Let's All Join the War on Terror

Like many Americans, I have invested in mutual funds for my retirement. While hundreds of thousands of young Americans are risking their lives fighting terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq, we, the American people, must make sure that our investments do not inadvertently support the wrong side in the war on terror. We must demand that Wall Street provide us with the opportunity to invest in terror-free mutual funds

Currently, there are hundreds of companies traded on American stock exchanges that do business with the four state sponsors of terror: Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria. Through their mutual fund investments, the American people may have unknowingly invested billions of dollars in companies that help develop the economies of state sponsors of terror.

Whereas U.S. law forbids most American companies from doing business with such sponsors, that is not the case for foreign companies or the foreign subsidiaries of American firms.

Take the example of Iran, the world's leading state sponsor of terror. Using the list of the 150 companies that do business in Iran from the website of the organization called "United Against a Nuclear Iran," I found that some of my own mutual funds hold investments in companies with ties to Iran. One example is the huge French company Total SA, which helps Iran to develop its oil and natural gas sector.

Although this is not illegal, there is a clear moral issue at stake. Without the help of companies like Total, Iran would not be able to develop its own natural resources. Iran generates huge revenues from the sale of oil and natural gas. What do they do with all this money?

Iran uses its tremendous wealth to supply the insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq with the capital, training, and weapons that wound and kill American soldiers. According to the website of the U.S. State Department,

Iran's IRGC Qods Force provided assistance to the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Qods Force provided training to the Taliban on small unit tactics, small arms, explosives, and indirect fire weapons. Since at least 2006, Iran has arranged arms shipments including small arms and associated ammunition, rocket propelled grenades, mortar rounds, 107mm rockets, and plastic explosives to select Taliban members.

In addition, we know that Iran and Syria, co-sponsors of Hamas and Hezbollah, have supplied both organizations with thousands of rockets that have killed Israeli civilians.

Now Iran is pursuing the ultimate weapon of terror: a nuclear bomb.  

Many state legislatures -- including my home state of Indiana -- have passed legislation requiring their state pension funds to divest from investments in foreign companies doing business with state sponsors of terror. Christopher Holton, Director of the Divest Terror Initiative of the Center for Security Policy, said that "[t]he cumulative effect [of divestment] has been to withhold billions of dollars ... to take away the corporate life support for the ayatollahs and other terrorist nations."

I have sold off my mutual funds that have investments in foreign companies doing business in Iran. However, since mutual funds change their holdings all the time, I have no guarantee that my other funds will remain terror-free.

There are a growing number of Americans like me who want to have the opportunity for terror-free investing. Unfortunately, there are very few mutual funds that are dedicated to a policy of terror-free investing. 

So here is the challenge to Wall Street: It's time to join the war on terror.

My investment choices do have consequences. I do not want my money helping Iran to pay for the roadside bombs that kill American soldiers in Afghanistan, nor for the rockets of Hamas and Hezbollah. Nor do I want my money helping the government of Sudan while it continues to commit genocide in Darfur.

Now is the time for each of us to take action. We can call the customer service representatives of our own mutual funds and ask that a simple question be passed on to the fund managers: Why isn't my mutual fund terror-free? In addition, we can educate ourselves about the companies that do business with Iran by using the Iranian Business Registry on the website of United Against a Nuclear Iran (www.uani.org).

We can no longer ignore the fact that state sponsors of terror use our investment money for evil purposes. We must demand that the American mutual fund industry send a strong message to these countries, especially Iran and Sudan: No more business as usual. It is time for all of us to do our part in the war on terror.
Like many Americans, I have invested in mutual funds for my retirement. While hundreds of thousands of young Americans are risking their lives fighting terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq, we, the American people, must make sure that our investments do not inadvertently support the wrong side in the war on terror. We must demand that Wall Street provide us with the opportunity to invest in terror-free mutual funds

Currently, there are hundreds of companies traded on American stock exchanges that do business with the four state sponsors of terror: Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria. Through their mutual fund investments, the American people may have unknowingly invested billions of dollars in companies that help develop the economies of state sponsors of terror.

Whereas U.S. law forbids most American companies from doing business with such sponsors, that is not the case for foreign companies or the foreign subsidiaries of American firms.

Take the example of Iran, the world's leading state sponsor of terror. Using the list of the 150 companies that do business in Iran from the website of the organization called "United Against a Nuclear Iran," I found that some of my own mutual funds hold investments in companies with ties to Iran. One example is the huge French company Total SA, which helps Iran to develop its oil and natural gas sector.

Although this is not illegal, there is a clear moral issue at stake. Without the help of companies like Total, Iran would not be able to develop its own natural resources. Iran generates huge revenues from the sale of oil and natural gas. What do they do with all this money?

Iran uses its tremendous wealth to supply the insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq with the capital, training, and weapons that wound and kill American soldiers. According to the website of the U.S. State Department,

Iran's IRGC Qods Force provided assistance to the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Qods Force provided training to the Taliban on small unit tactics, small arms, explosives, and indirect fire weapons. Since at least 2006, Iran has arranged arms shipments including small arms and associated ammunition, rocket propelled grenades, mortar rounds, 107mm rockets, and plastic explosives to select Taliban members.

In addition, we know that Iran and Syria, co-sponsors of Hamas and Hezbollah, have supplied both organizations with thousands of rockets that have killed Israeli civilians.

Now Iran is pursuing the ultimate weapon of terror: a nuclear bomb.  

Many state legislatures -- including my home state of Indiana -- have passed legislation requiring their state pension funds to divest from investments in foreign companies doing business with state sponsors of terror. Christopher Holton, Director of the Divest Terror Initiative of the Center for Security Policy, said that "[t]he cumulative effect [of divestment] has been to withhold billions of dollars ... to take away the corporate life support for the ayatollahs and other terrorist nations."

I have sold off my mutual funds that have investments in foreign companies doing business in Iran. However, since mutual funds change their holdings all the time, I have no guarantee that my other funds will remain terror-free.

There are a growing number of Americans like me who want to have the opportunity for terror-free investing. Unfortunately, there are very few mutual funds that are dedicated to a policy of terror-free investing. 

So here is the challenge to Wall Street: It's time to join the war on terror.

My investment choices do have consequences. I do not want my money helping Iran to pay for the roadside bombs that kill American soldiers in Afghanistan, nor for the rockets of Hamas and Hezbollah. Nor do I want my money helping the government of Sudan while it continues to commit genocide in Darfur.

Now is the time for each of us to take action. We can call the customer service representatives of our own mutual funds and ask that a simple question be passed on to the fund managers: Why isn't my mutual fund terror-free? In addition, we can educate ourselves about the companies that do business with Iran by using the Iranian Business Registry on the website of United Against a Nuclear Iran (www.uani.org).

We can no longer ignore the fact that state sponsors of terror use our investment money for evil purposes. We must demand that the American mutual fund industry send a strong message to these countries, especially Iran and Sudan: No more business as usual. It is time for all of us to do our part in the war on terror.