The Delicious Irony of al Qaeda’s Looming Bankruptcy


One of the many ironies of Islamic fundamentalism – besides the most obvious of killing for God – is its dependence on money despite its overtly nonfinancial religiosity, and its theological commitment to wrecking capitalism.

Hah! So much for all that piety and devotion to Allah; better go sell some more heroin to southeast Asian drug lords.

FP has a nice bit on al Qaeda’s rocky finances, which raises the obvious question no jihadi would ever address – why should an aggressively religious-ideological organization require money at all?

The answer of course is just as obvious. Most ‘warriors for God’ are in it for the cash; God is just nice ideological cover. Lots of pirates, separatists, militias, and other brigands in Southeast Asia (Philippines especially) and Africa use Islamism as cover for pretty standard mafiaosi thuggery. If the Taliban ran out of drug money, how many of its ‘devoted’ warriors would show up the next day? In fact, we learned just how few, when the drug money temporarily dried up after the Northern Alliance victory in late 2001. It took about 5 years for the Taliban to get back on its feet, because it was broke. But aren’t martyrs looking to go to heaven supposed to fight for free? I guess not.

And how about using capitalist tools (fundraising, shadowy bank accounts, paychecks to fighters and video producers) against capitalism itself? Doesn’t the use of the tools bring those very pollutions into the heart of the jihadi effort?If capitalism brings ‘westoxification’ and ‘Jewish financial hegemony’ – hence the targeting of the World Trade Centers – how does one reconcile using it openly?

The answer is just as obvious – one can’t –  which tells you just how intellectually bankrupt Islamism, even in its softer forms, really is. Muslims, like everyone else, can be seduced by money. They are just as tempted to willfully misread their own private interest as aligned with their religious requirements. This must be a revelation to absolutely no one save the radical imams of the Middle East. In 1202, the fourth crusaders, supposedly off to save the Holy Land for Christianity, took a left turn to plunder other (byzantine) Christians for the cash instead. How nice. And what an obvious parallel to Saddam Hussein paying the families of Palestinian suicide bombers in the 1990s.

Further, the Muslim world is just as tied into the global economy as everyone else. You can’t ‘escape’ capitalism or the market, just like you can’t ‘escape’ gravity or the tides. Just ask the Soviets; 75 years of titanic effort and bloodshed still couldn’t keep Russians from trading on the black market for bluejeans. The non-western paradise Islamists want is just as illusory and ridiculous as the Aryan pre-modern paradise the Nazis wanted to build in Russia. If even al Qaeda has to use ‘Jewish’ money and capitalism to fight exactly those evils, then there’s no way they will win – no matter how many financial centers they blow up. The world has moved on; Islamists are on a fool’s errand to find a myth that never really existed anyway

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