Posted by Ali Abunimah
This blog reported on 9 October that American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) Board Member Marwan M. Atalla and his investment firm NEST U.S.A. Inc. are shareholders in Cirrus Design Corporation, an aircraft manufacturing firm which does millions in business with Israeli military contractors closely tied to the Israeli military establishment. (See “Board member of Ziad Asali’s ATFP does millions in business with Israeli military firm” )<!–more–>
As the earlier post explains, Cirrus has a long history of working with Israeli companies and recently chose an Israeli military contractor called TAT Technologies to supply $10 million worth of aircraft parts. TAT Technologies is run by Israeli military officers, including a former commander of Israeli occupation forces in southern Lebanon, and its factory is built on the land of the ethnically-cleansed Palestinian village of Yasur.
Since publishing that post, I have received new information from a former employee who is also a current minority shareholder at Cirrus. According to this individual Atalla was an active board member of Cirrus until 2001, but was forced to resign along with other independent board members when another investor, the First Islamic Investment Bank of Bahrain took a majority stake in Cirrus. Atalla and his firm NEST U.S.A. Inc. remain shareholders of Cirrus as of this time, according to NEST’s own website.
In 2005, the First Islamic Investment Bank of Bahrain changed its name to Arcapita. Arcapita is financed by investors in Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia and is well-connected to those countries’ ruling families.
The Arcapita website states on its current corporate investments page that it acquired a stake in “Cirrus Design Corporation” in 2001, but does not say how big the stake is. A 2007 report on aviation industry website AVweb, put Arcapita’s stake at a controlling 58 percent.
While the AVweb report mentions that Arcapita was seeking to divest from Cirrus, in fact it has become more deeply involved. An April 2009 press release from Cirrus stated that Arcapita had pumped even more money into the company during the global financial crisis.
As an Islamic investment bank, all of Arcapita’s investments are screened by its Shariah Supervisory Board which currently includes a religious scholar and former judge from the Supreme Court in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, as well as religious scholars from Pakistan and Bahrain. Such advisory boards are supposed to screen investments to make sure they comply with Islamic banking standards — typically avoiding interest, or investments in alcohol or pornography.
But for Arcapita, at least, there seems to be nothing un-Islamic about profiting from deals with the Israeli military establishment — the same military that has slaughtered more than nine thousand Muslims, Christians and others and injured and permanently maimed tens of thousands more in Palestine and Lebanon in the past decade alone in what numerous international investigations have termed war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Needless to say, Arcapita-controlled Cirrus’ business with the Israeli military establishment is a gross violation of the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel.