Archive for May, 2012

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You paid for it

May 31, 2012

Old Aden Minaret

The old minaret in the historic Crater district of Aden, Yemen, benefited from a $44,120 award for a restoration project from the U.S. State Department in 2011.  The project was part of the rightly maligned U.S. “Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation” which has diverted millions of dollars to mosque refurbishment abroad over the last several years.

As Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan once said, “minarets are our bayonets.”  The U.S. has no business entangling itself in a project such as the Aden Minaret restoration.  America is indirectly subsidizing five daily calls to prayer by the muezzin from the sixth story of this white, octagonal-walled tower.

Even though you paid for it, can you even visit the Aden Minaret?  Not really.  According to Lonely Planet, only Muslims can go inside this minaret.  Moreover, in a Mar. 27 advisory, the U.S. State Department announced that it “urges U.S. citizens not to travel to Yemen.”

But perhaps it’s all okay in light of our warm relations and vibrant alliance with Yemen, right?  And Al Qaeda will back down and play nice now knowing that we’ve forfeited precious taxpayer dollars to fix a drab old Sunni minaret to make it easier for the muezzin to wail at people to submit to Allah, right?  Wrong.

The USS Cole was attacked in Yemen, and Yemen is the base of operations for AQAP, the branch of Al Qaeda that American politicians and national security reporters say they’re most concerned about.  Funding Islamic buildings in that country is an act of extreme government mismanagement and folly.

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Habib Bank throws caution to the wind

May 30, 2012

Habib Bank and its former compliance officer Syed Itrat Hussain have been fined over a half million pounds by the British for downplaying the risks of dealing with customers in jurisdictions prone to money laundering and terror finance.

Banks, and especially their compliance divisions and officers, have a responsibility to adhere to anti-money laundering regulations and know-your-customer standards.  When opening an account or conducting business with citizens from corrupt, unstable, or rogue regimes, those customers represent a greater risk to the bank and to the international financial system.

But Syed Itrat Hussain saw things a little bit differently.  He and the Swiss-based (but Islamic-oriented) Habib Bank regarded customers from the notoriously corrupt and jihadi financial swamp of Pakistan as no different from bank clients in New Zealand or Norway.

From MoneyLaundering.com on May 22:

U.K.’s FSA Singles Out AML Officer for Fine, Penalizes Swiss Bank

By Brian Monroe

The United Kingdom’s banking regulator Tuesday penalized a Zurich-based financial institution and its former anti-money laundering officer a combined 540,000 pounds for broad failures in risk-ranking and enhanced due diligence procedures.

The U.K.’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) said that Habib Bank Zurich AG underestimated the risk of approximately 67 percent of the accounts the agency had reviewed. In doing so, the Swiss bank removed Pakistan and Kenya from its list of high-risk jurisdictions because it believed it had “specialist knowledge” of the countries that mitigated its vulnerabilities to financial crime, the agency said.

As a result, nationals of those countries “were treated as having the same risk profile as those from a country with a lower perceived risk of corruption, such as customers based in Norway or New Zealand,” said the FSA, which fined the bank 525,000 pounds. When regulatory officials properly adjusted the rankings for the jurisdictions, they found that Habib Bank officials had mistakenly rated 170 high-risk clients as posing “normal” risks.

As part of the enforcement action, which focused on violations between December 2007 and November 2010, the FSA also penalized former Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO) Syed Itrat Hussain 17,500 pounds for not ensuring that adequate anti-money laundering (AML) controls were in place at the institution.

“The failings were quite serious, particularly because so many of the bank’s customers are from high-risk countries,” said FSA spokeswoman Clare Murphy-McGreevey. “Part of the problem is that the bank relied on [Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index] in isolation,” without the context of data provided by the Financial Action Task Force and other organizations, she said.

The FSA singled out Hussain because, “in that role, you should really be responsible for ensuring everything is up-to-date and focusing on the ever evolving landscape of financial crime,” said Murphy-McGreevey. “It changes quite a bit and compliance officers have to keep on top of it.”

“AML is a big area of focus for us, particularly the responsibilities of the MLRO,” she said.

In Tuesday’s enforcement action, the regulator also cited inadequate AML audits, training and recordkeeping related to its employees and individual accounts. The bank did not properly assess whether the beneficial owners of its accounts were residents of high-risk jurisdictions, the FSA said.

The latter resulted in the bank risk-ranking corporate clients with operations in Zimbabwe or Sudan, for example, no differently from a British company with exclusively U.K. operations, the regulator said.

The compliance missteps overall reflect a basic misunderstanding of risk-ranking, said Simon Dilloway, a principal with Norfolk, England-based Lopham Consultancy.

“Just because a bank knows an area or has operations in a high-risk country doesn’t stop the area from being high-risk,” he said, adding that FSA examiners have more closely examined how financial institutions gauge risk in the past year.

In a thematic review of depository institutions published in June, the agency said that three out of four U.K. banks failed to properly manage accounts maintained for high-risk clients, including politically exposed persons (PEPs). The review found that some banks had no formal procedures for PEPs at all.

“The problem is that, for a lot of these higher risk customers, they also have a lot of money and banks don’t want to ask the difficult questions and put them off,” said Dilloway. “Even when the bank identified a higher risk customer, they didn’t follow their own policy and get the proper documentation,” he said, adding that the monetary penalty is “quite small for something so serious. The bank must have cooperated hugely.”

The bank had initially faced a penalty of 750,000 pounds, but agreed to settle at an early stage, earning itself a 30 percent discount, the FSA said in a statement.

The agency, which is scheduled to close its doors in April 2013 as part of a regulatory overhaul, has been increasingly willing to fine banks for AML violations.

In 2010, the FSA more than doubled the number of AML penalties it levied in 2009, with the total related fines rising from 7.7 million pounds in 2009 to 9.7 million pounds the next year. In August 2010, the agency fined RBS 5.6 million pounds for AML violations, an enforcement penalty exceeded by March’s 8.75 million pound fine against Coutts & Co. The FSA had no AML-related fines in 2011.

The FSA’s oversight duties will be assumed by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority next year.

Formed in 1967, Habib Bank Zurich AG has 25 branches in the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Isle of Man, South Africa and Canada.

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Cop attacker suspect serves on sharia board

May 29, 2012

Money Jihad readers will recall Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited (IBBL), a large sharia bank that diverts 8 percent of its profits as zakat toward jihadist militants according to the Bangladesh home ministry.

What you don’t know is that the secretary of IBBL’s sharia advisory board is Abu Bakr Rafique, who was arrested last September on suspicion of his involvement in an attack against Bangladeshi police by Jamaat-e-Islami “activists” who seriously injured three officers.

Rafique remains a member in good standing on the sharia board of IBBL, and attended the board’s May 7 meeting.

Rafique is also the pro-vice provost of the International Islamic University in Chittagong (IIUC).  The government of Bangladesh has detected $15 million that is suspected to have been funneled from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait through the IIUC to terrorist leaders in the form of “honorariums,” grants, and bogus allowances.  Let’s look back to the Blitz last September 2011:

Bangladesh government has detected an annual inflow of US$ 15 million suspected terror funding from dubious sources in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, which came to International Islamic University [IIU] situated in Chittagong in the country as “grant”. Pro-Vice Chancellor of IIU, Abu Bakar Rafique has been arrested on his way to Kuwait from Shah Amanat International Airport in Chittagong. It is alleged that, IIU was connected with a number of leaders of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami and some of the leaders of the party were receiving monthly honorarium or allowances from it. Chittagong city leader of Jamaat, Shamsul Islam, who is the secretary of the “Trustee Board” of IIU, was receiving US$ 2,000 each month as “meeting allowance”. A number of Jamaat leaders continued to draw fund from the International Islamic University as “meeting allowance”.

International Islamic University obtained approval in 1995 from the Ministry of Education in Bangladesh to start its activities.

It may be mentioned here that, dubious Afro-Arab sources are continuing to fund various madrassas and Islamic education institutes in Bangladesh for years. Earlier, Kuwait-based Islamic Heritage Revival Society and Saudi-based Al-Haramine Institutes were outlawed in Bangladesh on suspected terror involvement. Both the organizations were funding few hundred millions of dollars every year in Koranic madrassas as well as various Islamic institutions in Bangladesh. Both were banned by the previous government led by Bangladesh Nationalist Party [BNP].

There are three campuses of International Islamic University in the world. These are located in Malaysia, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is believed that IIU are product of Jamaat-e-Islami and Muslim Brotherhood. The late Abdullah Azzam, Bin Laden’s mentor, was a teacher at the International Islamic University in Islamabad [IIUI]. Since 2001, there have been numerous reports of IIU students and lecturers being connected to al-Qaeda.

On January 28, 2010 two Nigerians who were pursuing their Doctor of Philosophy [PhD] degrees at the Islamic University of Malaysia were arrested by the Malaysian government on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist group. Australian newspaper Sydney Morning Herald) reported that the terrorism suspects detained in Malaysia were believed to be linked to the Nigerian student responsible for the botched Christmas Day plane bombing near Detroit. It quoted Malaysian officials as saying they arrested the 10, including nine foreigners, for “acts of terrorism” and that they were members of an international terror outfit tracked down in cooperation with foreign intelligence groups.

British newspaper The Telegraph said, The 10 suspects were from Malaysia, Syria, Nigeria, Jordan and Yemen. Abdul Mutallab – who studied mechanical engineering at University College, London from 2005 – 2008, was arrested after he attempted to detonate explosives sewn into his underwear on-board Northwest Airlines flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit.

However in Bangladesh, leading news agency BDNEWS24 removed a news item titled ‘IIUC Chancellor questioned for dubious meetings’ which was released in 2010, while News From Bangladesh deleted a news titled ‘Militant Camp found behind International Islamic University Chittagong’ for reasons not mentioned by either of the news sites.

The controversy in the Arab world over funding and promoting Islamic extremism and ultimately exporting this form of jihadist education is alive and well in an age in which terrorism is proliferating. Islamic universities have found themselves under siege as a result of the inquiry into their promotion of jihadist teachings. The controversy though stretches beyond the Arab world. There are Islamic universities all over the world, including in the United States, for example Michigan’s Islamic American University. In addition, Russia opened its first Islamic university in 1998 in Kazan, the capital of predominantly Muslim Republic of Tatar Stan.

This issue has been brought into focus with the attempted Christmas Day bombing by the 23-year old Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab. Mutallab allegedly received training and education in Yemen months prior to his attempted attack on a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009. Further controversy has ensued since it has been revealed that the radical, American-born, Internet preacher Anwar al-Awlaki took classes and gave lectures at Al Eman University in Sana, where Mutallab was studying Arabic.

Al Eman University in Sana, Yemen has been in the media spotlight as a result of its connection to the Christmas Day attempted bombing and terrorist plot. There is viable fear among Americans and other international counterparts that violent extremism is brewing in the halls of Al Elman and other Islamic universities. Sheik Abdul Majid al-Zindani, who was also a theological adviser to Osama bin Laden, founded Al Elman University in 1993. The United States eventually put Zindani on a list of “specially designated global terrorists” for suspected fundraising for al-Qaeda operatives. The university has approximately 4,000 students and teaches courses in Islam and Western disciplines, publicly asserting that it seeks to blend the two and not promote jihadism. The university administration denied that Sheik Zindani was ever involved in a terrorist plot against the United States. The university vehemently opposes any claim that its form of education embraces violent, conservative Islam.

It is claimed by the counter-terrorism specialist that universities are an ideal setting for indoctrinating the young to radical, fundamental Islam. The case of Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab and his connection to Al Eman University has reinvigorated the debate about whether universities are being used as breeding grounds for radical Islam. British universities in particular have been questioned since Abdul Mutallab studied in London in a mechanical engineering program before his connection to al-Qaeda was revealed. Before him, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was convicted of the murder of a Wall Street Journal reporter, attended the London School of Economics. Likewise, notorious British citizens Asif Mohammed Hanif and Omar Sharif were enrolled in King’s College London before launching a suicide attack in Tel Aviv, Israel in 2003. Experts fear that during the very formative years of the college experience, extremists are influencing the youth and planting radical ideas. The British Department of Education has recently said to have prepared advice for colleges on how to look for Islamic fundamentalist activity on campuses. The fear for some becomes that overseas students are sought after to fill spaces and subsequently able to move freely around campus clandestinely recruiting other young people for radical, violent jihad. The argument goes that a university setting automatically provides radicals with access to thousands of young people for recruitment. It is an environment undeniably conducive to rallying a group of prospective followers.

Clandestine jihadists in Bangladeshi universities:

There are currently above eight hundred foreign students studying at Dhaka University, various medical colleges as well as Islamic universities in Bangladesh. It is alleged that, in most cases, students in particular from Afghanistan, Iran, Yemen, Palestine, Syria and African countries are actively involved in Jihadist indoctrination to fellow students by generating anti-West and anti-Semitic sentiments with the tactics of telling fake stories of “American, Western and Israeli brutalities on Muslims and anti-Islam conspiracies”. Such stories generally are cooked by top-graded pro-jihadist scholars. None of the intelligence agencies in Bangladesh are yet monitoring the activities in clandestine of the foreign students in various campuses in the country.

What does it tell you about Prof. Rafique when he maintains his positions with the IBBL sharia board and the IIUC, and both entities have been implicated by his own government in terror finance schemes?  And what does it tell you about IBBL that they keep a man on their sharia board who was arrested for his involvement in a failed cop killer plot?

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The 10 largest sharia banks in the world

May 28, 2012

The Lebanese-based Union of Arab Banks published a report last year naming the world’s ten biggest Islamic financial institutions:

Bank Country Assets
Al-Rajhi Saudi Arabia $49.2 billion
Kuwait Finance House Kuwait $43.7 billion
Dubai Islamic Bank U.A.E. $24.5 billion
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank U.A.E. $20.5 billion
Al-Baraka Group Bahrain $15.8 billion
Qatar Islamic Bank Qatar $14.2 billion
Al-Rayyan Qatar $9.5 billion
Emirates Islamic Bank U.A.E. $8.9 billion
Al-Jazirah Saudi Arabia $8.8 billion
Al-Ahli United Bank Kuwait $8.5 billion

A few comments on the top three sharia banks:  1)  Al Rajhi Bank has been sued for financing the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and was highlighted for its facilitation of terrorist financial transactions in the book Funding Evil by Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld; 2) The Kuwait Finance House was a shareholder of Tadamon Bank, a financial institution that helped transfer funds for Osama bin Laden; and 3) BusinessWeek reported that “In 1999, U.S. intelligence agents reported that Dubai Islamic Bank in the United Arab Emirates was a conduit for bin Laden funds.”

Quite the group.

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Publishers, editors profit from Taliban poems

May 27, 2012

London’s C. Hurst & Co. Publishers Ltd. and co-editors Felix Kuehn, Faisal Devji, and Alex Strick van Linschoten are profiting from the publication of a new anthology of poetry by the Taliban.  Kuehn says the poems provide “a different window” to “understand the Taliban better,” van Linschoten says “the poetry shows that the Taliban are people just like we are,” and the co-editors say that the poems “provide a fascinating insight into the minds and hearts of these deeply emotional people.”

True, it’s worth examining all the statements of Taliban members, but their poems should not be embraced for showing the supposed humanity of the Taliban.  The Taliban are not people just like we are—they are people very far different from what we are.

Here’s one of the great “human” poems from a Taliban soldier, as read aloud during a BBC 4 broadcast:

The editors and publishers should do nothing less than donate 100 percent of the profits to British war veterans.

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Video: Marx inspired by Shia Islam

May 25, 2012

“When Karl Marx read these [Islamic texts], he liked it, it caught his fancy, so what did he do?”

We cannot vouch for the accuracy of this claim, but it’s noteworthy that both communists and Shia Muslims look forward to the equal and complete distribution of wealth to the people of the world, along with the destruction of the Western capitalist system as we know it.

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Afghan drug lord convicted

May 24, 2012

Narcotrafficker from Afghanistan

 

Catching up on some news from earlier this year.  Recall that Islam mandates a 10 percent ushr tax on harvests, and that the Taliban has collected revenues from poppy harvests accordingly.  From the Washington Post in March:

Afghan man convicted of drug, narco-terrorism charges in U.S. court

An Afghan citizen U.S. prosecutors alleged was once one of the world’s biggest heroin suppliers was convicted of drug distribution and narco-terrorism charges Tuesday in the District’s federal court.

Haji Bagcho, who is in his 60s and faces a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison at his sentencing in June, said nothing as jurors found him guilty of three of four charges related to heroin trafficking and support of the Taliban. He was acquitted of one heroin distribution charge.

It was Bagcho’s second trial on the charges; in November, jurors deadlocked on all counts.

Federal prosecutors Matthew Stiglitz and Marlon Cobar, who declined to comment after the verdict, alleged that Bagcho ran his organization from a palatial compound in Afghanistan’s Nangahar province, near the border with Pakistan.

During a 2007 raid of his chemist’s neighboring house, Afghan and U.S. authorities recovered a ledger that documented $250 million in sales of 137 tons of heroin the previous year. An agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration testified that the sales represented nearly 20 percent of the world’s 2006 heroin supply.

Afghan informants purchased drugs from Bagcho’s organization and recorded incriminating calls with the dealer. One testified that Bagcho provided the Taliban with cash, supplies and weapons.

Bagcho was arrested in 2009 in Pakistan, turned over to Afghan authorities and then extradited to the United States. His son, Sucha Gul, has also been indicted in the case…

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