U.S. dependence on oil has led to an unprecedented transfer of wealth to the Muslim nations of the Middle East. And now it seems they are using that money to advance an Islamic agenda.
It's called Sharia-compliant finance. Sharia is best known in the West for the punishments it requires, including stoning for adultery, amputation for theft and death to those who leave Islam. Sharia finance claims to not allow profit from interest or risk, or from prohibited items such as pork or alcohol.
It would be one thing if Sharia finance was just another way for Muslims to invest their money, but critics of Sharia-compliant finance say it's a whole lot more than that.
"Sharia finance is a piece of what I call the stealth jihad," Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy said. He is one of the chief critics of Sharia Finance in Washington.
"It espouses, it embraces and it is designed to help advance a program, Sharia, that is seditious; that requires the destruction of our constitutional government," he added, calling it treason.
"It's about what its proponents have called financial jihad or jihad with money," he said.
Sharia Gains U.S. Support
Washington not only allows Sharia finance, the U.S. Treasury promotes it. Last month the Treasury Department sponsored a seminar called Islamic Finance 101.
Many banks, brokerages and insurers are also trying to lure money from the Middle East by offering Sharia-compliant products. That includes AIG, which went belly up and was taken over by U.S. government to the tune of $150 billion. That takeover means the U.S. government and taxpayers now have a stake in Sharia finance.
The Dow Jones Islamic Market Indexes was created for Sharia-compliant portfolios. It's advised by leading Muslim scholars.
Earlier this year, one of those advisors, Sheikh Taqi Usmani, was quietly removed from his position, after it was learned that he thought Muslims should engage in aggressive military jihad "to establish the supremacy of Islam" worldwide.
Muslims Thriving Off U.S. Recession
The recent market meltdown in the West has the Muslim world believing that now is their time.
"The collapse of the capitalist system based on usury and paper…is proof that it is in crisis and shows that the Islamic economic philosophy is holding up," leading Islamic scholar Dr. Yusef Al-Qaradawi said.
"All riches are ours," he added. "The Islamic nation has all or nearly all the oil and we have an economic philosophy that no one else has."
Al-Qaradaw urges Muslims to "profit from the crisis to bring about the triumph of the (Islamic) nation, which holds the spiritual and material resources for victory."
Marshall Sana, Islamic expert at the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity, a part of Barnabas Fund, added that "at the conclusion of the recent hajj in Mecca the Grand Mufti talked about the failure of capitalism. That we've seen the end of communism and we're seeing the failure of capitalism. The answer is Islamic finance. He said Sharia finance."
Sana says Sharia finance is actually a distortion of Korannic teachings, and was traditionally understood to prohibit usury rather than interest. He says it was not widely practiced by Muslims until recent decades, and believes it is being promoted now as a financial weapon against the West.
"It's war footing," he said. "And it's setting up not only a separatism and a segregation, but it's attaching it to Sharia law, which we all know is a supremacist ideology."
"It has inequality built into it, between woman and men and Muslims and non-Muslims," he added. "If you look at the literature and you look at the internal dialogue, the end is supremacy. The end is controlling institutions. It's setting up an Islamic economy and an Islamic economy is to be the world economy. "
Calls Against Sharia
A lawsuit was filed Dec. 15 in federal court against the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve board for supporting Sharia in violation of the First Amendment. The suit also seeks to stop any bailout money from going to AIG.
Gaffney is outraged that the government and Wall Street are welcoming Sharia finance.
"Today it's happening at the Treasury Department under the Bush administration, to say nothing of what will happen under the Obama administration-- actively promoting the activity," he said. "It's madness. It's reckless. I think if most Americans knew what was going on here, if they knew what was at stake, would be horrified."
*Original broadcast December 19, 2008.