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Update: the world’s 10 richest terror groups

November 28, 2014
Money held by wealthy international terrorists - http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/187337#.VHC3_snQq0E

Graphic by Israel National News

A new ranking of the best funded terrorist organizations has been published by Forbes Israel. The Islamic State of Iraq comes in first with a reported net worth of $2 billion, followed by Hamas at $1 billion, FARC in third place at $600 million, Hezbollah fourth, and the Taliban fifth. Money Jihad would have estimated a lower net worth for ISIS, and would have placed the Taliban higher on the list. Forbes Israel rates the Irish Republic Army at 9th place with $50 million, which Money Jihad believes is an overinflated figure, while the Belfast Telegraph reports that Forbes based that figure on information from the U.S. State Department and academics.

U.S. Treasury official David Cohen has said several times recently that ISIS is the best-financed terrorist group that is not funded by a state sponsor—a comment which tends to undermine the Forbes ranking by suggesting that Hamas and Hezbollah, which are funded by Iran, have more money than ISIS.

One common thread across most of the terrorist groups listed is their reliance on revenues from “taxes” that they believe are justified by the foundational texts of their ideologies.  ISIS charges Iraqi businessmen taxes as a form of zakat and charges non-Muslims jizya.  Hezbollah collects money much of its money through khums, the Shia tax on gains.  Al-Shabaab collects checkpoint taxes and zakat on trade in keeping with taxes and customs duties levied by the caliphate of antiquity. The Taliban collects harvest taxes on opium and collects ransom money as authorized by the Koran. The FARC believes that expropriating the wealth of capitalists through extortion and ransom are in keeping with the writings of Marx and Engels.

Hat tip to Gisele for sending in coverage of the Forbes report.

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Financial war on terror news: suggested reading

November 27, 2014
  • “No doubt” that halal certifiers fund extremism, says member of parliamentmore>>
  • ISIS wants to mint its own coins—not for practical, economic reasons—but to impose sharia lawmore>>
  • How to defend against piracymore>>
  • Fresh analysis puts cold water on claims that looted antiquities are ISIS‘s 2nd biggest revenue source… more>>
  • The fine line between paying informants for intelligence and paying ransoms to terrorists just got fuzzier… more>>
  • Yusuf Qaradawi, the world’s most prominent sharia finance advocate, calls on Muslims to take arms against Israel… more>>
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10 tips for businesses to avoid financing terror

November 24, 2014

If you run or work for a medium or small business that can’t afford to have an entire compliance department, or even a compliance officer, here are a few tips that will help your business reduce its risk of inadvertently funding a terrorist organization, running afoul of federal authorities, or both:

  1. Conduct due diligence before taking on new accounts, and do not rely exclusively on Internet searches for due diligence.
  2. For international accounts it is doubly important to carry out thorough due diligence (including overseas business partners, banks, security providers, and charities) before signing agreements with them. You will probably have to contract out for investigation services, but it’s worth the expense.
  3. If your business promotes or authorizes employee payroll deductions to make charitable contributions, review the list of participating charities. Do not offer payroll deductions for donations to charities suspected of financing terrorism or charities known to have worked with designated terrorists. This would include Islamic Relief USA and the Zakat Foundation (see here and here).
  4. If your business requires or offers diversity or equal opportunity training, do not make payments to any organization or person to conduct the training who has been implicated in terrorist financing schemes such as members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations or the Islamic Society of North America, both of which were unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation Hamas-financing case.
  5. Think twice before offering sharia-compliant investment accounts to employees or allowing a conventional retirement brokers to offer sharia funds to your employees. These financial products are less transparent with respect to fund management by sharia advisory boards whose members often share close ties with the international Muslim Brotherhood and are not subject to disclosure requirements on where they channel their profits.
  6. Do not buy corporate fruit baskets or other gift baskets from Edible Arrangements. Their CEO operates a foundation out of his office at Edible Arrangements allegedly linked to Pakistani front charities that fund Islamist militants.
  7. Do not have business lunches, meetings, or conferences catered by halal food providers such as IFANCA and Crescent Foods, which have been endorsed by or have catered events for entities that are suspected to have financed terrorism.
  8. If you are asked by an importer whether your business can ship to or “enter an Arab Port?” do not answer the question. That is code language used to ascertain your business’s willingness to participate in the Arab League’s boycott against Israel. Answering the question helps those who oppose the existence of Israel and will lead to fines by the U.S. Office of Antiboycott Compliance.
  9. Don’t let your data or your employees be held for ransom. Ask your IT department or technology provider about their security protocols against ransomware. Make adequate plans to protect your employees from abduction during overseas travel. Paying ransoms will serve to enrich criminal or terrorist groups which will be costlier and less secure for your industry in the long run.
  10. Bookmark and read blogs such as Money Jihad, Kenneth Rijock’s Financial Crime Blog, and Shariah Finance Watch for the latest threat trends in terror finance risk management. These websites are free unlike some of the other specialized news sites which are informative but fee-based.
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International terror finance news: suggested reading

November 23, 2014
  • A plain account of Hamas’s $1 billion budget… more>>
  • Police arrest 9 Salafists who robbed churches in Germany to fund ISISmore>>
  • Hezbollah in South America gave C4 explosives to a Brazilian prison gang in exchange for protection of Lebanese inmates (h/t @RedQRedT)… more>>
  • Hamas recently smuggled $12 million from Syria to Turkey—money which is being held by the brother-in-law of Hamas leader Khaled Meshaalmore>>
  • Turkey’s cross-border smuggling with Iraq and Syria wouldn’t be so worrisome if it weren’t for Turkey’s porous northern border with EU member Bulgaria… more>>
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Low on donations, AQAP goes on robbery spree

November 21, 2014

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is robbing whatever they can—banks, post offices, and exchange houses in a desperate bid to keep the money flowing for their arms and operations, according to Yemeni sources.

Traditionally, robberies are a hallmark of poorly funded terrorist groups that are unable to obtain financial support from more legitimate channels such as contributions from sponsors. It is possible that as Iraq and Syria have become the target for wealthy Gulf donors, other fronts of the global jihad aren’t receiving the same level of sponsorship that they received a few years ago.

From Al-Shorfa on Nov. 6 (h/t El Grillo):

AQAP loots Yemeni citizens’ livelihood to fund its crimes

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has resorted to robbing banks and government facilities to finance its activities, researchers told Al-Shorfa.

In mid-October, AQAP stormed al-Udayn Post Office in Ibb province, stealing 30 million riyals ($140,000), the official news agency Saba reported.

In August, AQAP gunmen stormed the town of al-Qatn in Wadi Hadramaut and robbed a number of local banks and exchange companies, including the Agricultural Credit Bank and a branch of the National Bank, according to news reports.

AQAP is currently suffering from a shortage of funding, which it needs to cover the cost of its crimes and for weapons and explosives, said Saeed al-Jamhi, a researcher specialising in Islamist groups.

This is why the group has resorted to burglary, looting, bank robbery and plundering, despite the fact that Islam forbids such practices, he told Al-Shorfa.

“Extremism has many facets, including unlawfully shedding the blood of others — the most grievous crime,” al-Jamhi said. “Deeming the money of Muslims as permissible [to steal] is another aspect of extremism.”

AQAP resorts to misinterpreting and misrepresenting religious and jurisprudential texts, distorting their words or not interpreting their true meaning, he said, adding, “The sanctity of human life is greater than the sanctity of money, and whoever deems it permissible to take a human life has no qualms about seizing the money of others”.

“Al-Qaeda’s practices, including the heinous killings of innocent civilians, and its bank robberies and looting of state funds by plundering post offices, are unacceptable under Islamic sharia law,” al-Jamhi said.

“These acts have given the world a distorted picture of Islam and brought harm to Muslims,” he added.

Al-Qaeda ‘sheds innocent blood’

Fares al-Saqqaf, strategy advisor to the Yemeni president, told Al-Shorfa that AQAP’s bloodshed and looting indicates it is “in a state of great weakness and disarray”.

The group “is in an obvious state of weakness due to the war waged against it and the siege laid on it both domestically and abroad in the context of the war on terrorism, as represented by the military campaign battling it locally, the army’s pursuit of its gunmen and the blocking of its funding sources”, he said…

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UAE: ISIS licking chops over vital sea channels

November 20, 2014

Threats to key choke points like the Strait of Hormuz from a joint venture between al-Shabaab and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are possible according to the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates.  The UAE foreign minister’s comments are being construed somewhat narrowly as a warning that ISIS could engage in piracy with al-Shabaab. But that overlooks the wider influence that al-Shabaab wields over shipping, controlling Somali ports and exacting taxes on illegal charcoal exports to the Arabian peninsula.  In other words, al-Shabaab could help ISIS undermine freedom of the seas not just through piracy, but through smuggling and illicit business relationships with Gulf states.  The foreign minister’s warnings should be read within that wider context.

From DefenseNews (h/t El Grillo):

…On Oct. 29, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan raised the piracy concerns, calling for the international community to be more vigilant regarding new threats at the fourth UAE Counter Piracy Conference in Dubai.

“As groups like Daesh [Islamic State] develop ties to criminal networks and arms networks like al-Shabab, it is essential that we prevent them from expanding their operations into the sea and threaten vital channels such as the Strait of Hormuz, the Red Sea, Bab al Mandab and the Gulf of Aden,” he said.

“The nexus of criminal groups, violent extremists, and weak states will require a coordinated response from governments and the private sector,” he said. “We have to ask ourselves these questions and prepare ourselves in case a union of [the Islamic State group] and al-Shabab occurs”…

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Boko Haram gun-running in Cameroon

November 18, 2014

Gun-running in West and Central African

Boko Haram is trafficking arms in far northern Cameroon, according to military officials and news sources. An arms seizure led to at least one arrest in January, and a gendarme raid in the central market of Maroua, the regional capital, led to the arrest of 40 suspects connected with trafficking arms for the jihadist group in June.  Weapons and their proceeds are used in Boko Haram strongholds in northeastern Nigeria of Yobe and Borno.

Furthermore, Cameroon is being exploited by Chadian, Libyan, and Qatari networks to smuggle weapons on Boko Haram’s behalf according to a recent and informative report from the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point by Jacob Zenn with internal citations omitted (h/t El Grillo):

…The tie between arms traffickers and Boko Haram commanders was also highlighted in key arrests in Cameroon. One Chadian weapons trafficker was arrested in Waza [Cameroon] in June 2014 working on behalf of a Maroua-based Boko Haram commander and possessed $15,000 from deals that he made in Chad. Days before his arrest, Cameroon uncovered weapons stockpiles in Maroua’s central market. In addition, in June 2014, Cameroon discovered travel documents from Libya (Africa’s largest arms market since 2011) and Qatar and receipts from car exports to Qatar in a Boko Haram camp, which suggests a possible link to Alhaji Abdalla, who was Boko Haram’s negotiator in the [kidnapping of the French family] Moulin-Fournier and other kidnappings…

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