Financial giant AIG's decision to offer a shariah-compliant insurance program is drawing heat in court and on Capitol Hill. AIG is operating today with help from a $40 billion taxpayer bailout.
According to the Insurance Journal, an AIG subsidiary's shariah-compliant homeowner's insurance plan is the first of "a series of Shari'ah-compliant (Takaful) product offerings in the U.S." Companies involved in entertainment, alcohol and pork would not be eligible for investment from program funds.
In a letter dated Thursday to AIG board chairman Edward Liddy, U.S. Reps. Sue Myrick (R-NC) and Frank Wolf (R-VA) note that, for all its seeming appeal, shariah financing is used by terrorist groups from Al Qaida to Hamas to route money because it is difficult to track its flow. Calling the American people "de facto stockholders in your company," the two members of Congress bluntly warned AIG to be careful if it should continue its Shariah plan:
"We hope you can verify what hands your money passes through, because we would hate to see the FBI visit you one day, look into your books, and tell you that money from AIG found its way into terrorist hands.
You may call us, and other Americans, who warn you about your new Shariah products, fear mongerers. Many who warned about the subprime market collapse were also labeled in the same manner.
In fact, your touting of Shariah finance is much like your marketing and promotion of subprime loans. Many in the financial industry believed subprime loans were a great way to make money and would cause no harm. Do not make the same mistake by support Shariah finance, because, as we have stated, there are far more dire consequences."
Myrick helped created the bi-partisan Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus. Wolf is the ranking Republican on the House State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee and human rights champion. They noted other aspects of Shariah law, including the stoning to death of adulterers. See their letter here.
AIG's plan also generated a lawsuit in Michigan against Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and the Federal Reserve Board claiming that it would violate the First Amendment to have taxpayer money going to "approve, promote, endorse, support, and fund these Shariah-based Islamic religious activities."