An analysis of public pension systems in the U.S. finds the largest and most prominent funds tend to be heavily invested in global publicly traded companies that have business activities in terrorist-sponsoring states.
According to a report by the organization DivestTerror.org, the top 100 pension systems in the U.S. invest between 15 and 23 percent of their portfolio in companies that do business in nations considered to be sponsors of terror. The group hopes to pressure such pension funds to change course, pull their funds from terror states and thereby help dry up the source of funds available to anti-American terrorists.
States the report: “From the pension system of this country’s smallest state, Rhode Island, which has close to $400 million invested in 41 companies that are active in terrorist-sponsoring states, to America’s largest public pension system – the California Public Employees Retirement System – which has over $17 billion invested in 201 such companies, the results were remarkably uniform.”
The report found 39 of the top 100 pension systems were invested in more than 100 companies with corporate ties to terrorist-sponsoring states. The companies in which they’re invested are involved in projects in rogue states valued at more than $73 billion.
The nations involved include Iran, Libya, Sudan, North Korean, Syria and Iraq before the fall of Saddam Hussein. Though Cuba is considered a rogue state, relevant data was unavailable to researchers.
“From the fact that virtually each and every public employee in this country holds stock in companies that partner with governments that sponsor terrorism flows an extraordinary opportunity: America’s 100 largest and most influential pension systems have the power to help defeat terrorism,” states the report. “To understand why requires only one further statistic: The total estimated value of the stock of some 400 companies doing business in terrorist sponsoring states held by America’s leading public pension systems is approximately $188 billion.”
With that level of stock value, the activist group believes, the top pension systems can exert “considerable influence” over the decision-making and business activities of those companies, resulting in a financial blow to those firms choosing to continue doing business with terror-sponsoring states.
Says the report: “There will no longer be simply profits to be garnered from investments in rogue states; from now on, there will be real costs. Ideally, those costs will translate into a choice between doing business with the American people and capital markets on the one hand or, alternatively, doing business with terrorists’ friends and this country’s enemies.”
DivestTerror.org, which is a project of the Center for Security Policy, mentions the South Africa divestment campaign of the 1980s that helped topple the apartheid system there. Besides hoping to pressure companies to withdraw from rogue nations, the group wants to see those nations also make changes – namely, stop supporting and funding terrorism.
The group mentions a letter penned by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., to the executive directors of the top 100 pension systems.
“It is unconscionable for our country’s public pension systems to permit investment in companies that provide revenues, advanced equipment and technology to countries that threaten our vital security interests,” wrote Lautenberg.
States the activist group: “Americans do not want to invest in terror, directly or indirectly. Regrettably, that is what is being done on a massive scale today. Stopping such a practice – the goal of DivestTerror.org – can make a significant contribution to waging and winning the war on terror.”
Besides working with public pension systems, DivestTerror.org encourages individual investors to take action by asking their brokers and portfolio managers to provide data on corporate ties to terrorist-sponsoring states. Those who do not, the group says, should be threatened with a loss of business.
If the information is obtained, the organization suggests writing to the offending companies and “explaining that you are divesting its stock and will not consider holding it in the future as long as its does business with countries that are state-sponsors of terror.”
In a recent commentary on the issue, WND columnist Craig R. Smith explained:
“U.S. law restricts American companies from doing businesses with terrorist-supporting nations including Iran, Sudan, Syria, Cuba, Libya and North Korea. But there’s a loophole that does not apply to a foreign or offshore subsidiary run by non-Americans.”
Smith advises his readers: “Stop feeling helpless in the fight against terrorism. Send a message to Wall Street that greed is not good and We the People are tired of participating in ‘commerce without morality’ – especially when it comes to funding terrorists!”