TERROR-FREE INVESTING: An Interview with Patriot Fund’s Mark Langerman
by SHARIAH FINANCE WATCH
August 1, 2012
Americans are all-too familiar with the fact that Wall Street has fully embraced Shariah-Compliant Finance. The so-called titans of the financial world have prostituted themselves and their companies in attempts to gain access to petrodollars from the hands of individuals, governments and institutions that adhere to a doctrine that is diametrically opposed to everything American liberty and free enterprise stand for.
Nowhere is this more epitomized than in the case of HSBC, which is one of the Western world's leaders in Shariah-Compliant Finance and has recently been fined after having been revealed to have been a facilitator for terrorism financing, money laundering and narco-terrorism.
This sorry record illustrates one of the true shames on Wall Street: while Wall Street has embraced Shariah Finance, they have all but ignored-and in some cases have actively suppressed-the polar opposite of Shariah Finance: Terror-Free Investing.
Terror-Free Investing (TFI) is the practice of investing in such a way as to exclude investments in companies that have active business ties in nations that are listed as state sponsors of terrorism. The most prominent example of such a nation is obviously the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world's most active state sponsor of Jihadist terrorism. Iran also happens to be the world leader in Shariah-Compliant Finance, which is no coincidence.
SFW is fortunate to be able to present this interview with America's leading expert on Terror-Free Investing, Mark Langerman of the Patriot Fund.
The Patriot Fund is currently the only mutual fund being offered to American investors that is terror-free.
SFW: 1. What exactly is "terror-free" investing?
Mark Langerman: Terror Free Investing (TFI) gives people Power. One of the reasons people invest in mutual funds is to give the portfolio manager investment powers to make buy and sell decisions on their behalf. But, most people aren't aware and don't fully understand the implications of their choices of who they invest with and how it can and does in fact effect our national security and the safety of our men and women in uniform. Most people are not aware that the soft drink manufacturers or the auto makers that they invest through their mutual funds and retirement plans pump vital money and resources into regimes that are killing Americans through their support of terrorism. When you invest in an international conglomerate that sells everything from computer systems to technology that can be "re-purposed" for military use to Iran or Syria, you are in essence supplying them with what they need to wage their war on the West. It's less about the Coke or Pepsi, its more about the dollars that stream to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to do their dirty work. It is about the communications equipment that Siemens sells them that they can use to further their nuclear program or the spare plane parts that Boeing sells them to keep their planes in the air. Simply put, TFI gives people the opportunity to take a stand and actually be part of the economic war on terror, but not the only benefit. Investing terror-free also potentially reduces shareholder risk by avoiding investment in volatile, terrorism-dependent economies (countries known as high "global security risks"). TFI is investment with a purpose, a movement meant to change corporate behavior and reward investors with a clear conscience and superior returns on their investments.
SFW: 2. When we refer to "terror-free" investing, we're not referring to individuals and entities on the Treasury Department's OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) list, but rather companies that choose to give corporate life support to terrorist nations, correct?
Mark Langerman: Yes, that's correct. These companies which now stand at over 600 globally are the lifeblood of these terrorist economies.
SFW: 3. There has been a great deal of talk over the years that state sponsorship of terrorism was no longer the major concern because of the emergence of "transnational" terrorist groups like Al Qaeda. That's not necessarily true is it? And even Al Qaeda has benefited from relations with these nations, correct?
Mark Langerman: Ask yourself what country's plot to assassinate people on American soil was recently uncovered? What country supports insurgents abroad who are fighting American soldiers? What country's proxies were involved in blowing up the Marine barracks in Lebanon that killed 241 American service men and women and injured scores more. And yes, even Al-Qaeda has benefitted and by some measures are still benefitting from their relationships with state sponsors of terrorism. That country is, of course, Iran.
SFW: 4. What other Jihadist terrorist organizations receive aid and comfort from the nations targeted by the Patriot Fund?
Mark Langerman: Terrorism doesn't happen in a vacuum, terrorist organizations need that support of sympathetic countries to run their organizations. In addition to Al Qaeda, which we just talked about, Hezbollah and HAMAS have both benefited from state sponsorship from Iran, Syria and Sudan, for instance.
SFW: 5. Which nations are targeted under terror-free investment policies?
Mark Langerman: Iran, Syria, North Korea and Sudan
SFW: 6. This seems like a category that Wall Street is ignoring, despite the horror that they faced on September 11th, 2001. What prompted you to go against the grain and get involved in terror-free investment management?
Mark Langerman: After over 20 years as a financial advisor, I was at a conference in Washington D.C. and sat through two breakouts sessions that discussed the growing movement to engage state governments to divest their pension fund portfolios from companies doing business with Iran. Which is something you know quite a bit about yourself and your efforts in a way helped to inspire my work to educate Americans about the problem and ultimately provide a solution for them. When I got back to Arizona and started researching more about this, and the more I learned, the more shocked I was that this was going on and more importantly that Wall Street had done nothing about it. I immediately knew then that I had to do what I can to make a difference.
SFW: 7. The Patriot Fund is probably the world's only terror-free mutual fund, but you actually have been in the terror free investment management business for some time. Is that correct?
Mark Langerman: Yes, that conference in D.C. took place over 5 years ago in the spring of 2007 and we have been educating and providing people with the opportunity to invest terror-free since then. At first investing terror-free was limited to our own clients but the Patriot Fund is the solution we have been waiting for since it gives people across all financial and political spectrums regardless of who your financial advisor is a way to invest terror-free.
SFW: 8. Most Americans would be shocked to learn that companies that they invest in have active business ties to terrorist-sponsoring nations. With all the reports and talk of the ever-escalating sanctions on Iran in particular, how many companies are still doing business in and with Iran, Sudan and Syria?
Mark Langerman: Over 600 globally including over 10% of the S&P 500 representing over $1,400,000,000,000.00 (yes that trillion ) of market capitalization.
SFW: 9. Is it true that Chinese companies especially do a great deal of business with Iran? What other nations of note have companies with extensive active ties to these terrorist nations?
Mark Langerman: As of March 31st 2012, China had 37 companies, India had 52 and the U.S. had 53. Kind of surprising and disappointing.
SFW: 10. Does terror-free methodology inhibit investment performance?
Mark Langerman: No. In fact we believe that since TFI reduces global security risk in your portfolio that this may add to performance over time. We have data that shows over the past 8 years a terror free portfolio has outperformed its non-terror-free counterpart 5 of those last 8 years. That's one of our strongest points when talking to people about investing terror free, that they can make a difference and help fight terrorism while still doing well financially for their families.
SFW: 11. Does terror-free methodology add any risk to a portfolio?
Mark Langerman: No, the terror free methodology reduces risk.
SFW: 12. Why do you think Wall Street has been so slow on the uptake in terms of terror-free investing?
Mark Langerman: I think that Wall Street and Main Street have had divergent interests in many areas over the years. Wall Street has to do well for people in the long run but how they get there is a different story and I think that as movements like terror-free investing grow in strength and numbers they will have to stand up and take notice and ultimately start offering terror-free alternatives to their clients. We could also spend hours taking about other reasons I think they haven't taken it up but maybe we can save that for another time.
For more information on the Patriot Fund, visit the fund's web site: