18 June 2010
The Council of Senior Ulema, the highest body of Muslim clerics in Saudi Arabia, has issued a important religious ruling (fatwa) against terrorism, saying that committing terrorist acts, and even funding them, was against Islamic law. The fatwa defines terrorism as "a crime aiming at destabilizing security" by attacking people or property, public or private. The document lists examples such as "blowing up of dwellings, schools, hospitals, factories, bridges, airplanes (including hijacking), oil and pipelines."
The council said that it "regards the financing of such terrorist acts as a form of complicity to those acts…to bring a conduit for sustaining and spreading of such evil acts."
"The Council rules that the financing of terrorism, the inception, help or attempt to commit a terrorist act of whatever kind or dimension, is forbidden by Islamic Sharia and constitutes a punishable crime thereby; this includes gathering or providing of finance for that end." The fatwa exempts "legitimate charity to help the poor" from this ban.
The fatwa, dated 12 April but issued in May, was approved unanimously by the 19 members of the council. To implement it, the Saudi Shura Council is drafting a counterterrorism finance law, the ‘Washington Post’ reports.
Saudi sources told the newspaper that King Abdullah initiated the process that led to the fatwa, by asking for a ruling on terrorist financing.
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