Another threat of financial warfare was issued by the late leader of al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden boasted that his jihadists were as "aware of the cracks in the Western financial system as they are aware of the lines in their own hands." That from a man who selected the World Trade Center as a target for the 9/11 attacks so as to do massive economic harm to the United States. It was not lost on bin Laden - or America's other enemies - that when the U.S. economy declines, calls intensify for cutting back spending on America's defenses.
No less troubling should be the fact that a very-much-alive spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, has described the use of proceeds from shariah-compliant finance as "jihad with money."
Worse, Qaradawi is a top shariah authority for the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar. That position and his preeminence in Islamic jurisprudence world-wide (thanks in part to his popular jihadist program broadcast by al Jazeera Arabic TV) has helped make Qaradawi a driving force in what is now said to be a trillion-dollar "Islamic finance" industry. Under his influence, Islamists have successfully enlisted Western capitalists to help them exploit free markets as a strategic tool for promoting and insinuating their toxic, supremacist politico-military-legal doctrine throughout the Free World, including the United States.
(Incredibly, this stealth jihadist is the man the Obama administration has reportedly tapped to help broker peace talks with the Taliban on Afghanistan. Presumably, it is no accident that the latter have chosen to set up their new diplomatic mission in Qaradawi's adopted home town, the Qatari capital of Doha.)
Is it a coincidence that, as the Wall Street Journal reported in August 2007, shariah authorities gave their blessing to the practice of "short selling" just as the stock market was peaking?
As even former Obama economic guru and Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summer has observed, sovereign wealth funds (SWF) serve the interests of the sovereign first, and profit second. Freeman believes we face a particular danger from the fact that most of the world's SWF sovereigns are in China and the Middle East - the latter, increasingly governed by the dictates of shariah-compliant finance.
I have accompanied Kevin Freeman in briefings he has conducted at senior levels in official Washington and with top financial players in New York, Dallas and Houston. Those of his interlocutors in the national security community seemed, without exception, to accept that economic threats to the United States could come from quarters not interested in monetary returns. Unfortunately, such folks typically lack Freeman's deep understanding of financial markets, their vulnerabilities and how they could be exploited.
By contrast, when Kevin Freeman has presented his findings to financial market participants, they rarely get it. Typically, they fall back on the traditional assumption that anyone who buys Credit Default Swaps, stocks or bonds has an exclusively economic motive. The idea that these instruments could be used as weapons is so foreign to them that they often push back angrily, denying the obvious.
Yet, despite willful blindness and blistering attack, Freeman's warnings stand up to scrutiny. His Secret Weapon should receive it at the highest levels of both the national security and financial security communities, and at once.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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