pp. 314-334)

    The events of 9/11 led to a minor revolution in US jurisprudence. In normal criminal procedures the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt commission of an offense and (in most but not all cases) intent to commit it. In standard civil procedures the burden of proof is much lower, merely a balance of probabilities; and there is rarely a need to establish intent, although proof of malice may help to squeeze out a juicy settlement in a tort case. However, in the post-9/11 atmosphere of growing Islamophobia, it became up to the accused to prove innocence, not just on a...

  23. Epilogue
    (pp. 335-348)

    By popular consensus – how that was shaped is another matter – the font of Islamic Evil today is (was?) Usama bin Laden. His cloven hoof-prints can be found at the scene of a series of ugly acts, whether actually perpetrated or narrowly averted, in East Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. Before the us and its closest allies could circle the wagons, bin Laden attacked the very heartland not only to wreak death and destruction but, so he hoped, to bring the United States itself trembling to its economic knees – hence the World Trade Center as his most outstanding (in...

  24. Notes
    (pp. 349-412)
  25. Index
    (pp. 413-420)