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PA payments to convicted terrorists will continue

December 21, 2014

The Jerusalem Post reports that young men get paid 800 shekels more for committing a terrorist act than they would have received working for Palestinian Authority security services.

Unfortunately, Israel cannot deduct the amounts paid by the Palestinian Authority to these terrorists from taxes collected on the PA’s behalf because that could violate the Oslo accord. The PA is dead set on continuing these payments, taking on the responsibility of allotting funds through their central offices after the controversy of the payments forced the closure of the PA Prison Ministry.

Just think about how ridiculous this is: Israel has to collect tax revenues on the PA’s behalf but has no control over the PA’s decision to allocate those revenues to convicted terrorists dedicated to the destruction of Israel.

Thanks to Zadok for sending this over:

MK [Member of the Knesset] Orit Struck (Bayit Yehudi) argued that the problem is that “to be a terrorist has become a preferred profession.”

Struck said that she had compared the payments received by Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails to the salary of Palestinian security forces and found that terrorists are paid NIS 800 more.

The phenomenon of terrorism could not be slowed until it no longer “paid” to be a terrorist and the funneling of reward money to imprisoned terrorists from the Palestinians was cut off, the Bayit Yehudi MK said.

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ISIS annual income nears 3 billion: estimate

December 19, 2014

Shattering previous estimates, Thomson Reuters Accelus says that ISIS’s annual income is $2.9 billion annually with total assets surpassing $2 trillion.

Most of the income comes from the energy sector, with 55 percent income coming from oil and natural gas. The remainder comes from extortion/Islamic taxation (12 percent); control of the Iraqi agricultural sector (primarily wheat and barley at 7 percent), the cement industry (10 percent), and phosphate mining (10 percent); kidnap-for-ransom schemes (4 percent); and donations (2 percent).

Hat tip to Gisele for sending in an infographic from their findings, which include the income breakdown:

Where Islamic State gets its money

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The money behind the jihad: suggested reading

December 18, 2014
  • During Operation Protective Edge, Israel Defense Forces seized kalashnikovs, electroshock weapons, uzis, and RPG’s among other goodies smuggled through tunnels by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihadmore>>
  • The Union of Arab Banks is concerned that U.S. courts will allow even more cases to be brought against them for facilitating terrorism… more>>
  • A human rights lawyer decries the Salafi business cartels that have taken over Somalia… more>>
  • Congressman wants answers on whether CENTCOM attempted to make a payment for the release of Bowe Bergdahl from its $5 million fund … more>>
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Islamic charity official becomes president of ISNA

December 16, 2014

The country’s largest Muslim group has selected a senior Islamic charity official as its new president. Azhar Azeez was elected as the president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in August, a Muslim civic group which was an unindicted co-conspirator in the successful trial against the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) for financing Hamas.

Azeez is also the “director of fund development” for Islamic Relief USA (IR-USA), the largest Muslim charity in America, and also oversees IR-USA’s regional offices based in Buena Park, California (Los Angeles area); Santa Clara, California (San Jose area); Palos Hills, Illinois (Chicago area); Totowa, New Jersey (Paterson area); Plano, Texas (Dallas area); and Temple Terrace, Florida (Tampa area). Azeez previously served as the president of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) chapter in Dallas. CAIR was also an unindicted co-conspirator in the HLF case. In his role at IR-USA, Azeez would probably have had authority over grants issued to other domestic organizations, including $118,000 that IR-USA earmarked for terror-affiliated groups in 2013.

The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch notes that CAIR is also part of the Muslim Brotherhood, and that several of Azeez’s professional associates are connected to the Dallas Central Mosque where two of the five convicted HLF leaders were active.

Azeez’s election to such a high-profile position is somewhat surprising given the steady decline in IR-USA’s credibility and reputation over the last several years. IR-USA’s budget tumbled after the charity was revealed to have falsely inflated the value of its drug stockpiles, which represented a significant share of their total assets. IR-USA’s international affiliate—Islamic Relief Worldwide—has been banned by Israel and designated as a terrorist entity by the United Arab Emirates within the past several months. IR-USA’s president was quietly let go in late 2013.

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FinCEN pooh-poohs knowing your customer

December 15, 2014

A federal financial crime agency has issued a statement imploring banks to continue or resume doing business with money services businesses (MSB’s)—many of which are hawala companies—despite the risks of hawala financing domestic and international terrorism. FinCEN’s statement stems in large part from pressure brought to bear by Democratic politicians, Somali activists, and well-meaning but misguided international charities who believe that remittances are an effective channel for humanitarian relief to corruption-plagued hot zones abroad. These parties fail to understand that remittances are fuel to the fire in places like Somalia where remittances are siphoned off by al-Shabaab to perpetuate the cycle of violence and misery in that country.

In the statement, FinCEN even goes out of its way to instruct banks that they do “not need to know the MSB’s individual customers” to remain compliant with know-your-customer provisions of the Bank Secrecy Act. This instruction seems at odds with years of federal regulatory admonitions for banks to know their customers.

Financial crimes analyst Kenneth Rijock does a wonderful job picking apart FinCEN’s pronouncement, posing the following observations about MSBs:

  1. They are frequently used by both money launderers, and terrorist financiers. This is a sad fact of life; laundrymen know that many MSBs are storefront operations, poorly run, and who would consider  accepting dirty money, to earn a handsome profit.
  2. They exist in jurisdictions where regulatory agencies are either non-existent, or unable or unwilling to enforce AML/CFT laws. Therefore, the MSB has no reason to have an effective compliance program.
  3. They may be actually owned, or controlled by, criminal elements; Look at Mexico.
  4. They are not like licensed financial institutions, the licensing requirements are often minimal, and corrupt government agencies, once paid off, are usually eager to qualify individuals who are unacceptable as NBFI operators.
  5. If a client cannot go to a bank in his or her jurisdiction, to send larger amounts of funds, it is often because their dodgy business is not wanted at legitimate financial institutions.
  6. MSBs in many countries are known for dysfunctional AML programs. Can we really expect US banks, who are held to best practices standards, to risk accepting money from them ?

Read Rijock’s full analysis here.

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Rewind: wages to fighters for Al Qaeda in Iraq

December 14, 2014

In early 2013, Money Jihad came across informative research by Danielle Jung and Jacob Shapiro at Princeton University (hat tip to University College London lecturer Paul Gill) into wages paid to members of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI)—the group that eventually became the Islamic State. Money Jihad drafted some bullet points on some of the findings from the research, but didn’t publish them in a blog post at the time. But better late than never—details about AQI’s wage structure have been lost in the shuffle amidst bigger commentary on ISIS’s money from oil, ransoms, and looted antiquities.  Yet the expenditure side of the ledger is just as important:

  • AQI paid insurgents using a flat wage structure with additional compensation based on the size of the fighter’s family, not based on the fighter’s seniority in the organization.
  • No correlation was found between wages to terrorists to the amount of risk they took.  In other words, jihadists engaged in riskier operations were not rewarded more than those engaged in lower risk activities.
  • 53 percent of compensation to fighters consisted of non-wage payments such as ad hoc payments for equipment, food, living expenses, etc.
  • Payroll records varied among AQI cells with some cells using handwritten ledgers and while others used Microsoft Excel.
  • One AQI document indicated that wages for a single Iraq insurgent with no children were set at $41 a month with $20 extra per dependent.
  • Payments to families of suicide bombers continued after the fighter’s martyrdom.
  • The level of compensation was fairly low even by Iraqi standards; about equal to that of an administrative assistant.
  • The low wages may have helped AQI screen for true believers, but they also noted that there was a large supply of willing fighters.
  • The guaranteed pension to martyr’s families may have been an incentive that offset the downsides of low wages, basically serving as a life insurance benefit to jihadists.

Jung and Shapiro’s original paper appears to be unavailable at this time, or was subsequently combined with Rand Company analysis, or else we would include a link to it.

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Islamic charity’s terrorism denial falls short

December 12, 2014

In response to the UAE’s designation of Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) as a terrorist entity, IRW has denied any link to terrorism.  Unfortunately, the global Islamic charity’s denial doesn’t go nearly far enough to clear the air.  The real follow-up questions to IRW should include:  what policies does the charity have in place, for example, with their Gaza and West Bank programs to vet partner charities on the ground and to conduct background screening on volunteers? What actual steps does IRW take to ensure that joint activities with terrorist groups such as Hamas does not happen, cannot happen, or to minimize the likelihood of it happening?

Any British-based company understands the risks of doing business internationally. They conduct due diligence on prospective clients, business partners, and customers to make sure that they are not violating international sanctions and that their partners doe not expose them to any undue risk for laundering money. But several Islamic charities in Britain have failed to take the same standards to heart. Again, what sort of due diligence is IRW carrying out on their charitable partners, employees, and volunteers?  What type of background screening do they do? What terms are in the contracts of the businesses and partner charities that they work with?

It’s not enough to merely assert that nothing untoward is occuring.  Even basic public relations skills would tell you that some type explanation of the standards IRW has in place would boost donor and regulator confidence.  So far IRW’s explanations have also failed to impress Israel either, which banned IRW from operating in the Palestinian territories earlier this year over concerns that the charity works with Hamas.

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