Algerian authorities are investigating money raised in mosques there to see if it was used to train jihadists to join the war in Syria and other jihad hot spots.
According to an Aug. 22 story in the Arab-language paper el-Khabar, the investigation involves millions raised in zakat – or charity – donations, which are suspected of being funneled to finance training. A letter, discovered by el-Khabar, sent to the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Endowments, warned that there are "practices and abuses occurring inside mosques relating to collecting of donations by benefactors for the benefit of civil societies." The letter further indicates that local authorities should establish monitoring processes according to the new fundraising laws.
This practice is not unprecedented, but investigations and actions to stop it most certainly are. In fact, the new laws in Algeria should set a shining example to western countries facing similar problems. There are varying degrees of awareness and action. In Germany for example, a recent study undertaken by the Interior Ministry discovered that German mosques were raising funds for Hezbollah and its activities in Lebanon. The report published in June noted that "Hezbollah-affiliated mosque associations raised funds within the framework of 'religious ceremonies' as well as membership contributions." While the report, sponsored by a government agency, is laudable, no attempts at curtailment have yet been taken. However, tax subsidies from the Orphans Project Lebanon were eliminated several years ago.