One of the biggest concerns surrounding Shariah-Compliant Finance is the disposition of “zakat” funds to Muslim charities selected by Shariah Scholars. The attacks in Mumbai actually raise just such a question. The group widely blamed and likely responsible for the horrific attacks is called Lashkar-e-Taiba. Not unlike Hezbollah, Lashkar-e-Taiba is a broad-based Jihadist group which conducts terrorist attacks on the one hand and provides civic services on the other hand. Most importantly for those of us concerned about Shariah-Compliant Finance, Lashkar-e-Taiba has a charitable arm which has been banned by the US government, but which enjoys the tolerance of the Pakistani government. This charity operates off of donations, i.e. “zakat,” the system of tything under Shariah…

DECEMBER 1, 2008


Indian and American officials are now reporting that the Mumbai attackers seem to have connections to Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based Islamist organization. Among other analytical clues, over the weekend, one anonymous American official quoted in the Washington Post noted that Lashkar has a known “maritime” capability. I’m not sure how much seaworthiness a group needs to demonstrate in order to be labeled “maritime” terrorists, but I can testify to the existence of Lashkar’s pontoon boat fleet, as I was not too long ago a passenger on that line.

Late in 2005, I travelled for The New Yorker to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to report on the earthquake that devastated the region. To facilitate international aid, the Pakistani government opened the region to journalists, creating a very rare opportunity to travel without escort and to poke around on the border. I was particularly interested in looking up Lashkar, which I had been following for many years. I made several visits to facilities run by its charity, called “Jamat-ud-Dawa,” which is today tolerated openly by the government of Pakistan but banned as a terrorist organization by the United States on the grounds that it is merely an alias for Lashkar.


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